Once upon a time was a boy, a very ordinary boy. The world was his oyster so the saying went. But it was not, many forces conspired to keep him in ‘his place’ many voices spoke of how things were, how they were impossible to change, how you just got on with things. It still happens today. It is a script as old as time and common across many different cultures. The trick is not to believe it.

I was treated to a lovely meal, notice my love of food, by my wife yesterday in Stratford Upon Avon, I had Duck Liver Pate with Caremalised Red Onion Chutney on warm toast, followed by Beef and Ruddles Ale Pie with seasonal veg and chips washed down by a couple of bottles of Fentimans Ginger Beer. Heaven on a plate and in a glass. You see my love of food comes from the love of tasting good things, tasting different foods and educating the palate. A good old friend and my former mentor, Ed Ellis then Vice Principal of the Northern College, used to say that it was not enough to educate the mind but that we must also educate the palate, as usual he was right.

The ordinary boy ate good, nutritious ordinary food, you often knew what day it was by what was for tea, ordinary boys do not have dinner. However, upon leaving the nest the ordinary boy began to experiment and started to go off script. In doing so he discovered different flavours, different combinations then different foods altogether, new and interesting friends led him into new and interesting culinary journeys and he is still finding new and interesting tastes that stimulate the quest for new further discoveries. A foodie virtuious circle, the discovery of the joy of taste.

Food is a metaphor for life here, last night I watched, was in fact spellbound by the RSC production of The Tempest. I love the theatre, though I do not remember going as a boy, and in recent years have become enthralled by Shakespeare, I was a guest on BBC Radio Sheffield on the Bard’s Birthday recently, my brother was pulling my leg about this yesterday. I am not an expert less still a critic, I just love the oratory involved by this incredible wordsmith. If you are not sure what I mean just treat yourself and watch the video, remember its just a taste, it will not hurt you, then please read on.

I hope you enjoyed that, stirring stuff of derring do. The plays of Shakespeare endure because they contain such wonderful use of our English language and stand as relevant today as when written as they explore themes of love, humour, passion, jealousy, madness, corruption and act as a mirror on today’s society.  This is my current love in theatre. The theatre, much less Shakespeare was not in the script of the ordinary boy and neither was the culinary experimentation he now enjoys. The ordinary boy was ‘naughty’ he did not stick to the script, he dared to dream of other scripts, other possible roles, other possible tastes he may experience. He slowly began to experiment, he tried new things, some he liked, some he did not. New foods, new theatre, new books, new clothes, new looks, new dreams, new aspirations appeared when he began to tear up the script and he started to try them. The surprise was it was not having found these new tastes and experiences it was that they led to further opportunities to explore and discover, whole new horizons opened up.

Life is but short and it is my belief we only get this one go at it, we may not get everything right and must learn to make our own mistakes and live with them. We must also learn to make our own success and live with that too. In the lives of too many ordinary boys and girls the fear of mistakes smothers the will to experiment beyond their scripts. I look at my journey in Ju Jitsu as a prime example of tearing up the script. I started at 39, I was sceptical about the claims I had heard about martial arts in general, I had been around, had countless fights, thought I was the big man. I gave it a go because my mate John started going. It is probably the best thing I ever did. At school the ordinary boy hated cheese pie, it was the worst school dinner possible, many years later he reluctantly ate some cheese pie and it was beautiful. My Ju Jitsu classes are a huge pleasure to me, I train under  a couple of excellent instructors, Paul Jenkinson and Bill Barrott, and alongside some excellent folk who have become firm friends over these many years. Ju Jitsu is the cheese pie of my adult life.

Training in Ju Jitsu opened up access to whole new worlds and  I am privileged to have trained with so many wonderful people from many different styles, I am also luck to have so many great friends on FB from all over the world most of whom are martial arts/combatives/self defence orientated. I have attended many seminars and tasted other styles, I have been so inspired that I am now putting on seminars at the University of Sheffield with some great people, Rory Miller is here in 2 weeks time, Then Marc ‘Animal’ MacYoung in September, Michelle Fighting Back in October and Iain Abernethy in November. (www.academyofselfdefence.co.uk) to be followed by others in 2013.

In many aspects of my life  I have deviated from the script, eventually tearing it up, I then wrote my own scripts, I kept with some but usually they are regularly rewritten, others got binned after a while yet more new ones written. Lets get one thing straight though, there is nothing wrong with being ordinary, I am still an ordinary man in so many ways, my feet are on the ground and I celebrate this fact. What is right is in striving to become the person you want to be, however extraordinary a journey that may involve, however long it may take, remember the old proverb “It is not so much the arriving that is important, but the process of getting there”, ok so I just misquoted. Not just the journey but the nature of the journey is key, look around as you travel through life, use all your senses, see, hear, smell and touch as many new things as you can whilst keeping true to yourself, the self you want to be (or not to be, couldn’t resist that one).

Look in the mirror, whatever you see looking back you need to ask a question, not is it what you want to see but is it who you want to see, they are not the same thing? Use the mirror differently, think differently, become your own critical friend. You need to look deeper than just the image and look into your soul. You need to seek the answers and decide if you are living to a script and if the script is the one you should follow or should you be writing new scripts, remember the nature and number of scripts is limited only by your imagination. Maybe you need to go out and seek out new flavours and experiences and experiment with what may be and see what emerges from the fascinating multitude of options before you.

Let me leave you with a little more from the pen of the bard, for years I thought Shakespeare inaccessible, the cultural capital of a literary elite, but it is time we stormed their bastions. Shakespeare is the peoples playwright, ordinary boys and girls need a modern day speech by a modern day Henry V to inspire us them recapture our culture, take it back into our ownership and regain a sense of who we are, what we can be and who knows, launch ourselves forward into an unknown future prepared to consider new tastes in all fields of our existence. Who knows maybe this brief exposure with a tiny part of the repertoire of the bard will stimulate your tastebuds for more, maybe you will begin to discover the joy of taste. I sincerely hope so, for the record I love the script I follow now, I can only see it getting better as I add more and more good bits to it. 😉 Garry.