Condemned to live

HELLO TREES, hello sky, we'll meet again, with a smile and a song, and I think to myself, what a wonderful thump crash wallop, knuckles crack, nose bursts, blood blossoms all down Mr Portillo's little blue shirt, and you know what? I don't even have anything against Mr Portillo at the moment, and as for his shirt, he's always struck me as quite a well-dressed sort of a man. It's just free-floating rage. Juvenal would have understood, but then Juvenal is also dead, so to hell with him. Can't you just see him - smell him - nearly two millennia back, condemning the vices to which he was most drawn, slouching past the racetrack with his big old belly and his pout and his lousy teeth, snarling at the lip-licking popsies up on the Palatine with their fancy scent and their smooth, smooth thighs, and their rich bastard "protectors" ... once you got to a certain level, then as now, you could move up from fornication to cubiculation, trade the rat-shit arches of the Colosseum for the scented couch of a senator. The bitches! The bastards! And never mind that your man Juvenal is himself straight from the bath-house, slick with the venerean sudor of that self- same senator's wife. Times change, and we ... we remain the same.

This message of hope comes to you from one snatched from the jaws of death. What? Me, you fools. I mentioned my heart last week, and how it seemed to have got better on its own, and I spent much of Monday on a treadmill, wired up, being goaded by cardiologists, who then made me strap on the 24-hour monitor which records every heartbeat.

How dull my life suddenly seemed. They give you a little Patient's Diary, Time, Activity, Symptoms. Don't have any symptoms and my time's my own, but the activities. Oh dear. 13:25: Lunch. 14:00-15:15: Nap. 17:35: Wristwatch fell off. Picked it up. 04:25: Creepy dream. 08:15: Woke up with start (doorbell). Pathetic, really. I wanted to have an interesting life, one where the cardiologists would say "Blimey, no wonder his heart's packing up." 13:00: Lunch - steak tartare, Ch Beychevelle 1966, Viagra, three Siamese lap-dancers. 16:00: Arrested for public order offences. 17:35: Shared Siamese lapdancers with policemen. 19:00 - Solved cold fusion problem. 20:15-23:30: Award ceremony dinner. Received Lifetime Achievement award. 24:00-03:00: Cocaine, wrote short story, Viagra, Welsh lapdancers, fried- egg sandwich, fought. 04:00: Up. Kick-boxing. Cocaine. Jigsaw puzzle. Hashish. Woman from downstairs flat. Woman from downstairs flat's dog.

Now that is a Patient's Diary a man could be proud to hand in. But my own little effort? Pfoo. They'll look at me and think "Dull sod, why does he bother to go on living?" And I shall. Go on living, I mean. Because it looks as if whatever it was that was wrong with my heart isn't wrong with my heart any more.

I should be relieved, but I'm not. Not really. There's no mileage in it, no grandeur, no pathos, and, most of all, no prospect of all the things I always believed came with getting older. Experience? I think not. Experiences, yes; experience, no. "Here lies Michael Bywater," it will say on my gravestone, "None The Wiser". And that about sums it up, because there's no real sign of wisdom, either. What passes for wisdom seems to me merely a sort of creeping sloth, a lack of capacity; if I no longer fight, fornicate, drink until dawn, it's merely because I cannot be bothered. Discernment? Nope. My critical faculties are as bolloxed as they ever were; I may be better- informed, but I still burst into tears over Mahler even though I can see exactly how he pulls off his cheap tricks, and when some beautiful woman invites me back to her place for a bit of how's-your-cubicularum, I refuse not from decency or ethics, but because it all seems too much effort and I can't face another morning waking in a strange bed, going out to get some milk, and realising as I leave the shop that I have no idea of her address and all the streets look the same.

But what I resent most of all is that for the past however many years, I have been terrified of dying and never realised it. I only realise it now because the threat has been lifted, and it's a grave - hah! - disappointment. Timor mortis conturbat me said the poet, and it added grandeur, depth and texture to life. But once you realise that you've suffered timor mortis and it left you about as conturbed as popping out for 20 Dunhill and an Evening Standard ... well, one feels somehow diminished, a man of little sensibility and even less wisdom. The truth, I think, must be that I am shallow, vain, and condemned to live a superficial life, dying, eventually, in invincible ignorance. So I suppose I'd better stand for Mayor of London. See you on the Millennium Wheel, and watch out for the River of Fire.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower