Imagine there is a field with eighty bones in it. A hundred dogs are sent out to get those bones. Most dogs go away happy, most dogs get a bone – some may even get two. The unhappy dogs are the ones that aren’t very good at sniffing out and digging up bones: if there had been a hundred bones in the field they still would have struggled. Poor bastards.
Now, imagine that instead of eighty bones in the field there are just twenty. And instead of there being a hundred dogs, there are two hundred. Starts to become a problem, doesn’t it? And not only that, but there are more dogs on the way. Dogs that have been studying ranges. Dogs that are balanced. Equity dogs. ICM dogs. Stove dogs. Fresh, hungry dogs that haven’t spent the last six years bone hunting.
At one point I thought I was going to become King Bonehunter. Now I’m not so sure. Now I sit at the side of the field with the slugs smoking roll-ups and I think, You know what, these bones can go fuck themselves
Later, I go to see my GP.
“This may sound unusual,” I tell him, “but for the last fourteen months I’ve had the sound of an air-conditioning unit in my head.”
“That doesn’t sound unusual at all,” he says, as if every other person who comes in here is half-man/half-air-conditioning unit.
“Really? Because it feels unusual saying it.”
I’m not sure my doctor is a doctor; he looks more like a cleaner.
“I think it could be stress-related,” I say, wanting to tell him about the bones.
“Are you under much stress at the moment?”
“It could be stress-related.”
Wow, I think, he’s good. No wonder he’s got so many bones. He’s probably got bones coming out of his ears.
“You’ve probably got bones coming out of your ears,” I say.
“I said: YOU’VE PROBABLY GOT BONES COMING OUT OF YOUR EARS.”
“Have you thought about cognitive behavioural therapy?” He asks me later.
“Yes. In fact, you referred me to a cognitive behavioural therapist a few years ago.”
“And how did you find it?”
“It was excellent.”
“Well, take this leaflet…”
I take the cloying, over-friendly leaflet and begin to stumble out.
“The toilets could do with a mop,” I say, and I’m gone.
Later I decide (not for the first time) to take to my bed. I’ll stay in bed forever, I think. No-one can stop me, I think. And if someone did try to stop me then they would probably try and help me too. That would be good. I’m buoyed until I realise that I don’t have a bed. Homelessness is not as glamorous as you might think.
At night I walk around in the rain with my shirt off drinking whisky. The slugs are illuminated by artificial light against the brilliant white wall. I swig whisky in the rain with my shirt off. The slugs are oily and black and sinister and marvellous.
“Hi again slugs,” I say. “I’m ready to join you now.”
“MMMMURRRGGGHHHHH,” go the slugs.
“That’s right. I’m going to get all oily and black and sinister and marvellous and bed down with you. I’ve got a sleeping bag that I’m going to dip in tar. Won’t that be something?”
“MMMMM” go the slugs.
“And you will call me King Slug.”
“You can’t be King Slug,” says one. “He’s King Slug.”
He gestures to King Slug.
“Oh yes, of course. Well, I’ll just be a slug. An ordinary slug.”
“MMMMURRRGGGHHHHH,” go the slugs.
And off I go to search for that leaflet.
Disclaimer: This is potentially a new low. The above is a bastardisation of something I wrote a few years ago, but with some poker stuff crowbarred in. In my defence all of the above ailments - the half-man/half-air-conditioning-unit stuff, the bone stuff, the slug stuff - are ongoing. So there's that at least.