I once made a joke that I feel is so good... it needs to be made again...
I can’t remember it verbatim but it was something along the lines of ... ‘some say that the pen is mightier than the sword - but if that were the case... I’ve yet to see many World War battlefields left littered with the bodies of young boys who died from wounds inflicted by a fucking biro ...’ ..
Yet, in fairness we do know that the pen IS far mightier than the sword - because the pen is what signs off on laws, it is what is used to seal deals and over the course of history the pen has been the instrument that has captured and immortalised collections of words, thoughts and philosophies so powerful that they have lasted throughout the course of human existence...
If you believe that a sword or a gun is a more important weapon than a pen - consider this... a gun is something that you use DURING a war... a pen was the weapon that STARTED the conflict. It’s also what is used to sign peace treaties.
Okay... enough of that tangent... so it’s not ACTUALLY the pen itself that wields any real power... it is the mind of the person who wields the pen - and if the pen is the weapon... then it is language that contains the ammunition.
Yet words are merely a conduit - a system for us to be able to deliver a message. A way for us to be able to express how we feel...
As a writer - something that has always fascinated me is the fact that writing is open for interpretation by anyone - it contains no context whatsoever...
So as satisfying as it is to be able to convey and immortalise an idea in some form... you do lose the power of just HOW it is delivered to the ears of others ...
You only have to look at some of the worlds religious writings to understand that idealisms in the form of the written word can be used for something that I am certain was meant for good, but ultimately ends up being hijacked and used for propaganda.
I suppose that might be what appeals to me so much about the idea of spoken word poetry ...
Not only do you get to express your ponderings to the ears and minds of others - but you get to dictate exactly HOW someone else takes delivery of your ideas.
Something akin to ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it... it ain’t what you say... it’s the way that you say it’.
My attitude when it comes to most things is the same as when it comes to Art. I might not know much about it, but I know what I like... and I like Gee.
Gee (or Mr Gee as you might know him) is probably most famous for his stints on the radio with Russell Brand and the wonderful Matt Morgan... but to leave things there would be doing a massive disservice to the character of the man himself. See Gee is one of the good guys. A spoken word poet with a heart bigger than most.
He works tirelessly for causes so much bigger much bigger than himself - he understands the need to express ourselves - and a tiny example of that is the work that he does within prisons to try to use poetry to help young offenders learn how to express how they are truly feeling.
A few weeks back - he was at it again. Performing at The Trew Era Cafe in Hackney - at a night selflessly organised and created by Sarah Ward and Ashella Hadafmand.
As you may or may not know, Trew Era is something of an anomaly against a capitalist backdrop. A not for profit charity that serves to help people working through their addiction problems.
In a time where most business are looking to increase profits, Trew Era - under the guidance of the super cool cats who work there - is more concerned with what they can do collectively to help society.
So Gee came to spill his guts... and he spills them in such a beautiful way that you cannot he helped but be captivated - the main theme of the night was Love and in a room with no ulterior motives - that is what I felt. A unison. A synergy. A collective consciousness. Fuck profits. Think people.
The night raised over £600 to help with ex offenders and abstinence based recovery, and there was no room for misinterpretation.
Gee’s flow, the ideas and thoughts he has, the way that he delivers them... had everyone in the room hooked. He has something that my lack of education doesn’t allow me to surmise, and truth be told, i’m grateful for that. Our requirement to be able to explain, describe, pigeon hole... it does nothing for the magic that we shouldn’t be able to explain.
The work that Sarah, Ashella and people like Gary do at Trew Era also has me hooked - because there is a selflessness in it that transcends the vacuous nature of the world we currently inhabit, and the addictions that permeate our existences.
I feel like for the most part - We ARE self - it fees to me as tho the system is designed to make me seek that out - but for a period of time... just listening to Gee made me forget all of that shite. It didn’t matter who I was, who I am, or who I might become. It just was.
That’s what Trew Era represents for me - a place full of kindness, and caring and love. A place that transcends the idea of separateness.
It’s full of hope, faith and courage. It’s a beacon that helps me maintain a degree of trust in human nature.
In a world where for the most part - we are figures in a column in a spreadsheet - Trew Era is a place reminds me that we are so much more than that.
It’s a place that understands and taps into the idea of ‘Oneness’ - I can’t see the future, but I do have some foresight and in a consumerist world full of propaganda - it is so refreshing to be able to visit a place where the virtues of people are put before the virtues of a fucking balance column. I feel that as time moves on, we need more places with the same ethos.
Sarah, Ashella and the gang are often coming up with nights like these.
So if you value your sanity and want to unplug from the matrix for a little while - then I suggest you have a little look at what they have coming up.
I can’t say that I have seen much spoken word poetry before that night - but what I experienced went beyond words. Words are nothing but a conduit - it’s was the depth of feeling that really caught me in the solar plexus.
Try something new. Go visit Trew Era.
If not for the music, the poetry, or the people - then maybe just go for their fucking vegan flapjacks... because they were also out of hand.
I used to be a mad control freak. Obsessively so. I had to take a long look at that stuff because it was causing me a lot of pain and suffering.
I can understand it. Life is scary. Dying is even scarier. So I think fundamentally - my need to control people.. and scenarios was a consequence or reaction to the need to feel safe.
It’s also an ego thing. That little voice again. ‘I’m a smart cookie ... if people just listened to me - everything would be alright’. Mental stuff. The lies we tell ourselves eh?
The reason why I feel the need to write about this stuff is because I see it for what it is now... but I also recognise the need for control in other people. I feel as though other people’s need for control is impacting on my life currently and so I have to revisit it.
If not, I will become angry and resentful and bitter. That bitterness will only ever poison me... so what options do I have? I can’t communicate with the person in question - because they feel that I have a different agenda to them.. they see me as an enemy. Which is fine... because I used to see them in the same light. Again tho, that bitterness was causing me pain.
Here is the thing. I am a strong character. I won’t be bullied. That’s just not gonna happen.
I’m not out here to fight anyone either... so I will put my hands up and deflect your punches, but I will not be throwing any back. Self defence is one thing. Attacking someone else is another thing entirely.
So what can I do? I have to be adaptable, I have to keep moving, I have to be fluid. I can parry their blows until they tire themselves out and I can tire them to such an extent that they get exhausted and stop.
I understand the motivation. If you can control me; then you don’t have to fear me... but the thing is.. I’m not out here to hurt anyone. Fear and feeling vulnerable can cause us to go on the offensive.
I used to be the one on the front foot. Tiring myself to the point of exhaustion... trying to control the fight, trying to position the world into a corner so I could land my punches and go for a knock out.
How are you gonna beat The Universe tho?
If you DID control me, or take me out of the equation - someone else who you deem to be an enemy or a challenger to your control is just gonna get in the ring.
You are going to be fighting for the rest of your life.
I know I was -
Fighting enemies, both real and imagined. It was excruciating, painful, exhausting. The more I got into a position of control; the more fear I had around losing my grip. The more I fought, the more opponents I saw.
I’ve had to ask myself some serious questions. Who am I really fighting? Why am I fighting? Who am I hurting? Will this change anything?
I cannot control the World. I cannot control other people. I don’t even want to. The truth is... I don’t have any of the answers... I would have been mortified to have admitted that in the past. I was more concerned with how I appeared in the eyes of others than I did to myself.
I thought that if things were done my way and they went wrong; I could handle that. I felt that if it were down to other people, then I would have regretted not fighting my corner.
You know what that is? A lack of Faith.
I control nothing — absolutely nothing. Even my own state of mind, I have to pray for help with.
When I accepted that, I became immeasurably happier. If you are striving to control other people, you are not happy in your own life. You are transferring your issues onto someone else.
Einstein posed the question ‘you have to ask yourself - is this a friendly Universe?’ and the answer is ‘Yes’. No one is bigger than the master plan. I can try to control things all I want - sooner or later, what will be will be.
I can exhaust myself fighting against the tide, thrashing about - both mentally and physically and getting absolutely nowhere - or I can just stop fighting and go with the flow... I can relax, let go, enjoy the peacefulness and serenity and have Faith that where I am being carried to, is where I am meant to be.
If ever there was a man with an ego.. it would be me. That little motherfucker has been inside me before I could even talk... crying for things I probably didn’t need. Making me show off, seeking validation from my family...
I always associate the word ‘ego’ or at least I did.. with it being something intentional, and intertwined with arrogance. In so much as if you told me someone was egotistical, I would assume that they consciously thought they were better than everyone else. Arseholes doing it on purpose.
My traversing through recovery and CA - being in the rooms and meeting more knowledgable people than me - all armed with the facts, dispelled those misconceptions and not only gave me a new lease of life but also served to teach me a thing or two about myself - who I am but also perhaps more importantly - who I am not.
That subconscious narrator and social commentator, the judgemental character assassin who lives with me inside my joke of a brain - that is not me!! Who fucking knew???
I used to listen to that little wanker all the time. Pssssst.... ‘ere Bob... you know that you aren’t as good as everyone else here... ‘ or just as damning - ‘Oi Bob, what are you doing here? You are much better than these arseholes’ - and a conclusion would be reached. No querying it, no questioning it, no open mindedness - nope. That was my view and my opinion and my belief. That was the truth and that was that. The bastard was sabotaging me - it was an inside job, but the one person I thought I could trust... by the one person who I thought truly knew ‘me’. I now know that is not the case.
I once read that Eckhart Tolle realised that he was not his ego when he questioned the thought... ‘I can’t live with myself’ - who cannot live with whom? How many of you (me) are there?
The thing with ego is that it’s never positive or a negative - it’s always both, and for me... it swings about wildly on that spectrum, trying it’s best to separate me from the rest of Life. In an ideal world, it would have me on my own, feeding it drugs and listening to no one but it.
I’ll give you two examples of my egos cunning and how I have managed of late to pull away from it -
The first example that springs to mind - and this is super insidious - was after I had been separated from a girl for a while; after a toxic relationship were my mental health was shocking. My emotions were uncontrollable - and separating was completely the right thing to do... yet not too long ago - my ego had me at it all over again?
Oh you are so much better now? How much more of a fuller more rounded person are you now? I wonder how she is? Don’t you think that she was so lovely that if you and her were together now; you could put right the things that went wrong? You could salvage that situation Bob. Come out of it super happy and a hero to your own heart?
How appealing does that sound? The truth is that no; things would not have been any better. My ego just wanted to control me; and probably try to control her too... to satisfy it’s appetite for power and feed itself on validation, and recognise it’s own cunning by seeking forgiveness - at the expense of someone else’s progress - their state of mind - no sorry bro. Not gonna happen. Not this time.
It took me an awful lot to get to the point of accepting that if you truly love a person, and you are fucking hurting their prospects of their own personal growth, then you (I) don’t matter. Leave the girl alone, work on you and let her be.
The second example was my recent foray into music management, my ego craved me to seek ‘future’ happiness based on what I perceived to be ‘success’ - without even questioning or quantifying what I believe success to be?! How fucked up is that?
If you help this band to ‘make it’ Bob - you can tell everybody who has ever doubted you to go fuck themselves. You will be ‘better’ than they are .. worth more. Even when the chips were down, my ego would kick in... ‘ahhhh maybe you aren’t good enough after all? Maybe you are gonna fail?’ - ‘don’t you dare walk away - what if they make it? - then you’ll regret it’ -
The truth is - no I won’t.
Perhaps the truth is that I wasn’t good enough and if so maybe that was impacting on that band and their ambitions, maybe my frustrations were justified, maybe they were not... maybe I was to blame, maybe I wasn’t? Can I fix this? Can I make this better? Can I get better? Can they?
BOB - STOP!! That’s your ego talking.
The truth is... the more pertinent question is.. are you feeling happy? Is what you are doing making you and everyone else around you happy?
If the answer is no, then stop it!! Just stop. Drop it. Let it be.
Is that a reflection on me as a human being? No. Is it a reflection of me as a manager? Who knows? More over - Who fucking cares? You wasn’t happy anyways.
If they want to succeed - if they want to grow - then do what to did with the girl... let them go. Let them do things their own way, get yourself and your ego out of the fucking way.
My ego is the initial voice who pipes up with judgements, and anger, and pride and insecurity... the voice who cannot control his emotions, the irrational part of me... it doesn’t think or perhaps it thinks too much - but it definitely doesn’t clue me in on it’s little plans.
What I have learned to do, is get myself out of the way to a degree: yes I still have outbursts, yes I’m still an emotional selfish prick at times. I cannot vanquish my ego, I cannot send it into exile, I definitely cannot kill it. When I think I have, it’s back running the business - without my permission.
The best I can hope for is to recognise it. Deal with it; as best I can. My ego is my selfishness - all it is concerned with is me, me, me, me, me.... that will destroy any chance I have of:
1/ loving myself in a healthy way - and subsequently 2/ loving anybody else in a healthy way - therefore my chances of being egotistical AND happy are zilch.
So now when it whispers inside my head to go after that girl, or tells me not to walk away from an unhappy situation - I have to ask... is this the best thing for those other people - those that my actions impact on? Will it make them and me...happy?
When I really love or care about a person or want the best for them - l have to let them go and I have to learn to let things be.
I have been doing that for a while now, and whilst it’s a daily, hourly task to keep my ego contained, I can honestly say that I have given people I care about a licence to grow - and the result? I’m happy.
‘All that you have ever dreamed of is just on the other side of fear’.
Don’t I fucking know it.. when I was 15 I was so anxious and fearful that I was paralysed by the thought of getting on a train.
Imagine - the world on your doorstep but kept within the confines of your postcode by the prison of your own mind. Outwardly, you would never have known. Brazen as fuck, mouthy, aggressive at times. Inside tho, timid as a bird. Fluttering like mad just to keep up with the rest of the flock.
Things were that way for a long time. Until they changed.
Change for some is a word with such negative connotations - I think part of coping with the overwhelming nature of the human condition is to seek familiarity. Patterns and habits keep us safe, when subconsciously we are all aware that death is around every corner. If I do what I did yesterday, I’ll live to fight another day.
The irony of that is death is something that brought me the confidence that has always alluded me - between my two boys, Fin and Stan, the kids Mum and I were expecting another boy. Yet my God had other plans and Harry died with a week to go.
For a boy that was scared to get on a train, carrying your sons coffin on your shoulder will tear that shit down and rip the fear right out of you.
That wasn’t quite the end for me...the fear and pain intensified and magnified 100 fold - but it DID finally dissipate 11 years later.
I spent a long long time, angry. Angry at people, angry at myself and angry at God. That attitude kept me in chains.
I had to CHANGE my thinking, and that led to my outward experience of the world changing too.
If I hate then that that will be the over-riding experience of my life. If I am fearful, the same applies... Love the world and guess what?
Do you know how hard it is for something who is terrified of life, stung by people and hateful towards God to show love?
It’s not... it’s fucking EASY.
You just consciously decide to change your mind.
Imagine? All those years wasted. All that pain brought on myself. The people who dislike me - they still dislike me... but now I love myself... I love my own God and to those people who hate me, or are jealous of me... who want to see me fail... guess what? I fucking love you too.
Change is not negative - it’s beautiful. It’s necessary. It’s Life.
So when something ends, try not be to scared - you can handle it. You got this.
Try to remember:
‘All that you have ever dreamed of is just on the other side of fear’.
Do you believe in God?
Yes you do you fucking little liar. Perhaps you just don’t know it by that name. I prefer the term ‘Universe’.
We are but grains of sand within a Cosmos, the magnitude of which we could never even begin to comprehend, though that’s not to say that we are not masters of our own Destiny. I fully believe we are. ‘Thoughts become things’.
‘The mind is everything. What you think.. you become’ ...
’With our thoughts we make our world’
’What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create’ - Buddha.
The limitations of our minds is non-existent.
Our belief system - now they have limits.
Miracles occur all of the time tho. It’s just a case of having belief.
Have you ever had a spiritual awakening?
What happened to me today was not an awakening, as I already believed in something. What happened today was more a spiritual slap around the face to wake me up, and open my eyes.
’The Universe will move people, events and circumstances to deliver what you want’
I’ll give you an example. In the week, I received an email to inform me that the venue for TABOUs Sofar Sound gig had been moved to another venue - Reasons unknown.
So today, the boys played in a smaller, more intimate setting than anticipated. Folklore in Hoxton. The place is as random and as funky as fuck... just like TABOU, I suppose.
I felt a such a strong positive vibe from the moment that I approached the place. I could feel something emanating from behind it’s castle doors. Yes, seriously. This is Hoxton.
Such was the warmth of feeling from the people representing Sofar Sounds (Stella, Sarah and Matt) that the placed just oozed an easy going and laid back vibe that was super conducive for making people feel comfortable and for making new friends.
I watched 3 incredible groups of artists today. All completely different and all effortlessly accomplished. Intelligent, beautiful and loving Souls are everywhere and I realise now, as I write this article, old fashioned stylee... on the tube, in a journal.. using a pen... that ‘God exists’... and i’ll tell you why....
I used to wear a rosary around my neck, until it broke, but for the last two days I have been carrying the crucifix around me with.
• This afternoon my niece Patsy asked me what it was for. I told her ‘I carry it in my pocket , whenever I put my hand in my pocket, take it out and look at it. It just reminds me that I am loved and looked after and that I can feel happy and blessed’.
On the way to the venue today, whilst sat on the tube, I was going thru my photos on my phone, deleting and removing the shit from my life. I was also editing the ones I love, brightening them - and saturating them in colour. Amongst those was a picture I took during a recent visit to the National Gallery - of Jesus Christ. It struck me as unusual.
First my niece asking me about the crucifix, now a vivid picture of Jesus and both on Easter weekend.
Once TABOU were done today, everyone was so complimentary, expressing their love for the sound the boys make and out of nowhere the band were offered another gig - this time at a World Famous music venue in London.
When I told the boys, they were overjoyed ~ this is a venue that has long been on their list of places that as musicians they have always wanted to play.
Dreams do come true. They come true all the time.
Did the unexplained change of venue for today’s gig lead us to this new next adventure? Absolutely. God works thru people.
On the the walk back to Hoxton Station - A young couple were approaching me... as we passed each other I heard just one word with such clarity ‘Jesus’...
I put my hand in my pocket and felt the crucifix ... I turned and called after them: ‘Excuse me...but were you guys just talking about Jesus?’
I pulled out the cross ‘Then here... I think that someone wants me to give you this’
A connection between 3 random people... in an instant. ‘Whatever ’IT’ is... it must exist right?‘ I say.... and the girl comes closer to me, she smiles and takes the cross ... ‘Amen to that’.
The venue today was called ‘Folklore’ - isn’t that the perfect adjective for what God is and Jesus both are?
Believing in your own God? Fuck yeah.
Dreams come true all of the time. You just have to believe in them.
Happy Easter and lots of love from Sticky.
I have no clue... That’s the long and short of it. No one does. Anyone who says they know what’s right is a liar ... We are all just kids pretending to be grown ups.
Life is is fundamentally arbitrary... to all intents and purposes ... and until we reach the end and hopefully someone or something explains what the FUCK that was all about... we can only make educated guesses. I have no shame in admitting that I have absolutely no clue. That takes the pressure off me nicely.
I went to the National Gallery today - I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, tired and stuck in a rut lately... the weather put paid to any ideas of any meaningful excercise really... and my serotonin levels have been shit.
I sought inspiration today and just fucked off on a random whim (arbitrary eh?) ... inspired I got.
It got me thinking about art throughout history to a degree... why we as humans have sought to capture both beauty and suffering with such ferocity and gentleness ... but it also got me thinking about the people who were depicted... the people behind the paintings... or in them, I suppose.
We all have one connection. We are all humans beings experiencing life. That’s the one common denominator - that single fact is the only thing some of us have in common... That’s the only thing we really know for sure.
Yet it’s the tie that binds. We are all clinging to the same sinking ship. How we choose to go down tho, is entirely up to us... how we choose to spend or depict our own fleeting moments, our own landscapes and our own family portraits is entirely up to us. When I was growing up, my Mum always taught us to make ‘allowances’ for people... basically she raised us on the principles of being forgiving, and compassionate and understanding. To look beyond what you are seeing ... and to see the bigger picture. To try to understand other people.
Even now - I sometimes think ‘No...Fuck that. Bollocks’ ... but my upbringing kicks in and what I know morally to be right and by following my instincts ... I usually arrive at a peaceful conclusion... The evidence would suggest I have lead a pretty conflict free life so far. So I know that much to be true. Perhaps I do have a small clue.
Whilst none of us actually know what we are doing... by and large we all follow our instincts... and would love nothing more than a peaceful existence. Others... maybe not so much. Suffering is natural... my trip to the National Gallery taught me that. Everywhere I looked I saw images of brutality, pain, oppression, madness, insanity, death.... images from the dawn of time... but I also saw images of love, hope, faith, mercy, beauty, joy, Life. 'Sin’ refers to ’suffering’ - Life IS pain. It is unavoidable, and enevitable.
I think that what might REALLY hurt is refusing to accept that fact. I love this saying; ‘Acceptance is the end of all suffering’ ... My mum was right. Forgiviness, acceptance, compassion, understanding - they are all qualities that alight you with a destination that you were heading to anyways, but at a much quicker arrival time.
Basically, I suppose what I learned today was ‘Fuck it... shit happens’ ... My job as I see it... is to try to minimise my suffering and maximise my peace of mind. Yet being forgiving does not mean tolerating shit. It means having the capacity to accept it, try to understand it... but still... walk away. Whether something feels right or feels wrong - those are your indicators as to whether to stop or go.
I have never heard a person yet say ‘Oh fuck, I wish I had never followed my instincts’ ... I know it’s somewhat obvious choice to deeply admire Van Goghs ‘Sunflowers’ ... but until today, I never understood it’s meaning. Apparently Van Gogh associated the colour ‘yellow’ with ‘hope’ and ‘friendship’ - the painting a symbol of the ‘expression of gratitude’ ... My spiritual beliefs include expressing gratitude on a daily basis... and today, I am immensely grateful that I trusted my instincts and that I listened to what my heart was trying to tell me. If that’s the kind of painting i’m in the middle of creating... then when it’s done - i’m sure it will not look too far out of place in any museum.
Here’s a little story for ya -
Once upon a time.... way before I started ‘Sticky Finger’ - I used to ‘front’ a band called The Filthy Habits... We beat over 10,000 other artists and won a competition to be crowned ‘Best Indie Act in the UK’ - I can’t even remember what year it was? I wanna say 2011? Fuck knows...
As a result we got to play to about 6k people I think it was - at The O2. We met Bez from The Happy Mondays - it was all rather surreal.
We had been all over the local papers, featured in articles with the headline ‘Filthy Habits in Libertines Link Up’ (on my birthday no less) after Gary Powell, The Libertines lovely drummer - had recognised us and pushed us on radio and booked us for a gig... we were played on Absolute Radio.
We supported The Rifles one night at Chinnerys in Southend on a fucking random one - an email out of the blue from Liam Gallaghers now partner and manager Debbie - when she was at ATC - 'Last min I know - but would you mind stepping in and supporting The Rifles at their sold out show tomorrow? Er... yes fucking please..
We once had access to a closed shopping centre in Basildon one Sunday... and brought a crowd of people along to film a video in an art gallery ... like you do.
After that - we travelled to France to play a few gigs - another prize for winning another competition -
We travelled over on the ferry and drove around by mini van, sleeping in hostels with other bands, just tearing the arse out of it really ... living life on our terms - fucking about - laughing pretty much every single minute of every single day.
One gig was a massive festival and another a gig in the town square - amongst fucking hundreds of music mad French kids all jumping about, going nuts, climbing on stage - and chanting ‘Viva La Filth, Viva La Filth’ -
Before I went to sleep that night, I was fucking buzzing - that evening was the culmination and the realisation of dream that began with an innocent little hopeful idea that once popped into my head... From the outset - my aim was to prove without a shadow of a doubt - to my kids, that absolutely anything is possible when you put your mind to it and believe that to be true.
Poor Quality People - The Filthy Habits - Have a listen
I met Joe, the guitarist, after he came round and sold me a bag of weed, picked up the guitar... and strummed something - quite possibly something shit at the time...
I uttered the immortal (probably stoned) words - ‘You know what - we should start a band’ -
The rest of that journey I intended from start to finish, from the beginning- I was heavily into The Law of Attraction and early on - Joe introduced me to a book called ‘The Secret’... from that point on... I visualised and manifested that whole entire next chapter of my life by applying the principles inside that book. Thoughts become things. What we think about most, we become... ‘I think - therefore I am... ‘ etc. Ask for it. Absolutely believe that it has ALREADY happened - act accordingly - - Be immensely grateful for what you already have, show love, and kindness - then receive what you asked for. That is exactly what I did. Everything I wanted to occur did. From start to finish. .
Lack of Belief - No Faith = No Power.
We came back down off cloud 9 and went home - The harsh reality was - back home - nothing had changed. We had a ‘London’ gig with yet another ‘music promoter’ who put on an event and then did fuck all to get an audience in - we played to one man and his dog I think? One of those ones.
Reality bit... hard. I lost my Faith. I think we all did. We looked at what it would cost us to put our own mini tour together - and it wasn’t feasible... Everyone got aggy, infighting began, and I personally wanted to punch a lot of the boys in the face quite a lot of the time after that.At the very start - I gave myself a deadline for the band to get signed... and when I reached it, and we hadn’t... I called it in. No regrets.
It was an incredible, nutty, unbelievable, hazy, whirlwind of a time... full of laughs, jokes, and fucking more jokes... * bullshit concludes below...
All of that - all those gifts... those once in a lifetime moments I got to experience .. how many other people can tell their kids that they have played at The O2?
... Those were all gifted to me by music... That’s why I love it. And that’s why I owe music something in return -
The Universe dropped TABOU into my lap.... The job I have as a manager is not my choice - I had no plans to manage a band - please believe me when I say there are more powerful forces at work here -
Half of TABOU are former members of The Filth... but I suppose as well as fronting The Filthy Habits, - I did manage them too.. and they did alright.
I sincerely believe that The Universe wants you to hear TABOU -
So I’m just gonna do what I did before - just continue to defy the odds at every single opportunity, suspend belief where I can (with your help) and achieve the seemingly impossible - When people say ‘No’ - which they will - I’ll ask them why not? ...if they say it can’t be done - I’ll ask where’s the proof? If we all put our heads together - we can make anything happen..
Since forming last year - TABOU have been selected as one of BBC Essex’ Sounds of 2018’ - made Eddy Temple Morris’ Spotify playlist for 2017, and their debut track made Radio One - these are no mean feats.
TABOU have a new track out on 15th March called ‘For The Night’ - if they all pull together, I have no dounts that they can go far. They are the Future, but we are all Masters of our own destiny.
|| 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.
Self-esteem is vital. I know that now.
It is an internal manifestation of practical actions taken in reality. I exercise... I feel insanely high afterwards first and foremost. Endorphins are the new cocaine.
My body aches, and my mind crystalises... I write, I run my business - efficiently as fuck lately..I work on myself, I work on managing the band, I now cook, I clean, I look after me.
More importantly, I do things for other people. It feels good. I wake up happy now.
From lethargic depression and zero energy, to mad optimist with bundles of energy. I am organised to within an inch of my life. Proactive. Ready. I see a different man in the mirror. One who actually appreciates that he is handsome. One who recognises that he has potential, and who is ambitious and hungry. I feel full of excitement.
Endorphins are the new cocaine.. yet the consequences are completely positive.
I turned 36 recently... I have never been fitter.. I go for a simple run for a couple of miles up the road and back, each day, just zoning out and listening to music to help push me further and further. Time for me... yet the fella looking back at me in the mirror after a shower is reaping the rewards too.
My relationships are full of a new sense of wonder and interest. My love for life has been re-ignited.
I'm flying.. and I can't tell you how simple the changes I have made that have made all the difference. It's shameful because my Mum bless her has been trying to teach me this since day dot... yet it was only after spending time with my sister and niece did the penny drop.
* Eat properly.
* Little bit of exercise.
* Sleep nicely.
Simple as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, but never easy for me. Food was a fuel. It wasn't even food really... more 10 cans of sugar free red bulls, a few snickers and 20 fags a day.
Ever since I can remember I must have always had a massive fear of missing out - because I was always the last to go to bed. Exercise ceased when I quit football and boxing as a kid, and has flittered in and out of my life. Never staying long. Just the thought of exercise tired me, until I changed my diet. That's like trying to like a fire with no kindling. without petrol and no matches. My diet changed by just getting up and forcing myself breakfast initially.. I have never enjoyed the thought of food in the morning.
Even the thought used to make me want to gag... if that's the case with you, grab a cereal that is fucking mushy. I have the protein weetabix, 2 mins in the microwave... it's basically baby food. It's a tired cliché but now I see that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day' -cos it gets your appetite going.
The rest of my diet consists of low fat and high protein... once I had the energy, I started walking, walking turned into a slow as fuck jog with a break every 3 mins ... now I am smashing it. The exercise knocks my body out and I sleep like a coma patient. My mind when I am awake though is laser focused, and I am in control of it.. I direct it towards gratitude, positivity, belief and love.
I feel like I have finally found the instruction booklet to this fucking human machine that my brain is encased in.
My confidence in myself and my self-esteem has sky-rocketed, because I am getting everything I need to and then some ...done.. I am achieving so much more.. and looking after myself properly. No miracles here... just the basics, but like I said.. I never could understand these simple things... fuck knows why... It doesn't matter now.. if you are struggling with anxiety, lethargy, depression, negativity, addiction, or you just feel miserable... please try these simple things.
It's a piece of piss - and I promise it will help.
Oh... as an aside... I also now use a diary which has simplified my life a million per cent. First time I have used one and I look at it each morning to know what needs doing.
It's like the PA I used to think I was entitled to has finally come into my life... andit's me. Ha! Bitch ain't getting no holidays or sick pay. Help this helps.