The inner critic's bigger, uglier sister

(Cue the Tom Jones music) It’s not unusual. (Actually, switch that bloody racket off and stop doing that pelvis thing and licking your lips, it irks, me. Thank you.) It’s not even uncommon. You see, I have more than a just a vocal inner critic- I also have a self-destructive streak. This is not the same as being suicidal, or physically hazardous, although I suppose they are related and occasionally they do overlap -but it is destructive.

In the past my self-destructive streak has been expressed in many and several stupid ways – the joys of competitive drinking and drug-taking (yes, I was that idiotic: “How quickly can you smoke a quarter of hash?” “ Err, hold on dude - I used to be able to remember. What did you ask me?…” “How quickly can you down a half bottle of scotch?” “You paying? Well, how quickly can you get me to A&E and I’ll show you?” etc., etc. ...) I shake my head, raise my eyebrows, pour another cup of camomile tea and then pour scorn on my ridiculous self-abasing past. Tut tut.

Of course, tales of the 3.a.m prowl around Stratford on Avon clutching a bottle of tequila, wearing nothing more than a vest, a pair of boxer shorts, a scarf, cowboy boots and a fedora, singing “Jerusalem”- then waking up slumped underneath the statue of Billy S himself by a couple of tourists taking my picture- does make for a picaresque anecdote. As does the midsummer dawn barbecue – where the contents of a flatmate’s room were emptied and lightly chargrilled (singed rather than destroyed, as if that makes a difference: if it had been done at the Whitechapel Gallery I dare say I’d have been up for the Turner Prize that year, of course…) until said flatmate admitted that yes, indeed, he had pissed on the sofa. Should it matter to you, the item that he couldn’t stand to be burned was neither his teddy bear, nor the picture of his mother, but his really not very special shoes…and no, neither he nor anyone else thought to stop me. Even the story of “taking a shortcut” through someone else’s house -scurrying through their garden, creeping through their back door, pausing behind their sofa (where I spied their still steaming cup of tea and was tempted by their plain chocolate rich tea biscuit) then charging full tilt out of their front door before stopping to tie my shoelace and nonchalantly continuing down the street- makes for a jolly tale. And these stories might even be amusing if they weren’t true. But they are, and I am both lazily impressed with the chutzpah I once showed and cringe with embarrassment at the mindless stupidity of it – I could have ended up dead, beaten up or arrested for pretty much any/all of them and where would I be now if that had happened?

So, these days my self-destructive, risk-taking urges are far less dramatic –and thankfully far less frequent - and yet they are no less harmful. I could go into detail, but I won’t: to be honest, it doesn’t make a good anecdote (examples are available on request for the terminally curious). Needless to say, much like with the inner critic, I have a strong suspicion this self-destructive streak will not fully go away. Damn.


Anonymous said...

Oh how I envy you.