Articles in Category: Essayammerings

Thoughts and feelings, dissected and plastered in an attempt to make the world a better place.  I failed.


An Open Letter To My Hair

Dear My Hair

I am writing to you with a tear in my eye and a cool breeze across my scalp.

It has proven very difficult for me to muster up the courage to write this to you. However, I think both you and I know the time has come.

This morning, as you may have realised, I cut you out of my life completely.  I had spoken to a few close friends who had persuaded me that it was way past overdue that I stopped clinging on to our relationship. So I did.

I remember the days when we used to spend so much time together. With the exception of a few mad hair-pulling girlfriends, no one could tear us apart.  Sometimes, you walked tall and flowed with me in the wind, sometimes you sat close to me, impersonating my fly-by-night beard. Whichever way I remember you - you were always there.

But, things changed over the last two years.  You started to sneak out of my life.  Little by little, I felt you distancing yourself from my being.  You hated being anywhere close to my thoughts and so you started to slip away. I woke up each morning sensing less and less of you remained.

I used to be able to brush over the gaps you left, but soon I was merely trying to cover empty spaces with more emptiness. It left me cold.

So, I started to cover it all up. Wearing a hat and pretending that you weren’t there at all. Then I saw us in the mirror. You, me and the hat. Indoors, with the heating on full. You were making me look foolish.

I saw my beard, my faithful beard who, despite me having such an on & off relationship with, clung there thick and strong. He had aged and was showing signs of turning almost completely white - but he was hanging on.  I saw my eyebrows. Our relationship is so strong that with every year, they get longer and bushier and quite unmanageable. But they were hanging on.  Hell, even new relationships have started to crop up. I imagine you met the ear hair that moved in not so long ago.

The upshot is - all my body hair was thriving and loving me. All except you.

So, this morning, I got out of bed & removed my Trilby. I looked at the place you once used to sit so proudly and I took a pair of scissors to you. When I had finished, I got the sheep-shearing thingies and hobbled you at the ankles. Then I picked up your lifeless form and flushed you down the toilet. A fitting end to someone who had abandoned me so long ago.

Now, I look in the mirror and see pride. I have taken control and flushed you away. I may well look like a Nazi potato head, but I have my pride.  I have control.

I know I will never see you again, but I just wanted to write you one last letter to tell you that, despite what I have done today, I will miss you. You son-of-a-bitch.

Yours sincerely

Benedict

Conscious Uncoupling

So, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin released their separation in a truly bizarre press release.  However, there is more to this story than meets the eye.  I, a year previously, issued a statement to the Hollywood press that was largely ignored.  See if you can see where they may have got their inspiration from:

Their Recent Press Release:

It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.

Love,
Gwyneth & Chris

My Original Press Release:

It is with a heart full of sadness that I have decided to separate my hand from my groin. I have been working hard for well over a year, some of it with my hand on my groin, some of it with the extremities entirely separated, to see what might have been possible between the two, and I have come to the conclusion that while they obviously love each other very much they will remain separate. They are, however, and always will be a unit, and in many ways they are closer than they have ever been. They are providers first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful rugby socks and I ask for their and my space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. They have always conducted their relationship privately, and I hope that as they consciously uncouple and co-exist, they will be able to continue in the same manner.

Love,
Gwyneth & Chris (what I call my left hand & a cock)

Spooky or just downright plagiarism?

Giving Monday a Little Something Back

The Boomtown Rats united the country against Mondays over thirty years ago, when Sir Bob of the Geldof Shires sang (or loosely flubbered) “I Don’t Like Mondays”. They reflected the mood of the generation and all scruffy London-Irish at the time. 

Forty years ago, a more demure and some would say, better looking human being, Karen Carpenter, lambasted the easy target of a day with “Rainy Days and Mondays”, harmonising in her angelic way that they always got her down.

Then of course we had New Order yack on about Blue Monday and the flash in the pan that was The Bangles bleat about Manic Mondays. And so, music history has been littered with anti-Monday songs. A horrifying musical trend of Mondayism that we all embraced so willingly.

If Monday was a race, I don’t think we would have stood for this abuse. If Monday was a religion, there would have been several angry mobs across the world using the rhetoric against Monday as an excuse to satisfy their bloodlust with kidnap, torture and murder. If Monday was a dictator, it would have been hanged for harbouring non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Then of course, we always forget that Monday grants us all sporadic holidays throughout the year.  Whoever heard of a bank holiday Wednesday or an Easter Thursday?  Yet no one has ever stopped and turned to Monday and said thank you. Thank you for giving me the time off to sit and relax, maybe go to the beach or party just a little harder the days beforehand.

So here’s where I lay down my arms in the fight against the Day of the Moon. I surrender in shame in this one-sided war against the first day or the week (second for some). I stand up and proclaim, today is a new day. For today is Monday.

Monday is the foundation for the rest of the days of the week. Without Monday, Friday would be Thursday. Saturdays would be spent in the office and we’d have to spend Sunday nights socialising in order to deliver a solid hangover just in time for work on Tuesday.  Without Monday, billions of scheduled timetables would need to be rewritten and reprinted, causing a collapse of western economy and untold destruction to the rainforests. Without Monday, society would simply crumble into a six day week where Tuesdays would become the new focus of hatred.

Monday is the start of all things new. The first day of spring, but once every week. The new-born child that delivers promise to the world. Monday is the birdsong on a summer morning.

I now consider Monday my brother, my friend & my lover. I shall start each Monday with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

But most of all, I shall do my job and work with pride on Mondays, while ignoring the fact that I have written this particularly rambling mess of an article in order to do anything other than my day job because I can’t stand bastard Mondays and all they bloody stand for.

Journal of a Troubled Mind

A couple of years ago I flippantly Tweeted that my job in a busy magazine subscriptions department ended in therapy as I had a lot of issues that needed addressing. It transpires that, although said employment was a fable, the latter was indeed true. 

Recently, it was suggested that I may suffer from cyclothymia, a type of chronic mood disorder and a milder form of bipolar disorder - or as I like to name-drop and say “that thing that Stephen Fry has”. It makes me feel I’m in the company of great men, ever-so intelligent and rambunctiously camp. Doctors have suggested that if I wanted to be “labelled”, I could undergo a long term of psychiatric evaluation which would “probably err on the side of bipolar” according to initial discussions and embarrassingly frank admissions with them. Thereafter, depending where I fell on the spectrum, I could be offered medication to control my ever changing moods (© The Style Council, 1984).

For most of my adulthood, I have suffered the highs and lows of what I considered normal life. Some months highlighted by running down the street naked squealing like a pig, followed by massive “investment” in gifts and gadgets I could ill-afford but subsequently paid the price for. Claiming to be a record producer awaiting “an internationally famous pop star” to join me in a hotel bar and regaling wedding guest therein tales of how “no one had any idea he was gay until that toilet episode”. The tales of stupidity go on far more than this little self-therapy session will allow. I’m sure some of my friends will read this and remember their own experiences of what they kindly refer to as the “larger-than-life” side of my personality.

Then there were the crushing lows. When I gave up on relationship and family life and self-imploded with depression and hopelessness. Time where I self-medicated on enough booze to drop a rhino and sometimes sexual experimentation that would make the Marquis de Sade blush. As the trail of destruction fell in my wake, I developed another coping mechanism. A switch in my mind that could be instantly turned on that would allow me to completely shut out everyone in my life while I went through whatever it is that goes on up there. Thus, selfishly trying to deal with my own pains, ignoring the feelings of those around me. Effective enough to cope, potent enough to destroy.

What has triggered this (probably uncomfortable for some) confessional has been a recent episode in my life which has left me quite shaken and has made me reconsider wether the way I handle my demons are the best way to do it. My usual façade of clowing around and joking about anything and everything started to break down. Nothing I could think of was funny and the flippancy about all things sexual, priest-like (obviously usually one in the same) and all my usual innuendo self-protection japing melted away. The roller-coaster was heading deeply down at an ever-increasing speed.

Around a month ago, I started to dive deeply into the lowest low I’ve experienced. Following the self-imposed destruction of an important relationship at the beginning of the year, I started to evaluate that and previous relationship abandonments and how I had managed to throw away many important things in my life because of the constantly swinging emotional pendulum. Without warning a few weeks ago, the ostrich briefly lifted his head from the sand and was hit by a runaway train of a full life of the pain that it had been hiding from. The collision made a very big mess indeed. Blood, guts and feathers everywhere. The ostrich had been killed and I stood there facing nearly 25 years of regret. One hell of a melodramatic meltdown ensued and this is where my reawakening began.

As thoughts of self-destruction started to flood my mind, I panicked and made a terribly distressed call to a very close friend who, through the powers of calm sanity and understanding of my troubled mind, was able to talk me down to a point of being able to breathe again. An act that I shall ever be grateful for and one that I hope he never has to be called up to perform again. Luckily, due to the fact that I have three of the best children currently available on the market, any thoughts I made of checking out were based on a long term commitment to making sure they far away from me and had lived several years without me being around. This and a romantic ideal of walking out to sea and swimming away with the dolphins to Valhalla ensured that clouds would clear way in advance of having to combat my fear of flying to head out to warmer waters. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be a drama-queen with a penchant for Luc Besson’s 1988 chick flick, The Big Blue.

A couple of days after, another meltdown occurred and, after calling for help from the driver of aforementioned runaway train, I took myself off the the doctor to ask for help and start the long road to redemption. I walked away from the medical centre with a few anti-anxiety poppers, some happy pills, a commitment to evaluation and probably most painful of all, a referral to the gym. That particular remedy will be kick started this week at some point when my sleep patterns amount to more than 2 hours a night and my appetite allows my calorie intake to also beat the threshold of 2.

I believe I’m on the other side of a big turning point in my life, the way I handle myself, other people and my interpersonal relationships. The dead ostrich has opened my eyes to many facets of my life that I hitherto had ignored or swept under the carpet and has allowed some kind of Buddhist enlightenment to enter my mind. I have made an effort to apologise to people I believe I have hurt (which in itself caused a great deal of concern for people). I have also decided now is the time to thank all the people in my life who have constantly been there for me despite the circus freak show I sometime make them watch and more painfully take part in. It’s time for me to ride the roller-coaster up to the exit and get the help to swap rides for something more stable, like the Tea Cups.

Thank you to all my friends and family who have been there supporting me over the past month. Some friends ran, some others came out of the wood work - others simply ignored me because they thought it would help. It didn’t. This in itself has helped me understand how I should deal with people if an when they ever go through what I have had to. It has shown who really cares for my well being, who I have pushed too far for reconciliation and who have actually been dragged through my ups and downs and stayed with me despite of everything. It has also allowed me to see those who were coasting along on a more superficial basis for the entertainment of the show. I have to say, it must have been fun to watch, but your tickets have now been re-assigned to the back row.

It has helped me to understand how selfish this kind of condition can make one. In the grand scheme of things, if there is help available, why should I be too proud to take that help and continue the demolition? I have close friends and family who are far less lucky than I am, some have terrible illnesses and are undergoing treatment that I can only pray (to no God etc) that I never have to go through and have hitherto been too awkward to offer any kind of emotional support to. All change, as they say.  It’s time for paying it forward.

As it stands today, the clouds are still gathering above my stupidly complex brain, but I get the impression the sunshine isn’t too far away and you may well be subject to my pathetic innuendo quips once again. Just not today.

All Works Copyright © 2017 Benedict Francis

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