Monday, November 28, 2016

#MMBBR #GuestPost Hitting the Black Wall by Paul Scott-Bates

Hitting the Black Wall by [Scott-Bates, Paul]
Born under a claret sky in Burnley Lancashire, Pauls witnessing of the Glam Rock pop-stars of the 1970s and New Romantics of the early 1980s gave him notions of joining some of his heroes in later life. The realisations dawned that his inability to play a musical instrument might be a hindrance and so these fledgling lyrical attempts slowly evolved into poetry, with no subject considered taboo his mood can lurch from the darkest depths to the light airy notions of love and peace.

After years wandering the emotional wilderness, Paul now married to his true soul mate and the father of four children, has found his true calling. Paul currently resides in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire where he leads the good life and is co-founder and Chair for a local Community Group as well as writing for, and featuring in several music publications and his own popular blog site.

Hitting The Black Wall is a book of alternative poetry that was almost twenty years in the making. It expresses feelings and thoughts from the overactive imagination of a man fighting the black dog of depression, initially not knowing why the bleak feelings he had were so.
Many things have contributed to the book and its influences - lyrics in songs, scenes on TV or in a film, a sentence that someone might have said – all have embedded themselves and manifested into the poems that were then written. Of course, some of the pieces are based on true feelings and some are completely fictional but, the success in them is whether the reader believes them or not. It’s up to them to decide what to take as truth or not.
The early poetry started out as song words but when the realisation struck that I couldn’t sing or play a musical instrument, they slowly morphed into poetry. Very early attempts such as 9 Day After 19 were written as a teenager struggling to understand why he felt so low not knowing that the seeds of depression had been planted. Through adult life additional poems have bene written, around 300 at last count, and whittled down to the sixty contains in this debut collection.
Love, music, relationships, loneliness, religion, sex and phobia feature prominently as well as regret and betrayal in poetry that has been described as dark, cathartic and visceral. It is a book about blackness and bleakness, hatred and the seemingly endless dark tunnel which often lies ahead. It is also a book of hope, of how some of these issues can be overcome, and how transferring these feelings to paper can somehow aid in recovery. More importantly, it is a book that has become an ambition realised and a tonic to all those years of wondering if it was really good enough.
Music has played a huge part in my life. Earliest memories are of a four or five-year-old immersed in the Glam Rock of the early 70s. Marc Bolan, Roxy Music, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Alvin Stardust, Gary Glitter, David Bowie, the list is endless. Watching Brian Connolly, the lead singer of Sweet break a microphone stands over his thigh as he ended The Ballroom Blitz or Block Buster is a memory that will stay forever.
Call it pantomime if you will but to a young child it was both exciting and amazing. The colour, the glitz, the performance all played a part in the package that was Glam. Songs that were memorable and still resonate to this day, it was my introduction to music. What followed was baron. The disco dirge that infiltrated the radio waves and tv screens, whilst still a fixture in the memory was essentially awful and Punk was in many ways the saviour. My memories of punk are few, I knew it existed but maybe my family sheltered me from it? Maybe as a ten-year-old I had better things to do like catching fish and newts in the bluebell wood.
My calling came in the early 80s. Following many a look of adoration at my bedroom posters of Debbie Harry the New Romantic scene encompassing the synthesizer age attracted my ears, there are so many classic songs from the few two or three years of the decade that a cursory glance of the music chart of the day will confirm. I adored Adam & The Ants, Duran Duran, Human League, Spandau Ballet, so so many.
Come 1982, I latched on to Depeche Mode a band that I still hold in the highest esteem to this day. As the band matured so did their lyrics, now being penned by Martin Gore following the departure of Vince Clarke to Yazoo, they told stories of lost love, depression and hurt with a little sexual deviance thrown in for good measure!
As the 80s progressed I lost interest in mainstream music, some of the groups I had loved had, in my opinion ‘sold out’ and I began to look further afield for my aural pleasures. At the end of the decade I came across three huge influences that would stay with me forever. The first was the Infected album by The The, it told a story of the times, of the working classes, of regret, of love, and for me struck a chord with how I felt. To this day it remains one of my favourite albums. The second was stumbling across On The Wire on BBC Radio Lancashire. Presented by Steve Barker the show is still running and is the BBCs longest running alternative music show, it opened up so much to me in terms of the weird and wonderful that I have never looked back since. One feature of the show was Steve’s connection to On U-Sound Records which became the third thing to influence my tastes. It fused hip-hop with punk and electro, and was so far ahead of its time it was unbelievable. Fronted by Adrian Sherwood, the label is still strong today and the quote that accompanies it resonates with me constantly – Disturbing the comfortable, comforting the disturbed - it could almost be a metaphor for depression.

As a teenager I fell into the ‘love trap’. I felt obliged to have a girlfriend as dictated by society, I never had one. Yes, I had girl friends but never a girlfriend, and I suppose it started to affect me. I wanted desperately to be in love with someone forever and when I heard Depeche Mode’s ‘Somebody’ for the first time it hit home instantly. At 19 I had my first ‘fumble’ in the dark and soon had my first girlfriend who later became my first wife. My marriage lasted sixteen years before it ended, for a while I had some bitterness as to how it happened and I felt tricked for a while. I vowed never to have a relationship again before meeting someone within only a few months – it seemed right from day one and I pursued it against the odds – I am now married to that wonderful, warm, beautiful person with two children to add to the duo from my first marriage. Love carries its ups and downs but for me the ups far outweigh anything else.
Not surprisingly, love and regret and bitterness also play a large part of my poetry. A brief extra marital encounter during my first marriage opened up my mind but I also vowed never to do it again. Deep down, it may have been the beginning of the end, which is ironic as it only lasted a matter of weeks before I was unceremoniously dumped. There was a desolation that I couldn’t tell anyone about and haven’t done to this day with the exception of my current darling.
The bitterness I had seemed to harbour a hate which never really manifested itself past being a passing feeling, but what it did do was allow me to write about something that was hidden in the darkest recesses of my mind and allow it to be gone from my life. It’s something that I am grateful for as it allows me to be mellow (most of the time) and try not to hold grudges of bad feeling to anyone along the way.
Poems of murder or self-harm or death are quite common with me and the result of an imagination gone wild. For the reader to question what is true and what is fiction gives me an incredible buzz.
When driving home from work one day at the age of thirty-seven I had the urge to drive my car off the by-pass and take my life. I’d always had ‘bad mood days’ but this was different. I went to the Doctors and was later diagnosed with clinical depression. It made me realise that I had maybe been fighting the condition all my life and with anti-depressants I managed to get by. It was never perfect and there is no cure. To the outsider it’s not a simple case of popping a pill to feel better and when non-sufferers say that they were “depressed this morning” or they had a depressing day yesterday” they have no idea what enduring the condition really is. It’s not just about feeling down, it can be a complete shutdown of feelings, of motivation, of anything. Waking up and not being able to move is common, indescribable loneliness and emptiness even more so. I wouldn’t change suffering from depression, it makes me who I am and without it then I’m not me. I’m lucky, I seem to be able to cope on a daily basis even though some are harder to get through than others. Some people aren’t so lucky and face a permanent hell.
After having the ambition to have a book of my own poetry published for thirty-one years I decided in 2015 to do something about it. A fellow writer I had stumbled across on Twitter gave me the motivation and I decided to give it one last shot. I was lucky, and my current publisher saw what I had to offer and took me on. Hitting The Black Wall acts as a metaphor for depression and was published in July 2016. It marked a milestone in my life as I approach the big ‘50’ in less than two years and opened up another avenue which may hark back to my teenage ambitions.

Watch this space. Hang on in there, and keep strong.

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