From Jester To King VII
By Simon Barget
Last night Duke of Hamilton, of no consequence to anyone and you needn’t have bothered. Desperate for attention for someone to want you, to see you, to value you. Starts on a high note on the Chesterfields with Bloom, heart-to-heart seems to think you had potential. Darko also looks pleased to see you. And Alex Savides has made an appearance. You take half a Renegade in a frost-print-branded half-glass. Almost in comfort, relaxed, for the space of an hour, you’re actually conversing, they’re taking you seriously. Place to be, people to be with.
But no, not for long. Go for another, bar staff don’t serve you as if you’re invisible. Then bank card declined, lucky Darian turned up to lend you a tenner. All the others now rock up, John Magnolia, and Hannah, Mark Dartman, a sea-change, a murmur, and without you having remotely thought it, your time is up and you become a bystander. False pretences. The wanters gravitate to the wanted. The hierarchy. Everyone wants a bit of Magnolia, and he’ll have something for them in his inimitable way. Bloom hoists himself up like royalty’s entered, you the pre-cursor whilst no better option. Heart of the night now. The big boys. Stand and spectate, welcome to do so.
And as you watch idly at the move and the mingle, the moseying up to the ones they’ve been wanting to talk to, and as you witness the rebuffs and cold shoulders, the walk-pasts, the rictuses, you suck up the anger and you feel the pain in your body, the hurt welling, the yearning for closeness, and you feel it so pointedly this being of little or no consequence, but the shameful disgusting thing is this rage inside you, this wanting to lash out, but then soon after standing in a cosy circle of three, you just lock up and stand gormless, hoping and waiting for conclusion, to be released, childlike and dumb, nothing to add, not an adult gesture in you, not daring to look or make eye contact, and not the right kind of eye contact to boot, nothing remotely commanding any sort of authority, and of course you wonder: why and how and how and why and what the fuck’s going on here, and is this in your head, and it is and it isn’t, and you just grin and bear it, don’t show anything’s up, and maybe these really aren’t your people, you don’t really like them truth be told, but oh you do, and how you do, and you know it, and the closeness, the affinity for them is simply not matched by theirs for you, and was it because you didn’t do this, didn’t do that, no they don’t even notice, that’s the take-away here, there’s a priority and you’re just way down on it, you see it’s not personal, it’d be ok if it was, and it becomes clear that your life of just you and the solitary interactions at work, and you posting something on Facebook to an absence of anything, likes or comments, remember you’re closing in on 50, they’re all tallying up here these distinct things, and they’re showing you that in the eyes of all the other people on this earth, the people who are not you, the ones you like and esteem, the people who either see you or don’t see you, you hardly matter at all, and still you resist, what else can you do, you expend all your energy resisting, trying to find ways you are liked, valued, but this anger and resentment, they’d be so perplexed just to see a grain of that anger, ‘why’ they’d say, befuddlement, incredulousness, proving the point, ‘why what’s with the anger Toby?’
And eventually you’re just sitting at a round table of Dartman, Savides, Jack Salomon who came even later, a small round table and you’re just sitting saying precisely zip as Savides holds court and Dartman indulges him, and Darian your last and only ally says he’s off cos he’s got work in the morning hardly looking at you and you wonder, how long are you prepared to sit here in stasis in death, it’s not even a question of sinking ‘cos nowhere to sink to, how long will you endure this, fool yourself they’ll be a moment you can pipe up, and why can’t you accept that maybe you’re not popular amongst this group of people, the old school friends, no biggie, just take your defeat, show your independence show that you don’t hang on someone’s every word, pathetic really, so desperate to be liked, but then going seems like never seeing anyone again ever ever ever ever, sloping off noiselessly, when they hardly even turn around, and yet having to at least make a go of it, powerless pat on the shoulder, ‘mate’ ‘ buddy’ ‘I’m off’ resigned, they don’t even notice, and you will not see any of these people again if you don’t literally leach yourself on to them and that you suppose is the hardest thing to take when you’re about to walk through the door, the truth is hard to bear, but then a little part of me wonders whether you are your own making and if you weren’t so down on yourself you might find it all altered, but I see how you get stuck in it, I see it, I really feel for you, but give it time, it could change, I think it’s changing and you’ve still got time.