May solitude

We got horribly drunk the night before

A couple of drinks after work

Turned into something considerably different.

A brandy promotion

Or something

I couldn’t remember driving home

But back then it was ok

Waking up with that confused guilty sensation

With a pounding head and a face that felt swollen

Meeting them back at work

We laughed as people do when knowing they’re equally in pain

I needed to be in the town of George later that afternoon

A four hour drive on my own down the coast

I left at midday.

Driving slowly

Nothing but a hotel reservation in front of me

My hangover slowly faded

Into that not unpleasant state of sweet melancholia

It was May

My favourite month in South Africa

The afternoon sun reflected off the still waters of the Knysna lagoon

In the windless cool stillness of May

The patches of mist

Clung to the earth in the valleys and on the water

And I felt ok

I was ok

There’s nothing quite like arriving at a hotel room

After a drive

Especially in the tiredness of an afternoon following a hangover.

A properly made bed

New sheets, your own space . . . . and silence

Glorious silence and solitude

My room overlooked the Outeniqua mountains

I sipped a glass of wine as I looked out at the sun going down to my left

It’s the crazy nights that sometimes make us feel alive

And the beautiful moments of solitude

Remain so hard to explain

Sunday at the Royal

I was feeling melancholic

But it was Sunday afternoon

And Sundays seemed to bring about the most emotion

Especially lately

Southend in summer 

And everything was out


Smells of fish, chips, and ice cream

Continual screams drifted up 

From the amusement park rides

Some Sundays I made my way 

To the Royal Hotel bar

A pint helped to dilute the gloom 

Into something I could trust more

Sometimes the one pint turned into two

Making Sunday more acceptable

Like every Sunday afternoon 

A singer sat in the corner 

And played to the handful of people

I sat by the window

And looked out at the wide gaping mouth of the Thames

Seagulls drifted overhead

My thoughts drifted back to the last two days

And this strange maze we walk through

That we call life

All these bodies walking past 

Showing all this skin

Much of it like leather

The singer played out a rendition of

Losing my Religion

As drugged up fellow amused himself across the street

And the roller coaster screams continued to waft up

All these choices

All these roads

All these possible outcomes

Sometimes all we can do

Is sit by a window with a pint

And look back

And wonder how differently it might have looked

Or what on earth is next

As we cast the dice

And play the hand in front of us

While infinite paths lie ahead

And the world remains indifferent

As the big ferris wheel turns 

Like the sun that keeps coming around

As the ship sails by 

Only to return

As the tide recedes slowly 

Only to be back tomorrow

As the seagulls circle

It was after 6pm

Yazoo’s Only You was being bastardised

I needed a second pint

The bench

 Some afternoons after work I’d walk

down to the promenade walkway

and walk 2 miles up the shore and back again

Strangely I preferred the windy afternoons

they somehow blew the monotony of the working day away

and made me feel alive again

There was an old man who always sat on the same bench

as I walked past

Some days I’d catch him getting there

some days I’d catch him leaving

Most times I’d just see him sitting there

on his own

looking out over the sea

I felt I knew what he was thinking

Sometimes he’d be staring down

at his old wrinkled hands or looking at passers by

A few times I saw him petting dogs smiling

so I knew he was kind type

I liked him for that

And then one day he wasn’t there

Ever again

As I walked back to my apartment

a couple of blocks back

I would sometimes think

We’re all just alone

sitting on a bench

waiting to disappear