the weather forecast
I read The Herald’s weather forecast as others would scry a chicken’s entrails after eating barbecue wings. Tomorrow will be dry, but your life will be shit. Next day the same shit, made worse by a chiselling, plutocratic, government stealing from the poor and giving it to even more obscenely rich people. At the end of the week rain, high winds, but you don’t need to worry about that. That worries me the most.
I phone my therapist right away to tell her about this. Barbara needs to know this because we are all connected like moondust. Yeh, she believes that sort of stuff. Wears lime-green plastic bangles on her wrist that jangle. In my long experience therapist comes in two types. Type A are professional misanthropists. Nothing you can say will shock them and even less will interest them. You are an open case file. Or closed. Who cares? I’ve read the textbook, I’m OK, You’re Really Fucked Up, a few times myself. I’ve thought about becoming a Type A therapist. As long as the clock is ticking, you can fuck off, anytime.
Type B are the sweeties. They are like Jehovah witnesses only clinger. Therapist should wear a lanyard around their necks with a plastic identification tag, Type A or Type B. You should be able to sue them for professional misconduct if they are wearing the wrong name and type tag.
Barbara is Type C, the exception to the A-B rule. The failed primary school teacher that couldn’t get the kids to do what she wanted them to do but wants to give something back to the universe. A roaring silence shouting into the eternal void. Her voice induces a kind of upside-down vertigo, but all I listen to is her answer machine because she’s too busy to answer the phone. Barbara is always busy, her thoughts and insight never take a day off.
When I finally get to meet her at her office in the Golden Hall. I should probably break off here to tell you names like the Golden Hall for breezeblock and bring your own heater, even in the summer months, doesn’t fool me. I’d like to present myself to Barbara, and the world in general, like a well-off and cultured Parisian gentleman that wears a black beret. NHS receptionists downstairs are trained to strip you of such pretensions. They treat you in the way the world sees you as just another vomit-in-a-cup project that’s getting a bit above himself with the hat.
Barbara doesn’t waste time when we’re seated. I’m OK – She’s Barbara, purging negativity with incense candles and a waft of patchouli perfume. She flips through her notes and cuts to the chase, I don’t even have time to tell her about the weather forecast.
‘The last time you were here, you said you were having a relationship with a goat called Belza, something?’
‘That was a while ago,’ I admitted. ‘We got split up. Some things are just not meant to be. Now, I’ve been having lots of sex with a Black Hole.’
Barbara pounces. She likes innuendo like that to pounce on, because although she is a really nice person, she’s not very bright and like relationships to be black or white. ‘That’s racist,’ she says.
‘But I’m black.’ But I’m not, more a Teflon colour. My dander is up. ‘I don’t mean that kind of black hole. I mean the starry kind. I found that only a black hole can accommodate my dick.’
She smiles here, which isn’t very pretty, because statistically she’s not very pretty and the two are correlated.
I’m tempted to put my dick on the table as evidence, but I don’t, I just tell her, ‘When a Black Hole comes it’s really something. She comes like a small planet. That’s how I got to meetings and follow the 12-step programme, because of my compulsion to have sex with Black Holes. It’s eating up my life. And god knows what it’s doing to the fabric of the universe.’
Barbara drops her eyes. I don’t mean she drops them onto the floor like marbles. This is her head drops into her chest territory. It’s a big chest. Not too fat. All this talk about the black hole isn’t really her bag. She’s the only one that is sweating. The only sex therapist that doesn’t like talking about sex because she thinks it vulgar.
‘I admit it. I’m a serial philanderer, but I need a restraining order. She’s always floating around me. “You don’t love me enough” sort. And she’s right. I’m just using her to shed my skin.’
‘Is that fair?’ Barbara asks.
‘I’m an arsehole.’ I point to her notepad and tell her to write it down. ‘I’ll need to contact the police and get them to keep her away from me. Sometimes she can be dangerous, like she’s living in her own wee universe.’
‘Em, but we all need a little space,’ Barbara tells me. ‘It allows us to be who we are.’
‘Can I borrow your notepad?’ I ask her. Write down: we all need a little space, it allows us to be who we are. Rip the page off and stick it in my back pocket.
‘Thanks Babs, that’s very profound.’ Barbara hates being called Babs. I guess it’s her parents’ fault. They probably sniggered watched some old Carry On film and thought of Barbara Windsor, Babs, bright blonde and breezy. Then they’d a daughter, it’s always on the back of your mind, things you think funny. Babs. Wee Babs. It wasn’t their fault they had a baby with a head like a rock with teeth.
‘It’s no’ that Babs, as you know I took Beelzebub the goat home to meet my mum, get things kinda settled and normalised. To be fair my mum wasn’t keen on me marrying a goat. Mum’s know best and sometimes things are just not meant to be. But this is different. The Black Hole has hidden horizons my mum won’t even understand. And let’s face it, The Black Hole is pretty big and if she gets angry she could swallow my mum and the rest of the universe whole.
Barbara sighs, the way a therapist does that has you looking at the clock on the wall. Then she comes up with one of her suggestions. ‘She does seem a bit possessive. Perhaps,’ and her fat face crinkles up with distaste about saying Black Hole, ‘she too needs therapy and might find solace in the thought there is a power greater than her.’
‘Aye, I’d take her no problem. I mean the sex is like the Big Bang and I wouldn’t mind if she behaved like your normal, petty and unpredictable planet, with her head in the clouds and that might be a wee bit loopy. At least all her bits would be in the one place. But this possessiveness. She’ll just not let go.
‘em’ sigh, Barbara says. ‘Em-sigh. E= mc2’
‘Shit’ I say, ‘What day is it? What time is it? I think I can hear her second coming.’