My old man sat in his usual place on the settee with his newspapers on the seat beside him. My mum sat in her armchair. The telly twittered in the corner. It was some comedy programme; no more than a distraction from the boredom of reality. I sat and half watched as Morcambe and Wise went through their routine. It was quite funny. My dad looked a bit like Eric Morcambe with his pipe gripped between his teeth as he rifled through the papers with half an ear tuned into the programme. That was about all it took to keep abreast of the action. The bulk of his mind was digesting the stories making the news. He worked in newspapers and kept up to date in the evening by reading through a range of different papers.
At ten it was time for a milky drink and then off to bed.
They’d got their life sorted out into a routine. It worked for them. They weren’t really religious although my mum did subscribe to the Spiritualist church. She believed in the afterlife. Sometimes I got the impression that she was looking forward to the afterlife more than she was enjoying life itself. This was something that had to be got through in order to get to some happier, freer place over there where she would meet up with her Mum again. Dad never seemed to give it a thought. He’d had his fun when he was young and got on with the living. He didn’t seem to question it too much. In fact he didn’t seem to have any desire to do anything apart from getting on with his job. I suppose you could say he was happy in his rut. At least he wasn’t unhappy. But then he wasn’t exactly ecstatic either. You got the feeling that he felt that there was no great need to change. He had no desire to get out and enjoy himself. Every now and then he had a quiet night with a couple of pints at the pub but they never even went to the pictures and no friends dropped in. His life was work, the telly, the kids (us – I had two sisters) and the daily routine. It filled the day and the days rattled past.
I chuckled at the well-rehearsed routine. Eric made fun of Ernie’s ‘wig’ and slapped him round the face. It was very familiar and still funny. It worked.
I could slip back into this. They were pleased to see me. I felt easy here but at the same time I knew there had to be more!!!
What the fuck was this all about?
Belinda’s party was short but eventful. She was still living at home you see, with her mum. Her dad had run out a long time before and her mum always seemed strung out and harassed to me. In hindsight I think it might have been a good idea if Belinda had mentioned to her mum that she’d invited a whole load of freaks round for a party. It must have been quite a shock for her when she got home from her weekly visit to the Laundromat to discover the house overrun with longhaired freaks. Already there were couples up in the beds and the air was heavy with smoke and incense sticks. Music pounded and the house was thumping. It had attracted quite a crowd. It must have been quite a sight as she struggled home on her bike with the big bags of laundry to see all the lights shining and hear the music rockin’ from the end of the road.
I don’t think she could quite believe her eyes and ears.
She started shrieking, hitting people with cushions and hysterically chasing people out of the house.
At the time we were all quite amused. Well, except for Oz who had got Beena up in the bedroom and was getting round to some serious rumpy pumpy when Belinda’s wild-eyed mum had burst in on them.
Come to think of it I don’t think I ever saw Belinda again. Perhaps she had been grounded forever. Perhaps her mum had completely flipped and done her in! No, I think I might have heard about that!
Jack and I had just been passed a nice fat jay and ambled off to the park to sit on the swings and finish it off.
It was nice in the park, one of those balmy evenings.
“Has to be more to life than this,” I observed.
“Fun, sex and getting out your tree?” Jack queried, raising an eyebrow. “Who could ask for more?”
“I could, I guess,” I replied, getting a little more philosophical with every draw on the surprisingly strong jay. “I wanna get to the bottom of it. I want some mystical understanding, some insight. I wanna stare at the sun until I get a vision. I wanna go without sleep until I’m crazy enough to understand it all. I wanna whirl around like a dervish until the whole universe stands still so that I can dissect it. I wanna try some of that South American stuff they shoot up your nose with a big tube so that I can become a jaguar or condor, or something. I wanna meditate until I can fly. I wanna starve myself until I hallucinate. I wanna reach Nirvana and be one with universe.”
“Yeah, man. Nirvana or bust,” Jack said with a chuckle. “Just pass that joint over here.”
“Nirvana or bust.” I agreed.
We both laughed and stared up at the big old moon. It was so big and clear that you could see all the craters.
“Nirvana or fucking bust,” I murmured. I was burning up inside with the need to live. I wanted it all. There had to be more to life than this.