It was good to write about my comedic experience on Thursday night. To think about the absence of fun in my recovery. But, since I wrote what I wrote, I have realised that actually I have had other experiences of fun in sobriety, not just during David Byrne’s Meltdown back in the day.
David Byrne’s (of Talking Heads Fame) Meltdown was really good fun. But it wasn’t without it’s difficult moments. I sang in the choir, which had required rehearsals at the Southbank Centre, over the course of a few sessions. We had to learn a few songs by William Onyearbor — a cult Nigerian musician who “produced some of the most forward-thinking music of the Seventies involving synthesisers on an epic scale” according to the Independent.
I rehearsed with David Byrne! A regular hero of mine. The gig was called Atomic Bomb and had all these amazing musicians brought together for the night, like a tribute collaboration to celebrate Onyearbor. I think he even turned up!
It was so exhilarating! It turned out that one of my childhood best friends was in the choir as well. I didn’t know she would be there as we had lost touch. Seeing her again was hard. I had a very troubled childhood, as did she, both of us got mixed up in each others troubles and such stuff always hangs in the air. Seeing her again brought it all back and a lot of sadness and pain with it. So, as I was saying, my fun at Meltdown was not exactly pure unadulterated joy.
I practically went to the whole festival and saw some amazing performers. Being involved myself gave it a really powerful aspect though. I loved being backstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The whole gig is online still: Atomic Bomb, David Byrne’s Meltdown (2015). I’ve watched it a few times, and it always gives me a great feeling of happiness — especially the end where we appear, as does Byrne — although I am not visible in the film.
I think it goes back to, or taps into, one of the spiritual practices that Rupert Sheldrake outlines in his list of 12: Singing. Well, being in a choir is obviously singing! But even Byrne could not stop going in about how brilliant Choirs are: greater than the sum of their parts. It’s like a power greater than oneself. And singing is uplifting, or can be.
There’s another collective called: Choir! Choir! Choir! Lots of songs online. It’s two guys from Canada. They turn up someplace in North America and for a day they teach a choir of volunteers (ordinary folk) a song in a day. A famous pop song. And then perform it in the night. It’s really wonderful watching their vids on YouTube — uplifting.
I’ve also had a lot of fun with my friend S and his dogs. When the lockdown kicked in last year, we went on a whole bunch of walks together in a little group. As with singing, hanging out with animals is viewed as ‘Spiritual Practice’, according to Sheldrake. But we know about dogs and mental health from all the latest research anyway.
I suppose that what I’m saying is that spiritual practices crosses over with fun, or can anyways. I didn’t know that until I sat down to write this! Finding out new things is a good reason to write.
I had some fun with my ex, although not a lot, it has to be said. Perhaps that was part of the wish.
I didn’t have a lot of fun on my last alcoholic relapse either. I was having a short affair with a retired professor in London (my ex doctoral supervisor). I went to Claridges and drank a Moscow Mule — rather quickly, as my date pointed out. He ordered a Pini colada. I tasted some of his drink and wished I had ordered one myself. But I can’t say I really had any fun, although it was social. Social-ish.
I guess that’s one of the other lacks that I was discussing last time — having a social life. Social life and fun are supposed to partner up, aren’t they? If you have any thoughts about social life or fun, I’d be grateful to hear them in the ‘Comments’.
Laughter is another signature of fun. When I’m with S, I laugh a lot. S is very good fun, not just his pooches. He’s good fun because he’s playful and funny. Funny people are very often fun, are they not?
S is a poet, and I have to say that I’ve met a few very funny poets: Roger Robinson and Michael Donaghy. Don Paterson is also extremely funny, although I have not met him. Ditto Hugo Williams. If you want to have a really good laugh I recommend Don Paterson’s Shakespeares Sonnets, although this is obviously pretty high brow.
I don’t often watch Comedy on TV, although I loved it as a child. I guess I wanted to feel happy. But I have watched a couple of comedies recently: The Cleaner. I did laugh but I wasn’t ‘killing myself laughing’. Back to Life was very good, also comedy. Both of these programs are on BBCiPlayer, and Back to Life is also on Netflix.
I guess that when I was using I had a social life but I wasn’t necessarily having fun. Not usually. Now that I’m sober I don’t have much social life or much fun either. But I don’t have no fun whatsoever. What fun I do have is probably more fun than what was available as a practicing drunk. But, I’m starting to realise that perhaps that is what I was trying to have. Laughter is associated with self forgetting and happiness. With connection.
Sometimes recovery meetings can be great fun. The rooms are full of laughter, sometimes. They are also brimming with tears. Angst. Discord and strife. Nothing is ever straight forward is it? My therapist is great fun. We often do have a great laugh, not exactly what you expect from seeing a shrink.
Maybe that’s enough for today, but I think there is a lot to mine with this topic.