Buy My Book

I’ve written a book about my experiences of becoming a parent. Sometimes you have to Bite the Dog published by Soul Rocks Books. There are some further details and reviews here. If you’re interested Soul Rocks also published an interview with me which you can read here.

Some have liked it. Some have not. If you’re looking for some guidance on those first few months of fatherhood then there may be something here for you. As long as I make you think.

Essential reading for all parents, In this honest and heartfelt book the author shares the emotions he feels at his daughter’s birth, how life changes with the responsibility of becoming a father and oh so much more, that I won’t spoil by revealing here.

So many books are written for new mums and pregnant women. This is for Dads and it is powerful stuff.

I wish it had been around when I had my two babies as I think it would have given my husband a much better understanding of what I was going through and how to give me the support and love when things were difficult – not only during labour but also in the months that followed when I sometimes felt I really didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing.

“You need to keep writing. We all need you to do that. Parenthood is an elusive club to people like me but thanks to you I really get it.”

Sometimes you have to Bite the Dog by Sam Coleman – Audio Chapter sample “A Gentle Savagery”

We were burgled recently. They took watches, hard drives and computers mostly. We lost nearly all our photos but I’d backed up most of them on various disks and odd looking usb sticks. While doing this I found a video I’d made of an author reading I’d attempted. At the time of making it I’d just had the news I was going to be published.

I’m not sure it’s on the mark in terms of message. I wanted to portray the content as a recollection. I think my voice works as the chapter isn’t gender specific.

Anyway I hope you enjoy it. I wanted to do something different.

Finding joy in a broken culture

Joy. That overwhelming, heart-stopping blubber in the pit of your throat. You lose control somewhat, seeing something that fills you with purpose. Like holding your first newborn baby. Like passing an exam. Becoming a parent. When you realise you have finally made your father proud of you. Just for a moment.

Joy. It can be found anywhere if you look for it.

But sometimes I wonder. I wonder whether being a parent is joyous or not. Whether being a human is something to be proud of. I wonder whether our children will forgive us for the mess we leave them.

Millions dying. Queue for the next superhero movie. Bent skeletons. Broken ribs. Idle thugs. Alcohol. Pacification. Needless suffering. Mindless coercion. Blatant lies. Social Media. Ketamine. Cuts. Where I live I come across the strangest characters. I saw a man once who looked and moved like a razor blade. Cutting his way through the crowd.

There are evil people in this world. I don’t want to lie to my children but I struggle to explain some things. Why they exist.

I asked my eldest daughter what she does to centre herself. To take herself out of the madness. To find time to be creative. She answered: “finding joy in the little things.”

The little things. The sun on your skin. The smell of your children’s hair. A moment between you and your partner when you suddenly find each other hysterical. Creating something and watching it come to life. We’re told to look around ourselves. To see the world enfolding in front of our eyes. To look up at the stars.

We forget that we are made of stardust. That our singular existence is a chaotic blessing and nothing else.

My daughter explained further: “My sense of self. That whatever it is that’s bringing me down or taking up my time or stressing me out, it’s not me. It isn’t who I am. Not exactly a small thing but I guess that would be mine.”

I take joy in seeing acts of kindness, positive and constructive decisions being made, people breaking out into song because they’re that happy.

I feel joy when my daughter wraps her fingers around mine. The time you invest in particular moments is important. Particularly the random, effortless ones.

Break out of your pattern for a change. Look for something else. There might indeed be a multitude of parallel universes to traverse if you just halted a second longer. If you just waited to breathe, to look at the sky, to pause to watch the majesty of nature sweeps her curtain aside for a split second. It’s the joy of discovery based on chaos in the blink of any eye. You need to keep looking for it.

Stop. Head in the other direction. See how that works out for you. And I take joy in the beauty of my daughter’s words. Ask your children interesting questions. There will always be joy in that.

Solitude

Creating something is a process only you can take full responsibility for. It doesn’t manifest without the impetus to grow.

Inside all of us is the flickering hiss of an idea.

The issue is finding a purpose. A direction for it. What form it will take. Which purpose it has. Ultimately you need to understand what you are contributing. And to whom.

A way to truly realise this is to find some time in your ever bulging diary for some solitary space. Some time to take a deep breath and really realise what you’re doing, what you’ve achieved with your day so far.

Just to make the world stop spinning for a time.

Office jobs are a way for me to earn money to support my family. Some I have learnt a few important lessons from. But it can be a long time to sit behind a desk. For me an evening is often spent coaxing a teething, foul-tempered toddler to put some pyjamas on. After a day spent flicking between screens of various sizes I prefer to sit and stare into space after she’s fallen asleep. Just to rest. To turn off the noise.

When I used to go to the gym I’d enjoy the shower more than the workout. Five minutes of solitary confinement. Washing off all the poison the morning at your desk had force-fed down your throat. Only to emerge reluctantly to join the endless queue. The endless queue of living in a big city. You rarely feel like you’re any nearer to the front.

So don’t join a gym. Find a park. Take a walk outside. Find a box to hide in.

Take a deep breath.

Breathing is important. Every time I think about how I should be breathing I notice how terribly I breathe. Erratically. Out of rhythm. Short breaths. Shallow, quick, panicked breathing.

I imagine a fairly simple, safe future for my children. I hope for one. One in which they can find some solitude. Some brave little corner to thrive. To dive into imagination.

To give birth to the dream of the self.

Now however there are enough communication tools available to completely envelop a person’s entire being if they choose to. An immersion.

But often the process is far off the mark as to who that particular person is or is trying to be. Our dependence on social sites has rotten implications for some.

Anonymity breeds a foul power.

Being yourself can only come from a realisation of who you are. Your skill. The confidence to say you are right. To realise that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. To start. To fail. To repulse yourself. You learn from all of it. You keep moving as long as you’re alive and you believe in yourself. Because no one else will be there to do it for you.

Take a breath. Slow down. Isolate yourself.

I’ve heard that if we were to see the exact clone of ourselves pass us on the street we wouldn’t recognise them. We design and build our persona based on our experiences in life. Our mind is powerful enough to make us see what we want to see when looking in the mirror. Rarely what we truly are.

Shake it off. Grant yourself thirty minutes to think hard about your life. Before you have children.

Say No

The faces have started landing on the floor.

The messages from our various potential leaders face up to the ceiling. A league of forced smiles. A collection of tiny faces to stomp on before I drag my child out the door.

It’s a faint surprise. It’s quite clear what each political party has achieved over the past year, decade, week or instant. The penetration we have into the lives of each of these pundit, quango, think-tank, whip-lashed, public-led servants of this country is quite remarkable.

And we chuckle at our leaders. We rage. We write. We complain. We envy. Their personal lives have become our personal lives.

We think we know everything about them.

Now we can even laugh and point at our leaders for having their social media personalities hacked. A scream into the noise about some lucid truth. Some truth that is part of the totality of deception.

When we all see the mask falling from the face of a smiling imposter, we realise that we know absolutely nothing about them. The face is not what we expected to see. And there’s very little we can do to stop the implications of their hushed decisions becoming all the more real. The things we are told about are shrouded in lies and dramatics resolved with expensive legal teams.

Only when we take a step back from the entire shuddering, shivering mess of it do we finally realise that we have poisoned and gutted this world.

So say it. Say no.

Say no to the crushing of the spirit.

Turn your back on the idea of someone else doing your thinking for you.Someone making decisions for you. The only individual I am aware of who can provide a sense of control over my life is me. Consistently. My voice is as important as anybody else’s. As equal, as important as yours, as theirs.

Money, a vicious class indicator, is merely a tool used to stereotype, analyse, and manage large groups of people. The impoverished make up a large group of people, yet the floors of Westminster will never see a raging, stinking drunk howling through his cheeks. Or perhaps they always have done. Tattered rags, bloated bellies and blood soaked horrors. Untouchable savagery.

The very idea of democracy lies gutted. Politics is a filthy game for the weak orchestrated by the brutal.

It is a filthy, repulsive idea to think that money equals fulfilment. To think that a fraction of the wealth of a handful of the world’s richest could be used to ease some suffering somewhere in this world without having any real impact of their lifestyles. I find it horrifyingly puzzling.

It’s hard to see a way out of it. It’s hard to find control sometimes especially when my life is unknowingly controlled for me to some degree. It is easy to feel powerless.

So I ignore the leaflets.

They’re irrelevant to me. There has been too much hypocrisy, blood-shed and falsehood on all sides to convince me otherwise. It is not what I want. To stand behind someone doing my thinking and talking for me.

I can think of my own ideas. I am not as powerless as I think I am.

Neither are you.

If ever you find there’s even the faintest ember of a creative idea bleeding quietly in the corner of your mind, do something about it.

Pull away from the voices urging you to do otherwise.

Whatever it is, whether it be writing, painting, dancing, singing, astronomy or starting a death metal band, follow it. The eternal fire you build from it could blind eternity. The horrors of the world could burn to ashes in the birth of an idea.

Jump

Jump

Jump

Crack Shack

Crack Shack

Crack Shack

Whisky, honesty and my father

I’ve purchased some headphones recently. The sound quality is outstanding, As a result I’ve been listening to a lot of music I listened to as a teenager. To hear it as it deserves to be heard. I spend a lot of time listening to music. Very loudly quite often. The memories are still there. Strong as they ever were. I used to want to be Robert Smith. Or Henry Rollins.

In old punk records I hear it again. I relive a haunting, joyful moment from youth tangled in some random symphony. A beat that still throbs in my vessel somewhere. I remember. Hating the world. Hating conformists. Snobs. Bullies. Skin heads. Idiots. Liars. Being sucked into a system that bleeds you dry. I’m not a machine. Everything seemed so wrong. Pointless. I found music that was edifying. That meant something. Music that was saying something.

It’s only in the quieter moments when you truly reflect on what has passed. Realising I had tried to be something else. Blaming it all on someone or something else when it all went wrong. My musical reflections here have some connection with the story behind several glasses of whisky with my father. A long conversation with my father.

We were up drinking most of the evening. Everyone else had gone to bed. I was in the mood to muse. Watch the stars twinkle over a black sea in peaceful solitude. At a loss I told him everything. I told him about all my miserable, prickly moments that I’d never ever dared shared with him. Moments that I still even now can’t bear to think about.

In addition my rather personal account of my experiences of becoming a father is a published book. My father has read the book without giving me any feedback. At the time of this particular conversation I figured that, if he knows more about me than he dares to talk about, I might as well open the door even further.

I can be brutally honest with people. Dismissive to a fault. But the whisky helped. The coffee. The day on the beach we’d all had together. Grandma burying Eve in sand up to her chest. Swimming. Sunshine. Ice cream. All of it helped the liquidity of the conversation.

Slower. Lower. Quieter.

I am incredibly clumsy. I rush into everything. All guns blazing. Carrying far too ammunition. I have a competitive, male orientated family at times. On top of that I believe that everyone is always looking at (and therefore judging) me. I live in London. Cramming myself into a metal, underground box. Pressing flesh with the fizzing and the broken. I do like a challenge it has to be said.

After I explained my deficiencies to a fine point my dad looked at me and said;

“Sam you have to fight this.”

And he’s right. So I levelled with him.

“I keep trying to prove myself. What can I say. I forget that I am good at quite a few things.”

I remember the air shifting. A sudden drop in pressure. Dad cocked his head at me.

“You’ve nailed it.”

“What do you mean?”

“You said it yourself. You are brilliant at loads of things. But you have to learn to slow down. Look. Every time someone asks me to write something down I grab a pen and start scrawling away like a lunatic. Stabbing at the paper.”

“I do that.”

“I know. So anyway I ask this guy today to write out a short script for a speech. And he takes his pen out and starts writing out his notes. But he really took his time to write each word. The care behind writing out each word. No rush. No big mess on the paper.”

“I see”.

“You forget that we’re quite similar Sam. Just take your time. Slower, lower, quieter. And try to enjoy your life. Stop worrying so much.”

Is it that simple? Perhaps not. And perhaps this is the conversation that I’ve always wanted to have with him but never been ready to do so. I texted him later to say that I wish we’d have had that conversation earlier on in my life. Then again such devices lead to endless shifting realities. I’m quite happy where I am. Where we are. Finally.

Playing old punk vinyl only resurrects old visions and dusty heartbeats. But it does help me remember who I am. Who I wanted to be. It’s the rippling honesty between myself and my father that gives ever more insight into who I truly am. So I look inward to see what is really evolving. Not outside. Everything outside is a static dream. Your potential and who you are is inside. And you have to fight to awaken and stare in the face of your own potential. This is not a mushy sentiment. It is, and becomes, a survival technique. It is a cold hungry world. To compete in it demands a self assurance like no other. A self understanding. Understanding, embracing and balancing the negative and positive aspects of your self. Only you can understand who you really are. You don’t need the whisky or Dead Kennedy’s records to do that.

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Distance

Distance

Distance

Mantis

Mantis

Mantis

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