In late October 2002 I was in a stormy, difficult relationship with a woman I loved very much. I had a job I really enjoyed, teaching at University on a temporary, part-time basis, and another job working for an agency doing whatever they wanted, which included driving vans and working in hospitals. I enjoyed the challenge; itís nice to have a change, although of course some of the jobs were bad, and the rest were generally worse. My daughter Emily and her boyfriend were living with me in a flat with a share of a huge garden.
I lost all this in a moment, and I also lost mobility, confidence, optimism, health, my tenuous grip on a place in the world. If I sound sorry for myself, then that would be because I deserve my sympathy. It seems the result of a terrible curse.
Can we think of what is in a sense distilled agony as being in some way art?† Itís a challenge, both for writer and audience, a collaboration rarely attempted (I would have thought) to turn months of sickness, injury, pain, loss and torment into 'entertainment'. So we must, both of us, (you, the reader and I, the writer) see this as a challenge, and determine not to attempt any callous, unsympathetic laughter at the pain of others, (the lowest and most popular form of humour), but instead a weird and twisted adjustment of our understanding which will allow the exchange of sympathy, and the unlikely transmutation of suffering into humour.
In any case, it has not been the pain of these experiences which has been the worst thing about them, but the infinitely gradual succession of the lived reality of that pain, the knowledge that there is nothing to be done except to go through, instant after instant, a process or sequence of uncertain outcome, to endure what cannot in any case be avoided, the consciousness of the continuity of the suffering self.