We have all had 'fiery' relationships. You know the kind, those volatile relationships that vacillate between rage and lust. They are the stuff of bad movies and cult novels. You enter into these relationships knowing the danger, but you do it anyway. They are supposed to be sensational and life-affirming but are generally a waste of time - or, as a friend of mine once put it: 'all show, no go'.
The fiery relationship is by its nature tempestuous and fragile. It is chaotic, and almost always involves lots of alcohol. Sometimes drugs are involved, but this is secondary. Drugs alone rarely lead to 'fire'.
My own fiery relationship fitted this cringe worthy pattern. In our own pretentious way, we were the Sid and Nancy of our banal suburb. We subconsciously aped every pop culture cliché associated with rebels in love. She was the Kirsty MacColl to my maudlin (yet undeniably talented) Shane MacGowan. I thought we were dangerous and amazing. It was 'True Romance' and I was Christian Slater, beating up the pimp.
Her name was Laura, or 'Lozza', or 'Loaded Lozza' (depending on who you spoke to). She was 29, I was 24. Accordingly, she claimed to have done everything worth doing, and was quick to advise. Beware the advisers, I once read. I think it was Bukowski who said it. He may have been a shambling drunk but he was certainly right on that; it was tiresome going out with a know-it-all. Nonetheless, we had our good times. We were minor rabble rousers, petty lawbreakers. I was an artless drifter, she was a wine-soaked harridan. Lozza was pretty and funny, however, and back then that was enough.
"I fucking love you" she would often say, clutching a can of Red Stripe. I don't know if the urgency (or indeed the profanity) helped, but I kind of liked it. She made me feel special, like Jimmy Dean on a cover of a magazine.
The year long relationship imploded after a trip to Amsterdam. We had gone to see the veteran reggae singer Eek-a-Mouse and were supposedly up for vodka swilling mayhem. But Lozza shunned alcohol and took magic mushrooms instead, abandoning me for a more ethereal place. I was annoyed and decided to hit the vodka with gusto. Inevitably, our 'vibes' clashed and we spent the rest of the weekend in virtual silence.
I have since thought a lot about these fiery relationships and have a theory: there are basically two types of fiery couple. In the first, 'he' is a pseudo-intellectual, self-hating vagabond. And 'she' is Tank Girl. He styles himself on the young Mickey Rourke, and considers himself a tough guy (albeit untested). In his quieter moments, he writes juvenile poetry. 'She' is his Courtney Love style accomplice, and the only one who actually gets him. In her eyes, he is some kind a lost artist. He tacitly agrees, but pretends not to.
The second type of fiery couple is the rough urban bruiser and his witless hag. 'He' takes himself less seriously than his hipster counterpart and, like a facile Facebook meme, believes in having a good time all of the time. He works a manual job and causes mayhem at his local boozer where he is well known as a menace and failed raconteur. Many innocents have been squished beneath his juggernaut of fun. 'She', on the other hand, seesaws between battle-ready ogress and angel of the morning. One minute initiating conflict with strangers, the next buying them drinks.
As for me and Lozza, I probably fitted into the former category. Despite my credentials as a working class South Londoner, I had all the traits of a pretentious Home Counties brat.
Amsterdam was our undoing. What was supposed to be a fun trip had turned out to be a trudge through the dark wilderness of the soul. After a weekend of vicious barbs and wild drunken fury, we flew home in silence. At Stansted we pushed separate trolleys. 'Come back to mine' she finally said. 'I can't,' I said with well-rehearsed nuance. 'Not today.' Then, after a stage pause, added 'not ever again'. I charged into the throng. Several bodies barred my way, however, and I twisted as if swimming through treacle.
"Goodbye forever," I said, over my shoulder.
Ahead, I saw what looked like the way out: a green sign with an arrow. As I drew close I saw it was a shut fire-exit. I was trapped. With no other choice, I walked back past Lozza. She caught me in her headlamp like eyes - icy rage shimmering in those baby-blues.
"Goodbye again," I said, this time with a curt nod.
Lozza laughed. "You just can't hack it," she said.
I had to admit, it was a pretty good comeback. Needless to say - she was right.