Madam Bam Bam
I beat myself up quite a lot. There’s a little club in Soho, Madam Bam Bam’s. I go there once a month. You get to pick your birch from a rifle rack on the wall, go into a mirrored booth, and flog yourself for everything you’ve done to annoy yourself in the last 28-31 days. Then either Wendy, Janice, or Big Bob (if his leg isn’t giving him gyp) fling you a little hand-towel and a disgusted look as you leave. Sometimes, as a treat, I pay for the extra treatment – Loud Simon comes in wearing a cowboy shirt and shouts at me while I’m hitting myself. “YOU’RE NOTHING, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE NOTHING.” It’s expensive but it gets the job done.
Ok. Fine. So Madam Bam Bam’s doesn’t exist. I made it up. I do my beatings in my head like normal people. It’s free and has very few restrictions. But because it’s a constant ongoing process rather than just one big monthly splurge it can be quite draining. Being hard on yourself is hard. It takes work. Hard work.
I’ve administered (and thus taken) a good few beatings this week. Just your average common-or-garden flushes of vitriol in the dragging effort of Being Alive.
First was forgetting to feed the dog, getting halfway up the road then having to turn back, let myself in to his perfectly-practised ‘glare of judgement’, before I gave him extra biscuits and a jumbone. Beating number 1: swift, uncomplicated, low level on the pain threshold. It’s not like I’d left him in the garden overnight with a chicken bone after all.
Then I had to shoot a short film for something, and when I watched the first edit I felt so violent towards my face and voice that I asked the film-maker to cut out some bits of me. Then a few more bits of me. Then I wasn’t in it much and I felt much better. Then I beat myself up for giving him extra work. The beating was under the radar and sustained, like the jabs of a clever bully.
And this morning. My sister mentioned to me that she hadn’t been able to take Elliot, 8, to school because Viola, 5, was sick and there was no one who could run him there for her. I felt sick. Here was a healthy boy I love to distraction missing a day of school because his auntie is a useless turd who can’t drive. My sister didn’t think to ask me because I’m ‘always busy’ and don’t live quite close enough so am of no practical use at the last minute. I am a rubbish sister. This was a high-level beating, with numerous props and a side order of shouting that would put Loud Simon of Soho to shame and by god he is loud.
Tonight I will beat myself up in rehearsal. Standard. And I will probably hate myself for any number of the following too: stubbing my toe/dropping something/saying something stupid/forgetting something/doing something I shouldn’t/being distracted/eating something I shouldn’t/drinking something I shouldn’t/thinking something I shouldn’t/looking in the mirror accidentally while pulling a horrible face/generally being me in my own life.
I’ll be ruddy exhausted when my head hits the pillow, have a sleep divided by psyche-prodding dreams and patches of inert insomnia which make me want to lay myself out with a mallet, before ploughing into the next day.
Hey, guys, why can’t we all be a little more like Kanye West and just…love ourselves? He never wants to beat himself repeatedly in the face. It’s other people that want to do that for him, and that seems far less tiring. If you’re being beaten by others you can have a lie down during. Luxury.