So, how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months have passed since I last stood on the top step of the podium? How many Belgian stage races did I win? What lucrative sponsorship deal did I sign? It was me. I was Mr Tambourine Man all clad in paunch – hugging lycra bought on eBay, you read about last time round.
Since then? Everything has changed. No more yellow on my shoulders. No more adulation in my kitchen. My eyes are open now. Though my eyelids are chemical – heavy and I see only blotches of grey on my shoulders. Now I see the branches on the trees outside my bedroom window waving frantically at me. They already have my dull attention, so why do they wave so?
I only have to shift my weight slightly under the duvet to see the ceiling gazing down at me, disinterested. What I see about me is what I know. I know that I thought I was Mr Tambourine Man. I know that I acted on that knowledge, and that those acts cannot be undone. The dizzy unreality of it all thrusts its pock – marked, frenzied face at mine and sighs, whispering ‘don’t worry, there’ll be a next time.’
I cannot bear to see him, her, them … you. Not now. Not while my clammy cheeks are throbbing hot with the shame of it all.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)