When I worked at the garage I was going out with a girl called Louise. At one point I kind of threw myself out of my mum’s house in the middle of an argument with my stepdad and went to stay a few streets away with her parents. They were big drinkers, who’d be sipping sherry in front of the telly at breakfast time and still be sat there sipping sherry in front of the telly at bedtime in a curdling fog from the smoke of a hundred Lambert & Butlers. I started going a bit mad and drifted out of college. It was all too much. I was in a band and I wrote a song about it all, where I moaned about the enervating effects of trying to juggle a job at a garage with A Level Art and a sexually demanding and just generally rather not satisfied girlfriend. I was also writing songs about The Moors Murderers and Sylvia Plath around that time. I drifted out of college and into a job where I worked in the office of a company which sold engineering parts – ball bearings, flanges, that kind of thing. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it was still the eighties so they let me smoke in the office and I spent several tolerable afternoons bashing away at an old typewriter wreathed in smoke, pretending I was a detective or a journalist. I started to take antidepressants. I may or may not have made a half hearted attempt to poison a co-worker. I decided that life was too painful and that the only way to survive was to work on destroying all emotions. Even when I was being paid to think about ball bearings, I was secretly thinking about bullshit. I didn’t really know how to do having a full time job. I used to phone in sick regularly. I used to come in late if it was raining because I hadn’t yet learnt that your boss still expects you to come in, all Happy Shopper Graham Young and Cliff’s notes Neitzsche, even if you might get a bit wet. They kind of fired me after a couple of months and nobody shed any tears about it, apart from maybe my mum.