This post is based on todays writing prompt over at The Daily Post entitled The Outsiders. I think this could be right up my street, as I’ve always felt that I was an outsider. For many years, particularly growing up and then my teenage years, I always thought that there might be something ‘strange’ about me, something that said I didn’t fit in with others. I’m sure I am not alone, well I know I’m not as I’ve met many others who felt like outsiders growing up. Now that we are all adults, us outsiders seem to be on the inside, and all those that were insiders are on the outside. Probably, only an outsider would understand that!
I grew up in a family that were very sporting and quite high achievers in the world of soccer. FA cup medals, international caps, record transfers and all of that. It was thought from the moment I could walk that I would follow in the tradition and at the very least be an active participant in the game. How wrong were they! I had no ability or indeed the slightest interest in soccer, apart from the odd support of my local team, Aston Villa, I just didn’t bother. Saturday nights in our house as a young boy was filled with experts talking over the merits of the days football results, who should have beat who, why wasn’t so and so picked and on and on while I would sit in a lone corner with my head filled with anything but sport.
Actually, I always wanted a guitar and yearned for one for a long time, but it was always passed off as another fad, and that I was a strange fellow, interested in music and not sport. The Runt of the family? Whenever we were invited to gatherings of the clan, elderly Uncle’s would chat to me about the upcoming talent of Trevor Francis who was 16 at the time and apparently a superstar in the making. I would reply that I had never heard of him and then I got the usual look, a gaze like a bulldog that had stuck his nose in the fire. These were Uncle’s who had played for Wales, who some of my friends would have given their right arm to be able to chat to, and here was I, part of this family, on the inside yet feeling like an outsider.
There has always been something inside of me that has made me a regular outsider. When I started work, I soon found that I didn’t want to follow the sheep, you know, accept the first pay rise they offer, or take it on the chin if the management said there would be redundancies. It’s got me into trouble over the years, questioning everything you were told. And of course, as with all manufacturing plants, the workforce are usually all football fans, and Monday mornings were always groups of fans huddled around the table chatting about Saturday’s results. You can guess who was the outsider on these conversations. I would often disappear into the toilets first thing on a Monday.
As I grew older, I found people who had similar interests to me, loved music and the arts and married one of them. We’ve been together well over 30 years, and the friends I have, the close ones you can count on the fingers of a boxing glove, also have similar interests to me. Every now and then, I will meet with people I’ve known for a long time, usually in a pub somewhere, and the talk inevitably turns to soccer, and once again, I become an outsider!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my family and they me and we had some great times together, but a lot of the time I felt like I didn’t belong. When I started work, I treated myself to my first guitar. I’ve been playing for over 40 years now. It wasn’t a fad. I think John Lennon summed it all up for me when he said, “Being honest may not get you many friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones”.