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North of Purgatory: A Coma Diary

Part I
Tommy Udo , May 14th, 2008 00:00

North of Purgatory

When rock writer and extreme music fan Tommy Udo fell out of a six storey window last Autumn, people thought he would die for sure. Fate, it turned out, had something much more strange in store for him. This is the first part of his coma diaries.

Falling out of a window and breaking nearly every bone in your body and going into a coma and having a near death experience is the new rock'n'roll.

OK, is it fuck the new rock'n'roll. I know because I’ve done both: rock'n'rolling and lying in a bed with tubes coming out of every orifice while I drool away oblivious to the world, drifting in and out of consciousness, lost in vivid Morphine-induced nightmares and let me tell you, there’s no fucking contest. It was interesting being lost in a drugged up fantasy world of my own creation, yes, but all in all I’d rather have been at a Bill Haley show.

What happened was this: I was lying on the concrete shortly after falling from a great height with my arms and legs at funny angles and blood gushing out of my broken nose. There were people standing around asking questions like: “Is he still alive?” and saying things like “They say we have to keep him talking.” I thought: am I still alive? Aw fuck| it hurts. And I can’t breathe. I could see the tunnel of light unfolding and pulsing in front of me. I felt like I was standing up beside my dying body. Was that God I saw there? He looked every inch the cunt I’d read about in the Old Testament. Can dying really be as clichéd as this? I wondered. Will I end up in some hideous Doris Stokes afterlife? I told myself: Stay away from the light|

The last record I remember listening to was by As I Lay Dying: fact.

The paramedic shone a torch in my eyes and asked me what day it was. How the fuck would I know that? I work freelance for fuck’s sake. “Thursday,” I grunted. “Are you Scottish?” he asked. “Er| I suppose so,” I think I replied. “I’m from Glenrothes,” he said. “Oh. Right,” I said. “In Fife,” he said. “That’s nice,” I think I replied. Then he said: “We’re going to give you something called ketamine to knock you out.” He started to explain what ketamine was. I managed to grumble: “I know what bloody ketamine is.” I felt a sharp prick on my neck and then a great black wind roared and blew all the fragments of my conscious mind away. It was nothingness. It was nice.

From here on in things " time, space, identity - get very confused.

You know those novels and movies and TV shows where somebody is in a coma, lost in their own mind and characters presumably of their own creation help them back to consciousness: Life On Mars for example, or my favourite Open Your Eyes (remade badly as Vanilla Sky)? Well it wasn’t quite like that. For one thing I was pretty much already aware that I was in hospital and that I was badly fucked up. For another, I could hear people talking to me: family, friends, nurses, doctors. It was like hearing them through a haze of static. They were telling me what had happened and that it was going to be alright. I knew that was a lie, though, because it’s exactly what I would have told somebody who was lying there in a coma. Buck up, fellah, everything is going to be A-OK. You’re alive| sort of. You’re still with us|in a manner of speaking.

But much of the time I was somewhere else. Camden Town in January 1943 for example.