Charles Highway 19

Normal procedure: I flicked it; slapped it; I garrotted it with both hands; a final searing Chinese-burn – a last attempt to tempt a drop of that most dreaded commodity, discharge. None was forthcoming. It looked as me as if bullied, picked-on. Cautiously at first, I applied a nailbrush to the helmet. I combed, with the rigour of an orphan matron, my pubic hairs. I swabbed my balls with after-shave. Perhaps a pipe-cleaner, steeped in Dettol?

I experienced thrilling self-pity. ‘What will that mind of yours get up to next?’ I said, recognizing the self-congratulation behind this thought and the self-congratulation behind that recognition and the self-congratulation behind recognizing that recognition.

Steady on. What’s so great about going mad?

But even that was pretty arresting. Even that, come on now, was a pretty arresting thing for a nineteen-year-old boy to have thought.