Quadrophenia - Dialogue
I had to go to this psychiatrist every week. Every Monday. He never really knew what was wrong with me. He said I wasn't mad or anything. He said there's no such thing as madness. I told him he should try standing in a queue at Brentford football ground on a Saturday morning, I thought it might change his mind. My dad put it another way. He said I changed like the weather. One minute I'd be a tearaway, next minute all soppy and swoony over some bird. Schizophrenia, he called it. Nutty, my mum called it.
It used to be alright at home. My dad would get pissed out of his brain every single night, and when the telly finished he'd storm out of the house like a lunatic to get to the Eel and Pie shop before it closed. He'd come home with enough for an army. I never liked the eels, just the pies and mash, and the liquor. My friend Dave said that eels live on sewage. My dad must be full of it, he used to eat five bleeding cartons of eels a day. I don't think he ever twigged I was doing five cartons of leapers every day. Each to his own sewage. The rows at home started when I got back from the trouble at Brighton. I'd slept on the beach and me suit was ruined. I really cared about my suit, all my clothes, even though my mother said I didn't care about anything. My mother's terrible when she's had a few Guinesses. Not that she'll ever settle for a few. As soon as I said I was leaving she started rejoicing like the war had just ended. I was a mountain of paranoia. Coming down off leapers isn't much fun. You can put it off by having more just as you start feeling bad, but it only makes it worse in the end. Pills used to make me see things. They used to make me feel great, like Tarzan. But I think I saw life the way it was. People couldn't hide from me when I was leaping. My shrink used to have a sign on his wall to make you laugh. It said that a paranoiac is a person who has some idea what is really going on. That was me on leapers.
I pissed off after I'd slept off the come-down. I got me suit cleaned at the automat and spent two hours pressing the pissing thing. It never did look quite right. I took my parka as well, in case I had to sleep rough. I got a shitty couple of nights sleep under Hammersmith flyover. There only seems to be about five minutes in the night when there ain't some flash bastard in a sportscar g around outside waiting for them to come out. When they did they never bloody well recognised me. I shouted and one of them turned round and said "How are you doing?", like he remembered me. "Working?" he said. I hate it when people say that. Course I wasn't working, I was still at fucking school.
Next day I got a job, as a dustman. Now I know why people say "Working?" to one another. Nine quid for a full weeks filthy work. They stuffed it, I left after two days with two quid in me pocket. Two of the blokes there were talking about striking for more money, but most of the geezers there bad been working for the council for years. They looked upon it as some sort of church. The mayor as the Pope. One bloke has medals for being a war hero and he didn't have the guts to strike for more pay. They were all clean though, after hours.
There's a part of me that hates people. Not the actual people but how useless they are, how stupid. They sit and stew while the whole world gets worse and worse. Wars and battles. People dying of starvation. Old people dying because their kids have got their own kids and they ain't got time. That's what makes me smash things up. My shrink says I ain't mad. He should see me when I'm pissed.
I don't know what clicked inside me, but I got fed up with sleeping under the flyover. The weather was terrible for a start. Two rainy nights and that was it. I really started to fancy going back to Brighton. I still had about two hundred leapers left, kept me company. What was really weird was seeing this bird that I really liked, I even had her on the beach at Brighton. Two in a sleeping bag is really cosy until you're finished. Anyway, she was with my mate Dave. Him! She walked right past me after a dance at the Goldhawk. The girl of my best friend and all that. It did me in. It was like the last straw. The real last straw was yet to come, I was so brought down, I smashed me G.S. up in the pissing rain. I can't bear to think about it. I walked to the station down the railway tracks, across the river. I felt like throwing myself in front of a train, but I didn't. I took about twenty leapers at once, got a first class ticket to Brighton and set off to my land of dreams.
I did some thinking on the train. At one point I could swear I was floating about in the carriage, looking down at these two city gents. What was weirdest about it was that I could see myself as well. Must have been the pills again.
Brighton is a fantastic place. The sea is so gorgeous you want to jump into it and sink. When I was there last time there were about two thousand mods driving up and down the promenade on scooters. My scooter's seen the last of Brighton bloody promenade now, I know that. I felt really anonymous then, sort of like I was in an a As it seemed they were going to get caught anyway they stopped and turned to meet their fate. All hundred of these kids I was with stopped dead. I was the first to stop, but the rest ran, so I had to follow. There's nothing uglier than a Rocker. This ace face geezer wouldn't have run. He smashed the glass doors of this hotel too. He was terrific. He had a sawn- off shotgun under his jacket and he'd be kicking at plate glass and he still looked like he was Fred Astaire reborn. Quite funny, I met him earlier today. He ended up working at the same hotel. But he wasn't the manager.
I never ever felt like I blasphemed. You know, in an old fashioned sense. But I was in a pretty blasphemous mood when I left for Brighton. Brighton cheered me up. But then it let me down. Me folks had let me down, Rock had let me down, women had let me down, work wasn't worth the effort, school isn't even worth mentioning. But I never ever thought I'd feel let down by being a mod. I pinched this boat, first time I'd ever been on a boat at sea. I had another few leapers to keep from coming down and I felt a bit bravado. So I headed for this Rock out off the coast. It was sticking up very jagged, but very peaceful. I didn't know then what I was up to, but I know now.
Schizophrenic! What a laugh. It must be alright to be plain ordinary mad. About halfway over I took a swallow of this Gilbeys gin I'd bought. Booze never did help me much though. On the boat it did me right in, specially on top of the pills and the come-down. Anyway, the sound of the engine turned into this drone, then the drone turned into a sound like pianos or something. Like heavenly choirs or orchestras tuning up. It was really an incredible sound. Like the sort of noise you'd expect to hear in heaven, if there is such a place. I pinched myself and I wasn't really drunk anymore. I was floating. I felt really happy. I must have looked bloody stupid as it happens. I was waving me Gilbeys around in the air and singing in tune with the engine. The sound got better and better, I was nearly delirious when I got to the Rock. I switched off the engine and jumped onto it. When the engine stopped, so did the music. And when that beautiful music stopped, I remembered the come-down I had, I felt sick from the booze, the sea was splashing all over the place and there was thunder in the distance. I remembered why I'd come to this bastard Rock.
So that's why I'm here, the bleeding boat drifted off and I'm stuck here in the pissing rain with my life flashing before me. Only it ain't flashing, it's crawling. Slowly. Now it's just the bare bones of what I am.
A tough guy, a helpless dancer.
Schizophrenic? I'm bleeding Quadrophrenic.
(No one in this story is meant to represent anyone either living or dead, particularly not the Mum and Dad. Our Mums and Dads are all very nice and live in bungalows we bought for them in the Outer Hebrides.)
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