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I was walking on the meadows yesterday with my wife Polly. I was irritable and everything which Polly said and did seemed to aggravate me. At one stage I actually raised my voice to her, which surprised and troubled me because I am usually very careful to avoid such unpleasantness. Polly had found a large grey feather on the grass – presumably that of a pigeon – and she was playing with it, and trying to fasten it into her hair. I instructed her to put it back – telling her that it was dirty and dangerous – but Polly was reluctant to part with the feather. I ducked forward to snatch it, Polly tried to avoid me, and there was an awkward, frantic moment which only ended when I had prised open Polly’s fists and made her drop the feather. We did not speak on the way home. I was glad – because I was tired of her voice – but I felt anxious and could not rid my mind of that petty little incident, the moment when I had lost control.

We had an uneventful evening. At about one in the morning, I became conscious that I was drunk, and I was annoyed by how slow and confused I suddenly felt. I was searching for a pornographic film on the Moviemonster website which had featured an exceptionally sweet blond girl in a school uniform. The film was standard fare, but at the beginning – before the participants got to work – there was a brief scene when the male lead – an ugly old character – pawed over the girl’s body and ran a fat wet finger under her thong. The camerawork was immediate and intimate, and I found this scene very arousing – so much so that I had arrived at the point where I could do nothing else until I had watched it again – but I could not remember the name of the film, and so I was going through the site’s contents, film by film, searching for it. Polly burst into my bedroom, screaming blindly, and at first I was too tired and drunk to understand what was going on. In due course, I gathered that she had given herself a massive overdose of insulin. She has done this sort of thing before, and it is wrong to term such acts suicide attempts – they are odd, petulant declarations, and necessarily inconsequential. I knew, however, that if she was going to live through the night then she would need to eat a great deal of food.

I went through the kitchen cupboards. I had not been shopping for several days, and there was little food in my apartment. There were some apples, a yoghurt – but these things were hardly sufficient. I told Polly to put her coat on and we then headed off into the centre of Edinburgh. Hypoglycaemia is best treated with sugary drinks and chocolate, but at that time in the morning I could not think of a grocery shop which would be open. I spotted a fish bar, however, and inside I ordered eight bags of chips. Polly eyed my armful of carbohydrates with dismay, but she was too unwell to articulate any protest. It’s meaningless to say that we regret things and I’m not going to give you excuses. I wanted her to suffer. Back in my apartment, I forced her to eat over five bags of chips before she passed out, exhausted. There was bullying, crying, vomiting – let’s not go into the details, it was utter hell. At about four in the morning I returned to my laptop, but I could still not recall the name of that film. I watched over a hundred introductions to porn films before I fell asleep, and I have still not identified the one that I wish to see.