Last Door With A Light

This is a poem about a pub. It could be anywhere I suppose, anywhere you feel at home. And I choose a pub.

 

Last door with a light

No time to wonder,

Door is open faces stare,

Fear melts; smells like home.

 

No where feels like home right now. Or maybe this is just a lapse into the bad old times. Ah well. Brew on.

x

Elaine, you are a bitch

Monday morning came and went in a drizzle of disappointment. The preceding few days had been a delight, and my mood was excellent. After dipping my toe in the art world, I ventured timidly and skint to Chorlton to watch a band called PINS. If you’ve not already heard of them, I would recommend checking them out, particularly live. They were fucking ace. All female, all snarly and hypnotic allure, loads of bass and droning riffs, really sexy stuff! Being alone in pubs normally leads to fast drinking as I feel pupils widen at the loner, pity heavy sighs of pretty girls attached to prettier men. For those of you that don’t know Chorlton, it isn’t the cheapest place to drink. Despite having twelve shiny pounds, I had enough for two pints. Two. That’s not even enough to get out of bed for really. Hoping to change my drinking patterns though, I sweated out the nerves to watch a great band, and I felt pretty happy with myself for going, and not sacking it off to get drunk and high with The Farmer.

That weekend was spent watching more music, and helping out with the Oxjam Take Over in Manchester. It was top fun, met some top people, and I did it all sober and off my own bat. As you can probably tell, I was pretty happy with the way the last few days had gone, and pleased with myself for sticking to the plans I had made. So when I got up last Monday to go and sign on, I was looking forward to telling the dear folk at the Job Centre that I had been doing some volunteering and generally increasing my prospects of employment.

Enter Elaine. Elaine is typical of one type of person who works at Job Centres. The other type, people like Garfield, Karl or Debbie, actually want to help you find a job you actually want to do. They recognise that work needs to be in some way a fulfilling enterprise, one that generates self-worth and a sense of contribution to a wider good. Elaine is the other sort. She is not a happy camper, with a demeanour like a golem pissing lava and a face less pretty. Why, so supposes Elaine, should anyone else be happy when I plainly am not? And so begins the interrogation into my job seeking habits, what I have applied for and so on. This is the part that pricks like George Osborne don’t understand. Having some jumped up pencil pusher imply that you’re actively cheating the system by not applying for dead-end jobs that you know will break your spirit is a bitter pill. I explained my reticence to return to SEN schools given my recovery from anxiety/depression. Her response – ‘Do you not like kids then?’. Fucking inspired Elaine. Top of the fucking class. With mouth breathers like Elaine directing the nation’s unemployed, we are sure to witness a Golden Age of innovation and creative arts.

I am still pissed off with Elaine, because it has taken me a week to calm down and convince myself that I’m not the benefit scrounging lumpenproletariat she seems to think I am. Attacks like those hurt. They hurt your pride and your belief. I applied for a job as a travel consultant for a firm organising travel details for executives. I applied because I felt that if I didn’t, I really was just hoovering up the crumbs and subsisting on the lives of others. I was rejected, within ten minutes, by email. It was life affirming. It is moments like that which feed my perverse little mind and strengthen my resolve to be weird, and to find my own path. You took a week off me Elaine, one week of brooding and self loathing that I thought I was beyond. For causing me that lapse, I shall never forgive you. For being such a desperate sad bitch, you have my eternal pity.

mrbrew: art critic!

Yo,

Last night I went to an evening with Nicola Ellis, and artist based in Manchester who is currently showing some work at the Castlefield gallery. The event was a chance to meet Nicola (which I chickened out of, even though I had a very intellectual question about the relationship between straight lines and finality), and to listen to her talk about her work. Despite being nervous, she was frank in a way I don’t expect of artists. There is obligatory guff and pretension, it’s art, but despite the imprecise language there was an obvious passion for materials and a respect for craft that clarified often duplicitous phrases.

The conversation with the assembled art folk, who stared blankly at me all night as I drank obligatory and complimentary booze (I gave a £1 donation, thank you very much), seemed to veer from the usual to the dull by way of the cripplingly overstated. A brief interlude of insight came when the Q&A part of the tour lingered over the issue of framing, of the art of work in itself and the difficulties of retaining the physical elements of art work when it is displayed. All very high brow stuff, from which I refrained from adding to. In fact, I didn’t speak to anyone, I just lingered terrified as a moth. I did enjoy the art though; below is one of the drawings, simply displayed, and created by mixing household products together and allowed to roam freely.

I like art. I like expression and creation and passion. And I liked going to an art event, rather than cursing my lack of drive or sense of adventure. Yes, it was full of pretension, but then so am I, so maybe me and the art world could get on quite well, given some more discount drinks…

little ushnu

Get back to work!

I quit my last two jobs due to anxiety/depression related stress induced freak outs. I stopped my PGCE for the same thing, though losing my driving licence helped to put the nail in that too. The mere thought of interaction with others made my blood run cold, then burning hot with anger at the imposition of work into my life. Then a bottomless guilt for the people you’re failing: good colleagues, good students or just other people who don’t deserve to be fucked around by my insecurities. It feeds back in and that worsens everything. Rinse and repeat, you get the picture.

Thing is I’m sick of it. I’m trying to stay on the wave of positivity that washed me back from France but the worries about facing the workplace are already making my skin itch. The questions, the answers, the new people’s sweaty palm handshakes and the trembling on the bus en route are all blowing up in my head like lights on a stage. If I’m the actor, walking out into relative darkness to start the performance I’m relaxed and ready. Then BLAM from stage right, back or front and stage left or centre, you can’t be sure. You’re immobile for a moment, stuck in light and aware of all the eyes in the room watching you. The lights reveal everything, and all the confidence melts like make up leaving a confused clown face perplexed and alone. That fear of being exposed is central to my general attitude to life. I feel like a big fat phony.

So how the fuck do I get back to work? I need the structure and satisfaction that you get from a reasonable job, and the money of course. But if I stretch myself too soon and bottle it, it’s a step back. Yet – and this is really symptomatic of my state of mind – I can’t imagine a situation where things work out and any job that I get is not staffed by flange rags or involves me shelving all my previously held beliefs. I don’t even know what that thought is like. And all this with an undercurrent of failure at my current lack of employment. I guess it’s just taking things a day at a time and building things step by step and all that jazz. Sorry if I don’t sound convinced, I’m trying I promise.

Nick Clegg is not the leader of the LibDems

Newsnight on Monday saw Nick Clegg desposed as leader of the party. I don’t see him making it six more months, and if you could find me a bookie to take it I’d love to see what odds I got. Here’s why:

Cable came out swinging at the conference, calling the Tories the ‘Nasty Party’ and pointing out the vicious assaults to our services and values that have occured in the last three years. He had the appearance of a man waking from a coma, bewildered at what had passed whilst he slept. The lurch to the right the LibDems used to secure a place at the table lost them a lot of credibility and trust. They’ve been very quiet about any successes they have had, and people regard them as lapdogs to the party in power – a Blair to a Bush. There are 18 months to the election, and Nick Clegg is so clueless I wouldn’t follow him through a door. They won’t get any credit for the barely perceptible economic recovery of the last quarter, any policy successes are daubed in blue and the Labour party are so far from the Left they’ve lost their trail of breadcrumbs. Anyone who can make a strong case for repealling austerity and righting some really shitty wrongs is going to look pretty fucking tempting to a lot of people. Ed Milliband is not that man, he is a bumbling fool. But Tim Farron might be; he’s president of the party and has more guile and wit than a thousand Cleggos.

So back to Vince. The tone of the interview, the fierce rebuttals to the questions from the audience and the combatative stance he took to Kirsty all betrayed his intention. This was a split. Nick Clegg was leader of the weak, maleable Liberals who think that some power is better than nothing, no matter what the moral cost. But Cable is too old to lead the party, but too good to let it drown in the squalor of coalition. So he sticks the knife in Clegg and challenges him to lead, and lead left to where the LibDems belong.  Knowing he can’t, the new man can rise, in plenty of time before the election, to rally a party and potentially a country in the fight at the next election. The NHS, our committment to Europe, the reversal of austerity are all features – it’s a big one. Let’s hope that Mr Farron is up to the challenge.

Look into the future

I wrote this for my blog a while ago, posted it, then took it down when I changed the site around.  Small_OuijaApologies if you’ve read it before. I wrote it when I went to an alcoholic’s support meeting in Manchester. I’ve only been to one meeting, I think once you’ve read this you’ll realise why. It made me realise what I was fighting, and what I wasn’t. Whether I’m an alcoholic or not I don’t know. Anyone who works with substance abusers would probably tell you that I’m in denial and that I know full well that I am. Maybe they’re right. But I had nothing on the other people there; and that made me realise that alcohol wasn’t the cause of my problems, it was the chemical weapon of choice for silencing my critics. That’s probably inappropriate, but when I get to drinking I can really put it away and my mind feels like it’s been gassed – all panic and pain before eventual silence. I guess the other people there felt the same way, I don’t know, but this bunch had seen things I never want to face.

So here it is:

The meeting started, and everyone fell silent. Two minutes filled with stares and coughs. I had never seen stares like this up close before. They were incredible. Fixed light years away, eyes full of regret. Never presume what the regrets are. I guarantee you they are not the obvious ones; no generic wistful and useless passing of cheap shame. This group saw it every day. These stares were what they wore to work. This was just a collection of them in one room; like a gallery of sadness and my stare was part of the exhibition. Younger, maybe the youngest there. In all that shame, when it felt like shame, there was knowledge of humanity that no man should know. Maybe there are some things people should not know, even about themselves. But ignorance can never be an excuse, and self understanding is my only choice. Delicious irony. Blinking is rare and heavy when it happens, like an African rain storm. A whole face can change when they lift, rolling back the eyes that you use to look at your lover or a friend, the ones that hide the pain. Those two minutes changed me, and I have no idea into what.

I had never seen eyes as empty of joy as those eyes. Yet all of them, as they recounted advice and tales slowly changed. Their words were as hot as their eyes were cold. Passion and warmth filled the spaces between us, but from where it came was a mystery. Everything seemed to thaw a little, for maybe ten minutes, when all the chords were struck and the band played. Then the silence again, and the encore was a three-minute salute to mistrust and reproach. All that warmth from moments ago revealed itself as Satan’s breath that would be in my ear for all my days. Sweet seductive breath of a lover you can’t ignore. The one that makes your dreams come true. That warmth from the room was the anger inside all of them. All the resentment and the fury that immolated their thoughts leaving charred remains fit only for remorse tainted the words that were spoken. The doors opened and the room emptied. I think maybe so did my eyes, just a little bit more, and left me with a little bit less.

The Confidence Problem

After returning from France with still painful fingers – I jest not, wiping my arse requires a delicate handling of paper to avoid pain or shit stained hands – and announcing my intention to ‘get serious’, the obvious now looms into view. Being severely anxious (my therapists’ assessment, not mine) makes taking on new challenges somewhat difficult. Moreover, trying to crack the writing gig after telling people about it is akin to announcing your intention to give up smoking sucking on a filterless Gauloises. The blackened heart of mine beats hate but can’t settle for less than a perfect stream of bile. What I mean to say is: ‘Who am I to inflict my words on the world?’ I read other blogs, newspapers and magazines – they disgust me. Shallow opinion or facile truths consume me with rage. But I could do no better. Like the unpublished writers who slam Dan Brown whilst their masterpiece sits unread on a hard drive. And when it is read, no one likes it. Not because they don’t understand it; it’s just not very good.

gauloises-brunes-non-filter

So I try to churn my words but I feel like I’m making a bad job of it, and that really, honestly and anyway, I have no right to write. Charlie Brooker nailed us to the mast when he said that the amount of jabber in the world has reduced it to a cloud of blah. There’s no quality control and I feel that I’m just putting fuel on the fire. Everyone’s opinion is not the same. There are people who we should listen to, because they have well thought out and properly researched opinions. Who they are varies from person to person, but there probably aren’t that many on either side, on any topic, that count. To me, there is no point in trying to craft something that matters, trying to birth a thought, if it’s trite or uninspiring, Why do anything just because you can? And that, dear reader, is my problem. I get angry reading the yes men but know that this is trifling guff. Better to never try to claim you’d be better than show the world you’re not. I wrote a poem about hating Stewart Lee once. I don’t hate him, I hate the fact he’s right about things, and it makes me feel inferior. I feel inferior to an award-winning comic who looks like an out of shape Morrissey, and think that’s a sign that I have no talent at all. That’s the confidence problem, and aside whingeing to a screen, I have no solutions.

Take care of yourselves.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 183 other followers