Archive for January, 2011

…For racing in the street.

Music is very powerful. This week, I’ve had an Album Of The Week, being Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town”. One of the tracks in particular speaks to me “Racing in the Street”). It really shouldn’t, as I have no way of relating to the events described, or the characters it surrounds.

But crikey, that song hits me. It stirs real emotions, it feels like a true story, and I feel like I could be one of the characters.

This shouldn’t really happen. I don’t have a ’69 Chevy upgraded to 396bhp, nor could I fit new heads or transmission to it. I have a Honda Jazz, 1.4 (with 96bhp according to GT5 on my playstation), that I take to the dealer for service.

I didn’t build it up from scratch, or ride from town to town to partake in drag races against Cameros, Ford Deuces and their ‘rodded ilk. I bought it from the dealer, and I generally pop into work and occasionally load it up with band stuff to gig.

There seems to be so much feeling and emotion in both the writing and performance of the song that it just spills out. It’s a haunting story with realistic people.

It makes me feel part of a world that could I could hardly be more removed from, paints a romantic view of a foreign exotic culture.

Escapism? Maybe.
Romanticism? Maybe.
Daydreaming? Maybe.

I think that this sums up what music is to me. I’m surrounded by it as much as I can be. It helps me when I listen, and when I play it. I get lost in it, and it sometimes feels like it’s coming through me rather than from me.

So, please do look this song up. Listen to it, feel the story. Imagine your girlfriend/partner/significant other in the role that Bruce’s baby plays, and feel that emotion. The hug her (him/both/gender neutral), let them know how you feel and try and show your own emotion. This is how to learn.



Do you want the truth…

…Or something beautiful?

One of the suggestions from the postaweek tag last week was “Why did you start blogging?”. Also, a general tweet appeared on my twitter stream from a Journo student friend a few weeks ago with a very similar request of “please share with me the reasons you write”.

So, it seems I should answer this before the universe goes to such extremes as freak cloud formations or to keep asking that question…

When my last relationship ended, one of the things I learned was that I keep my thoughts and feelings inside too much (well, was told, but I was actually listening so I feel I learned it!). Since then I’ve heard from someone different the words “closed book”, had some verbal feedback on my blog of “well I just can’t write as vaguely as you do”, and my best friend has used the phrase “well- it’s JB. Who knows what’s going on there!”

So, the blogging answer is simple- it’s to try and get me into the habit of saying what’s on my mind in a frank and open way. I like that people are reading the witterings I put out there, and feel able to feed back to me. It’s always a challenge to write stuff that I know isn’t just public but that I know people who I know will read, and know about me.

But (and isn’t there always a ‘but’?)

I was asked something completely different this week. What I was asked isn’t really important to this blog, but I gave an honest response (equally personal) and I feel good that I felt able to, and also that I did. The ‘but’ kicks in here in that this progress doesn’t feel good, because it was negative answer to a personal question.

Sometimes you’re making progress, sometimes you’re taking two steps backwards… I think I’m making progress in being able to talk about things, and share my vulnerabilities & feelings, yet it seems that progress in other areas will be slow and rocky at best. Maybe I run my life better with the security that only I really know what I’m feeling, but that’s clearly unhealthy as far as all forms of interpersonal relationships go.

So next time you (whoever you are!) ask me a question, I may respond with lines from Paloma Faith’s song and debut album title:

I can be who you want me to be, but do you want me?
Do you want the truth, or something beautiful?


Courtesy of the postaweek2011 tag, I was led to a blog exploring the question of whether to text or call.

Do you prefer to text or call?

Personally, I far prefer texts or emails than phone call. I always thought it was because it felt more techy, futurey, and science-fictiony (they’re all words… Promise!). As Li Li says in her blog, it’s fast and mobile. I also like that I can read it when I’m ready (like when I’ve finished the washing up, or that bit of the ps3 game I’m playing) and that when I text someone I’m not likely to be interrupt something they might be doing. More than anything, I find life easier to deal with by text or email.

I wrote last week about finding social situations tricky (approaching the place where I’d be using flashcards to order coffee, that sort of thing), and that coupled with my dislike of phone calls and personal issues around general first-person interaction has always troubled me. I’ve had trouble being in crowds the last 12 months or so, and I’m happiest at home.

In short, I felt a little bit pathetic both for how I felt and for finding it hard to deal with, when it felt like there were people with ‘real problems’ out there. Now I find out I might be able to apply a label of Social Anxiety Disorder, and that is something of a relief.

No matter that I can communicate, or how well I appear to do it in extreme situations, that doesn’t mean I like doing it! I’m not going to claim that having a label for the situation makes it any better, but it makes me feel more normal, and that in itself is a help and helps me feel more relaxed.

So I apologise if I don’t answer my phone… Just send me (as a very predictable ending if you know this song) a Message In A Bottle. A text would be fine if you’re nowhere near the sea.


i thought it was over but it’s not

The year did not start well- I’m not overly well (still battling proper flu having got over manflu just in time to enjoy it properly!), but I set my alarm to wake up for midnight. As I texted to my friend Emma earlier that evening “I haven’t missed a New Year’s Eve for 23 years, I’m not starting now”.

But also, I’m feeling rubbish. I won’t bore you too much with how or why I think, or what I should do about it but clearly won’t as I’m a wus…

I’m wondering, as I’ve only picked up my guitar a handful of times this year. Does any playing I do come from a level of self-confidence or the other way round? It seems that the less I gig, the less able I am to stand up and gig.

Case in point- I met a new friend this year. So we’ve swapped stories, hung out, all the normal stuff you do whilst getting to know someone. She’s never seen me gig, never mind just been around the me that is playing ‘tomorrow’. I don’t know how (or indeed if!) she can believe the stories I tell of what StoneChase get up to or playing in front of 3,500 people at a mini-festival when the only John she’s known is barely capable of dealing with social interaction more complicated than “medium cappuchino, vanilla shot please” without flashcards.

So gigging may turn it around. On the other hand, I would find it very hard to stand up and play in front of people. Unless I was allowed to play in a different room. In a different pub. In a different town.

People who know me are astounded at the confidence level I consistently fail to have. “But you look so…” Is usually how that conversation finishes. And putting my guitar on makes me look like I could take on (and sleep with) the world. But this isn’t a performance based anxiety, it’s The Other Guy who has the problem: the guy who would love to smile and say hello, the guy who you probably don’t notice, the guy who holds your door open, and the guy who just about manages to make it through each day.

So from The Feeling: “I’m spinning in circles I can’t stop, I thought it was over but it’s not”

Stay safe this year people- the world appears to be getting fuller of crazies (I’m aware of the irony of my typing that!) that even my dear home gem-of-God’s-Earth Island appears to be called home by some of them. Just be careful out there.