Saturday 1 May 2021

The Saturday List #305 - The ten biggest disappointments of my life

I'm sure we've all been there. We've spent weeks, months, sometimes years waiting for something, then when it arrives, it is a great big let down. Sometimes we feel like we've been conned, sometimes we are just angry at ourselves for building it up in our heads and sometimes, well it all just goes completely wrong.

Here is my list, I've tried to be as honest as I can.

1. Confirmation into the Roman Catholic Church. This placed me in a terrible dilemma. I am highly superstitious, so I was worried about the consequences of saying this with the higher powers, but I also believe we should tell the truth. I think I was ten years old when I was confirmed.I was at St Vincents RC School and we'd had lessons about the process. We were told how the early apostles were in the room when the Holy Ghost (That was before his rebrand as the Holy Spirit) camedown as tongues of fire. They lost all their fear and were given the capacity to speak foreign languages. In truth we were warned that we'd probably not get quite such spectacular results, but somehow I was very excited. The big day arrived, the Bishop did his bit. Nothing. I felt gutted. No one had the pyrotechnics, no one started ordering Coq Au Vin in a perfect French accent. I couldn't really see what the fuss was all about. In those days, we didn't get a party and envelopes stuffed with tenners either. A few years later, they changed it sothat you did it at 14 so you'd have a better understanding. In truth, I am more of a fan of it now. It is an excuse for a party and it gives young people a day when they are the centre of attention, get some nice pictures, Grandma is happy and they get a few quid. I am sceptical as to whether most teenagers see it as more than that, but I am  a very bad Catholic and a cynic. I sort of thing Spirituality is a bit of  slow burn for most of us, which comes with life experience.

2. My 21st Birthday party. My birthday is in August so I always used to have a big summer party. For my 21st, I decided to go overboard and we had a mini festival at the studios. A big PA was procured. A couple of hundred friends were invited. It was going to be great. One of my friends offered to run a bar, another to run a barbeque. My then girlfriends sister was going out with a Chef. He was also a small time drug dealer. He told us that he'd make a stew to feed the masses as a present. He started serving this just as my band started to play our set. As the set progressed, something very strange started to happen. What had been a fairly raucous party started to resemble a scene from Shaun of the Dead. People were walking around like Zombies, crashing into walls etc. One guy fell asleep with his head in the PA Bass Bin. People were arriving all of the time, so some were dancing and oblivious to this. At the end of our set, I was informed that the stew had been spiked with Opium and that he'd put too much in. He'd scarpered when he realised the mistake. My girlfriend, who was not party to the plan, was being violently sick, having been knobbled. The band, who'd not been spiked were going around making sure everyone was OK. By about 11am, everyone who had been spiked had gone home. The party proceeded, but it just wasn't the same, it was a bit of damp squib. Luckily there was no long term damage. My ex's sister split up with her boyfriend shortly after.

3. Santana at The Royal Albert Hall. I am a big fan of the music of Santana. Their version of Soul Sacrifice is one of the highlights of the Woodstock film. I love the groove of their music. For my 22nd birthday my then girlfriend (mentioned above) very kindly bought us tickets to see them at the Albert Hall. It wasn't cheap. We went with high hopes, but for reasons I don't really understand it just didn't do it for me. It was a bit too long and a bit too self indulgent for my tastes. I was really disappointed. 

4. The Exorcist II. The Exorcist was one of the best and scariest films I've ever seen. It scared the living daylights out of my then girlfriend. Then a follow up was made. It had Richard Burton in it. A screening was held at the Phoenix of the two films. We went. Once more we were terrified by the first, but the follow up was the most stupid load of old tosh I've ever seen in my life.

5. Going to Old Trafford. I am a Manchester City fan. Old Trafford is not a place I naturally am drawn to, apart from if City are playing there. However during the Euro 96 tournament, a group of us got tickets to watch Germany play the Czech republic there. It was a good excuse for a lads weekend away. I thought it would be a great chance to enjoy the ground without letting my prejudices get in the way. I have to admit the weekend was fun, but I was not impressed with the ground. The seats were uncomfortable. The row in front was too near and there was nowhere to put my knees. As I am 6'1 it was a most unpleasant. All of my mates have similar frames apart from one who is a 5'1 and a Man Utd fan. He swore that our whinging was purely anti Man Utd bias. I've never found another ground so uncomfy. I've been a couple of times to see City play and it has got no better. 

6. Being present at the birth of my children. It is funny, my eldest brother used to say that being present at the birth of his children was the best moments of his life. He would describe the moment with tears in his eyes, the beauty of them arriving, holding them. Bonding. I remember discussing this with my Dad. He told me that the proper way to learn of the birth of your child is to receive a message in the pub, so you can buy your mates a few bevvies and a cigar. He was old school. I've always respected my brothers views and his sensitivity as a Dad. I thought his more modern ideas were the right way to go. That was until I had children. My wife had a difficult time with our first daughter. She was late, had top be induced, that didn't work, it went on for a couple of days, watching her in pain, getting ever more uncomfortable. I was unable to do anything. When finally my daughter was born, she was completely knackered and I was emotionally drained. The doctors had to take my daughter and drain liquid from her lungs. When finally I got to hold her, I was just pleased that everyone was OK. I am not sorry I was there to offer what support I could, but it wasn't wonderful. It was one of the most stressful two days of my life. For the other two, I was just terrified it would all go wrong.

7. The Mona Lisa. Have you seen the Mona Lisa? Sure it is a great painting, but blimey, is it really worth all of the fuss? You can't get anywhere near it. I've seen it twice and it was like a scrum. I prefer the works of Matisse and Magritte if truth be told. And you don't have the bundle to get to see them.

8.  My first Big Mac. Do you remember when MacDonalds opened in Golders Green. I don't know if it was deliberate corporate porkies or just the fact that us Norf Londoners love a bit of exaggeration, but we all believed that it was the first one in the UK. It wasn't. But we all went down there. I was lucky enough to be taken for a treat by Mr Lewis who lived over the road. He had two sons Frank and Johnny who were good mates. Mr Lewis was a lovely bloke, loved to take us out for special treats. MacDonalds was the big thing. Usually he'd take us to Marine Ices, but this was a special treat. We were told that we could have Big Mac's that were proper American hamburgers. I had this with a Chocolate milkshake. I thought the burger would be the size of a dustbin lid and taste better than steak. It tasted like a Big Mac and was no bigger than a Wimpy. In fact I'd have preferred a Wimpy. As he was a nice bloke, we all said how wonderful it was, however he was no mug. The next treat day out was back to Marine Ices. Many years later, Michael Douglass starred in Falling Down. If you know the film, you'll know why I'm mentioning it here. Mind you, the milk shake was pretty good.

9. The River of Fire. Do you remember the Millenium? I was working in the City and from the roof of our building, we could see the River Thames. We were told that the river would turn to fire, with barges full of fireworks. I couldn't wait. What we got was, well a few barges with a few fireworks. If they'd have said "We've got  a few barges with a few fireworks on them", I'd not have been disappointed. But it was horribly oversold.

10. Halley's Comet. As a child I loved astronomy. What I most wanted to see was a comet streaking across the sky. The most famous comet is Halleys comet. It returns every 75 years. As  a child I knew it was returing in 1986. I was so looking forward to it. Sadly it was, shall we say, less than spectacular. A small fuzzy patch in the evening sky that looked like a slightly larger fuzzy patch through a telescope. Mind you, at least it didn't crash into the Earth and kill us all.

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