This was one of Bob’s book, I inherited. The second evangelic one I’ve read that somebody obviously had given him. A message inside the flyleaf: ‘Be Inspired!’ I guess Bob was looking for something. We all are. I had to have a coming-out party, when people found out—yes, I was a writer. And yes, a second coming-out party when I admitted I believed in God—well sometimes, more often than not, but not very often. Ned Flanders in The Simpsons is the archetype do-gooder and believer and you’ve got to just say, wow, to all things Godly. I was never much good at being good. I wanted to be in the same place they put the bad women and if that was hell then I was quite willing. If there was a dog to be kicked, I was the man for the job. But I wasn’t really bad, more sad than bad. That’s usually how life plays out, especially when you get older. Bob was more sad than bad. He could never bear to be alone. Books like this are honey for a bee. But I doubt he ever read it.
Barry Woodward was a no-good cunt. Then he found God, or God found him and he was saved and became an evangelic and preaches [present tense in the before-and-after story] the word of God.
I could list all the drugs he took when he was part of the Madchester scene. He was really into music and built his own deck and played music night and day for months of end. He learned how to mix decks and never really slept. He wasn’t the kind of neighbour I’d like. I’d have probably have a falling out if he stayed anywhere near me. I wouldn’t really have cared if he took heroin and speed and crack cocaine and smoked dope. That would have been his business. Not mine. If he died of these things I’d just be relieved it was quiet. But inside that the chrysalises of maximum volume noise were voices that spoke to him. Psychosis. When he flushed the toilet the voices spoke to him. When he was in the shower, they kept him company and dragged him down. More drugs didn’t still their voices. Bob was like that too.
Ironically, Bob was more at ease when he was in Greenock Prison than outside. Barry when he was inside had all kind of ruses to get his stuff in the old Strangeways. His girlfriend played pass-the-parcel when they kissed and he’d swallow and shit it out. Anything to get a hit, to be normal.
When God directs Barry it’s quite funny. He ends up naked hiding from the police in a stream he tries to dive into but is little more than a puddle. The police woman is nice and tempts him out with a scratchy blanket and kind words. He’s marked down as just another nut- job, taken to the local nick and locked up again, before getting sentenced for other misdemeanours.
When your psychotic voices in the head are part of the terrain. But there’s little to tell between Barry’s experience and Joan of Arc telling her fellow countrymen to rise up and the English to go back home. Moses talking to a burning bush. Saul being blinded and walking with scales on his eyes, only for them to fall away when he recognised the risen Christ. The trick is to make others believe the voices are real. Barry Woodward turned his life around. God bless him for that. Bob never got the chance. God bless him for that too. The voices no longer haunt him.