moment 9

every time it happens it amazes me. i can be sitting happily at home or lying in bed, nodding off after a tiring day, or even watching tv, or reading a book, then it creeps up. the little nag at first, a small tapping of the needle in a corner of my brain. Tap. Tap. i try to ignore it. refocus on going to sleep, focusing on the programme or the page. TAp. TAp. my stomach begins to clench as it know what is coming. TAP. TAP. then the voices, the cry of what ifs reexamining the day and where i went wrong or think i went wrong. did that person really mean that or were they hiding their true feelings. maybe they secretly despise. you may think that would be enough but not for my mind. it is just getting warmed up. now we top it off with predictive what ifs. what if i do something wrong at work tomorrow? what if my boss sees it? what if they find out i’m not any good? what if – what if – what if. it yells in my ear. my heart beats fast. i begin to sweat. everything around me is reduced to nothing. i just hear the voices. you’re a charlatan! you deserve to fail! you’re no good to anyone. i try to focus on my breathing like i’ve been taught. centre my mind on a single part of my body. focus. come on, focus! the voices laugh and yell at volume. out of control. they jump from cell to cell in my brain. kicking at the positive, knocking it down, crushing it under foot. count to ten, count to ten, count to ten. focus on your breathing. then the disasters tear up as punishment. the abject fears of harm to my family. did i lock the doors? is everyone safe? the voices come back: but if you did lock them, can you be sure? can you be trusted? surely, something so important can’t be trusted to you? count to ten. count to ten. count to ten. breathe in slowly. hold it. breathe out. focus on the toe. the right toe. now follow the toe along the leg. take a journey. one part at a time. the voices quieten to a whisper, not completely gone, just murmuring enough for me to know they are there. i get up, walk to the kitchen, and pour myself a glass of wine.

moment 8

Black and white leather barber chair

i never understood how women could spend so long in a hairdresser. how they could disappear for half a day. half a day! i knew about the colours and potions that had to be applied but could not see the attraction of spending so long on a necessary thing. when i was young, if i was lucky, i got a break from the wonky fringe created by mother and instead went to the Bosun’s. Chair. it was a typical town hairdressers, images of forgotten styles proudly in the windows, chrome chairs and black outlined mirrors. a woman in her forties would listen carefully to my mother’s instructions and produce an approximation. once, when a teen, i took a picture from a magazine of Jon Moss and saidi wanted hair like him. i left disappointed by the outcome. when i grew older, i ventured into the world of gentlemen barbers. there was one called Manns (yes, really) that lay hidden down an alley in Taunton. people would sit waiting, courteously declining their turn if it was the old guy cutting. no one wants a cut from pre-war days. we wanted the latest trend of shaved sides and spikes atop. he just couldn’t cut it. i would leave more satisfied at the price than the result. when i moved to London, i found places that would trim for a tenner. no time wasted. ideal for a frugal me. i would go to the same place and as for the same thing. over the years, we built an understanding. then, overnight, a disaster. it shut. my reassuring friend was no more. so i went on an adventure. entering places i had never before explored. one, we talked fluently in our own language. In vain I tried to sign a style.  I left with something. the worse time i saw a place full of young men with clippers. i thought they must know. Iientered and sat down.  the guy cutting became distracted by a friend and the offer of a cigarette. he continued with fag in hand, clippers in the other, talking, turning to talk to his mate. realising the cutting a hindrance, he handed the clippers to another and walked out to continue his chat.  i left with a disaster on my head. now, i go to the same place as my wife. it is above my usual 10. but i get pampered. coffee is offered, good coffee, and. i lean back and have my hair washed. the massaging releasing the tensions of the week. then the cut. i show a picture and she crafts with scissors a close representation.. i smile at the person in the mirror and leave happy.