Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, water was something that came out of the faucet to quench his thirst after a bicycle ride down the seemingly endless, flat gravel roads, sweat soaking through his shirt. It was something slopping out of the dog’s bowl as she lapped it up with her long wet tongue.
The rumours are true. I am but a disembodied head – the virtual made flesh. I, Neil Sean of the Metro newspaper’s The Green Room, Sky and Fox News and Travelodge’s former writer in residence, sprang forth from the lager-addled mind of an overworked subeditor with a hacking cough that could wake the comatose.
They told me there were three phases to go through. The first three months, everything is new and inspiring, a holiday under the guise of a new life. At six months it starts to sink in – this is for the long haul, and you’ll begin to notice things that you don’t like. Minor irritants, as well as bigger and until now unimaginable, differences. After a year, you’ll just stop comparing it to home.
I, too, have suffered through Mary J Blige’s A Mary Christmas. She looks like Tito the Chihuahua from Oliver and Company on the album’s cover, pensive and forlorn, and super-imposed onto a department store’s “Meet Santa” photo set.
The outdoor swimming pool was in the shape of a wonky figure of eight. A bridge crossed its middle. They said it was the biggest pool in Europe. The concrete border was patterned with circles in different sizes. If you fell, the surface was hard and unforgiving. Each bulb of the pool was pinned with two sets of diving boards; four and five boards layered on top of one another.
F: hey Me: hey man!!!! F: how’s u Me: just chilling, watching Newsnight in my pants lol, u? F: what Me: if I were a woman I would want to look like Emily Maitlis what about you? Me: i already do quite a bit and im a man! Me: hey, remember when Paxo went on a rant about M&S pants a few years back and how they don’t make them supportive enough and he was pissed off because you couldn’t get good pan.
One day, after my father’s death, I was in my parents’ house looking through his bookshelves. I thought about powdering the books for fingerprints so I’d have something left. I still think about that sometimes. What difference would it make to have a copy of fingerprints made by fingers that no longer exist? Those fingers were burned, and now they are dust.
As we travel through the sky and up towards the intelligence centre my pupil says why do I fly when you touch me, and I think he knows there is no answer to this question, not any answer that can be told to him that he would understand, and so I say nothing in response.
I’ve been thinking a lot about dying recently. Not my own death, you understand, but the idea of dying as a cinematic experience. Like many generation Y-ers, I grew up on a diet of television shows such as Michael Aspel’s poltergeist extravaganza, Strange, But True? and BBC1’s 999 (remember the episode where the kid gets a javelin through the neck?).
I saw Tracey Emin in a pub once. It was in Spitalfields in London. She was standing by the bar, sipping red wine and surveying the room, her head rotating at irregular intervals like a broken lighthouse beacon. I remember she was drinking out of a very small glass. She was talking to the landlady of the pub, who is considered something of an institution, but who I find rude and slightly mad.