Author: goodbyeweirdo

A place beyond the asinine

We have become accustomed to a way of existence in this toy town bubble that shields us from the world beyond the pines. We sit dreamy eyed in plywood coffee houses filled with plants and neon clad bars where everyone is beautiful and sculpted. We angrily agree with each others points and shout useless slogans into the sky as if anyone around us might not know our social and political leanings inclined in that particular direction.

 

We tweet about social injustice and we stand solemnly shoulder to shoulder for those that don’t have a voice, but it is a rarity that we step out of our bubble and talk to those that we do not understand. The downtrodden, the lazy, the vile; the drunkards who shout at each other in unintelligible tones across the street because they have no spatial awareness or concern for those around them or what they might think. The blue banner waving nationalists that howled for the blood of the EU and cheered as every last vulnerable minority was booted from the country post Brexit. The poorer levels of society that haven’t had the chance of an open mind or a decent education because of where every successive government has put or left them, these are the people that we do not converse with. Because we are better, we have the right answers and we, one day, will change the world from the comfort of our houses. It is what I am doing right now, saving the fucking planet one tap at a time. Hip fucking hooray!

I have always enjoyed an old man bar, one that has not been tampered with or infected with the digital glow of the youth. There is something comforting about knowing that no soul worth their weight in vacuity will step through the door, bellowing nonsense about themselves and how their new found veganism can save the world, one preached word at a time.

The beers aren’t craft, the music isn’t loud and the people don’t constantly look you up and down like a piece of beyond retro meat.

Once you get over the initial cautious glare from the locals, everyone tends to go back to whatever they may be doing and leave you be, though if you make eye contact they are likely to initiate a conversation.
Purely by accident, I spent an afternoon with some chums in a pub that opens at 9am, a place sometimes worth crossing the road to avoid. This is that tale, a tale about people.

One such chap who was sat on his own, missing a number of teeth and sporting a cane and an oversized Hawaiian shirt butted in to our conversation with some mumbo jumbo about fucking someone up the arse with a cock ring, proceeding that with stories about looking like Freddie Mercury and carrying a Beretta back in the day when he lived up North. Now he had aids and spent all day in this particular establishment before going home to admire his sixteen three piece suits that he owned. It is understandable to try and ignore someone when you’re trying to have a sensible conversation, but sometimes you have to allow the crazies in and see what they have to say. Turns out, as well as suffering from mental health issues, he was an amazing poet, reciting the first poem he ever wrote at the age of seven among others, which was truly quite remarkable. He had a skill for writing, and even more so for remembering, though that would most likely never give him any recognition of talent at all in the creative world; that being said, maybe his story is more complex than I know.

 

The décor of this particular pub, which I shall not name in case the banal invade, had not seemingly changed in an eternity. There were old screws falling out of the faded wall paper, bits of plaster hanging out of holes where screws had been and a hue of yellow nearer the ceiling from years of smoking, pre ban. There were a number of TV screens; one showing rugby, whilst the other showed re runs of The Sweeny and Murder She Wrote with Tubular Bells playing in the background, followed by Here come the hotstepper then Kendrick Lamar. A strange choice of music for a pub that opens at 9am; there is usually a cue at five to most mornings. Perspective.

 

Heading out for a smoke in the cold night air, and mid way through a conversation about madness and genius via the usual realms of mental health, a carrion faced corvid of a woman loudly excused herself for rudely butting in just before rudely butting in. She explained haughtily that her sons suffer from mental health and that the help they can access is inadequate, yelling apologies intermittently whilst discussing Brexit and the NHS. I was too far away to engage her in conversation but my friends sat calmly and listened to what she had to say, which she clearly appreciated, though her mind was still raging. She despised the current government but was also sceptical of Labour, a fair assumption to hopelessness in the backwoods of Whitehawk.

I would have liked to sit and observe or participate in this rare conversation in such a liberal town but it was cold and I had places to be; and although I was taking myself out of the unknown into the safety of a craft beer lauding pub stocked to the rafters with beards and hops hanging from the ceiling, I remembered that the power for change lies in our hands, a responsibility to seek out the other side and pow wow.

If we continue to suffer the breath of those opinions that pertain the same gaseous elements as our own then we are nothing more than Oroboros, or as George Clinton said, ‘the dog that chases his tail, shall be busy’…I’m not really sure if that has any relevance, but I like the idea of inserting nonsensical lyrics about an atomic dog. Sue me.

 

Insanity is repeating the same task day in day out, over and over again, and not far from that insanity is the almost pointless attitude of constantly discussing our similar opinions whilst we pat ourselves on the backs; though not as bad as being in the Geldof/Bono camp where one is required to fellate one’s own genitals and or the person with whom one is congratulating, probably for saving a small African family at the expense of others whilst hiding money in offshore accounts and making terrible music. I digress…

Though it is amazing that we have the power of free speech, it should be noted that this speech could be wasted and abused. So next time you and your lefty mates decide to slag off the invertebrates that stand up for what they believe in that might not sit too well in the world of sense, morality and human rights, remember that they are not the enemy. They may have harsh opinions on refugees, hippies and commies, but those opinions can be educated and adapted if given half a chance. Not everyone is a case for rehabilitation, but their opinions, no matter how vicious, often come from a place of confusion and fear, not out of a deep seated hatred of anyone; we can leave that to the true dark bastards of the world. Silicon valley.

David Cameron told us to hug a hoodie back in the mid two thousands, and in a way he wasn’t wrong, though maybe his catch phrase lacked in imagination and elocution.

Don’t hug a leaver or a kipper, but listen to what they have to say before shouting them down as bigots or racists; their true grievances may be hidden under rhetoric handed to them by the rags of the Murdoch Empire.

We are all human and we ALL have the capacity to learn from our mistakes and thoughts, for through acceptance of fallibility there is growth and knowledge.

To sum up, go and drink in a shitty old man pub, but don’t tell anyone, they might ruin it with some neon and a couple of cages.

 

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Nevers

25/10/17 – Nevers: La Tavern

 

 

Dear Mom,

We woke to a beautiful morning in Bourges. Jeff wandered of and came back with some bread, grapes and Clementines, a healthy breakfast for sure. We had a short drive to Nevers but we thought it best to get there early so we can see some of the city and have a stroll.

We packed up and got ready to leave but Jeff had once last thing to show us. With a military grade rollie hanging from his mouth, once again we followed him on his little Peugeot two stroke across town to an alleyway, he was taking us to see his allotment! As un rock’nroll as this sounds, we were all genuinely excited.

 

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Leon showing his excitement about nature.

We strolled along an avenue of willow trees with small moats either side, soaking in the hot October sun and marveling at the pristine gardens that surrounded us. Each was perfectly tended in their own unique way, some more ornamental than others, but all had a sense of character. We arrived at a little bridge with a locked gate and went inside. Rows of Brussels, peppers and rocket greeted us as well as some dusty patches of dirt that were being turned for new produce. Wandering further along we passed a fig tree and a shed, only to keep going passed some apple trees to the shack; shed porn as Gareth put it.

A tall pitched roof shack, hand built with all manner of boards and screws stood tall at the end of the allotment, a wonderfully ramshackle building that somehow screamed serenity. We all offered to move in right away.

While Jeff fed his chickens we sat on the porch of the shed and basked in the rare warmth that was to leave us not long after Bourges.

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After sampling the figs and fresh rocket we bid Jeff adieu and prepared for another joyous journey in the beat up old mondeo.

 

A Few missed turns, a near miss on the wrong side of the road and some beautiful countryside, we hit another glib looking city, shuttered buildings and a very washed up feel…only to be once again shocked into regret of our judgmental idiocy. Rounding a copse of trees it was if the entire landscape moved out of the way to reveal Nevers, towering over us as we drove over the ornate bridge with the water sparkling in the afternoon sun below.

We found the venue straight away, there was parking right outside and we had a few hours to kill before it opened. This was going to be a good day. We strolled in the direction of up in search of coffee, food and beer, one of those we would not find for many hours, resulting in some bad things.

Although the city itself was beautiful, the people were not as such, it lent overtly to the side of small Essex town, complete with matching track suits, one woman had a shoe box full of fags. Go figure.

 

We found a café on the edge of a marbled square catching all the sun, but they had stopped serving food. It’s a French thing. You can’t get lunch at lunch, or something like that, so the next best thing; beer. Having not really eaten, we moved on to try and find another bar that did food, but no such luck. We couldn’t even find a cash machine, though for some reason there was a huge abundance of hearing aid shops. Maybe Nevers was hard of hearing…

Another square, some more beers and a packet of crisps. It was okay though; we were due to get fed at the venue so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. We strolled back for soundcheck to find that we were playing in an Irish tavern or maybe what they thought an Irish tavern looked like…and to be fair it wasn’t far off. The promoter was nowhere to be seen so we pulled up some stools and drowned our hungry sorrows with more beer. The bartender didn’t speak a word of English so I was to be sole translator for the night; it was beginning to look like a difficult evening.

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A rare item we could not steal…

We sat around and drank for an hour or so, the time ticked on and no one turned up to tell us what was going on so we carried on, ever the hungrier. The realisation dawned on us that we were to set up the PA and run the night. Sifting through the box of cables and trying to work out what went where with a selection of items that didn’t fully belong together was fun, until we realised that we needed a French four way splitter, otherwise the show would not go on. Trying to translate the desire for a four way is not the easiest thing when you’re already half cut and have a food based rage boiling up from the depths of your gut.

The promoter turned up four hours late, a giant of a man in the truest sense of the world who also did not speak a morsel of English. He didn’t seem very concerned with any of the goings on so he sat outside on his moped and drank wine and chatted with the locals.

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It turned out that we weren’t going to be fed before we played and by this point it was probably about ten hours since we had last eaten. In a fit of hanger I stormed off into the night to try and find some semblance of a supermarche but absolutely no luck, all I could find was a large bag of cacahuetes which we devoured. I do not suit hunger, especially when I have been drinking and everyone, including myself, saw my darkest food side come out.

The gig wasn’t much better. About twenty or so people sat around the edge of the bar, as far away from us as possible as we brawled and battered our way through each song, aside from the man from the league of gentlemen that sat right by the PA in a cravat with his poor wife in tow. Everyone clapped and seemed to enjoy it but it was like playing in a submarine air lock decorated with Guinness plaques and filled with confused animals, all rasping louder as the air runs out. Needless to say it ended and food was brought, much to our joys, though I think Gareth and Leon more so, just so I would snap out of my incessant grump. Instantly I felt better and the mist dissipated.

A woman made sexual advances towards Gareth, upsetting Leon. We got very drunk, again and then sent ourselves to bed. The abode for the night was to be an underground (sort of) annex to someones house that we had not met or did not know, we were simply given a set of instruction in French and set off with a wing and a prayer into the night, essentially to break into someone’s back garden and sleep in their shed. At least it was a nice shed with double glazing and a plastic reflective ceiling.

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I woke in the night to see Fred the giant standing over me just before he battered us all to death and ate us. Too much bread, I was getting wheat dreams.

Bourges

24/10/17 – Bourges: Bar St Bonnet

 

Dear Mom,

 

On the way to a drum shop before leaving Paris we watched a man enter the very open bushes next to us and squat down to have a shit, we were at eye level barely two meters apart. He didn’t even wipe.

We found Leon the cheapest hi-hat stand in France and retreated to a café to soak up whatever horror occurred the night previously. Leon couldn’t walk and had little if no memory of the metro ride home or how he had such a sore coccyx.

I have never been fussed with hot food whilst on tour, especially in the midst of a city; I can wait for an evening meal so I ventured into the supermarche for road supplies. One can’t ever have enough shredded carrot, tabouleh or baguette. Leon and Gareth opted for a hot plate of meat sandwich, not that anyone could truly identify what it was supposed to be. Imagine everything on the menu in between two large flat breads, including chips, then your guess will be as good as ours. It would have fed all three of us for a whole day but instead it went to live in a little styrofoam container under the seat as neither could finish their epic plates.

Stodged a plenty we hit the road to Bourges, three hours of bog standard boring French toll roads with nothing but cross winds and straight lines.

On our way out of Paris we saw two crashes, although one could have very well as been a man parking in the middle of the road to chat to his mate…strangers things have happened. Every day is a school day.

Our dismay as we entered Bourges was palpable, the streets were wide and empty, every other building seemed to be shutting down, it might as well have been Milton Keynes or Staines. Suddenly we turned a corner onto a beautiful avenue with some crazy buildings, obviously the university, and the city began to come to life. How little we knew thus far…

The twat nav took us to the venue, but the tiny bistro could have hardly handle it judging by the look on the old proprietors face when I walked in. Wrong building. We drove up and down for a while before resorting to googlemaps, the creep show of humanoid tracking that knows everything up to the piece of croissant you’ve just dropped. Soon we’ll be fined for leaving a trail of crumbs as we rush around our hasty lives, eating sandwiches between appointments with the doctor cum insurance salesman and the taxman. Merger.

I digress; we found the bar, and it looked even less likely that we’d fit, let alone expect anyone to want to see us here. It was a tiny glass fronted bar with a handful of old red nosed men teetering on the bar. The promoters Orel and Jean greeted us and showed us to the carpet that we would be playing on, it was gaffer taped to the floor. Our hearts sank just a little, but over the years we have come to realise that the best shows are the ones in the most unassuming venues, but for now, they had to set the PA and lights up so Jean offered to give us a tour of the city.

 

With his neatly quaffed hair, rolled up Levis and military leather jacket, Jeff cut a figure that did not ooze a single pretention or snobbery that in many cases comes from the British equivalent. He lived and breathed who he was; we would come to love him much more. We ambled lazily through the beautiful cobbled streets up to the cathedral, which apparently was one of the top five in France, approaching it you could see why, it was truly was magnificent. The inside was as breath taking as the outside, with some of the most graphic and brutal stained glass I have ever seen, and what was possibly a black Jesus!? We will never know I suppose…

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As soon as we left we did the obvious and headed for a drink. Upon entering the shop, we thought maybe he had popped in to chat to a friend and show us a proper French wine shop, but no, he took us into a back room where there was a tiny bar sidled inbetween some amazingly expensive rums and whiskeys. We opted for a glass of wine whilst he and the owner went for a Pastis and sparked up huge filterless roll ups, we were truly in heaven. One of the many things I love about the French is their general ability to not give two fucks about anything that is not worthy of it. Why not have your own miniature bar in the back of your wine shop? Why not drink in the late afternoon whist you are still at work? And that is just a few of their joys of not giving a fuck…

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We headed back to the venue to set up and soundcheck, then there was little more to do than to drink with the varying shades of locals and punters that were slowly arriving. It was one of the nicest but strangest mixes of people that I have encountered in a long time, but there was no judgement anywhere to be seen. Our favourite pair was the most mismatched; a huge black guy that looked like Busta Rhymes and his tiny blonde friend who played in a mathcore band whom both seemed to love berating each other. At one point the larger, who referred to the smaller as pygmy blanc, shouted across the crowd of people at Leon who was stood chatting to Gareth and a few others; “HEY, BLACK MAN! WANT SOME WEED?” The look on all our faces must have been priceless, but he was so drunk and seemingly did not care, so we laughed it off, though still a little unsure. There went the French not giving a fuck attitude once again…

I find it tedious talking about the shows, so I’ve decided to gloss over them unless anything stand out happens. It was good; people liked it, the end.

After the show the hostess of the bar laid on a massive ‘vegan’ spread for us, which was amazing, aside from the fact that everything was slathered in butter, lots of butter. I learnt on my first tour that you couldn’t always be fussy when someone puts a hot plate of food in front of you. After a month on the road of eating nothing but hummus, bread and salad I gave up on my strict morality and accepted that a lenience in belief is not always worthy of flagellation when you haven’t seen sleep or health in a long time. You just have to survive. Some will disagree, but those that preach are mouth breathers.

The beer and wine was flowing and people kept offering us to different bars in the city, we knew it would be carnage if we didn’t escape. Our saving grace was that we had to go and park the car where we were sleeping, at the house of Jeff! It was a bit of a drive out of town so we crossed our fingers and got in the car, it turns out that as well as looking like a bad ass, he drove a tiny little Peugot 103 two stroke partial pedal powered scooter, with leather panniers! It was a thing of beauty. The whole way home we marvelled at the blasé way he guided us, with no indicators just last minute hand gestures and the occasional pedal powered jump off from the lights.

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Thankful that we didn’t have to go out and get wasted, we lounged around in Jeff’s apartment drinking rose and listening to all the bands he’d put on in Bourges. Leon and Gareth went to bed and I sat up for another hour or so chatting until my French ran out and Jeff opted to parles full on Francais till I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Another night over as the walls began to spin, all this boozing was taking it’s toll on all of us.

Paris: A day off

23/10/17 – Paris: Day off

 

We woke up in Pierre’s bed with concrete backs, it was akin to sleeping on a semi comfortable rock, but when you’re old and have back pain at twenty nine then life is pretty much over. Hooray for anatomy!
Gareth and Leon were fast asleep so I doused myself in blankets and sat outside in the grey gloom of the Black Totem back yard, eating oranges and staring at the wall praying for yet another hangover to fuck off back to whence it came. We had the rare treat of a day off, in Paris too! Not since the Eighties Matchbox days had I had a day off on tour, so this was going to be a luxury; some museums, good food and lovely architecture. Not.

By the time the slumber brothers were ready to go, it was heading into the afternoon, so after forcing Leon to pose in his Adidas for a while we got bored and headed out along the canal to the metro. We were to meet our good friend Joe who had vacated London for Paris at Gare du Nord, yet we’d forgotten how to get to the metro so ended up walking for longer than we should have in the wrong direction through an endless street of knock of shops selling high end fashion.

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After arriving twenty minutes late, we wandered into the Pigalle to find the Parisian Denmark Street, but as per, everything was shut. Turns out they don’t open on Mondays either. With no hope of finding a drum shop, we did the next best thing, went to a bar. It got rid of the hangover, but considering we hadn’t really had breakfast it was fast approaching count down idiocy and the cacahuetes weren’t really cutting the moutarde. Three pints of strongish larger in, me and Leon were becoming useless and hangry, so we ventured off for a falafel to line our poor stomachs. Gareth stubbornly stayed put, he might regret it a little later. It gets a tad blurry after the forth or fifth pint, but at some point we left that bar to go and meet Joe’s girlfriend from work. I think that we may have gone to a franprix to stock up on food, but we came out with mustard, gherkins and a bottle of brandy, or were it rum?

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We ventured out into the cold night air and decided a coffee was a good move, it would take the edge off the booze and wake us up a touch, and obviously the rum went into the coffee when no one was looking. Piles of bar snacks later and a slightly confused clientele, we piled back out into the street, this time back to the franprix for a bottle of whiskey to go with our now almost empty jar of gherkins, pickleback time! Whiskey in hand, we made it to another bar, but we were clearly showing our Brutishness, they refused us table service. Mid way through a swig of whiskey and gherkin juice I realised we had nowhere to stay for the night. We couldn’t stay at Joes as it was too small, and Pierre was back in his room so there wasn’t much left to do. More drinks, at least we’d be warm in a doorway.

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I don’t remember being kicked out, but it felt like our presence was not desired. We headed for the safe confines of Joes for dinner and a sneaky attempt at seducing his landlady into letting us stay, once again, via a shop…this time for a box of red wine. The only memory any of us have of this is thanks to rather blurry pictures, so that journey is one of mystery. There was wine, there was food, beautifully made by Ro and then it was over. Arsene had sorted it so that Pierre stayed out one more night and we got to go back to the warmth of their shotgun shack. Hats off for saving us from the freezing Paris night!

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We left Joes apartment with the local tip of being able to bunk the metro easily, straight into the waiting arms of the police, five to be exact. Somehow we got away with it, even though they inspected our tickets. I would imagine it’s easier to let three drunk English guys go than try and harass them for a valid ticket. There is also evidence of spending a rather long time in a photo booth…hopefully we didn’t put any money in as none of us have any photos.

Safely on the metro for about two minutes before a strong smell of burning began to emit from somewhere in the carriage, then all the lights went off. Excellent, we were going to die drunk and stupid in the Parisian metro. Apparently that didn’t happen because as we left the metro Leon slipped on something and fell on his arse, breaking his phone in the process.

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A dark dangerous walk next to the canal, photoshoots on the edge and back to Arsene’s, we were home, for the night at least. Next stop Bourges!

Cachan

22/10/17 – Cachan: Art’n’track

 

 

Cachan it turned out was a suburb of Paris that no one has ever been to, it’s the French equivalent of Croydon.

What was going to be the shortest drive of the tour, barely an hour, ended up taking well over that. Firstly and most obviously was the traffic leaving Paris; imagine having the M25 in central London, then throw in seemingly constant traffic accidents, nonsensical road systems and then grant everyone a death wish, sort of sums it up. Secondly, as we had already found out the night before, there is usually a street with the same name within a half hour radius of it’s sister street. We arrived on a residential street and were quite ready to play a house party on a Sunday night, but our better judgment told us to check the address rather than knock on an unsuspecting persons door loaded with guitars and drums.

The venue was fifteen minutes back in the direction we had just come, in fact we literally retraced our steps, only to find ourselves outside a university campus – the venue had changed last minute. We had been downgraded from the good student union bar to the not so good one. As we arrived they were building a venue from scratch, complete with a huge sound desk on some tables with a sofa as a seat for the lucky engineer. Everyone was young and fresh faced, eager for something.

The bar was a bombsite of furniture, strange cartoon graffiti and glass, but the people were friendly and the Chouffe was on the house. Considering I had spent the last hour and a half in the back of a car with a raging hangover trying not to chunder (turns out I am no longer good at being a passenger) drinking was the only thing that would make it all better, and by god it did. The only thing drink cannot cure is a fucked throat; the lack of voice was starting to irritate me.

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Waiting for food by some bins.

Eventually food was ready, our bellies groaned in anticipation, spooning mustard from the jar was no longer cutting it. A huge steaming pot of goodness arrived, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be what was once rice, resembling more of a mash with a few tomatoes chucked in for colour. As per, the French understanding of Vegan is to add cheese, because what is a meal without cheese? Not a meal apparently. The unseasoned mush was good enough ballast to last us through the night but we were all left un-sated. That being said, it was a university campus kitchen, who knows how to cook properly at eighteen?

The first band played to a fairly full room, but their blend of Morrissey meets Coldplay via Talking Heads left a huge gap in the crowd by the end. There were occasional glimmers of interest but most people walked out after three songs…I think they were expecting a rock show.

We took to the stage as people sat around in the background watching us with lazy Sunday evening eyes. The vibe was not there, and neither was my voice, but after a few hip numbers, people edged closer and even gave a few woops. By the end, the crowd had grown slightly but everyone seemed to be having a good time, howling and screaming like their lives depended on it.

The show was run on donations so we made peanuts, but some of the kids gave more generously than I would have expected for students, but they loved it. The French are good like that.

And with that we left, heading back to Arsenes for a nice quiet night. On arrival we joked that we wanted some fine whiskey, to which we were handed four fingers of vodka. Bonne nuit health, good night Paris, once again.

#MeToo

 

 

 

First of all I would like to start with a disclaimer; at no point in this article do I seek to detract from the experiences of the women who have experienced such behavior by men. I disagree with such behavior wholeheartedly and try to stay as active as possible to call out any actions that I am privy to. What I am trying to do is make objective points and understand the problems and where they arise because as we all know, nothing in life is black and white…apart from Laurel and Hardy films.

 

Let’s start at the beginning. It was me. I did it.

Throughout my life, I have inadvertently been that guy. Even though since, as young as I can remember, I have called out my friends for cat calling, stopped people I know from pressuring our female friends into sex and various other unacceptable behaviors. Indeed, I am no saint though, far from it.

With the advent of the MeToo hashtag, it has got me thinking about how consistent this behavior is. Though it is not surprising that many of my friends have used the tag, I am sure that each and every woman I know or have known has experienced these feelings and actions of intimidation and assault that it intends to raise awareness for. Many will not want to engage with this online campaign for various reasons, but it does not mean their voices and opinions are any less important, their experiences are there, whether you trend it on twitter or not.

 

It crossed my mind to voice my own experiences on social media. As a man, I feel I have the right to use this hashtag as I have experienced sexual abuse and intimidation. What stopped me however is not wanting to do the classic privileged patriarchal action of taking something of importance from someone else and changing it’s point.

Now I am aware that this is not actually the case. I’m sure most people would be behind anyone that stands up and says, “Hey, I have been sexually abused too.” It would defeat the point of equality if we couldn’t, but I am voicing my own very real insecurity about my masculinity; that however is sort of a different conversation. What I want to talk about is why and how we as men fall into this role.

 

I did it. We did it. I may be a cynic by saying this, but I believe that one would be hard pressed to find a man that has gone through his life without inadvertently or indeed deliberately sexually abusing another person. I say this from my own personal experience and have no statistics or factual evidence to back this up, but I feel I have a good grounding for my thoughts.

Here is where it gets tricky and I would like to refer back to my disclaimer, I am not trying to undermine anyone’s experiences at the hands of predatory men.

I do not think that every interaction a young boy or man has with a woman is conscious or thought about. That is not to say that ignorance is acceptable, but at a young age, how do you know that the way you are interacting is actually unacceptable and you are in fact pressuring a girl or young woman into an intimacy she is perhaps not ready for?

 

I was brought up open minded, liberal and more often than not, naked. I saw my parents have sex around the age of two (they may or may not know that), I had my first sexual feelings at the age of three and at five I stumbled across a pornographic video that was playing on a television. I sat there and watched, not understanding why the man was ‘weeing’ into the woman’s mouth or why his mustache was so big.

I have had various different interactions with girls around my own age that were exploitative from about the age of six, and in my memory, it was all ‘consensual’, if you can have such a thing at a young age.

Herein lies the first problem, even though I knew that I should respect women and that rape was wrong, I did not fully know up until my mid twenties that there was a whole world of subtleties outside of obvious sexual abuse, in fact I am still learning about it today – a year and a bit shy of my thirtieth birthday.

The thought that I may have at some point in my early youth, pressured a girl into kissing me or exposed myself, either out of normality on my part or a proud “look at this weird thing I have that you don’t”, fills me with a zealous guilt. In my defense, I did not know any better at the time but that does not take away from the experience of the person on the other end.

The other side of this is that a girl in school once kicked me in the testicles because I wouldn’t kiss her…what reaction does this give you dear reader? Should she look back on her actions in the same way I am now?

 

As I got older, my confidence with women decreased rapidly and I didn’t really have any interactions until my late teens, eighteen to be precise -I wasn’t as interested in sex as my peers, but maybe I was just lying to myself and hid it behind a love for skateboarding and A&E, but that could have been the morphine and plaster casts.

Throughout the loss of my proverbial cherry and my long term relationship with my girlfriend at the time, I can remember pressuring her, not forcibly or violently but verbally into having sex when we both weren’t feeling the same way. I was not aware that by asking her again after she had said she wasn’t in the mood was the wrong thing to do. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand no, there were plenty of times where no was said and respected, but if I was feeling exceptionally virile my brain would bypass that respect and understanding; even then it didn’t always amount to anything other than a quiet frustration on my part and a wank in the bathroom. But to this day I feel shame for the times I pressured her into something she wasn’t 100% up for, or made her feel bad for not ‘putting out’, as they say in American high school films.

From the opposite side of the coin there were plenty of occasions where we had sex and I did not want to but felt I was obliged as that’s ‘what men want all the time’, so it would be have been untoward for me to say no. Whether or not that was an insecurity at the time or became one, I simply did not know I had the power to say no.

 

Possibly the point I am trying to make is that as men we are probably not as innocent as we think we are.

Even though we spend most of our lives being kind to strangers, being courteous to our partners and treating our daughters with love and respect, there is still that element wherein we lack a great degree of knowledge of the subtle things we may do that can cause women to feel degraded.

In a way it is not our fault; I remember feeling terrible about myself due to films, advertising and my lack of sexual experience. We are bombarded with information relating to what it means to ‘be a man’ on an hourly basis, unless we’re in the woods chopping down trees with our manly arms and murdering animals for sport. And it cannot be ignored that we live in a society that promotes sex from every imaginable angle. Even with the privilege of being male, white and liberal I still need to read and listen every day in order to break away from being a patriarchal oppressor, whether I mean to or not.

The fact that these conversations or memes or whatever the hell else you call this new technofaddy age pop up in increasing numbers means that it makes people think about it more. I did not know what I know now about women’s rights when I was a teenager, or even in my early teens because it was rarely spoken about; therefore I rarely thought about it. In my head I never struck, I never abused and I never assaulted a woman, so I thought I was a good guy.

To clarify I do not think that every act of misogyny is accidental or unintended, but there is an element where we need to look past the obvious forces of negativity in men and try and tackle the root cause, stemming the problem in the youth before it affects teenagers going through the hell that is hormones.

 

I want to apologise to every girl and every woman that I may have ever intimidated, pressured or made to feel bad about themselves without my knowing, understanding or intent. It does not excuse anything I may have done, but I hope my actions of the present and the future may help make up for it.

 

As men it is our constant and eternal duty to be aware of our actions, our privileges and our peers, we need to educate each other and ourselves and not be afraid to stand up and take responsibility for our feelings and actions, as well as listening to and appreciating those who have been affected by our actions. Only through connectivity can we break down the barriers and create a world in which equality is not spoken about because we have surpassed it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Elizabeth Beckmann

 

 

 

Paris

21/10/17 – Paris: La Mecanique Ondulatoire
Dirty White Fever

 

Dear Mom,

 

Having been possibly the fourth time we have driven through the city collectively, we were entirely used to the style of driving that one must adopt to survive in the hellish smog fueled rat race that is Parisian driving; no indication, sharp maneuvers and lots of use of the horn.

We made it through relatively unscathed, minus the infinity stuck behind a bin lorry on a narrow street that reeked of a post apocalyptic service station.

 

It was probably not a good idea to start on La Chouffe so early, but it’s too late now. Hindsight’s a hell of a thing.

The evening began to fly by in a hazy blur and before you can say Obrigado I was face down in a pile of beer with a bloody mouth and a song to continue playing. The floor was slipperier than I could have anticipated, but somehow my guitar survived the dead weight of my body. I don’t remember the silence of the crowd but from external accounts I ate a nice portion of shit.

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Evidence that we were indeed not sober.

 

Suddenly the show was over, I had some how managed to lose Leon’s Jamaican string vest that I was sporting to sell merch, had drinks shoved in my face and then suddenly we were in a cab heading in the wrong direction to a house party, unbeknown to us that is. The French seem to like to name two streets the same but within a half hour radius, as we would come to find on more than one occasion.

 

Electric Retro Spectrum hosted us for the night in a self built house in the back garden of their parents which was to feature an underground studio at some point in the future, which instilled a little bit of house envy in all of us.

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Not partying hard enough…

Apparently the Mexicans party harder than the British, but as the sun rose and I was guided to a chair to sleep in the corner of the room, the party bounded on, I didn’t care – That being said, a girl threw up from the top of a spiral staircase and covered the host in vodka juice, but every day is a school day.

I went to doze in the chair and woke up to a cold empty room, the party was over. Buzzkilington strikes again! The floor and a suede jacket do not make for a good nights sleep but when in Rome.

No one else had fared much better in the sleep department and we were all worse for ware, but a coffee and a spliff seemed to do the trick, though not for me. I’d replaced the black stuff with tea and cigarettes with a gloop of honey and a salt gargle. That’ll teach me. We said our goodbyes and ambled hazily into the gloom of a Parisian Sunday afternoon.

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The car we hastily parked in a loading bay was still there sans billet. We dived in like hungry gannets and stood on the street wolfing down tabbouleh, mustard, tins of mackerel and anything else we could throw down our gullets as ballast to make the next few hours bearable until we found a bar.

There was no light in La Mecanique so we loaded out, in at times pitch black, which does not do good for a hangover, or those with a tendency towards vertigo. A short farewell to Arsene before piling into the car for our next show in Cachan; we would see him later that night.

 

Lille

20/10/17 – Lille: Le Biplan
Dirty White Fever

 

Dear Mom,

 

Having not been sensible and gone out the night before we leave to witness the spectacle of the Rodeo Death Burger EP launch, drinking excessively and losing Gareth to the night, the morning of departure he is nowhere to be found.

I receive a call fifteen minutes before we are due to leave, our driver, confidant and fellow roadman is alive and well.

Two hangovers later, with Gareth fast asleep in the back we arrive at the channel tunnel, straight into the open arms of the border police. I suppose a low down Ford mondeo rammed with bags and god knows what else, driven by a long hair with a fro toting Jamaican riding shotgun listening to Hip Hop (at a reasonable volume) is enough to arose suspicion in even the most simple minded of police officers.

Surrounded by six police officers on a hangover with the possibility of the illegal contraband falling out of a possible anal cavity in front of them is not the best way to start the day. They were sad we wouldn’t give them a free album but our charm offensive granted us safe passage into the land of bread and cheese, substances we would come to abuse.

 

30 seconds to France. A long road. Lille.

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We arrive at Le Biplan, an amazing theater with a venue in the basement, which was linked by a myriad of labyrinthine corridors reminiscent of scenes from Colditz, but our joy was cut short when we realized that Leon had misplaced his hi-hat rod. Having made good time, we were awarded the luxury of exploring the town in search of said rod, though all we found were strange words adorning shop fronts. Were we too British?

The support band saved the day by supplying us with their own rod, hi-hat attached of course. Watching the guitarist sink what could only be a quadruple measure we realised that we were indeed on tour and that it would be mostly down hill from here.

The first bottle of wine with dinner went down so well that a second trip to Carrefore was in order, though this time the night life were emerging. To leave a supermarket in a foreign country and walk directly into three homeless men singing the cops theme tune at a dog in a bandana is a strange sight to say the least, but after a few glasses of red you shrug your shoulders and march on.

 

The second bottle was nearing the end as we started our set. Being a typical English band we were too loud, even though the amps were barely touching the 1-mark. In my drunken anger I seemingly sang myself into a hoarse whisper, blowing my vocal chords on the first day.

As the promoter did not show up and also forgot we were staying at his house, we passed out in the dressing room with the third bottle and spent our first night in France uncomfortably drunk.

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The next morning, after a dubious shower, the remnants of a drunken pasta dish and some yoga, we scoured the streets of Lille further for a drum shop. The only place we found that was open was a tad to expensive for our first show so we thought we’d risk it, Gareth risked himself by forgetting that you can’t stand in the middle of a road and stare up, narrowly avoiding being hit by a car appearing from nowhere.

 

We left Lille sans hi-hat stand only to be pulled over by the police once again, this time for reasons of custom.

 

Police officer: “Do you ‘ave anythin’ to declayre?”

Gareth:          “We love France?

Police officer: “Do you ‘ave any monies above E10,000?”

Gareth:           “Have you seen my car?!”

 

With some subtle sarcasm and more anal clenching we were let on our way. Twice in two days, hopefully this was not to be the theme of the next nine days.

 

Onward to Paris, and the never ending onslaught of insanity.

A glorious protuberance

The wind hung limply in the air as crowds gathered around the ocular spectacle that stood around the horror that is the west pier; confidently portraying their natural attributes that hold point, purpose and form in a multitude of varieties, also milk; for babies. Human babies.

Although relatively small in number for a sunny protest day in Brighton, the Free the Nipple movement drew peoples gaze away from their ice creams and selfies for there was something greater on display; the female bosom.

 

With the intent of bringing about equality for all genders and abolishing the age old idiocy of hiding women’s nipples because of some social stigmata of sexualisation, Free the Nipple plan on normalizing nudity for women by bringing the offending protuberance to the fore front of their cause; much to the joy of many young boys and leering old men it seemed.

As a white male, I have an endless barrage of privilege, even if I grew up lower class on benefits in violent neighbourhoods of London. My social standing allows me freedoms that many of different cultures and genders have died fighting for, yet I was born with it and will enjoy it into old age.

The first thing I noticed at this march for equality, which instantly set my blood boiling, was the sheer amount of unabated, unashamed ogling that was occurring from the passing male contingent. The two knuckle draggers that first caught my eye stood leeringly postured, swaying ever so lightly from the three or four pints of Carling in the Harvester before hand, phones raised and drool hanging from the corner of their collective mouth. Their faces gave away their emotions; they barely seemed to contain their sheer disbelief and joy at the sight of a horde of swaying mammary glands. After a few minutes a member of the march wandered over and asked them to delete the photos they had been taking, which they very clearly did not, but in exchange, the pair parted with about a fivers worth of coins for their troubles into the collection bucket and strolled off, and if I were to make a judgment, they were both heading home to masturbate furiously to the bootlegged sound of football chants whilst occasionally glancing at their phones.

This theme carried on for the duration that I stood there; groups of young boys congregated on the scene, even more gobsmacked than the middle aged drunks, though they may have been shocked at the sight of female anatomy that did not resemble a scene from a pornographic video cassette – one that features a heavily moustached man pounding a big breasted girl from behind on a tiger rug in…oh wait, that’s probably quite tame in comparison to what the youth are used to nowadays. I digress; once again, the phones were out and many sniggers were shared, and each time the same girl who appeared to be running the event would ask very nicely if they would refrain from taking pictures and delete whatever material they had already taken.

 

Where were my feelings of anger towards these interactions coming from? Was it the absurdity of their reactions to something that I personally support and feel at ease with, making my open minded liberal approach superior or was it my despair at the uneducated yokels that litter our towns and cities for being so boorish? Maybe it was a subconscious feeling of protectiveness that is ingrained in the male psyche towards women who “aren’t as capable of looking after themselves” (or so some would have us believe)? So many possibilities, it’s probably best not to think about them and carry on with life.

As a man there are so many interactions in life that I will never experience or even have the capacity to truly understand that at times it shakes me to the core. How can we be so far removed from our sisters whilst being aware of the daily grind that many of them face? Even without constant sexual harassment or ridiculous pay gaps, the small aggression’s they come up against day in and day out are so out of reach of our understanding that it’s no wonder we aren’t progressing out of this continuing age of sexism faster.

The complexities of something as simple as the nipple are absurd to say the least, but for those of us that do not come up against that and other patriarchal idiocies it can be a minefield of good intention, mansplaining and confusion. It is where even the better educated of us that are concerned about equal rights for women and other genders need to not charge into the furor, all guns blazing with opinions and answers on how to change the world, but sit back and listen to how women think it should work.

It does not directly affect us and I don’t think that we should form our own strong opinions on the matter. In an ideal world you would not want someone from the elites of Eton lecturing others on the struggle and strife of council estate living, even if their intentions were honest and true. By the same merit, we as men do not need to bring our own good intentions to the table by trying to form solutions when there are plenty of strong and capable women that can do it for themselves. Our job is to support these ideas and spread the word of equality, positivity and unity from those that live and understand these struggles, by actions within our privileged spheres we can exhibit change from within.

 

To return to the boys that were so overwhelmed by the sight of many pairs of breasts, after some careful thought I have come to the conclusion that although their actions were not very courteous or acceptable socially, their exposure to flat chested women and drooping breasted girls can only be a positive. By normalising the female areola you allow change to occur, the mystery and desexualisation becomes defunct and young boys who have grown into adult men hold beliefs that their fathers and peers did not hold before them.

Rather than chastise our youth for their sometimes derogatory opinions and ways of thinking, we should maintain forever and always that every single human is a product of their environment and that with nurture and education, we can shape our world into a better form of equality than we have now. We will never find universal peace and there will always be a downtrodden, but if we can find unity within our sexes then we may be one step closer to creating a better world for our children to live in.

 

 

 

 

 

Irreverence.

We are broken beings of irreverence.

Time tuned sets of saline and servitude.

Underneath the ashen faced earls of wisdom swims a hundred gawping fish

The feeding of the nine million.

We are broken like horses hobbled at birth.

Calliper our legs till our backs ache and we fall to the floor in gratitude for we have lived piously through the eons.

The feeding of the few.

Five years, a point of absorption that follows us to the grave lest we open our hearts and learn from our elders.

We carry the weights of our great grandparents and beyond though we may never know it.

We are broken but these are our charms, our flaws and our graces.

To be fixed would to be perfect and perfection has little point in an ocean of chaos.

Swirling dust storms of matter and dead skin skip daintily across the face of Jupiter, and somewhere on the other side of the galaxy a breeze lifts the hair from your eyes and you remember that you are never alone.