Every morning he wakes; the urge to piss, a physical reminder to begin, again. In that waking twilight, sleeping eyes un-glue themselves then memory intrudes, followed, like the reluctant schoolboy, by habit.
He checks the time, 6.20am and thinks, should he take another hour in the Orpheus Oblivion, the night time express, on its final round; to the post-piss terminal, that time when he might wish, even dream, it might end, before he gets off.
Age is not a friendly travel companion. Every sight’s been seen and every station visited but now the trains are faster, the doors open and close with a mind of their own and ghostly voices, not a gruff man with tobacco stained hands and a whistle, tell you to ‘mind the gap.’
A foreign phrase springs to mind, ‘plus, ça change, c’est plus, la même chose’ and remembers then, a pocket transistor given to him by an American cousin, when he was six. It had two dials; one for on/off and volume, the other, the secret codes to another world and somewhere between ‘8’ and ’12’, a passport to sounds and music, hardwired now to his perception of life and his living, Luxembourg and Caroline.
He had a digital clock/radio in his working days that woke him with the 7am radio news. On the morning train, fellow travellers complained of whatever woke them up, because the coffee was cold or the toast burned, as though they woke with their heads in a kitchen. But he knew, it was their way of saying, ‘I’m too busy for breakfast, the machine does it for me.’
So, he rises, checks his blood sugar level, injections of insulin, turns on the shower and undresses, washes, dries, then papers his body with fragrant unctions, designed to help him forget his human body, an illusion bought and sold to generations, before and after.
Distracted, now, as though he’s taken a wrong turn, a misstep, he reaches for his iphone and checks the headlines on his Guardian app, his emails and then, Facebook. What did he do before them? Yes, he remembers, music or news and sometimes, both.
He turns on his laptop, then itunes and a playlist he’s made for himself and continues to compile. He calls it, Everything I Want to Hear and the first voice he hears is the sonorous rumble of Solomon Burke, imploring him, ‘Don’t Give Up on Me’, then Scott Walker, ‘If You Go Away’, he skips forward, impatient and Richard Hawley is asking him to ‘Cry Tears for the Man on the Moon.’ He utters those letters, SMOJ, an acronym he prefers to the much abused and now meaningless, OMG, not as if he has an issue with the invocation’s religious devaluation, but more, its import, as an expression of surprise and outrage.
Now he dresses, but first, he checks the weather, on his weather app. Hmm, sunny with occasional showers, not bad, he thinks and slips into teeshirt, shorts and sandals. He flicks on the espresso machine. Opens an avocado, puts a rasher on the grill and some butter in a skillet, to scramble eggs. Stirring the eggs with one hand, he butters a slice of bread with the other; multi-tasking is not a gender exclusive skill, he thinks, smiling.
U2 have kicked in to ‘Even Better than the Real Thing’, he’s drinking coffee, eating breakfast, his heart is where it’s always been, his head is somewhere in between, with apologies to Bono for this flagrant plagiarism. Only, it’s not better and what the hell is ‘the real thing’, anyway?
He knows his day has almost begun. It’s not the sun, the prospect of a walk or a chat with the butcher. No, it’s there at his desk, out there on the cyber freeways. That’s where we walks, talks, communes and communicates. Now his morning has begun and he knows the world is the same; full of hate and control, full of love and care. And for a moment, that moment he visits every day, or visits him, that moment when he wishes it would end, but it doesn’t, this time. It begins, again.