Thursday 31 July

Approaching my mid-30s quicker than a runaway steamship heading downhill towards the equator, it is perhaps time I began at least a tentative mapping of the (presumed) years ahead. In the past, due to my contrary nature, it was very easy to plan what I wanted for the future: precisely what I couldn’t get. This led to any number of distracting and diversionary romantic pursuits over the last decade that have left me, this time on, exhausted, alone but – crucially – either still alive or enduring a vaguely underwhelming afterlife. So it is that I sit down tonight and construct an Excel worksheet from some old piping I find lying about on the roof. ‘Lifeplan 35’ I name the thing, a touch grandly.

With qualifications as abstract as my art it may seem rash to add to them but, in accordance with their global aims, my employers have offered to subsidize a course in TMPUEBN (Teaching Manners to People Unfortunate Enough to be Born Non-British) and it would seem churlish not to sign up, perhaps one day practicing abroad (I hear Bolton is nice this time of year). So there's something to place upon the crooked shelf marked ‘self-development.’ ‘Boozing’ and ‘smoking’ are unsurprisingly adjacent to ‘Cut down’ and ‘Give up’ spelt out in screws as old and rusty as the sentiments themselves; which is not to say that the evening passes without fresh achievement – for the first time in my life I succeed in cooking for more than two people. And who could be more deserving of my decapitated peppers (stuffed with bolog, topped with goat’s cheese) than my old Levenshulme friends, Louis and Rouge? Family, friends and music are discussed, as always when we meet; but the smoking is cut down, the beers non-excessive. Perhaps this is the key to plotting the years hence: maintaining a clear head, even if the final decision is simply to foggy it up again with future excess. From next door comes the howl of someone trapped in a cold shower; their approach to modern lusts a little more radical than mine.

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