sometimes choice is an odd variable

Posted by anya on May 4th, 2009 filed in Uncategorized

“I felt terrible the next morning, mostly because I’d gone to bed without anything to eat, although I’m not sure that the Es and the Breezers and the blow didn’t help. I felt low, too. I had that terrible feeling you get when you realize you got stuck with who you are, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I mean, you can make characters up, like I did when I became like a Jane Austen-y person on New Year’s Eve, and that gives you some time off. But it’s impossible to keep it going for long, and then you’re back to being sick outside of some dodgy club and offering to fight people. My dad wonders why I chose to be like this, but the truth is, you have no choice, and that’s what makes you feel like killing yourself. When I try to think of a life that doesn’t involve being sick outside a dodgy club, I can’t manage it; I picture nothing at all. This is I; this is my voice, this is my body, this is my life. Jess Crichton, this is your life, and here are some people from Nantwich to talk about you.

I once asked Dad what he’d do if he wasn’t working in politics, and he said he’d be working in politics, and what he meant, I think, is that wherever he was in the world, whatever job he was doing, he’d still find a way back, in the way that cats are supposed to be able to find a way back when they move house. He’d be on the local council, or he’d give out pamphlets, or something. Anything that was a part of that world, he’d do. He was a little sad when he said it; he told me it was, in the end, a failure of imagination.

And that’s me: I suffer from a failure of imagination. I could do what I wanted, every day of my life, and what I want to do, apparently, is to get whalloped out of my head and pick fights. Telling me I can do anything I want is like pulling the plug out of the bath and then telling the water it can go anywhere it wants. Try it, and see what happens.”

p. 208-9


“A long time ago, I worked with an alcoholic – someone who must remain nameless because will almost certainly have heard of him. And he told me that the first time he failed on at attempt to quit the booze was the most terrifying day of his life. He’d always thought that he could stop drinking if he ever got round to it, so he had a choice stashed away in a sock drawer somewhere at the back off his head. But when he found out that he had to drink, that the choice has never really been there… Well, he wanted to do away with himself, if I may temporarily confuse the issues.”

p. 235

(both passages are from Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down)

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