I’m sure it’ll be my epitaph. There it shall be, carved in granite on my headstone, recorded there for future generations to remember me by:

Here lies Rob McDermott

He was alright

The word ‘alright’ seems to sum me up, whatever its connotations or whatever the situation you care to use it in. Try this:

‘What do you think of him?’

Sniff. ‘He’s alright.’

I am the afterthought. Think I’m doing myself down? I was sat in the staff corridor at work (it’s got fresher air than the staff room, despite being the designated smoking area…) when Jolene and Lydia came in for a smoke and started having one of those girly conversations, which digressed into an assessment of which male members of staff were ‘fit’. After no less than fifteen minutes of this, Jolene seemed to remember I was still there and said, ‘Of course, you are too, Rob.’ The most common assessment of my physical attributes seems to be ‘relatively attractive’. No better, no worse. (It was nice of Jolene to say what she said, but there’s a level on which I’d rather have gone unnoticed…)

Anyway, the point is that I’m never the first person a girl would think of. This counts double for the fact that I stand out in a crowd. I’m not sure why this is, but it keeps being confirmed to me. Rose told me yesterday that she formed her first impression of me as I walked into the room in which we had our history induction seminar back in September. She likes blokes who stand out, apparently…

Then there’s Eddie’s, the Birmingham nightclub I occasionally haunt. I’ve been there only nine times in the past four months, and usually for a couple of days in a row each time (so I’m not exactly regular). On New Year’s Eve, I was headbanging in the cock-rock room when one of the guys started correcting my stance. He then introduced himself and asked me the most unsettling question I’ve ever been asked:

‘Aren’t you normally a goth?’

Normally, I dance in the goth and eighties bit upstairs, you see, and that guy could have only noticed me in there from across the room, otherwise I’d have at least half recognised him. And yet I dress in a way that shouldn’t make me stand out either in Eddie’s or on the street, so it’s not just that I look outlandish… And this is proof of ‘alright’ because this attention I draw is not in any way sexual – no girl’s eye is on me for more than a few seconds. People register me, but they don’t feel as though it’s worth their acting on the fact that they’ve clocked my face.

‘Alright’ covers other aspects of my life, too. There’s nothing I’m truly good at, for example, but I’m alright at most things. And the worst one is, I’m always ‘alright’ in terms of my personal circumstances. I’ve dealt with a lot of bad things in my adolescence, many of which I’m trying to put behind me nowadays (there are ties with Cambridge I’ve cut completely). Problem is, it’s been a long time since I was ever worth someone’s sympathy. Even when the world’s going to pot for me, I rarely show the true depths of my anguish, partly because other people’s problems are more important to me.

Finally, there are the circumstances under which I was first described as ‘alright’: the gang of pseudo hard-cases about to have a go at ‘the geek’. There was always one who turned them aside with a ‘leave him; he’s alright’.

I am a hanger-on to everybody, yet truly a part of nobody. I am in no way worthy of your long-term attention, even if your head turns to me as I walk in the room. I am ‘alright’. And that’s all I’ll ever be.


~ by Scary Rob on 10 January, 2005.

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