• Will

spirits in my head

My previous blog i got guns in my head and they won’t go, introduced the idea of my talking companions, my voices. Well, here they are.

Photo: Ed from the Shakespeare film called The Lion King

First up, Ed. He is smart, switched on, he knows exactly what I should say or do, about one hour after the event. He keeps meticulous records of all my shortcomings and failures, and just when I don’t need to hear it, he starts playing his game. This is often in the middle of the night. Ed is a nasty intolerant vicious tyrant, to me.

Photo: Neville Chamberlain, "peace in our time" roughly translated "we can trust Adolph Hitler".

Then there is Neville, named after the great appeaser himself, Chamberlain. As an example, the boss says “can you work late?” I think “no, I promised I would be home to have dinner” but Neville is a coward, he speaks up and says “yeah sure, no problem” and then he whines about it.

According to cognitive psychology, these two characters are just part of my “defence mechanisms”. We all have them, it’s just these two have taken on a more “real” voice, rather than just underlying urges. As I said, I thought everyone had an internal dialogue.

On days two and three, Saint Gilles to Montpellier, I experienced the perfect storm. The landscape was the physical resemblance of amnesia. I spoke to no one for more than a sentence or two to get some food or organise a bed. I had no external stimulus, no music, no tv, no radio, nothing. Even my diet was bland, croissant, white bread, cheese, apple. My senses were as close empty as you can be outside of a sensory deprivation tank.

This is when Captain Ed Hindsight and weakling Neville decides to offer their solid gold plate advice to my experience.

E What you doing this for? Are you doing it to prove a point? No one cares you know?

N Why don’t you get a bus? No one would know if you took a bus?

E You understand people don’t like you, no one cares whether you walk or die in a ditch.

N Look, take a bus to Montpellier, skip this section, you need a rest, what does it matter?

E Why are you making us do this?

Now you have to imagine these voices are repetitive and getting louder, and as I am trying (in my head) to argue my defence, I am not concentrating on my route. I keep missing signs, I am adding minutes and eventually hours to my day because I keep having to stop or backtrack. With these two rattling my head adding to my frustration, I am now in a screaming murderous rage.

I am repeating Ed out loud, I am scowling, kicking stones, swearing, furious at me for forcing me to do this stupid walk. I hate it, hate me, hate everyone, and then Neville pipes up “well quit then, honestly, just take a bus to Barcelona, sit on a beach, drink wine, get a tan, no one will know, when you get back you can make up anything, no one can check, you can be a hero”.

Photo: artist illustration of Giedi Prime - not Montpellier

By day three on the outskirts of Montpellier, never had such sweet advice been more welcome. The last 9km into the city is a dystopia industrial wasteland, a real-life Giedi Prime. The countryside might be boring but at least the air was clean, here it was like drinking diesel.

My mood grew darker and the bus to Barcelona beckoned.


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