One evening a couple of autumns ago, after a couple of weeks of paralysing despair which shrank the world to a cramped box with just me in it, I sprang back into shape, abruptly aware of everything going on around me. I was in the kitchen, pivoting between cooker and sink and equipment rack and full larder, making a chilli which was filling the air with the eye-watering smoke of aerosolising spices. It was making the cat sneeze. So I opened the glass door to the conservatory and the open air beyond it to let some of the smoke out. The air moving through the red-tiled kitchen connected me back into the rest of the house, where people were soldering and tinkering and sleeping, and on out into the big dark space of Bonfire Night in London and the rattle and boom of fireworks. The music I had on, new to me, was a big dark space too, like glimpses of tall echoing vaults through a porthole. There’s still all this music that I don’t know, I thought, and the whole thing felt in a small way like being reborn.
And then I was getting off the train a few weeks later with just-dyed dark purple-blue hair like a splatter of spilt ink, with an almost iridescent sheen in the sickly yellow light of the station concourse. Walking along on spring-loaded legs, I felt new, changed, then suddenly embarrassed: what, new and changed again?