Part 4 -The Nineties
I have been dreading writing this and have put it off for a long time, but here goes!
The Nineties started with drinking and quizzes, I spent inordinate amounts of time in pubs emptying quiz machines and drinking copious amounts of beer. Had anyone suggested at the time that I had a drinking problem I’d have dismissed them, but looking back…. I had a serious problem. At least twice a week my lunchtime drinking would start at 12 and too often end at 4 or 5 not quite managing to get back to work! Even worse I used to drive home, not something I would boast about or be proud of, I just did it. I had quiz and drinking cronies who I spent far too long with and who also had real problems with alcohol.
It is weird writing these blogs with hindsight and with the knowledge I now have of mental health and substance abuse, it never occurred to me that that my working and drinking patterns were an avoidance technique. I was spending more and more time away from home ostensibly to catch up with work, realistically it was to spend as little time at home as possible. So… I was avoiding home, drinking too much, sinking deeper into depression, although masking that from everyone including myself. When I was at home I wanted to go out and spent a fortune on day trips and presents for everyone, although I wanted to be away from there, I still wanted my wife and children to love me and tried to buy their love… sad and pathetic.
Unfortunately in order to pay for this “love” and my drinking, I was suing money that should have been spent on mortgage, bills and essentials and was rapidly building up debts. hiding letters and ignoring phone calls as the “collectors” came after me. This meant lying and hiding and generally being a complete arsehole to my family. Then something happened that in itself was really good but became the catalyst for all that followed I won a competition. So what? you may ask, well it needs to go in context.
One day I was sitting having a heart to heart with my wife, and I was trying to explain how I felt about myself. I described the feeling as being like an an onion, many layers but with no substance in the middle, like jelly or an amoeba, inconsequential. I could see the look in her eyes – contempt- no understanding – just pure loathing. She took the opportunity to tell me that she hadn’t married me because she fancied me or even found me attractive, it was because I was a nice person and she felt safe with me. Now I wasn’t even that person, I was a nobody, I was nothing, I was worthless, she confirmed every feeling that I had about myself.
At a follow-up discussion I admitted that I had never liked myself and felt that I was useless at everything that I tried and that just once I wanted to be the best, I can’t remember if she laughed outwardly, but the ridicule was obvious. Then a little while later a newspaper held a Trivial Pursuit contest, just up my street, it was to celebrate the launch of a new Genus Edition and each day you could call the paper and answer 5 questions as fast as possible over the phone. For the first time in my life I received a letter telling me that I had been the fastest on one of the days and would be invited to London to take part in the final of the Trivial Pursuit Championship of Great Britain! This was beyond my wildest dreams, I was in the final of a National competition and on merit! To cut a long story short I won and as a result was in the papers, on the radio and on TV. I reveled in this and so enjoyed the attention and my 15 minutes of fame. In addition to an enormous cup we also won a 2 week holiday in Disney World, about a month before we were due to go, I received a phone call from P&O asking if I’d co-host a Mediterranian cruise with a Trivial Pursuit theme, they were willing to pay me and all my family could come with me as well! So in the space of a couple of months we spent a fortnight in Florida and then two weeks on a cruise around the Med. I was buzzing, my co-host was Fred Housego (ex Mastermind champion), we got on really well and spent many hours in the bars, devising quizzes and drinking… he and I had the largest bar bills on the cruise!
Then came the drop, from this enormous high it was back to reality, I couldn’t take it… it was the Isle of Wight all over again. Within a year I had taken redundancy as I wasn’t functioning at work at all and spent a year living off the redundancy payment convinced I could become a writer or make money from my fame… what bollocks, I drank more and spent all day on my PC inventing and playing games that I used as decision makers. There are two or three years all jumbled in my head, I know that I had the chance to settle my debts and get a new job and sort everything out, the computer games said no and that I’d make my fortune some other way.
I cannot remember too much of this time, I ended up working at a dodgy cold calling company selling non existent rate rebates. I was crap at it, I’d had enough.. as the inevitability of being found out about the money became closer as I hated every day of my life and myself with a vengeance my plan became clear.
So… in the morning I pocketed my wife’s unused bottle of anti-depressants, then at lunchtime I left work, visited six different shops buying various painkillers and a large bottle of Evian water and drove out to a local reservoir, found myself a place to hide the car amongst trees, emptied all the tablets into a paper bag and proceeded to take the lot, washing them down with water.
I woke up under a tree about a mile down the road, disorientated, stinking and having no idea how I’d got there.
To be continued…..