Fewer and fewer roads left to travel

This problem I have with not being able to approach people could have got me down today. At the start of the evening’s meeting, I wanted to approach the secretary to remind them that my commitment there is ending soon, so that they could announce it to the group. Except as soon as I started moving towards them, I saw someone else start talking to them, and I had to swerve, as if I’d been planning to go another way all along. I couldn’t interrupt what was surely a very important conversation, far more important than the one I’d been planning to start. My moment was gone.

Later I wanted to approach the treasurer of the meeting to ask for reimbursement as I had just ordered in a fresh batch of sobriety chips. Again, when I wanted to talk to them they were immediately accosted by someone else, and I felt I’d missed my chance. Logically you would just wait for the current conversation to end and wait your turn, but with me there is often just a small window where I have the confidence to start these challenging conversations. To me they are challenging – I had to ask for help (in various forms) and that’s never a natural thing for me to do, even with practise.

At the beginning of the Tuesday meeting there remains an atmosphere (entirely in my head) of mild awkwardness, which gets me feeling that I am not really wanted there by everyone, so I have to make extra effort to be there. Someone expressed the feeling so eloquently the other day, when they talked about having to leave at the door assumptions involving who’s not talking to them, who doesn’t like them, who once gave them a funny look, and so on. Though I’ve never fallen out with or had real problems with anyone at the Tuesday night meeting – OK, maybe over the years there’ve been some awkward moments with a couple of the regular members, slight faux pas where I didn’t say hello or they didn’t smile at me this one time – from that an unwelcome sensation has grown in the pit of my stomach whenever I’m there. It is this baseline of discomfort that I always have to leave at the door before I can go in, fill my role and engage with people. It is the result of not valuing myself enough and relying on the perceived approval of others.

That’s not to say it’s this big deal stopping me from enjoying the meeting. Quite often now I can get over the feeling quickly, once I’ve sat down and seen people I feel at home with. The meeting often has those people in attendance so most of the time, I can handle it. In my other regular meeting, the Saturday group, I don’t tend to experience the unwelcome sensation at all, unless none of my friends are there, which is very unusual now. In other meetings, especially ones where I don’t know any of the regulars well, that sense can be stronger. It’s the reason why I’ve found it hard to establish a regular attendance at any other meetings recently. I guess if I can make myself overcome it on Tuesday, I can do it at other meetings. I’d like to have a third regular meeting every week again, I just haven’t got round to finding one yet.

*

So, Brexit will definitely be happening. Despite having the chance to exercise some wisdom and oppose the hard exit we’re heading for, parliament chose to wave it straight through like they were voting on any old change to the law. I’m so tired of being angry at politicians and the media, I may just stop following the news altogether. It hasn’t done me any good to pay close attention to political events this year. The delay to the triggering of article 50 that the parliamentary vote required only served to get a whole load of hopes up, before dashing them completely. I hoped enough of them would have the conscience to fight this unilateral march into the wilderness that we’re on, I was wrong, so I must move on.

*

Ed Sheeran’s total domination of the charts confirms that the charts have become meaningless, in the view of most music critics. I knew the charts had lost their meaning years ago, but until now I’ve kept following them for some weird reason. Every Friday I can’t stop myself from checking what’s in the top ten, even though it rarely matters to me once I’ve seen who’s there. The fact that an artist has managed to hold nine of the country’s top ten positions would have been very exciting to me as a teenager – it’s one of those anomalies that you just never hear of. Unfortunately the artist is Ed Sheeran, and the music is the most commercialised, calculated to sell non-music ever released.

I’ve always been a pop fan, I think the last sixty years are full of great ‘commercial’ music that happened to sell bucketloads. The last act ever to dominate the top end of the chart as much as Sheeran was arguably the Beatles, and their music was actually music, written with clear artistic value in mind. What’s happened is that there are so few authentic artists around now, anyone who appears authentic – plays a guitar, writes their own songs – is bound to do well. And the fact that streaming counts towards the charts now as well just compounds the popularity of the current hot thing.

I’m sure Sheeran is a nice guy but God, have I ever listened to an album full of more lifeless dirge! Most of the songs will surely become wedding classics, geared as they are towards loved up heterosexual couples, full of plaintive, unoriginal lines designed to comfort such as “how beautiful you look tonight” and “have I ever told you how beautiful your eyes are?” Puke!

I’m extra cynical at the moment because our country is being dragged out of Europe for no reason, the leader of the free world is an over sensitive child, most of the people in power are spineless liars, and I’m sorry to any Ed Sheeran fans out there, but I’m blaming him for all of it. His music epitomises those lies to me: the lie that everything in the world is wonderful, that the future will always be better than the present. I could kick myself for listening to it and pushing him further up the chart.

I needed some real music this evening so I listened to Black Holes and Revelations on the tube home. How can an album that was released just eleven years ago be so far from anything that’s made today? Maybe there is decent music still being made, but I certainly don’t hear it because only ‘popular’ artists dominate the streaming services. Listening to Muse this evening was an escape; one of the few escapes open to me these days. Critics can call their music overblown and pompous, and they may be right, but give me a song like ‘Map of the Problematique’ over ‘Shape of You’ any day.

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