And now, in the interests o fbalance, a post about the observation of human misery.
The highest expression of human desperation is to me the drinking of meths. When exposed in London to all kinds of human life, including all kinds of human suffering, the lowest of the low, those so far lost to any possibility of a return to humanity and happiness that they could not remember being human or conceive of becoming so once again (that's how I imagined it) were the meths drinkers.
I saw them regularly in Euston Square. I wouldn't even call it misery. My impression, rightly or wrongly, was that they were beyond any experience of emotional suffering. It was a world I could observe but not imagine, as it was so far from my understanding.
The image of figures that had once been people, sipping purple fluid from glass tubes or some makeshift container, a barely discernible vapour rising from the surface, is fixed in my mind, so firmly that it is almost certainly not real. But they were there, on the grass under the trees when it was warm, on the benches when it was cold or wet. And not only in Euston Square, though that is where I remember them.
To drink meths, I imagine, indicates a resignation from life more complete than any other act, even suicide. Taking one’s own life requires an act of will, and the recognition that one could continue to live, even that one’s life has some value. The meths drinkers have nothing, and they know they have nothing. They eat at times, a few crumbs abandoned by the birds, just a reflex when the discomfort is too great. Most will not live long enough to need to eat. Their existence consists of the only pleasure that remains to them, the consumption of industrial spirit, which they know will quickly drive them mad and damage their organs beyond repair, will destroy what is left of their humanity, will reduce their human relations to being with people like them and attempting to articulate abuse at each other. They have renounced their humanity, because they believe it has renounced them. They are the most hopeless group of creatures have ever come across. I don’t believe any of them could ever have been returned to anything resembling a form of normal life.
They belonged to another world. In fact, they created another world within ours, surrounded themselves with an aura of remote horror, and allowed us to surrender that space to them. People will sit next to tramps and filthy, bloodied drunks on benches, if there’s nowhere else.They won't sit with the drinkers of meths. No one will join their world. They exist on another plain, that the rest of us do not want to be part of. We are happy to leave it to others to experience.