Out There: That's what I think...
I'm thinking about thinking, and what a waste of time it is. I spend all my time 'thinking', but when I look at 'thought', all I find is garbage and old entrails
Saturday 15 July 1995
She called last night to give me the latest bulletin on how bored she is with all this publicity she's getting, you know, the papers and Channel 4, how they all want a piece, and how she gave this prat from the Express a really good interview and all he wanted to talk about was her private life, and what her agent thinks and how her editor won't say "sex" in front of her.
When she finally asked what I'm doing, I tell her I'm lying on the sofa in my underwear with my feet hanging out of the window, looking at the stars. She doesn't even hear the last part, and anyway decides to read me a chunk of her novel. I find myself taking aim at the prettiest star, about to blow it into a trillion shards of light. Then I realise what I'm doing and put my gun back in its holster.
It's 1.54pm and I'm back on the sofa, thinking about going to Leeds for the Vague birthday party, when I realise it's never going to happen because I've left it too late and I'm just not spontaneous enough to jump on a train at the last minute.
It's 1.55pm and I'm thinking what a good column it would make if I was spontaneous enough, etc. But there is a time and a place for spontaneity, and anyhow, I'd have to take an E, and then my body fluids would start leaking, and next thing I know, I'd be back in My Own Private Idaho. Now I feel depressed.
It's 2.18pm and I'm thinking about thinking, and what a waste of time it is. I spend all my time "thinking", but when I look at "thought", all I find is garbage and old entrails. What I call "thinking" is really not much more than a kind of mental cud-chewing, regimented fantasy with the specific aim of reinforcing my self-importance. Cogito, ergo sum: says it all, doesn't it? That's what I think, anyway.
It's 2.24pm and I'm thinking, I'll show that bastard, I'll pastiche him ripping me off. Yeah, that's what I'll do. I think this is a splendid idea.
It's 2.25pm and I'm wondering if she'll remember what she said when she phoned me back two minutes after the conversation fizzled out: "I don't think we need to talk to each other again, do you?" She didn't think? But that was exactly what she had done.
She had thought about it, and become angry that I hadn't been solicitous enough, enthusiastic enough about her embryonic career which, in the absence of any real experience, is how she defines herself. But what could I say? I'm 38 and she's 16. I know and she doesn't. Maybe I should just cut to the chase, say: "Look, this fabulous persona you're so busy erecting. Forget it. When you get to my age you'll realise that you've built yourself a monumental prison, and like me you'll wonder how the hell you're ever going to take it down again."
Instead, I pretend not to know what she is talking about, and say, "OK, byeeee!"
It's 2.31pm and I think she must have received my postcard by now, the one I sent yesterday morning, with the Alan Watts quote. "For the proper conservation of intellectual life, it is incredibly important to not think at least once a day. If we do nothing other than think, we will have nothing to think about, except for thoughts. Meditation is the state in which one is clearly awake and conscious of the world as it is, as opposed to the world as we describe it. In meditation, we drop thought. That is, we stop talking to ourselves and symbolising for ourselves what is happening. We simply take note of what is."
That should give her something to think about.
It's 3.13pm and I've finally sussed it. That other journalist, the bastard who copies everything I do? I think it's me.
It's 3.28 and the column is finished. I'm wondering whether I should go to Leeds and neck a disco biscuit. Maybe I could meet someone nice but not too clever. Hmmmm, it's a tough one. I'll have to think about it
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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