Misery Marathon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is a humourous take on the despair and heartbreak of a lonely audiophile.It will hopefully appeal to anyone who enjoys Nick Hornby's books and anyone with an interest in alternative music.I wrote some of it based on my personal experience and tried to add a whimsical slant to the events.

Submitted: February 03, 2007

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 03, 2007



My name is Andrew Pierce. I am 25 years old and prematurely balding. I work as an office clerk, a job both unfulfilling and poorly paid. The most significant relationship of my life (the only significant relationship of my life if I’m honest) has just drawn to a close. Well, frankly I’m underplaying the situation here. The door to a life of fulfilment has been slammed shut in my face really. I’m dealing with it surprisingly well however, if I’m honest in a way I’m…enjoying it.

I know this behaviour is decidedly fetishist and I feel shame in admitting it: I’m a pain pervert. Never before have I felt I had anything serious to be maudlin about, I was only permitted to complain bitterly about pay scales, the crumbs that clog toasters, the unreliability of tube trains and the early stages of the dreaded beer gut. Now I know what real pain feels like. Emily ripped my heart from my chest and threw it at my feet disgustedly, as if even my organs could not meet her required standard for approval.

So now I sit in my cramped flat alone, with the sound of inner city trains passing outside and rattling the (non-double glazed) windows. I am surrounded by the aftermath of a broken relationship. I hastily gathered together everything with Emily’s mark on it and shoved it in a drawer. That leaves my flat looking even more sparsely furnished than usual. Gone are the art prints Emily purchased from Camden market in a long gone summer, which she described as “quirky”, but I always thought of as pretentious and slightly sinister.Likewise the fridge magnets depicting ‘50s housewives and slogans like “Women-half the population, ALL the brains”, and the throws brought in an attempt to cover my threadbare sofa.

Now the real fun can begin though: my misery marathon. There are some records, many in fact, which can only be truly appreciated whilst either under the influence or indeed, the weight of a broken heart. Well mine has been not so much broken, not even smashed, but thoroughly pummelled to such an extent that not a fragment of what remains even vaguely resembles what it was before. There are so many albums bursting with heartache and longing, heavily laden with the ache of regret. So I should be in for some real treats.  All that is before me is an expanse of time to fill, meaning I can indulge myself until my ears bleed, which they may well do if I succumb to the masochistic pleasure/torture combo of listening to emo. A bullet for my valentine? I’d prefer one for my head actually.

The act of listening to whatever I choose is something of a novelty in itself. Since Emily and I began to live together I’ve had to consider what she wants to hear. That’s fine but her tastes (Madonna, Mariah Carey and Coldplay) do not exactly satiate my musical appetites. In our household music took on the role that porn might in others. Music was the catalyst for many blazing arguments, and before long we were referring to its existence in hushed metaphors and with significant embarrassment. It became something I could only get away with in clandestine moments alone in the flat, much like masturbating really. Indeed, my time alone was inevitably involved one or the other, perhaps simultaneously if I was pressed for time.

To begin with I play Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’ in an attempt to get myself settled in and comfortable. Of course, it’s a song about drug addiction, but the sentiments still apply, plus it’s highly appropriate purely because it is one of the bleakest songs ever penned. There’s something to be said for Johnny Cash’s pared down interpretation of it too, so that’s up next.

The following song on the play list is ‘Hallelujah’. No version of this song could ever be jolly, even Girls Aloud performing it in hot pants would be a melancholic journey down pop’s dark highway. My particular favourite is the blistering version by Jeff Buckley. Achingly beautiful, the song has never failed to move me with its open longing, which develops into a full scale massacre designed to tear the listener to shreds. This song is much more suited to my relationship motif, with it’s line “love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah” and the references to Samson and Delilah.

Then I reach a crossroad of sorts as I have a choice of songs from The Cure’s repertoire. I’m torn between ‘Pictures of You’ and ‘Love Song’ primarily, although The Cure have so many bleak songs I could easily have a misery marathon dedicated to them. If I wanted to be really greedy I’d probably listen to ‘Faith’, ’Disintegration’ or ‘Pornography’ in its entirety. But I’m treating this evening as my own private DJ set, so I need to choose carefully. The only problem I have with deciding to include The Cure is that despite Robert Smith’s extensive catalogue of Gothicism and misery, he is apparently a happily married man and has been for many years. Still he manages to get inside the depraved mindset of the heartbroken so well I’ll forgive him.

What wallowing would be complete without Morrissey? I’m not a major fan of his solo material so I’ll disregard that in favour of the mighty Smiths. Here I will indulge myself a little, over the course of the evening I intend to play several Smiths songs, I feel I have to if my misery is to be nurtured effectively. My choices are ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me get what I want’, ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’, (my idea of ‘hopeful’ lyrics), ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’, ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ and of course, ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’, (perhaps the greatest song ever written), which has such beautiful imagery of lovers dying together. Just what I would have hoped would be the destiny of Emily and me.

I rifled through my records to find another song I would class as one of my all-time favourites, a song which has been with me through the very definition of thick (my ever expanding waistline) and thin (my hairline).

I discovered Joy Division on a bleak Northern day in my teens, under a slate grey sky. That’s how I would like to remember it anyway, but unfortunately it was more a case of being at my mate Damian’s house, where he was showing me his impressive collection of porn mags. He had pilfered them from his Dad’s collection in the garden shed, knowing that he couldn’t get into trouble for the theft, as admitting it would mean his Dad incriminating himself with his wife. So as we sat there discussing the merits of blonde versus brunette and other, more vulgar specifications, I heard music blaring from Damian’s brother’s room. Alan as I remember him was a tall guy who never quite grew out of his adolescent awkwardness. He rarely spoke, and if he did it was in mumbling fragments which were hard to piece together. He mainly skulked around his room in black, reading poetry and listening to depressing music. The very epitome of the tortured and misunderstood artist type. I think he did get a book published a few years ago actually, but soon after had a complete mental collapse. Poor bleeder.

Anyway, the song I heard which drew my attention away from busty blondes for a split second was ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before, which is something you stop being able to say as you get older. Ian Curtis’s rumbling voice and the sparse backdrop of guitars startled me. Once I investigated the song more fully in the porn-free environment of my own home I was completely enraptured. This literally sounded like a man falling apart on record, completely captivating. Of course when you consider the song alongside the legacy of Ian Curtis the impact is even larger. What could be more beautiful and devastating than the picture of Ian Curtis’s gravestone and the inscription ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, used to illustrate the cover? Sublime. Sadly I never found the rest of Joy Division’s back catalogue could live up to its standard,which was somewhat disheartening, but could never detract from the beauty and appeal of that particular song.

Next is another stand-alone song by an artist I wouldn’t call myself a fan of. Nick Cave’s ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, another song by a middle aged Goth bloke, who has a twisted fixation with the incredibly macabre. I once listened to his ‘Murder Ballads’ album and was quite literally too afraid to sleep afterwards. This went on for several nights until I listed the CD on Ebay to rid myself of its evil power. Cave’s collaboration with Kylie Minogue has to be amongst the most bizarre pairings in the history of music. Besides both being Australian and human, (personally, I’d feel safer if I saw the lab results on that one) what could they possibly have in common? Yet somehow their union produced a deeply unsettling but highly appealing ‘ballad’ about the touching subject of murdering your partner. Lovely. It’s a good thing I have a way to go with this as trying to sleep with Nick Cave’s words in my head would be a fast track to night terrors.

As I become engrossed in the precise choosing of songs to compliment my dejection I hardly think about Emily, music really is the best treatment. Unless of course you need a heart transplant, in which case music can probably only help you for part of the way, so it’s probably still wise to consult a doctor. Of course once I have acknowledged that I haven’t been thinking about Emily I begin to. I wonder where she is now, probably at her mother’s swanky Kensington ‘apartment’. I really loathe that woman, and suspect the feeling is mutual. Discovering Emily’s upper class upbringing shocked me, not least because when I met Emily she was a scruffy student downing pints of lager and swearing like a sailor. Emily has the bonus of being ‘well bred’ (an expression which always reminds me of Krufts) and exposed in the right career circles, yet managed to avoid being stuck up, unlike her hideous mother. I can imagine she is radiating glee at the news of our break up. Now she’ll be able to set Emily up on blind dates with as many inbred polo players as she likes. Emily is far too mild mannered and non-confrontational to disagree with her mother.

A dart of sadness hits me as I imagine Emily being introduced to dapper but dull men who can take her to the fancy restaurants I know she was always quietly longing for while we frequented the local greasy spoon eatery. As much as I am enjoying an excuse to confront my regrettable life, I know I wouldn’t be unhappy to see her burst through the door any second and take me back. The truth is that no matter how reluctant I am to admit it, despite the wealth of heartbroken songs, all of those artists, with the sad exception of those deceased, are still managing to live fulfilling lives. They have relationships with exquisite women they can subsequently write songs about once they’ve had their heart thoroughly trampled on and have the ability to communicate their loss to the world through them. I have no such talent, so all I have are the songs. They may mean everything, but they are still only fleeting moments of reflection, a brief connection which music fans the world over experience daily. It’s a sad acknowledgment, particularly whilst I sit here surrounded by piles of records and CDs, album upon album of music recorded for mass consumption, and not just for me.

A noise at the door startles me. There it is again, a firm tapping on the front door. My heart surges with hope as I rise from my position on the threadbare rug beneath me. I rub a hand over my head, a nervous gesture which began when I had hair. I smile in what I hope is a dashing manner as I swing open the door. Once I have I stare, dumbfounded.

‘Love…I hate to act like a miserable old woman but it’s two in the morning, is there any chance you could give the bloody depressing music a rest? I might be more charitable if you weren’t two weeks behind with your rent…’.

Mrs Wilson my landlady trails off as I stand in my doorway in complete silence. She gives me an exasperated expression and then shuffles away down the hall. I stand there for a few seconds longer before slamming the door firmly shut and locking it behind me.


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