or Lowe Is Me / Lowe Ebb /Lowe Self-Esteem etc
So what has all this bollocks been about? My lack of popularity, negative charisma and lack of basic skills, social or otherwise. Disappointed by being ignored, shunned or simply not noticed, but finding a specific loneliness cast into painful relief when actively part of something, existence nonetheless grinds relentlessly on. A hopeless case indeed.
But here is what comedians refer to as a call back. I said at the start that this is definitely not intended as a display of self pity. And it is zero percent self-loathing or even lack of self-esteem.
The tendency of so many people to take things too seriously prompts me to warn you that the next sentence is a joke.
Up to the age of fifty, I thought that everybody hated me, and they were right to do so; now I think they’re wrong.
More seriously, for those who still insist ‘the subconscious has no sense of humour’ (because they don’t), I don’t think I ever thought everybody hated me, but, yes, a goodly population portion; and I think far fewer people do so now that I no longer do. I don’t accept that you have to love yourself before others can love you, that’s patent bollocks, but it is indeed almost as hard to like folks who hate themselves as it is to like arrogant egomaniacs. And there is no higher form of egomania than self-loathing, so that cuts both ways.
But, like I say (and even if you insist it is self-pitying), I give up.
I long ago gave up on relationships, but that’s a combination of age and one particular failure too far. And solitude has brought a perhaps blesséd relief from desires to master those other basic skills of natation, glissation, instrumentation or terpsichoration (but apparently not wordmaking; see my Fuck-it List above). It is oddly more compensation than retrospective vexation, finally to realise I probably could have got the hang of one or two with the right attitude.
The latest and probably final ambition to fall by the wayside with a dull thud is any hope of publication, viral dissemination, onstage affirmation or media domination. A couple of brief appearances on quiz shows, fifteen years apart, is not what I had in mind when I said I’d like to be a media whore.
It’s not even self-deprecation. The joke there is, I tried self-deprecation but I’m not very good at it. But I am. But this isn’t it. I have my weaknesses (over and above the block preventing me from mastering the skills and lifestyle of everyday folks), but I also have some strengths. Don’t we all?
A tendency to lose my temper, control of rational thought and physical co-ordination manifests very infrequently and very short-livedly; it has contributed to the sinking of relationships, but only when something more fundamental has already rocked the boat. My fondness for dwelling on things, reliving events and conversations, not to mention losing concentration, co-ordination and confidence as a result, has cost me more than just success in quiz shows. But many people have far worse temperament issues, than my once a year, not-really-violent five minute wobbles. And even elite sportsmen get rattled by mistakes they can’t put behind them for seasons, let alone matches. These are limiting traits, but nothing much in the scheme of things. Along with prattling on too much, they’re things I’d try to work on, if I had (heaven forfend) my time again.
No, it’s all just a sober analysis and statement of the way things is. Certainly no sympathy, much less pity, is required. Though I make Charlie Brown from Peanuts look like a winner, I can no longer echo his cry of, I’ll take all the pity I can get! Were I a much younger chap and had I found the soulmate and the awareness of potential a few decades earlier, I might have changed the odds a little, but since I don’t really know what it is about me that makes the dice fall snake eyes far more often than one throw in thirty-six, I can’t have any confidence that this particular aspect of my life would be any better. I’d probably still be eating leftover party food for weeks, still be performing to empty seats, still be sitting in that darkened amusement arcade at the end of a deserted pier.
Hey, I found love, varied and finally amazingly profound, and that brings joy, and I may have had three years of a happiness that few beings ever possess. But most importantly, and what lies behind my giving up, is an acknowledgement of where my strengths, abilities and fortune do lie, as much as where they don’t.
It’s simply an acceptance that if I try to become a star, run a business, even do sponsored charity work, I will fail before I even limp up to the first hurdle — that very high one with the spikes on top (another call back there).
If I tried to turn my cooking skills into a business at street food or fine dining level, I would be living on the unsold food on a daily basis, getting very fat until the money ran out. I have spent lots of quids promoting my book of verse on social media, but, despite one five star review (which folks probably but wrongly assume is my own or by a relative, while in reality not even my own family feels inclined to big me up), and despite ‘reaching’ thirty-one thousand pages, not a single one of the 187 folks who clicked on the ad purchased a copy. I have tried to sell my computer skills to the technophobic of all ages, but only one of the many leaflets elicited a reply, from a flat in Maida Vale; the posh but neurotic-sounding woman who answered the entryphone told me in a terrified voice that she’d changed her mind, and wouldn’t even open the door. It’s not as if she even got a close look at me. Maybe she saw me approach and didn’t like the cut of my jib. That way paranoia lies, so let us move on.
The point is that, though there’s little danger of starvation, before age finally prompts the state to give back some of the cash paid in taxes over decades in computer offices, I would like a bit more of a cushion for my fading years. Keen as I am to quit this life, love at least prompts me to hang around, in case I can be any use to not just the distant belovéd, but anyone who might need my support or succour.
And all the foregoing is simply proof that I’ve been wasting my time and what little energy I’ve expended, in trying to obtain that by means of my creative or entertaining genius. Even if I have any, it don’t sell; entrepreneur I ain’t. I had considered going on the streets — no, not selling my body, that’d be even less likely to show a profit. I mean as a mendicant — but then I’d have to invest in some charity shop rags and a begging bowl, and I doubt I’d ever collect enough to cover the cost.
But there is another way.
Because I also know from long and tedious experience that if I go and sit in an office, or even get employed by someone else to make snacks or visit the technophobic, I can do a competent, and occasionally brilliant job. And they will be contracted to give me money for it, or I won’t be starting.
Yes of course, my age is against me, but my skills and chutzpah are for me. One thing I did succeed in, perhaps surprisingly, given the above, was job interviews. There is apparently, and despite the response to my leaflets a decade or so ago, a huge shortage of computer mavens and teachers and webmasters and technicians. In the sector where I made most of my dosh, ancient but irreplaceable ‘legacy’ systems churn on night by night with few if any people skilled in the arcane means of maintaining them (as a major high street bank recently demonstrated). I have those skills. I will travel. I can be bought.
But where employers were so easily convinced, customers never are. I have offered to help people, often for a fraction of the cost of an unknown software business, with everything from basics and security to setting up and maintaining a website, even showing them that I can set up a prototype of their requirements in a matter of minutes; but whatever quality it is that scuppers me in so many ways comes into play, and they don’t seem to take me seriously, in at least one case committing to months of waiting and tens of thousands of pounds for something I could have produced that afternoon (I’m not totally naïve: I do know how brains are confused into assuming cost means value and all that, and may well write in depth about this one day; I’ve had people not buy my paintings because they’re ‘too cheap’, as well as not even looking when they’re ‘too expensive’; there seems, sadly, no middle ground).
But that same work done for an employer or umbrella company (admittedly bringing in even less dosh, while the middle man creams off a goodly share), could at least allow me to throw the wolf a few placatory scraps, even if it doesn’t keep him far from the door. As could some sort of contract to help foreign Johnnies and Jennies with their English, which I am qualified to do not just by my excessive use of the lingo but a course in teaching it as a foreign language (unfinished due to the usual catalogue of ludicrous and unpredictable hindrances). And then all those people who have come, inexplicably, to Scotland to improve their English, but who again don’t take my offer of paid help seriously, might find I’m quite a good tutor after all, when they hire me through an agency.
So, like I say, I give up trying to make something of what’s left of my life by self-promotion. I shall take whatever employment is given or claim benefits based on lack of it. I doubt it’ll be very fulfilling, but to be frank, very little is at the moment.
Things will still be on the back burner. Books will be written or tidied up, and if publication and a subsequent Nobel Prize comes my way, I won’t argue, any more than I would about Tate Britain offering my paintings a major retrospective or the Beeb offering me a cookery series. But I won’t be holding my breath.
I’ve tried that — worst suicide method ever.