The comeback kid, the trees, the bullies, the future, and the Women of the Seven Hills

My name is Shaun, or Big Shaun, or Biggus, or big lad, or Doaney, and I live with anxiety and depression, it’s been six weeks since my last blog post. It’s been 2 days since I last cried. It’s been 5 hours since I last laughed out loud, really properly laughed, in aisle 4 of Sainsburys.

A lot has happened in the last six weeks, we said our final farewells to Paul, and I said my final farewell to being a funeral director. I said hello to a new job, and I started to make good on some plans that I made, Biggest of all, I started to feel like the old me, the version of me that I was before I started to struggle, the version of me that I want to be, creative, active, excited by life and the future, and laughing, laughing until it hurts, laughing until tears of joy roll down my cheeks.

If I can pass on just one word of hope, to the people who haven’t reached the point that I have, it’s this. The road is strewn with boulders, twists, and turns, sometimes it feels like walking up Jenkin Road in concrete wellingtons, and then other times it feels like the foggiest day up on Stanage Edge, where you can’t even see the road. BUT, slowly the boulders shrink to pebbles, easily kicked to one side, the road becomes Romanesque in its straightness, flattens off like the Great English bugger all of rural Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, and the fog lifts, the sun comes out and from nowhere somebody gives you a skateboard, then a bike, and then a bloody great gas guzzling muscle car and you’re off, Eagles on the stereo, top down, hair blowing in the wind…….

in short, stick with it, it gets better. I promise.

Since resigning from the Funeral business, far from being afraid for the future, I have felt less stressed, happier, and confident about what lies ahead, I’m working with lovely people in a friendly, laid back atmosphere, doing a job that doesn’t hold dread, terror, or misery, that I wake up in the morning and walk into with a smile on my face and a cheery hello for everybody. Also, I have started on the road to being a full time small business proprietor, Steelpies Entertainment is just beginning, it’s an umbrella which covers everything I am involved with, from being a DJ, singer, compere, comedian, host, quizmaster, and event promoter, with an extra element of linking in with other musicians and designers. When a lot of people start off on this kind of thing, their mantra is ” We’re gonna own this city!” , for me, that’s not so. My mantra is ” we’re going places, and we’re going to make our city proud, and we’re going to make our city somewhere to be proud of.” Big talk I know, but that’s what the new/old me is like, I have big dreams, big ideas, and big plans, what else would I have, I’m Big bloody Shaun!

I’ll be doing a lot of stuff over the next few months, I’ll be DJing at The Mulberry Tavern on Friday evenings, from 7 till 11pm starting in April, I’ll be doing a Wednesday quiz night at the Green Room starting in May, and I’ll be running a monthly Cabaret club, at Yellow Arch Studios venue, first Thursday every month, starting on April 5th, we’ll have music, comedy, poetry, magic, jugglers, ranters, ukuleles, banjos, synths, guitars and maybe even a KAZOO or two. Also, with Sarah, The Vinyl Keys will bring something new and quite unique to the world of weddings, parties, and corporate events, with a full package of vinyl disco and Live music, watch this space, it’s going to be a wild ride.

I’m also going to be doing a lot more hosting, compere-ing, and comedy, in and around the Last Laugh Comedy Club, Toby and Jules have been incredibly encouraging and supportive through my illness, and I am focused on spending as much time as I can doing the things that I love, and making people laugh is one of those things for sure. Speaking of Toby, we’ll be bringing our little cover band back to this year’s Wentworth Festival, along some huge names, tickets are on sale and you REALLY don’t want to miss it! Of course, let’s not forget the Everly Pregnant Brothers, which continues to roll on like the uke n roll comedy juggernaut that it has become, and we’ll be doing our usual thing of festivals, small gigs, big gigs, and of course, a Christmas show!

The first event from Steelpies Entertainment happened on Thursday evening, at Yellow Arch, where Emily Stancer and I put on an event to celebrate International Women’s Day, entitled ‘Women of the Seven Hills’ it was an eclectic and musically diverse line up of acts, all female fronted, female driven, and all from the Sheffield area. Emily and I worked hard, over the weeks leading to the event, and we hoped for a successful night. We couldn’t have imagined just how successful it would be, we sold out the event, it was a full house, and all the acts performed amazingly, the crowd, mixed (we were never about excluding men from attending) were appreciative, and enjoyed the evening, and we’ve had wonderful feedback which has encouraged us to put on more of these gigs, not just next year for International Women’s Day, but throughout the year, in Sheffield, and out on the road, under the banner Women of the Seven Hills comes to……

Unless you’ve had your eyes and ears closed you’ll know that there has been a system of destruction going on in Sheffield, with street trees being chopped down all over the place under the auspices of Road and Pathway improvements. This is part of a PFI contact with contractors Amey, which has come under heavy criticism, not without cause, the contract has been swathed in secrecy, and seems to serve nobody but Amey and their multinational corporate owners, and the fact that expert evidence, and engineering solutions have been ignored, has caused anger and distrust of the current Labour council. Protests began, peacefully, but over the last few months the situation has deteriorated into violence, thuggery and a vitriolic war of words, which ultimately will have no winner, and only one loser, Sheffield, my home town, and the place I love more than anywhere. I have many friends on the tree campaign, and I know that none of the people I call friends would sink to the depths that some have sunk to, it seems that the campaign has been joined, or rather infiltrated, by an element of people who don’t care what the cause is, as long as they get a chance to cause mayhem, mischief, and generally attack anyone they feel is in their way.

On the other side, I have friends who work for the city council, people who are dedicated to public service, and who have their own lives and problems, to deal with. I may disagree with what the council is doing, but I have no desire to pour hatred and scorn on the individual people who happen to work within that organisation. When I hear stories of intimidation, threats of murder and sexual violence, and general name calling, I cant help but wonder who is behind it. I don’t believe for a second that the genuine protesters are behind this, I believe it is the rent a mob element who have jumped on this cause, and will jump just as quick on to the next one, even if it means turning their vitriol on the very people they claim to support now.

The council, and the Police service, have not handled the situation well, bringing in Private security officers, who have not behaved within their remit, and have been guilty of intimidation, threats, and force that goes well beyond ‘reasonable’ The police have in general acted well, but recently things have not been good, and nobody on any side has good PR at this point.

My own thoughts on this are that Amey are actually a common enemy, their contract virtually forced upon the council at its inception, and seemingly without any escape. We have seen in Liverpool though, that they can be ousted, and that control can be brought back in house, at no penalty.

My solution? show us the contract, make it public, and instead of working against each other, let the people with the intellect and experience to examine the contract, do just that, if there is a loophole, a way out, it CAN be found, if the council will just try to accept some assistance from some fresh eyes. As for the protesters, I would ask that ‘we’ ( because I am against the decimation of the trees) weed out the dark, nasty element in our midst, and return to the properly organised, reasonable, safe and fully legal protest that 99% of the time has been the norm.

At the end of the day, we are all just people, trying to make our way along, keeping body and mind together, feeding our families, and making the most of our lives. we have more in common than that which divides us. Remember that quote? We are living in a world where the President of the United States, is a misogynist, sexual predator, and lacks any of the qualities that a world leader requires. Our government is selling off our health service piecemeal, tearing the heart out of our public services, and basically pulling the rug from under the majority in favour of an elite group of multi-billion dollar corporations run by a cabal of psycopaths whose gluttony for money rules over everything else, no compassion, no care, no empathy, no love, just greed and hate.

Choose love, not hate, and we can explore space, both inner and outer, together, forever, in peace. (thank you Bill.)

 

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