W.A.S.H tour #11 – Hamburg

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“Just play the fuppin note!”

The secret ingredient to today’s rested vibe: everyone is kinda glad the boat thing didn’t happen. Two people (outside our group) told me they saw the vessel in question. One said ‘It looked shit,’ and the other: ‘It would’ve been funny.’

As I type, the Hamburg show is done and I’m sitting in the bus parked outside. Nearly everyone has gone out drinking. This street – Große Freiheit meets the world famous Reeperbahn. It’s no use to me. I’m a member of the married faithful, and currently teetotal.

I remember years ago, it was chilly like it is now. The sex-workers were dressed in ski suits. The 1970s came to mind. I think of old porno playing cards…saturated reds, glowing oranges. It’s a dystopian Abba landscape, where sex is available in neon onesies.

My dad once (or twice) told me ‘deaf hookers’ taught him to play pool. That’s always intrigued me. Who knows if it’s true. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to interview working girls. I don’t know how to explain it with academic flair, so I’ll fire off an abstract: it’s a common view that sex as a commodity is shameful. We keep away…publicly. In private, I know a few guys who’ve crossed palms with silver.

Now…on a mental health vibe…why is this relevant? Simple.


a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour

Shame dissolves self-esteem. Shame goes hand-in-hand with censorship – suppression of discussion. You shouldn’t feel like a weirdo because of an interest in supposedly taboo subjects…especially when no one gets hurt. Suppressing discussion leaves questions unanswered – loose ends start to pile up. When questions outweigh answers, you’re unsure of your path in life. For people like me, dark paths are frightening. Yep…he who controls the shame, controls the people.

Casting off shame is easier said than done. Why don’t I just venture off into the night and interview some working girls? I guess I’m afraid they’d think I was poking fun…or scoff at my naivety.

When I was in Bucharest with Leonard Cohen I got talking with a pimp/agent, but never any of the girls. Watching them, (but you know…not watching them) they seemed spritely and jovial – I don’t think any of them were over 25. I wondered: are they at ease with their gig like it’s no biggie, or do they bury their feelings like so many of us and just get on with it. A fellow crewmember said he’d pay for their time so I could talk with them. But…that sounds an awful lot like a cover, doesn’t it? Yeah…you just talked

You sat down with a couple of hookers? Openly consorting with the depraved? For shame!

The thought of shame stops you doing things. Obviously, other people’s judgmental attitudes are a problem for me. I must get over it.

Knowing shame’s power, I try – try – never to shame anyone. I might joke, but it’s meant in the spirit of mutual fun. I hope people get it. In truth I feel every single human being has the capacity for worth, and we all share something in common: we all need to make a living. As jobs go I wouldn’t compare roadie and sex worker, but maybe like me, some people just sorta fall into their gig.

My gig started as a big, fun adventure. Twenty years later I’m finally refusing to act happy. I’m also trying to do something about my problem.

I got an email from that counsellor who, for obvious professional reasons, couldn’t see me. Given my schedule, she suggested private treatment, and gave me some website links to check out counsellors. So I’m still on square one.

Facing a webpage tiled with counsellor’s faces, it’s like trying to choose a movie on Netflix. Too much choice. I was really looking forward to someone grabbing me by the collar and saying:

Here’s what your problem is. Let’s fix it.

Square one feels like looking at a leaky tap.
‘Did you call a plumber like I asked you?’
‘I’ll do it tomorrow stop hassling me!’

I rarely ask for help. Precisely why I’m feeling run-down and broken. My pattern is self-dependence but the cracks are showing. I need to hand the reins over. But to who?

I don’t know what my deal is. Do I have a leaky tap, or a short circuit? Plumber or electrician…I might attend a session, and the counsellor thinks so-and-so would be better for me. Then so-and-so refers me to such-and-such… This is anxiety. Too many loose ends. Too many questions, not enough answers.

So anyway, Berlin tomorrow.

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