It happened when I was cleaning my teeth.
Wandering about the flat, toothpaste dribbling down my chin and a very real threat in the air of my tripping on a carpet rail and headfirsting into the bath. My face was raised you see, to keep the toothpaste in, because I needed to have my mouth open a bit wider than necessary for just a toothbrush.
Because I was walking around talking to myself. This is when it happened. I realised I’m absolutely fucking mental.
I’ve done it all my life. Gabbling away like there’s two of me, having entire conversations peppered with that clear indicator of outright insanity, “Do you know what I mean?” Yes, Chris, I know what you mean. I’m you. We know what you and I both mean you absolute fucking maniac.
It does trouble me. Every once in a while I’ll be halfway through a sentence to myself and I’ll stop and think “Oh shut the fuck up”. But it’s not enough to think “Oh shut the fuck up”. I have to actually say it out loud, “Oh shut the fuck up”. I can’t just stop. That would be rude.
This is something I never thought I’d admit to anyone but me. But this morning I remembered that halfway through last night I woke up to find I’d left Test Match Special on – I’m home alone for the week, not inhuman – and proceeded to have a conversation with myself about the merits of one of the commentators. I can’t say that that ‘conversation’, with my good friends quilt, switched-off TV, pile of books and little bottle of eye drops, was any more deranged than whatever I was banging on about when I watched Masterchef last night (“That’s not a fucking soufflé” etc), but when it got light that chat in the dark became troublingly revelatory.
Without a layer of Guinness I’ve a reputation for being fairly taciturn. I don’t actually like talking, not to you lot, without a few looseners in me. And the result of this is I laid on the couch one night this week and discussed with myself whether it’s worth meeting the wife in Fiji at some point next year. That, more than most, would seem to be a conversation that would need two people involved but I won’t get the answers I want that way.
I nearly always agree with myself, that’s the best thing about it. And I can say some genuinely atrocious things when nobody else is there and yet no angry online mob attempts to cancel me. There are some horrendous thoughts hurtling about my brain, many involving the spilling of bodily fluids, thought it’s important to say I’m bloody certain I’m not special in that – everyone has appalling stuff they think, even believe sometimes, that they’d never say out loud. I say it out loud, to just me. This is how I’m able to spend my life in cinemas and pubs rather than Belmarsh.
Mind you, I can’t deny I’ve actually said these words to myself, alone: “You can’t say that.” Imagine how bad a sentence has to be that your own brain is perturbed by it. I can also confirm I’ve said to myself, many times, “You silly cunt”. At least a couple of times today already.
Oh excellent, I can give you an example. I just went for a leak, and realised the haphazard wifi radio here had cut out. So, seconds ago, cock in hand, I stood there and said this: “Oh, the radio’s gone off. Had enough has it? Shame, that was good, I like Stephen Graham. He was one of those Desert Island Discs they trailed on the BBC news site before broadcast to give you a taster. I always think I’ll listen to the good ones but I never do.”
Yes I fucking know that Chris, you don’t really need to tell me that, you utter psychopath.
I’m quite fucking crazy, and I don’t see much point in denying it. I’ll say more words to myself today, alone, than I will in a week of office life. Ever notice, though, that there are just two types of people? There are those who converse, to find out more about other people and the world at large, and there are those who talk, because they think that what they have to say should be heard. Often their tremendous insights are about them. Don’t worry, we all love your anecdotes.
And I think that’s why I don’t mind being IG11. When I talk to myself I can say what I want and nobody gives a fuck, but they do listen. When I’m with the rest of you, at least half of you are simply waiting for the moment I stop talking so you can open your gob. If I didn’t chatter and rabbit away to myself I think it would make me angry that some people are self-centred gobshites, but as it is I don’t mind listening to your breathtaking wisdom because I’ve got an appreciative audience in a quiet corner of the Hare & Hounds, walking down an empty street, on a park bench or up a tree. Anywhere I’m alone, there’s accolades and applause.
Like a one-man Twitter I jabber into the echo chamber and I fucking love it.