Brian 2 – continued
I wis a good kid. In primary I did well and enjoyed bein’ at school, but at the end of second year in the high school, I got bored. There was too much banter in class, disrespect and not what I was used tae, so I just left. Started bunking off a couple of days a week, but I would amuse myself, you know, go to the museums and that. I used to read all about everything, and I remembered a lot o’ it. That was interesting, not like being in class where the teacher threatened you all the time and the boys never sat still. Which was worse than doing nothing, really. I got used to making do for myself, and though I have no exams and that, I did well, learning to cook. It was just something I could do easily, after watching my ma cook for eleven of us all those years. It came naturally to me, and I enjoyed thinking what I could do with food. So I got a great job in one of the big hotels, really good money, got all the stuff, you know. I had the wife, the kids, the flash car and the great house. I used to think nothing of going for a drive with ma wife on my weekends off, somewhere to a nice restaurant for lunch, maybe. She would look at me as if I was mad, said she could easily cook us up something, but I liked treating her special when I got the chance. I always told her the money wasnae a problem and it wasn’t, not while I was working and bringing in maybe hundreds of pounds a week, especially with overtime and bonuses and all that. It was going well for me, and I was still young. When you’re young you feel like nothing can get to you.
The job was stressful. I recon I was sweating maybe ten hours a day, making meals over and over, and you just get to feel strong, a bit like a machine. Just plug it in and on we go. So when one of the lads started larking about with the white stuff, I took a hit and thought nothing of it. I could control what I was doing and anyway, that first time was a Saturday, after my shift. I remember it so clearly, now, that I didn’t even really think. I never had that feeling of, “What are you doing here, do you want to do this?” Nah, I just took what I was given and said, “Ta, mate” and “I’ll see you right” and all the things you say, when you think someone has done you a favour.
I got on with my life, with going home to the family and getting into work, but now I had two secrets. I had the drink, which was creeping up on me, and I had the new drug, which I didn’t take often, but then, you don’t need to, do you? It is never the same as the first time, though, and you have to keep taking more to get the same high. Just tiny bits more and more, so you hardly notice. No-one said anything to me, and my wife just thought it was the booze. A couple of times her face swam in and out of focus when I was driving, so she took the wheel, but she just let me cool off after. It crept up that slowly, by the time she noticed, I was far gone and didn’t care about anything much except earning enough to keep my habit going. As far as I knew, I was earning, so that was alright, and so long as I could do that, no-one could complain, could they?
Until the boss found me weaving about the kitchen, sweating and swearing and brandishing knives. Paranoia is not good in any kitchen. Straight away he knew what it was, and he warned me, said he would be within his rights to fire me on the spot. Can’t have chefs threatening to slice open the waiters, can we? But he gave me one more chance and, of course, I blew it. I was all mixed up, completely out of control most of the time. Charging around like a demented dog, it is no wonder I was run out of there very quickly after he found me threatening to slice a delivery man into pieces. That would have done nothing for the reputation of his hotel, would it? I can smile now, but actually, I feel ashamed that people have given me such good chances and I’ve let them down.
March 11, 2014
Believing in Best
Fran Macilvey acceptance, gratitude, learning, optimism, peace, realism, success, truth, work, writing 'Trapped: My Life with Cerebral Palsy', Path To Publication 3 Comments
Believing in best
I have been browsing the website of the Society of Authors, which offers reasonable and very practical advice. Thank you, SoA. Membership is a possibility, and I shall reflect on that in the next little while. However, reading through their eye-opening material I cannot help detect a certain amount of realism creeping in. Of course. Realism is what everyone needs, isn’t it?
An advocacy group or a trade union rather specialises in offering realistic advice. Artists often need practical help, perhaps more than other professionals might. Before you rush to condemn my blatantly prejudicial pronouncement, I mean merely to suggest, tentatively, that those accountants, lawyers and architects who enjoy their jobs are probably better equipped, on the whole, to tackle the world of business, money and hard fact. Artists are perceived as nurturing dreams, rather lost in the realms of colour, music or written whimsy. To be creative, artists allow themselves to be carried away on the wings of fancy; and history is littered with examples of artistic geniuses who could not manage the transition to hard-headed marketing guru; which is why I suspect that artists, on the whole, benefit greatly from practical advice.
However, we have to tread a careful line between heeding practical advice and believing it. We may listen and learn, but to take into ourselves the wisdom that, for example, “(Writers) are appreciative and supportive of any efforts a publisher makes to promote their book, and entirely understand that in the vast majority of cases, given the number of books being published every year and how busy PR departments are, all an author can expect is a couple of weeks of effort around first publication” is to feel a toe-curling anxiety that is hardly beneficial to our prospects.
To succeed, whatever our private weaknesses and reservations, we need to believe that what we have already achieved, and what we are about to achieve, amounts to success. ‘For what we are about to achieve, may the Lord make us truly thankful.’ Without that belief, which often flies in the face of all the practical advice that others offer, we will surely sow the seeds of our failure. Writers achieve miracles every day, in blogs, letters, in emails carefully crafted, and witty replies on FB or a perfect Tweet. We need to believe in miracles, and keep seeing them everywhere in what we do. Success is not what other people tell us. It is what we believe about ourselves.