Saturday, March 04, 2006

The importance of being liked

On my first day in the juniors at school (or, that's the way I remember it at least) I got put on the Bumblebee table with all the girls. The other tables were pretty much mixed up, but I guess we were sat alphabetically, which happened to mean there were no other boys sat with us apart from me. Gutted. The girls whispered and giggled and were silly, and just generally all things irritating to a 7 year old boy. At playtime, I went over to the boys, and they all laughed and told me to go away, to go back to the "gerrrrrls". Within what realistically was a day (but at the time, felt a good few weeks) I was put on to a table with boys and girls, and nobody batted and eyelid and all was forgotten about. For them anyway, but clearly, if I can still recount the story years later, it's still in my mind. Now, not that I've been beating myself up over this, or feel scarred for life, or any pretentious bullshit like that, but isn't it funny how at a young age it is vitally important to be liked, to be included.

It's assumed that as you grow older, these feelings go away. You become more of an individual and happy to be who you are, without the need of constant agreement from your peers. You get your teenage years over and done with, and you're on your way. Right?

I dont think so. For me at least, the need to be liked, not by the masses, but by those who I put time and effort in to, or who I like myself, is huge. People spend their whole lives compromising who they are to a certain extent, to get along, to not be difficult. People compliment others for things they personally aren't even fond of. People give 50p to a charity on the street and wear the sticker showing everyone they have. So what is it? Do we do nice things because we're just good inside? Or do we do it, our whole lives, because we want people to like us, to think good things about us?

Of course there's no rule for everyone, there are people in this world I'd like to think do things solely to make others happy. But I'm not wrong un, and when I get a bunch of flowers delivered to my girlfriend at work, I do it because I want to make her happy...and because subconsciously at the time, I want her to like me that little bit more.

So this sounds all very negative, that people are wandering around doing good things just so they can be more popular, but I think that's only if you take a cynical outlook. But I think there's something very healthy about that child that's still in you, as long as it's beneath the surface, as long as you have the capacity to do nice things with aims other than just being liked more.

My brother knows a lad from school who just tried to kill himself. His girlfriend had dumped him, and his mates didn't really think to make a fuss of it, so he just got fed up and downed a shit load of tablets. My brother told me that when his own girlfriend messed him around, this lad was nowhere to be seen, didn't make any effort. Is this what happens when we don't make the effort to be liked, and then don't feel liked as a result? Extreme example, sure, but it has some basis to it.

So today, be selfish and nice all in one go. Do something to make someone like you more. Give something up, buy something, say something...but just do it. Because feeling liked is more important than we give credit to.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The End is Nigh

I've spent my life seeing problems be fixed with "a nice cuppa tea". I'd never really questionned it. Maybe "a horrible cuppa tea" wouldnt have solved the world's worst problems, but a nice cuppa PG definately would. My Dad would have a lousy day at work, no problem. My Nana would get shoved on the bus by some adolscent fool, bingo, give her a cuppa.

As I grew older, I was given the same treatment. Ok, so lets be honest, it wasnt the cup of tea that made everything feel nice again, but having a hug, and a talk, and just feeling loved. So, whats the conclusion here? Love is the answer to all problems? Not quite.

I dont know if people actually do it in real life, or if it's just in the movies, but I have an image of one of those guys walking around with a 'The End Is Nigh' boards on his back. If I saw one tomorrow, and it happened to be right, I wouldn't be too bothered... and I wouldnt be too surprised either. Natural disasters are hitting us left, right, and centre. An incapable man is controlling the most powerful country in the world. We're destroying the world and its' inhabitants, whether it be through unimaginable amounts of debt and poverty, through war, through terrorism, or with polluting our world in insane amounts. And nobody seems to care, or the people who do care don't have the power to do anything about it. We're living in the here and now, doing what we can to make money now, without a second thought for our children and grandchildren.

I know there are people who have been putting out this message for much longer than I have, and much more forcefully than me too. I dont care enough, to be honest. I care enough to make a passing comment about it, but dont really have much if any intention to do anything about it. I feel sorry for the people who do care with every ounce of their being, who do love this world and the people in it, because they're fighting a losing battle, and one which will go on until we destroy our world and the people in it completely.

I was thinking of my conclusion and it is horribly depressive. I dont know whether that's to do with my mood, or the reality of our situation. For small problems, and even mediumish sized ones, love can be the answer. Whether it's the cuppa tea, or hug, or "I love you", but the problems are world is facing right now have gone beyond repair, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe there can be damage limitation, maybe love can plug some holes, and build some bridges, but there just seems to a few big clues, like pointing, red cartoon arrows in the sky, telling us that our time is going to be up soon.

The sweetest thing I've ever known was like a kiss on a collar bone. Soft caress of happiness, the way you walk your style of dress. I wish I didnt get so weak, ooh baby just to hear you speak. Makes me argue just to see, how much you're in love with me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

That's what being in the working class is all about -- how to get out of it.

Some people call the working class the backbone of society, whereas others call them a drain on society. I think I sit somewhere comfortably between the two, being from two working class parents who worked their way up on to some middle to lower middle class platform. I feel anger for the working class, as well as jealousy, and a whole load of other confusing thoughts and feelings in between.

In Manchester, I drink at a local pub which is mainly filled with working class people, drinking, farting and swearing like there's no tomorrow. They are honest, and straight forward, as well as rude and careless. There's one woman I've spoken to, who has recently got married and had a baby, and she told me all she wants in this life is a nice little house with a backgarden. That is her goal. No ambition for a mansion, for a big car, or private school education for the children, just a house with a backgarden. Part of me felt sadness for this woman who had no drive for the best, but then part of me was happy. I have dreams for all those things I listed above, but would I be anymore happy than her? If I got a mansion, a big car and private school education for my children, would I be happier than she was in her nice little house with a backgarden where she could sit with her husband and watch their son play?

There are plenty of smart children who live on the council estate she does, who went to the school their parents, aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters, and cousins did, and aspired for nothing greater than what the family members before them achieved. Why should they? Their mum only has three GCSEs and she's fine, right? Working in the local supermarket day in day out, with the occasional shift at the local pub never did their mum any harm, so why should they want more?

I cant quite separate my feelings on these people, who are as content, if not more so, than the classes above them. They could be so much more, they can see so many great things, and be a part of something better than the locals' dart team. They could do alevels, they could go to university, they could be the boss, they could have the big house and fast car, but they don't seem to want it. Or maybe they dont feel they deserve it, or could even get it if they tried?

Are my definitions of "better" things materialistic? I cant go to my local and have a drink with my grandma, then have a chat with cousin, and finish the night with buying my brother in law a pint. I know plenty of people who live off that estate who have that night weekly, at the least. Is that not better? Is it not better to be content with what you have, however big or small that is? Part of me is jealous that I'm not content with what I have in the way they do.

There's that TV show 'Shameless' about some poor, crazy, immoral working class family from Manchester. Is being shameless so terrible? Is living your life the way you want to, warts and all, such an embarrassing or bad way to live?

People find it very easy to criticise the working class, with an image of drunken brawls, of swearing idiots, of crude law breakers. Amongst all of these stereotypes, there's a lot of love, and unity, between family and strangers who are all fighting the same fight... and yes, honestly and truthfully, part of me is jealous of what they have. Part of me wishes I was shameless.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Infinite love is the only truth. Everything else is an illusion.

I've always been rather partial to a conspiracy theory or two. Did man really land on the moon? Was Diana's death an accident? Is there life out there? For the most part, I tend to believe them, and I'm not sure whether that's because I've rationally concluded they must be true, or whether I just like the idea of mystery and and well kept, life altering secrets.

Lots of people find it very easy to dismiss conspiracy theories, being naive enough to think the government doesn't hold things from us, 'for our own good', and yes, if I'm honest, it probably is for our own good. The whole world erupted in mourning when Diana died, so can you imagine what would have happened had it been found out that actually MI6 were behind it. I mean, afterall, we couldn't have the mother of the future king married to an Egyptian Muslim, could we?

David Icke pushed the conspiracy boat out a little too far though. The Royal Family are actually reptiles, taking on human form, the Bush family perform human sacrifices and drink blood, and that the Holocaust was actually down to a small group of Jews who financed Hitler.

I honestly think it's naive to believe we know everything, but is it more naive to think that one day we will know it all? Will we find out who actually shot JFK? Does the Holy Grail really exist? These are things I'm sure we'll never know, but people are dying to find out. However, I'm not too sure whether people hype these events up in to being things they really aren't. Maybe they are just simple answers, waiting to be found, or even already have been found.

However, I'm afraid I'm going to have to stick with the sci-fi geeks, and agree that the truth is out there. I may never get to know what all the truths are, but there's something exciting about believing there's a whole unknown world of answers that we have no idea about. And anyway, the people who dont believe in conspiracy theories are the same people who, as children, went around telling the kids on the playground that Father Christmas wasn't real. There's no shame in believing in the unbelievable sometimes...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The character of a man is known from his conversations.

I started this blog with the intention of not talking about more personal things, but, maybe that was a naive starting point. Tonight I went to my local with my brother, and I got talking with a man I've spoken to several times before. There's not going to be any real conclusion to this post, or a lesson or moral, I just wanted to write about him. He's from Northern Ireland, in his 50's, with the brightest blues eyes you've probably ever seen, and he's called Jimmy. The first time I met him, I was wearing my United shirt, and he came over to shake my hand. He insisted on buying my pint, and introduced me to two of his friends (a Jamaican guy and a City fan). He had followed United his whole life, travelling up and down the country to see the away games, he told me. He used to take his younger brother to the games, sit him on the rail at the front, then go back in the crowds to watch the game. At the end, he would come and pick him up. As his brother got older, in to his teen years, he'd be taken to the games, and would get in to fights with all the opposition fans. His eyes filled up when he talked about the kickings he'd seen between the fans.

He's just a genuine bloke, who wears his heart on his sleeve. He tells me stories about Belfast, and football, and family and I could listen to him all day long. Instantly, I felt like I wanted to know him, which is a strange feeling for a twenty something to have for a fifty something, I imagine, but he really is a good man. An honourable man, who appologises if he swears in front of a woman, who will buy everyone at his table a drink, and who would give his word to a stranger, and you could bank pretty much anything on him keeping it. I hope I have half as much appeal and charisma when I'm his age.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times.

I'm a reformed smoker (nothing beats a bout of pneumonia and a determined girlfriend to make you quit, I can testify to that) but I refuse to turn in to an ex smoker who constantly whinges and complains about smokers. Those evil smokers, behaving in exactly the same way you did until that changing moment in your life made you quit.

"My grandma just died of lung cancer from smoking, and that made me quit straight away... I can't understand people like you who still smoke when lung cancer is wiping so many people out." This is the worst kind of ex smoker for me. What an obnoxious, self centred and ignorant point of view. Firstly, because how much can you argue with someone who has just lost a relative, but most importantly, theirs isnt the first grandma, grandfather, father, mother, brother, auntie etc. to die. The awareness of smoking causes cancer and death only arose when YOU lost someone? Oh please.

Then there's the ex smoker who sits in pubs, complaining about the smoke. It's a pub, pubs are smokey. Pubs were smokey when you smoked, and they're still smokey now. The whole world doesnt get reformed because you decided you were going to quit smoking.

The most amusing ex smoker can also be found in a pub. Knocking back shots, sipping on beer, downing doubles, then in a slurred voice saying "Schmoking is weally weally bad for you". Thanks for the warning, you know what alcohol does to you? Liver diseases (including the ex smoker's favourite, cancer) heart damage, much increased risk of stroke, depression etc. And you're telling the smoker they're damaging themselves? How about the fat person? Obesity is one of the biggest causes of all stomach, breast, kidney and colon cancers.

Saying this, I'm not anti-anti-smokers. To a certain extent, I understand that now they have given up, and are in situations where they breathe others smoke, they are frustrated. But please, please no high and mighty attitudes. Don't forget what it was like when you were one of the club.