It was very dark...Underneath the veneer of chemical-induced jollity was a relentless undercurrent of dark despair. I thought: "This is a waiting room for death. I'm home."
As a young man, I’d sometimes wander down to the seafront at Harwich during the early hours of the morning. It was a desolate, forlorn place, and even the harbour lights dancing on the water couldn’t wholly disguise the bleak severity of the scene. One time, there was a storm – thunderous waves crashing against the breakwater, the cold slap of driving spray on my face, and the sting of salt water in my eyes as the squall ripped foam from the boiling sea. Discarded, sodden paper was flying past me or clutching at my shins in a clammy embrace, only to be torn away by the next heaving gust. I took refuge in one of the shelters. It was familiar territory; I often drank there during the day. The blackness of night hid the graffiti, but even the raw easterly gale couldn’t purge the odour of stale urine. Somewhere, the mournful double-tone of a diesel locomotive’s horn momentarily overcame the shrill wind but was itself swallowed up by the roaring, angry sea, as it thumped – yet again – into the shoreline. I carefully unscrewed my bottle of gin, took a long pull, and began my journey towards that twilight zone where dream and fantasy, nightmare and reality, converge on the edge of consciousness. But before the arms of Morpheus entwined around me – perhaps soothe, perhaps to torment – I considered anew my sense of utter alienation from the rest of humanity.