I can place my footprint inside the grooves of ghosts, and I can look the sun in the eye. I can stand on hilltops and be punched by the wind. I can feel crocodile tears evaporate on my hot cheeks, pushing the leeches into the void from whence they came.
I can walk the ancient streets and see people amongst soldiers. I lapdance Roman Emperors, and gaze up towards 900 years of bravery.
I think most people are at their strongest when they know they are right and their spines are pressed hard against the cold stone of an impregnable defence, whilst the rest of opinion and society destroys itself against you. The best artists, writers and musicians never settled for comfort. When I moved to York, the awkward personality found fertile soil and fresh water for roots. Here, I feel dry and brittle. But I know I am right.
I remember too many seemingly inconsequential things to be wrong. Too many things that people forget and then remind themselves at certain times of year. From history we can learn our mistakes and shape our futures, and it seems too many people are content to live day by day, hour by hour. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy and next weeks’ ally. The inability to accept and learn from mistakes differenciates the sheep from the shepherds.
When I walked around a city recently I saw ghosts and futures. I saw myself sitting at a bench destroying my University course by reading Catcher In the Rye instead of Ulysses. I saw myself hugging a friend and trying to hide the erection that the embrace was giving me. I saw drunks and fools, heroines and losers. I saw railway lines stretching north and south, and I saw Japanese people covered in badges and patches, their ancestors still burned in my mind as people I wanted to follow, moving onto the next cultural target.
If I do nothing else next year, I want to leave this country for a time. It’s been too long. This year has given me the itch for turning up in strange cities with nothing more than a train ticket and a hotel booking; no friendly faces, no previous experiences to ride on, no holds to cram my fingers into. I’m tired of being anchored. I’ve enjoyed living out of a rucksack, even if it has only been for a few nights.
I’m working tomorrow, alone, and in a perverse way I’m looking forward to it. Whilst everyone is tucking into Christmas turkey and exchanging terrible jokes, I will be your phantom in the hotel room, rearranging your bedsheets into something warm and soothing, changing your towels and making sure you have plenty of hangover-proof water bottles to hand. I’ll be your Ghost of Christmas Present. You won’t know my name or my face, but I’ll know a lot about you before I’ve closed your door as you tuck into your third spoonful of stuffing. I’ll know everything.
Merry Christmas everyone