So I’m waiting. Waiting for The Clown to get back to Glasgow and meet me for the tantalising ‘glass of red’ he keeps promising.
Until then, I climb the walls, I gnaw my nails, I count the days. I’m kept in a constant state of readiness . He could text me in a moment to announce he’s back. He’s here. Come on, saucy, get your coat! Or he could fall mute for months: cold and unobtainable in the frozen north. There’s no way of knowing when he’ll pounce. No way of knowing why I endure this and why I adore him.
He’s always on my mind, so much so that when I catch myself not thinking of him my mind sags with relief, released from the terrible torture of The Clown. My mental energy is constantly stretched tight and tensed, like an elastic band, on thoughts of him and when the real world intrudes, as it often has to, the elastic relaxes, and I can relax with it, only to be stretched and taut with Clown thoughts once again. It’s exhausting.
And he keeps up the suspense. He sends me tormenting texts every few days, just to keep me on my toes. Or on my knees. He knows very well what he’s doing. I’ve just never been able to work out why he’s doing it.
What does he get out of this? He’s up in the wild North somewhere just now, teaching a bunch of brats how to totter around on stilts. Does he just toss these occasional texts to me on tenterhooks? Is he just plain bored up there and I’m a sad way to pass the time?
I should be worried about throwing my lot in with him. I know he’s untrustworthy. I know he’s a liar, but I cannot tear myself away from him. The elastic is pulled too tight.
So I don’t fight it. I surrender to the lurid lure of the evil Clown and wait for my phone to ring. A text to say he’s thinking of me floods me with joy. I can live off one of them for weeks.
But in the background of my clown hope is the knowledge that a crash back to earth is surely coming.
I remember being caught up in a great hope once before. I had been struggling with depression, so ran off to France one summer to try and shake it off. As I packed my bags I pictured sipping a violet Kir Royale in a pavement café whilst scribbling a great novel and attracting the attention of a devilishly dashing Count from some distant principality. Yes, I thought, as I packed my bags in my bedroom, I won’t be back. Astonishing things will happen in France. I’ll be scoured clean of this depression and I’ll never be back in this tiny room, with its BHS bedspread and its net curtains.
Four months later I was back in the room. The university term was due to begin. I needed to find yet another call centre job to supplement the student loan. There was no great novel, and no dashing aristocrat. The taxi dropped me off at the gate and I slid my key in the lock. In the kitchen, my gran looked up and said ‘There’s the wean home.’
Nothing had changed and the depression was on me heavier than ever.
This could happen with The Clown. I’m pinning too much hope on him and there might be nothing, but that terrible crash back to reality.
It frightens me. It almost makes me wish for Shug back. He may have been an irritating Prima Donna, but he was still a good guy under all the fake drama. I’d be safe with Shug. He might not be as exciting as The Clown and but at least he won’t take my heart in his huge hands and throttle it.
But no, there’s no going back to Shug. He’s not the man for me. I knew that when I took him to meet my Dad a few months ago. The three of us were standing at the bar in Dr Gorman’s in Rutherglen. As Shug and my Dad were, shall we say, of a similar age, they began reminiscing about the Glasgow music scene in the 70s. It turned out they were both at the legendary Clash gig at The Apollo in 1978. My Dad called for Southern Comfort and Lemonade, no ice, and belted out the story of how he and his pals were lifted by the police and slammed into the cells alongside Joe Strummer. What a night! Then we looked to Shug for his memories. Did he get arrested? Get into any scraps? Any notable injuries?
‘Oh no,’ said Shug. ‘I had to catch the last train back to Falkirk.’
Tootling back home to Falkirk? He didn’t fight the law. He didn’t rock the casbah. Oh, the man was never for me.
Anyway, I knew I was over him because he texted me one day and all I felt was a small prick of curiosity. That’s all I felt: a small prick.
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