Bring me Ronaldo’s liver on a plate.

I was thinking this morning about being a savage. A bit more Primitive.

The cause for this was an advert featuring Christiano Ronaldo. It was promoting a brand of football kit, the marketers strategy being, – if you get a little bit of Ronaldo, you’ll be able to perform like him.

This idea of ‘incorporation’ is nothing new for men. In days gone by we’d have fought for the chance to eat the vital organs of a fallen Hero, in the hope that by consuming some of him, his particular qualities would be passed on to us. (See the ‘Telemachus Question’ section of the Guide for the historical perspective of how this played a vital role in the young Tribesman’s journey to becoming a Man)

In fact, this practice is still the norm amongst groups of men where cannibalism is an accepted part of the culture, such as within the Conservative Party. Rumour has it, members are encouraged to gorge on the plump organs of landed gentry and political figures in the hope that their cunning and manipulative skills will be passed on to the next generation… (Having said

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that, I’ve also seen Ed Balls licking his lips while staring hungrily at Prescott.)

Thinking back to my days playing football for the local Under-15’s, I worshipped at the alter of the advertiser, buying expensive kit promoted by the football heroes of the time in the hope that it would empower me with basic skills of balance, co-ordination and vision.

I wonder whether my energy and hard-earned pot-washing money would have been better spent on luring Gazza to an abandoned shed? Using a trail of Sambuca shots and Gregg’s Pasties I could

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lead him to what he would think was an Aladdin’s Cave of pints and pies… only for him to discover once there that the only things waiting for him are a butcher’s slab and an ambitious 14-year-old with a flick-knife.

Although the only thing Gazza’s raw liver would pass onto an Under-15’s team would be an Dionysian tolerance for booze – and possibly a bout of indigestion – I can’t help but feel I’d stand a better chance of improving my game through this process than by being conned by some marketer wanting to shift boots to lads in the UK that have been stitched together by lads of the same age in a sweatshop…

…in fact, I may have just stumbled upon a new marketing strategy: each boot is soaked in the hope, sweat and tears of a strong-fingered Indonesian child, to help you strike the ball with extra-venom.

Okay, so I got a bit carried away there – if there is a point to the above it’s just to say that while once the idea of incorporation to better ourselves was a sacred and honoured practice, it’s now become a swindlers trick to grab some money.

Men recognise this.

Now, who says my playing days are over? Bring me Ronaldo’s liver on a plate, and his Balls while you’re at it.

Know Your Enemy

I’m currently in training.

Some sport, you ask? No.

To lose weight? No.

To improve your chances of pulling females? No.

It’s because this weekend is the monthly meeting of the megalomaniac triad of writers who exercise tyrannous control over the What Men Do Movement.

Dimly, I have a memory of a Previous Life when I used to attend something called a ‘committee meeting’. Tea and cakes were enjoyed, and it provided a pleasant opportunity to resolve any outstanding matters of common interest.

Our meetings are more of a scrum, one without rules, an ugly scene of gladiatorial terror, one which uses pads and pencils instead of swords, supplemented with verbal menaces, some loud and hot, others whispered and of a coldness beyond any known temperature.

To be involved with the hope of coming out of it with your manhood and self respect intact requires a thorough knowledge of the guide, an ability to Play both chess and poker to a reasonably high standard plus the basic blocking skills of karate.

When absolutely necessary you have to be willing to eat humble pie, your previous avowed opinions and any principles by which means you are attempting to live, plus a promise not to return to your previous attempt at cannibalism of the other two.

My opinions have varied as to which of them offers the greater danger though I’m beginning to settle on the quiet one. It’s not that he’s actually quiet, you understand; he’s just quiet-er than the noisy one. He wears loose fitting clothing and never wears socks – ever.

I always wear tight fitting clothing – I like the constant reminder of what’s mine – and I always wear socks except when I’m having a shag. For me, socks and sex don’t go together. If that sounds ridiculous to you, well fine – so I’m a freak.

On the few occasions that it appears, this quiet one has a great smile, though I’d be insane to relax my guard. When it appears I move straight to his eyes. Please don’t remind me about those eyes; I’ve been inside them a couple of times and the potential cruelty I’ve seen, well, I know if I was ever the victim, castration would be a relief.

(Additionally, my throat has warned me it suspects

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he has unusually strong hands.)

The other one, he who shouts the loudest and is big with the threats, he always dresses smart. I reckon his T-shirts cost a bob or two and his jeans are even tighter than mine.

The one thing we have in common, sartorially speaking, is that we both wear Speedos at the beach. We both take a medium.

At the commencement of our get-togethers –

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I hesitate to bless it with the word meeting – he dispenses with any attempt at a welcome hug and goes straight for the blood. This usually takes the form of a vicious attack on me or the quiet one concerning, say, a rejection of one his proposed blogs, or that he’s been kept out of the loop on some major matter, or that he’s been forced to settle for ‘only’ a phone call, or an email, when a face-to-facer was obviously called for.

Words like ‘conspiracy’, ‘deviousness’, ‘disloyalty’ are much in evidence plus occasionally ‘treachery’ and ‘revenge’. If I’m the one he’s chosen to attack, I defend myself by pointing out he’s spouting utter shit and needs to ‘up’ his shagging.

When he shows indications of appreciating the wisdom of my words I come in quick that we should take a short break whilst I make us some coffee. That usually goes down well.

I’m not always defending my own corner. At least a third of these crude events has me playing a calming Benvolio separating an incensed Tybalt from a recklessly goading Mercutio (Romeo & Juliet, Act III scene 1, if my memory serves).

From time to time when the level of their abuse has reached beyond human level of tolerance I’ve had to restrain myself from poppin em one, just so they’re reminded what kind of guy I am beneath this sweet exterior.

Admittedly they’re bigger, faster and fitter than me, so if it got serious I’d get a hammering. Still, Self Respect is a key element at stake, and what’s a broken nose between friends?

It’s amazing isn’t it, Friendship? Sometimes when I have to sit through some monotonous blather I’m forced to endure elsewhere I wonder how I’d get through it without these monthly encounters with these guys who brings me fully alive. I just love em to bits.

Becoming an Adult

I had a terrific self-indulgent fantasy this week as I walked the two miles to the office.

I really love that half an hour as I silently wrestle with my private thoughts or occasional urges to have immediate sexual intercourse with a passing femme-fetale. It’s the naked power of it all, especially if the sun’s showing signs of life. (I’m a Leo; we’re all sun worshippers. The pale ones are still in the closet.)

Tuesday morning I was in serious mode. What triggered the fantasy I can’t recall, but I suddenly found myself in the role of the Headmaster of a Boys’ Public School. It was the first day back from the summer term. I’d called a morning assembly of all the lads whereupon I told them that, following this immediate event they were to return to the classrooms and write an essay on how they’d spent their vacation.

I then added that what I was particularly anxious to learn about was, during these few weeks of absence, what had they Given?

I suddenly became a different character, Joe Troublemaker, the fearless hunk of testosterone in year eleven. I began my essay, ‘During the first week of my summer vacation I gave seven different lasses a good shagging’.

Flash back to me as the Headmaster (who’d been expecting something on these lines) deliberating how to deal with this blatant display of daring do. Considering that the seven of his essay was probably a reality of two – or a three at the most (it Being a Troublemaker) I decided to…

… argh – torn from my fantasy by the cruel arrival of my office door.

Back in the real world I suspect that the nature of this fantasy was a personal attempt to make public the need for teenage lads to move from the natural urges of the juvenile – that of a Taker – to the mature role of the adult – being a Giver.

This change-over which I reckon is a very major element of teenagerdom isn’t helped by the selfish society in which we exist these days. Guys need to be prompted and then encouraged to change their attitude. Additionally, for it to become meaningful it has to be given the energy of Action.

When a guy looks back at that time of his ‘boy’ state it’s amazing how clear becomes the huge energy he expended to Take – say, how speedily he could inconvenience himself to borrow the dinner jacket for the School Prom compared to the small amount of energy he gave to its tardy return.

I’ve often thought that the reason fatherhood is such a sudden ball-buster for many guys is because they’ve never had much experience of Giving in their life, this far – certainly nothing like the level required of them now they’re a dad.

Surprise! Surprise! They’re suddenly aware that it isn’t enough to feed their little treasure at one end, but also keep its little botty fresh and sweet-smelling at the other.

(Thanks to the recent issues of the CALMzine, I’ve become an avid reader of Matt Brown’s ‘Frazzled Daddy’ pieces.)

As all too often happens when I’m on a hot fantasy, I reach

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the office before the (theoretical) orgasm moment. As it is though, I reckon there’s more to be had from this Taking/Giving theme. As the professionals say, I think ‘it’s got legs’.

I’ll keep working on it.

I suppose being really honest, I’m not too much bothered about the Headmaster role, but I’m quite keen to discover how life progressed for Joe Troublemaker…

Now Live It

The Guide’s printed and for sale. Oh shit. It just got real.

Here is something I had a part in creating, along with two guys with whom I’m tight. Holding it for the first time. It existing. Our names on the front. Our words within.

Initially I was filled with a fantastic sense of Pride in the three of us, as well as a huge boost to my sense of Purpose.

Once my ego had finished its celebratory wank, this feeling of elation soon subsided and was replaced by a cold shiver down my spine as I was reminded of a Dream one of my co-writers recounted to me about a year or so ago.

The Dream was that he was walking through Central Park in New York with an old Friend who had just read the Guide. His Friend turned to him and said, ‘this is great … now Live it.’

It’s like the old saying, ‘you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?’

The following paragraph appears towards the end of the Guide, in a piece called ‘The Tribe of Heroes’:

“…here’s the bad news; decision time is looming. Once you’ve reached the end of this Guide and taken our thoughts on board you have no excuse stopping you from living it. It’s easy to say the ideas are good and it all makes sense and you’re thinking about taking the tough route, but words are just another hand-job if you don’t follow them with Actions (and as the wise man asked, ‘if not now, when?’).”

Re-reading that with the memory of the Dream fresh in my mind, I realised it wasn’t just directed at the reader reaching the end of the book, but also at the writers. It’s all very well us putting down on paper our thoughts on how a Man can strive to reach his Heroic potential, but to what extent are we each actually living it as individuals? We have said from the start that we’re making no big claims

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about the size of our own Balls here.

I’ve been saying ‘we’ but I guess I can’t really speak for the other two on this. This is my Quest towards becoming as great as I can be. As much as they can – and do – support me, I have to find the path Alone.

I’m pretty sure I’m on the right path but am I heading in the right direction?

Life (Fate?), recognising the route my thoughts were taking,

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recently gave me the opportunity to put my Heroic Qualities – primarily that of Honour – to the test.

I failed fantastically.

This psychological kick to the Balls reminded me all too swiftly that the Heroes Quest is a long one, mainly uphill and I am only a stumble from the starting line.

It was also a stark reminder that the writing (the ‘talk’) was the easy bit – now I need to Live it.

Becoming Who You Are.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to the bit in the Guide where it defines an oak tree as ‘an acorn with Balls’.

What I’ve become aware of is the deeper significance of its truth, as it implies that who and what you are capable of Becoming is already implanted within when you were born.

This means that when we refer to a guy’s growth, it is actually the maturing process of becoming visible and recognisable in the world – rather in the way the butterfly slowly comes forth from the cocoon.

This idea has a lot of personal significance for me as it helps to explain why I had such a rotten relationship with my father, especially when I was a teenager.

He was of the style of thinking whereby, as my father, he knew what was right – for me. To the best of my knowledge, no attention was ever given to any given aptitudes other than those he was anxious to witness as I moved from boy to teenager. In his head my future career was clear; I was to become a concert pianist.

Around my sixth birthday I began to take piano lessons. These were quite pleasurable and it became apparent that I had a ‘musical ear’. Learning was not a difficult process. However, early-on I knew via some intuitive process that I didn’t have that special gift which brings to life the deeper emotions that are contained within great pieces of music.

I tried to explain this to my father but it was beyond his powers of comprehension. He obviously thought that because I was capable of playing the correct notes, that was sufficient for me to become a great musician – rather like a similar father might assume that because his son could remember all of Shakespeare’s lines he would automatically become a gifted actor.

Over a period of about two years I was taken to the Victoria Concert Hall to listen to and observe the fingering of any visiting pianist. This came to a sudden end following a visit to Bradford where a well known music teacher was visiting from London. He asked me if I would like to play for him, but I declined. I didn’t was to embarrass either of us.

From that day onwards my father had little time for me. He never missed the opportunity to remind me that ‘you had your chance’, though it was a ‘chance’ I was more than happy to miss out on.

Now, thanks to the acorn, it all becomes clear. My innate talents (such as they are) didn’t include that near-magical quality which my father craved from me. Of course I needed the sunshine and rain and love and encouragement and the nourishment that every guy needs; it just wasn’t for work at the piano. That came much later and in a different climate.

Looking back I’m grateful that eventually this nourishment arrived and I didn’t remain trapped in my cocoon as I suspect happens with many guys.

A final thought; Halifax, where I live, used to be a part of the northern edge of Sherwood Forest. What impresses me most about the trees that remain is that they are all different. They ‘Stand Alone’, and make no effort to be one of the crowd or to be any different from what they are.

I really admire that.