My life has not changed at all. As in the last ten years, it is blessed by the stars and eschewed by the men. Be not afraid if time passes and there is no word from me, be not anxious by the tram-station nor blue when you're playing, because I have taken my destiny in my own hands. I have thought in light-years and I have suffered in seconds.
Since I've basically just finished academia, I am currently looking for jobs. I have decided I want to try for a career in the metropolitan police force. Some of you may find this incongruous with the fact that I smoke mountains of weed, and probably so would they.
Even though I'd attended the recruitment event and everything, I realised when they told me they had drug-tests that I would need a holiday of a month or two at my parents' place before applying so that all the skunk could wash out of my body. This day, however, I hand in my dissertation and am walking back all jolly towards my flat, when I pass next to the university's medical centre. I was going to get home and get drunk at the beautiful hour of ten to eleven am, when I tell myself: Dude; I wonder if they do free blood and urine tests?
It's not something I absolutely need at this stage since I'm pretty sure they would turn out positive, but there can be no harm in asking, right? So I walk in. The atmosphere is very glum. There's a queu of sick people waiting for a doctor to call them. I walk up to the reception slightly less jolly than I was when I walked in, and I ask the woman there, 'Excuse me, is it possible to get a blood or urine test?'
'It depends on what it's for,' she says, and goes silent, as if expecting me to fill her in. The thing is, though, that I'm not that yodled about telling her I need a test to figure whether the woodlands of weed I've had cycling through my lungs are going to show, so I sort of remain quiet on the subject. The consequence of this is that she immediately leaps to the wrong conclusion: 'If it's for sexually transmitted diseases, you'd have to go to the hospital service in town,' she tells me.
Sexually transmitted diseases? Jesus, no. I haven't even been laid in, like, six months. Unless you can get an STD by shagging your hand too often, I should be as healthy as snow.
However the woman at the reception is interpreting my silence as a sign of embarrassment and looking at me with an expression of steely sympathy. She obviously thinks I've got AIDS or something and without me asking her anything she starts signing me up for an appointment with the doctor. This is going way too fast for me and I ask some random questions to gain time: 'Are the, um, the results of this test going to be made public? Or can I keep them private?' This question is of course crucial to me because there's no fucking point having an anticipated drugs' test if it's going to be accessible to the police when they're processing my application, but the woman interprets it as meaning 'I've been fucked in the ass by three beggar tramps and I'd rather my friends didn't find out' and she starts trying to encourage me, she presses my forearm while staring at me ruefully and assuring the results will be just for me. This is so getting at me that I'm feeling ashamed now of needing the test for something as stupid as smoking spliffs. As a result, I actually start acting the part. I begin to look highly preoccupied and insecure, as if my future were barren before me and all hope rested on that one blood test. She starts referring to STDs by means of indirect speech ('if it's for that thing...') and solemnly gives me the number of a gum clinic. I nod my head in thanks and look at the piece of paper with intense interest and a veil of sadness. Then I say goodbye and, with stoic demeanour, I walk out of the reception.
The moment that I step into the fresh air, I feel as though I had actually been cured from an STD. I walk home with my nerves all tingling and with a strange, broken laughter occasionally coming out of me. I get home, invite a couple of friends over, and I'm like, 'Dude, I need some cider.' They're like, 'Dude, it's quarter past eleven in the fucking morning.' I'm like, 'Dudes, you dudes have tea or something while I get some Strongbow.' So I pull out my famed Box of the Twenty-Four (referring both to the number of cans it contains and to the number of hours it usually takes before I need to buy another one), and down the first can in one go. Or at least I try: for some reason just before I've reached the very bottom something like a burp explodes up my throat and sends a massive jet of cider into my nose, which of course causes me to almost cough out what's still in my mouth and put the can down. (I was swigging them easy the other night. I don't understand why I can't seem to down Strongbow anymore. I must be growing old).
I hadn't slept the night before so by noon I was already dying. My friends dragged me to my room and thankfully did not decide to bring me to the medical centre. That would have been a scene for the day.