I’ll be launching my first ever one-man stand-up comedy show at my favourite club, The Duke, Neath, as part of the Neath Comedy Festival on 19th July 2018.
Month: June 2018
Note: I think this is some kind of attempt at putting into words a thing I experience frequently during counselling, while doing self-analysis, or while meditating. Fuck knows, if I’m honest…
Black sky; rain-slicked, slate-sheet cliffs. A damning, judgemental storm, more intense than recent, oppressive. Heavy, thick, suffocating. I stand on rock, soaked-through and whip-flayed by rain, gripped and shoved by wind; still, strong, I struggle against the storm.
Up amongst the blades of cliff a light, a fire. A cave. I see the entrance now. A deep cliff-top serves as a well-worn pathway. The entrance to the cave. Aglow with a welcoming warmth in this wicked wind, it beckons but I still. I hesitate. This path is well worn. By whom? Inside, I know, is The Black-Eyed Boy. Sat, cross-legged, in the ash of long-dead warmth; a driftwood refugee from who knows where, huddled, shaking, knees-under-chin, braced against the cold even within reach of the fire’s embrace. He is not cold. The boy is angry.
In the cave, across the fire from him, I stand. He stares. Black, seething eyes. Teeth tight, blackened but still strong enough. Foam, fist clenched. I wait. I speak little here. I stare at flames, occasional glances at the boy. He’s trying, I know. It’s hard to find a foothold of coherence when the rage is so thick in your mind you could choke from the inside. It must be hell, constantly castrated by anger. Unmanned by impotent, self-important rage. Silenced by that to which you would most give voice.
I wait. Sometimes he speaks. Sometimes just snarls, growls, spittle. Sometimes filthy nails claw, to tear my skin, my face, my eyes. He hates me, of course. Hates everything himself included. He doesn’t speak often, just growls, swears or curses. An exorcism. I don’t know if I’m the priest.
When he speaks it’s to blame, to accuse. Nothing else. All of our ills he piles at my porch and demands I account and atone for every single one. I refuse, often. I have no help to give. I simply am. Past is done.
He has no power. Demon, abuser, accuser, victim; bully, spineless, rotten, taught with hate and blame. I listen. I listen long, I really listen. With compassion, I listen. With understanding, I listen. With forgiveness, I listen, and with love, I listen. Tears. Rage. Lashing out. Such pain. Such pain! I listen. I cry. I sit and I cry real tears and I listen. Soon, I will hold, and comfort, and affirm and explain. I will love and listen and confess and learn.
Soon, I will leave, and face the storm once more. Maybe with peace, for a time.
I will soon forget. I will soon return…
Courtesy of my good friend, comedian Jonnie Price, the set that got me through to the semi-finals of So You Think You’re Funny? 2006 at the Edinburgh Fringe. We didn’t catch it all, unfortunately, and the sound is rough but there you go. Wx
I don’t sleep – and not sleeping is dangerous. If, for whatever reason, you are suffering from insomnia or have been struggling with sleep issues for a while then please get professional help as soon as you possibly can. I can’t remember the last decent […]
My CV looks like the CV of a man with depression: fifteen jobs in the seventeen years between graduating in 2000 and my redundancy and subsequent depression relapse in 2017 – a relapse I am still recovering from. Consider also that my first job – my favourite job, working in software development for the NHS with a good friend – occupied the first four years and you get the picture: it averages out to less than a job a year. I think. My maths sucks ass. I had to have home schooling. And yes, I blame the teachers. I know that I need to ‘own my shit’ and get it sorted but that doesn’t mean it was my fault in the first place. Some of those fuckers really knew how to squash the confidence out of a kid.
Forgive me, I digress. I used to think I had a head full of squirrels but I’ve realised recently that it’s actually a head full of Packers.
Allow me to explain, and to introduce you. In my head, at the moment, there appear to be three distinct Wes Packers. I’m not talking about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) – of which I have zero experience but which sounds hellish – I’m talking about the ways in which I find myself thinking and acting depending on my mood, almost always through hindsight. I experience wide variations in mood (‘swings’) throughout the day and over the week although not usually as wide as for those with bi-polar disorder (this is for those of you who don’t metaphor, basically).
There’s Angry Wes, the one and only, the man himself: Wes ‘Fucking Tamping’ Packer. He’s been running the show for a long time. His fingerprints are on everything I’ve done in the last twenty years: every peace-keeping lie, every broken promise; every lost job, every broken relationship, every forgotten friend or cold-shouldered colleague. He’s had some wins: So You Think You’re Funny? 2006, Just for Laughs, Montreal, 2007; did some telly, did some radio, had some great gigs and made some famous mates to name-drop. But, like the great Scott Fitzgerald before him, he’s had some hidings. He’s not as good as he thinks he is, either. Oh yes, he’s funny of course. Fuck aye, he’s as funny as fuck when he’s wound up about something and can’t get his words out because he’s so fucking angry. But there are a bunch of colleagues, some bandmates, and two exes out there who will testify that it’s funny until it’s not funny any more.
Angry Wes doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the comedy game because he’s too angry to be sly, to smile, to climb on others and twist knives in backs; to make ‘friends’ with the right people to serve only his own interests; to pretend he can’t see through them. He has no time for gossip and networking, he abhors it and those “smiley glad-hands with hidden agendas”. Angry Wes really wants to be…
…Honest Wes. Now this is one I tried on a few times a couple of years ago. I ended up out of work and divorced. I found that Honest Wes was highlighting a lot of stuff for me that Angry Wes had been overlooking for a long time and it was starting to leak out. People don’t usually like that kind of thing. Honest Wes isn’t very popular but you know where you stand with him. After all, we can all be a bit of a cunt sometimes, right? Honest Wes wants to tell everyone exactly what he thinks of them while maintaining his composure and inflamed sense of self-righteousness. As you can imagine, he’s a hit in the dressing room and his phone rings off the hook!
Neither will get anywhere so it’s time they took a step back. I’m forty one years of age and it’s time to grow up. Trouble is, I think Honest Wes has made me kind of un-employable at this point. It was Honest Wes who started this fucking website and blog in the first place. Now, any prospective employer can just Google my name and find out that my nut is fucked. A lot won’t care but a life of short-term, zero-hour insecurity sounds like hell to me and a return to IT would drive me insane. So it’s comedy, I guess. If only I could calm these two down long enough to find anything funny.
And me? I’m just Wes. I’m the poor bastard who has to make sense of all this and wrangle these fuckers into a team that can keep a roof over my head. Rational Wes (for want of a better phrase) isn’t around often but when he turns up his first words are usually, “hmmmmmm…”
What am I working so hard for? I don’t have kids. I just got divorced. I never really wanted more than enough, anyway. I only need to pay my way for the next, what? Twenty-five years? Just enjoy the next quarter-century and the amazing, supportive relationship I have with the partner I’ve been lucky enough to meet? Help her build something to pass on and then I can throw a seven and get the fuck off this rock? That sounds ok to me. Anxiety is sapping so I don’t have the strength to get excited about much these days but doing those things and telling my jokes sounds like a good life to me. We’re an unhappy bunch, Angry, Honest and me – Jeremy Kyle would have a field day if I thought for a second that I could stand to be in the same room as him without ripping his face off – but we’re getting along in our own way. Maybe I’ll write a sitcom about us and get one of my famous friends to script-edit it. Steve Coogan gave me a cheque for two-grand once, donchaknow.
Yesterday, my ever-wise and supportive (and very knowledgeable) partner suggested I sign up for MoodScope, a mood-tracking website with the most infuriating way of tracking your mood. It’s madness: it’s basically a multiple choice, ‘sometimes/often/never’, kind of thing but they make you flip virtual playing cards around and upside down and shit just to pick the answers you want so you end up fuckin’ tampin’ before the first question which is, with depressing inevitability, ‘how are you feeling now?’
See? They don’t need Honest Wes either.
It does look handy, though, as it allows me to generate graphs to track my moods over time – another part of my ‘throw everything at it’ strategy along with: new meds, counselling, exercise, creativity, Ch’an Meditation, improved diet & weight loss. All of which I’ll talk about in future posts. They supply a URL that you can give to your ‘buddies’ (christ) so that they can view your progress in a browser and check you’re not about to cook yourself the blue rice.
Today? Today is a good day. The sun is shining, I have some time to write to you, I’m trying some raw stuff out tonight, and we have a ham cooked.
Check out that MoodScope site at https://www.moodscope.com, or any other mood tracker, and let me know how you get on either in the comments or over on Facebook or Twitter. Something that could export to/sync with those sports bands/watches would be cool. Hmmmm…
As always, feel free to like and share and comment and stuff.
Trigger Warning: This is what I’ve started to call a ‘testimony post‘ where I share my experiences of life on the road, life with depression, anxiety and self-esteem and anger issues. Can be sometimes graphic and/or sweary/controversial. Will be tagged/hashtagged ‘Testimony’.
Eighteen seconds into episode one of the US sit-com “Maron”, the titular stand-up comedian, podcaster, writer and actor declares: “A few years ago, I was planning on killing myself in my garage and now I’m doing the best thing I’ve ever done in my life in that same garage.”
I know the feeling…