Tag Archives: Men

The Living Library

I’ve wanted to write a book forever, I’ve wanted to call it the Diary of a Late Bloomer forever. Over time I’ve given up on that, perhaps, because I’ve started to bloom.

When the opportunity be a human book on the shelves of a Living Library arose, I jumped at it. They say the aim was to shatter myths, stereotypes and much more.

Who would want to spend their free time flicking through my pages? Would people even connect with what I had to say? What would I say? I committed myself to the full 2 hours with nothing but the title in mind and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised.

How did it work? There were several “books”, people would choose a title from the library and be given a library card with a time to return their book.

Each of my readers had different connections to the title and the mutual curiosity allowed for conversations that could have easily tripled in length. There were conversations where I was like a child racing at a million miles an hour in open space before returning to the measured adult I’ve become.

I enjoyed every minute, from the first with the reader who passed their driving test in their early 50s, to the last person who ended up with me because of a mix-up.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share stories with other late bloomers and would happily do this again.

A version of this appears on https://www.upmen.co.uk/the-experience

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Filed under Just Living

Re: Definition?

I’m not the kind of man that can have his manhood away, Jamie Neville, fellow cast member.

Although my body no longer feels the emotional weight of a week of shows, I find my mind is still processing it all. It is still at the checkout scanning everything on the conveyor belt and counting the cost.

Now that I’ve cross-examined masculinity and mental health, what do the words “Man Up” mean? The negative association it had has been vanquished by virtuous relationships. Machismo is no longer the main mode, nor is there shame or intentional repression.

Maybe I was privileged to have encountered so many genuine people at once. Maybe it’s the post-show comedown. What I do know is that there is hope. Man Up is a statement of encouragement to be open and honest with yourself. It is a smoke signal for friendship and fostering positive behaviours. It is men recognising that they are not alone or other men cannot be their best selves alone. To hear those words is to tell someone that you’re ready to serve them, to support them.

I could argue whether the phrase should still exist, I won’t because I know it will outlive me. This phrase is a statement of your attitude and intent.

If I’m committed to using what I’ve learned then I will listen without judgement. I hope to understand the journey and help you along the way. Maybe we’ll see the finish line together. Are you ready for that level of vulnerability? Can your ego and prejudice stand down to help a man up?

If you’re the kind of man that can’t have his manhood taken away, your actions will answer the questions. I live in hope.

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Filed under Just Living

All Good Things

The piano tinkled one last time as a man mountain of hugs closed the final show. A stream of tears became a Mexican tidal wave that overtook us all. Grown men sobbing publicly without fear or thought to what any of the audience may think. It was real, for all of us.

We had worked with each other, for each other, we loved and laughed, we embraced as we grafted and crafted something special. We hoped that it was impactful whilst entertaining. For many of the 600 or so that came, this was essential viewing.  A conversation on masculinity and mental health has well and truly been started, how far could it go?

When the last drop of celebratory beers had been drunk, and the last of our multiple hugs had finished, each of us returned home to face the reality of life outside the bubble of a performance. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I didn’t know how to feel. For all my emotional intelligence and self-awareness I was numb. I knew I’d grown but I didn’t know how. I was exhausted and fragile yet strengthened by the experience.

As I write this, I don’t know how I’ve grown personally, maybe I’ve grown as an artist. I remember the first performances where I messed up lines but got through my solo in the show. That started an incredible mental battle that I had to overcome. Slow down so that every line can have the impact you want it to, was the message from the directors.   I duly started my piece in 1st gear rather than 3rd and found a groove that allowed me to shine. Word perfect and performances 3 – 5 got better each time. Some said they saw me grow through each one.

Some have said they’ve learned a lot from me, again I don’t know what. So I ask myself what is the legacy of Man Up for me? Perhaps it’s relationships.

Throughout my life, I didn’t have many deep connections with the males, one every blue moon at best. The connections I had were generally social and rarely along meaningful lines. Ultimately they’d fizzle and I’d be left to fend for myself. As the weeks pass, I intend to build even deeper personal connections with the family or UpMen as we called ourselves. If brotherly love must continue, being intentional is necessary.

“Yes I’m a mess but I’m blessed to be stuck with you…”

Thank you, Paul & Clare, for your direction and process of co-creation, thank you Up Men for your love for this overthinking wordsmith. We have redefined the words Man Up in a positive way. Let’s build.

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Filed under Just Living

Down Day

Image result for feeling down

 

They say men are made from stuff women aren’t.

Stronger hands, harder hearts

You can take a beating and dare not flinch

The measure of man’s tiers found in grit not ink.

 

He’s made of wildest dreams and infinite schemes

A man is built to last.

He can plot a tree and chop down forests.

Just women’s ages he dare not ask.

 

A man should have money, a man should have style.

A man commands the stage.

Men have no fear, knows lust not love.

Being a MAN is all the rage.

 

So why do good ones fall and bad ones rise?

Is it safe to even ask?

Is it weak to cry, will he be despised?

Is it wise to be about that?

 

I’m drowning in supposed to be.

What I’m not has been my yoke.

If I’m a man or so I claim will my man card be revoked?

 

I guess I’ll hang from ropes you beat me with.

My failures and dented pride.

When love is lost we count the cost.

No hope and suicide.

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Filed under Just Living, Random Poetics

Paper Thin Walls

paper thin walls
Paper thin walls
They keep mixing colours
Blending her out
On those paper thin walls
Paper can’t cover the cracks
On those paper thin walls
A doodle draws a whimper
The thought of making murals musters mournful murmurs from those paper thin walls

Passed around like a guest book at a funeral
The feeling fading as they drive away
The whitewash isn’t cleansing
A broken slate is never wiped clean
She is only 15
Miss Paper Thin Walls

Laying bricks, roofless
All her rocks are demons dancing in the sea of safety
Her will shredded like leaked script pages
She’s an over plucked daisy
On her knees she a dress maker seeking out hope like a lost sequin
Wondering where was God when man destroyed the self she’d believed in

Miss Paper Thin Walls pores over scattered bricks
From the many times her box has been ticked she’s an exam in herself
Exiled from affection, ignoring the laws of attraction.
Hands that reach her are fractured to heal her scars
When she’s fully built she may be chasing cars
For now…..she’s in thrall to the casket of cat calls
These travails are an ailment of which no ointment can heal
When she’s fully built she’ll bruise the serpent’s head and heal
She’ll no longer be Miss Paper Thin Walls

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Filed under Society