Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Signal

My inability to settle down and simply R.E.L.A.X has always bugged me.

I can be looking forward to a day off, with grandiose plans for some Classic FM on the radio, a joss stick smouldering away in its wooden holder and a nice hot bath. This will invariably degenerate into me surfing Facebook for hours, punctuated by the odd visit to YouTube or various porn sites.

I have a good collection of books, that I’ve barely touched. First two instalments of “A Song of Ice & Fire”, book 2 of “The Wheel of Time”, or “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” and a couple by Louise Hay and Paolo Coelho.

I have a collection of about 20 Playstation 2 games, most snapped up when I was standing in the RSPCA charity shop when some woman came in with her now-grown up son’s old stuff. The old bag behind the counter said “twenty pounds and it’s all yours, I can’t be bothered to catalogue it all!!!”

I rarely play them.

I have a big, fuck-off TV bought from a neighbour about 3 months ago that I haven’t turned on in about 2 weeks. With the proliferation of torrent sites and stuff like iPlayer, it’s a piece of piss to download The Walking Dead season 3 or Red Dwarf series X and up close the laptop screen isn’t much smaller than the telly is from across the room.

I find ways to waste time, even though I don’t want to. I fritter and drip away all my spare time on nothing, forever waiting for….what?

It recently hit me that I have effectively been waiting for The Signal. I never dreamed of being a part time postman by the time I hit 42 so I sub consciously imagined that I was a superhero/ secret agent/ special forces soldier in waiting. I couldn’t settle down and do “normal” shit like read a book from cover to cover in 2 days (last time I did that was in 1999 with “Hannibal” by Thomas Harris) or watch an entire season of Prison Break over one weekend (I know several people who have done this).

I was always edgy, biting my nails and keeping myself fit via thrice weekly (or more) visits to the gym in case The Signal came and I was required to do something more exciting than get up at half past twat to open the sorting office and hand out parcels to pissed off members of the general public, with at least one per shift demanding to know “why my postman never knocked. I was in you know!!!”

Terry Pratchett coined an expression called Knurd. It is the word “drunk” backwards and basically means an ability to see the world as it really is, while totally sober. Being knurd means you have no filters or rose tinted specs on your life, you see it for EXACTLY what it is. Being knurd drives many normal people to become alcoholics in order to cope.

I use to drink like a bastard but now I don’t. I was never an alcy (although a friend of mine who works counselling alcoholics once said “you are. You don’t drink all the time but when you do you find it hard to stop”), but I found other ways, mainly a self sustaining ego and a huge imagination to cope with the facts that:

  • I didn’t get laid until I was 2 weeks from my 20th birthday (and she was a minger…and it was after a pub crawl…and I had been sick on myself…and it was crap);
  • I was bullied remorselessly from age 11 to age 16;
  • I have never made enough money to pay back ANY of the student loan I took out in 1991 (another 8 years and all 3 grand gets written off);
  • I have never held down a job for longer than 2 years;
  • My family is fractured and spread all over the world and not talking to one another and;
  • I have forearms about the same size as a 15 year old girl’s.

Knurding my way into a cosy, bullwhip and fedora, V8 Interceptor world I sub-consciously believed myself to be a super sleeper agent of a mysterious global squad, just waiting for the signal to set him off on the path of awesomeness.

The good things that came of this is that what you believe about yourself will to some extent come true. In 2010 I worked for NATO as an Offshore Marine Salvage Diver…a job you cannot get unless you know the people already involved. This involved going out in a speedboat, 25 miles off the Cretan coast of Greece and retrieving the remnants of rocket drones, shot down by trainee Patriot missile operators.

In 2005 I was a Special Constable (unpaid, volunteer cop) with The City of London Police. Of all the forces in all the country, this one was fundamental in the clear up after the July 7th 2005 terrorist attacks. I was on duty that day, met the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, stood on cordon at one of the bomb sites and have a signed letter from my Chief Superintendent (borough commander) thanking me for coming in that day. I also went out on a blind date a year later with a survivor of this atrocity (and we are still pals now).

In 2010 I had a book published, detailing my experiences in the English police. This was my revenge against the force that bullied me out of a job I had whole heartedly wanted to do. It upset many people, it made a lot more laugh. The book was only published because a friend offered to give me 5 grand to self-publish. The same guy who got me the NATO diving job.

Finally, I have started doing Krav Maga. I passed the first grade a week ago and can’t wait till March when I do the second (and fully intend to make it to E5…or grade 15 as it’s known by some). The ability to fight was not something I ever believed I would have unless the Global Awesome Squad activated The Signal. Now it appears such things are open to me.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be someone else, even if they are fictional. It’s when you forget who you are that the problems arise.


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