Tina Rowe

Northern Line

Travel Chaos at London Bridge

Some poor bastard threw themselves under a train near New Cross this morning. It screwed up the trains into London Bridge so when I arrived at my office people were late and moaning about it. I listened to them in the lift and a bit more in the kitchen but eventually the selfish assholery of complaining about being 30 minutes late for a job that isn’t going to dock your pay, punish you or probably even notice you showed up late got to me and I said; I would imagine they were feeling pretty bad. The response to this was ‘couldn’t he have taken a pill or something’. I looked at the speaker in a way that most likely implied I was not impressed and sloped away from the corporate coffee machine.

I went to pick up the caddy that holds my laptop from my locker because it’s a modern agile work environment with on message litter about mental health awareness and other workplace concerns scattered about and because we all hot desk here to keep us on our toes.  So I found an empty space near a window because I always sit near windows. While I was plugging in this and that, I noticed that my eyes were prickling so I went to the toilets because although I’m pretty sure the fella that said the thing is not a heartless asshole of trumpian proportions and had meant to make me cry, it just happened that he did.  He probably will have no idea just how fucking awful it is to lose someone you love to suicide because you can’t until you lose some one you love to suicide. Furthermore, I’m willing to bet, the excruciating pain of waking up and realising that someone you love chose to take their own life probably only scratches the surface of what it is like to feel suicide is the only solution to the baleful conundrum your life has become. The pain I feel when I bump up against the hard reality of my father’s death nearly 40 years ago is thankfully, generally fleeting. Any attempt to try and understand the depth of the well of hopelessness that is a precursor to the vast majority of suicides, just fails. That, I firmly believe, is the stop valve that keeps most of us present.

And there is worse to come for the suicidee, the left behind, the act distorts the shape of the person you have lost. It bloats them out like some ghastly cartoon balloon transforming them into a huge fleshy bruise that every time you try to touch, hurts you all the more. It’s horrible. And so it stole away the good things; the happy times, the myriad acts each and every day that attest to the overall goodness of my father; the willingness to indulge my imagination even when the rest of the world dismissed me as a disruptive pest and troublemaker, the patience to show me how to make a chord progression without the need of sheet music, the insistence I should start to learn to drive 9 months before I could have applied for a licence, the common sense that meant on those occasions that school was just too awful a place for me that meant he’d let me spend the day with him as he drove around the territory he had to service for our daily bread. All gone.

I completely forgot him for quite a long time.

Not like the amnesiac who would say, who are you to their spouse, or like the alzheimer’s sufferer who can’t tell the bus driver from their own flesh and blood. I knew who he was had been. I could point him out in a photograph. What I was denied was access to memories of him a living person. I couldn’t hear his voice or even imagine him moving in anyway at all. And at the same time, I forgot that I was in the process of forgetting him.

Well not quite, there was one memory, from the morning of the day he died. I’d had a row with my mother at the breakfast table and I was stomping out of the house without the usual peck on the cheek. Somehow, he got to the front door first, and he was standing there in front of me, eye to eye, which was weird as he was 6ft and I’m barely 5.5”. He looked at me with a little bit of panic in his eyes and said, “kiss your mother good bye please”, I said no, he said again, “kiss your mother goodbye Tina, kiss your mother goodbye for me”. Well I did. I had no difficulty remembering that exchange in animated living colour and dolby surround sound.

So the next time you hear that you are going to have to stand on a platform some minutes longer than you had anticipated when you left the house this morning and you are going to be late for a job that you probably don’t really give the slightest toss about beyond the salary; the next time something like that happens and your first thought is how inconvenienced it has all made you, do me a favour; go fuck yourself.

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