I recently had a run in with an 18 year old lad. A simple gesture and wave of a finger on my part prompted an explosion of bile and anger that was sad to witness. Within seconds I found myself on the receiving end of a barage of the ‘respect’ lecture: “Who the fuck are you anyway!” followed by, “You don’t get my respect man!” and “Why should I respect you anyway?!!” For a second there I felt like a modern secondary school teacher must feel on a daily basis and the lecture had the desired effect as I emotionally regrouped and realized that I should really listen to this young mans taunting and learn to take a long hard look at myself and how I was running my life. (He has a point Chris-who the fuck are you anyway? Who the fuck is anyone?)
Thankfully I avoided any further Jeremy Kyle Show-goading-toothless-dog-barking hysteria and as I pulled away in my car the youth was hanging from his frontroom window (his Mum had locked him in) and he was screaming and shouting that he was going to ‘fuck me up’. Indeed, I truly believe it is the wise man who walks away, and anyway, if I had reacted and politley asked him to slip out of the window and attack me, I would probably now be in trouble with the police and I would have caused a world of pain to somebody that I love more than my own life.
Odd behaviour? Sadly, I don’t actually think it is. Putting this pathetic incident aside, what I found interesting was how the use of the word ‘respect’ came flowing out of a young mans mouth as a weapon of choice designed to intimidate and humiliate. What is it about the word ‘respect’ these days? It’s becoming a bit like the word ‘gay’, which just in my lifetime has already come to mean three distinct different things. ‘Respect’ is now used by a generation of young people as a term of bravado, straight outta sum Nu Jack City dictionary of street vocab. Poor fools, used like this it is at the very least totally incongruous and highlights so much of what is wrong in modern society. Chavaloution anyone?
Respect should be like having good manners and wiping your arse after a good shit, not something you have to earn. It’s power and control that is really at stake when the word ‘respect’ is banded about like this and it’s usually the very same person who shows little or no respect for others who is the very same person demanding all the respect for themselves. So why is that? How did we get to this? How the hell is this going to do anything but create a law-of-the-jungle mentality? I’ve never demanded somebody’s respect, wrongly, I just always assumed I might get it. When we were young we were taught to respect the elderly and authority and was this wrong or did they know something us young folk didn’t? What is it now? Nike? Violence? Knives? Guns!! Chavaloution!! Lets rob Rumbellows!
We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all done things we shouldn’t have, it’s called life and as you get older the only solace you can take is that you learned from your mistakes and you had the capacity to change. Mmmm change. It’s not hard, but it’s the hardest thing in the world. I know I’ve changed a lot throughout my life and I think that meeting my wife and having two small children played a great part in that. I’m coming up for 20 years of marriage and although I got a degree and I sold records, did 5 Peel sessions met Debbie Harry on the telly blah blah blah, I consider my greatest achievement is having always been there for my children and sticking to a commitment even when sometimes it would have been easier to fuck off. What man, at the end of his life would ever truly want to say, “Well I don’t regret having missed out on my children, it was worth it because now I have this big house and a smart car and a huge flat screen telly.”
What is success anyway and is it linked to respect? No, we are all too busy chasing the wrong dream.
I am lucky because I have no regrets, what I gave my children was the greatest commodity of them all, time. So now I have a nice functional car that works great and a rented house and a couple of old synths and a guitar and I am happy as a pig in shit, well mostly! (I’d like to be back on the telly sharing a joke with Ronnie Spector?) (Forget it Chris, you had your chance) (Another Peel Session? – Forget it Chris, it’s not gonna happen). I don’t need to demand other peoples respect, I can do what I like now because, you know what, I’ve probably fucking earned it!
‘Respect’ along with ‘genius’ is just a bullshit term now, over used and under valued. I don’t want to live in a society were we have to duel with pistols and swords for honour. Where would that lead us? I’ll tell you where. Perhaps Julian Cope (he’s a genius you know) may have never released his latest book because I ran him through with a rapier? No new six by seven album because an old drummer shot me through the liver with a pistol on a cold wet morning in a field somewhere outside of Nottingham? When I’ve come to blows and fallen out with people it’s generally always had something to do with selfishness, ego and a lack of understanding, I’m not sure ‘respect’ has ever come into it?
I was going to talk about the England team and tie it into all this bullshit about respect but I’ve digressed. (Stop ranting Dad!)
So now just briefly: The problems our national team is facing, some of it goes down to grass-roots. We can sack managers and hound specific players and generally beef about everything except the real problems when it all goes wrong, time after time. Grass-roots football is suffering because there are too many ‘respect’ fearing16-18 year old lads saying “I’ll shank yar man” to parents, referees and each other. It’s not just the kids, it’s the parents on the touchlines too. Yeah, like I really wanted to take my young son down onto the park to inflict that shit on him and myself. I don’t think so.
Remember when 11 year old Rhyss Jones was shot dead in Liverpool after walking home from footie training? The manager of the football team that Rhyss was in walked away from football and coaching because one day he went onto the pitch to stop an assault on one of his players and he and his wife stood in the way of oppsition players who were giving them all manner of insults and abuse. One lad went over to him and said: ‘I’ve just phoned my brother and he and his mates are going to come down here and shoot you’. He called his team off the pitch, he couldn’t take such a threat lightly in the light of what had already happened to Rhyss Jones. Their team, Fir Tree, has now disbanded.
I’m sure the England teams constant underachieving has many causes but grass-roots seems a good place to start. Why can’t we educate the kids, through football, to show each other and their parents and their referees what true respect is? Why can’t we use football as an opportunity and turn it into a sort of sporting national service for kids to enjoy and learn from? Why can’t we get managers and sponsors and rule-makers to do something to stamp out this screaming into the referees faces, simulating being fouled, cheating by diving at the slightest touch, falling about screaming and using dirty tricks to win at all costs? Bring back some real respect. If we can win loads of gold medals at the olympics in sports we’re not even traditionally good at then we can win the World Cup, easy! When we do, then maybe The Sun won’t have to bang on about how we gave the world the jet engine and penicillin and maybe the foul-mouthed-screaming-touchline-soccer-Dad will shut his gob.
I fear it won’t happen, it’s probably too late and I still live in a world of Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking but we can at least try can’t we?
England are (most likely) out and I wonder if The Sun newspaper is now reflecting on the fact that any vestige of hope we have of staying in Brazil could hinge on a black Italian called Mario Balotelli? No it can’t be? Hilarious! And, like they said: ‘The best thing about being English is not to have to wake up as a Frenchmen or Belgian’, what, progressing to the next round?
My motto now is simple: Life ain’t black and white, it’s grey and it’s sad and it ends in death. Once you realize that you can perhaps step out of line and do what you want to do. Respect ain’t respect anymore and you ain’t gonna get any respect anyway, from no one bro, whatever you do innit. Might as well do it your own way, and if you don’t woefully underachive they might even call you a maverick. (If you make some dosh you’ll be a genius for sure)