I remember a defining moment from my childhood. It helped to shape my relationship with my father and mother.
“That’s the end of the announcements, children. I’m sure you’ll all be happy to hear that it’s now time to go home! Quiet now! I said quiet! Before you go could I just ask Graham Phoenix to stay behind till everyone’s gone? Quiet! You can all go now.”
A new scandal in Britain has highlighted the extent of sexual abuse of boys in the game.
I have never been a fan of football in the UK. It has, for me, been too closely associated with racism and violence. Football (or soccer as it is called in the US) is a man’s game in the world outside the US. It brings men together and creates an atmosphere where they can bond and experience the rituals of battle in a safe atmosphere. It has been accepted as an essential part of British and European male culture.
What does it mean to trust someone? What is honor and how is it related to deep respect? Is it necessary for them to do what you think is right? What do they need to do to gain that trust and respect?
The answer seems to be that they do not need to do anything. The key to trust is what you do yourself and how you view other people. Your ego can destroy your ability to respect others and can fool you into thinking that you are right and the other person is wrong—therefore untrustworthy.
I find the term ‘rape culture’ offensive, but in hearing the British Health Secretary reporting to the British Parliament on the Savile Affair, I question whether being offended is valid any more.
When I was 16 years old, in 1964, a British TV show featuring pop music started. ‘Top of the Pops’ was an iconic show from the BBC. It came from an old church in Manchester that had been turned into a TV studio. I used to pass it by bus on my way to and from school. I can remember seeing the queues of girls hoping to get in and see their favorite ‘pop stars’. It was like nothing that had been presented before and the first presenter was a man destined to become famous—perhaps infamous would be better—and an icon of my generation.
I remembers the 60’s and 70’s, my years of rebellion, and how they ended up in the power of marriage, parenthood and ordinary life.
I left school in 1966 and I am now 66 years old. This seems to me a great reason to celebrate my decade of freedom that started that year, nearly 50 years ago. It was the year The Beach Boys released the album ‘Pet Sounds’, The Doors released their eponymous album and John Lennon met Yoko Ono leading to the end of live concerts by The Beatles and their break-up. The Vietnam War was causing chaos, almost revolution, in America, but it didn’t really enter my consciousness.
Men keep going because their wife, children, colleagues expect them to. They keep going because of the shame of giving up.
I lay under the duvet cover screaming, screaming out loud. I could feel the break coming. I felt helpless and hopeless and I did not know what to do, I did not know how to deal with my wife, with my life. I was lost; as a husband, as a man, as Graham. I knew something was wrong, something more than the clash of brute force and stubbornness, something more than titan struggle that had been going on downstairs. I was so lost I could not even work out what was wrong, I just wanted the world to go away.
Let go of the necessity of being right. It can take courage to be silent but then you can look yourself in the eye and not flinch.
Some years ago I ran a company along with a business partner. He had founded the company years before and he was proud of what he had achieved. I put money into the company and trusted what he told me. I did not look too deep because I was proud of what the company did and flattered to be asked to join as a director.
'If' by Rudyard Kipling is a poem that speaks to the heart of a masculinity that is rare today.
The idea of being a man, today, has been caught up in a gender discussion that is purely political. It was started by the feminist movement to help women stake a claim to equality in a male dominated world.
There is nothing wrong with that discussion, indeed it’s one that is necessary, but it should not dominate all thought and discussion about men, manhood and masculinity.
In the poem Kipling does not talk about men in relation to women, he does not discuss male domination or patriarchy. He does not mention loving a woman. He discusses men in relation to other men. He explores the concept of being a man as opposed to not being a man.
How to be a man? Most men don’t think they need to know. Most men just carry on as if everything is OK. Can’t you see how you are losing out?
I am organising an evening event, here in Spain, on ‘Sizzling Relationships’. It’s based on the work I do with men, helping them learn how to be a man. There are lots of women signing up, even though my work is mainly with men. They are having difficulties, however, getting their men to come.
I am also having difficulties getting men to sign up for my course on ‘How To Love A Woman’..
What’s happening? Where are they? Where are the men? Don’t they want to know ‘How To Be A Man’?
Being dominating and using mental and emotional abuse is as bad as being physically abusive.
I was in Glasgow with my parents on our annual trip back to Scotland to visit family. I must have been in my early teens. I went off for the day to explore the city on my own. I’ve always enjoyed walking around new and strange cities. My love of steam trains (they still existed then) took me to St Enoch Station.
Standing on the steps looking at my map and wondering where to go next, I was approached by a man seeking to help me.
I was the typical innocent abroad and trusted this man. We started talking and he offered to buy me a coffee in the station cafe. I accepted.
We sat in a quiet corner and at one point he gently took my hand and laid it on his leg. I realised my hand was on his erect penis. I was horrified and only then realised why this man was so helpful. I got away as quick as I could.
Although nothing serious happened to me this experience has remained with me for 50 years now.