For over a decade now I have lived with a terrible secret, one which has haunted my every waking and sleeping hour. For as long as I can remember, they, have been a part of my life. Stalking me. Watching me. Waiting for me to walk in their direction, to fall into their high street traps.
It was in the spring 1992 that I began to be consciously aware that something was very wrong. I was unemployed, and would spend idol hours journeying into town, meandering through the streets, pretending to go to the jobcentre and generally wasting as much time as possible.
At this time I began to get increasingly paranoid that something or someone was following me. I could feel eyes upon me everywhere I went. I had feelings of déjà vu all the time.
What sparked me to seek help was one particular occasion in early spring. At the time I was messing around on a Princes Trust Volunteers course and had just attended a Job Fare at the NEC. In a field of 5,000 prospective employers, all I had managed to secure was several plastic bags, a glow in the dark badge which read “Give Us A Job” and a promise written on toilet paper from some sales guy from CompuSpeak that he would give me a 10% discount if I signed up to a £10,000 computer course.
I was deflated, desperate and down.
From what I could remember I had come back into the city centre and was walking down the high street. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen. I wondered into a few shops, browsed around and eventually ended up back at my bus stop. It was when I gazed at my watch that I noticed something strange. There was approximately thirty minutes of time that I couldn’t account for.
What had happened in those thirty minutes?
Over the following days I would have a series of vivid flashbacks and nightmares. In them, Old Mother Hubbard was attaching some kind of electrical shock equipment to my gonads. It was horrific.
I had to seek help. I went to my GP. He gave me two options. Either my watch was up the spout or, I was stark raving bonkers. I settled for bonkers and he settled for referring me to a Psycho analyst called Doug, at my local Centre.
Doug decided the best course of action was hypnosis. He told me to look in his eyes, that I would soon feel very sleepy. He took my mind back to that faithful day. I saw myself wondering from shop to shop aimlessly…
Then, I was walking along the high street, wrapped in a mood of melancholia when someone suddenly announced, “Do you mind if I ask you one question?” Thinking that the question would probably involve my thoughts on the new design for Heinz Baked Beans tins or such, and not having the strength of will to resist I replied, “Yeah, Ok.” This was to be a mistake.
“If there was one thing you could have above everything else, what would it be?” She said. Man, this wasn’t quite what I’d expected, where were the product shots, the endless personal preference questions and the free one pound voucher. I was somewhat thrown.
After some thought I said, “A piano”, this threw her but she regained her composure.
“Today is your lucky day.” Really, I thought, “I’m gonna show you how you can get what you really want. And it’ll only take ten minutes of your time. Will you let me show you?”
Innocent, intrigued, gullible, naive or just plain stupid I said Ok and she led me away. From that moment on I was captured prey. She had reeled me in. Hook, line and sinker. We went around the back of McDonalds. I was about to enter another reality. A reality where everyone wanted to help me. I would become a special case, or at least I would feel like one. Never before in my life would I receive such attention, well, except from the Jesus Army, the Living Marxism crew, the Gnostics and the Big Issue sellers.