A walk in the Park

Posted: February 20, 2012 in life
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walking through the park just now I was pondering on what keeps us all going; what stops the mass suicide through the pointlessness of life (this’ll get lighter, bear with me). What gives life its meaning? Of course I live in relative luxury compared to others in real life threatening poverty, but trading on another’s misery should never be the way forward. Imagine the poor guy at the bottom of the misery ladder with no-one to trade off.
A friend won a British Independent Film award (and he’s an Irishman, so in your face Lizzy and Thatch), and I was really proud of him given his similar background to mine. We spoke and I wanted all the details; the surreal moment your name gets called out; the face ready for disappointment but with a smile for your winning colleague; the walk to the stage in a state of hallucinogenic fuzz; the speech where you appear cool, humorous and edgy.
Sadly I’ve often pondered what I’d do if I won a prestigious award. I’d like to think I’d not turn up, like Woody Allen who shuns the Oscars to play Jazz, or I’d get up on stage and make some concise political statement like Michael Moore when he won the Oscar. But in reality I’d probably just be delighted for being acknowledged for whatever it is that I love doing (I still don’t know what my award(s) will be for).
The point of it all is probably to enjoy the moment but be aware that it’s phoney. I can’t afford to be caught up in any ego battles or to believe any hype (not that I get any hype, even my kids don’t hype me to their mates).  I should be proud of the hard work, and so should the guy I know who is a genuinely lovely humble guy.
While pondering this on my walk with the dog (this might be the only reference to this month’s theme I get in) I started to think of friends lost, people who believed the hype and couldn’t handle the come down from it. A friend, who was a drummer in a band, had his body give up on him, aged 42, from years of drink and drug abuse. I used to pick him up from the street and put him to bed after he’d be on a binge from his yearly royalty check. His flat was always full of junkies feeding off him. No matter how many times I’d throw them out they’d always return. We’d have embarrassing conversations when he was semi sober about his days in the band; the time he played backgammon with Al Pacino, the time they played Japan to 40 000; all of it meaningless as he stood dying in front of me. The last time I spoke to him was eight days before his death; I gave him a fiver and my phone number and said I could get him help; he  replied ‘don’t worry it’ll be sound, I’ve just bought some drums’ and walked off.
I knew he was lost in the whole fame thing, he’d been someone but felt like no-one. He substituted that hole with drink and drugs as soon as the fame was all over. Some seem to survive it. The band he played in have reformed and have tours lined up. They say in interviews they want to play for him, but they didn’t go and see him in the last years of his life. Maybe they couldn’t, maybe they were worn out by it all or maybe they didn’t care. It’s media friendly to offer the tributes and they get the kudos from being ‘caring’ people. Being an atheist, I never went to his funeral. In fact I never go to funerals because I don’t see the point unless I can do something positive for the people left behind.
(At this point I should interject that our very own Alex Cox has just made me his chief obituary writer, so if I can outlive the bugger with the longevity gene, I’ll be there. I shouldn’t joke; I think it’s a nervous reaction to reality).
So the people that can handle the lifestyle are the ones with genuine humility. We have to realise that life, in the main, is all a big joke. But we need to be a part of it, in the safest possible way.  For some that means that drink and drugs can be involved. But for others it’s too obviously not an option. As a child I was obsessed with the likes of Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Jon Bonham, Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Bruce et al. As I’ve grown up and witnessed the destruction I can only imagine how sad these people must have been; hilarious for a night maybe, but sad for those closest to them. Impossible to help, impossible for them to even consider being aware of their own demise.
To the survivors who still carry on, of which there are surely only Shane McGowan and Keith Richards left, I have no idea how you do it. To the ones that have changed and can cope with fame without taking it too seriously I salute you. Actually the very idea that I have any clue on how things should run is pretty preposterous. If there’s anything I’ve learnt of any value it is this: life’s a succession of moments and so we should live each moment to the best whatever the circumstances. Finally to my friend, who won the acting award, enjoy every minute of it, but don’t forget to do the dishes and pick the kids up from school.

 

By Matthew Capper, one Scouser and his Dog

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