Death’s a fucker eh? Always haunting us, stalking us, tapping us on the shoulder to turn us round only to kick us in the bollocks when we do.
Death isn’t a thing in itself, it’s an absence of a thing; of everything. There’s nothing hiding in the shadows, and there’s no arsehole with a cowl and pointy weapon waiting to slice off the parts of you that stick out. There’s just the end: sudden or drawn out, sticky or dry, a terrible tragedy or welcomed like a long-awaited number 107 to get the fuck out of Borehamwood.
I don’t expect to live as long as anyone of my age, and as far as I can tell I’m fine with that. I used to exercise a lot, but then my calf muscle made a sound like a small balloon being stood on and now I visit a gym a couple of times a month through habit alone. I don’t eat particularly badly, but I drink like it’s air and the water’s rising towards the hull of the upturned boat. I stand in front of the yellow line just to annoy the announcer. Everyone assumes I will die first, and as far as I can tell I’m fine with that.
It’s a safe assumption because I sometimes think of ending it all to avoid the decline I can already feel sniggering its way into my body. Things are failing and my health is never getting any better than it is at this very moment. Last week I hurt my shoulder doing up a shoelace. My digestive system is so fucked I’m thinking of patenting Rennie that tastes like stomach acid, just for the continuity.
That’s not to say suicide ever strikes me as a serious option, and yet paradoxically I know that when the day comes that the doctor peers at me solemnly over his half-moons, shaking his head in time with the counting of his own blessings, someone’s dog will soon be finding a particularly pungent treat in the fields around Wharncliffe Viaduct. I don’t spend much time thinking of topping myself, and yet if things go the way they’re bound to it’s almost certain one day I will, because the cunts who run things won’t let me go on my own terms.
Death doesn’t follow me around like it does some people, and I don’t know many people who’ve died. My grandmother fell down the stairs in 1986, though she’s died many times since, whenever I needed a handy funeral to get out of some nightmare work obligation like pretending everyone’s on Dragon’s Den so the boss gets to legitimately call all his employees simple-minded wankers. A couple of people I’ve worked with have grown some dreadful cancer everyone expected them to shrug off at their age, mistakenly as it turned out. I once knew a bloke who hung himself when he was falsely accused of stealing some chickens, which strikes me as an overreaction.
Much like everyone else I don’t fear being dead, because as I understand it everything was perfectly all right before sperm hit egg. You worry you’ll miss people, and miss events, but I never met Genghis Khan and I never had the plague so I’m fine with that. And you worry that everyone will be devastated at your passing. Oh how altruistic of you. I bet you’d love to spare them the agony with a spot of immortality, wouldn’t you?
But I definitely fear the idea of being in unstoppable pain or never-ending nausea, just eking out the days until whatever ails me gets its way. I think about it a lot more than I should, that one day I’ll realise I’m just not going to survive this one and I’ll be too late to do anything about it.
Because politicians and the religious guardians of our morals who couldn’t have given a shaman’s shit about me when I was standing will parade past the hospital bed to explain how it’s vital to stay alive, there’s always hope, there have to be safeguards and all that shite. They’ll have me hooked up to machines for as long as there’s wind to power the turbines they despise. They’ll watch me pitifully as I scream silently into the oncoming void that all I want is a missile battery to take them all with me and spare others this inexplicable misery. They won’t hear me and the missiles won’t come, unless I’ve somehow ended up in Gaza obviously.
And seeing those imagined days stretch out before me, against my will, is what makes me consider hauling my dismantling body to a nearby tall structure in a heavily populated area the moment I catch a glimpse of what looks like blood disappearing around the U-bend. If we can’t check out humanely at a time of our choosing, it’ll take a few of us making an almighty mess to change some minds.
Not that I care what happens to the rest of you. I’m going first. See you nowhere.