|| Art is not the subject matter or the piece itself... it’s the conceptualisation of the idea behind it. |
That was the most philosophical of my thoughts pondered this morning... and when I say pondered, I mean I thought about it for a sec.
‘Tis true tho... whilst the manifestation of an idea moving from thought into reality is obviously a beautiful thing... it was the initial conception of the idea in itself which is where the true passion sparks and where the first seed of love is planted and then watered.
From little acorns mighty oak trees grow.
Understated and sandwiched humbly between The Hub and Hoxton Graphics... stands proud Trew Era Cafe. 34 Whitmore Road. Hackney.
Trew Era Cafe is the brainchild of Russell Brand.
A non-profit making coffee house from the outside. So much more than that on the inside.
Purchased with the proceeds of his best selling book ‘Revolution’ - Russell set up Trew Era as a celebration of the success of the Trew Era Council Estate residents in their public battle to stave off mass homelessness after a pile of shit business wanted to purchase the entire block and hike the rents up to a disproportionate level.
Ultimately - the residents fought back with Russell alongside them. They won. The company failed and the residents kept their homes.
I fucking love seeing the scrappy underdog come out on top.
The cafe is a monument to that victory and a symbol of hope in many respects ... a beacon of community spirit and a representation of togetherness - yet it caters - at least as a employer - to a very specific group of people... people who .. perhaps... have only been on the fringes of society to some degree or another at some point in the past.
Trew Era is a social enterprise designed to help people who are in abstinence based recovery return to work.
One of those people is Sarah Ward - a woman who displays amazing strength of character.
Sarah has been clean for 4 years now, and been volunteering at Trew Era since it’s inception 3 years ago.
Trew Era is the manifestation of a loving and kind idea... but this beautiful human being has continued to build on that ethos - Sarah understands that a key part of recovery is that in order to keep what the 12 steps teach you, paradoxically you also have to be prepared to give it all away.
... and so she opens the doors of Trew Era to a wider audience than those who are just fans of sexy tasting coffee and delightful cakes ...
Sarah caters to the tastes of artistic folk, creative types, music lovers and thinkers of beautiful thoughts.
Saturday saw the 5th incarnation of the latest Trew Era gig Sarah put together ...
Social activists, poets, musicians and people with consciences all gathered together in their droves to witness intimate performances from talented people such as poet Elise Woulters, whose first publication ‘Hearts at High Tide’ will be available later this year.
The evening was also graced by the warmth of Sadie Frosts words, before being brought to a close with a special performance from Lucie Barat.
Lucie is an interesting one... she has previous for getting stuck in - she is clearly an extremely passionate advocate for the destigmatisation of the conversation surrounding issues such as homelessness, drug addiction and mental health problems.
Lucie formed ‘Little Episodes’ - a company she ran for 6 years - helping to raise awareness and open conversation and dialogue regarding the above issues by publishing anthologies, holding exhibitions, playing gigs and putting on plays and events.
When I asked her why... she had this to say:
‘I have some deep seated desire to right injustice, clouded/judgemental perceptions’ -
You can’t say fucking fairer than that can you??
Saturday night raised over £600 to help towards abstinence based recovery projects.
How beautiful will the World appear when we ALL eventually manifest that desire to help each other and encourage it to grow within ourselves? Let’s hope so anyways.
From Sarah taking the time and effort to make handmade and personalised tickets for each show... to people like Elise, Sadie and Lucie giving their time and energy by agreeing to perform, to the crowd who all gathered together to listen to the honesty and truth being expressed ... all the way to those unsung heroes behind the scenes that make it all gel together and work ... THAT is the sense of togetherness and inclusion that has been missing for so long... so maybe we ARE entering into a New Trew Era.
People with voices will always find the courage to stand up for what they believe in... at Trew Era they now have a place to do that too.
I suppose it took ‘Revolution’ in many different guises to first help put Trew Era on the map - and it takes people like all of those kind souls mentioned above to keep that revolution going.
I’m still hopeful that Russell will return from his educational sabbatical with a brand new political manifesto based on spiritual values rolled up and tucked tightly under his arm.
The World is crying out for a new doctrine that shows a different way forward - an ideology designed to establish a new World Order based on the needs of the greater good... free from the shackles of consumerism ... and something that promotes a way of life which centres around inclusion, kindness, togetherness and love.
The World needs more understanding ... Humanity has to learn to accept that people have problems and make mistakes, that some of us struggle with life, that pain is normal and natural ... and that so is helping those people who are stumbling or those who have become lost in the dark.
The moment we isolate or ignore or try to overlook problems, is the same moment that we disconnect ourselves from the matrix of happiness and fulfilment..
So many issues in Life are worsened and exacerbated by our fear of shame or embarrassment ... a fear of being scorned or judged by others... the issues of homelessness, mental health and drug addiction are still considered to be taboo subjects by some - which is complete bollocks in this day and age (at least in my humble opinion anyways).
In a World where we all claim to be open-minded - we are not. Not yet ... the conversation IS beginning to take place though... and it is restorative to at least my faith in human nature and in humanity when I see people like Sarah doing what she does.
Recovery is not about taking what is on offer and just fucking off... selfishness is a killer to addicts... Recovery is a deal you sign... and one of the clauses in that deal is that you have to agree to pass on the message of Hope, Faith and Courage and try to help other people.
That is the beauty of the programme.
It teaches you the importance of community, of togetherness, of a shared bond, it fosters closeness and honesty between people.
My friend Ed says that he sees God working through people... and that it’s the only way God can work.. and if you have been in recovery - you will know that miracles are entirely possible.
They are happening all the time down the street at 34 Whitmore Road, Hackney...maybe pop in and see for yourself sometime?
With more people like Sarah leading the way, perhaps humanity is not beyond redemption after all?
‘You might say that I’m a dreamer ... but I’m not the only one... ‘.
It’s been a busy time of late - hence the lack of writing activity.
Then again - writing is automatic in a sense. Noel Gallagher once said that he doesn’t write songs - he ‘opens the window’ and something either floats in or it doesn’t.
I am not knocking being busy. Far from it.
I want it. I want to work, I want to challenge myself... I want to achieve more than I ever felt possible.
A lot of people say that change is not possible, and I feel for those people. They have a closed mind.
I believe that our potential as human beings is limitless... but I think our belief system shuts us down.
A life lived inside consumerism, constantly bombarding us with messages that we are ‘less than’ ... and a job that pays us just enough to have us come back next week... we often meet people along the way...who for their own sense of self, will use the vertebrae in your backbone as a ladder to climb above you.
It takes a lot to break free....
I feel that this year has started that process for me.
A detachment from my old sense of self...
I have started at the bottom of Maslows Heirachy of Needs - just meeting my basic needs - diet, sleep and exercise.
Those three things are fundamental to my own sense of mental well being. With those in place, I can push on further.
Recently, the band I look after - TABOU - started 2018 with a bang, and on the back of that, I got to see experience visiting BBC introducing in Essex radio stations studios in Chelmsford - and watch on proudly as these 4 chaps I have witnessed progress over the course of the last year, laugh and joke and play their tunes.
They are also coming off the back of a gig that I organised, built and arranged myself from the floorboard up... the night was a success.
I have started pushing my website and business in a multitude of different ways... and had the opportunity to venture into the world of PR - something I have found I absolutely love doing. It combines my two biggest loves | writing and music |
I am making friends with some wonderful people - and I feel like I’m finally on a path of self-actualisation.
I have not shut the door on the past, but I no longer dwell on it either.
I am focused, hungry, and sharp. I am fitter than I have ever been and I am in a positive frame of mind. I am ambitious.
Yet these days, instead of wishing I was someone else entirely - all I want to do is present the best possible version of myself to The World.
This isn’t me bragging - this is me saying that if you feel that change isn’t possible - I’d ask you to look again. If I can change then anyone can.
So today, I wrote an article for this website, then I proceeded to organise my band of brothers Eman, Jack, Glen and Matty, otherwise known as TABOU for their gig in London.
TABOU are very VERY good....they have done rather well of late, and had a gig for Sofar Sounds at a place called Carousel in Blandford Street.
I primped and preened myself and got down to London a little bit later and watched TABOU absolutely smash it.
That was my opinion for what it's worth and a few people on Insta seemed to agree....aaaaaaanywaaaaaaaysssss.......
The crux of the story and the caveat is this... now, I have known Jack for.. ffffff... a long long time... I was in a band with Jack . I've been in awe of Jack since I met him, he is super talented. The term Renaissaince Man is used to define a polymath, someone who can turn their hand to anything.. and musically thats what Jack is... he could use a fucking empty Tizer bottle and a spoon and get a four to the floor beat out of it for you.
Yet even after all this time, Jack remains something of a mystery to me...because he is such a quiet man...I said to him that my fear is that I just talk to much, and his answer was 'no, I like to listen' and he does... and that is why he is such a clever man. I don't know if this is a saying - perhaps I'm coining a new phrase, but 'the smartest man in the room doesn't feel it necessary to share that fact with anyone else'. There is no ego with Jack... he has a lot of humility. Jack is not a man of few words exactly but when he speaks, people listen and there is a gravitas to that.
Jack and I were having a conversation on the way back from the gig tonight, and in many ways I feel like Jack is a younger brother of mine, but tonight he schooled me... he said;
'To become successful, it costs you. I have lost friends and family along this path and you HAVE to make those sacifices .. it's a struggle .. and perhaps that's why it's so hard ... so that when you do make it, you fully appreciate it ... Jack is considerably younger than me.. but he already knows more than me .. he said:
'You don't get anywhere in life without working hard' ...
For me...the trick is to find something that you LOVE to work hard at.
Jack HAS worked hard... and I said these words genuinely to him ..'I don't know anyone who deserves success more than you - music is your entire life ..' ...perhaps this is a little bit more poignant than my usual stuff.. but what Jack said struck a chord.
It's nice to know that there is such a humility there ... Jack DOES deserve it. And I know he's going to get it. And I'm gonna help him.
Anyone who knows me... knows that up until now, I have struggled with certain aspects of Life. Full of potential, but no breakthrough.
Just lately tho, I’ve come to a few realisations that have really helped me, so I thought I would share and see if I can help someone else.
These thoughts came as something of an epiphany... whilst I was in the shower... which seems to be where I have all my epiphanies lately...
I suppose in a quest to build an identity for ourselves - we tell ourselves that we are a product of our environment.
I told myself that I was a consequence of the area I grew up in, the lack of opportunities, a product of my circumstances... my family, my DNA, the people who had done me wrong.
I guess I should not have been surprised when I become all of those things. I didn’t aspire to be more, because my belief system was stunted.
Recently, I have come to realise just how limiting that was.
So I have completely smashed my old beliefs and now I feel like I am finally free to find out who I REALLY am... not who I told myself I was up until now.
I am not a product of my environment. I am a product of my mind. I am whatever I tell myself and whatever I believe I am.
Yet... if my thoughts are the instruction manual, then I still need to put in the practical action. The graft.
‘Wanting’ something is not enough, I also have to take steps to get it.
Satisfaction has the word 'action' at the end.
Satisfaction means confident acceptance of something as satisfactory, dependable and true.
I used to relate to The Stones tune ‘Satisfaction’ - because I couldn’t get any either. Perhaps I was reading the old instruction manual, but had the latest model?
I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my mind.
Whatever I tell myself becomes true to me.
I am a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Uneducated cheeky chappy from East London, so technically I shouldn't even be able to read or write, and yet - Language is my 'thang'... paradoxical shit innit?
Started writing poems and then song lyrics in my role as frontman of a band (spiritual lyrical miracle some might say... ) ~ worked as a music reviewer, music journalist, copywriter and digital content manager.
Now work as a freelance hired gun. x