Ben moved into my flat after Mark and the Gang left to go travelling with some imaginary money at the end of our run as art students. He was sort of pseudo Buddhist, but in a soft drug induced manner and and therefore slightly volatile. His girlfriend had recently been caught cheating on him with some other smelly hippy and he fled the caravan they were living in and took to the streets. He was excellent at paying his share of gas and electricity and even bought good sausages from the butchers and cooked them for us at breakfast. He was a really nice guy, but tragically, drugs had taken their toll. We were twenty two! He used to walk around barefoot, banging on about how feet grow their own leather if allowed to harden and decided it was a good idea to put an OM symbol tattoo on his forehead on the day that my Dad came down to visit.
One night he sat on my bed crying for hours about all the bad things that had happened in his life. He passed out fully clothed and eventually so did I. At some point in the morning I was pretending to be sleeping still as Ben put his hands in his trousers for a good scratch. On pulling his hand out, I was presented with the most potent and offensive smell I’ve ever received from another human. He had a sniff. Shortly afterwards he asked me if he could use the shower and I had to explain to him that as a resident he was free to use the shower all along. He went on a massive ketamine bender, did a load more crying and left to go to Exeter or somewhere to make a probably shit film with some probably shit, unfocused dreamers.
I got home from work one night to find a load of nomadic, crusty traveller hippies and a smelly dog in the flat. I love dogs, but it was no pets allowed and there was no garden . Ben was actually still out clubbing, and had simply let that bunch of flakes in for me to find and gone back out. And there they remained for several noisy and smelly days drinking Special Brew for breakfast, lunch and dinner and making a fucking mess of my flat.
There are only so many inebriated conversations about the existence of aliens, angels or conspiracy theories I’m happy to witness from a post work sober perspective (none, really). They smoked roll ups constantly, whilst discussing how “the system” (the same system that made their life of constant partying possible) had failed them, seemingly without the need to ever sleep. They were sort of a bit vegan-ish, but also ate whatever was going free. They were pseudo-environmentalist but left empty cans of cheap booze all over the place without considering the location of a recycle bin. They made vague hints of being against animal cruelty whilst treating a dog to an existence of extreme passive smoking and holding it’s poos and wees in for ages.
After they left, Ben and I resumed our strange existence relatively undisturbed until he left for pastures new, but I lived in constant fear of what I may find on returning home from work. I was exhausted and in need of some incredibly dull normality. I should have returned to my home town where I was welcome, missed and would have been looked after, at least for a few novelty days. Instead, I found myself in Worthing on the basis that I had one friend there and it was vaguely near to Brighton. I lasted one week there, mainly asleep.