First person who gets that reference wins a Snickers.
Yes, this is the 200th Potato Farm post. Hard to believe, eh? Most of you probably thought when I started this thing that it would last a few months and then I'd get bored and not keep it up. Well how wrong you were. Anyway, I wanted to do something a little different for the 200th blog. It was a little intimidating trying to think of something grand to do, so I decided instead to keep it simple, and look at why I wanted to do a blog in the first place. Yes, that's right folks, it's time for the painfully self-indulgent, uncomfortably personal blog post. The type of blog I've always shied away from, because, well, quite frankly they're just so, so, ........bleurgh. Seriously, if you don't wanna read this, that's fine. I won't be offended.
Ok. Deep breath. Here goes.
Right, so the whole point of writing a blog is to put something out in the electronic ether for other people to read. You compose, you construct, you submit. You hope other people read. You hope they react, respond, enjoy, think, you hope they think it's good or of worth. A blog is in many ways a cry for affirmation. A way for someone to feel like they've achieved something, no matter how small. It's an attempt at leaving a lasting impression, just like any form of art. It is there to provoke something. Anything. Anything at all. For the writer, it fulfills a need, realises an ambition, however small a scale that may be on.
Personally, this blog serves 2 functions. The first is the obvious one. I like to write and I want other people to read what I come up with. The second is a little more abstract maybe, but no less obvious. I want to be cool.
I first remember fancying someone when I was about 4. There was a girl who lived on my street who I used to play with. No big story or deal there. I didn't really even know what fancying was, how could I? I was 4. But that's what it was I think. Anyway, one time when she was over. we broke this toy that I can't even really remember now, but in my head it was some sort of weird canvas playhouse type thing. After that I wasn't allowed to play with her anymore.
See, I can't even remember it properly. That may never have happened. I don't know.
I can't remember her name. I remember seeing someone in a supermarket once when I was about 12 and being convinced it was them. Probably wasn't.
See, I can't really say I fancied them though, because I wasn't like, attracted to her or anything. I just liked playing with her more than anyone else. I remember thinking about her a lot in my little 4 year old brain. Probably didn't actually fancy her though. No, the first time I properly fancied someone, was properly attracted to someone, was when I was 8. Her name was Jenny. She was kind of weird looking, but there was something that I was very attracted to. Well, however attracted to someone you can be at 8 years old that is. Anyway, she didn't fancy me back. This was my first encounter with 2 things. Unrequited feelings, and the fact that I am unattractive. Yep, I was being told I was ugly at 8. Beat that.
8 was quite an age. The first times I was told I was ugly and not cool were then. At my first school, there was a group of cool kids who everyone thought were cool. They didn't think I was cool.
So yeah. My ambition in life since the ripe young age of 8 was to be cool and attractive. This wasn't a particularly strong desire at 8, but steadily as the years went on, and middle school came, and all my other friends had had girlfriends (even though they had no idea what to do with them), this grew and grew. At about 14 you can substitute "attractive" for "sexy".
Nothing new there though. Everyone wants to be cool and sexy, right?
Middle school (when I was growing up we had a 3 tier schooling system in Oxford. Primary, middle and upper.) wasn't so bad, coz although I was always thought of as ugly, at 12 & 13, among most of the boys in my class, I was considered funny and kinda cool.
Cheney School changed that though.
Ah, Cheney School. I don't know what it's like now, but when I went to Cheney, nobody wanted to be there. When we applied for upper school, we had to give 2 choices. What would happen, what parents would always do, would be; first choice would be the school you wanted yer kid to go to, the 2nd would be the closest school to you after that. The one you were most likely to get yer kid into because you lived in or near the catchment area. Nobody put Cheney as their first choice. Cheney was the school you HAD to go to. Cheney was the last resort. It was even like that for the teachers. One time in a Science lesson, our teacher said to us "Look, if you don't pay attention now (at school), you'll end up failing and you won't do well at university and you'll have to become a teacher like I did!" That's the kind of people I had teaching me. The kind who didn't give a crap. They weren't totally stupid, they would put on the whole "Oh your son has great potential..." bit for the parents evenings, but then would more often than not turn a blind eye when a kid who didn't like you decided to show you this with his fists.
And if it wasn't physical, they practically didn't care. Cheney kids may have not exactly been the cream of the crop, but when it came to abuse, they really knew their stuff. All through my life I've had people make jokes out of my surname, and it's always a variation on "Paul, can I ask you a question? Ha ha ha!". Except for at Cheney. No, that wasn't anywhere near good enough. For a start, where's the insult? So for 3 solid years Paul Askew became known to virtually everyone as Paul Arse-Screw. Very inventive. There was also the rumour that got started that I was a test tube baby. I don't even know where that came from. Some kid just decided one day that I was. See, this stuff's funny now, but at the time, going thru puberty, all your friends have gone to a different school and everyone at this school acts like they hate you and you have no idea why, it was pretty horrific.
Even the kids I used to kind of hang around with at school only let me hang around them coz they liked my best friend. It was a very sorry state of affairs. Hear those violins? Yup, there they are. Playing away there in the background. I think that's the music from The Incredible Hulk they're playing. You know, the bit where he's walking away down the road on his own, trying to hitch a lift to the next town or wherever he's going next.
What was my point? My point is that for three years I was pretty much being constantly told that I was an ugly twat. When the only people who don't think yer an ugly twat are yer family, you kind of tend to believe that that's what you are. When that happens during yer formative years, you kind of find it impossible to shake that idea off.
It's had a knock on effect on the rest of my life. My social skills are terrible. I find it extremely difficult to talk to most people when I'm sober. More often than not I'll just freeze up and let the other person do all the talking coz in my head I'm still 15 and no-one wants to know what I have to say. Every time I open my mouth to say something, I feel like I'm in that maths lesson when I had got involved in a conversation with two other boys who normally wouldn't have given me the time of day about whether "TFI Friday" was better than "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush" or not, and then one of them suddenly looked at the other boy and said "Hang on, why am I talking to Paul Askew?!" right in front of my face. That one moment was worse than any of the physical shit I got from anyone. That moment was one of the worst moments of my life. In my head, that's just as bad as when I was 18 and one of my best friends tried to kill me.
Pathetic, aren't I.
I can't just blame everyone else though. A friend of mine once said that he reckons a lot of kids wouldn't get bullied so much if they didn't let themselves be. He puts it more eloquently and has good arguments to back this up that I can't remember right now. I see what he means. On the one hand, I had no friends at this new school and I was an easy target. On the other hand, I never really made any great effort to get out of that. You know what school's like. People's first impressions of you are what yer stuck with for the next few years as in their eyes. If I hadn't just, I don't know, resigned myself to the fact that I was an outcast, then maybe I wouldn't have become one. When other kids did actually talk to me, most of the time I was trying so hard to not be hated that I would overdo it, being a hyperactive idiot. So people didn't like me because of that. I couldn't win.
Then, like a lot of people do during their late teens, I went thru a bout of depression. At this point I was involved with the Pegasus Theatre. There, for the first time in years, people were genuinely interested in me as a person, wanted to know me, wanted to spend time with me.
I couldn't handle it. It had no idea how to react. I would literally run away from social situations that I wasn't comfortable in. Suddenly people liked me, and I had no idea why.
Pegasus Theatre was a lot of fun while I was there. I wish I'd been able to make more of my time there. I loved that place and the people I'd met there.
Finally had my first kiss at a party too. Yup. I first kissed a girl when I was 17. Most people I know had lost their virginity by then.
My life since then has been full of internal conflict. I was still never considered to be an attractive person until I was about 23/24. By then I couldn't handle or accept it. I don't think I ever will. By then also, you've kind of gotten past the stage where you can find yourself and experiment with your life and your body. By then you're too old. You are whatever people think or have thought you are. This is what I've found anyway.
As for being considered cool, well, people tell me I am, but again I'm not sure if I'll ever truly believe that, although I do find it easier to believe when it's said. I am very lucky that people find me funny. The reason I find this easy to believe is that I think I am funny. That may sound arrogant, but fuck it, I make myself laugh. If there is one thing I like about myself, it's my sense of humour and my ability to make people laugh with my ideas or views of things or simply the things that seemingly randomly pop into my head. I think this is why I find it more believable when people say I'm cool.
But what is cool anyway? Whatever. That's for other people to discuss. I'm not going into that now.
Anyway, this is the motivation behind my blog. I will almost certainly never believe that I am an attractive or sexy man, but what I think maybe I am good at, is spinning a word or two. Sometimes. It's hit and miss, but then what creative process isn't? Either way, writing my blog and having people like it, makes me feel cool. I write this blog so that for some moments of my life I can feel content and not like that 15 year old ugly twat.
Thankyou for reading. I really mean that. xx