As a pigeon rudely blasts its noises through the window into my room, I find myself laying on the mattress, nearly sideways. I notice one of my pillows has ended up at my feet. Why does this keep happening? I sigh. I suggest the pigeon I'm hearing has built itself a nest, located somewhere close to my window. Or maybe it has just chosen our house as some sort of place to live. Maybe it's a male pigeon, desperately waiting for the right female. After all, those silly noises that the bloody creatures make are NOT used as a cheering-up service to humans during springtime, as a lot of people think. In fact, it's all just a big mating-call. That's right, they're all just looking for a shag. I bet this pigeon is called Keith or Gary. If you've ever watched anything by Attenborough, you would know. It's all just sex, sex, sex and even more sex. Do elderly people who like to walk through the countryside know that they're stepping into a giant darkroom? Perhaps they do. I stop to think about it right there, because one shouldn't combine 'elderly people' with 'sex' in one's mind, when there's breakfast underway. That could be an Oscar Wilde quote right there. I look at the alarm clock. It says 11:24. It's still morning, frankly. Not what my dad would call morning, but still, it IS morning. He often wakes up at 5 am, sometimes 7, but never any later than that. He sometimes nags about getting out of bed as late as I do, he says that it gets me into a bad mood. Well, not that he ever has a good mood, certainly not early in the morning. He gets out of bed, makes tea and sits in his garage. Just staring about, really. He calls it "being alone for a while". He's done it ever since mum went back to Poland. I hear him taking a bottle of Jack Daniel's sometimes, and see him coming back with an empty one. I've said it since day one, it cannot be good, it just cannot be good. he really tries his best to be there, he has to, obviously. Here he is right now, coming into my room, and as always, without knocking on the door first.
"What ya think Gary's up to, dad?"
-"I'm sorry, who?"
"Gary, the pigeon over there."
-"Wel... I dunno, however those bastards are all over this street, have you seen the f***ing cars? They're covered in your buddy Gary's excrement, really."
"I think James's parents put the doves out here, dad."
"Just a lad from my class last year, his parents run a carwash."
-"Well I'm sure they have better things to do than placing birds in the neighbourhood, right?"
"I was kidding, dad... Now, what are you here for?"
-"Oh... Yes, err... right..."
"You don't remember, do you?"
-"I can't say I do, no. What are you up to today, Gavin?"
"Haven't really got any plans, I guess I'll go for a walk later on.
-"Err... Okay, I guess. Anyway, I'll be in the garage for a bit, see ya."
If only he would be half as concerned as I sometimes think I should be about myself... Concern is not on his agenda, nor on anyone else's, these days. It's a northern thing. People dislike you. Only here can you step into a DIY store, ask the guy at the counter if he has a bag of screws, and get a plain "No.". The elders dislike the kids, and the other way around. The battle between generations has stirred up English culture for years. It's like that with Brexit, it was like that when we had Thatcher going about the Falklands, and it was probably never any different with Churchill. So here I am, in the midst of it all, born out this cruel world, and of course, my parents. My mother was quite clever, I daresay. If it would have been a different time back when she grew up in Poland, perhaps she could have studied history. But sadly, she never got the chance. However, her family travelled to England, as she was still living with her parents at 21, and they opened a small store that sold fruit and vegetables. One day she came across a fine young man, Noel Hannigan. They had a kid. Gavin Hannigan. That's me, by the way. My childhood... I can't say it was easy. Dad worked in a factory, as he still does. Minimum wage, very much unspectacular and not the sort of money you can have loads of fun with. Financial struggle was a tough thing not to notice when I was a kid. Mum took care of me at home, but she was often moody and that resulted in frustrations being splattered about whenever she felt like it. When dad came home, there would be a lot of fighting. I cannot recall a memory in which I saw my parents happy, together nor separate. When I was 12 years old, mum packed her bags and left. She cried a lot, as of me, but my father has been unable to shed a single tear ever since. He sits, he stares, and he drinks. He goes to work, comes back, and sits down in complete and utter silence. He gets angry if I ask him how his day was, he gets angry when i ask him what he's doing this weekend, he gets angry when I ask him if I can do anything for him. I sometimes wonder who's been raising who, the past 5 years. There's no Joe Frost Supernanny for a 49-year-old man, is there? He needs help. He desperately needs help. But unfortunately help comes at a cost, in this world of ours. He probably wouldn't want help. He STILL needs it, and if I will have to force him, I shall. I step out of bed.
I walk down the stairs, next to a few old photographs from when I was little. On the left, there's a picture of me, sitting next to my dad on a big rock. Milnrow Memorial park, it was. We'd walk there, sometimes it felt like we walked for an entire day, but then, ofcourse, I was very little. Mum would bring lunch and we would sit on the piled-up rocks in the middle of the park. The park was a bit run down, but I loved it all the same. Next to that picture, there's one on which I'm seen playing in the sand of Scarborough. We took the train to the seaside that day. I was happy back then. Can you imagine? Those very days when mum and dad for once tried to hide their inner frustrations from me, and there wouldn't be any fighting. Precious memories. Yet again, only memories. Memories are often a distraction, just not to think of the future. What does the future hold? I have been scared since I was born. I scared myself out of the womb, and I'll scare myself into the tomb. I am going to university in a few months. Until then, I'm at home. And this is what I do; I come out of bed at around noon, go for a walk, sometimes for 3 hours, other times longer. My dad asked whether I could meet a friend or two for once. He hasn't got a clue who I know, who I went to school with or what I'm even like. Sometimes I'm afraid he hasn't got an utter clue of who I am. Truth is, I have no friends. I had a few, a bunch of years ago. Kathryne, for instance. I had known her since primary school, we became friends, but halfway through middle school she just faded away. Same goes for Tom and Matthew. They meet new people, they're happy, and I... Well I'm at peace with it. I don't want to be the lad who only texts when he's not alright, who nags about not being friends anymore, who screams for attention. And like so they all faded away. Should it be like this? Well that's life. That's what I say, sometimes. Not always, no. I struggle, a lot. These days my last remaining friends are my records and my bed. But given that I keep waking up in the weirdest positions and sometimes halfway out my bed, I think my bed is sort of trying to tell me something too.
It's one of those summer days that don't behave like a summer day. The rain falls hard on this humdrum town, the town that drags me down. I arrive at the bottom of the staircase, walk towards my jacket and open the door.
"Are you going already, Gavin?
-"Yeh, I'll be back before 5, don't worry."
"Don't you wanna eat anything?"
-"Don't feel like it."
"It's raining quite badly, yanno?"
-"It's like this the entire week, init?"
"Alright, alright then. See ya."
The red houses greet me, in the pouring rain. Big, red blocks, in a grey world. I walk out of my street, into another one. This is life, as it soaks up my hair. Sometimes the miserable rain feels like a warm coat, and my thoughts are my last remaining friend in times where the outside world feels so cold. I'm not like most people. Most people fear different things. People fear falling down. I fear to get up. People fear failing. I fear having to attempt. People fear death. I, I fear life. If I could be a rock or an island, I'd go for it. If I'd never loved I never would have cried, like in the song. The red houses offer a place for people to live they say, but I cannot bare to ask myself: Is living really what these people do? Some people like to pretend they live, I think. People throw about photographs of wild parties, with dancing girls and boys, and a lot of booze. And of course, they all have the most amazing time, while vigorously trying to fit in people's expectations and tiptoeing just to get away from any form of judgement. In an environment so spoiled with jealousy that everyone starts looking the same. That's how some of my old classmates lived. I consider myself... Alternative. So, these people, in the red blocks of houses, are they really happy? How lifelike is this thing we call daily life? I walk over the tram lines. This is something I didn't do as a kid. I would walk while holding my mother's hand, and she told me that the tram lines would be very hot or I'd get some sort of electric shock if I stepped on one. I jumped over them, fearing that something big was going to happen, would I touch them. I was a gullible child. My aunt used to buy me cheese, it has these holes in 'em, and my dad told me that the holes were poisonous. So, I ate around the holes., but not the holes itself. Goodness me, how stupid was I? They always say "One day you'll laugh about it." But I can't help to lie awake at night if I'm suddenly struck by an awkward or even embarrassing memory from ten years ago. Something I said that was unintendedly mean, at a part or something. And I swear, I hope everyone has forgotten about it, and I will NEVER talk about it. I am quite sensitive for feeling ashamed. But maybe it's just what happens when you're being me. Maybe I'm just a big pile of infortune, constantly on its way to making another mistake, and survive another rainy day.
I find my way through the breathless bends of the wet streets that draw out the veins of this city. I arrive at Cromwell Street. Where lost teens and old-fashioned geezers go to find a remedy to the cheap beats, all-sounds-alike rhythms and melodies that make up today's popular music. Rory's Rumbling Record Store, it says at the front. A nifty name they came up with, certainly. I open the door. At the counter stands Rory's younger brother, Dave.
"Gavin, mate! Good to see ya, man! How's your summer going?"
-"It's alright, thanks. Though you can hardly call this week 'summer', huh?"
"Yeah man, it's true s***e out there, init?"
-"It is,it is... But I can't say I mind, I'm going outside anyways."
"Well you're the only one, then. We've seen absolutely f***-all customers today. You're the first, as you often are. What are you looking for?"
-"Oh well, I'm just having a look around, really."
"Actually, Rory just got something new in, he said you might like it. Lemme have a look... err... Yes, here it is."
-"Horses by Patti Smith... That's epic, man. How much is it?"
"It's yours for five quid."
-"Okay, here you go. Thanks a lot, Dave. I'll be going, then."
"Alright, have a good one. You're going go to uni after summer, right?"
"What are you gonna study?"
"Cool, man. Wait... That's like... The Greek stuff, init?"
-"Pretty much, I guess. Anyway, see ya."
I walk out the door, just having finished my first conversation with someone outside of my house this entire week. Poor Dave. Half a minute later, the regrets of things I said and shouldn't have, as well as the things I should have said and didn't, start rolling through my mind like a headmaster's rant about an unruly student. An attitude towards myself that would make a Tourette's patient feel shy starts to rise, as soon as the smallest kind of social contact might occur. This is because you're selfish, that is because you're a jerk, this is because you look weird, this is why you're alone... The attitude has grown a lot since the A-levels. Time spent alone is a dreadful thing, yet it's a comforting lack of comfort. I wouldn't want to borrow the mind of one of those party animals, the popular kids, the kind that always seem happy. I don't always think happy thoughts, but at least I think. Thinking IS dangerous. That's why they want young people to go out on Friday nights and stuff themselves with alcohol and what not. To let them lose their mind, just before the cold, hard world hurts it.
I walk into the house, as I expected, silence is all that greets me. Dad is still in the garage, outside it's still raining, and my bed is still empty. As is my stomach. But I don't bother to eat very much. I run up the stairs. I go into my room, opening the bag I got at the record store. I put the record on the record player, A-side first. It starts to play. First a number of piano chords, then I'm struck by the opening lyrics...
"Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine..."
I rest my head on my knees, as I sit on the bed.