the teaches of jesus-man
Lesson 1. To write, even when you don't feel like writing.
Lesson 2. To work, even when you don't feel like working.
Lesson 3. To run, when walking seems difficult.
Lesson 4. To fail, when success seems frightening.
Five, to pour three pints with two hands.
Six, to eat and smoke at the same time seven, to fall in love (and hard).
Lesson 8. To allow, when something knocks, to answer.
I call him the Jesus-man. They, the regulars, all end up with names of some description (Julie, Pete, Steve, Graeme...The Doctor, Stinky McSpectacles, the Guitar-man, the Good-luck-man), if only because referring to them by their drinking habits seems somehow impersonal.
The Jesus-man could, for example, be called Fosters on Curry night about half-7, usually with two friends (Fosters), likes to sit on table 26, you know, the nice one. He deserves a special mention beyond his statistics, but to get a nickname you have to really stand-out.
The Good-luck-man was the Good-luck-man before I came to work in Camberley. He was a regular at Help the Aged in Egham -along with Flower-lady, who waters the plants on a Tuesday- but it wasn't his face I remembered, it was his incredibly individual habit of grabbing one's hand and reciting (repeatedly) I wish you good luck for this year next year and all the years to follow I wish you good luck for this next year I wish
Jesus-man was like that. We'd met before, you see, one time, but it wasn't his face that rang the bell. It wasn't even the dog-collar. It was him on his phone, mentioning a funeral.
Sitting outside the church, leaning against a pillar, writing. The vicar was on his way out and -it seemed like a good idea at the time- I stopped him and asked if he had time for a question. He was on his way to a funeral. I said, then, in 30 seconds could he give me a reason to believe in God again?
It was the stupidest of stupid things, my penchant for the dramatic getting out of hand. But he answered. The fact that the very next day was D-Day, the losing-my-faith day, didn't matter. It stuck with me. I thought about it. Still think about it.
That whole love concept.
See, people tend to drift in and out of your life. These people now, the pub-dwellers, I spend more time with them than with my own family some weeks. I chat to them more regularly than half my friends. I know which of them are having operations, what they used to do before they hit the bottle, what they still do in between times. They want to know about uni, how's my boyfriend, have I been to the doctor about my toe yet?
Nobody really makes much difference to anyone.
But then Jesus-man comes in, answers his phone at the bar, I hear him say that word funeral and click click click, I know why he's familiar. I know that he knows that I'm the kind of girl who sits outside churches smoking and pondering, in my own special way, the questions of the universe. Before I really think it through, he's off the phone and I'm telling him that I know him and he remembers.
"Yeah... you asked me why you should believe in God... I was going to a funeral."
I'm mortified, no one who comes in the pub to drink should know about that side of me. You have to keep people away from you, the other side of the bar, the other side of a thick wall of make up and a black shirt. Otherwise you forget who you are. And yet.
I want to sit and talk to him. I want to collar him again and ask him questions, get that little bit closer to the faith I used to have. He has that vibe, you know, that peaceful vibe. Talking to him makes me feel like I'm in church - that love, or God, or whatever it is, shines out of him in the most amazing way.
It makes me feel tired and small, like an orphan meeting their parents' friend and feeling that perhaps the burden could be passed to them, that they might take over and look after and fill that gap. The 'good, the grown ups are here' feeling.
Because I miss it. I miss that. I want to talk to this man because he's suddenly the only person in this pub, in this town perhaps, who would really understand what I mean when I say that I miss God and how it felt... That peace he has - I miss it because I never quite had it, but sometimes I felt I came close.
i wish you good luck for this year and next year and all the years
Lesson 1. To sit down at 4am, after work, and blog when you don't feel like blogging.
Lesson 2. To work at it, even when you can't stand what you produce.
Lesson 3. To jump in, headfirst.
Lesson 4. To fail, but not set out to fail.
Five, to learn interesting facts and drinking habits of customers to encourage familiarity.
Six, to talk and pray at the same time, seven, to act like a lovestruck teen with the vicar.
Lesson 8. To look through the peephole, squint, whisper who's there?