Where Did All The Music Go

On Saturday I did something pretty unusual (for me) and actually went out on my own for a little bit to a local acoustic music night. Being a big music fan, a guitar player, and in a decent venue I liked, I thought I couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity.

While the night overall was quite enjoyable, there were a few depressing conclusions I drew.

  1. I am old
  2. I used to be better than most of the people I saw
  3. I need to get out more

Most of the people at the venue were either clearly younger than me or were mostly younger than me. The only ones who were older were the parents of those singing! That was just an observation, but when you’re sitting on your own amidst a bunch of what were, effectively, kids, it didn’t make me feel all that comfortable.

The second point also grated a lot. Of all the acts there, I think I could say that, “in my prime” I was better than all of them.

In recent years, due to work, a crappy social life and a general lack of inclination, I have neglected my musical side. The guitar, the source of so much fun and enjoyment in my life – and the reason why I was able to do the US summer camp thing in the first place – has not occupied the place in my life that it used to. Certainly this year might be the least I’ve ever played it. So much so that I have lost a certain degree of my abilities. I’ve forgotten how to play things. My fingers aren’t as tough as they should be. Neither are my arm muscles. It’s all so feeble now.

My guitar abilities have never been all that good, but what I used to have was a decent voice, even if I do say so myself… the guitar was a means to an end. No one generally wants to hear an a capella vocalist. But people do like to listen to someone singing with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. I bash out a little rhythm guitar and sing. Honestly, I used to be reasonably good.

Now I am poor. Just like lack of guitar work, lack of singing has led to disaster. I’m sure I can’t sing anywhere near as well as I used to be able to. My voice has become weak and weedy.

It’s nothing a little practice wouldn’t fix. Maybe. But when you live with someone you hate, playing guitar and singing is not possible. Also, the walls are so paper-thin that if I practice vocalising at a normal volume, I don’t think I could ever look at my neighbours again.

What I need is a soundproof room to practice in. Ha, ha, ha.

Meanwhile, my third point is perhaps the most difficult of them all. I’ve always known I need to get out more, but I have singularly failed to do that, month after month, year after year. Something about not wanting to spend money because of how much I’m trying to save up to get out of here, but also the fact that a) going out on your own is usually rubbish, and a bit sad; and b) I don’t actually enjoy it all that much. I can’t help it.  I’ve always just been a bit hermit like. Sitting around in a room full of people I don’t know, most of whom are probably drunk, acting arrogant and boisterous, and all the while feeling pretty shy… it doesn’t hold any enjoyment for me at all. Being with friends can improve the situation, but I don’t have friends around here…

A little bit of music caused this train of thought. I shouldn’t have let it reach this stage. (is that a pun?)

The question is what can I do about it. Hmmm.

Relying On Others

As life progresses, you realise almost nothing happens without the co-operation of others. It’s really only the small things in life, the bits that probably only you can do anyway, which you can accomplish single-handed. For example, if I don’t go shopping, I will starve and die. Therefore I have to. That’s not a particularly big achievement.

On a bigger level, there are some things which are optional, which if taken on single-handed can lead to a real sense of fulfilment at their completion. Maybe taking on the decorating single-handed. Or a good old-fashioned top-to-bottom spring clean. Or perhaps being the sole person responsible for organising a party. Yes, these things can be very satisfying.

Ultimately, however, they are limited in scope. To get bigger achievements, you need help. You need a network of other people, whether they’re friends, family, colleagues or other people with an interest, whether personal, emotional or financial.

It is such that my life at the moment is at this stage. I’ve moaned about waiting in the past. Waiting for things to happen. Waiting for others to decide. Waiting for others to act. But as you move through life you realise everything is like that. And always you think “if only everyone was as organised as me, then I wouldn’t have to wait…”

Well… maybe there is some truth in that. I am a pretty organised person. I always have been. From when I was a sad youth, doing my homework as soon as I got back so I could have the evening/weekend to me. Same was true in university, finishing my essays, tutorials, even my dissertation, safely before the deadline. And it’s always been true in my work life.

But now it has taken on a greater relevance to my life – because I am now relying on others to pay me. I have huge debts outstanding to a few clients, and I have to chase them to get the money they know they owe me. I also rely on others coming back to me, finding my service useful and good value. So far so good on that score.

There is a big project I’m working on at the moment that if it comes through will be the making of me. I need the mythical Others to hurry up and decide. Hurry up and get things in motion. Because I’m sick of thinking about it. Sick of wondering whether today will be the day they finally get back to me. I hate chasing people up to do something they really ought to have done by now, or really should have had the decency, professionalism or common courtesy to get sorted.

But there can be all manner of reasons why things don’t happen. And I’m not perfect either. Others are waiting for me to do things all the time. I just hope they don’t feel this way about me.

Betcha they do. Hypocrite warning.

Maybe there’s a reason for this. I guess I just don’t like other people really. Deep down. Might explain why I have no friends any more!

What Happens Next

At the moment, life feels like one of those awful rounds from A Question of Sport. You know the one where they play a bit of video tape and pause it at a moment where nothing seems to be apparently happening. And then when they start playing it again…

Yep. That’s right now. OK, the pace of business is brisk, but there is something of a tedious pause going on at the moment. I am awaiting news on a number of fronts, as I’m sure I’ve kept mentioning. I need the news to happen as soon as possible. It has to be good news, or I’ll be severely depressed. But we just keep waiting.

I’ve noticed a pattern emerging in life. This is the beauty of blogging. I can look back and see how many times I have moaned in the past about waiting. Waiting for this, waiting for that. Often it does come, and life improves. Usually it never does, and I have to find some alternative angle. Which usually involves more waiting. The wheels of decision-making don’t turn quickly.

There is a big meeting next week I am attending. It could change the pace of everything here. It could be rather interesting. I’m in limbo at the moment waiting for it. I am even going to have to spend some money for it, which is a damn shame. I hate wearing nice clothing, nice suits… it just isn’t me. But I’m going to have to look the part for this meeting, and so a good suit is in order. The current one, which is about nine sizes too big, just will not do.

But that might mean I need to cut my hair. That is also in a limbo at the moment. It hasn’t been this “long” for some time. I say “long” because my hair doesn’t really get long any more. Since about the age of 12, I suddenly developed curls in my hair when it reaches a certain length. It’s way past that length now, and I have the beginnings of what would turn into a curly mop head. I’ve been partly too busy to cut it, and partly too lazy. But if I want to look at least reasonably smart, then the hair is probably going to have to go as well…

Meanwhile, life in the house is bad. I don’t really talk to my housemate any more. I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but it just did all of a sudden. I did want it to go like this though. For months I had been hoping that he would get the London job that would pull the plug on all of his involvement in my business. It would force me to take some decisions to reshape the way it works. It happened, and so I did. In the end, they weren’t even difficult, or at least haven’t proved to be in the last few months.

And if the news… hopefully this month… is good, it will soon be time for bye-byes on this so-called friendship.

No wonder I don’t have many friends…

26

It’s that time of year again. The time when I consider why it is I even carry on existing.

Today I am 26 years old. In what might possibly be one of the most uneventful birthdays I’ve ever had, today has come and gone without me doing anything of any note. I’ve had to do work. I’ve had to do housework. The sun didn’t shine until late in the day. And I didn’t go anywhere, apart from to a neighbour’s house to help them with – what else – their computer.

Most of this is my fault. Most of it is a direct consequence of me being a total bore, living in an area in which I don’t have any real friends. Certainly no one around my age. I have older adult friends, including some of my neighbours and a couple of customers who have become friends, who I now get on with well.

But the problem is simple: they all have their own lives. They all have their own friendship and social circles. I’m very much a peripheral character.

Not working in a workplace, the chances of this ever changing are absolutely remote. The only way it could change is if I took up some form of social “activity”. Something, or anything, that might just get me involved with other people. That might happen, as I’m being nagged by a client to join the governing body of the local school. I’d probably be a good school governor, because I’m boring enough to study the associated forest of paperwork. Yawn.

It’s hardly going to set my social life on fire though.

Meanwhile, the rest of my life is… OK. Business is decent, and that keeps me somewhat sane. My family life is reasonably good. Finances are also steadily improving month by month.

What isn’t is the relationship with my housemate. I desperately need to get out of here sooner rather than later. We don’t really talk any more about anything other than work. Somehow any semblance of having common interests has vanished. In fact, the more I analyse it the more I realise we don’t actually have anything to talk about. That’s probably why we avoid each other. We don’t socialise like normal friends would, mainly because of the awkward silences.

I’d love to be able to afford my own place. But being self-employed, I can’t see it ever happening any time soon. I need to have a good few years of books behind me, showing continual improvement and a very solid income, especially if I was to try and buy a house on my own. Then again, I’m not even convinced I’d be brave enough to plough all my savings into a house. It’s portrayed as a risk-free investment, but I don’t think it is any more.

What I need is for house prices to come down around 20%. That’s not gonna happen Down South. So I will continue renting. But maybe I can try and rent on my own.

In any event, 26 really is time I sorted my life out, one way or another. At current rates, this next year will be no better than the last. And that is a worry. I always like to think there has been some progress as the years go by. But now there is a very real danger of stagnating.

If I’m still in this position this time next year, then I will have to force myself to reassess.

Until then, maybe I’ll have a much more enjoyable “official” birthday when I next go home to see my family.

Dull.

Six Years Of Blogging

I’m actually impressed that I’m still here six years later. I often wondered whether it would just be a passing fad when I first started this up, but here I am, still plugging away at it…

OK, I know my posting frequency is in the doldrums compared to when I first started up, but better one than none. That’s mainly because, as I’ve observed before, I can be so busy during the day now that I feel guilty spending some time out doing personal writing. It was why I pulled the plug on the political blog I maintained for a year. I was amazed it lasted that long.

But there’s only so much of toiling in obscurity one can take. Back in the day, striking up a blog seemed like a great way to get noticed. It seemed like a marvellous way to bring your ranting to the attention of hundreds of millions, and maybe even get picked up by the mainstream media. I can’t say I ever imagined in a million years this would happen to boring old me, but I did hope that maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere would find some tiny level of curiosity in my writing.

Of course, that was when I didn’t realise just how difficult it is to capture people’s attention. It’s why I am filled with such admiration for the writers, creators, directors and producers of cultural fayre, from musicals to mass audience, mainstream TV. They keep us all entertained and diverted from our dull lives, and for that we salute them. They produce the prolefeed that keeps us from worrying too much about the true disaster that is Planet Earth, and what we’re doing to it, and what we’re allowing our politicians to get away with.

But I’m ranting.

I always feel better when I rant, though. Yet I don’t get the opportunity these days. My lack of friends and genuine social interaction these days means I don’t get the chance to hone, sharpen my ascerbic, cynical wit. It used to work so well with my true friends, the ones I picked up in university. And the ones I knew in Sixth Form weren’t too shabby either. I just wish it were possible to pick up where I left off with them. It never is. Friendships untended to wither and die. The inevitable reunions are just a string of “Remember whens”. People don’t keep in touch.

Blogging is an innately melancholy medium. That was one of the things I wrote in my dissertation. By that, I meant its very nature was to encourage people to write up, and then reflect on things that had happened, or that we hoped would happen. That attracts a certain type of person, people who are pretty insecure, seeking approval from others and rather neurotic in the first place. Maybe I could be accused of being biased, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark.

Perhaps, then, my lack of blogging in the last few months has been more reflective of the change in me. Because I do feel less bothered about the mere existence of life now. It passes by, unremarkable, unceremoniously. Relentlessly. Whether I like it or not, it passes by. Whether I comment on it or not, it passes by. It all adds to my general despondency at the pointlessness of it all. So why bother chronicling it?

So much for the season of goodwill. It is, after all, Christmas Day. And I have had a pretty good one, with family. OK, a few minor setbacks, but – as with everything – they’ll be forgotten by tomorrow and no one will care. It’s like there’s a big reset button being hit every day.

But when you sit in the back room, tapping away on a laptop, while the family are watching the accursed EastEnders Christmas special, thoughts will always turn to depression…

Merry Christmas to all. And to my future self, when you read this in six years time (you’re the only one who does these days!), as you did six years ago when you re-read the post that started it all: chin up, mate! It’s not all bad.

Adapting

It’s hard to know what to expect from life any more. The situation for me is now such that a reasonable equilibrium has been reached. I’m content with what I’m doing, and can exist quite well of it by my own standards.

But it is not set to last. As is life, things change, and we must adapt. Hmm. Too much Borg.

My housemate is looking to find a way out of his current job. If he does so, he will likely become of no use to me at all business-wise. This will make my business rather difficult to sustain, unless I can reinvent it. Somehow. With no money. Cos I’m so frugal I’ll never risk it.

In the past few weeks I’ve talked to friends and sounded out a couple of them who once upon a time expressed a vague interest in joining me in business. No one bit. Why would they? They’re in comfortable jobs with no real desire to upset the applecart. Why sacrifice someone gladly handing over thousands of pounds to you in exchange for not-very-demanding work, and giving you paid holidays, sick leave and other perks into the bargain?

No, it is actually quite difficult to sell self-employment to those living the cushy employee lifestyle. It genuinely has to be something from the heart.

And so prospects start to look bleak. I’m almost now in the position where I could risk thinking about what I could do to grow the business further. Take on a new challenge. There is the opportunity to do it, but do I have the bottle?

I don’t think I do. But at the same time, I might have no choice. If my partially useless and increasingly irritating house mate eventually fucks off, as I know he will soon, then I have to make the decision. The business would survive without him, but it would have its scope severely narrowed. Away would go any prospects for web enterprises and other design jobs. Or any of the other doors that his talents and contacts open.

All of this – the constant thoughts of business – makes me wonder. Do I have any life any more? In the last month, I have engaged in the grand total of two social events with friends. And that is extremely unusual. One of them travelled 100 miles to see me. The other I went well out of my way to catch up with on a recent trip back home.

Not good. Not good at all. I wasn’t much of a social animal to begin with, but to have completely exchanged my life for that of work is not something I expected would ever become of me. I tolerate it for now, for I know nothing else. But it can’t stay forever. Surely I need to have some life? I might live to regret not using these relatively youthful years…

Oh well. I’ll adapt.

The Low

I’ve had a mixed few days.

On Wednesday night, my parents finally found some time to come and visit me. They arrived at 11pm, and stayed here until earlier today. During those past few days I had calls galore, and they’ve seen how much work I’m doing these days. In truth, they’ve seen me during an unusually busy week. And that’s been a bit annoying for me. I wanted to go out and do a lot more with them.

Not only that, but we had been somewhat thwarted by the weather anyway. The early summer of sunshine has long since given way to day after day of changeable conditions, from wind and rain to some sun, then back to wind and rain again. It meant we didn’t quite do as much as we’d hoped, but we did, at least, sort out my garden. A garden which is a true disaster, and is always left for me to look after.

It was nice to see them, and it was unusual as well. Having them here with no brothers and sisters to distract, or other family involvement, it was rather special to get their undivided attention. Though we didn’t really talk about anything major, like the ongoing situation with my poor younger brother, it was still great to have them around helping me out for a few days. I couldn’t have done the garden without their help, and even a simple thing like Thursday night, when I was working on two laptops at once and had no time to make food, with my mum stepping into the breach to make it, was wonderful.

And now they’ve gone again. Meanwhile, my housemate has returned.

It’s a drastic change. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have them here in the first place. I’m now missing them badly, and have swooped into a severe depressional low. This morning I was close to cracking several times as I thought about saying goodbye, again, and thinking about my housemate returning.

It’s not that I don’t get on with him at times, I just don’t think this arrangement is working out very well. Me trying to run a business, which is wholly dependent on me living here with him, relying on the use of his services for the odd remote collection and delivery. I know too that he wants another job. I know too that there has to be a fair prospect he will be made redundant in the next year. I know too that he never has any intention of joining me full-time in this business, which was the medium-term goal.

In which case, I have to start looking at the options. But there are none. I can’t live on my own. I can’t afford it. I can’t start a random house-share, or become a lodger, because it is not viable as a business to use someone else’s house as my business premises. Even being able to drive is not the magic bullet, because the costs of that would make the prospect of living in my own house even more remote.

Earlier today, the sudden culmination of all these facts made me collapse in despair. I have made such progress with this business, and it feels like it can only keep going from strength to strength. But the tensions between how I square my personal life, my social life, and my economic interests, as a result of the circumstances I have, are just bewildering right now.

Ideally, the best solution from a business perspective would be to have a business partner who could engage completely in the business with me. Someone with whom I can plan together strategically, knowing we want the exact same thing. But that will not happen.

The best solution from a social perspective is for me to either make some new friends, somehow, and/or develop a significant other relationship with someone. And I just can’t see that happening either. Even that is bad, because it almost feels like I need an emotional crutch. Not too many girlfriends would be happy with that…

I could go on, but there are so many other problems this post could go on for at least 1,000 more words. What am I supposed to do?

Bore

I don’t know when I became such a bore. Or maybe I don’t know because there never was a moment.

Of course, that’s it.

There never was a moment because I’ve always been a bore.

As one of life’s introverts, going out and doing stupid stuff, or saying stupid stuff to people, or just generally being an up-front arse as has never appealed to me. I look at extroverts, whenever I actually venture out the house, and laugh. How pathetic they are, I sneer, as they desperately try to notch up more love from their social circle. I, on the other hand, do not need such approval.

Sort of.

In recent days, my brain has been getting totally fed up with who I am. Again. I go through this identity crisis on a semi-regular basis, and I just wish it would stop. I am who I am already, and nothing I have ever done, or could ever do, has been or will be able to change that. Sadly.

But that argument just never sinks in. It can’t. I am so desperately unhappy with myself that it drives me to tears. I’ve just spent the weekend with precisely zero social interaction, caused by a combination of useless friends, no opportunities to make new ones, and family being unable to speak to me, despite it being Father’s Day.

I wish I knew what I could do to change this situation. I spend my whole life these days worrying about something or other. If it’s not worrying about business, it’s worrying about my social life. And if it’s not that, it’s my utter lack of any kind of confidence that any of it will change. Or worrying about my family, and ageing, and a whole shedload more.

In summary, I am a huge ball of anxieties.

I can see the grey hairs on my head. I’m age 24. I suppose I should count my chickens, as a couple of former friends (former because they have ignored me now for several months) already have the beginnings of an egg in the nest. Not quite so bad here, but receding hairline is indeed obvious, and the grey hairs are increasing in number.

I stress myself out about my life, and about everything. I wish I could relax and enjoy some free time, but I can’t. I feel like I should be doing something, all the time. And when I’m not, I feel guilty.

None of this is any good, and it has to stop. But it won’t, because I can’t make it. I can’t change myself. It’s too late for that. Personality is a stubborn thing, and mine has been stubborn since I first realised I was such a loner, such a withdrawn and insecure individual in Year 7 of secondary school.

And yet people always say how nice I am.

There’s something really wrong with me.

Perhaps the only thing wrong with me is me.

I don’t know if any of this made any sense. I guess it wasn’t meant to.