Regarding my life from the lofty position of prostrate upon my sofa, I came to the sudden realisation that I am a work of fiction. I am a character in a book and the book isn’t very good. It dawned on me that I had to seek out the author of this book and demand a rewrite. Then I realised who the author of the book, and therefore myself, was. The author was me. Me when I was younger, when I had a preposterous worldview, when I thought curmudgeonality equalled depth, when I couldn’t write for toffee. (‘You still can’t, gerroff’ says you).
We are all characters in books written by our younger selves. Our younger selves create the narratives we end up peddling to others and thinking to ourselves. Our younger selves don’t literally write the book we end up living, instead they construct the story that our existences must adhere to with their minds. Instead of typing, our younger selves engrave these tales of the self into our cerebral networks, putting in place cognitive associations, aspirations, anxieties, prejudices and traits. The little fuckers make us all who we are and we just have to get on with it. Wouldn’t it be better if it was the other way around? Wouldn’t it be better if the older versions of us got to write for the younger versions of us? Wouldn’t it be better if we retconned our way through life, approaching things with a measure of maturity, not making so many mistakes and not missing out on so many opportunities? What would be so bad about that? Would it deny us the magic of life’s little lessons? Is that what life is about? Life’s little lessons? Well screw life’s little lessons! I’ve learnt so many little lessons by this stage that if I have to learn one more little lesson I’m going to do a Columbine and blow the whole University of Hard Knocks away.
Ahem, Ok, excuse me for that digression. I hope you’re not too perturbed. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, when I discovered that I was my own author, I felt a new sense of hope. I realised that my destiny was actually in my hands. This piece of shit book I was trapped in could be rewritten. ‘Yeah’, I thought to myself, ‘a whole new me, new possibilities, new achievements’. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Some of those character traits were engraved pretty deeply into my neural pathways but with a bit of perseverance (and perhaps some cognitive behavioural therapy) I could get this narrative under control. ‘The future starts here!’ I told myself.
But it wasn’t to be. There was a snag. I should have known.
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that I had lost the publishing rights to myself. The younger me had sold them. The younger me had sold them to someone he really respected and thought could write me a dynamic and exciting future. The younger me had sold the rights to all future adaptations and alterations to my life to Frank Miller. And so I find myself here, waking up next to a headless prostitute, talking in crudely over-wrought similes, in trouble with both the mob and a particularly unrealistic branch of IRA dissidents. This is even worse than the wannabe John Osborne nonsense the younger me had written for myself up to now. Now that Miller is in charge, things are going to get ludicrously violent and more than a touch adolescent. But I’ll not go along quietly. Hell no! Even if it’s ultimately futile, I’ll resist. I’ll not make it easy for this jaded and past his sell-by date hack. He’s gonna have a fight on his hands. Oh yes, because ‘these are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war.’