• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 10
Image by

Cheating the Tide

It usually starts like this, having lost control again, Joy Division percussion rattling inside his skull. The suit holds him up, a suit of armour, which in theory should be heavy and claustrophobic but luckily, it isn’t. He starches his clothes (shirt collars in particular), a remnant from a previous century, and the stiffness which this ritual brings acts as an iron lung. Breathe, in and out, another ritual which is absolutely necessary in order to cheat the tide. It’s impossible to master it, but he has become accustomed to cheating (other people, the law, death) now that he has joined this underworld of villainy.

All it took was an unremarkable face. His, the sort of face possessed by countless administration assistants and bank clerks and insurance salesman. Nothing exceptionally ugly or exceptionally beautiful. Just a face, with two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and everything the expected palette of beige-pink-brown. His face was his ancestors’ gift to him, the accumulation of generations of suffered marriages and saintly marriages and sentimental marriages.

See? Nothing out of the ordinary.

He has to reconstruct his face during these episodes, gaining perspective on the world which has become a teeming mass of pursed lips and jug-like ears. The first step is to adjust his breathing, the second is to select the most unremarkable features in order to build the image he seeks. He is the corporeal Mr Potato Head, centring himself and finding his nose. The third step is to stop panicking and pull your knickers up, man. There is a time and place for feelings like these. It doesn’t matter that you’ve not found that time or place, doesn’t matter that there isn’t one.

[Sorry, I’ve got a panic attack scheduled for half past two, couldn’t you wait?]


Cheating the Tide

But pulling his knickers up, sticking his courage to the sticking place, grabbing life by the short and curlies makes all of this worse. Graffiti and walls and human beings morph into apocalyptic swirls, moving moving moving, and although he knows that he’s the problem, he’s the anomaly, he’s the one who is wrong wrong wrong wrong, that all he needs to do is reconstruct his face and it will all be fine ... it’s not fine, it never will be, and so the swirls descend.