Sunday, 18 January 2015

Blog 100! Punk Rock (God) Dad

This is blog number 100. How on earth I managed to get to 100 blog posts since last June is beyond me. I work full time and try to keep a pretty active social life so to get this far so quickly feels like quite the achievement. Obviously I had to make the one hundredth post a bit special and not just do another review where I gush about The Smith Street Band (that’s coming in blog 101). After much deliberation I decided to write about something a bit personal about what’s without a doubt going to be the proudest moment of my life.

In the summer of last year my best friend of 25 years and his beautiful wife asked me to be godfather to their little girl. Instantly I said yes, and whilst fighting back tears I asked “are you sure?” You see, at the time I was a bit of a mess (to an extent I’m still not tidy), in my head really not a great choice as a role model for another person. 2014 was a very tough year for me, I let a lot of bad thoughts build up in my head and I finished the year on anti-depressants and doing a cognitive behaviour therapy course to try and sort myself out. Couple that with the fact I’m now almost 29, still living at home with mummy and I’m stuck in a job I hate more and more everyday and live my life payday to payday. I really don’t sound like someone who could be considered a great person to look up to.

I asked my friend why they picked me, especially when I think about two of our other long time friends who on paper seem like far better choices than me. One is a respected doctor of psychology currently doing research at Cambridge University and just this week was in the national press speaking about some of his findings. The other is a married, father of one with his own house and a great job. Whatever the reasons were, and I hope there are many I will do everything in my power to be the best role model I can be for that little girl. It’s kind of weird, all of my sisters have children and I want to be someone they can look up to and come to if they need anything but I’ve never felt the overwhelming sense of responsibility that I feel about being a godfather. I guess because it’s a given being an uncle, you have to be regardless of anything. It’s different with being a godfather, that’s a position that you’re chosen for and not one you just inherit.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what qualities I do actually have as a person. After some hard and long soul searching I thought about some of the things that make me the man I am today and noticed that most of which I’ve learnt through the music of punk and rock and the amazing scene I am proud to be a part of. One of the reasons my friend told me was why they picked me was because I’m not religious so I won’t try and force any beliefs on her. I suppose that the thinking is I’ll give a different point of view on things than perhaps a more religious member of her family might. I pride myself on being open to all different types of people. To me it doesn’t matter what gender are, I don’t care about the colour of your skin, whether you like men, women or both, how much money you have or what God if any you pray to. As long as you’re polite, friendly and like the odd high five and hug then you’re fine by me. Equality is very important in the world, I can’t think of many other subcultures over than punk rock that is as accepting of all people. In the world of football there doesn’t seem to be a week go by where you hear about some form of racist behaviour from fans or even the players themselves. I’m not especially well versed in the world of rap music but a lot of it seems to be about “bitches and hoes” and sporting the latest in shiny watches all whilst “packing heat” and “poppin’ caps in yo asses.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a punk rock song about how much money the band have, if there is one I’d confidently put money on it being about how little money they have. I have so much respect for anyone in a band touring up and down the country at their own financial loss, scraping together what money they do earn to buy studio time and make merchandise. Very few bands will finish a tour and make a profit but they continue to do it because that’s what they love and that’s their passion.  I think having a passion for something in your life, no matter what it may be is very important. Life without something you feel passionate or get excited about I’m sure you would agree would be rubbish.

I think a big part of being a “punk” is having the bravery and ability to stand up for yourself and for the things that you believe in whether it be arguing about something that you think is wrong or wanting to change something for what you perceive to be better. One thing I’ve learnt is that is always okay to be honest and speak your mind. I seem to find myself fighting with someone about something every day at work and I do find it exhausting. A lot of the time I wonder to myself why do I argue so much, I really dislike my job and despise the company I work for. I do it because I think that it’s the right thing to do and I know that I would hate myself more if I didn’t stand up for myself and the boys I work with. Just last week I was told something quite surprising; despite the fact I’m always arguing and probably seen as quite difficult apparently one of the bigwigs has a lot of respect for me and wants me to move to his department. I do feel even if I’m not the most popular member of staff and I do get on the wrongs side of a few people I am quite respected because I’m brave enough to do what I feel is right.

All my life I’ve always felt like didn’t really quite fit in and it troubled me for years. Through going to punk shows I finally found somewhere that I felt like I belonged. Some of my favourite gigs have been the ones where I’ve gone not knowing anybody and ending the night dancing and singing with complete strangers as if they were my best friends. I think that’s such a fantastic thing and I try to take that attitude into everyday life. It’s good to be able to treat every person you meet as if you are their best friend. Through going to gigs, especially the smaller DIY ones I’ve seen just how much you can accomplish through working together. The spirit of community is what keeps punk rock alive and kicking. It shows that a group of people coming together and doing something positive with their time in a time when it seems that most people are more self involved that ever before. The whole world could learn a thing or two from the underground punk scene about coming together, working as one and doing something positive. For me it’s so important to pass down the message of coming together as a community to do something great, whatever it might be.

So to sum this post up. The punk rock scene has taught me about acceptance, passion, believing in something no matter the potential cost to you and working together. I try so hard to live my life by trying to stick to these lessons and I think it’s made me a better person for it. I now only hope that I can be the best role model for that beautiful little girl and for my friends who have put so much trust in me.

Now listening to What's Left Of Me by Public Domain

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