Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Return of Michael George Kimber

Posted on | December 10, 2010 | No Comments

Michael George KImber The Return of Michael George Kimber

Michael George Kimber has returned. All quiver and quake at his return.

At the end of October I managed the very strange feat of locating my 75 year old self. Which happens to be the aforementioned mighty Michael George Kimber.

My older alter ego happens to live in Britain, write books online and have a stunning mane of gray hair, a beard Santa would envy and a compassionate intelligence that makes me seem like an asshole. Time travel was accomplished by googling myself on the internet. His name is Michael G Kimber. To read the beginning of our correspondance go here.

My 75 year old self was in the army for 5 years and excellent at Sports. One might ask how I time traveled to the years before my birth, acquired skill at something I have absolutely no aptitude for and became British.  You distrustful souls will receive a simple answer.  I don’t know. And neither would you if you were able to time travel. It’s a paradox.

My 20s were filled with anxiety, marijuana and a good deal of running head first into friendships with the women that I loved.  My 75 year old self seems to have had a similar time in his 20s.  The G in his name stands for George. Mine stands for Gray.  He was good at sports and I am good at complaining about my middle class spoiled struggles.

For all of us struggling in our 20s, tripping over our own feet in some race towards a success we can’t quite picture, my 75 year old self offers a different world. I tried to discover how I would face approaching death. He hid this from me. I expect this is for the best. Instead he told me about what things were like for him at my age.  Welcome back Michael George Kimber.  We missed you.

Hi Michael,

Nice to hear from you again. Nice too to see that you are getting some response from your Facebook blog. (Even a couple of nice remarks about me – fair makes one blush!) Unfortunately I cannot follow directly in facebook as my application to re-join is blocked because of an apparent misdemeanour (They say) I did join a few years ago but cancelled almost immediately without posting a single message. Perhaps that was my downfall?

You asked me to submit some of my thought about the future. Somewhat difficult in this changing world, so with respect I think I will pas on that one. Besides, I passed the tipping point between past and future many years ago, and no matter how hard I try the pendulum continues to swing the wrong way.

However, in an earlier message you asked me how life for me had been when I was about your age. At the time I wrote a little piece, but events overtook us and you used my other writings so I did not pursue it. So here it is.

My Life at Twenty

“What was life like for me when I was in my twenties?” you asked.

Well to start with I was in the RAF; I had joined up when I was seventeen and a half; six months earlier than was required. Conscription was still in force back then, and in order to make sure I went into the outfit of my choice, it was necessary to sign on for an extra year or two.

There was the additional benefit that ‘regulars’, that is to say the party of the first part – me, were paid more than conscripts’ that is to say the party of the second part – them. New conscripts of whatever outfit, be it Army, Navy or Air Force were poorly paid, and the signing on supplement which was graded according to how many extra years you volunteered over and above the minimum two, made quite a difference.

I chose to add three years, making a total of five. This was not an arbitrary figure. Indeed there were a number of factors to consider, and some deep thinking involved. First of all I did not have a particularly exciting job. Neither did I have a girl friend, who, I like to think, would have been waiting tearfully for my return. I had been assured that every sports facility would be available once I was assigned to a permanent station, which was of course an attractive proposition to a young man, agile and fit, with some ambitions in the sporting field.

The deciding factor however was that the next level of pay increment required that I gave my services to Queen and Country for eleven years. That, I thought, was a march too far. So five years it was.

By and large they were five happy and satisfying years, during which time I travelled the world (well at least some of it) made good some of my educational deficiencies, and stood on the parade ground bursting pride when our new Queen visited Ceylon (as it then was) where I was stationed during the world tour she undertook following her coronation.

In my case the promise of great sport did not quite live up to its billing. As it turned out football and rugby enthusiasts were well catered for, as were the running, skipping, jumping, throwing, and batten wielding fraternity. Pugilistic sports were also popular as were water sports.

I can hear you saying, “Sounds pretty good to me, so what’s your problem sunny”. Well I do admit that I did take part in a good deal of what was on offer, but my particular expertise was with racquet sports which were seldom high on the sports officer’s list of priorities. Tennis in particular, was as often as not officers only, but my particular skill was table tennis and usually a dark corner in one of the back rooms in the NAAFI was as good as it got. For most people of course that was a matter of complete indifference, but I harboured serious ambitions in that sport having been the youngest (up to then) first team player in my club back home, and on numerous occasions I enjoyed the privilege to representing my city. With the possibilities of further glories representing my county and then, who knows, my country, I had hoped to find talented opposition in uniform. Sadly they were few and far apart, and by the time my stint was over, I had lost my sting.

I did however learn to sail – at which sport I won a few races. It did have a flip side however (sometimes literally) for on one occasion I was a long way ahead despite the light wind, having outmanoeuvred my opponents by taking an unexpected tack. At the final buoy I ‘came about’ too slowly and found myself ‘in irons’. Then with sails luffing I had to suffer the ignominy of seeing each and every one of my fellow competitors pass me before I could find some wind in the Genoa and get under way again. Ah well, one of life’s lessons I suppose. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Will you allow one more sporting anecdote from that period in my life?

You will; thanks!

At a hockey match against a team from the Ceylon Air Force I won two trophies. The first was a winner’s cup, a small replica – one for each member of the team – of the much larger one which, I guess, still languishes somewhere in Sri Lanka. The other was a right thumb twice as thick as the left one, a gift from an over enthusiastic defender. I am occasionally reminded of that moment of glory on the sports field when, from time to time – and always when I am looking for something else – I come across that little cup. In addition I am reminded of it daily for my injured thumb never resumed its normal size. It used to amuse me to ponder that most of us when considering those parts of the body where there are two of something, will find that one is bigger than the other. Which bits they may be I will leave for you to determine; but not many I always thought, would have different sized thumbs.

In retrospect I believe that those five years in the RAF were perhaps the most influential in my life. Certainly they rank above my school years, which traditionally are supposed to be the best years of our lives. Not for me or I venture for most UK kids at that time.  Educationally in this country we were still in the dark ages and for those who failed to show early academic promise (that is to say most) the school years were full of opportunities missed, of dreams and ambitions wasted.

During those five years I learned about other people, about comradeship, about discipline, about being a part of something. I discovered music and art, and chess, and cigarettes (subsequently forsaken) and alcohol (with which I still have a mild flirtation) and bought my first motorbike. It was also the first time I had been away from home and I discovered a great deal about myself. And here I use an old cliché without apology – I really believe that I went in as a boy, and came out a man.

There was perhaps one exception, for in one area during this period I confess not to have been as successful as I might otherwise have wished, and that was with girls. When I returned home at the end of my service, I was just as virgo-intac-ta as I was at the start.

So this time I ask the question. “What was life like for me in my twenties?” And the answer is, I guess, to the best of my recollections; pretty good.

That’s it for now Michael; best wishes; Michael.

Share

Comments

Leave a Reply





CommentLuv Enabled
  • Introduction to the Cure



  • Peter Diamond Gallery

  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

  • Archives