Archive for the ‘Bob Weir / Ratdog’ Category

Rat Dog

Why:

Rat Dog is Bobby’s band. I loved Bobby.

Sugar Magnolia is all tied up for me with my first ever girlfriend at college.

It may have only lasted a couple of months one summer, but until I met my wife it was one of only two ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’  relationships I think I ever had.

When I told her six or seven years ago that I still couldn’t hear that song without thinking of me she just said “Well of course.”

And it’s not as if they toured outside the US a lot.

This seemed like a big deal, so I got myself two tickets.

I didn’t know who I’d take.

On the evening itself, it’s a sunny Friday and it starts like so any at the time with me and two managers heading off from the office in my boss’s car.

We headed down the Euston Rd towards West London where all of us lived then.

The plan (as it was for so many Friday’s in those days) was to score some blow locally, have a drink together.

The two of them would then go home to their wives and blame me if they were busted for being high.

Both of them are now divorced.

So we’re outside by the canal at the Grand Union in Westbourne terrace. And we’ve been joined by some other people that they know and I semi-know.

My boss’s younger brother is there.

And it’s still sunny and we’re still high. So when some other friends of mine, some music, and some college, call me at random I have them join us.

It’s good to feel confident enough to pick up the phone and feel that you’re at the heart of social arrangements.

Obviously, Rat Dog doesn’t happen. Which is a shame. The set’s up on archive.org and it’s way, way better than the Dead show I’d seen ten years earlier.

But what does happen that night casts something of a shadow over my life for years to come.

A group of us go back to mine.

By about 02:00am there are just me, the friend who sells me weed sleeping on my sofa, and the girlfriend of another friend.

And she and I go to bed, and basically stay there till the Sunday.

It starts a period of my life when I felt simultaneously happy and exploited. She meant the world to me but also made me think I was a terrible person.

You should never get involved with someone in a relationship.

Let alone in a relationship with someone you respect.

But there were drugs involved.

And I was very, very lonely.

And she was very forgiving and tolerant of me.

She thought I was pretty.

It made me desperately unhappy. And guilty.

You couldn’t call it a relationship. But until I met my wife, it was the longest relationship I ever had.

I was proud that it was mine.

I made a point of never calling her over the years that this went on.

But I’d always reply if she called, or messaged, drunk and she’d always come round. We’d drink a lot. We’d take my valium. We worked well together in bed.

In the end I think we caused each other so much pain.

I almost wish I’d seen the band instead.

When I spoke to a psychiatrist as part of the process of being diagnosed as autistic last year he also told me I had a problem with alcohol.

Even with the amount I was drinking then – as a ‘responsible married man and father’ – he told me I “shouldn’t trust any judgement call you make”.

(“difficulties with alcohol” was what it said on the diagnosis letter, which obviously I edited out before sending a copy to my company HR team…)

Well, this was a series of judgement calls I shouldn’t have made, over a number of years.

Every entry on this blog from this point on to sometime around 2008 is coloured by this relationship.

Maybe I was there with her, alone or with mutual friends pretending we weren’t sleeping with each other.

Maybe she was there and I’d see her in the bar with her boyfriend and I’d make for the other end of the venue.

Maybe I was looking for someone else.

High: for all the pain later, that weekend felt amazing. As if I’d made a real connection. Really amazing.

Drinking: forever.

Thinking: sorry Bobby.