10 December 1864
The green-eyed monster is not only a free gift that has seen an unprecedented rise in the popularity of Sawdust Melts from 1856 – present, but also a ‘yours-for-nothing’ emotion that comes with every human package, and one that if used liberally can lead to more discomfort and heartache than a 180g serving of nobody’s favourite breakfast cereal. So how can one treat such a beast – starve him, as a foreman in the Sawdust Melts factory might isolate a nut ferret in a particularly dank and fruitless corner? It is a noble idea and one I grow increasingly tempted to try. But in the meantime, using a method I can trace back to my first sip of noggin at 15, I have concentrated on the opposite approach – feeding the cute little bitey thing with as much liquor as I can lay my hands on. Reader, I am not sure of your own experiences, but to me this has been an experimental treatment which has failed time after time. For whenever a new love enters my life, it is the Jolly Green Dragon that they are soon shaking hands with, not long after Mr Trousersnake.
In many aspects of my life I am fortune to be seemingly immune to jealousy. Professional jealousy? It would seem churlish to complain as others catch the wave generated by a notoriously fickle publishing industry. I am nearby on the beach in any case, sipping G&Ts in my skimpy briefs, braced to re-enter the Medlock with my stiff homemade board at a moment’s notice and – who knows – maybe ride the next ‘big thing’. No, there be no monsters here, nor on the issue of money, for as we approach the good season all I can ask present-wise is: what do I really need? (Okay, my bed – constructed one dim and distant night while Bateman helpfully fed me beers – has finally fallen to bits, but where am I going to find a stocking even big enough for a single?) Hierarchical office jealousy? I don’t even know what that means. Stagecoach riding jealousy? I have no case to answer. In matters of the heart, however, I am regularly an uncharitable nightmare record of disaster. So let’s try and find out why.
Autumn 1845: a gang of friends – of (thrillingly) both sexes are out for the night in Liverpool. The airborne sexual tension is palpable and merges with the cheap and ineffective sweat preventatives of the lads; the ‘trog oil’ of the more gothic ladies amongst us; vinegar from the nearest chippy, and the exotic aroma of rotting mangoes, cast asunder by drunken dockside porters. Gretna Gallweather and I are getting on famously – as was meant to be, as was written in the stars. We watch a friend’s nascent string band die on stage, the schadenfreude just one more bond between us (turns out we both like history, boiled eggs and repression). Then, returning smiling from a piddle, disaster strikes – my apparent best friend Jaz Funkpantz (long since off the devil juice but charmingly louche at the time) and Gretna are hand-in-hand, smiling at me like I’m the celibate priest about to marry them, not simply a vessel for the heady brew of impotency that marks the beginning of my adult life.
Of course as the years flew by I had my fair share of fortune and misfortune in love, before finally reaching the point where I could have no tangible regrets. But despite this there were always times when I lashed out jealously; more-often-than-not this took the form of an unwarranted outburst, always about as helpful to the situation as a chocolate teapot at an orgy (has yelling at someone ever sapped them of their Sapphic tendencies? I don’t think so). At other times I have used incitement to jealousy as my weapon of choice – more rewarding (in an empty kind of way) when used on those girlfriends who have driven me to a rage with their incessant flirting or pander-free use of my ego (if you haven’t fallen out of love with me yet, dear reader, you can imagine how others may have done so).
So who’s to blame when I find myself once again up to the ears in green-hued monster dung? Greta? Jaz? Coldly Strange Grammar School (‘turning boys into men into boys since 1636’)? It’s very easy to blame the past, in whatever form, except that I suspect mine is not much different from any other man’s, unless they are blessed with the fatal magnetism of a Henry VIII, or the saint-like demeanour of a Thomas More. So when it comes to the work Christmas meal this week, well before my humble pie, I intend to crunch on Sawdust Melts, having poured my remaining whisky down the drain, and placed the green-eyed monster (collector’s issue/product recall pending) at the bottom of my waste (of time) bin. We’ll see how long it stays there.