Ok, I must admit, even I’m a bit bewildered by the people who this essay come thank you is addressed to. I’m writing it and they seem like a completely unrelated set of people, and I know how they are related, if not each other, to me. So bare with me and I will explain. Especially if the people who this letter is addressed to are reading it. It will be a bit of a train of thought thing until I sort it out, edit it, correct the grammar and make it make sense. Add all the correct punctuation and such. Or maybe I won’t do that and just publish it as it is.
In June of this year, my husband and I lost a baby at 14 weeks. The baby had Down Syndrome and we decided not to carry on with the pregnancy. This was due to the fact that we already have a perfect 3 ¾ year old and my husband’s inside knowledge as he works with adults with learning difficulties. What I should say now is it was the hardest decision we have ever had to make in our lives and that the guilt from that decision haunts me every day. I would be lying. It took us an hour to make that choice. We have not regretted it since we made it. That’s not to say the situation hasn’t made us angry, or upset, or just plain sad, but that decision was the right one to make and we have not even considered what would have happened if we had made the other choice since that Thursday evening. We didn’t make the other choice.
However, I’m not a complete unfeeling bitch. I had to have an induced delivery and seemed to have every side effect possible to every drug they gave me. So, apart from having to give birth, which took 12 hours, I was then sick as a dog for another eight, and slept for about five after that. I felt a bit battered, to put it mildly. So I hid. I’m very good at doing at this; I’ve been practising since I was a teenager. I went back to work, I looked after my son, and I cooked the tea and did the washing. I explained to well meaning work colleagues and clients that I would rather they asked me questions about what happened than walk on eggshells and not mention anything. And if I burst into tears, they would have to make me a cup of coffee and buy the cake! It didn’t happen, (the tears, not the cake, although that never happened either) and everything got back to normal.
But I hid. I hid in music, I hid in films and I hid in wrestling. Hence the addressees of this letter. I’ll give you an example from when I was younger.
I have seen the film Gladiator a lot. I have no idea what happened in my life at the time it came out, but I went to see that film 11 times at the cinema. I even went to see the film in London, at the screen on Baker Street, to kill some time before I met my cousin, or caught the train home, or something. I know the film so well, I can still tell you where they changed the reels. Now I bet you’re thinking, “well Gladiator is a good film, there are worse ones you could see 11 times at the cinema.” I don’t think there are any films that are that good, you would see them 11 times at the cinema, following them from screen 1 to screen 3 at the old Odeon cinema in Bradford, quoting them line for line before they have even come out on DVD. Sorry, Russell Crowe, you were brilliant in it, but I still know you’re “husband to a murdered wife” speech off by heart, and it does loose a bit of its power by the ninth time you’ve heard it. Although that bit when you have a tiger trying to rip your head off never loses its magic.
So I can’t tell you what I was hiding from, but I was hiding from something. This time, it was Xmen First Class. Although it was on DVD, not at the cinema. But my TV is a lot bigger than the one I had when I was 20, so perhaps I was just trying to kid myself on a bit. And the best bit of Xmen First Class is Michael Fassbender as the young Magneto. Nobody is bad in this film, everyone’s perfectly cast and acts their socks off, but in my opinion, Michael Fassbender is out there on his own, in his own league. Even though he does have a hint of an Irish accent, and I’m not sure where Magneto would have got that from, in between Nazi Germany, France, Argentina and the USA. But I’m nitpicking. I’ve seen it a lot. Let’s not forget either that Magneto in the Xmen trilogy films is played by Ian McKellan. An English “National Treasure.” One of the most respected actors of his generation. Mr Fassbender must have felt like Heath Ledger just before he played the Joker. He manages to pull it off, in my opinion, better than Heath Ledger, purely because he is playing a slightly different version of Magneto. It’s Magneto before he is beyond redemption. His Magneto is less cold, more willing to listen. Fassbender plays a man tortured by his childhood experiences almost to the point of madness and exclusion of all else. It is really Magneto’s story. Therefore, you can compare the two performances, but they are different, purely because they are playing different versions of the same character. I must admit, I find villains generally a lot more interesting character wise than the good guys. Especially in super hero films. Doing superhero things for the sake of doing superhero things isn’t very entertaining for me, I like a bit of tortured soul motivation. This is the reason I don’t read a lot of superhero comics unless they are written by authors or drawn by artists I like. It’s also the reason I find Superman the most boring comic character ever. Not even the new film made me like him more.
I’m sorry to say, apart from Prometheus, I haven’t seen Michael Fassbender in anything else. I am aware he has been in films directed by Steve McQueen including Twelve Years a Slave, Hunger, and Shame but as you can imagine, I didn’t really need a “one watcher” film to make me feel any worse about things, so I gave them a miss. I will watch them at some point though. Especially as English acting generally seems to be going through a really exciting patch at the moment, with Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston along with Michael Fassbender all doing well in Hollywood and acting in well received movies. Good luck to them all, I hope they all have long careers that stay stimulating for moviegoers. But Michael Fassbender, you are Magneto now. Ian McKellan has been downgraded to Gandalf. Although it’s not much of a downgrading I suppose.
And so we progress to Mr Corey Taylor. Mr Corey Taylor is the lead singer with Slipknot and Stone Sour. He also writes various things, sings on other people’s songs and is acting now too. And to me, listening to his voice is like putting on a dressing gown that has been on the radiator after you’ve just got out of a really hot bath into a cold bathroom. It’s getting a massive hug from an aural teddy bear. It’s so comforting to me; I wish I could bottle it and give it to the recently bereaved. I wasn’t even a teenager when I first heard Slipknot or Stone Sour. If I was talking about bands I loved as a teenager, it would definitely be Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. AIC I consider to be a gateway band to other bands that I came to love later, such as Sepultura, Machine Head and Metallica. Kerrang magazine also had a lot to do with it. You would buy it for the band you knew and end up coming up with a playlist of songs that looked interesting from the articles you had just read. Not just Kerrang either, there were a few other magazines we used to pore over as teenagers, Raw, Rock Sound and Metal Hammer. And we used to go to Bradford Rios every week, see bands live (Jerry Cantrell played there in 2002, the single best night of my entire life) and listen to the music we loved at the volume it was intended to be listened to, without getting screamed at by our parents.
That was being a teenager. Corey Taylor reminds me of a time when I was playing at being a teenager, but I was actually 26. I decided after selling the house that I had bought 2 years previously and made quite a profit on, that I wanted a change. I had been a veterinary nurse since the age of 18 and wanted to see if I could do anything else. So I left, went to college, got A Levels in subjects that I wanted to know more about and that had nothing at all to do with sciences or animals. And I got a part time job selling computer games, another passion, and I loved every minute of it. Both the studying and the computer game selling, although it was the hardest work I have ever done in my life. Studying for 5 A Levels and working 25 hours was, quite simply, mentally and physically knackering, but it was great. I was introduced to Slipknot while working there, by an 18 year old who thought I’d like it. I do, but not as much as I like Stone Sour. I don’t have any Slipknot T shirts, since the old one I had fell apart. I have 3 Stone Sour T Shirts. Although my husband has about 12 NIN T Shirts, so I guess in levels of fandom, he beats me hands down. Not the point. The songs Wait and Bleed by Slipknot and Tumult by Stone Sour remind me of waiting outside the computer game shop, waiting for my boss to open up. They remind me of happy times. My 20’s. This was basically 8 years of me doing whatever the hell I wanted. Those songs remind me of playing Call of Duty 2 on the 360 and marvelling at the smoke. They remind me of playing Bioshock for the first time and realising that they had finally got water right in a computer game. Those songs remind me of 16 hour marathons on Oblivion, eating tubes upon tubes of Pringles and drinking countless cups of coffee.
So when June happened I knew I was 2 albums behind with Stone Sour. I bought hard copies of them to treat myself, bypassing the downloads completely. Those songs immediately made me feel better. Corey Taylors voice was there, just like his voice has been there for the last 15 years. Bad times, good times, waiting for work to start times, reading the Count of Monte Cristo before college lectures start times, spending hours of my life on buses, formulating random essays in my head times. All the time. When he’s singing soft songs with a piano or guitar or shouting and screaming down the microphone with his mask on. It doesn’t matter. I realise that the whole paragraph that I’ve just written has made me sound like some sad sack groupie stalker who has nothing better to do with her time than hero worship him. And I do. Although I hero worship Jerry Cantrell more. But sometimes when you’re feeling down, you need someone to sit next to you, not say or do anything, but just be there. To remind you of good times, laughs, friends.
Exactly the same as I feel about the WWE. Wrestling in general is the one sport that has always been in the our lives in one way or another. When we were really little, it was the last gasps of World of Sport on ITV, which is a misnomer if ever there was one, seen as how they only showed wrestling on World of Sport, and only English wrestling. As we got older, WWF was on Channel 4, so we got to see Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Hart Foundation, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake the snake Roberts, The British Bulldog and all these huge men who were larger than life. Being English, we didn’t quite get the appeal of Hulk Hogan and we always cheered for the English wrestlers, but it was loud and colourful and we loved it. The Undertaker appeared with his creepy manager, Paul Bearer, and the Undertaker was indestructible! He didn’t feel pain like the other wrestlers! And when you thought he was beaten and really hurt, he would just sit up and beat seven shades of shit out of his opponent, and win. He was, and still is, my favourite wrestler. I was genuinely upset this year when his streak was broken by Brock Lesnar. Although judging by the gasps from the crowd, most people were. As time went on, Mick Foley in his various guises appeared, Kane, The Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin, The Hardy Boys with Lita, The Dudley Boys, Edge and Christian and then I left home. By this time, WWE was on Sky Sports and I didn’t have Sky so I dropped out of it. I’ve popped back into it on the internet, watching Wrestlemanias on DVD, the odd Summerslam and Royal Rumble in the pub or Students Union, and watched the odd Highlights programme on Sky 1. But not religiously like we all used to.
Until June. My husband was waiting for Wrestlemania 30 to arrive on DVD, as we hadn’t bought it on PPV, and because of that, we had about eight hours of highlights programmes on the planner. I hadn’t watched wrestling for ages, and really got back into it. There were loads of new wrestlers that I didn’t know such as Daniel Bryan, The Wyatt Family, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, The Usos, and The Shield. CM Punk left about the time I started watching it again, which was a bit of a downer, but wrestlers like Big Show, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton were still there to be recognised. I had a ball. I watched Wrestlemania, I watched the highlight programmes, I subscribed to Sky Sports and now have Tuesday night Raw nights as I’ve taped it on a Monday night. I love The Ascension, Sami Zayn and Charlotte on NXT, and watch Vintage with my son on a Sunday morning. Next year, we are all going to see it live. I’m already saving. Because more than anything, WWE stopped me from having a mental breakdown. They entertained me, took my mind off things and stopped me mulling things over till they became massive in my own head. Because Stephanie McMahon was feuding with Brie Bella, I didn’t have to think about anything other than that slap. The slap that was heard around the world. If I was a woman who slapped other women, I would want my slap to sound just like that one. Because Dean Ambrose was filling Seth Rollins’ Money in the Bank suitcase with popcorn and coke, I didn’t have to think about anything other than how sticky the commentators were going to get. Because Chris Jericho wouldn’t follow the buzzards, I didn’t have to think about anything other than seeing Luke Harper on every episode of Raw and Smackdown. I have a very odd crush on that chap. Even with the bald patch, the sweaty wife beater and that (lovely, massive) beard. I will leave that comment hanging there. The anger management skits with Kane and Daniel Bryan made me laugh out loud, even though on paper, it must have seemed like a cheesy idea, they were genuinely funny and my son still makes me watch them at least once a week. Although if I’m honest, I would have been quite happy just watching Dolph Ziggler, AJ and Paige and Adam Rose’s bunny!! It all helped.
So we get to the final portion, the conclusion, the reason I’m writing this. The reason for the previous 2500 words. The first reason is that it has made me feel better, seeing all these thoughts in words on a page, instead of them rattling about in my head in no coherent form. I have always written to make myself feel better. This time I’ve written a portion of a sci fi story, random bits of general stuff and this. But the main reason is, if any of the people mentioned here are reading this, I just wanted to say thank you. A big thank you. A huge, heartfelt, screaming, thank you. I wanted you to know that on the days when you don’t want to do it, when you’re hung over, hurt, tired, missing your families and friends, no matter what some random fuckwits on twitter say, we really do appreciate it. Some of us rely on you a lot more than we would ever admit to, even to ourselves. I’m not a talker, although I’m better now than I ever have been, but because of you guys, I’m able to ride out any adverse thing that happens in my life, by escaping into what you do. I’m sure I’m not the only one. What you do matters. I suppose I could have said that in four words instead of rambling on for three thousand, but I felt it needed some qualifying.
It has been said to me before; you are one of the three people who have influenced my life the most. I realise how terrified and proud you feel all at once. It’s not the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning, how you are going to influence people in the fifteen hours you will be awake that day. Usually my first thoughts are COFFEE and CIGARETTES, not necessarily in that order. I do realise that if you’re in the public eye, people are more likely to say it to you. What I do know is that most of the time, I just get on with life, do my thing, and the last thing I’m thinking about is how I’m influencing other people. I suppose I might think differently if I was in a different position, such as selling millions of albums or acting with James McAvoy, but I doubt it. I think that’s a sure fire way to drive yourself crazy.
And so we roll on, much like Raw after the ad breaks. I always have middle, and I usually have some kind of point I’m trying to make, but these two parts always get me. How to start. How to finish. I think my point is that I don’t have a conclusion. I don’t think in this case, there should be one. It’s just a glorified thank you note, with a lot more words. These are my escapes, but everyone has different ones, from watching the whole ten series of Friends in one massive Joey soaked marathon, to getting hammered to the point of blackouts every weekend. You can’t really judge anyone else’s coping mechanisms when things get too tough to handle. So please feel free to insert any of yours in the above writing. Then tweet it to who it’s directed to. A big internet positivity drive. The internet and maybe you too, need it.