Suggested Audio Candy:
 Pink Floyd “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
 Lynyrd Skynyrd “Simple Man”
It’s almost that time Grueheads. In twenty-four hours I shall be heading off to pastures new for four weeks of much-needed rest and recuperation. This time next month, I aim to be able to scale a staircase without emergency assistance and have taken a monumental step towards getting myself ship-shape. Of course, this means I will be required to focus on the task at hand, and it may feel like I have dropped off your radars somewhat temporarily. Thus I have been cooking up all manner of treats to throw out there while I’m otherwise predisposed. Being a hoarder has its benefits, one of which being times like these, and I shall find those wi-fi pockets and use them to unleash the merriest of hell in my power. Word to the wise kiddiwinks, should you follow me on Twitter, then check my photo feed as it automatically updates each time I publish a post and forms a catalogue only slightly less intriguing than the lingerie numbers in mechanics’ restrooms. I may not be with you in body, but I’ll be very much alongside you in spirit so don’t be alarmed if your showers are haunted for the next month or so.
Anyhoots, one cannot start a pilgrimage without first packing the bare essentials. First things first, if my nanny Hobson were here now, then she would be pointing directly at my winkie with a stern look on her face and requesting that I “wash it kiddo”. I tried my darndest, really I did, and it was all going so well at the first few scrubs but then priorities changed out of my control and now I’m left writhing around in shallow water, desperately attempting to evade a decidedly persistent magnolia blob. If it makes it as far as the pubic hair, then I’m in a real pickle. Why can’t that shit be soluble? It would solve so many problems and could add an extra dash of flavor to those lattes to boot. Typical sperms, always looking to take credit and thinking themselves the poster boys for ejaculation. You don’t see the penis attempting to earn that apple from teacher do you? No, he’s shrivelled back to pathetic the moment those sailors cry “land ahoy!” Have I deviated from our fight plan? Damn those tangents and, in the very same moment, thanks a lot fellas.
My personal hygiene has become utterly shameful over the past few weeks and this is the first unsavory trend I’m looking to buck. People used to comment on the aroma I put out there in the ozone layer and they still do, only now it’s more a case of “Jesus wept, get this boy a bar of soap before I puke up a kidney”. I know right? Cleanliness used to be right next to godliness but the smell became all too much for Jehovah. In recent times I have averaged around one bath time per week, which is less than Bert and Ernie and they don’t even possess sweat glands. Allow this worrying trend to continue and I run the risk of becoming the old man everyone dreads running into at the local convenience store. You know the guy and, if you just miss him and spot the staff frantically spraying air freshener into the vents, then it’s very much on account of he. I don’t wanna be that guy. Even that guy doesn’t want to be that guy. And this guy ain’t going out like that!
Clean clothes are a must as is a whole stockpile of movies to absorb at my leisure. Other than that, I believe I have all the tools I’ll need to take a real stab at this recovery lark. That said, it’s not the material goods that will make a difference, but the little glow inside that I carry around on account of the wonderful friendships I have formed over the past three years or so. Love and support have been absolutely critical to making it thus far and neither have any intention of being considered surplus to requirements going forward either. I can feel my loved ones willing me on and that is a weapon in itself as far as I’m concerned. You see, for as much as the buck stops here with regards to culpability for my own actions, I cannot do this without you lot. The kicker is that you won’t have to lift a solitary finger as sending out healing vibes should more than do the trick. I’ve felt a lot of them coming my way of late and guzzle them down like Linda Lovelace at a Deep Throat promo bash.
Of course, this will require rather a lot of work on my part also, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt as ready as I do now to banish those pesky demons once and for all and reclaim pole position before disaster strikes. That would mean that I’m about to enter the pit stop and it’s great to have a team on hand to grease my nuts and bolts before sending me on my merry way once more. In addition, I will be in the very safest of hands, as not a solitary soul around me will be a smoker, while the coastal air should do wonders for my faltering respiratory function. Before I depart on my trip, I have a breathing examination booked at my local surgery, and have already braced myself for that one. Whatever they find, I’m equipped and as comfortable as I’ll ever be with any bad news that may be imparted. It’s not the end of the world after all. That would most definitely suck and, unless Donald Trump gets elected into office, we should be secure for the time being. I’m banking on his hairpiece getting peckish in the night and eating his face off. Knowing Trump however, he’d have a whole stash of others in his walk in wardrobe, and every last one as despicable as the last.
So I guess next on the agenda would be to work out why it is so important that I don’t come a cropper here. Well, I’ve sucked the Grueheads’ dicks enough for the time being, and it goes without saying that blood relatives and loved ones are a huge motivation also. However, there’s a certain little fella banking on daddy to get his act together, and I owe my most resilient game face of all to him. When Jacob Nathaniel Stevens arrived on March 4th 2010, I was way beyond made up as you would expect from any proud father. That said, his voyage was even more spectacular than I have articulated previously as, by all accounts, he should never have made it past seedling. My then wife and I had already suffered the knock back any couple dreads a year prior and, twelve weeks through term, were informed that a repeat performance had already commenced playing out and would be done by dawn’s rise. As you would expect, we were downright devastated and returned home from the hospital feeling like him upstairs was playing some kind of sick trick at our joint expense.
However, what occurred the very next morning was truly remarkable and I believe both our fathers had something to do with what I will always regard a minor miracle. As the nurse performed a scan just to confirm those worst fears, a little heartbeat thudded gleefully and it turned out that the excessive bleed had been him clearing space so he could stretch his legs some. That nurse instantly became a personal hero and I burst into tears like a six-year-old who has just grazed their knee for the first time. Tears don’t come easy to Keeper but they sure as shit did on that day. Indeed, the names Jacob and Nathaniel both have significant relevance, as we’d always fancied something biblical and, while the former was a bit of a rogue, he certainly had some fight. The latter meanwhile translates to “gift from God” and there seemed no more apt a name to bestow upon our little trooper. Watching him shoot out at breakneck speed into the midwife’s catcher mitt was the proudest moment of my entire life and that, my dear friends, is why I simply have to succeed here.
Special thanks to the wonderful Karin Silva for this glorious collage
I see him on weekends and will miss the living hell out of my Fluff while I’m away as the time we spend together is truly incalculable. Did you know that not once in his six-years have I ever been required to raise my voice at him? The understanding we share is totally unique and mirrors the one I had with my own father and personal hero. This isn’t to suggest that he’s not a little devil on occasion, just not on my watch. Besides, even if he is, this slightly bigger devil is fine with that so long as nobody else is coming to harm. He knows right from wrong, is as well-mannered and polite as my pops taught me to be, and has a sparkle in his baby blues that gets my own peepers dazzling like aquamarine gemstones. Jacob Nathaniel, I’m not about to set myself goals that there’s any chance whatsoever I can’t achieve, but I’m gonna give this one helluva crack just for you. I love you son.
We can’t have the Grueheads feeling all left out so I love you all too. You’ll be hearing from me over the next four weeks, even if only through the gifts I plan to sprinkle during the interim. Thank you one and all for getting me as, while I may appear a complex individual to the untrained eye, I’m actually surprisingly simple when you strip away the word play and Keeper shenanigans. Life has dealt me some blows but that shouldn’t have me feeling special as we all have our mountains to climb. What is crucial right now is that I give myself a fighting chance of battling back from the brink and the time has come for the all-important forward march. See you on the other side my cherry blossoms and don’t forget to wash those winkies and slinkies.