Ash tour – Belfast

Well this is it. We’ve come to the end. Five weeks around Schengen, UK, and Ireland. And now for me it’s back to real life in a real house with a real bed and real family. If I could sum up the last five weeks, I’d have to say…exceptionally uninteresting.

I’m talking about me…Mister Dull. Every single night on the bus, I was first to bed. In the morning, almost always the first to rise. No fun, no action, no crazy stories. Just me, pills, and sobriety. Five weeks on a rock n roll tour…and not a drop of alcohol.

How did I do it? Why did I do it?

The how is easy to explain: I became a recluse.

I did try, on a couple of occasions, to be social. But it didn’t take long to confirm what I already knew: as the sober one, you’re outside the circle of fun times. You’re not one of the gang. But now I look back…it doesn’t bother me. Quite the opposite.

The why needs some detail.

Just before this tour started, I missed an opportunity for counseling – depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide. Luckily I found some pills that worked for me, but I noticed alcohol interfered with them. So for the first time ever on tour, I prioritised my sanity. For once, absolutely nothing was more important. It wasn’t easy though. On tour, it can be difficult to watch (or hear) everyone else having a good time. So I had to reassure myself that what I was doing was for the best. And I had some good reasons.

Some folk need a tipple to help them come out of their shell. I don’t. I’m “funny” right out of the box. Add alcohol, I’m even “funnier” (read obnoxious), much to the delight of my fellow drinkers…but sometimes that feels clownish. I think sometimes I’m just covering up how much I hate everything ever. Maybe it comes from living with, travelling with, working with, and socialising with the same people for weeks on end. So I get thinking…if you want a clown, amuse yourself.

Booze messes with the job. You sleep late, feel lazy, and ignore the little things you should be taking care of. I’m not here for the craic, I’m here because I’m paid to do a job.

Finally…the woe-is-me stuff. This is the embarrassing, whiny teenage crap, but hey. There’s a shit-load I’ve wanted to achieve in life. Creative stuff. Music, writing… The trouble is, when I look hard at myself, I come to a conclusion that’s hard to swallow. I’m nuthin special…pretty much followed the crowd…did what everyone else was doing. Nothing wildly remarkable…bit of a sheep really. And for once I wanted to not do what everyone else is doing: drinking to help make the days go by.

And I did it. It’s a minuscule achievement, but I’m really proud of it. Yeah, it’s ridiculous…Here’s me, proud of being the boring guy…but not once did I follow the crowd en mode.

You might say the sum of my personal achievements over the last five weeks is a simple matter of avoiding people. It must sound pitifully easy to anyone who hasn’t worked in music for over twenty years. But to me it’s a big deal because people are flippin everywhere. People in this business let you go into dark places. People are a bad influence.

So…from suicidal thoughts to feeling that I’ve achieved something worthwhile (to me at least), this has been an uninteresting…and yet quite interesting tour. It’s hard to avoid people. It’s hard to avoid hearing what they think of you. It’s hard not to crumple, and simply join the gang. It’s tempting to think that by joining in you’ll be immune to criticism, both external and internal. But that’s fantasy. No matter what you do, someone’s going to think something of you. They’re going to put words in your mouth, and assume they know your thoughts. It’s inescapable. You’ll never win outright…but you can have some victories – however small and personal – to smile about.

So now it’s the Christmas season. I need a drink.

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2 Comments

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  1. Congratulations on ‘walking to the beat of a different drummer’! It can be difficult. You should be so proud of yourself ! Now for that cocktail…….. 🙂

  2. The small victories taste so sweet. Cheers!

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