May 2, 2017

UBU is the name of my favourite beer. The intials U-B-U mean something as I recently found out. But that entertaining meaning was profoundly usurped after a meeting with a neighbourhood friend last week. He shocked me with his changed appearance.

Purity Ales brew UBU in rural Warwickshire across the road from a 400 year old farm, a mile down a country road. It was the business idea of two men who saw a gap in the market, a resurging love for crafted beers, something they loved to make so they worked and turned a vision into a reality. UBU was one of their brews and local to where I live, it’s highly regarded in the more discerning of hostelries, or should I say pubs.

UBU is printed in large friendly letters on the label along with the outline of a dog. Now the dog is vital to the first part of this short tale but not its ending so please bare with.

When the brewers had a batch of the delicious beer ready to go, they’d load up the delivery van and take it out the yard onto the country road. Most times than not their journey was curtailed as they turned out onto the country lane, by the dog, just laying relaxed, in the middle of the road.

The dog had a friendly temperament and an uncanny talent to place himself just in the way when you wanted to go somewhere. Need to open a door, he’d sit in front of it, need to sit at the office desk, he’d be on the chair, need to lock up, he’d place his bum resolutely in the middle of the yard and refuse to move.

The story goes, the van driver would have to stop, get out and lift the ‘Useless Blooming Article’ out of the road before continuing. In that moment he was duly christened, UBU, because he was the much-loved useless blooming article.

Last week UBU got another meaning for me after seeing my neighbourhood friend whilst walking home with my own four legged UBU, Marley.

I can spot this gentleman from a distance off, he was a distinctive walk, long strides and a slight side to side motion. He’s a big strong lad and normally sports a resplendent bold head, just like me. I like him, not for the bald head, no, that’s only a small part of it but mostly because he’s decent fella happy to chat and a story to tell. Sometimes, he’s shared with me, he finds life a bit tough to make sense of and this has at times caused him much bother.

Some people, he tells me, make assumptions about him, because of his demeanour and stature. Sometimes he may sound a little nervous in opening conversation and that adds to a wrong initial assessment people make of this lovely fella. Some, he says, never get past this assessment. He wanted to change that.

When I saw him last week though something had radically changed that made me double check to see if the distinctive walk matched the man I know.

He had hair!

I thought he was like me, a proud baldy who saves a fortune on hairdressing fees each year because of a quirk of evolution but no, not this time.

He told me he was growing his hair to change how he looked. He wanted to ‘fit in’ more, be seen as less intimidating, to look friendlier. I said.. “But you won’t be you?” OK, make changes if you want to because you want to but not to please those that don’t know you or happily give you short shrift.

OK – I get it, you dress a particular way, people make assumptions of you. Turn up for an interview to work in a bank wearing swimwear you won’t get the job, you might as a life guard, but you get the picture. I grew up in the age of skinheads, rude boys and the odd smelly rocker and I made assumptions about them but it didn’t stop me having friends that were from those groups. I mean, this baldy here has worn glasses to make myself look less imposing for first time business meets because I thought it would make a complete difference. It doesn’t.

What it can do is provide a convenient filter. Those that don’t take time to see the real person aren’t worthy of your time, I would argue.

We spend to long down trodden to what society and the man stipulate to what is right but the book of right is not available on Amazon. Who makes up these overbearing rules?

It is easier sometimes to be something you’re not, building a façade, a false face rather than being you but surely that’s wrong. Fitting in strips us of diversity and of opportunity. It creates conflict in the minds of some seeking to rationalise all this rules and sadness when doing what is thought to be right fails.

For example, too many compromise happiness to look like the photoshop’d glossy image of someone in a mag because that’s the right way to look. To many give up on the things they love. I can’t sing, in fact I’m bloody awful, but often on the M42 driving into work I can be seen belting out an Elbow classic. It’s just me being me. How it looks to fellow travellers must be comedic but I don’t let that worry me.

I told my friend the best thing you can be is the real ‘you’. I told him… I like who you are and for the most part I’m a pretty good judge of character. It’s not always easy to be you, it’s often easier to follow the so called right path to fit in but people I’ve met in life that I’ve loved, befriended or admired are authentic versions of themselves, not a compromise. They’ve figured out, the you being you is where the ‘it’ is at.

Do you get it?

You be You. UBU.





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