Monday 22 December 2008


"God! That men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains," Shakespeare proclaimed. I wonder then what his reaction would be today if he were to spend a Saturday evening trawling bars on Torquay's harbourside.

Alcohol in moderation is harmless but normally today it prescribes nothing but misery upon other people. As well as the violence that plagues our towns, the narcissism of our age has bred a generation of sycophants and neurotic impostors who not content with who they see in the mirror, have one drink and become somebody else. Now, when I visit Torquay for an evening out, I listen to the lotharious oafs stood at bars swigging on alcopops. Loudly, exchanging macho anecdotes, they flaunt and compete amongst themselves for female attention which isn't normally too far away. Usually, they attracted dim females who trade their cleavage for free drinks and no doubt, copulation takes place in the pub car park shortly after closing time. Those obese, unwashed and lumpen types, not successful in this bonding ritual probably wander home with a kebab and amuse themselves on their play stations. In better days, this pair formation ritual of meeting a partner, courting, and having sex would occur over a period of weeks and perhaps months. Today it can take place in just a couple hours.

Evidently, a man's persona is so very often a by-product of his own ego. Experiences in life that we should all treasure, nurture and hand down to younger generations are all to often abused by means of exaggeration and excessive role play. Young men particularly have become masters of theatre. They subscribe to the 'hard man' ethos because it's cool to be seen to be tough, to talk the talk and walk the walk. Bling is in and drugs are phat.

Little men stand tall after a few beers while tripping on testosterone fantasies and fabrications. They talk without thinking, like a blind man with a catapult. I could tell a few stories if I chose to as indeed we all could. I've seen action while serving with the Royal Marines and lost many friends and thereafter, for many years I managed problem pubs for major pub operators on some of the toughest estates in south London where I have heard more testosterone fiction than a barman at a mercenaries drinking club, which reminds me of something a wise old man once told me; "It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt."

Now wiser and in my 40s, my strength derives from self denial. I do not need to wear clothes displaying logos and neither do I need to drive a status car. My mobile phone is modest and neither do I utilize bling to make a personal statement. I know exactly who I am - have nothing to prove, and nobody to impress.

I have no desire to enter into a wealth race and I do not compare my own success and happiness against that of my neighbours and friends. And if there is one person with whom I aspire to be like, that person is my late father and not a celebrity icon.

It is sad to see that Torquay, the town where I was born, is run by a council who have as much charm as a stomach bug and the common sense of Elmer Fudd, and have done nothing to alter the reputation of the English Riviera. A haven for benefit tourists, Torquay, with it's pink pound economy carries an odious baggage of scag'eads and Generation X types who use recreational drugs to enhance their shallow narcissistic lives and make drinking in Torquay's pubs as much fun as a group hug in a burns unit.

Torquay Herald Express
Exeter Express & Echo