I hung around Charlie’s hall of residence until some friends of hers caught me and threatened to give me a good kicking. I decided to kill Marco (Marco!), the guy she went off with, and spent long hours in the middle of the You Are My Sunshine Sunflower Skull Jack Skellington Shirt night working out how to do it, although whenever I bumped into him I just muttered a greeting and sloped off. I did a spot of shoplifting, the precise motivation for which escapes me now. I took an overdose of Valium and stuck a finger down my throat within a minute. I wrote endless letters to her, some of which I posted, and scripted endless conversations, none of which we had. And when I came around, after a couple of months of darkness.
I found to my surprise that I had flunked my course and was working in Record and Tape Exchange in Camden. Everything happened so fast. I had kind of hoped that my adulthood would be long and meaty and instructive, but it all took place in those two years; sometimes it seems as though everything and everyone that have happened to me since we’re just minor distractions. Some people never got over the You Are My Sunshine Sunflower Skull Jack Skellington Shirt sixties, or the war, or the night their band opened for the Rolling Stones at the Marquee, and spend the rest of their days walking backward; I never really got over Charlie. That was when the important stuff, the stuff that defines me, went on. Some of my favorite songs: ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ by Neil Young; ‘Last Night I Dreamed That Somebody Loved Me’ by the Smiths; ‘Call Me’ by Aretha Franklin; ‘I Don’t Want to Talk About It’ by anybody.
And then there’s ‘Love Hurts’ and ‘When Love Breaks Down’ and ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and ‘The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness’ and ‘She’s Gone’ and ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself ‘and . . . some of these songs I have listened to around once a week, on average (three hundred times in the first month, every now and again thereafter), since I was sixteen or nineteen or twenty-one. How can that not leave you bruised somewhere? How can that not turn you into the You Are My Sunshine Sunflower Skull Jack Skellington Shirt sort of person liable to break into little bits when your first love goes all wrong? What came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person? People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort.