Thursday, August 17, 2006


My old friend Guy came out for lunch On Sunday. I met Guy in Ward 24 when I was hospitalised the first time. He was in a cubicle just up the way.

For those of you that have read my book, Guy was the artist that drew the picture of the lightening striking the pyramid just before I had shock treatment. He is the only person from that ward I have ever seen since.

Guy is the most talented artist I know. He is so in tune with the creative forces that, in my opinion, he is a mystic. And he is 100% true to his talent. He has struggled to earn a living for the past 20 years, but he has never left his art. If his art doesn't sell, he would rather live in a gutter than go get some kind of corporate job.

And, like all the great artisits before him, Guy struggles with substance abuse. I first saw him last year (after a 20 year Gap) when I hit my mid-year mania. I suddenly got this urge to find him, so I did a search on the internet and, hey presto, he was doing an art exhibition in Cape Town. Unbeknown to me, he lives in Cape Town, a big stroke of luck because we met in Pretoria.

I made contact and we got together. At that time Guy had just come out of a bad drug patch and was totally clean. I always get very charged up when I see Guy. That first breakdown was chronic psychosis, I mean CHRONIC, and it lasted 3 months. Guy was there from beginning to end. But, more than that, Guy saw the things that I saw.

But on Sunday when I collected him he had been out the whole of Saturday night and stunk of Whisky. Once at our house he proceeded to climb into a mid-morning bottle of wine, and by the time he had finished several whiskies later, he passed out in his chair. I had to drive him home.

Not that I can be judgmental or anything. If I had a dollar for every time I had passed out from inebriation, I'd be a little less stressed about my debt. But it definitlely left me with a kind of a shitty feeling. Memories flooded back from my youth. All my friends were "Guys". And so was I. And I'm thinking that I had really shit foundations to build my adulthood upon.

(Mt Polar - I have smoked 4 cigarettes in the past week, but thankfully have not got passed the cough/splutter/nausea barrier yet, so threw my packet over the fence yesterday lunchtime. Hopefully never to return. )


  1. I have a friend similar to Guy, a very talented musician, actor and singer, whom I met not in a ward but in an alternative high school for chronic drop-outs. We first clicked when someone had free tickets to a screening of Withnail and I (great film!) and I showed up with a bottle of red wine in my trenchcoat pocket which we drank through spliced straws from the snacks counter.

    We became fast friends and after he introduced me to a family of sisters that he knew we were even potential in-laws, with him dating the second sister and me shacking up with the eldest. But his alcoholism got the better of him and he racked up a slew of debts and disgruntled acquaintances before headong down east for good.

    We still keep in touch via the wonders of the internet, and I'm sure if and when we ever meet up again we'll both get too soused to speak, let alone find our own ways home.

    Good on you to keep Guy in your life, and don't let it get you down that he can't keep things together as well as you seem to be able to. We don't choose our friends: they are blessings, often in disguise.

  2. Sometimes I feel we expect too much from our "friends". What qualifies as a "friend" anwyay? We have acquaintances and we have people we can rely on. As Aristotle said, "A friend in need is a friend indeed". During my highs and lows I can count on 1 finger the number of "friends" who backed me and cared for me. I have had a number of "friends" who have turned their back on me when they feel they are being stressed.

    Perhaps I am feeling too pessimistic but I am stuck in Odessa after a night on the pan, but we should not expect too much of our "friends" then they will not disappoint you.

  3. I thought I would correct myself by saying that the reference to a "Friend in need is a friend indeed" is not from Aristotle but from an Aesop fable. (Just a note it seems that Aesop conducted the public defence of Aristotle)

    I read this fable when I was 9 years old and is one of the those things that stick in the back of your mind and gives you an insight later in life.

    Two boys were taking a shortcut on a narrow path through dark and tangled woods. They walked silently through the deep shadows and they pretended not to hear the rustlings in the thickets, for neither wanted to admit that he was frightened.

    Then the air rumbled with a low, menacing growl.

    "Don't look; I'm sure it's nothing," said the first boy quickly.

    "Well, it's a very large nothing!" shouted the second boy. There, lumbering toward them, was a monstrous, hairy bear.

    The two friends began to run. Before they had taken three steps, however, the first boy stumbled and sprawled upon the ground.

    "Help me!" he cried as he scrambled to get up.

    But his friend ran on. He clambered up a towering pine tree and sat astride a bough, clutching the tree trunk and quaking. (Continued

    Substitute "monstrous, hairy bear" with "bipolar disorder"

  4. I haven't checked the end of the fable yet, but for me the real friends are the ones who come back and check whether I'm just still playing dead or the big hairy beast has really done me in.

  5. Good luck with the smoking! I am in the throws of off again / on again myself...
    Probably easier since I am soon to be laid off for a few weeks, and then what? Fear? Paranoia? Feelings of uselessness and lack of self worth? I hate what society and ourselves do to our ego...

  6. ps - about friends - the mirror that stays there, showing us who we are, but holding us up when the reflection is uglier than we realize... If you can find one, who is glad to see you, and stays there, that is more than I feel I have ever had.


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