Friday, 27 November 2009

Bandits at 4 o clock, Biggles.

It started out as a pretty good sort of day really. My little bit of library organising in the Diocesan office, then an enjoyable lunch with a pal (Cullen skink, followed by croque madam - b***er the colesterol!) and thence to the therapist. And then the trouble started.

Nobody's fault, but we suddenly hit some buried c**p. Which had been buried for years precisely because it made me feel scared and awful and c**p. I got out of the session and stood on the top of the steps at the front door, breathing the cold, sharp 4 o' clock air of Leith and swearing quietly. Time for a walk, as my head was in a heck of a mess, with emotions roaring away. It won't be a total surprise to hear that I also lit up, needing something chemical to steady the nerves. Fair enough. Then in came the bandits. Specifically, my brain started a very disturbing debate about needing a drink. Not needing it physically, but needing it because I know that it would change my mood and alter my feelings and get me the hell out of the bad place in my emotions. Needing it in a very cold, sober, analysed sort of way. And that was scary - 1st time in 8 months I've felt that desire to blot it out. Rather like a waking conscious nightmare.

Leith Walk is a long road and has plenty of pubs on it. Very inviting looking places. I kept walking. Not a stroll, but a yomp. Left, right, left, right My boots are heavy, my belt is tight...thank God I was once one of Baden-Powell's infant paramilitaries and learnt to keep going on a hike. Even when you're tired and it bloody hurts. By the time I got to the West End of Princes Street, my mad alky head was retreating, sane Dougal returned. You know you're stressing when you're chain smoking Hamlet cigars. (I did 2 en route).

A modicum of calm set in back at base. I was able to say to people "I've just had a s**t bit". Getting dinner ready was a good distraction, as was conversation over the dinner table. Normal stuff. And at Compline the lesson hit me like a bloody brick:

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (2 Cor 4:6-10)

The lesson? Clay, c'est moi. Afflicted - oh God, yeah BUT NOT crushed. Perplexed - indeed we are, but not (quite) driven to despair. Struck down - it certainly felt that way - but again, NOT destroyed. Still here, still alive, still sober. Rattled, shaken but actually victorious. On the receiving end of just enough grace to make it. They told me this urge would hit at some point and by God they were right. But it went and got beaten. God only knows how. Time methinks to kip and rest and be thankful. Roger. Over and out.


  1. Well done. I can't imagine what that was like, but I am cheered by the fact that so soon you can recognise the event, and the victory and the hand that held yours in your yomp.

  2. The important thing is you didn't cave-in to temptation.

    This time of year depresses everyone.

  3. Thanks for the support: Eamonn, surely it was "Wizard show, Biggles!" - or is my memory going?