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.