Sunday, 19 May 2013

City Boy

City boys have more fun, but do we miss out on things that those in little villages and those off-the-beaten-track places you might find in rural Wales or Scotland or Ireland do?  I wonder.  Also, although many city people are Working class economically or because of the job they do or the accent they have, we are classless in some ways the same as Americans are classless, because we are more or less the same in some ways at least and have the same problems people living in big cities often have to deal with.  Living in a city is a great leveller; we all go to the same colleges, travel on the same buses, visit the same supermarkets and we have to put up with all the things that big city people have to deal with; bad councils, rubbish everywhere, run down parks, gangs hanging around street corners, unemployment, drug problems, higher rates of crime and many other issues that anyone living in a big city will be only too aware of.

I am a person from a fairly big city, a city boy, someone who has at various times been used to living cheek-by-jowl with many thousands of other people and seen the best and worst of people all having to live together for one reason or another.  Cities create good people and bad people, although I will always say that we all have bad experiences now and again and it’s not the experience that defines us so much as our reaction to it.  I was bullied in school, and although for the most part not serious systematic bullying, I still have anger towards it to this day and I generally despise bullies, who are always usually cowards who pick their targets, and so have a bit of an attitude myself; I admit it, I still feel a residue of anger towards one or two who bullied me to this day.  However, by the grace of God, I don’t feel the need to dominate or belittle others to make myself feel better, or feel the need for revenge either; what would be the point anyway?  And, wouldn’t God have a problem with me if I sought even the merest notion of revenge?  Never try to get revenge: leave that, my dear friends, to the Retribution. As scripture says: Vengeance is mine -- I will pay them back, the Lord promises.  (Romans 12:19 NJB)  And if I am honest, most of the bullying was verbal with the occasional punch and one or two other slightly worse things; but it was generally sporadic.  I also tend to dream regularly about one of my bullies and in the dream I am scared too, which is strange to be honest.  Anyway, I generally look like a city boy and sometimes wear hoodies and tracksuit bottoms, but I can also dress ‘urban smart’ too, and can fit in most everywhere to be honest.  We are all very different people too even though all living the same largely urban life.


Last night I felt so stressed that I thought I needed a few glasses of wine to chill out.  So, eat your bread in joy, drink your wine with a glad heart, since God has already approved your actions.  (Ecclesiastes 9:7 NJB)  I know people can take scripture out of context and perhaps do so all the time, but as I very rarely drink alcohol to excess, and didn’t on this occasion I thought that I would have a drink in moderation.  Incidentally, I notice when I get seriously stressed or have a minor passing bout of depression, both usually infrequent, I can get headaches, stomach problems, shoulder aches and back aches and generally I feel out of sorts.  I’m totally fed up with suffering; but who isn’t?  Is it true that people in big cities are more prone to stress than people living in small villages in the country somewhere or people who live way out far from the madding crowd and right off the beaten track?  I do wonder.  How much of our stress is down to wanting things we don’t really need and how much is down to not trusting God with our lives?  Do any of us really let go and just let God do whatever He wants to do 100%, or is there some little bit of us that wants to be in charge?  Anyway, I had a few glasses of wine, a few double Bacardi and Cokes, drank them slowly and watched a few films, and think I enjoyed myself too.  And today I seem a little less stressed to be honest.  You should give up drinking only water and have a little wine for the sake of your digestion and the frequent bouts of illness that you have.  (1 Timothy 5:23 NJB)

In the 1500’s or 1600’s when most people’s lives were hard one way or the other, did people enjoy the feel of the sun on their faces, or the sight of a beautiful sunset at the end of the day, or a particularly beautiful cloud formation or a seagull crying on the wind?  All these things can in their own way bring joy and happiness, they cost nothing and yet can mean more than many material possessions can.  Who in the UK when going on a holiday or day out as a kid to the seaside didn’t feel something akin to joy when they heard a seagull cry, knowing that it meant the beach and simple pleasures were not that far away?  And yet…and yet, all those things seem so far away when we reach adulthood, fripperies that we aren’t meant to be bothered with any more as we make our weary way in the world and wonder what the magic of childhood actually meant, if anything.  Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.  (1 Corinthians 13:12 NJB)

How should a Christian live in the city?  Are we judged by different rules to those in more hidden places, or are God’s laws applicable to us as well?  Well, I have found that having respect for others in a city is also having respect for self; there are a lot of sometimes very tough hard-bitten people in big cities and being aggressive and angry to others may very well result in someone taking a slight to you, and this could result in unforeseen but perhaps obviously inevitable outcomes, at the very least someone abusing you verbally to getting beat up, or worse even.  Respect for others is respect for self.  And no one said that Christians anywhere had to be wussy or prissy in any way, I am hardly that myself, we can still be blokes who dress and look ‘street’ and yet as Jesus has a calling on our lives, we must learn to be gentle in a hard world, and what better grounding for that than living in a big tough city?


  1. Hi Tim,
    A very interesting blog, realising that you live in Liverpool, one of the UK's largest ports.
    I grew up in Central London, and one of its greatest assets, in my opinion, is the diversity in ethnic culture.
    Also, by living in a city, everything would be at my fingertips, including some of the rarest or exotic herbs, I would think, very difficult, if not impossible to find in a rural area.
    But in 1963, when I was only ten, we moved to a much smaller suburban town, (one of the New Towns - recently built communities designed to drain the population out of London - and lacking in historical or architectural character) and finding far fewer resources and also lacking the heartbeat of life as found in a city.
    As for bullying, I too still have dreams of one I used to be afraid of around 1970, before I became a Christian. But rather than dream of him bullying me, they are more of taking orders from him and co-operating in order to avoid conflict.
    A great post.

    1. I suppose that was quite a culture shock for you Frank, moving out of one of the greatest cities in the world to a 'new town'; like there I guess that new towns everywhere were feted as the greatest thing and then reality dawned when people moved there and found they lived in soulless conurbations with no shops or access to amenities; there are towns like this around Liverpool and the most anyone usually says about them is that they want to leave.

  2. Hi Tim,
    very nice, interesting post. Glad you had a good, relaxing time last night and that you feel better this morning. We have lived in the city, in Melbourne when we were in our twenties, and in various towns. I think at the times that I was there I enjoyed them all for different reasons. We live in a fairly quiet place now and it suits me at this time, although my husband misses the coast and his mates that he used to go to the pub with. He doesn't socialize as much as I do and he finds it difficult to make friends here. I am thankful that I have started a blog because, like you, I love writing and that is one of my ways of socializing. I never had a problem with bullying but I did have a bit of a complex when I was a teenager. I used to suffer from teenage spots and if I saw a group of boys coming towards me I used to cross over on the other side of the road. We have been to Liverpool, to the Albert dock, and liked it. My dad lived in Wallasey and Birkenhead when he was young.

    1. I envy you your travels Brenda and I really envy you (in a nice way!) the fact that you live in a fairly quiet place, I am thinking Wales? I seem to recall you mentioned it or read it somewhere. I adore Wales and would happily live almost anywhere in North Wales and when I can I take short breaks to Llandudno and go all over the coast and inland. I never tire of it to be honest.

      My nan was from Birkenhead incidentally.

  3. Hi Tim,
    I was raised outside of a city and couldn't wait until I could move out on my own and into the wilderness. I never liked the stress of the city or the hustle and bustle that comes with city life. For the past 20 years I have lived in the middle of nowhere with my nearest neighbour being over 1 Km away and I love it.

    I had a lot of problems with bullying when I was a child, teen and young adult. Because I was so very different than the crowd and I refused to deny Jesus as my Lord, I was given a rough time, shunned, set up for pranks and the such. The wonderful thing though is that Father used that for His glory. The more I drew into myself, He opened a door of escape for me with animals and it was through the bonding of animals, abused animals, that He grew me into the intercessor that I am.

    Trials that we go through in life should pull us into God and when we freely give over to Him our pain and suffering, He uses that to glorify His name.

    Blessings Tim,

  4. Well, I suppose that many people don't have much choice but to stick it out; That sounds like bliss, to be 1 km from your nearest neighbour! You can say miles by the way, most Brits still haven't got their heads around the Metric system, it's all miles, feet and pounds still! I blame Henry the VIII!

    I would have thought that in America being a Christian would have been far more common, certainly than the UK anyway, but there you go. I am glad you found value in loving and protecting animals; who hasn't at one time or another, when they feel the world or just people in general has rejected them, felt the unconditional love of a cat or dog? It's one of the sweetest things in life; I love my cat.

    I have been suffering a bout of deep stress/depression over the last few weeks, and it has felt that I have been suffering so long with no end in sight. That is hard for anyone. Of such is life.

  5. Lifting you up in prayer for release from this stress/depression.

    Habakkuk 3:16-19

    I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

    Blessings Tim.

    1. A lovely poem from the Heart of God; thank you! I love the imagery of the OT especially.

  6. Where I live I don't know if to call it a city or what, it's kind of like a city being that it is the capital of the Bahamas, but it's also like a little town because it's so tiny. Sometimes to avoid running into people I know, I try to avoid certain places and still I run into someone I know somewhere else. If I go somewhere and don't see somebody I knew from my childhood or old jobs or something it's a surprise. I don't like running into old classmates because it usually leads to being inundated with questions about my life which I don't like, because for the longest time my life didn't seem like anything to write home about, so to speak.

    Where I live there are many islands that make up the Bahamas, 700, but only 30+ are populated. The other islands being less populated have less going on. They are more like little quiet places off in the country somewhere, hardly any violence or anything. Here in the capital, the city, there is violence and all kind of crazyness. But places like there in the UK and America the city life in those places are nothing compared to here. The city life there seems really busy and loud and everyone's rushing off somewhere, nobody takes a second to hear the seagulls cry like you say lol. One thing I could say I have learned from unemployment is taking a moment to really enjoy things like staring up at the clouds, watching planes pass over head, hearing seagulls and other birds and just enjoying the simplicity and serenity of it all. Great Post Tim, took me a while to get around to reading it, but I'm glad I did. :-)

    1. It sounds idyllic, many people's dream of a paradise on earth. It sounds like some of those smaller towns in Ireland or Wales where everyone knows each other and there are 3 pubs and a chippy! I don't like bumping into old school mates as a rule but now and again I do and it's usually OK.

      Yeah the UK is by and large cities and many large often grey faceless towns, and the weather; enough said about that the better! There are lovely places in the UK but when so many people around the world speak English, have a British ancestor and know that so many British people emigrated all over the world, they would only have to visit some towns to know why! Yes, life can be stressful and I get fed up with it all sometimes; need a day in the country, see the hills, listen to the birds sing and insects buzz by, look at the clouds and hear a seagull cry somewhere.

      I seem to get very good comments on my blog and people know where I am coming from; it's very edifying all told. Thank you!