Fuck Fear

A quote by (I believe) Oliver Stone made its way in to my Life recently.

‘Writing = ass in chair’

In context it is about writing, but it can easily be translated to Life in general as ‘cut the crap, do it’.

It’s about Action, and taking Action is vital when searching for meaningful Purpose in Life as without it the only thing you’ll have to look back on is a heap of regrets.

When I first wrote this idea down for a blog

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reaction (as well as that of my co-writers) was ‘and…?’ So I’m saying ‘if you want to do something then do it’. Wow, fucking deep insight there.

But I’ve been reluctant to let the idea go because if it’s so obvious then why can I walk around town and see so many hanging heads, wearily dragging themselves through a diluted existence; hear so many old guys in the pub talking about what they wanted to do with their lives but how it never happened; hear so many mates complaining that they missed their chance with this amazing girl … and how come I have let that happen to me?

Fear is the most obvious culprit here as it feeds the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ into the situation to cloud the judgement. Taking a situation by the Balls – be it going for the dream job, the place at Uni., the girl (although in the case of the girl I guess they’re metaphorical Balls, depends what your in to, I suppose) – means taking the fight to Fear and is the only way to get the job done.

Of course, once you’ve defeated Fear things don’t always turn out for the best. You don’t get the job, the girl says no, whatever. But that’s OK. At least you tried and you aren’t left with the feeling of ‘what if…’

And you know what; the rejection doesn’t hurt half as bad as Fear told you it would. You may have been knocked down to the mat but the towel’s not been thrown in yet unless you allow it to be. Get up and fight the next round.

So get your ass in chair, on stage, in the ring.

And while you’re there raise a two finger salute and say ‘Fuck Fear’.

Things are not always as they seem

I suppose it’s no big deal to find yourself the proverbial ‘spare prick at the wedding’ if you’re not much interested in having sex.

I’ve never contributed excessively to the prevailing idea that all guys are obsessed with ‘having it away’. How much this is a fantasy I’ve no idea, although I acquired one of my best friends as a result of it.

I was at grammar school at the same time as a guy called Ernie. Whilst I was there I hated him – well, envied would be closer to the truth. He’d got everything. Even at age 13 he looked like a movie star. He had height, muscles and there was no party to which he wasn’t invited.

He moved along the ‘A’ stream – I shuffled along elsewhere – and was a good all-round athlete. Guys liked him, girls adored him, I hated him.

And while I only seemed to become ganglier with each additional year, he just got manlier. It got to a point where my feelings toward Ernie were utterly at odds with each other – on the one hand I hated him, but on the other I really admired him; the looks, the strength, the athletic prowess. At 15 that’s bloody confusing for a lad who had considered himself firmly into girls (if a little weird).

A few years later we found ourselves working the lunchtime shift at a bar close to the railway station. To my surprise we made a terrific team. After two or three weeks of playing what the Guide calls ‘Mine is Bigger than Yours’, we began to open up to each other. That’s when we became best mates.

In the evenings we both had other jobs. Ernie worked as a waiter at a shoobe-doo bar and restaurant (we do have ‘em in Yorkshire here and there) which didn’t close until their wealthy clientele had finally disappeared into the early dawn.

As a result, Ernie was often invited to spend the night with several members of staff who lived much closer to the restaurant than he did or, occasionally, with one of the evening’s lady diners.

And it was inevitable, Ernie being Ernie, that they’d invite him to slip under the covers with them.

One lunchtime as we were getting dressed for duty, he told me that a few hours earlier he’d been ‘on the job’ when he got a stitch and had to ask for a re-match at a later date.

The thing was, not only did this situation happen regularly, but quite often it was actually something he pretended so he could piss off home. It wasn’t just that he was knackered; having a shag didn’t have much appeal.

I was gobsmacked. Bearing in mind the way he looked and, as I’d chosen to see it, acted, I couldn’t believe he’d ‘fess up all this stuff to me. I’d had completely the wrong idea about him and his life – how I’d imagined it.

I sometimes wonder how much illusion and bullshit makes up the so-called ‘male mystique’. Is Joe Average really as randy as he pretends to be?

There’s nowt as queer as folk

I was saddened to learn from the local paper that Digger Jack has snuffed it. He was one of the local gravediggers when I was in my early teens.

He and his wife and son lived in one of the farm labourers’ cottages half a mile from my dad’s pub a few miles outside of Halifax.

I went to school with his son – also called Jack. This younger one who was a couple of years older than me, used to take me on the back of his motorbike up on to Rishworth moors – that’s on the rare occasions he didn’t have some young female clinging to his leather jacket.

He told me he took the lasses on to the moors, then if they didn’t let him shag ‘em he’d threaten to leave ‘em there.

He was always on at me to get a motorbike so that we could go up there together; then we’d have two lasses to play

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around with.

What I didn’t let him know was that I was a late starter in the shagging department and a bit worried that if I turned out to be a lousy shagger one of the big lasses might nick my bike and leave me up there instead.

Actually, after a while this ‘late starter’ business began to worry me and I was mightily relieved when a Friend of mine introduced me to another Friend of his who, as it turned out was older than me and still hadn’t ‘had it away’.

Mind you, soon after that meeting, he did, and then he couldn’t stop. Finished up with a bad back.

Digger Jack (Shagger’s dad), couldn’t read or write. He used to come into my dad’s pub and bring in anything that had come in the post. My dad would read it to him and write a suitable response if necessary.

Shagger Jack could read and write but Digger Jack obviously preferred my dad to help him. I supposed at the time that this was because they were both Adults, dealing with things that Adults have to deal with.

But my theory of Adult to Adult dealings went out of the window as Digger Jack did something that left me gobsmacked: He came into the pub at his usual time, but my dad was out. Instead of waiting for him to return, so that they could deal in the adult stuff, he pushed an envelope over the bar. Toward me.

I knew what this silent communication meant. I’d seen it enough times between he and my dad to know what Digger expected in return. On the outside I went through the motions of taking the letter, unfolding it and reading it as if it was no big deal… but on the inside I was chuffed.

I was chuffed because I’d somehow been accepted as a Man. Digger Jack’s Actions extended his Trust toward me. And Trust is always a test. With Trust comes an expectation. In this case, he trusted me to help him with his Private affairs, and keep them Private.

Of course I didn’t tell Shagger Jack about the test. It didn’t seem right somehow, me being privy to his dad’s correspondence, and still a virgin. But I also found it odd that he would share this with me, over his son; his Flesh and Blood.

Now that I’m older, and a father myself, of course I understand why Digger looked outside of his family for help with his correspondence. I’ve long since forgotten what the letter was about, but I’ll always remember my first taste of Male responsibility.

As for getting laid, eventually it happened. For very different reasons it sticks into my memory… although it’s not a long memory (if you get my drift). But, as it says in the guide, ‘Getting laid does not make you a Man, it merely cures a temporary itch in your nuts’. Digger Jack recognising me as worthy of his Trust was a

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could never brag about it with Shagger Jack.

Under the Influence

I suspect some guys spend their entire lifetime being battered with reminders of their imperfections.

By ‘imperfections’ I mean those shortcomings as originally perceived by parents, school peer group and early experiences when trying to get a shag.

When something is battered into you from such an age, it’s hard to not take it as ‘gospel’ (ask any former choir boy!). It has to require some serious balls to drag yourself above this early conditioning.

Actually, I’m pretty sure the psychoanalyst, Jung, reckoned that you can never shake it off; you can only learn to face it down. A bit like the way every guy has to deal with Fear. Then, as your confidence grows, learn to suppress the negative shit and try to maintain a positive approach at all times.

But, this can’t be easy, especially if getting a shag continues to present problems. While having a wank is great… it’ll never fully ‘scratch the itch’. So when availability presents problems  – which it does for everyone, despite what you hear in the changing rooms – it can only make the early years of conditioning seem like a prophecy, set to plague you for the rest of your shagless days (and nights).

And other stuff just adds to the sense of despair – baldness, for instance. That’s got to be a pisser for some guys, even though it doesn’t actually mean anything – anything in the real world. You don’t lose a good mate just because you’ve got more hair than he’s got (or vice-versa) do you? If y’do, well fuck him.

I’m writing this because my uncle Lawrence recently died and I just know he had a rotten life; prejudice and negativity from day one, and he never threw it off.

O.K., so he was a wimp, but I’m not surprised. I used to hate going to his house. The air reeked of gloom and disapproval, and what I really couldn’t stand was that both his parents spoke to you at the same time. Can you believe that? At the same time! What made it worse for me, as I tried to listen to two voices simultaneously was that I never knew where to look. If I looked at one of them it inevitably had the effect of appearing to ignore the other.

Lawrence, poor bastard, never got stuck-in enough to change it, though I used to warn him that he had to.

But he never did. He was crushed.

It was such a fucking wasted life.

Blink and You’ll miss it.

I was thinking today about being executed. There was a French scientist, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, who in the late 18th century, knowing he was ‘for the chop’ (and I don’t mean ‘the snip’) asked his assistant to watch his freshly mobile head to see how long he stayed alive. It was his last gift to a Life dedicated to science.

His assistant, asked, “How will I know?’, to which de Lavoisier replied, “I’ll blink

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for as long as I can.”

Now, I don’t know how the story fared, but I can’t help but feel I’d be much more pathetic if put in his position. Instead of worrying about what could be learned from my imminent and gruesome execution, I’d be too worried about what little I’d done with my Life.

Things must have been different back then. Instead of our anxieties about fitting in, employability, and whether our trainers are fashionable, they were more troubled by the threat of death on the battlefield or at the hand of some unscrupulous dimwit with blue blood… not to mention the brutal nob-rot back then.

With Death seemingly lurking around every corner, you’d really give a shit about what you did with the ‘alive’ bit, wouldn’t you? Or maybe that’s not the way of looking at it. It’s not that you’d concentrate on making the most of every moment, but you’d certainly be averse to pissing your time away.

You wouldn’t fain interest in things you were indifferent about or support causes you didn’t believe in. You wouldn’t hand chunks of your precious time over to fools you couldn’t really give a toss about, or fritter hours away clock-watching at a job you hated.

Now, I don’t want to wish ill upon myself, nor do I mean to seem perverse, but I wish the threat of imminent danger had more presence in my life. There can’t be a more effective rally cry to ‘Live Your Life Before It’s Too Late’.

I’m too much of a pussy to join the Army, and my idea of an extreme sport is crossing the road when it’s a red man, so I have to be content with the News and my wandering imagination reminding me about executions, to keep the idea of Death alive within me.

If you knew that the bloodthirsty French were plotting to sail toward your coastal home, would you still be so cavalier with your time? How about

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those pot-holing trips you join your dad on that you pretend to enjoy? Or how about the degree in Business Studies that you’re pursuing with all the enthusiasm of stuffed squirrel?

Wouldn’t it be more likely that the passion that you actually harbour would come to the forefront of your Life. With the threat of imminent danger, wouldn’t perfecting the magic trick become more urgent; taking the three months off work to plant Stoke-on-Trent’s only vineyard would have to happen this summer; and the babe or stud that you’ve admired from afar would just have to hear your feelings… you couldn’t live without them.

You get the drift… The idea of death, The End, is healthy I think. Sure it gets a lot of stick, ‘Don’t be so morbid’ but the reality is, it’s better to accept it than kid ourselves that we’re here forever.