DOGSHOW (William Macbeth)

Wife and I have decided I’m crazy. It’s true. I say it out loud. “I’m ill. I’m mentally ill.” I write the words 

  • unstable
  • scary
  • manic
  • unpredictable
  • out of control

in my notepad. I tell wife that I need more peace and silence in my life. I tell wife that I want a job where I don’t have to talk to anyone. The school is a dogshow. The management with their powerpoints and their presentations that they’ve been working on over the summer, preening themselves in front of the headteacher, each presenting their new policy for this and for that, and oh I’ve read this book so we’re going to be doing this now, inflicting shit and misery and jargon on the rest of us to advance their own pathetic miserable careers, and preaching and evangelising like we’re saving the souls of savages, and talking about the area within a five-mile radius as if it’s the whole fucking world. It’s a bleak spectacle, enough to make a depressive like me have to restrain himself lest he run out the fucking door. 


Sometimes when I see a horse standing alone in a field I think I am that horse. I know I’m not but that doesn’t stop the thought


I saw this beautiful bird yesterday. I thought it might have been some sort of owl, or maybe a hawk. I look for it again today but it’s nowhere to be seen.

I needn’t have bothered restraining myself. I have a nervous breakdown and run away. It’s quite exciting being crazy, you can basically just do what you want, so I go down to the river and drink coffee and read William Blake. I write the following lines in my notebook:

“For light doth seize my brain/With frantic pain.” 

From Mad Song

“If any could desire what he is incapable of possessing, despair must be his eternal lot.” 

From There is No Natural Religion.

I break down and sob in front of the doctor. What a mess!

We go to this stupid air show which is basically just nationalistic propaganda and a load of men showing off in aeroplanes. I’m pretty sure most people watching are just hoping that there’s a terrible accident and one of them dies.

I seem to spend most of the day taking something or other. Before I go out I take propranolol, a beta blocker which slows your heart rate and makes me yawn repeatedly. I feel a headache coming on so I take two co-codamol tablets. When I get home I take one tablet of sertraline, the antidepressant I have been prescribed, which works by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain. I’m a drug boy. Wife’s all for it because she thinks it will get rid of the dark thoughts. She’s worried about the dark thoughts. I smoke a little pipe. It doesn’t really do anything for me. “I’ve got a headache,” I say. “I might take some paracetamol.” “Neck it,” says wife.

The lampposts at the park have a definite melancholy vibe about them. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before.

R____ can’t stand me looking at him. “Stop looking at me,” he says. “Look at the boring rain.” There’s a storm with thunder and flashes of lightning. J___ asks me what will happen if lightning hits the house. “Nothing,” I say. “It will just fall like rain and be absorbed in the ground.” J___ looks sceptical. “How will the ground absorb it?” she asks. “It just absorbs it,” I say. “Like a sponge.” I always use similes to explain things to the kids. If one thing is like another it lends credence, I always think, to my explanations, which are usually, I have to admit, a load of codswallop. 

Wife says I’m only allowed three or four days of bed rest/wallowing. “After that,” she says, “it can make you feel worse. It can actually deepen your low mood.” “OK,” I say, “but today doesn’t count.” “Why not?” “Because I spent the whole day cleaning the house.” “Really?” “Yeah, I was expecting more plaudits, actually.” “And don’t you feel better for it?” “Not really.” It’s true. My low mood has settled, like sediment. I’m like a piece of furniture you don’t even notice. A book you never fancy reading. A shrivelled pepper you never got round to eating. I want people to feel sorry for me so I can ignore them doing it.


William Macbeth is a writer. He recently published his second novel, ‘Lee Cross: An Unplanned Novel’, which is about a man he saw while driving to work one day. He has brown hair and, while not exactly tall, is certainly above average height. He lives in London, in a house. William Macbeth has never won any prizes, raffles, or competitions of any sort.


image: MM Kaufman