The Voice that Keeps Me Poor

In life, we are given gifts and we use them to enhance our existence or we leave them to rot under the metaphoric Xmas tree. I’m not entirely stupid and I can string a couple of sentences together with a following wind but have always had people telling me that I under achieve. I don’t agree because I am happy where my head is and I don’t crave the lifestyle of striving to own shiny things each a little better than those of your neighbour. Importantly, I can close my eyes and go to sleep knowing that there are no bodies buried under the patio and nobody ever went hungry because I stole from their plate. However, I do know that I have been blighted by one crippling flaw. I get distracted and I fuck up. Not big theatrical eureka distractions but the split second voice that gets Tourette’s when it’s least needed. The little satan in my head with the enquiring mind and the sense of carnage.
I was an amateur boxer many years ago. Not a well regarded talent but game, robust and able to hang around. Low level stuff and, despite its obvious brutality, I enjoyed the naked, primeval contest and the sense of fulfilment gleaned from hanging onto my teeth for another three minutes. My ‘career’ ended one night in a dilapidated club in South London when my finest hour turned, in a split second, to double vision and leglessness. In front of a small crowd, driven to foaming hatred by the knowledge of my birthplace, I was fighting a decent opponent. He was gaining in reputation, carved from granite and very aggressive, I was expected to be a human appetiser for the later bouts. However, spurred on by the hatred of those in attendance and the arrogance of my opponent, I was doing OK. I had kept out of trouble, concentrated hard and at least frustrated him and then, to his obvious surprise, had caught him a blow which had rocked him a little. I could see doubt in his eyes and he started to look tired. Emboldened by this and cheered on by a few brave friends, I started to land punches and he was teetering. Already aglow with false pride, I opened up and readied to grab glory. At that very moment the voice, which had been dozing and keeping out of trouble rubbed its sleepy eyes and muttered in my head ‘what was the name of Lady Penelope’s butler in Thunderbirds?’. I can’t remember the next bit but I know it wasn’t good. My next image is of being slumped on a stool, bleeding heavily from about seven different holes in my fuselage and staring at the canvas beneath me which was splattered with matter that should still have been flowing inside me. Somebody rubbed my head and offered me his sympathy then looked concerned when, through busted lips, I muttered ‘Parker, it was fucking Parker’. The voice smiled contentedly and went back to sleep. I drank myself stupid and then ached for about a week.
It has popped up frequently at the worst of times. On a motor bike approaching rush hour Hyde Park Corner it enquired as to who wrote ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and totalled a much loved machine. Halfway through my French O Level, it asked me to name my all time England cricket 11 and cost me at least two grades. It has flooded bathrooms, dropped plates, exasperated partners to the point of hatred and nearly killed me more than once. Using an electric lawn mower, it’s a health and safety risk musing over the names of the ships in Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar. I went straight over the cable and nearly got the chance to ask the man myself.
It doesn’t just distract it causes mischief and resentment. Most people think of lines that would outrage and expose them to long term grief or physical violence but they smile inside and keep it buttoned. The voice wedges open the gob and screams ‘ah fuck it, just say it’. No matter how hard or well you work, telling your boss he is a ‘creepy subhuman twat’ will go against you. When your drunken mother in law, who already detests you, asks your opinion of her qualities as a person, keep them private. Don’t embark on a monologue that preceded 18 months of frosty silence. To this day, I can still remember her looking up ‘sphincter’ in the dictionary.
The mental imp always rests easy and leaves me to sit in its waste. I still bitterly regret telling the obnoxious neighbour, with the Elvis obsession, that the ‘King of Rock n Roll’ lost his penis in a hunting accident and wore his grandmothers knickers under his leather jumpsuit. Not very bright, he was devastated until he checked up then tried to set fire to my shed. When my sisters best friend, en route to a party, asked me if her dress was too tight I know now to appease. ‘The dress is fine, it’s your arse that’s too big’ earned me a right hook and the invective of my sister for days.
The voice won’t go. I assumed it would die before me but we are Siamese twins. I’ve just learned to live with it and we have become friends. I surrounded myself with people who know and don’t mind. He will be buried with me screaming ‘you’re all tossers’ to the congregation and he will throw bombs into my life until the end but I’m glad. Mayhem always beats mediocrity.

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