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27 August 2016 @ 02:13 pm
Picking up where I left off - from my Facebook page.  
Originally written on Facebook but decided this wasn't the most appropriate place, especially when people I'll be referring to - even in passing without naming names (much),  who were around at a catastrophic time in my life and saw me at my very worst, have presences there. So If I want to carry on writing about a period of my life that was pretty inglorious and which involved other people, most of whom have FB accounts, best to do it somewhere like here. So reviving this account....

I said:

. There was a woman who was going to go places - she had the right blend of self-confidence et c. It showed. And go places she did, up until quite recently. I was sure I recognised her on the street in Didsbury, Manchester, a few years back. (she didn't recognise me, though, Just as well). Yesterday, I read that she went through seriously bad times a couple of years ago, and lost everything. It even made the national press, but as she worked in PR and I recall she wrote for the Guardian at one time, that didn't surprise me. Everything went for her - husband, high-flying career, house, home. We weren't close, anything but, but I read her story and felt bad for her. You wouldn't want that to happen to anyone, and when you read about it happening to somebody you know by face and name and had a tangential association with.... not good. But I did think "Well, you've joined the club, Michele. We UEA grads who hit rock bottom. Then had to get back up again." Harder to get back up when you've had further to fall, I suppose.

I stress this is not a personal attack or a gloat. Especially as I'm linking to her account, published in the Daily Mirror (ie, public domain and out in the open)  to give something of the background. It cannot be. And I hope it isn't interpreted as this. I went through similar shit myself and it was so relentless and prolonged that I despaired there'd be an end to it. And I know through mutual contacts that Michele C once witnessed me doing something boneheadedly stupid out of sheer desperation.  So no. I'm not gloating or laughing or being vindictive. Especially since the crap coming down on me at that time was pretty much of my own making. I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom hard and it's got to hurt more when it happens despite your own actions and you're largely blameless, as I suspect applies in Michele's case from her published account and those things she chose to make public. The goal, I suppose, is confessional, to talk about me and to get out in the open something of that period for me and how it felt. Maybe to make a few general observations in passing about British life and society - vaguely political.


What do you say?  Some years ago I saw her in the street in Didsbury (upmarket suburb of Manchester. Seriously so. London standards of prosperity). To live there you have to be doing well for yourself. And by inference, the "nearby council estate" she refers to must be Withington or Northenden or Northern Moor. (that's if Manchester were the responsible authority; if home was one of the Cheadles it puts her in Stockport, so the nearest council estates are Cheadle Heath, Heald Green, maybe Adswood.)  Not the crummiest by any means but a hell of a comedown after Didsbury/Parrs Wood/ Cheadle borders. I saw somebody walking down towards the corner of Wilmslow Road and Barlow Moor Road who looked familiar. Normally it takes a while to place a random person on a street who looks familiar from somewhere, if you manage it at all, but this one rolled back the years to UEA Norwich around 1987-89. Even then - around 2010 - I recognised her instantly and association of ideas brought back a few hideous memories and a red surge of embarrassment and, I  suppose, guilt. She hadn't changed much. I wasn't too surprised: such contacts as I'd kept with UEA had brought up that she lived in the area. I'd shrugged and considered the chances of running into anyone from that time would be pretty random, even remote, in a big city like Manchester. But not impossible.

I'd already run into somebody from that time, by sheer chance, in the top floor of Waterstones Deansgate. As it was somebody I'd ended up being alienated from, I bottled out of walking up to him and saying "hello". Suspected he'd have blanked me. Based on one later interaction, he might have called security or the police and had me arrested or something! Sadly, this was a possibility. also I wasn't on my own, and I didn't want the humiliation of being blanked or otherwise adversely-reacted-to in front of the person I was with. Maybe on my own I might have chanced it and taken the whack. I did learn later he was doing a postgrad at Manchester Uni. (He's a professor at a university in the USA now. Different story but one I may cover, in a discreet way.)

Anyway, on that occassion in Didsbury, Michele Cheaney, a person I'd not seen since about 1990, passed by on the other side of the street: I doubt she had any of the same awkward recognition. No reason for her to. On the other hand, the surge of bad memories, for me, was powerful. Even if the trigger was somebody who'd only ever tangentially been a part of them. Took a while to recover and I was glad I was on my own and didn't need to explain my change of mood to anyone. This ghost from my past seemed happy, healthy and prosperous, anyway. I tried to be positive about that and not to think in any negative or petty ways. Thinking about it, was my reaction a sort of PTSD? You associate that with wars and violence and serious shit, but there's no denying the time from autumn 1987 onwards for several years was cumulatively traumatic for me and took a lot of recovery. If that was how I felt on seeing somebody who was only ever  on the fringes of my nightmare, wonder what might happen if I encountered {{name redacted}} again in the flesh.... seeing her current photo on FB was uncomfortable. Although the reaction was ultimately a sad and wistful one, tinged with feelings of {{shame, guilt, inadequacy?}} - like a memory of past pain and hurt but relief, recognition that it's all over and in the past. Not that I'm in any hurry to go to the area where she lives. Ye gods, no. No reason to and best avoided. And it's a long way away from here on the other side of bloody London. The closest I ever go is Kent and that's nowhere near. (Bet with my luck I see her on Westgate or St Peters in Canterbury or even Sandgate Road Folkestone... life has a habit of dropping surprises like this...)


Had to post Dylan here.  "Positively Fourth Street" would have been inappropriate as we were never friends or more than very tangential associates. But "Like a Rolling Stone" nails it, I think. It was once quoted at me by the above-mentioned former friend I alienated. i only really got his point a long time afterwards.

I'll come back to this later but this is a start. Things to do immediately, alas. Birthday today, but I'm relieved I wasn't in any life-threatening car crash on this one!

Current Location: Northern England
Current Mood: "Mystery Tramp" mode
Current Music: Bob Dylan, like a Rolling Stone