Books and mic stands.

December 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

“There isn’t a hell where we’ll be sent, there’s only now, there isn’t then, so breathe it in.” – No key No plan – Okkervil river.

I have my marching orders. Dubrovnik for a few days then back to America, Chicago to be precise, but that’s all in the New Year, I’m looking forward to it. I am coming to that point of rest when you turn the corner and start to itch for what you are staying away from. I have friends in Dubrovnik, my first gig in this magazine job was there, the editor had faith in my ability but nevertheless sent a local to meet me at the airport. I was just a kid when I got off the plane and met him that day. His name was, and still is, Luca Ivanovic when I met him he was dressed like one of those young European skater kids. Dubrovnik is a very special city. It’s a mature man’s Paris, it’s humble with class and fine food. The town in the Old City walls a car free paradise and has been a major tourist destination for people of all nations since the end of a war that left it shattered. The Old town was always my favourite. It was there I realised my jobs potential, we laughed and ate steak in a four star restaurant, we drank cheap Croatian beer till 2 in the morning then we moved onto the only Irish bar in town. We left there at 5 and went swimming in the clean blue sea that surrounds the place. I had no hangover when I wrote my 300 internet submitted words. I was wide eyed and was yet to take the job for granted. I can see now the error of my ways.

Perspective is a very important thing and we often loose sight of it. It’s human nature to get wrapped up in our own little worlds and I know that I’ve been more than guilty of that on almost every occasion, hell I’m doing it right now. Whether it be being engrossed in a football match or in a relationship or in your own problems that barely count and we loose sight of the bigger picture. We seem to be doing it more and more. We need to relax more, I need to relax more. Hey, there’s no hell when you die so don’t look so worried.

I need to remember the attitude of my 14 year old self. When I was on holiday in France. There was a cable car that steeply lead to a mountain top which promised a view. Me and my father were sat at the bottom watching the cable cars go up and down and he was deciding whether or not he wanted to go on them. “I’m scared” he said, I’m still not sure if he was joking, I said “What’s the worst that could happen?” He replied “The cables could snap and we could die.” So, and I remember what I said very clearly, little 14 year old me turned to him and just said “If the cables snapped then we would fall to our deaths, but think about it, I mean really think about what that means, no more mortgage, no more dickheads, no more arguments, no more loss, no more deadlines and no more work, you say that the worst thing that can happen is that we both die, I say the worst thing that can happen is we get to the top and we are sill alive.

So do it, chance your arm, don’t look so worried, what’s the worst that could happen?


One of my kind.

December 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

“It was Christmas eve babe, in the drunk-tank, an old man said to me, you won’t see another one.” The Pogues – Fairytale of New York.

If I see or hear another piece of writing, or news report, or radio report or even conservation that starts “well, it’s that time of year again” I’m going to fucking scream. This time of year happens every year, you think that they would have thought of something to better to say by now, but who am I to bitch and moan. It worries me that the greatest invention of the last 20 years, the internet, this beautiful thriving opportunity for knowledge and communication has become, for some people at least, just a platform for very sad people to bitch and moan about the smallest of problems, apparently some people have real problems. But shit, I suppose that whole sentence underlines my point.

Christmas time grows up with you doesn’t it? When your a child it’s rare and sacred, it’s that magical thing that took away school and replaced it with shiny new things. It kept you up with excitement and the folklore and films and the madness. When your young it’s the promised land. It’s magic. It’s what every child looks forward to. But then you grow up and it stops being about the madness and the magic, its stops being about presents and starts being about seeing your family because you spent another year fucking around. Time to calm down from another mad year.

It’s strange being back without Maxi. Christmas time would be when we would all get together and get shitfaced. It’s been a strange year. I’m glad to be honest that I’ve had this mad log of it. Even if some of the posts were done while blind drunk. I often wonder how I will look back at this period of my life then I just get distracted and think about something else. I want to thank everyone who has posted comments, sent emails or even read the insanity. It’s nice to know someone’s reading. Thank you. I will have lots of new stories in the new year, I fear that the older I get the more insane things I will have to do to feel young again. But that will result in stories. So here’s to us. Merry Christmas one and all.

The father and son from Exceter.

December 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

“A man with a sword will not outlive the memory of Shakespeare.”

Words are powerful for different reasons. We’ve all heard that the pen is more powerful then the sword but I never really understood that until a train journey in the south of England. I was sat at the window seat in a pretty empty carriage heading north when a father and son got on at one of the stops. The Dad was a tall, slim man of around 40, the son was around 5-6. The boy ran onto the train in that typical excitement and noise that should define a boy of his age. The father calmed him down in that stern and respectful way that only a father can. They sat down at the table across the isle to me facing each other. Around 10 minutes into the journey the father took the boys hand in a very intense way and spoke softly and clearly in a way a father should never have to speak to his son. He said “Son, I want you to promise me something, when I go to heaven will you look after your Mum and Sarah for me?” I was instantly taken off guard, it was only then that I took a proper look at the man, I noticed how worryingly pale and thin he was. Pale, thin and bald. With a sinking feeling in my stomach the situation hit home. The boy continued playing with his small toy car on the table, he paused and looked up at his father, who was clearly in the last stages of unsuccessful chemotherapy. He looked into his eyes in the most stunning silence I have ever witnessed and just said “Daddy, you can’t die, your Superman.” and with that, he got back to his toy car. Now I don’t know how being hit with a sword feels, but I’ve been hit with bottles and fists and neither hit me half as hard as that sentence. I couldn’t bring myself to look up. These words needed no visual aid. I could hear the fathers breathing turn heavy and quick like just before you really cry. The tears were already streaming down my face as I just stared out the window desperately trying to drown it out and feeling rising guilt for that.

It wasn’t Shakespeare or Dickens or Wordsworth but it didn’t have to be, because it was pureness and honesty was overwhelming and carried with it that beautiful blissful nativity of youth that his father was Superman, and that meant he was always fighting the good fight and that he would never leave and never die. It was from that moment I understood how powerful words can be. I couldn’t look at the father and son when I left the train at the next stop. It wasn’t even my stop. I sat on that train platform and cried like a four year old.

Help – A footnote.

December 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

Bulleproof – I wish I was.” – Radiohead 

It’s scary isn’t it? Life. Sometimes you loose that insane confidence, everyone does. But it’s the truly crazy who get it back. They don’t take that shit. They have no time to sit around or getting stuck in ruts. It’s like some magic drug that lasted for years and now comes the comedown. I’m in a rut and I want it back. So how do I get it back? You fucking tell me, I’ve never had to get it back before.

I’m trying to remember my reasons for running myself into the ground with such dedication.

December 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t know why I want to voice this out loud, it’s therapeutic somehow.” – Moving to New York– The Wombats.

Hold on kids this ones going to be a little crazy... 

A couple of months after I turned 18 I moved into student accommodation. I moved in with the hardcore. It just so happened that for whatever reason the craziest and most extreme people in those halls had been thrown into the same place and would now push themselves to prove whatever point it was we were trying to make. Even if they didn’t live directly with us the crazy ones always found us, always. It was a lot to deal with for a wide-eyed boy how was brought up in the sticks. I had always been the craziest of my friends, but I was going to learn that really wasn’t saying much.

We were all thrown together in that worrying period between the end of being a teenager and the start of being an adult. We were giving or student loans, you know, to spend on books and pens and food and shelter. In my whole first year at uni I spent £5.60 on books and pens, three 100 page notepads and a pack of cheap plastic pens, all bought on the same day sometime at the beginning of the year. We were all shapes and sizes but very similar in objective and attitude. Some liked the drugs and some just liked to drink. The thing you have to realise about the first year of our university was that the work was easy. Very easy. The other thing you have to realise is that the people in this insane group are exceptionally bright. It’s just sometimes insanity can lead to distraction, and by sometimes I of course mean all the time. The insane care very little about grades. We could do the work standing on our heads and a lot of the time we did.

It was the girls in the group who scared me. That’s very unlike me. They were the hardest of the hardcore because they were bored by groups of other girls, this meant that they had developed a knack for hanging around boys and learning to out drink them. It was always the same the whole year. We would push each other as hard as we could. Were we worried we’d snap each other? Fuck no. The thought never even came close to our minds. Ever morning it was the same.

Person A “ Dude, I haven’t slept in days”

Person B “Don’t be a pussy, drink this your coming out tonight.”

Person A “Dude, I’m throwing up more blood.”

Person B “Who cares? Come on, we’re going to a bar.”

Person A “Dude, last night the police chased me for two miles, I don’t know where I’ve been.”

Person B “But your having fun right?”

And the truth was that I was having fun. I had never lived like this before. Was it the novelty? Maybe. Was it the fact that I was living like I had always wanted? Probably. I would love to say that we didn’t think we were the cool kids, I would love too say that. But we thought we were. We thought we were the coolest kids, no, fuck that, we thought we were who the cool kids wanted to be. What we weren’t understanding was the after effects. We were young. We were really young and “Don’t worry about it” was almost our catchphrase, that and “Don’t be a pussy”(for anyone who is confused by that being a “pussy” is being a coward were I’m from). We only had to stay sober for that one phone call a week when our parents would ring to see how we were. I would say I was fine. I would say that I was doing all the work. I would say that I was eating well and sleeping lots. I have always been a stone cold liar. What was I supposed to say “Hi Mum, yeah, I doing fine, I don’t really sleep anymore, I can’t cook properly so when I do eat, which isn’t that rarely, it’s microwave meals all the way, I malnourished and worryingly thin.” But to me the lying was justified by my smile.  

It was the mental effects that got us. Your so busy being warned about the physical side that you never really think about it. The physical pain you can feel, then it goes so you must be all better, you don’t realise till your a little older that that’s not how it works. It’s lonely. Through my first year I never had a girlfriend, sure, there were girls, some would say to many, but I could never hold anything down. The whole thing was a blur of ups and downs. But I was lonely, I’ve said it before, but it’s those moments when your all alone when it gets you, it hit me the worst when my head hit my pillow. I haven’t really been able to properly connect with girls since I was young. I could fake interest, I could but it on for a night or a week or separate intervals over a month. Maybe I was a shy kid. Maybe I had trust issues with my mother. But the up shot of all of this was that I was really lonely, I had friends who I loved. But the lack of any meaningful sex was a big point for me, after awhile it starts to trouble you and you start to doubt yourself. I was having sex with strangers sure, and it wasn’t bad sex but after awhile I just stopped that because it wasn’t what I was chasing anymore and it wasn’t what I wanted, I was loosing self-respect. But how much self-respect can you have if you fuck yourself up every week?

If your still reading this you may have noticed that this ones has been a point followed by a contradiction counter point, this is what it was like in my brain and that troubled me. I don’t really trust people. Maybe this why I do this stupid fucking blog. To get all this shit out. I’m kinda messy. Much messy then I would let on in real life, and I know, I know, we all are like that but still you I suppose you always worry your worse. I was ashamed a lot. I had never behaved in this way before. I was sure that I would never meet someone to help me out of this rut. I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this.

It feels good to write about it. Then it stops feeling good and I start to worry about how people will think. Plus the fact that I have just wined like a drunk 14 year old girl for about 500 words. Shit. I’m incredibly self-centred and self-indulgent but I never really had anyone else to properly worry about. Everyone at home is calm. I’m not. I worry a lot and don’t talk to anyone about. Get over it, stop being a pussy. 

I feel better. Thank you.

Email me if anything sunk in.

No Longer an Astronaut.

Simon Blake.

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