So some bitch gets on the ICE at Aachen with her Burger King or McDonald’s—now the entire carriage stinks of her hot food. Thick as sh*t. Absolutely thick as sh*t. No desire to go to Fifth Avenue; no desire to go to Empire; most boring strip club in the world; suddenly realise how naughty Berlin still is—even those rough little places, Sissi, Monte Carlo or 77. From Gare du Midi, straight to Brussels Grill. It’s very busy and there only seems to be one waitress, so I’m starting to regret it. After this, check in, maybe a nap, then out to Cine Paris at least. Then all day Saturday in Brussels—just drinking & eating, drinking & eating.
I am still, and becalmed in the fog, and yet it is a truth that this is the happiest New Year of my life. I am free of all pressured duties, commitments and relationships and equally free of all black madnesses that such vacuum has always brought in the past. I feel unreal, surreal, totally poised for something and I know not what. I am on the absolute precipice of my life and there is no further in this direction I can go, and yet I do not want to turn back. Sarah Kane at this point threw herself over the precipice into a Maudsley Hospital noose. Hart Crane at this point threw himself over the precipice into the Caribbean Sea. But I will in time float back down and rejoin my body on the operating table. I am not ready to go yet. A metamorphosis is taking place inside me and I do not know what I will be when it is completed. I am entering a long dark night of the soul. And I do not want to sleep. I fear sleep. I hate sleep. I despise sleep. If I don’t sleep I will die. I want to see the end of the universe. I am a ball of lightning waiting for something to strike. I want to go on stewing in my juices a while longer, then scrub myself pure white clean and re-emerge. I am the lottery winner who drank himself to death sitting in front of his television with four bottles of whiskey a day. The ice in my mountains is melting fast and as swollen as my rivers have been, they will soon dry up completely.
I am very excited about this New Year. The ice is very beautiful. White ice as far as the eye can see, clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. I start this year completely free of all encumbrances, attachments, duties and commitments. I find that more calming than frightening. It has all worked out for the best. I am a great believer that everything always works out for the best. Everything that happens is the best possible thing that could have happened.
Thus equipped, I set off like Shackleton on my voyage with great hopes. Before long the ice will crush my Endurance and I will be forced to scramble just to survive and get back home again, but one must always keep setting out on the journey. I think maybe I will start tomorrow. It is very very cold now. Everywhere is white with a coating of ice. Britain has always had an inordinate number of polar explorers and the theory is that coming from a very moderate climate we had no idea just how cold it was going to be when we got there. Britain is quite cold all the time so that made us think we could take it, having no idea quite how much colder it was possible for weather to get. People from colder climates knew better than to even attempt it. Even when one loses one’s map and compass it is still possible to navigate by the stars, though it is often too cloudy. I thought I could be on my own and I would be fine. I would like it. I had just no idea how cold it is possible for cold to get.
On the ICE waiting to pull out of Koln. Still grey skies heavy with rainclouds, as it has been all the way since Berlin.
When I travel by DB ICE I feel light, weightless; switch to Austrian Railjet and I feel weighed down and clumpy again. The ICE is really the greatest travelling experience of my life; one of the great glories of Europe is the ICE. Bravo Deutsche Bahn; a good job. My deep respect for Germans which I have had since childhood, teenage years, just grows more with each year that passes. 100 per cent of French women report being sexually harassed on the Paris Metro; such a thing is unimaginable on German/Austrian underground. Of course, it happens one presumes, but in Germany and Austria it is an extraordinary exception rather than the rule. There is an intelligence, an integrity, one finds in Germany and Austria, that I do not feel anywhere else.