Part 4 of how a man came to change his mind and ended up writing for Patriot's Corner ..
Sobriety brought with it stability, and a measure of sanity. I got my act together, got a new job, and got my head down and worked hard. My life came slowly came together. I had a few pieces of paper on the wall from academic projects I'd undertaken during the drinking years. Now that I was relatively sane, I thought I'd sign up with the Open University again and take an Masters degree in philosophy. I intended to get properly qualified and live an academic life, a life of the mind. And that's what I've done, just not in the way I envisaged.
At the time I would have been starting those formal studies, I lost someone close to me, and my life turned bad. I ended up fighting a battle that involved property and money, and it took years to get it settled. I encountered a new type of human being during those years. This type of person is employed by the state at a local level, and has a job which suits their fevered little ego. They deal with people who want something from them, and enjoy the gratitude that most people express when they do their job, and give their clients what they are entitled to. All the while these people take a salary and superannuation contributions from the taxpayer. We pay their wages.
We all play roles in this life. They usually involve adopting well defined behaviour patterns. We are all sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and we all understand what is expected of us in these familial roles. And the same concept applies throughout our working lives; when we sign an employment contract we are agreeing to adopt a specific behaviour pattern while in the firm's employ.
There is a type of person who agrees to play a particular role in society, but they don't actually have it in them to live up to that agreement. They claim to offer the public a service, but they can't do their job properly. If they can do it at all, they can't do it well. They may be able to perform adequately on a good day, but usually they are what you would call piss poor at their job. There are others who were never able to do their own work in the first place, who are there under false pretenses, and are only interested in clock watching and getting their salary paid into their back account at the end of each month. Many from the latter group can be found working for the state. These people enjoy the perks that come with the role they purport to be playing within society, and they really don't like it when you expose them for what they are, or challenge what they're doing.
That's exactly what I did. I tore their masks off with the cold, hard logic and saw their true faces. They were nasty pieces of work, dangleberries scraped from the hairy arse of humanity. They hated my guts, and the feeling was mutual.
One thing I have to say is that in all that time, I never had a drink, never thought about it, had no desire for it. Those days were over for me, and if anyone who reads this is still performing, those days can be over for you too. People stop drinking all the time; anyone can do it.
I still had a violent streak though, and I had a rage in me that fuelled fantasies of brutality, and outright cruelty. I imagined setting upon one of the people who had crossed me with three feet of half inch round bar and breaking their arms for them; another will never know how close they came to having their front door screwed shut and their house set on fire. I knew I was capable of committing violent acts, but the lengths my mind was going to was pretty scary. Those dark thoughts weren't something you could talk about, but I had discussed alcoholism inside and out with one of the best men I've ever met, who I'll call "H". He had done some work with us, and we hit it off right away. It turned out we had similar backgrounds, and what's more, we were both now sober. So I told "H" about wanting to turn the clock back and start hurting people and he told me simply, "Don't do it." And I didn't. I'll talk more about "H" later on, because he plays an important part in this story.
Another guy I met whose words meant a lot to me was the American singer Billy Joe Shaver. My uncle started me off listening to his music, and when Billy Joe was playing a gig at the Arches in Glasgow, we drove down to see him, and spoke with him afterwards. Billy Joe's son, who had played guitar in his band, was killed by a drug dealer, and Billy Joe had thoughts of meting out justice independently, but said that all that such desires did was burn up the insides of the man having them. And let me tell you, Billy Joe was not wrong.
What really saved my bacon though was not wise words from good men but an encounter with the blackest form of evil possible on this earth, and the effect that encounter had on me. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First I'll have to tell you about flying down to London to see Deep Purple playing at the Hammersmith Apollo ...
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