I went to Glasgow yesterday and met with my brother and it all went surprisingly well. Unlike the usual family encounters there was no big fight nor vows never to speak again.
In fact it was one of the most emotional and touching days of my life. Certainly the only time I've had any "quality time" with one of my brothers that I can remember. "Quality time", don't you just hate that fuckin' phrase... but I'm too lazy/thick to think of an alternative. It always sounds like it's time to open a big tin of chocolates instead of what it really is, a kind of uncomfortable, forced togetherness.
It was a bit crazy, a group of middle aged men on a Saturday morning up to mischief, trespassing and risking heart attacks and broken hips. It was something we would have loved to have done as kids but kids wouldn't be allowed to do such things. "The man" would have chased us or the police would have been called. Fortunately fat, boring, middle-aged, balding men like me are ignored by everyone and if we are spotted then we are presumed to have permission. There are indeed some benefits to aging.
We had planned a whole day of wandering but after a hundred yards it was obvious my brother was having difficulty walking, his hip was the problem he said. I was really taken aback. Now, these days I struggle on even mild hills but I'm usually OK on the flat. But he was really toiling and had to keep stopping in between his slow shuffles, he looked like an old man. It was awful, it's the first real absolute realization that we are all getting older and that the wind of youth has gone and left us.
Anyway, we abandoned the walk and said goodbye to my friends. Once back at my brother's house he chirped up and started on all his usual superficial banter and chit chat. It was only when I was about to leave that he became serious and for the first time in my life he told me all about the real events in his life at the moment (which are not good). We also discussed how every member of our family past and present (including us) is mad. I may be the only one with an official diagnosis, medicines and a shrink but I am by far the most normal one out of our chaotic gene pool. I read a Stephen King book in the summer (can't remember the name of it) in which a family all inherited the "bad gunky". Well every member of our tribe (or "non-tribe" as we invariably alienate ourselves from each other) definitely has the bad gunky inside them. He thought I was lucky as I am the only one who hasn't had an alcohol problem... ha ha... I told him about my shrink's opinion. It was all in all a very touching experience, honesty and openness are things our family avoid like the plague and something I have never really experienced before. We had all been indoctrinated to avoid "unpleasantness" at all costs. I was very touched by his honesty, almost cried at times but held back and ended up giving him advice and playing the strong one. Not a role I am familiar with. But it all felt good. I only hope it isn't a precursor for something dreadful. Call me cynical ("hi there Cynical!") but why/when do people suddenly start throwing up confessions?
Today I went with trepidation to the mysterious jam. I was worried that I would be the odd one out.... well.. err... it was a bit like going to the day centre, everyone was the odd one out. They were quite a disparate group of folks. I wondered if Moonstone had organized the whole thing. One minute Mr Facebook was saying how expensive it was to hire the hall but when I offered him £5 he immediately said "Oh no, it's all been taken care of". Hmmm, how queer.
Anyway, there were three sax players, a percussionist, another guitarist and a harmonica player. It was all a bit of a cacophany and one of the sax players was wayyyyyy too loud. I had words with him and I thought he might react badly as he was a very extrovert wacky kind of guy. He had a minor tantrum at first but I soon distracted him with humour and after that we got on OK. I tried to impose some kind of order to the chaos but it was like Ali V Frazier and the mayhem continued. Two of the sax players were beginners so I wasn't daunted by the experience at all and even Mr Wacky (who by the way was very, very good on sax!) complimented me on my playing. I thought it was going to be a total bummer but by the end the dynamics (musically and personally) were very much improved and some good music was being made. Mr Facebook asked me if I would come back again (he plans to have a "happening" every month), I said I would prefer a rhythm section of at least bass and drums so I could stretch rather a bit rather than just hold it down with rhythm. I said I would go back next month and take it from there. I left with us all smiling and even had some cheery banter with Mr Wacky.