Brian 2 – continued

I wis a good kid. In primary I did well and enjoyed bein’ at school, but at the end of second year in the high school, I got bored. There was too much banter in class, disrespect and not what I was used tae, so I just left. Started bunking off a couple of days a week, but I would amuse myself, you know, go to the museums and that. I used to read all about everything, and I remembered a lot o’ it. That was interesting, not like being in class where the teacher threatened you all the time and the boys never sat still. Which was worse than doing nothing, really. I got used to making do for myself, and though I have no exams and that, I did well, learning to cook. It was just something I could do easily, after watching my ma cook for eleven of us all those years. It came naturally to me, and I enjoyed thinking what I could do with food. So I got a great job in one of the big hotels, really good money, got all the stuff, you know. I had the wife, the kids, the flash car and the great house. I used to think nothing of going for a drive with ma wife on my weekends off, somewhere to a nice restaurant for lunch, maybe. She would look at me as if I was mad, said she could easily cook us up something, but I liked treating her special when I got the chance. I always told her the money wasnae a problem and it wasn’t, not while I was working and bringing in maybe hundreds of pounds a week, especially with overtime and bonuses and all that. It was going well for me, and I was still young. When you’re young you feel like nothing can get to you.

The job was stressful. I recon I was sweating maybe ten hours a day, making meals over and over, and you just get to feel strong, a bit like a machine. Just plug it in and on we go. So when one of the lads started larking about with the white stuff, I took a hit and thought nothing of it. I could control what I was doing and anyway, that first time was a Saturday, after my shift. I remember it so clearly, now, that I didn’t even really think. I never had that feeling of, “What are you doing here, do you want to do this?” Nah, I just took what I was given and said, “Ta, mate” and “I’ll see you right” and all the things you say, when you think someone has done you a favour.

I got on with my life, with going home to the family and getting into work, but now I had two secrets. I had the drink, which was creeping up on me, and I had the new drug, which I didn’t take often, but then, you don’t need to, do you? It is never the same as the first time, though, and you have to keep taking more to get the same high. Just tiny bits more and more, so you hardly notice. No-one said anything to me, and my wife just thought it was the booze. A couple of times her face swam in and out of focus when I was driving, so she took the wheel, but she just let me cool off after. It crept up that slowly, by the time she noticed, I was far gone and didn’t care about anything much except earning enough to keep my habit going. As far as I knew, I was earning, so that was alright, and so long as I could do that, no-one could complain, could they?

Until the boss found me weaving about the kitchen, sweating and swearing and brandishing knives. Paranoia is not good in any kitchen. Straight away he knew what it was, and he warned me, said he would be within his rights to fire me on the spot. Can’t have chefs threatening to slice open the waiters, can we? But he gave me one more chance and, of course, I blew it. I was all mixed up, completely out of control most of the time. Charging around like a demented dog, it is no wonder I was run out of there very quickly after he found me threatening to slice a delivery man into pieces. That would have done nothing for the reputation of his hotel, would it? I can smile now, but actually, I feel ashamed that people have given me such good chances and I’ve let them down.

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