With each passing day it becomes more and more obvious to me that fame will forever elude me. I have no issue with this. I have written many times about my desire to remain anonymous. What I do lament is that often with fame comes riches. Thus, as the logic goes, with no fame comes no riches. Worse still, I cannot fall back on other options. Time and time, someone who is not me wins the lottery, removing another avenue for riches. And time and time again, I tear apart my ticket and curse Camelot. Or whatever the European companion to Camelot is — La Camélot, I presume. (Actually, from what I gather, the Euromillions headquarters is in Helsinki. I have a Finnish friend and I refuse any attempt to replicate that language. Somehow, the Finns turned swilling mouthwash into a national tongue.)
Anonymity has its drawbacks, too. That is, having all these anecdotes that I cannot share in exchange for money. I could fill fourteen or so volumes of an autobiography with my exploits. Lovatt: an autobiography in fourteen volumes, I would call it. That’s one volume each on my lovers, and thirteen on those who have wronged me. If those pages remain empty and imaginary, this page will have to do. Up until the point I do achieve fame, at which point this page will disappear.
This particular story is of the time I fell out of a second floor window at a house party. I call it: The Time I Defenestrated Myself Falling Out of a Second Floor Window at a House Party.
I was fifteen at the time, in my final year of high school. Some readers might consider this too young for a house party. But remember this: I am English. I live in England. And we English are nothing if not drunkards. That drunkardness comes from an early age. The French sip wine at dinner from an early age. The English binge liquor the same way. Take a visit to England and see for yourself. Come and observe the people of Manchester, Newcastle, and Romford falling out of bars. They learnt that from somewhere, and the ‘somewhere’ they learnt it was as kids at house parties.
The party was at M’s house. Her house lay upon a hill with a very heavy slope. This slope put the house upside-down in a way. The house had three storeys. On the lowest, the kitchen and garden. Above that the bedrooms. And above that, on the highest level, the living room and the toilet.The night went the same way as any with fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds drinking. We drank, we drank lots and we drank fast. Some people paired off. R—, the devil with the gift we all wish to have, tripled off. As for me, I could not take part. Well, I could have, but that would have been what we call ‘cheating’. I was with D at the time. Double Ds, some would say. Instead taking part in that, I went to the toilet. Now, the precise drink(s) I had eludes me. Around that age I had an interest in Disaronno Originale. But even as a beginner drinker I don’t think that had the necessary alcoholic content to make me lose my senses. We were all most likely mixing at that point. Anyway, I went to the toilet, locked the door and ‘broke the seal’.
By that, I mean I broke the lock of the door. The door had one of those cylindrical bolt locks. The type that fasten to the door frame and have a small knob on which you pull to open it.
Somehow, in that drunken phase, I knocked the knob out of its slot and I could not see where it landed. A sober person—or a smarter person—would have in that moment called for help. The toilet was next to the living room, the one in which a bunch of drunk teens were rucking like Catholic rabbits. Someone would have heard me. But I didn’t think to do that. After running my hands on the floor for a short while I thought myself trapped. Still I didn’t call for someone. Still I didn’t make an attempt to phone someone. Or even attempt to craft a makeshift knob like a drunk teenager MacGyver.
Instead, the drunk me looked around, saw the window and decided that climbing out of it was the best idea.
I thought it a smart idea. And I put some thought into it before deciding to go through with it. First I opened the window and peered outside. If it had been a straight drop down I would have reconsidered and made myself content to die in my toilet tomb. But there was a balcony of sorts, a small roof protruding from under the window. It had a slope to it but I thought to myself that if I eased myself out of the window onto the roof I could slide down it. From there I would land in the garden and then walk through the backdoor as if nothing had happened. The locked door was not an issue that played out in my mind. Nobody, I thought, would question a locked door. Nobody would look at it and say: ‘somebody has locked this from inside and has run off.’ Besides, I thought, if that were to happen, I could deny it was me. After all, I would now be on the other side of the door.
I unlatched the window, raised myself up on the windowsill and began climbing out. The window was smaller than expected, and it was higher too. I struggled for a bit before getting my head, arms and upper body through the window. Once I did, it was a small case of edging myself forward. After that, lowering myself down to the roof. And then, returning to the party as if I had never been away.
I felt a tug stop me.
My first thought was that someone had broken down the door and was pulling me away. I looked back and saw nobody. I looked down. It was the latch. The latch caught my t-shirt. I was fond of baggy clothes back then, the slave to fashion that I was and am. I hadn’t thought of tucking in my clothes to stop me catching. Now, it had caught me, trapping me in a kind of window limbo. There I was, half-in, half-out, like the UK for the better part of the last three years. Advance or retreat, neither were options. The pegged cloth was keeping me from lowering. And too much of my body was out to push myself back. I had to lift myself to move forward. So I did. Pushing my legs, I managed to raise my stomach and lift the caught piece of fabric off the latch.
The next moment I felt a kind of weightlessness. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened. But I knew that I hadn’t landed on the roof with the grace of a Russian gymnast. Instead I was sliding down it with all the speed and grace of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Worse, I was veering headfirst towards the ground. Somehow, via divine intervention or momentum, I ended up flipping in midair. The next thing I knew, I was staring at the evening sky wondering why the only thing that hurt was my ankles. I was able to stand. This was good. It meant I had managed not to paralyse myself. I went back to the living room where everybody was still involved in their own business. One person noticed I was gone and asked where I was. ‘Oh, outside, getting some air,’ I replied.
I made an excuse to leave. I appealed to compassion. ‘My girlfriend is home alone,’ I said. ‘I should keep her company,’ I said. I made my best attempt at masking the pain in my feet until I was out of sight and hobbled my way to her house.
I did not get away with my crimes. It was my fault. Like a narcissist who needs the attention, I told someone the story. I told my best friend, thinking some form of loyalty and secrecy would keep the story with him until his dying days. Given he was a huge drinker even then, I thought those days would not be too far away. But no—he found the story hilarious so told everybody around us. Including M. Only R found the story amusing. The rest scolded me for my utter disregard for other people’s homes and properties. As punishment, they barred me from the next few parties. My punishment was unjust but I did not appeal it. At the very least, I didn’t have to pay to get the door fixed. Though I did hear that they had to remove it from its hinges because of me. My ankles were punishment enough. I did not get them checked. My parents called it karma in a way, that it was what I deserved for making a stupid decision.
I had to withdraw from the school’s athletics team because of that. I was a 200m runner in my own right and the second leg in the 4 x 100m relay team. What could have been if I was fit and we won. It could have been meleading the nation to glory on Super Saturday.