|I KINGSLAND PASSAGE
I Kingsland passage stumble down damp streets and alleyways toward a home
which is never rest, a destination which is never a terminus.
My body is bent to the wind forcing my head to examine the broken pavement
I feel awkward, my movement clumsy, a feeling not helped by the fact of an
ill-fitting overcoat which exposes my wrists giving one the appearance not
dissimilar to a b-movie monster.
I need to get home quickly. I need to shut out the night and its attendant
fears and broodings. The broodings, they come with an increasing regularity,
the world looks grey and.. anyway I need to get back. Clutching a blue,
filmy, carrier bag of cans I know exactly what to do, for this brief moment,
for the length of this evening, maybe - I have a mission.
A dark cloud of methomania hangs over Hackney as in other poor areas of
London. One can walk the streets and you will notice the off-licences these
'dispensaries for the needy' with their glass fronts covered with orange and
lime-green paper on which is scrawled the favoured brand names of such areas;
Tennants Super, Skol Super, Special Brew, etc. I often wonder what the
manufacturers of such beverages mean when they use the word 'super', were
they thinking of 'super' in the sense of the comic-book strength of Superman
(surely not the Nietzschean one, although I find this a much more pleasing
idea in that maybe the higher man may only be surpassed by a process of
sinking into the basest depths of oneself), more likely of course is that it
is a polite way of saying "an excess of", whereas it is mostly read as
"good". Nevertheless I would like to suggest a completely different, yet more
Super (pronounced "souper") - one who imbibes that rich alcoholic syrup with
a disposition and temperament of one who is on the edge of a scream. Raging
in the most correct manner possible, erasing the chaotic endless whirring of
the waking states, submersing oneself into the cold, predictable stupor that
this fine sauce is so happy to provide.
Anyway, I reach home, throw off my coat, and begin the usual ritual which
involves throwing the cans in the fridge; seating myself on the floor;
drinking. At this point anything might flow through your mind and, as the
evening progresses, an internal debate might start.
I know what you are doing, I know your game (you might say to yourself) - you
want to make time stand still, to halt the giddy rotation of this mudball
even if it is for a second. You want to silence those voices, to stop this
chatter, and so what else is there than to numb oneself. This is what is
particularly interesting and attractive about "super" lagers they function
like a poor man's opiate. An opiate in that their effects wash over you like
waves as this chemical courses through your veins. There is no noise, no
sound, no drunkenness so to speak, just a calm methodical movement toward
Apparently Donald Horton, an anthropologist I believe, once came to the
conclusion that, "the primary function of alcoholic beverages in all societies is the
reduction of anxiety"
Although this notion has been widely discredited one cannot deny the presence
of anxiety, anomie, and tension as a motive for getting plastered on a
regular basis. But now anthropologists, not content with poking there noses
into most areas of life, have turned to examine drinking. For them drinking
serves to construct the world in the sense that they, for example, mark the
passage from work to leisure - coffee to alcohol (but then what doesn't act
in such a symbolic manner?) yet one could also suggest that drinking can
serve to negate as well.
"Here is my table, my chair, my bed. They are here as a result of labour. In
order to make them and install them in my room it was necessary to forego the
interest of the moment. As a matter of fact I myself had to work to pay for
them, that is, in theory, I had to compensate for the labour of the workers
who made them or transported them, with a piece of labour just as useful as
theirs. These products of labour allow me to work and I will be able to pay
for the work of the butcher, the baker, and the farmer who will ensure my
survival and the continuation of my work. Now I place a large glass of
alcohol on my table. I have been useful. I have bought a table, a glass etc.
But this table is not a means of labour: it helps me to drink alcohol. In
setting my drinking glass on the table, to that extent I have destroyed the
table, or at least I have destroyed the labour that was needed to make it" 1
It has to be this way. In a curious mix of fate and character it has been
formed, primed for this, its been wound up and off it trots beating its drum.
In your heart of hearts, at the very centre you know this anguish will be
repeated time and time again. An inexact repetition of details,
circumstances, nuances; an infernal machine of multindous moving parts
rotating, twisting and turning in evermore sophisticated variations on the
same. Nevertheless the flesh remains stubborn; mute.
You feel you want to leave your body, depart this rotten carcass, become pure
energy and light, an infinite scream.
To be drunk is to be sovereign. Maybe this is the meaning of the expression
"drunk as a lord" or, perhaps it is something quite different. I've heard of
a debate amongst academics involved in "alcohol studies" as to whether
alcohol abuse is an addiction or a disease a kind of "natural/cultural"
argument. I think it is neither. I would like to contend that it is an act of
possession; to drink is to be possessed.
I TERENCE TYZACK WANT TO DECLARE HERE AND NOW THAT THE DRUNKARDS WHO WALK THE
STREETS OF LONDON ARE SHAMAN. You may scoff but the matter is indisputable as
far as I am concerned. Society has stripped and abandoned them so they devote
themselves, almost ascetically, denying all else, to this syrup refusing to
partake of this petty stinking edifice. The state, our society, only knows
how to pervert; to cynically abuse, only for the sake of a crude exchange
under a bankrupt philosophical, economic, moniker of value.
What can be known of the solitary act which I have, rather half-heartedly,
described? What hypothesis could be ascribed to the sensation of, upon
waking, finding yourself on the living room floor, feeling at once perversely
ruddy and listless; curled as you always are in front of the gas heater whose
hot breath continues to scorch your face and clothes. You lift yourself up,
dirt and crumbs are stuck to your cheek, there is no sensation along the
length of your arm. The room has a stale fug and you, likewise, feel sweaty,
filthy. Cramp attacks your calf muscles and, although warm, you feel chilled
at the core. Its daylight, probably four or five am. You're body aches and
you feel the need to sleep. So you reach for the half-full can that has sat
beside you patiently. You begin to empty its contents and, eventually, will
crush this flimsy vessel.