"Even horsemeat can be delicious when one is in the right circumstance to appreciate it."- Auguste Escoffier
The pain starts somewhere between Bromley Common and Farnborough Village. I've had five anaesthetic shots into the soft palate of my left cheek, two fillings and an extraction. The dentist was a pretty, Eastern European, who took mercy on me after the drill entered into the root of a decayed tooth.
"Okay, enough suffering. I will recommend sedation. It's not nice."
I adjusted the sunglasses I had been given to protect my eyes from their examination lamp. "What happens now?"
"I will book you an appointment at King's College Hospital. They will finish what needs to be done. Okay? You will be sedated. It will be easier."
I couldn't feel the left side of my face. That morning, while browsing the music channels and becoming fascinated with a young R & B star called Dappy, a rat like hoody who sings mobile phone related pop songs and whose video consisted of him being endlessly photographed with sobbing teenage girls, I realized my music career was over. The poet writes the history of his own body, as Thoreau once wrote, and I was fast losing the deal breaker for pop acceptance: I am thirty in two weeks and I am running out of teeth. I had asked the dentist how much it would cost to do a James Arthur and do a clean sweep, fix the lot.
"Hmm, I would say, eight to ten thousand?"
This came as an expected but still saddening blow.
"I'll start saving," I sighed, and she smiled at me, I was putting a brave face onto an awkward visage. My care worker called me moments after I'd stumbled out of the rubber and disinfectant torture parlour into the dust and grime and melting fat of Penge high street, reminding me that my depot injection was due today. Huh. Since if I smoke or eat anything cold or hot I am liable to infect the gum from whence my tooth was wrenched, going to get punk'd on Pynchon Ward seemed like the only option I had. The days were usually spent chain smoking and drinking energy drinks whilst writing obsessive and meaningless tweets, and it's probably best for everybody that I don't own a gun.
But the pain has now started. A dull, pulsing pain as the nerves in my cheek slowly regain feeling. The rain slices down onto the windows of the 358, and I hear the bus driver being informed via his radio of a shoplifter's apparel and description, since he's in the Bromley area, about five ten, white, mid twenties, with black Nikes and a Stone Island bomber jacket and if he's seen he is to be apprehended on sight. The driver acknowledges the call and pulls up outside Blue Leaves House, the psychiatric hospital I have been intermittently locked in and out of for the past ten years. Before I get off I press the fresh compress into my jaw to quell the bleeding. I would kill for a cigarette, but know that a cigarette will infect the gum. I choose not to smoke, and stumble down with my iPod playing Rape Me by Nirvana on loop toward the entrance of the psychiatric ward.
Emma Watson has now publicly refused to have anything to do with Fifty Shades of Grey: The Movie. Her refusal tweet went viral. Hermione will not be getting bondage fucked on screen. I think of this now as I undo my belt and Holly prepares the injection of Olanzapine.
"Left or right?" she says.
"Right," I say, thinking I've had two many injections into the left side of my body today that to get injected into the left side of my posterior would render me as helpless as a stroke victim.
"Sharp scratch," she giggles as in the needle goes, catching a nerve as usual sending a shooting pain up into my lower back.
"Okay, so it's eleven twenty now," Holly says. "You can leave at half two."
I limp out of the medical room and onto Pynchon Ward, compress still sticking out of my mouth like a deluged tampon. I unhook the book I am reading out of my jeans, Shoplifting From American Apparel by a new hotshot Brooklyn writer called Tao Lin. It's a short but unbearably boring book. I'm on page twenty or so, and so far what has happened is some guy has emailed some friends, eaten some brown rice, and experienced no strong emotion of any kind. Nothing is the central theme of the book. Nobody feels anything, or does anything, or means anything, or cares about anything. There are few adjectives and no discernible plot or story of any kind. It's a masterpiece of dullness. Tao Lin has 13,000 followers on Twitter. According to critics he's the most interesting prose stylist of his generation (which includes me, he's a few months younger). Usually I'll bring a Military History magazine or a thick, deliciously meaty novel. Today I'm stuck with the poet laureate of Generation Wuss. It's going to be a long three hours.
Lindsay Lohan turns to me, her nasal cavity is just a gaping hole from the cocaine and her eyes are dull and thick with insomnia.
"I'll blow you for a gram," she murmurs. Dappy is on stage singing to thousands of screaming girls, each of them more hysterical and emotionally troubled than the last. Lindsay is looking desperate.
"Fuckit, handjob, forty dollars," she says, smiling to reveal perfectly damaged, browning teeth. I check my wallet, and see I have fifty dollars and a gram, and I open my mouth to say sure, deal, but I realize that I have no teeth in my mouth. Lindsay takes one look.
"Actually forget it," she says, and stumbles into the crowd, too disillusioned to even ask for a toot of the charlie. Dappy is in his element, he's a pro and he has the audience right where he wants them. A metal staircase leads from above the stage, and as banal, simple dubstep beats announce the arrival of a Very Special Guest, I see Lindsay running back towards me. I smile (lips closed) and hold out the gear.
"No kissing, though buddy," she sighs, taking my hand, as Emma Watson descends from the staircase polishing the Best Actress Oscar she's just won for playing a nun in a holocaust epic that even the French critics admitted had a lot of heart.
"I'd like to thank all of my fans," she says, her words transcribing into 140 characters or less on a huge screen that some of the baying crowd are retweeting moment to moment, and Lindsay is pulling my arm hard, so hard that I wake up and the compress falls from my gaping jaw onto page 88 of the Tao Lin book. Blood has congealed around a certain passage:
"What are we going to do," said Sam.
"We can follow someone," said Audrey. They followed a small group of people in a band that Sam liked for about ten blocks.
I look around. Look down at my watch. It is two forty. I have been asleep for over three hours. Holly smiles, hands me a tissue to wipe the blood from my lips.
"You can go now," she says. I throw the Tao Lin book into the bin and leave the hospital and take the bus back to my flat. When I get back I take two Nurofen plus and smoke a cigarette. I have stopped bleeding.