“I nearly… went with a local shepherd to explore the mountains of Nepal.
I was trekking with my then girlfriend and a friend in the Himalayas, a sherpa as our guide. We stopped at a habitation in the mountains and a woman came out with her baby in her arms, invited us to stay the night, shared her food with us. It was beautiful. The next morning we prepared to leave and she said, “My husband is a shepherd, he is coming home today. Why don’t you stay for a few days and he could take you walking in the hills?” I wanted so much to do that but the others said we had to get going. I still wonder what that would have been like.”
- Told by Jaques, Lilla Bagis cafe and bakery in Bagamossen, Stockholm.
I went to the South Bank Centre’s Being A Man Festival yesterday and heard a lot about men and mental health, the fact that 79% of suicides are male and that suicide is the main cause of death of young men in the UK. I spoke to volunteers from The Samaritans (where my Dad was a volunteer in the 1970s), and the wonderful CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably. All very inspiring. I talked to people about Nearlyology and began to think that with the pressure on males to succeed and fix things, the topic of what we’ve nearly done may have a special resonance. Nearlysex – which covers sexual failures, fantasies, harassment, friendships etc… is also a topic I’m keen to help men explore. Years ago I was in men’s groups and ran workshops with men, one for boys in a Sheffield youth club, talking about all kinds of difficult things. More recently I attended a Death Cafe (with my daughter, soon after my Mum died), and enjoyed the open conversation around this taboo topic that everyone has something to say about, from the heart wrenching to the hilarious. Now I’m thinking about a men’s Nearly Cafe event somewhere soon.
Wearing my ‘I nearly’ badge still has interesting results. Man in Tesco Metro Hornsey last night asked what it was about. I told him I gathered stories of nearly things and asked if he had one. Immediately he said he’s nearly been in a band. He plays the drums, was invited to join but didn’t feel confident enough at the time. Since then the band has broken up but his confidence as a drummer has grown. Maybe next time. I gave him my badge.
And the waitress in Cafe Circus, Crouch End, asked what the badge was about. I gave her my card and she looked at the site, said she really liked the idea. I thought she’d send me her Nearly Story, but she hasn’t… yet.
About a year ago, my friend Ariel nearly wrote to you for your book about things people have nearly done. But, as he never quite got round to it, I’ve written to you instead.
Hear Andy Leung’s fantastic track featuring my reading of the Nearly Manifesto – and then keep listening to his music. Andy performed in Trafalgar Square at recent Chinese New Year celebrations, and he was a member of Academy Inegales. He’s promised to put out a new track every month.