How To Overcome Stage Fright By Telling People To Piss Off

Before we kick off today’s guest post from the man they call Ice Cold Col, I wanted to update you on my free Life Coaching offer.

Unfortunately, I forgot to mention the closing date in my newsletter. If you are still contemplating this, then you have until Sunday 24th to do so, at which time I’ll close applications and announce the winner in Novembers newsletter.

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The packed back-room of the pub stomped and cheered. Charlie the compere took the stage as the band finished their first set and shouted:

“Let’s hear it for them!” and there was a huge roar. Unfortunately, he went on, “While they’re taking a break, Colin’s going to give you a few songs.”

Huh?!

My dad nudged me. Well, that’s not quite true. He got behind me and gave me a two-handed, ex-footballer, get-up-there shove which, had I been any less drunk, would have had me fall flat on my face.

My mind was racing: there are hundreds of people here. This is Buckinghamshire’s fourth-biggest day-long music festival. There is literally no way out of getting on that stage and singing. I wish I smoked so I could relax myself or even start a fire and get the pub evacuated.

I half-walked, half-stumbled up the stairs to the stage. Charlie was still there, smiling and holding out a guitar. The bastard! I hated him with every bone in my body. I was even ready to take back my assessment of his playing as ‘professional.’ “Knock ’em dead,” he said with a smirk and as though it were most natural thing in the world.

My brain was still railing: you’re half-hammered. You’re left-handed and this guitar isn’t. You’re following a seriously rocking blues band, and you hardly know which end of a microphone is which. There’s no way this can end well.

And then I said to my brain: “Brain: shut the fuck up. I’m going to rock this.”

I’ll show me!

I have a long history of stubbornness. I once ruined a rounders (softball for our American cousins) game for everyone by refusing to let go of the bat when the teacher said I was out, even though the ball she’d bowled me was clearly below my knees.

When my parents said “You can’t play the guitar, you’re too uncoordinated,” I said “You’re wrong” and learned to play. Not well, of course, I’m too uncoordinated. But well enough. And when my brain says “you can’t do this,” I say “Right! I’ll show me.”

My chest felt like my shirt was three sizes too small, and my heart was pounding against it. I was sure my sweat was leaving gigantic stains under my arms, and I remember thinking about the venue in the Blues Brother that had a wire mesh to protect the band from bottles.

The Crown at Twyford does not have a wire mesh to protect the band from bottles!

Ah well, what the hell.

After all, if you’re convinced something is going to be a disaster, the only way is up, right?

I went to the mic, said “Hello England!”, closed my eyes and launched into my favorite love song, “Why Don’t You Piss Off Because No-one Likes You” – and something odd happened.

They laughed.

But they waited until the chorus. Which is a comedy chorus. I opened an eye. They were smiling. My dad was singing along. I was making a crowd happy by playing my song. And it felt awesome.

My favorite poem and how it made me a rock star

My favorite poem is by John Hegley, and it’s called My First Poem:

“The first time I wrote in verse
I was about ten,
I wrote about my den
And someone said it’s like a real poem Miss
And Miss said it is a real poem, John.
I’ve been a poet since then”

That moment, the moment I opened my eyes and saw the crowd rocking out, that was the moment I became a rock star.

The Morals of the Story

  1. Parental violence is, on very rare occasions, for your own good. Since my dad has bad wrists, the shove probably hurt him more than it hurt me.
  2. It’s easy to misjudge friendly encouragement as pure evil.
  3. You can do anything if you wind up in a position where not doing it is worse.
  4. It’s really rather cathartic to sing – by which I mean scream – “Why don’t you piss off because no-one likes you? Everyone hates you! Everyone hates you!”, both at large crowds of strangers, your dad, and a compere you believe to be pure evil.
  5. Once you look at the monster, sometimes it’s smiling and tapping its feet.

Colin Beveridge dreams of a world where everyone is good at math. He tutors students to overcome their maths anxiety and has recently produced a Little Algebra Book to show that math doesn’t have to be a boring, black-and-white world. He lives in Poole, England with a guitar, an espresso pot, and nothing to prove. You can follow him on Twitter too, if you like.

So what do you think, have you ever been forced by somebody else into a situation that made you really nervous? Were you glad you got that push or did you want to murder them after the event?

UPDATE

Here is the man himself singing that very same song courtesy of YouTube. Record label employees contact me first as I will now be representing Colin.