Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Al Green

I wonder why it is that I only really feel the urge to 'Blog' at times of emotional excess? Loneliness, sadness, OK - embarrassment, joy (although I'll have to read back and see if there many of those), all seem to bring on the urge to write something here.

Perhaps it's because I don't really seem to have anyone else I can truly TALK to? I have friends, I have family.

In that order.

But do I really, honestly have someone I can TALK to. Someone who will listen without feeling the need to speak. Someone who will hear what I have to say without feeling the need to tell me I'm wrong?

No, not really.

I've never been good at 'friends'. I don't mean I'm incapable of having, and BEING a good friend, I'm not. To assorted people throughout my life, I have been a very good friend.

That may be part of my problem, but let's park that for now.

I think however that I am a victim of my parents. Don't get me wrong, they were superb parents and set an example to me in many ways that I will always struggle to live up to as a parent myself. I sometimes wonder if this is an aspect of my generation. Somehow, we just don't seem to be as 'grown up' as our parents were.

Maybe a war does that to you?

Or maybe it's just a perspective thing, and our own parents felt the same about theirs, viewing post-Victorian morals and mores as the sign of being adult, whilst they jived and jitterbugged and... OK, so my knowledge of dance is as limited as my knowledge of Psychology and self-insight, but that's what happens when you have two left feet.

However, my parents, whilst possessing a large social circle, often through various committees and groups, they only had a small circle of true friends. Growing up, we saw a lot of these people, so there never seemed any kind of vacuum, but I noticed that, once my Father had died, my Mother struggled and, sadly, many of these friends couldn't cope and deserted her. Over recent years, even more sadly, almost all of her closest friends have themselves passed away, leaving her increasingly isolated and angry.

We deal with this, supporting her as much as we can, but as I intimated above, friends and family are, largely, not interchangeable. She feels the gulf in her life and I find myself wondering if she regrets focusing on a small circle of true friends.

Perhaps it's not a choice we can make. Perhaps, in truth, it's the way we're wired as individuals, nature, or instilled in us from an early age. The eternal debate.

All I know is, I sit here today, conscious that, yet again, I feel so very alone. It's not helped by being a private person in some respects, or by being someone who doesn't really enjoy many of the group activities - football, drinking, team sports - that my peer group use to create and maintain social bondings, but I can't help feeling that I need to make a concerted effort to address this.

But it's not all about friendships, as I want so much more.

I am someone who has always invested heavily in relationships. Sometimes, many times, this has been to my detriment. Yet holding back doesn't seem to work for me either.

Bloody difficult.

I have been told I am a good person, a kind person. That hated term, a 'nice' person. I have been told that women don't like b@st@rds. I am told that even those women who blatantly DO like b@st@rds will, ultimately, see the error of their ways and will want a nice man.

This, it would seem, is b******s.

Maybe that's a generalisation, but I can only base it on my own experience. Of course I am aware that I have my own failings and that whether you consider being 'nice' to be one of them depends on your point of view. These other failings may perhaps outweigh niceness as a positive feature, but even so, I see no sign of it being more than a short-term attractant, almost a novelty or bit of light relief.

So I will have to change, become that which I despise. Overcome the nurture AND nature and focus on MY needs, MY desires and if they come at the expense of someone else's, well, so be it. I need to become selfish.



Not gonna happen.

I know that, in the unlikely event that I COULD do that, I would actually find that, the end result is that I wouldn't like myself. I realise that, actually, I like nice people and I like who I am, at least in that respect. If I have to change to be with someone, then I will be alone.

I don't want to date. I don't want to look back at each year past and tick off all the people I've been out with. I don't want to kiss a lot of frogs. I know I'm unlikely to have an 'eyes meeting across a crowded room' moment.

Not least because I'm not big on crowded rooms.

Or frog-ponds.

But I think this is something else I can blame on my Parents and, in particular, my Mother. I was brought up on a diet of 1940's and 50's romantic films, which has perhaps left me expecting exactly that, complete with the string section of a hidden orchestra and soft focus (much to my benefit). The fact that, once our eyes have met, I cannot glide across the floor to her like Fred Astaire is a slight hitch but one that, with lessons and appropriate footwear, I'm sure I can overcome to some extent.

Maybe the soft focus will help mask the two left feet?

Maybe not.

But how many other people my age can sing (OK, chant) the lyrics to "I hear music, and there's no-one there"? More to the point, how many people my age WANT to?

Not including those addicted to hallucinogenic drugs.

I'm feeling vulnerable and an element of self-pity at the moment, but with a few more cups of coffee, it will pass.

I'm sure what I want is no more than what most people want, but sometimes, just sometimes, I have a feeling that someone forgot to tell me one important piece of information.

That, of course, is rubbish.

So perhaps, for now, I need to take the advice my Grandmother gave me, which is that "when you can't find something, look for something else and you will find it".

Problem is, I can't find so many things: Car keys, wallet, inspiration, the £10 winning lottery ticket from a couple of months ago, the 'koyach' to make some of the phone calls I need to, the right words to say to my Mother, my Daughter, myself, that I'm running out of things I CAN look for.

So, I'm off to look for the Holy Grail, Unicorns and the Philosopher's Stone and, in the meantime, will leave behind something I could find.

I have always loved music, although it seems to weave in and out of my life, touching key events and times and leaving a footprint, like those in the cement of Hollywood Boulevard, indelible and permanent. A marker, saying "You were here then, and, at that moment, I was here with you".

A little like this Blog.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Musings on a Park Bench and a Blackberry

I sit on the bench, placed on a small area of green in an otherwise stony promenade, vain attempts at the mimicry of a Cote D'Colour otherwise doomed to failure by climate and psyche. But my bench, and it's small patch of natural green evoke the smells of my youth; cut grass, wind-borne salt, burgers.

Before me, a small-yacht marina. Row upon row of retirement fund dreams, weekend delusions of Kontiki or Captain Cook, whilst belowdecks the thoughts are more of Harvey Niki and Captain Bligh.

The wind stirs my grass and with it the furled rigging, metal implements that exist beyond my knowledge of name or purpose, striking the aluminium masts, creating an anvil chorus of a thousand effeminate dwarfish smiths.

The seafront is dead. Despite the sun sinking low in the sky in a denial of the stereotyped weather I had been promised, only a smattering of pattering trainer-clad feet pass my patch, theirs owners lost in the intricacies of music from distant shores, denying the cultural heritage proclaimed from every road sign.

In the distance, a clock tower lends it sonorous chimes to the dwarfs, a counterpoint and gentle admonishment, a teacher gently demonstrating without discouraging: then the moment is past and the Dwarfs continue their discordant song, but more quietly now, as they realise that only I and the small black dog are their audience, the former with no ear for their music, the latter's perhaps keen enough to hear their subtleties, or too polite to criticise by walking away.

My shadow lengthens, pointing the way back to my beautiful, luxurious, soulless and oh-so-lonely hotel, reminding me that a reverie can only ever be an interlude. An interlude now ended by youths in hats that, unaccountably, make me angry. Is this the sum of what I have become? A man who gets angry at hats?

The Sun continues to shine, but it's capacity to heat has long past, like an elderly body-builder, it is merely going through the motions, oblivious to the quiet scorn of the audience. It is time to return, to leave my patch and face my evening. Will I carry the memory of this patch with me, or will it fade like so much else, leaving just the distant sound of tiny anvils and the disdain of the small black dog?

Travel, they tell me, broadens the mind. New sights, sounds, sensations. But alone, they almost feel like a critique. Home is not wherever you lay your hat, but where it doesn't make you angry.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Two in the bush

Many people procrastinate.

I do.


Normally, at this stage, I would crack the obvious joke, but on this occasion - being 3.10am - even I am going to avoid both a predilection to corny jokes and, ironically, to the topic of this post and will get to the point.

Many will consider that procrastination is simply the inability to make a decision and in many cases, this definition is probably adequate, but as I've just realised, not always.

Sometimes, there is more to it than that. Sometimes, it seems, you CAN make a decision, you just don't want to. Making a decision commits you to something, to a course of action. It closes doors, reduces or removes possibility, crystallises reality.

Whilst this means you can achieve success, it also means you run an enhanced risk of failure. It's a classic risk-reward calculation. If you don't try, you can't succeed, but you cannot fail either.

There is a joke about the man, in dire financial straits, who prays every week for G-d to let him win the lottery. Every week, he doesn't win and his prayers become more fervent, making promises of good deeds and charity, if G-d lets him win. Finally a voice comes from on high, exhorting the man to "at least meet me half a TICKET!".

I buy a ticket - religiously - every week. However, I don't check it immediately. Days, sometimes even weeks will go by before I will check it. Why? Isn't winning important to me? Of course it is, but I am a realist (which is what an optimist calls a pessimist) and do not expect to win.

As long as I don't check my ticket, my chances of winning are better. Intellectually, I know that as soon as the draw has taken place, I have either won or I have not. There is a mathematical certainty of this. Yet I would rather have the hope, the potential of winning, than have the certainty of losing. For as long as I don't actually check, I somehow still have the potential of winning. I derive a warmth, a sense of hope carrying that ticket around with me. Once I have checked, that has gone. I may actually BE that millionaire that the adverts promise, but I am willing to sacrifice that small chance, at least temporarily, for the feeling of hope derived from carrying a ticket around with me, unchecked.

Yes, I know this is stupid.

I now recognise this in myself in many other ways. Somehow, the potential of something gives me a sense of security, of possibility and hope that the actualisation does not. So much of my life has passed in a haze of procrastination, so much opportunity missed, purely because, not as it may seem I have not wanted - or been scared - to make a decision, but rather because I simply didn't want to. Because it feels nicer to not make one and still have the possibility of success.

I sit here tonight with an opportunity. Not a great one perhaps, but an opportunity nonetheless. I have had an idea, a dream, for years. I need to act on it, commit myself to the action for once, but if I do, and I fail, then my cupboard of dreams may be left bare. Is not not better to have something there, a small investment of possibility, than to take my meagre capital and risk losing it all on a gamble?

Risk-reward. Is the risk of failure, worth the rewards of succeeding?

This is a rhetorical question.

I know what I should do. I know I should "but myself no buts".

But I'm scared.