I’m a white male - I’m part of the patriarchy
Keith 44, from Yorkshire. He lives and works in London. His passion is composing.
How are you?
Fair to middlin’ - I never used to understand what that meant but I do now. It means you’re not doing too badly. I’ve got my teeth, I’m good and everything’s ok, although I’m fed up with my job.
I work in the marketing department of a computer company and I’m totally and utterly fed up with it. My day job is writing about bits of software. I give my career the emotional commitment it deserves which is 9-5 Monday to Friday. I don’t care.
But I do care about my flat, my life, my money and composing. Composing is my passion. I help run a musicians workshop, we compose scores. I love the creative side of my life and I like that my living doesn’t depend on it. I have friends who are still living with their parents in their 30’s cos they cant afford to pay rent. I like the security of knowing where the money is coming from. It took me a long time to get the balance right - don’t be a struggling artist.
A colleague at work told me he liked writing science fiction novels. He said he loves coming home in the evening and inventing four syllable planet names and I honestly, nearly hugged him because I thought - we’re all are struggling aren’t we, we’ve all got our thing? - I love that.
I’m a true artist that’s doing a mainstream job to support that. It’s taken a long time but I’m truly cool with that now.
The group I run; we’re not doing it to get rich. We want to be as accessible as we can. We want people to come and enjoy music. It would be weird to do it for money. My career is marketing - 5 days a week. Art is classier than that, it’s not about the money.
Would you say composing is a bit of an obsession?
Probably yeah. Not my own stuff, but this network that I found of other musicians - just being in that community and helping. It’s a healthy obsession but it’s what I do. I’ve found my world - it’s taken 44 years. I’m very protective of that.
Apart from those things are there other things in your life - like tennis?
No. I take a friend for lunch and talk about music. Wednesday night I’m seeing a show. Thursday night I’m seeing another. I’m on various committees at a local theatre, supporting small groups. I just love it. That’s the thing. That’s what excites me- you never know what will happen. It is organic and it’s magic.
I am not allowed to gush over the artists too much. But I do really love them (laughs). They do magic. I just don’t understand their process. I’m in awe of them. I have conversations where actors say ‘I don’t know how you write such music,’ and I said ‘no, no, no, what you do is magic!’ And it turns into a big love-in. I’d follow actors to the end of the earth over hot coals. That I can tell you has got me in a lot of trouble over my life.
How do you see yourself?
Balding, chubby, fat - all the insecurities (laughs) I don’t do self-reflection much. I’m creative, busy. I know we’re not doing negatives here but I’m neurotic, angst-ridden and a functioning alcoholic. I really scared myself with recent drunken shenanigans. The time I’ve invested in drinking and the people I’ve upset. It’s definitely an issue and a problem. I consciously drink. There was a chef on Desert Island Discs recently- Tom Kerridge, who said “I stopped drinking because- and I’m not using the word alcoholic - but it was a problem”.
Has it been commented on at work?
Yes. Has it impacted on my relationships? Yes. It was during a relationship that broke up, she was like “I only drink when I’m with you.” And I was like “well what does that mean?” And she said “I don’t drink much when I’m at home and then when we go out with you, I’ve suddenly downed a bottle of wine and I’m a bit pissed”.
I took internet dating quite seriously in my 30’s - I’m going to meet the one! I used to have a triple date whammy which started at the film institute - the BFI, then if we got over the initial coffee phase we’d go onto the National bar for a drink and if we got beyond the glass of wine stage we’d go to the Royal Festival Hall for cocktails. That’s when I realised I liked going for cocktails on the Southbank but didn’t necessarily like any of the people I was doing it with. It’s back to the drinking, that night out was brilliant, so the internet dating became finding people to go to the Southbank with rather than finding a partner.
I’m terrified that something might be wrong with my health. I won’t go to get tests done because I know the answers wouldn’t be good - it’s a very Northern bloke thing. I’d have to be dying before I go and get help. I don’t feel ill, but I feel my age. I creak and I ache and if I run for a bus, I’m exhausted. Drinking this much can’t help.
What made you go - right this is it?
It was the third party, ‘You’ve really upset so and so’ - I had no memory. It’s the first time that someone has sat me down.
Did you appreciate that?
I was angry for a bit and with myself. I was a sad because of the thought of “Who else have I upset?” “How much time have I wasted?” I was addicted, not just to the alcohol but the whole experience of going to a pub, getting drunk, partying and being the performer. Over the last 5 years everyone else has grown up and I haven’t. I’m like - ‘How’ve you got this big house? You’re married?’. Well the amount you save on booze… (laughs). But the amount I have spent; the time, effort, money and emotional angst pursuing a drinking culture, it’s time it stopped. It makes me sad.
I wouldn’t be 20 again for any money. The whole #Metoo thing - that’s another thing. I’m a white male, I’m part of the patriarchy. I probably am part of the #metoo generation. I’m not confessing to anything that no other bloke wouldn’t have done particularly - I’m not Kevin Spacey.
Looking back have you done something you probably shouldn’t have?
And you knew you shouldn’t at the time?
Not at the time I don’t think. It’s more that I’d like to go back to the person and say “Hey, how are you? That thing that happened, can I just check in and check that it was alright?” and not being hugely sure about the answer.
And like the drinking thing- we’d wake up and weren’t quite sure what had happened. It’s the not being sure. I’m not talking about going back to the 70s and being Benny Hill, but I would just like to ask “How are you, is everything alright?” and the response would probably be ‘You were a bit of a dickhead”, as opposed to bringing in operation Yew Tree. You can’t look at the news without worrying slightly.
Before #metoo had you ever reflected? - did it make you think ‘did I?’
That’s interesting. I’m single so it’s obviously not all worked out wonderfully. There’s a reason it didn’t work out - do you know what I mean? The reaction of my really good female friends is - this is not just our story, men are dickheads. Well, there are the facts: 1 in 4 women have had some kind of experience so it’s probably logical that 1 in 4 men have done something ridiculous. The maths doesn’t suit this monster. So in answer to your question, I am a fumbling idiot (laughs) certainly in terms of relationships. I think fumbling idiot covers this question!
What are your dreams? What makes you tick?
If you’d have gone back to my 15 year old self and said what life will you be living when you’re 44? I’m pretty much doing it. I don’t have any unfulfilled, long-term-plans. I’m like - what’s the next thing? I’m much more of a receiver in that way. There’s no sort of outstanding goal. What makes me tick is the process of creating. Who knows where it ends up? What’s going to happen next? I have no idea - that’s brilliant.
What brings you down?
I don’t get down- actually that’s not true. I was about to say I don’t get really down but I do. You know there are weekends where I just can’t function. It’s about getting through everything. I need to think about that.
Hangovers stopped being fun but also send me into deep deep depression because I’d be ill. It’s interesting, what makes me down? Waking up with a hangover is definitely one of them.
Lack of time gets me down. Being busy and feeling I’ve not achieved anything. Last night I said to myself - watch sport, read the paper, bed by 10 o’clock. I didn’t quite have that nice feeling of satisfaction. The shudda, cudda, wudda, feeling and the fear of missing out hit me. I did miss out but by staying in was actually good for me - I needed a night off.
How do you best express yourself?
Very clearly writing music. It is how I’ve made sense of the world. And I would do it if no one ever heard it.
What have you taken from doing this?
It’s been entertaining- it’s good because I feel better about stuff. I’m ok, I’m actually happy. There’s a few wobbles but I’m pretty good. So that’s reassuring. We don’t actually chat about ourselves because it feels weird and it shouldn’t - but it does. I guess I am all very self-conscious. There’s nothing that I’ve said that’s seriously unusual. I think we all are in it together.