What Makes a Good Bloke?
Posted on December 9, 2023
When I heard about the death of Benjamin Zephaniah yesterday I felt quite sad. Where is the justice in a decent bloke like him dying whilst the other Benjamin (Netanyahu) lives on? The first thing that came to my mind was that Zephaniah always seemed like a really good bloke.
What is a good bloke? It’s a term we hear quite a lot (“He’s a good bloke, is John”) but how is it defined? I think all us blokes would like to be remembered as a ‘good bloke’. Yet I know people who claim to be good blokes who aren’t really. Boris Johnson would undoubtedly champion himself amongst his sycophants as being a good bloke, yet he’s a cunt.
Learning to be Decent
I reckon for most of us, being a good bloke is a process. This involves learning from the times you haven’t been the good bloke you’d like to be and not repeating them. If you are the same person at 55 as you were at 25, then you haven’t evolved. Learning about the world, treating people better and shaking off inherent prejudices are all things that that have to be learnt on the rocky road to good bloke righteousness. These are lessons that are generally ignored by self-titled good blokes. The type who laugh at their own jokes and take pride in the fact they are the same man they always were.
I can remember a chap I knew about a decade ago who was going through a divorce. He told me at least ten times in one evening that he was a good bloke and couldn’t understand why his wife had cleared off. The thing was, I could understand it, because whilst he was an alright bloke, he had several character flaws and poor standards of health he didn’t recognise. I kind of learnt then that if you label yourself as a complete good bloke, you are heading for a fall. It’s a journey.
Good Bloke, Bad Bloke
In my working life, I soon learned the hard way to survive in businesses. I had to chase down the good blokes. When I was young and naive I found myself drawn to the blokes with flash cars and sharp clothes as I thought they had ready cash. It was only when I realised I was paying for their excess I kind of smelt the coffee. A good bloke in business is one who doesn’t offer a clue as to whether he is loaded or doesn’t have a pot to piss in. Being humble and paying bills on time is the mark of a good bloke.
Conversely, those who I have met who want to tell me what great blokes they are, are without exception, wankers. I can forgive young blokes starting out in life, as they are still finding their way through a forest of wankers and wondering if being a wanker themselves is the way to go. However, if they are still showing the same obsessive status traits in their forties and fifties, I would rather be anywhere else than in their company. They annoy the shit out of me with their righteousness. They’re always great parents and their kids are faultless little fuckers who get to play Jesus in the tedious school nativity play. Good god, there’s nothing worse than a self-titled great parent.
Is Righteousness Ever Complete?
I did wonder yesterday if Benjamin Zafaniah had ever been an arsehole. Surely you can’t be born a good bloke? It must take all sorts of things to become a better or worse soul? Benjamin Netanyahu was a cute little baby once. It was life choices that sent him down the rabbit hole of evil. Dictators seem to start with ideas that impulsively seem viable, then gradually go down the path of madness to save their own bacon. Netanyahu can’t turn back the clock; it’s too late, so he will fight to the death or go to prison. Putin is similar. The difference is the west support one and despise the other. I’m personally appalled by that.
Zafaniah must have had something in him that saw injustice (probably being black and uneducated). That then took him on a journey where he decided that life felt better when punching up at the elite rather than down on the unfortunate. It may have been parental influence? A friend of mine (a good bloke) once told me that when his father died, along with sadness, came the relief he was finally released from inherent prejudices. It was like a massive weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
I really admired that. It’s easy to look at parents as faultless individuals and live in a state of perpetual denial about their failings. “My dad said so, so it must be true”. I loved my mother in my own way but she had more character flaws than Oliver Reed. It took me a while to understand it and learn that following her path would result in a chaotic early meeting with my maker. She wasn’t a bad person though and was always a champion of the underdog, which is a wonderful trait. I just didn’t want to be her.
In summary, I think if you champion yourself as a great bloke, you probably aren’t. Another friend of mine bought up in North London once told me a story of his dad. Outside the house, he was a taxi driver, a market trader, entertainer and all round ducker and diver. A great bloke. Behind four walls he was an arsehole. My friend vowed not to be him. He’s a good bloke but he would never tell you that. He is quietly successful in his working life but still spends his spare time and energy fighting for and promoting those challenging corruption in the financial system. I know people far less successful, yet far more up their own arse.
In summary, I think what depressed me the other day and inspired me to write this blog, is the fact that the wrong Benjamin croaked it. It’s a blow when someone you regard as the good bloke you’d like to be dies, whilst the other gets away with genocide.
It took me a couple of days to snap out of how low that made me feel.