He had from an early age always thought of the world as a big, big place you could easily get lost in. As he got older, the truth hit him. He kept ending up back where he started; old enemies as intractable as ever, in the same place he had found them, when younger and still as unwilling to shift their ground. Then there was the public, just as fickle as when had first discovered success.
'I hate them. I hate them all. I have always hated them and I always will hate them,' he muttered to himself, with ingratitude at their ever gracing his life at all, however bleakly.
Was that his face in the mirror or the old man he had thrown stones at as a child because he was such a miserable creature? Hard to tell really. He was a loser, a failure, a waste of space as one of his wives reminded him daily, until she threw in the towel and left him. All he did was meet the same old people in the same old places. He felt his life was a vain, empty, worthless attempt at living. His wife’s assessment of him in that respect was spot on.
'I’m going back home!'
'Go on then!' and she had.
The time between waking and sleeping seemed to shrink each day, like the shop window in the Time Machine. He had watched enthralled, when it first came out as a film but now it was his life, escaping through his fingers like sand and he hated it. The years seemed to flit by rapidly between summer and winter too as in the shop window scene.
'Death, where is thy sting? Here I think.'
Time had seemed endless as a child, now here he was at the other end of life, staring at the abyss. The egg timer that had filled his existence, was now pushing him out the other end, cramping his style, crushing his opportunities to death. The seemingly infinite conveyor belt he rode on, had an end and he felt himself being dragged towards its edge and the darkness we all have to face as we approach the final curtain.
'Imagine running into Sid after all these years?' he thought to himself. Hattie had always liked him. Once upon a time they had all been great friends. It had always been Sid back then but now…
The circular nature of time kept throwing him back on the ordinariness of everyday reality. Why had he eschewed success and everything it entailed? He knew it would be a gigantic disappointment and just another prison for his mind to contemplate. It was the metaphysical walls of another vast emptiness of dull repetitiveness – mind numbing in its certainty. But here he was trying for that grand illusion again and failing.
'I’ll drink to that,' he said raising his glass of whisky and toasting his own reflection in the mirror.
How like a child he’d been – throwing the rattle out out of his pram and enjoying getting it back. Now, he was fed up with joining the dots as he no longer liked the picture it was painting.
'Time for an early night.' He knew though that tomorrow would come soon enough and the shortening circle would wrap its grasp tighter and tighter round his shrinking world, until one day it wouldn’t…
Tony Hancock was an English comic actor, who committed suicide in Australia after a disastrous tour as a stand-up comedian, which was not his forte. He made his name through Galton and Simpson, the writing team who produced Hancock’s Half Hour. They also went on to script a TV series for him, making him a well-known UK celebrity in the humour field; The Blood Donor being considered his finest work.
He always played a pretentious, self-pitying but gullible character, pitted against Sid James as his alter-ego; down-to-Earth, conniving, always joking. He ditched him as a partner because he was afraid of becoming part of a double act. He eventually severed his connection with his writing team too as he thought he could go it alone as a comedian. He couldn’t.
Hancock was married twice. Both relationships ended in divorce. He died aged 44.