Central Station Glasgow. Celtic are playing away to St Mirren. Me and a pal walk onto the concourse, it’s quite early and us fellow Celtic fans acknowledge each other. There’s a Strawberry blonde lass with a Celtic flat cap and green and white scarf with patch of the pope on it. She’s also wearing jeans and white trainers.
It had become clear that our Kate did not suffer fools gladly. She had a big heart but you don’t disrespect her or cross her. She had these blue eyes (only thing blue about her!) that showed no fear and would back you to the hilt.
She has a young boy with her; we all say hello. “Let’s go to the Chippy Central Station” she pipes up. So we go down. We get our food and go back up the escalator but we notice two lads sitting with tracksuits on and bleached jeans. We know these to be casuals. One shouts up ‘UVF’ giving us a semi stiff arm. Our new pal Katie turns round and gives the m ‘IRA ya poof’ the two casuals do not respond.
I would see her at a few matches after this and she would always acknowledge you. It was over a year later that Celtic had organised themselves into a a crew of casuals. Firstly Roman Catholic Casuals (RCC) onto Celtic Soccer Trendies (CST). It was settled on Celtic Soccer Crew (CSC).
As we were gathering in town one afternoon I recognise a face. She’s wearing a leather patch work top and carrying a black umbrella, it’s Katie. I thought ‘oh no’ but then my thoughts go to how I remember her and why she’s there.
I recently heard someone share at a meeting, “if your in recovery and yer unhappy, yer not doin it right”
It got me thinkin of things I used to seek, chase and covet, all in the pursuit of happiness.
Clothes, status, girls, money, the holidays abroad, designer drugs, big nights out and so on.
Sure, they brought some instant gratification, some temporary feel good factor, but it quickly faded and again I’d be back out chasing.
Constantly chasing happiness but could just never seem to quite keep it in my grasp.
What I know now is I thought external things would give me internal happiness.
I used to look at folk who didn’t wear the clobber, didn’t have that half Q of Diego in the back pocket (or doon the boxers) or be out partying every weekend and think, “straight pegs man. Miserable bastards” I wondered how they could possibly be happy being so mundane.
When I was in my 20s, right through to late 30s I thought life would be one big party, forever. A life of taking recreational drugs, chasing girls, designer clothes and false status.
I knew the party was over just before I hit 40. The drugs stopped doing for me what they had done for many years. I had isolated myself but kept this fantasy life, a film reel playing in my head.
When I finally conceded I was fvcked I thought it would be a life of misery. A life of that straight peg mundane, nothing to look forward to that I’d so often scoffed at.
I had this idea that my life would be going to recovery meetings with all these miserable, unhappy bastards.
“I’m David, I’m an addict” in my most miserable voice was all I could hear. Grey skies, smelly rooms for meetings, sad faces was all I could envisage.
That there was self pity.
I started to lift my head at meetings. People smiled, laughed, looked fresh.
Nowadays they mundane things like walking your dog, ironing, cuddling up on the couch watchin telly, doing the dishes.
Thats the stuff that makes me happy. That’s what keeps me humble and grateful.
Of course, life isn’t all strawberries and orgasms, it’s not a Disney film but I’ve got awareness that when life turns up, I can deal with it and in turn, that brings happiness, peace and gratitude.
Recovery is growing up. Its being present, its dealing with life on life’s terms. It’s about getting out the fvckin way and realising you’re not the centre of the universe.
I watched the UFC fight on Saturday night and whilst Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett may divide opinion with his showboat and cocksureness, his speech at the end of the fight was raw, emotional and very, very important. He told us how a friend of his had taken his own life a few days prior and how we need to ditch the stigma around mental health and suicidal thoughts, especially amongst men.
And he’s right. It is getting better but like a lot of things like this, they become all to easy to say with little substance. We need to continue to get the message out.
3 years ago around this time, (I don’t recall the exact date, but it was mid July), I had my last, and hopefully final encounter with suicide. In the early hours of the morning I walked out the house I was staying in at the time and hooked my hood onto the garage door and kicked my legs out.
Truth is, I shat it when I felt it tighten round my neck and I was able to get my feet back under me.
I didnt talk to anyone prior to this. My mental health got worse. Suicidal ideation was constantly on my mind. In the months that followed I’d visit my GP numerous times. I’d be given different tablets and have input from psychology.
I felt alone. Felt no one would really understand. I wont go into great detail but there were other factors in makin me feel alone and isolated.
I felt when I did open up no one listened. I knew they heard but they didn’t listen cos all they wanted to do was give me advice, pay lip service or fix me.
Its not what I wanted. Or needed.
See, here’s the thing, it’s our human instinct to want to help people, but sometimes, the best help is trying not to help, trying not to play the fixer, the sorter. The best help we can be is just to listen, to be there.
I’m not a doctor, a counsellor or any sort of professional in mental health. This is just personal experience.
See when someone tells you they’re feeling suicidal, or they’re feelin low, here’s a few do’s and don’ts;
Don’t tell them to man up Don’t tell them other folk are worse off Don’t tell them it’s a drink or a good night out they need Don’t tell them you know just the thing to make them feel better Don’t joke that it’s their “time of the month” Don’t tell them it’ll all be better when they get a job, girlfriend, boyfriend, car, lottery win etc
Do tell them yer there for them Do tell them you’ll just listen whilst they talk. Do offer to go to the GP with them Do tell them you might not understand or identify what they’re goin through or feeling but you’ll listen. Do validate their feelings.
We also need to keep looking out for each other. We need to get comfortable about broaching difficult subjects.
“Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Say that out loud.
Its uncomfortable isn’t it. It gives you a wee knot in your stomach and you’re probably thinking, “fvck that, im not asking anyone that. It sounds cheeky, too forward”
Guess what, tough, cos see that question, that could save a life.
So, get comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you ask that question the worst thing that’d going to happen is the person looking at you and telling you “NO”.
I’d rather have that look from a pal that thinks I’m daft than sit and wonder if the question could’ve saved them when I’m mourning them.
Get talking. Talk to your partners, your kids, your pals, even sometimes that stranger thats sitting looking like the weight of the world is on their back.
A kind word can save a life.
We have some great organisations out there, large and small and we have some wonderful people doing there bit.
Folk like Paul at Max Kolbe, the walk n talk group run by Andy Pingu, Dave with Kickin On are just a few.
I had always heard of Chico. Had always heard good things about Chico. Always the focus on nights out. Everyone’s pal, always made the day or night out better.
Who wouldn’t want introduced to Chico?
Just over 20 years ago I got properly introduced. Right away I knew I liked Chico and sensed we’d be good pals.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t with Chico all the time. Started off now and then but everytime I was with Chico, it was great. Really f*ckin good to be honest.
Before I knew it, me and Chico spent Friday and Saturday nights together. Man, sometimes Chico would join me on a Friday and that would be us til Sunday.
Things were goin that well that everytime I went to do something fun, Chico would always be there. I invited him to everythin. Days oot at the fitba, nights oot wi pals, family parties, pals parties.
I’d always start on a Monday or Tuesday makin sure Chico would be about at the weekend. It got to the point I felt I couldn’t enjoy myself if I thought Chico wouldn’t be there.
Everyone seemed to love Chico. Folk would always ask if Chico was there. Everytime I went into a toilet in the boozer folk would ask if Chico was there. I’d love that. Lap it up that people asked me about Chico.
Then I started to resent it. Fuckin find yer own Chico, I started to think.
Shortly I’d start having nights wi Chico myself. Maybe a wee Monday night, or a Thursday. Just me and Chico.
Then the relationship wi me and Chico started to get a bit toxic. The nights spent wi just the two of us became more. Chico would convince me I was better off just the two of us. They nights became more frequent.
Chico then started takin all my money. I spent it all on Chico. I’d get into debt for Chico.
I tried loads of things to distance myself from Chico. Tried to cut down the amount of times I spent with Chico each week. Nae good. See, Chici is cunnin and baffling. No matter what I tried, Chico was with me every night. Every f*cking night.
In the end, I hated Chico but just couldn’t get away. I’d cry when I was with Chico.
Eventually I managed to end things wi Chico.
Don’t get me wrong, Chico still tries, every day, to get my attention. As I said, Chico is cunning and baffling. Chico tries to trick me into thinking things will be like they were in the beginning. Chico tries to get me to forget how things ended with us. And if I let his cunning and baffling approach sit too long in my head I am in real danger of believing that lie.
I cant afford that so whilst I acknowledge the good times Chico. I can’t forget that bad times. The dark times, the hopelessness of my life when you’re involved.
I left Helsby Grammar School in Cheshire for the final time 40 years ago never to return. I never wanted to go there in the first place as all my junior school mates were off to the local comp just down the road. Parental pressure was applied however and so I ended up either a ‘grammar snob’ or a ‘grammar puff’ for the next five, long years.
Like most grammar schools, there was a pecking order both within the teaching staff and the pupils. The ‘rough’ kids with Runcorn accents were often ridiculed by teachers whereas the posh kids from Frodsham, Helcy, Kingsley, Manley, Tarvin and other strange villages in the sticks were indulged.
The grammar was a laughable institution with an inflated sense of its own importance. The head teacher wore a gown and a mortar board when she went for assembly. There was still a separate boys and girls class system but only one head. The girls played hockey, the boys rugby (Union!) and believe it or not we still did Latin for a year although all I can remember of it is ‘Marcus pulsat Septimus’
Nothing had prepared me for the culture shock of the grammar school and I tolerated until 1982 then left at the first opportunity after achieving four GCSEs.
The day I went to pick up my results was the same day we left for a family holiday in Paignton of all places. We never usually got further than Rhyl so heading down to Devon with me mum, dad, me, our Claire, our Gaz and our Ste all in the back of some arl banger was a bit of an odyssey for us.
Summer 82 – it was fucking hot! The ‘82 World Cup had started and our hotel (not just a B&B!) had a lounge where we watched tge match and me dad allowed me a few pints of Tartan bitter.
It was England’s first finals for 12 years and the Bulldog Bobby Brigade were there in Bilbao and then Madrid where they got wellied by the Guardia Civil.
A few random memories of that holiday.
The Basil Fawlty owner passing us the cheeseboard on our first night and us demolishing it. He came up to me mum and whispered loudly ‘do you mind if tomorrow you could leave some cheese for the other guests?’
Me having too much Tartan and pissing the bed that I was sharing with our Gaz (he was aged around 10 so I swapped places and blamed it on him and he got took the rap.
Buying the 12 “ version of Me No Pop I on Ze at a record fair. Still got it now. Still love it to this day.
Noticing local lads were wearing similar clothes to the scals back home. Blacmange Swedes ( curly perm on top, shaved at the sides, kickers and Hunter leathers)
Going to watch Airplane at Torquay cinema. Funniest film I’d ever seen.
Getting mad Sun burn on the last full day before we went home.
In the footy, By the time we were leaving, the Italians and Germans had reached the final.
My older cousin and her husband lived on the outskirts of Bristol and we went into the city centre on tge Saturday afternoon for a mooch. I saw my first body poppers in the UK there – it could well have been the Wild Bunch.
Back at our Lorraine’s I slapped camomile lotion all over my bright red scar tissue and settled down for the final. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it although what I DO remember was Alien being on after.
Aah Alien ! Maybe with The Thing the best sci-fi movie of the 80s. The gore is justified, the production values are amazing.
When I got home, our youthy had got an Alien style pin ball machine and Bulldog Bobby was another false dawn for the inept English national squad.
82 was a momentous year for me. I finally left school and went to the local college to do an Art A level but jibbed it after year 1 (ok I was booted out) and ended up on a YTS scheme.
I’m sure me mam and dad were devvo’d that their first born with Great Expectations of university and success ended up in a council warehouse grafting VHS tapes.
Boris Johnson was always a creation, a kind of anti-politician cartoon character that appealed to the type of people who complain that ‘all politicians are the same.’ These ‘new populists’ – the Johnsons, Trumps, Macrons, Bolsonaros, Orbans – are always rich and right wing opportunists using the familiar tricks of the demagogue to whip up hatred against others in order to divert attention away from their own criminality. Migrants, gay people, indigenous people, women, strikers, single mums, benefit claimants, poor people, ill people, football fans. They don’t care who they target as long as their pet mass media propagandise on their behalf.
Suddenly all these defenders of Johnson have discovered he’s a lying, manipulative narcissist willing to throw anyone under the bus to save himself. Yet, even as panic grips Downing Street, the loyal, embedded mass media will do its utmost to protect their paymasters. Public Service Broadcasting is a myth, what it amounts to is state funded propaganda and both the BBC and Channel 4/ITN are as embedded as Sky or any number of US channels that never deviate from the accepted state narrative. The middle ground play offs between all three main parties will yet again result in consensus stasis after the next election. Red Mist is one place we hope to break this stranglehold upon public opinion, what those self-elected arbiters of social discourse decide what is within their imposed boundaries of acceptability. Don’t expect the Guardian or the Mirror or any of the middle-class liberal rags and broadcasters to reflect ‘our’ culture and our outrage.
LIARS A-E “The Conservative Party is an organised hypocrisy” so said Benjamin Disraeli. Boris Johnson is merely the latest and arguably the most blatant Tory Prime Minister to use his position as a way to further enrich himself, reward his chums, bask in the glow of senior office and lie and cheat his way through office regardless of how many other people his actions destroy. He and Cameron were the conjoined twins of Neo-Etonian privilege, the Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber of Tory rule since 2010. Cameron was merely a bag man for his own family interests and those of his fellow off-shore tax avoiding pals. Johnson is by comparison, a pickpocket of the public purse, brazenly lining his own pockets as he bounced from one scandal to another, all the while no doubt still convinced of his own unique abilities and talents. Neither Cameron or Johnson have ever had to hold down a real job. They’ve moved from one shoe in position to another aided by their old school ties and political connections. They exist in an upper-class cocoon that has protected these dim witted, mediocre men and women for centuries. Johnson’s reputation as a so-called ‘vote winner’ was based upon his displacing of Ken Livingstone as London mayor in 2008 and then by usurping the Tory leadership by any means necessary and fighting the 2019 general election on one issue; Brexit. That he was in favour of EU membership before the election was by the by, this, he knew would resonate with voters across the political spectrum, not only those ever reliable xenophobes and racists in his own party but those xenophobes and racists in the Labour ‘heartlands’ who had backed Brexit in massive numbers. Johnson’s tenure as PM will end very soon but will also allow the Tories to re-group and re-brand themselves in time for the next general election. Once the middle class begin to feel the pain of ‘the cost of living crisis’ (never austerity for these people), then any support for sneering toffs soon evaporates. The likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson symbolize a rotten, decadent culture that truly wants to return to the class deference and ‘values’ of the Victorian/Edwardian era. In many ways, I don’t blame them because if the British public are too stupid or timid to accept these maggots as their political leaders, then why should anyone expect decency and honour and discipline and truth and responsibility and wisdom and energy and morality and competence?
Sometimes it’s easy to see why some people become so utterly sickened and frustrated with the political system that they retreat from society.
The communes and squats of the 60s, 70s and 80, now seem almost quaint as we are corralled into house ownership and then entrapped by mortgage repayments and the demands of keeping a home warm and safe and furnished and people fed and clothed and cars fuelled and serviced and repaired.
We have been slowly but surely taken over by the banking system enabled by digital technology and a political system that has absolved its responsibilities to the bankers and their bag men in the city.
There is NO escape from direct debits and on line payments, cards and plastic currency – even if you wanted to avoid it you couldn’t unless ofcourse you are totally self sufficient.
The communal life seems appealing as we reach the final end game of modern capitalism. These Etonian morons in charge of the country are only the latest bunch of self serving parasites urging we lesser mortals to do as they say not as they do.
THEY can lie and cheat and sexually assault people and claim obscene expenses and blag wallpaper and treehouses from donors and take cocaine and get caught getting a nosh and taking bribes to give their pals knighthoods and peerages and medals because they have brought up to believe they are invincible.
As the west rattles around showing off it’s muscles, the fact is however enlarged NATO becomes and however much the west spends on ‘defence’ the old empire is dying before us. War is always a way out for the capitalist class – it worked in 1914 when the spectre of the Bolsheviks haunted the wealthy elites. These same elites encouraged the fascists and Nazis as long as they didn’t come after THEIR dough.
All this would be bearable if our mass media would atleast allow real debate and a range of opinions that truly challenged their state narrative but the hypocrisy runs so deep that the BBC have a department devoted to exposing ‘fake news’ even as it skews its own nauseating propaganda.
There’s no turning back from the upcoming collapse as western capitalism seeks to cream off as much as it can before the entire state structure collapses in on itself.
There are now almost 9 million people in the UK classified as “economically inactive” that is not in work but not claiming unemployment benefit.
These hidden millions are never mentioned when our media and politicians boast about record rates of employment (a five hour shift as an agency worker in a warehouse – you have a CAREER!).
I used to work for ONS and saw with my own eyes how the stats were fiddled and a narrative created that was favourable to the government of the day – first under Major and then Blair.
When everything around you is a lie or a manipulation of the truth how can we even begin to argue otherwise? We can call out their hypocrisies and lies and corruption but in the end Johnson and Raab and Patel and Gove and all the other slimeballs will end up richer than ever and content that their revolting names will last as a testament to their evil.
He was the first black player to play for Scottish club Celtic and was the father of poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron.
Spotted by a scout from Celtic when the club was on tour in North America and he was signed by the Scottish club in 1951 after being invited over for a trial. Becoming the first black player for Celtic, and one of the first to play professionally in Scotland, Heron went on to score on his debut on 18 August 1951 in a League Cup tie against Morton that Celtic won 2–0. Heron only played five first-team matches in all, scoring twice. He was released by the club the next year after making one appearance in the Scottish football (having been unable to displace the established John McPhail and joined Third Lanark where he played in seven League Cup matches, scoring five goals but did not appear in the League.
It’s a very important part in Celtic’s history, culturally and also musically. At Holywell Street we have big affection for Gil Scott Heron the son of our famous player.
Scott-Heron’s work has influenced writers, academics and musicians. His work during the 1970s influenced and helped engender subsequent African-American music genres, such as hip-hop He has been described by music writers as “the godfather of rap”
Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, Scott-Heron used his songs to rail against the Vietnam war, the drugs and alcohol, the Watergate scandal and racial injustice.
Going with the culture and music vibe. Holywell Street would like to pay tribute to both legends one the player and one the musician/political activist.
The things I know about myself today are a direct result of embarking on the 12 steps of recovery. Prior to this I lived a life of self pity, of self seekin, selfishness and co-dependency. I was never the problem, it was all of you. Aye, even you readin this.
To the outside world, all seemed good wi me. Part of a football casual scene, good job, designer clothes, patter, confidence, family, a mortgage. Sounds good eh, sounds a good life. A life to be grateful for. And whilst I was grateful, it still wasn’t enough. I needed more, like my drug takin, nothin was ever enough. Nothin could be enough to fill this hole in my sole. Deep in the malady!
The designer clothes became less to make way for designer drugs. The goin out to the fitba became less as isolation took over.
I lost the mortgage, lost my family, through my selfishness, self pity. Still wasn’t my fault though. I was so far removed from reality it was insane.
In my head, this TV drama I played out in my daft head, I was a jack the lad, fitba casual wi the world, and all of you at my feet. In reality, I was sittin in a dark room, curtain twitchin, nose twitchin, hopeless case.
It was still all your fault.
My most common answer when i was asked why I had done something, when I had fucked up was “ah don’t know”. It used to frustrate everyone, myself included.
The truth is, I didn’t know. I genuinely didn’t know.
Today, with the gift of the 12 steps I know, and more importantly, accept the character defects I have. I have awareness when these defects come into play these days and can quickly correct this.
That hole in the soul? Today’s thats filled, and stays filled as long as I work my 12 steps. I can notice when I’m tryin to fill that hole with all the wrong things (ooooh matron) and rectify that before I’m back at step 1.
I have an illness, an illness of addiction. It was easy to admit I had an addiction. Accepting it was far, far harder. Took me a while to get to that part. Relapse, courage, willingness and action got me there though.
Ridding the things that I had previously used to fill that void, casual life, designer clothes, constant people pleasing, Co dependent relationships, self seekin, approval from others, I had to let them go.
I had to grieve for them. I remember 4 days after my last relapse, all the crew down in London for the Scotland v England game and me sat at home and the penny dropped.
I went upstairs and cried, that crying ye do that takes yer breath away. It was a release, letting go, grieving.
Acceptance. And knowledge that it was gonna be ok. More than ok.
Recovery isn’t living the mundane life. Recovery is just life in its most beautiful form. Its feelin and showin gratitude. Its bein of use to others without lookin for anything back.
Today I have a beautiful life. Not perfect and problems do turn up. I don’t have bad days, I have wee tricky moments in days but I can cope wi that.