A Guy’s Guide to Christmas

The ultra-violet rays that illuminate illegal substances

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and bodily fluids are nowhere near as revealing as the neon glow of Christmas. As for many of us guys, Christmas shines a light on the fact that life isn’t all ‘coke and blowjobs’.

If you’re in the midst of a rough patch, it may seem even rougher over the festive period, because for a couple of weeks everyone else has been possessed by the Festive Spirit.

The tight-arse in the pub suddenly becomes the local philanthropist offering anyone a drink (just ‘a half’ mind you); the misery behind the counter at the Post Office has shaped the sagging meat-hole in her face into a sort of smile; your mother and father actually talk to each other, and everything you touch and everything you see has been rolled in glitter.

Meanwhile, your turmoil remains, and the added pressure of Christmas is like your aunt’s gift of loose-fitting underwear… unwanted. If this is the case for you, then hang in there and ride it out in the knowledge that within a fortnight, everything and everyone will be back to normal and that Henry the Hoover will be choking on glitter and pine needles.

At WMD we like Christmas, not the juiced-up, consumer glitter bomb, but rather the part of it that encourages Giving over Taking, the Season of Good Will and all that. At WMD we’re big on Giving. Not that we’re the most generous or self-sacrificing, but just in general we are all united in the view that to give is ultimately more rewarding and fulfilling than to take.

While in the Giving spirit, WMD was recently asked to contribute a Christmas piece for another publication, poles apart from CALMzine, a newsletter for the local Anglican Church. And while the views, tastes in fashion and music and age of the reader differ massively, the relevance of the content transcend all of this, and talks to us as men, so here it is:

In early August when I returned from vacation I discovered the shop where I obtain my morning newspaper had closed down. A week later it re-opened and I met the new owner. However the first three mornings I stopped by he only had red tops for sale. I explained I was addicted to ‘The Times’, and from then on it became available most mornings. Invariably in the past I’d bought the paper there three days each week.

The other two days, due to my ‘dogs-body’ status, I pick the paper up at the local supermarket, while carrying out my ‘milk and coffee’ duties in order that our caffeine fueled workforce continue to function.

However, since the new entrepreneur set up shop I’ve made a point of buying The Times at his shop despite it meaning I have to make a detour. (If enough of us ask, he may start selling milk and coffee and hence save my legs). In my own little way I’ve been trying to give this guy some daily business. Of course, I’ve no idea whether he’s noticed my daily visits but, hey, there’s a personal warmth in Giving; if there wasn’t, a charity such as the one where I work wouldn’t occasionally receive an anonymous donation.

It says in the WMD Guide, ‘You Get what you Give.’

It follows this up with, ‘If you Give fuck all, fuck all is what you Get.’

I was running late this morning so by the time I arrived at the shop he was out of ‘The Times’. As I moved to leave, the new owner called out, ‘Here’. He had the Times aloft.

‘I saw we were down to the last one, so I saved this for you.’

Like it says, you Get what you Give.

(Merry) Christmas.

The Worship Of The Instant Ideal

Recently writing in his blog on mashable.com of the tragic events in Kansas City where the NFL player Jovan Blecher shot and killed his girlfriend, and then himself, Sam Laird asks, ‘has social media cheapened our real-life relationships?’

On behalf of the three Yorkshire guys who make up the ‘What Men Do’ Movement’s writing team, I reply with a cautious, ‘Yes’.

Why cautious? Hasn’t the arrival of the Technological Age and with it, the provision of ‘Instant Friendship’, even ‘Instant Marriage Partners’ cheapened Real relationships to bargain basement status?

Let’s first understand what makes a friendship, or indeed any kind of close relationship Real. In the WMD Guide, discussing Friendship we make it very clear that in our view, Real relationships impose a sense of obligation. Lacking this, the relationship is merely that of an acquaintance.

So how about when you’ve just had a great shag? How is this relationship to be rated? The way we see it, this is essentially ‘ships-that-pass-in-the-night’; lust, ideally two lusts, have been calmed by the erotic activity, but no emotional closeness has been established. No Love, or mutual understanding has been involved; merely an animalistic coupling that will soon need to be repeated.

So how can closeness be measured? Those who consider themselves ‘close’ to another, be it as lovers, or as friends, experience an Awareness quite different from the outer Appearance of the physically obvious.

If you approach this issue from the basic point of the Real You being an invisible creature, how you Appear is merely a reflection of how you’d ideally like

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to be seen and assessed. For most teenagers, this is heavily influenced not merely by their own fantasies, but by the requirements of their peer group. Hopefully, maturity and life experience will change this image of the perceived ideal to something much closer to Reality.

Closeness can only come about over Time. The scars which make an imprint on a life – some good, some not so – provide the Real history of a guy, being episodes in a lifetime’s development. It takes Time, and individual Courage to allow and trust another to be Close to our essence, There’s nothing ‘instant’ about this.

And yet, ‘instant fame’, ‘instant notoriety’, ‘instant celebrity’ is today’s name-of-the-game, and the instant contract provided by the Digital Age distorts the reality of what a Real-life relationship is all about – it being capable of providing meaning and purpose to our lives.

So yes, Sam, but let’s not put all the blame on the availability of social media. Our infantile desire for instant gratification is the greater enemy.

Do I Owe You A Favour

I work for a piss-poor charity. It’s run by a group of guys, so no surprise it punches way above its weight. We don’t ‘shoe-horn’ something into position; we ‘crow-bar’ the fucker.

Does this mean our amazing achievements – of obtaining blood form stones, for example – are the result of superior muscle and brain power? Er, no; it’s because we keep our friendships in good repair which, translated into practicality, means we know to whom we owe favours.

It amazes me how many guys are casual about understanding the importance of favours. In the WMD Guide it makes the point that the difference between a Friend

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and an acquaintance is that to a Friend you have obligations, largely as a result of favours done in the past. Over the years, when the shit’s hit the fan, he’s always been there with his back for you, and vice-versa.

What I think’s intriguing is how this ‘favour-owing’ begins. It requires an element of what the Guide refers to as ‘Balls’. In this case the specific area of Risk. Put more poetically, it requires one of you to put ‘em up there, and Trust.

This is tough – and getting tougher – because the prevailing ethos is that Trust is for schmucks; for Losers. We’re encouraged to ‘Take’ as much as we can, and ‘Give’ as little in return as the other guy will settle for. It

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– unless you’re a sadist.

Ultimately, of course, the real losers discover it’s they themselves, as the passage of time relentlessly saps away at power, in any form. In evidence may I submit your cock as Exhibit One.

What you learn from Life Experience is that a small charity, such as the one for which I’m privileged to work, is able to make a big difference to those it seeks to serve despite its lowly level of outward trappings, the favours owed and acknowledged being hidden from view.

My old desk, a gift from an accountant a few years ago (so I’m told), wobbles on the right side, and the bottom drawer on the left side is permanently stuck shut. It’s struck me more than once that this imbalance could be more than a coincidence….

Well it’s obvious isn’t it? The drawer is stuffed with bank-notes and gold bars, the latter adding the weight to one side, the stuff undoubtedly the result of a heist from a nasty bank somewhere in the South, or maybe in Lancashire, the heisters having fled to Spain and now fearful of returning to ‘fax.

And who knows, when the Gas Company sends their final legal warning that they are on their way to turn the heat off (despite the cruel, winter cold, miserable fuckers), the drawer will suddenly become free! Later, the heat will be restored, though this won’t be before the gas bill is paid in full, plus an outrageous ‘reconnection fee’ plus the additional ‘administration charge’. Plus interest.

The Gas Company doesn’t do favours.