Thursday, February 08, 2007


The realisation of one’s inadequacy can come as something of a relief. “The pressures off- get on with it!” I rightfully assured myself when I looked in the mirror one morning.

Looking back now, I can see this inadequacy has plagued my life thus far. Inadequacy that was often mistakenly labeled as ‘potential’ by people paid to reassure the populace. I guess any potential fizzled out rather unspectacularly a year or so after leaving University and rather than accepting my lowly status, I’ve remained eternally optimistic. This now is where I can see my road to failure began. As a wiser man than I once said “hope can be a dangerous thing, can drive a man insane”. That wiser man was none other than Morgan Freeman, and he has the kind of screen presence that makes everything he says appear sincere. Of course he didn’t write that line, he’s just an actor and of course he was referring to life inside the walls of Shawshank Prison and naturally, Tim Robbin’s character contradicts this- encapsulating the feeling Hope can be a beautiful thing, but c’mon, it’s Morgan Freeman.

Anyway, as I continue to make my way in the world as a Jack of All, master of none, I have the confidence to believe that there is something for me in the big bad world. After much deliberation I have deducted that I shall be …a confidence trickster.

Announcing this to friends and family was something of an ordeal however, as rather than encouraging me to seek out my dreams, they didn’t really have much faith in me; lambasting me stating “I had no potential”. This was the first time in my life I had been told this, as during all my other ‘crazy follies’ such as University, art college, the band, glass blowing, fox hunting and the whole fizzy cheese debacle, those closest to me have been nothing but supportive. As I showed absolutely no potential what so ever in becoming a confidence trickster, people have immediately tried to persuade me to follow a different path in life. I feel this negativity from one and all can only be a positive thing and spur me on to achieve all I desire.

My first trick was to convince myself that I can do this. Alas, thus far I proved a harder nut to crack than I first anticipated, worrying about the legalities and the morality of such a folly not to mention my abilities. Ironically confidence was an issue. But a true grifter wouldn’t give up that easily, so I set about an elaborate scheme using all my cunning and ingenuity to trick myself into being more confident. Sadly, after weeks of setting up this sting, I miscalculated and the project was aborted. This was not only a blow to my confidence and self esteem but also a financial misnomer- having pumped exactly £2,000 into false moustaches and other gentleman thief regalia, but as chance would have it I conned myself into baring the brunt of these costs….the perfect crime and my only success in the confidence trickster trade which in turn has given me further confidence.

With confidence at an all time high, though there is some part of me (my elbow I think) that feels ill at ease with this, worried that in fact the newly acquired confidence is indeed an trick? The fact that I can’t be sure probably means I was more of a success at the art of grifting than I first thought (itself boosting my self esteem- confusing huh?) As another great man and the world’s greatest liar/confidence trickster, Kaiser Sosia said:

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist”

I confused myself enough to become utterly crest fallen with this new self esteem, and I gave up on my dream, re-realising my own inadequacy. I tried to acknowledge this to potential employees, preferring to get it out in the open and prevent the inevitable disappointment on both our parts.

Thus far, this approach was met with a mixed reaction. Some have been confused whilst others found my approach amusing. One interviewer in particular said I should be on stage but he was unsure that my being upfront regarding my failures would help me in my job, stating that it was other people’s jobs to find failures- so he hired Steve McClaren instead. I didn’t mind though. I was in over my head. As he pointed out, afterall I am one quarter Maltese.

I wasn’t bitter and took his advice regarding being on stage seriously and applied for a job as a curtain in the local theatre. I was unsuccessful, perhaps it was nerves, or perhaps it was that I couldn’t pull myself together in time. Mad as hell at another rejection I waited outside the theatre to ‘have words’ with the director and producer. After stewing in my own rage for 2 hours, and left to simmer for 35 minutes I was thoroughly cooked and charged up to these hacks to show them what I could do. They were still unimpressed however they offered some more specific advise regarding my future career on the stage and recommended I try to make with the “laugh laughs “ and become a stand up comedian. A cartoon lightbulb appeared above my head when she said this and I agreed. She said all you need is to keep being true to yourself and above all convince yourself that you could do it.

I rushed home to do exactly that

Thankfully I still had the false moustaches and other miscellaneous confidence trickster paraphernalia to do so, and worked long and hard at it. Sadly the tattoo stating “I am inadequate” written backwards on my forehead to remind me not to dream of a better life each time I look in the mirror was proving something of an hindrance to me. After all I wasn’t even sure I could persuade myself that I could convince myself!

Drastic action was called for. I sat myself down in a dimly lit room, and tied myself to a wooden chair. After an arduous few days, I had successfully convinced myself that I could grow my eyebrows upwards to cover the slogan, and once I had done this – it reassured me that I COULD convince myself of anything, and proceeded to convince myself that I should pursue the life of a comic.

My first gig was the worst. I was nervous as hell and my now enormous eyebrows repeatedly drooped down into my eyes beforehand and only applying litre of ‘Spray Mount ’ was able to keep them in place.

I was second on the bill after a Bernard Matthew’s tribute act booked erroneously instead of Bernard Manning. Due to the bird flu problems of late, his act didn’t go down too well but was certainly funnier than Manning. One of the few Turkeys on stage with the Matthews impersonator (Frank?) stole the show with a timely piece of post modern comedy, recreating the scene in Star Wars when Obi Wan can sense the destruction of the planet Alderan, only relating it to the cull of the thousands of his foul brethrens, other than that the act was poor..

My name was read out by the generically almost funny, compare. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Alas, due to the spray mount my eyelids became glued shut. This didn’t phase me as after all I had belief.

I stepped out on stage and could feel bright lights glaring through my firmly shut eyelids and I realized that I hadn’t actually written any material and spent too much time trying to believe in my talents (or should I say -lack of). I freaked out and had a total breakdown on stage. Someone with an Irish accent heckled me until I wet myself and started to cry, and this caused the uncontrollable laughter amongst the audience silencing the Irishman’s abuse. Once I had them laughing it was like shooting fish in a barrel- wet, messy, unnecessary but easy (providing the barrel wasn’t too big of course) I told them about auditioning as a pair of curtains but being unable to pull myself together, and it lifted the roof! (Though I did feel cheap) All I had to do was convince them I was funny! I wish those pricks who rejected me during curtain audition could see me now- “I’ll show them” I raged inwardly.

I was a somebody!! I no longer felt inadequate!!!! Hope springs eternal!!!!!

After the sweat had dissolved the Spray Mount and I was able to open my eyes I walked off the stage to the sound of thunderous applause. “thank you Finch & Firkin you’ve been a wonderful audience” I emotionally bellowed. Backstage a gentleman who looked very much like myself only with a monocle and false moustache approached me and put his right arm around me, popped a lit cigar in my mouth and said “son…you’ve got potential” and offered to manage me.

I agreed and gave him his £2,000 signing on fee….”the perfect crime” I muttered under my breath.

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