A Design For Life
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Through the Wisdom of Britpop
Libraries gave us power
Then work came and made us free
What price now for a shallow piece of dignity
We don’t talk about love…we only want to get drunk
(“A Design for Life” by Manic Street Preachers, 1996)
Real power does not lie with a gun.
Real power does not come with wealth.
Real power lies in the mind.
“Knowledge IS power” stated Francis Bacon in 1597.
Only three hundred and ninety-nine years later a gaggle of young men from Wales suggested that power of this sort could be found close to home and for free.
Millions of words.
Thousands of books.
Hundreds of authors.
All within walking distance from your home.
All at no cost.
Better than the internet too because you don’t have to live with the constant dread of receiving an email or ad for erectile dysfunction…of course that problem may be unique to me; not the erectile dysfunction, the advertisements.
I’ve said too much.
When the Manic Street Preachers preach…we should listen.
Only yesterday I visited my local library and borrowed the complete works of Jeffrey Archer, within just a few pages I felt an increase in knowledge and felt an increase in my sense of power.
Knowledge – never read anything written by a Jeffrey Archer.
Power – I threw those books against the wall with such force that the plaster cracked. Like Jesus chasing the money lenders from the Temple I was filled with a sense of righteous rage that flooded my veins, inflated my muscles and brought about a demonstration of raw physical strength not seen since the glory days of Geoff Capes.
Freedom is the ability to make choices.
To live autonomously.
To have control over your own thoughts.
That means avoiding toxic relationships, developing positive self esteem, embracing opportunities to learn, being open to the prospect of having your mind changed. To do anything other than that is to live your life in a box.
Who wants to live in a box?
Even a nice box is still a box.
It would be like going through life without ever embracing the wonders of “Waterfalls” by TLC…which, in case you didn’t already know is infinitely closer to pop perfection than “Waterfall” by The Stone Roses, which is really saying something because that is pretty bloody close too.
So free yourself.
A partner or friend who is “gaslighting” you?
A job that makes you miserable?
Start looking for another one.
Go on…find a job site and just start looking.
Unhappy about something else?
Make a change.
Back in my teens there was a man who lived in my town, he used to work for the council, he had been employed by the local authority for over twenty years. He wouldn’t take any lip off of anybody and he would pick litter from the gutter. Another thing he did was carry his lunch in a Sunblest bag. His name was Bogie, or at least that was what the local kids called him. Anyway, he once told me that he had a little bit of money in his kitty and that he was going to use that to buy a dinghy.
Do you know what he was going to call that dinghy?
Do you know why?
Because Ricky Ross thought it would make a good name for his song sure but also because dignity matters.
If you want to have a healthy mind and a healthy body it isn’t enough to use the library and to become powerful, you have to be worthy of respect from other people, you need to carry yourself in such a ways as to ensure people treat you as if you have honour.
Choose your words with great care.
Choose your outfit with even greater care.
That means no more fucking swearing.
That means no more trainers and jeans with holes in them.
I should apologise for that lazy joke a moment ago.
It seemed funny when I wrote it.
I think it actually just makes me seem crude and, crucially, undignified.
When the Manics sing about not talking about love and only wanting to get drunk it is a stark examination of, and commentary on, the new lad culture that was beginning to dominate what we now is the beginning of the end of Britpop. Out was going the foppish tendencies of the likes of The Bluetones, the feminism (of various types) of Sleeper and Echobelly, the racial awareness of Cornershop and in its place was something…else. This wasn’t so much the fault of any of the more blokey elements of Britpop but was, instead, the fault of things like “Loaded” that saw in Britpop an opportunity to sell an outdated vision of youth and young manhood to people who attended Manic’s concerts solely so they could shower the audience in their half drunk pints of lager and who stripped the tenderness and heart from “Wonderwall” as they, drunkenly, bellowed it in the wee small hours of the morning.
In many ways this is the point where the indie past of Britpop met the mainstream.
The thrill of Jarvis Cocker strutting, preening, prancing and peacocking his way across the Top of the Pops stage in his charity shop chic was being pushed to the sidelines and, in its place, was coming a Burberry clad, new wave football hooligan, bloke.
The only way to deal with that sort of vulgarity…the airbrushed soft porn of “Loaded”, the beery laddism, the old fashioned views, the sneering contempt for people like, well, you (and me), is to talk about love and to allow yourself to love and be loved.
The key to a healthy mind the Britpop way is to accept that you can love, that you are worthy of love and that you are capable of sharing love.
There is room for lust but it is love that will not only break your heart but piece it back together again too. It is love that will protect you. It is love that will heal you. It is love that London loves…or something.
The Britpop way.