Right now, I’m contemplating the word escape. We all need one at some time or another. Hopefully more figuratively than physically.
For me over the years, my escapism has come through two things. Comedy and football. The trouble is that the more time you spend immersed in something…the more chance there is that it will become what you need to escape from.
When I worked in my folks hardware shop I would always have a notepad behind the counter and would be scribbling furiously. Joke ideas for stand-up, sketch ideas for tv/radio. It was what occupied my mind while I was bored. I’d often think that if this was how much I could write as a sideline, then I’d write much more if it was my actual job.
Weirdly, I now know that’s not the case. Even if in physical quantity terms I might churn out more when writing is my primary work, the actual creative levels are much diminished. It becomes perspiration not inspiration.
Similarly, football has often filled a gap for me. Scottish football, European football, world football whatever. The beautiful game and all it entails.
At the moment though, with the football site, podcast, twitter, and another piece of football-based writing work that I have, my monitoring of and thinking about football is too much. It’s not my escape any more. A situation exacerbated by Scottish football being in such dire straits at the moment. At present, being a Rangers fan, I wouldn’t even be counted among ‘Scottish football fans’ by many. It’s possible to express contempt and a hope that my football club will die to me…while if I were to express any similar sentiment (I don’t have that sentiment. Losing your football club in whatever sense is a horrible thing and to revel in that misfortune befalling others is utterly soulless.) on the football site or on my own personal Twitter etc I’d be rightly vilified.
I wrote an article this evening trying to point out that football fans of all teams have more uniting them than dividing them. Soon after, an anonymous Twitter accounting contacted me to tell me that Scottish football fans had never been more unified and the poison would soon be drawn from the game. Lovely. So now as a Rangers fan I was poison.
It was a reaction to an already depressing situation that further depressed me. My own reaction now depresses me further. Karma, doing unto others as you would have them do unto yourself, what goes around comes around. There are various ways of phrasing a cross-cultural universal truth. At school there was a poster I used to see most days. It contained a quote from a man called Pastor Niemoeller
Annoyingly, that was the example that came into my head and I used it. Immediately looking, correctly, like a twat for drawing such a disproportionate example. The principle remains but the example was wrong.
Why the blog? Because sometimes writing down my thoughts makes them clearer and more coherent for me. Sometimes they make them clearer and more coherent for others. Sometimes people can read them and nod. Sometimes people can read them and think “What the fuck is he on about this time?”
Either way, I have to hope that when I’m feeling this low, getting some of these jumbled thoughts out of my system will take them off my shoulders.
Back to escape. My football-uninterested fiancee asked me what I was doing before I started writing this. I told her that I was trying to work out where I’d escape to but I couldn’t come up with anywhere. As I sit here right now, I feel miserable.
If I picture myself anywhere else in Scotland…I picture myself in an unusually cold July, awaiting another day of consternation and chaos relating to Scottish football and having to read about it with a view to writing about it.
If I picture myself in Slovakia, the sunshine levels increase…but I’d be far enough away from my folks to feel guilty about it. I also don’t know what I’d do there to make a living.
She asked me what I saw myself doing and being happy doing. I couldn’t answer.
On stage? There are only so many weekend gigs at The Stand to go around…and recently there have been too many other gigs that leave you more damaged than boosted.
Writing? Writing about what? What can I have enough knowledge of not to become poisoned by over-exposure?
I suppose the answer lies in moderation. Too much of anything drags you down.
Roll on the start of the ice hockey season. I could do with an escape.