Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A tribute to the Brave

Grab life today, embrace it, shake and force it to do things your way! In the process never forget to show a little love to those around you, especially those with mental illness.

This year two of my friends have lost the fight with depression. When you hear such sad news as the loss of a loved one, if the loss is due to old age, or accident, whilst still tough, it has a reason, there is a hook to hang your emotion onto. However when you hear that your friend took their own life the situation for those left behind is far different.

Anger, resentment, tears, frustration, sadness and regret all intertwine into a big noisy mess inside your head.

'maybe I should have called him' 'why wasn't i there for him' 'if only I hadn't dismissed his troubles as melodrama or attention seeking' 'I should have noticed he was that bad, I should have known, I was his friend!'

These thoughts and a million others race through your head as you try and resolve the hurt that is biting at your heart.

Here's the thing though, there is no way of bringing back a loved one once gone, there is no cure. There is however a vaccine that might help those suffering from the same disease hold back its symptoms.

If you have a friend or a colleague who is suffering from depression or manic depression or any one of the many terrible mind maladies which display similar warnings, then there is one thing you can do for them right now and its really quite simple.

Just show them some love. Don't judge them. Don't scorn them or hate their moments of melodramatic self indulgence. Don't try and assign reasons for their behaviour using your best judgement from your sound mind that has no idea of the complexities and complications, the demons and the torture some have to deal with. Do not pretend you understand their pain if you yourself have never known such pain. Do not figuratively patronise or pat their head in wayward lip service. Just give them a little more love.

Many people with the many forms of depression are often the most creative and colourful members of our world. They are impetuous and bouncy one day and morose and negative the next. They build great walls of personality and bravado and lull the world into thinking that they are ok, they love the fight. They make it seem as if the fight is a tough one but one which is exhilarating in its pursuit. We often see those who suffer as somehow the strogest amongst us and thus the least likely to fall. This is a fragile illusion and the many dear friends I have said goodbye to are sad proof of that.

You may not be able to save a friend, you may not be able to extend their life one day beyond the day they decide their time has come, but you can wave them off with a heart that is clear in the knowledge that you did everything you could. You spent that extra moment to share a smile, you hesitated before judging them and you never forgot to tell them that you valued them and loved them.

Good bye my dear friends. Sleep well and peacefully.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

poetry & cheerful reasons

Its national Poetry Day so I thought I would share a couple of recently scribbled musings and then I came up up with a list for a magazine article recently 'Reasons to be cheerful' and thought maybe you would like to read it too :)

Written a couple of weeks ago whilst gazing accross Morecambe Bay very early one morning.

Morecambe bay journey

Whilst cockle pickers flick salty molluscs from watery cracks & distant mountains cast lonely authority over this ancient muddy wasteland.
Behind me sits the chaos of a world in brick built regularity, in front of me the wilderness in random, ordered singularity.
Behind me the past, in front of me the future, should I advance or retreat, conquer or be conquered, make a stand or take my seat?
The decision is simple, the route unknown, but my strength is certain because my destination is home!


Like rose petals fallen pon a glassy pond,
Your sweet eyes soften and sweeten my world.
Like sunlight falling into icy depths,
Your smile is the moonlight melting my night.
Like jewelled armour your your strength is your tribute.
Your beauty is your spirit, your laugh and your kiss.


Reasons to be cheerful

It was 1979 when Ian Dury penned the famous ‘Reasons to be Cheerful….’ This was the last hit he had with his group the Blockheads. His lyrics were born out of frustration and written in a time of national unrest and turmoil…. This all sounds very familiar eh?

So here are my reasons to be cheerful… make up your own tune!

‘Reasons to be cheerful.’
by Jools Constant; ‘the only comic in the village!’

* The new leader of the free world has great Abs.

Can we get buffer than Barrak Obama during international ‘Let’s Get Buff Week?’ Yes we can!

Barrak is set to be Torso of the Decade. With his handsome grin, buff body and position of extreme power, he will have a queue of Monica Lewinski’s begging him to pay for their dry cleaning.

* You’re now unemployed, but just think of all the extra time you have with your Xbox.

Thanks to rising unemployment, sales of video games are on the up. Another bonus is that MFi has closed…. So with all your new free time, you couldn’t fit that new kitchen, even if you wanted too.

* Sarah Palin is still alive so we still have someone to laugh at now that Bush is probably dead.

The Moose hunting Moose is the main reason her team lost the election. Ms Palin is so stupid, she makes George Bush look like Steven Hawking without the wheelchair! Her knowledge of world geography is based purely on Disney films. If she had ever been elected President she promised her first act would be to hand out free lipstick for all Pit Bulls!

Yet despite all this the right wing extremists think she's the best.... the very same people also have lots of guns and a very limited IQ, lets hope their trigger finger gets twitchy when MRS P is passing by!

* No-one has any idea who is running the Country now, so we don’t know who to blame or moan about anymore.

I’m not even sure which Man is really in charge and I am not remotely interested in new coalition politics. I do know that now the benefits are being slashed, rich people are uncharacteristically grumbling! I don’t really care as long as they keep recycling our rubbish, it has been revealed that cheeky councils all over the country are throwing our tins it into landfill! Throwing away our rubbish – it’s a scandal! I will write a strongly worded letter on recycled paper, and very soon that too will be recycled and my prickly anger may be mopping the bottom of the very ploiticians I disdain!

* Only 123 shopping days until Christmas

Take advantage of the Poundland Sale now! They are still selling the remnants of the Woolworths stock. They have 300 Mona Lisa Jigsaws left. The pick-a-mix stand is completely empty except for the coffee creams and even the ‘Barbara Streisand sings Black Sabbath’ CD box set is still available if you hurry.

Christmas is almost here, it's the best ever reason to pig out on chocolate without the ‘Obese Police’ wagging their chubby little truncheons at us.
Every day we are being told off for eating the wrong things; burgers, chips, pizza, carpet! With Christmas on the way we can fill the trolley full of chocolate without the Check Out Operator hitting the alarm button and having our kids taken away by social services.

* Big brother is over forever! Yes!

Who would have guessed that by shovelling 10 nuerotic oversexed village idiots into one hole the result would be benign dribbling dross of the highest order. The series ran 9 seasons too long me thinks!

* I know times are tough, but you wouldn’t sell you Ferrari and replace it with a wheelbarrow, would you?

Why is Rooney riding a bike when he has enough money for a taxi? Lets take heart, even with all his money, advisors and resource, he can still cock things up just as spectacularly as us mortals

* Michael Douglas isnt too well.

KZJ may soon be single again. Dancing shoes at the ready lads.

* Angelina & Brad haven’t bought any babies this year which means they are becoming more affordable for the rest of us.

Now that they have their Quality Street tin filled with a United Nations calendar of adopted kids, they are turning their attention to old people and the disabled. Apparently they have put in an offer for Cliff Richard and the whole of the England Rugby team.

* Greggs has not gone bankrupt.

You used to be able to guarantee that if a Banker invites you out to eat, it would be an expensive steak washed down with a very exclusive Red. However in these tough financial times he's thinking; ‘Greggs,’ washed down with a bottle of Dandylion & Burdock! However cold the weather, however little money is left in your pocket, a steak pasty & a Chocolate Flake Fancy will always wash away the boyfriend blues. Bankers are quickly tightening their belts as its going to be at least another twelve months before they get anymore multi million pound bonus's from us taxpayers

* The French are still in France.

Bon Bon. When the French Market visited Newport recently they had no-where to park their vans because the Welsh Sheep Farmers blockaded the car park. We had vans stacked up all the way back to Bon Marche.
Some people dislike the French so much they have suggested that we force them as a nation to adopt Russell Brand and Ricky Gervaise.

* I haven’t heard mention of the Ryder Cup for a full three days!

We are considering re-naming Newport; Celtic Manor City, electing Terry Matthews as President and turning the Castle roundabout into a putting green. The river is to be a new Water Hazard and there will be a windmill built at the end of the footbridge for those who fancy a bit of Crazy Golf.

* Cheese and onion crisps.

If there is a God in Heaven, you can guarantee he will have a secret stash of Cheese and Onion under his bed – which makes sense I guess as he probably invented them first. The last supper would not have been the same without a crispy cheese starter.

* Finally, here is the most astonishing news I have ever heard – after last years’ unveiling of Amy Winehouse at Madame Tussauds, they decided to do some tests and they found there were actually less artificial substances in the wax model , than in Amy herself. Shocking but true!

Always remember; Smile, and the world smiles with you. Frown, and the world will think you are constipated!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pursue your dream!

Less than3 years ago I was just a builder, and a pretty good builder at that, (that’s just an estimate of course!) Here I am now, a professional comedian stalking the motorways of Britain, slithering down the slip roads into comedy venues countrywide and actually getting paid proper money for parking my jokes inside people’s heads in an attempt to make them laugh.

Less than three and a half years ago I did my first ever gig – my material was delivered straight from the open pages of The Big Compendium of Jokes, which was an unwelcome gift the previous Christmas along with a bag of Satsuma’s and a multi tool spanner thing, (the only tool I would ever need again, the instruction booklet promised I could now throw away all other tools!)

Then a friend pointed out a comedy competition, run by the BBC which was looking for new comedy talent living in Wales. Foolishly I filled the form and clicked ‘send!’ The night before my big televised debut, I reluctantly read the ‘terms and conditions’ (men don’t generally really do instructions!) To my horror it said that all jokes must be your own and original. One or the other would have been fine, but both….!

I turned up in front of an expectant viewing public with a complete gaggle of comedic musings. The judges though, rated me, but their advice, (like the drink I downed before going on stage) was short and clear. They said that I was a ‘born performer’ I had ‘great stage presence’ and had a bright future in the comedy business. However…. now here’s the crunch! I quote ‘Your material is Shit!’
Their advice was direct and useful. ‘Get out there, do your time on stage, work hard, develop your material, work even harder, and learn your craft and then, if you are very lucky, you might make a living in this business!’

Well I guess I have been lucky if you consider that now I am performing in some of the biggest clubs in the UK and earning a living doing what I love the best. However, that ‘luck’ has cost me quite a high price. I am driven by a passion to make my voice heard above the hum and noise of mediocrity, but my passion has come at a cost.

After working up to 10 hours a day as a builder I would climb in my car and drive hundreds of miles to perform gigs in a wide selection of pubs and clubs as I developed my skills. In less than 3 years I did over 600 gigs. The routine, the lifestyle and the passion which drives me has cost me my marriage, my beautiful home and the security which I had spent many years, until that point, meticulously building around me.

My life has completely changed now, I’m living almost full time in London and my week is centred on my performances and the constant need to improve, develop and progress. I have paid a high price for my passion, my hobby. Now as I begin 2010 and look forward to the year ahead I have to ask if the price I paid was worth it. Well if I concentrate on NOW and appreciate that I am living a life that many people could only dream of and that if my career keeps going in the same trajectory, I have a pretty sound future ahead of me, then I’m ok. I have at last found a world in which I fit and belong. If I looked backwards and count the real cost of the journey, perhaps my conclusions would be a little different.

Comedy is the most difficult and demanding thing I have ever done. I leave some gigs and it feels like my whole world has fallen apart and others like I’m Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood and George Clooney all rolled into one…… invincible and untouchable!

The thing is, when you climb on that stage and feel the buzz of the audience in front of you, when you feed off the collective energy and lift the mood of that big room full of people, there isn’t a greater feeling in the entire world. When you step back down again and you know that you have left them happier, entertained and satisfied, just like you’ve just delivered a mass inoculation against the woes of the world outside, then all the pain, all the mindless motorway monotony and all the personal disruption, suddenly disappears. I’m no saint, I do this for me, not for them. I need this and am driven by a deep rooted hunger to succeed, to prove that I can tame the toughest of all adversaries, not the unending expectations of the restless crowd, but my own lack of completeness.

May people say they respect comedians, they hold them in the highest esteem, and yet they show this respect by laughing at their woes, giggling at their misfortune and roaring at their messed up lives.

Yet every night we get back on stage in full knowledge that whilst the audience is laughing, they don’t have the slightest idea of the time, effort, rejection and personal mishap which goes in to creating every single minute of our performance.
So I ask myself, after the year I have had, would I do it all again to get to where I am now… I guess the answer is a resounding YES. I would have preferred to have not had the stress, the pain and the major disruption to me and especially those around me, however, regrets are only useful to songwriters and melancholic murderers. I prefer to learn from my mishaps, build on my mistakes and press forward in an even greater determination to accomplish what I set out to do.

That multi tool spanner now lies useless at the bottom of a box, the Satsuma’s have gone mouldy and the joke book stabilises a wonky drinks cabinet, but that Christmas was the last one I will ever spend unhappy.

My advice is; Pay the price, follow your dream, wholeheartedly believe in where you are going and who you are. This is the only way you may ever succeed, you may not die wealthy or famous, but I absolutely guarantee you will die happy and a little more complete.