“You think too much” and “you are a very negative person” are the two things that have been said to me on occasion over my adult life that make me feel as alone, and that my doings even no purpose, as if somebody had literally just said to me “nobody gets you, you’re on your own with this, and it’s shit all the same”. And they would never say the latter, as these two quips are well-meaning. What they fail to miss isn’t that intense overthinking isn’t only compulsive, that I’m also not very good at it.
I have often felt lumbered with concerns that are well above my means of digesting and then acting on in a decent way. I have always struggled to read. I had a spell of furious burn-out reading in my 20’s which equipped me with the reasonable writing ability that I ought to have picked up in HE prior to that. But, largely thanks to increased Internet dependency, I’ve almost stopped reading intelligently altogether.
This is beginning to become apparent to my friends, who have come to expect an opinion on all current affairs from me. What can I say, I’m a charlatan? Sometimes I would genuinely rather talk “who’s better looking than who”, than the dead end of capitalist realism, that transfers this Incapacity into Incapacitated, as a turn to the pub to soften the noise as the night draws in.
Overthinking isn’t a pursuit, it’s a burden around the wrong man’s neck. I think this is why I wanted to tie up a few loose ends from my music making days, when the burden felt have slackened off slightly (the above song is the last I wrote before I fucked it off in 2008).
I’d love to go back to this,one day, rather than have these things wrapped around my neck. Good political journalists, thinkers, activist artists etc aren’t beaten down by this shit because they’re equipped. They are strong because they can switch off and focus on pastimes of their choice, as they have been assigned to a task they’re equipped for. I come across as negative because I’ve ended up forgetting what I actually enjoy in life, tied to things I’m not built for dealing with.
This is a rarity when it comes to my way of making work, but T-shirts are up for grabs featuring a piece of work Ive made for this Friday’s (27th November) gig at The Underground, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, as part of Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day.
Gig info below…
“This Friday live @ The Underground we have The Kitson Trio, a rock & blues band who recently reformed after a six year hiatus. Fronted by popular local singer-songwriter Richard Kitson, the trio will play their last live date of 2015 at The Underground with support from The Rolling Down Hills &New Road Kings, SPLND BSTRDS an acoustic duo that usually make up half of The Black Vines – Indiemand Barnsley
Making art about bands isn’t something I have done since college, so I thought it was due time to take this challenge in a town where music has a bigger place in peoples’ hearts than visual arts. I tried to make a work that looked at how music has been a back bone to my art making life, whilst also looking at music in relation to the experiences of contemporary life that my art deals with. Hence the usage of The Stones’ song title Gimme Shelter (although I am not a huge Stones fan) and the Smiths’ song title Rubber Ring (i.e “The songs that saved your life”). The drawing features a patchwork of both recognisable albums, and albums that have meant a lot to me.
This is a spoken word/video version of notes and mapmaking from earlier in September this year, over the weekend the Labour election leadership was decided.
It is part in a series of map-making’s of meanderings and musings that coincided with decisive events for the wider society in 2015. My thoughts on the past (my past), present, and longings for a future decisively different from the present loosely congregating around these events. This part covers Manchester, Barnsley and London.<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/146577387″>The Big Smoke (and Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user18137640″>john Ledger</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Sometimes these things have just got be done. Today was one of those days. High as you go – still transfixed by the Chameleons’ Under The Script Bridge.
Walk out of the Barnsley area, through Staincross down to Woolley, seemingly stalked by two young men in a car, driving around beeping at me. Game playing. I’m sport, basically, for their boredom. But there’s nothing you can say or do. I’m in a cloud of enough unlocatable guilt and paranoia making me sheepish enough, without dealing with those you can’t deal with. I hate the phrase ‘you can’t educate pork’ spouted from the ‘enlightened’ ones in any given town. I hate having to take the position of seeing folk as irredeemable tossers. But I’m not the one making it hard, I’m happy to get a long with any one if they agree not to give me grief. It doesn’t seem like such a hard deal to make. Most days you can brush it off, but there’s always that day when you don’t stand so tall, and then it hits you hard. My only response is to keep walking and walking indefinitely.
As a male and female duo jog up and down a lane that stares down at the Vale of York, I come to the conclusion that all there is save total burn out, is stability, a rock in my life, of sorts. Think about my age. Yeah time’s have changed, but I remember how my grandparents got together at the ages of 14 and 16 respectively. Tomorrow when the shame of another heavy night wears off, I know I’ll be back in strenuously independent mentality. It’s no good though, always burn out. Maybe hastening the burn out by walking as far as I can is a good plan right now.
Long road into Wakefield, things feel on top of me. It’s make or break.
Despite the world feeling so cold, and ‘the good life’ seeming unimaginable, there’s still an interest I give to areas that have a nice shape to them. Sandal, with its mix of old houses, and tree lined avenues has the look of a place a me, a different me, of futures and pasts, would like to be a ‘proper’ adult in.
Decide to carry on past Sandal Agbrigg station, and try to walk on towards Outwood station. I may as well.
The footpath vanishes alongside the trunk road that connects Wakefield and Bradford. I realise I’m in one of those types of zone that could only exist in the country in its current sad and bitter mould; a place made for people only if they are inside a car to begin with. For this reason I try to find a cut through to Outwood station via an ‘enterprise zone’. Why do my thoughts become occupied with the notions of what it is to be mean-spirited when the roads all lead to dead ends monitored by cameras meaning I have to cut through a blackthorn bush in order to get back to the road I originally tried to leave behind? Our country has been structured around meanness. Common humanity helps us break through it, but in times like this at one side there’s a sense of being the weakling, the visible tradegy straggling at the side of the road, and a potential criminal looking up to no good on the other.
“Get down sucker”
I’m that tired, and spaced-out by the motions of walking, I almost stumble into a passing car. As I approach the junction 41 industrial park I realise this too is not a place built for human scale route -finding; these distribution centres hold possibly nearly everything I eat and drink, and more. Yet they are also deserts, vast areas of emptiness with no signs of how to get out. I have no idea to exit, so have to take the long road, as i walk past the heaps of rubbish, likely thrown into the bushes from the thousands of lorries that pass through here, I decide it isn’t worth going backwards to Outwood station. I’ll head to south Leeds, and catch a bus from there. My legs never ache these days, they are numb.
Not many roads are made for walking down. Not in the winter. My tired legs are finding it hard to climb onto the verges as the coming dark night makes it hard for drivers to see you. After crossing the M62, and a small road’s walk, it is literally a single field that separates the sprawl of Leeds from here. There is something disturbing about the lifelessness of the housing estate I enter, regardless of the cold of winter. It feels like a stage set from the near-dystopia drama Black Mirror, precisely because things feel that grim at the moment. ‘Britain is a country in the verge of nervous breakdown” – so said the narrator of the Sleaford Mods orientated documentary Invisible Britain, which I saw recently. These words have since narrated my walks through Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds over the past 2 days. I wonder why…
I finally make the bus as I arrive in Belle Isle.
The tipping point, on the weekly circuit of emotions. The gate has well and truly closed on the open field of youth. The gates into rites-of-passage-adulthood (property ownership -household, marriage? – as a substitute to the foreclosed horizons of a world beyond work/consume/die) neither entice me or let me in. Every time I look through its window it smiles whilst telling me to fuck off.
Yesterday was Thursday. Thursday evening is the time of the optimist if there ever is such a time. And there is, whilst-ever we remain under the clock of capital. I’m an optimist. I’m too optimistic to forget to forget. And I have become crippled because I’m forever looking for a way out. I can’t, just fucking can’t, accept it. Stubborn bastard that I am, trying every doorway except the ones I’ve been told to open.
So why does Friday always fuck me over? “The end of the working week!”. Maybe I took that too literally? The ending? Yeah, I’m up for that! So I set out across the hallowed avenues and urban hallways of my nearby towns and cities. But as my eagle eyes pick up not a way forward, but the crush and compression of Now, quick fixes rush through my mind like a stampede of life trying to exit a burning room.”Northern Powerhouse?” Go fuck yourself, that should have meant something – if the future had actually arrived. But you stole that and sold us it back. And right now, not one of your new trendy cafes or real beer pubs can be anything more than a more socially acceptable plaster over a scar than that of those emaciated street drinkers, who increase in numbers in tear-jerking numbers around here.
I’m a badly beaten optimist. I should be able to stand proud with these bruises. But it just gets me so fucking wound up, that I just end up looking for the nearest pub (mirror view of ‘drinkers face’ like watching a collision course with premature old age, in slow motion).
What was once an itch I have scratched into a permanent scar.
My no-year resolution has been to stop cursing others even if they almost literally push my esteem-drained body out of the way within the eternal rush hour.
I told myself to break a leg, and look for love. To give it that chance you never fucking dared giving it when there still seemed liked there was all to play for. To see if such emotions can be prised out of the interlocked catacombs where they roam up and down until they finally die of exhaustion. I told myself to take risks: say yes to silly escapades into the foreclosed future – because that foreclosed future may turn out to be far from what I expected.
I told myself all the things. I’ve told myself these things every day. But then there is Friday. Or more specifically Friday teatime, when that jaw-bridge on potential lifts up. That ‘new Dawn fades’ onto a another fucked up state. Rounded off with dead end binge drinking in my home town. I need that guide, with its (his or hers) hand to lead me quickly out of the circuitry of the ever-decreasing Dismaland.
It’s an invisible consolation, when I realise I still have heart, as I feel it break in two as my longing gaze lands on the injustice of a broken army of innocents left to sleep in the streets of possibly the coldest night of the year.
Maybe I should also take consolation in the fact that my anguish is in fact indicative of the fact that I will never stop caring and hoping for something better than this.
Friday is the crusher. But as far as things stand I have always got back on my feet again. The fact that I get back on the same two feet to enter the same old crusher seems illogical to most. But maybe it’s time to take pride in my stubbornness.
….and I’m STILL currently listening to Under The Script Bridge by The Chameleons
“I realise a miracle is due. I dedicate this melody to you. But is this the stuff dreams are made of. If this is the stuff dreams are made of. No wonder it feels like I’m floating on air. Everywhere, it feels like I’m everywhere.” – Second Skin, The Chameleons
I always return to The scene within a short space of its occurrence whether something messed-up happened, or if it was something that seemed to offer more. (failed attempts to live in cities, hyper-paranoiac festival disasters, or that time when someone held my hand for a few seconds). Looking for that Thing, that different Thing, like it was a black box recording. It occurs to me it has something I need.
It always occurs to me after an heavy drinking, and enjoyable, evening. Maybe a false sense of connection to things. But I realise why my apparent stubbornness and refusal to ‘change’ is not going to go away.
“when I was a child is had a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye. I turned and looked but it had gone”.
I don’t think it’s merely about rare openings to the potential of romance, or a glimpse of a life of brighter colours to this one, aided by drink from the night before. They are just signs that lead to something that has nestled in my unsettled guts for as long as became a socialised being.
But then the night draws in, that space draws in, as the rush hour begins, and the dream-like-ness is washed away.
Whatever it is, it refuses to be rejected as fantasy, whilst it continually remains out of reach, as if my arms can’t stretch far enough, or there is always a pane of glass between me and it.
But the tide is ebbing on the open field of youth. It’s make or break, now. No more resignation to the slow suicide of mundane type.
This blog was written whilst listening to Under the Script Bridge by the Chameleons. It damn well had to be listened to.
“WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”
I’ve been on and off with the idea for this piece of work for almost 2 years now, with the initial idea for a work called Debtland coming to mind traveling to Leeds via train on a cold February night I 2014. So I’m glad I finally got around to putting it all together. Sometimes the ideas for my drawings are instantaneously in the right place, and I get on with making them straight away. Pieces such as Debtland sort of grow into so etching worthwhile in the background for a year or so.
Debtland (2015, 110X77cm, mixed media on paper)