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Paid By The Hour

6 min read

This is a story about prostitution...

One penny

It is fashionable to describe a female prostitute as a victim, which is a claim we should examine more closely. Certainly, few of us would choose sex work instead of a so-called dream job but what would that dream job need to look like, in order to fit the bill?

The bill.

How is a person supposed to pay for a crack, meth and/or heroin addiction on ordinary wages? How is a person with the chaotic lifestyle of a drug addict supposed to be organised enough to travel to work, arrive on time, and be presentable enough for a regular job?

Turn tricks. Score. Get high. Repeat.

If we examine the behaviour of an average low-income law-abiding productive member of society, we can see the same pattern of behaviour: Work a job which is thoroughly unpleasant, get paid at the end of the week, immediately spend the money on a binge drinking session, and then start all over again.

If we examine the behaviour of a high-income professional in a so-called 'good' job, we can see the same pattern of behaviour: An entire career which feels like a dead-end bullshit job, getting paid at the end of the month and immediately spending all the money on status symbols - the house, the car - in a never-ending cycle of performance reviews, pathetic promotions, job interviews and pitiful pay-rises.

"Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life" is more applicable to heroin addiction than it is to the pursuit of a dream job that doesn't actually exist.

What did those saintly Oxfam charity workers - who were presumably working in their dream job - infamously end up spending the charity's money on? Prostitutes.

Did we conveniently forget that sex work is well paid with flexible hours? Did we conveniently forget that somebody without academic qualifications can do sex work without having to attend a job interview? Did we conveniently forget that those who have criminal records or other black marks against their name, such that they would find themselves excluded from conventional employment, are able to earn money doing sex work?

Also, do we wish to disbelieve all the very many sex workers who tell us that they choose sex work of their own free will?

Women choose to be prostitutes for very many reasons, but some of the reasons we choose to ignore include the gratification, the reward of the job. Just as a chef likes to delight diners with gastronomic creations, and takes great pride in their work, can the same not be said of prostitutes: That they like to give pleasure? Should we simply forget the fact that sex is a biological imperative, which carries pleasurable rewards: It feels nice to fuck. We get a dopamine hit from having sex, just like eating, drinking, smoking, drinking tea & coffee and all the other vices.

Of course, it's true that if sex is your job, sometimes sex isn't sex... it's just work. We are all very familiar with those times that work isn't pleasurable. In fact, work is often unbearable.

"Oh but prostitution is so unbearable" I hear you cry. It's so relatable, the idea of an ugly fat, sweaty, smelly man, with bad breath, doing something so intimate with us - "to us" - that we struggle to imagine anything worse, short of painful torture. And yet we must confront this truth: You get a lot of buck for your bang.

If we examine every way of making money, we find an relationship between how much we get paid and how much exploitation is involved. The more unethical and exploitative something is, the more lucrative it is.

A company boss might earn a thousand times more than his employees, but this is because he or she is prepared to inflict misery and suffering upon everyone who toils on his or her behalf. A software engineer developing artificial intelligence might earn a very high salary, but this is because he or she is prepared to ignore the potential negative consequences to society. A university professor might enjoy a very intellectually stimulating life, but this is because he or she is prepared to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of the developing world, and its economic enslavement, to support a life of such incredible privilege.

We must distinguish between the slaves, the exploiters, and those who sit somewhere in-between.

We must acknowledge that, in the majority of cases where a man pays a woman for sex, she exploits the fact that he wants more sex than he can get for free, while he exploits the fact that she wants money to pay for drugs, sold by disadvantaged drug dealers who exploit the only money-earning route available to them. The drugs come from countries that are desperately impoverished, deliberately so that the labour and natural resources of those countries can be exploited by the men, who exploit the man, who exploits the man, who exploits the man, who exploits the man who's eventually managed to save up enough of his money to pay a woman for sex.

Do you really know what the company you work for is up to? Do you really know where the money in your paycheque came from?

If you follow the money, you'll see that most of the so-called economy is a massive money-laundering scheme, involving banks, accountancy firms, law firms and numerous shill enterprises, funded with dirty money, which originated in weapons, war, slavery and waste of natural resources. If you're not a slave - working for nothing - then you're probably an exploiter, so who are you to say who is doing the most exploitation?

Those who have the luxury of time to sit around pointing the finger and wringing their hands about 'victims' they know nothing about, are probably the ones who are the biggest beneficiaries of human exploitation, for how else did they achieve their opportunity for such idle talk?

Wouldn't we all dearly love to idly pontificate in some revered institution, and get paid for our trouble? Wouldn't we all choose to think, write, talk and create art, instead our daily toil, if we were given the choice?

I respect the prostitute. I respect anybody who has figured out how to get money and get what they want, by exploiting the minimum number of people. Give me your money, here is your sex. It's a simple transaction of two-way exploitation: No victim, both are slaves.

We're all junkies and prostitutes, in one way or another.




Barrier to Entry

9 min read

This is a story about prejudice...

Way out

If somebody has decided they don't like you because something has invoked their prejudices, then almost anything you say or do will be twisted negatively. There's no way to win somebody over once you're seen in a bad light, because it's possible to create a monster out of a saint if your mind is that way inclined.

I photographed the exit from my office.

I shouldn't have done it.

I knew it was wrong.

Nobody's told me off yet. Nobody's caught me. My wrongdoing has been entirely unnoticed by the universe.

This. Does. Not. Matter.

I'm not supposed to put photographs of an entrance into a secure building up on the public internet. In fact I'm probably expressly forbidden from doing such a thing depending on the interpretation of deliberately nebulous bullshit.

Provided I'm the golden boy and I'm making myself valuable around the place, nobody really gives a damn who I am and what I do. I could write about the specifics of what I do for a day job - which is all public anyway - and I wouldn't suffer any consequences, so long as I retain the aura of a person who's desirable to have around; so long as I'm wanted.

The moment that the sands shift and I'm viewed as an undesirable scumbag then I'll suddenly come under much closer scrutiny. Those who are looking for reasons to reject me are sure to find many things which they can twist to their advantage.

"Aha!" they will exclaim. "We've rumbled you!"

Of course, the joke is on those who seek to act with prejudice, because this identity existed all along. Everything has been on open public display. I was welcomed in with open arms when you wanted something from me and you thought you were getting the better end of the deal.

"You mean to say I hired a junkie alcoholic homeless bankrupt tramp with mental health problems!" they exclaim.

The indignation is palpable.

The prejudiced are always unreasonably angry and upset to discover that their trusted and valued colleague who has successfully delivered their large and complex IT project is nothing more than a low-life loser.

"I could have paid you peanuts!" seems to be the thing that's most upsetting to these people who'd think nothing of kicking a homeless person to death and urinating on the corpse.

It's not true.

You cannot pay me peanuts.

I cut my day rate by over 50% when I was utterly desperate last year, and I was taken advantage of worse than I've ever been in my 21 year career. I was treated disgustingly. I will never do that again.

Do you think you're getting a bargain every time you beat somebody down on the price they've quoted you? Do you think you're succeeding when you ask somebody to do more work for less money?


Pay less. Get less.

Do you think you're making the world a better place by refusing to work with vast swathes of society? Do you think you're more likely to succeed if you surround yourself with people who are just like you: A-grade achieving, 2:1 degree holding, compliant and conformant worker-bee drones who've got manicured CVs?

I should not be allowed onto the hallowed turf.

My face does not fit.

I'm an intruder.

I'm an interloper.

However, I'm not a fraud.

Stuff comes out of my mouth and even I'm surprised. People wander over to my desk and they want to talk to me. They want to ask me questions. Somehow I know the answers. Believe me... I'm more surprised than anybody.

I'm acutely aware that when people are having a tough time and living in a precarious situation they are more inclined to accept less money. People who are going through economic difficulties are easier to bully and exploit. It's relatively straightforward to fuck the poor.

In a poker game you have to have your chips on the table. Everyone can see the size of your stack.

I seem to have gained a somewhat posh accent, although I'm not entirely sure where I got it from because my parents are Northern and I was born in Wales. My cut-glass accent is apparently a close enough approximation to that of a privately educated and privileged member of the set who are destined for greatness, such that I haven't had to suffer the indignity of being offered insultingly low wages by the exploitative rentier class. They assume I'm one of them.

I'm racked with guilt that I enjoy privileges conferred by social status - when the people who I interact with in a work environment mistakenly think I've had a fine and expensive education - but yet I've rubbed shoulders with enough rough sleepers, junkies and alcoholics on the streets of London to know that intellect doesn't magically happen to restrict itself to upper-middle-class white families in the Home Counties.

Nobody knows that I should be stacking shelves in a supermarket for minimum wage. That's my so-called place in society, and I should be grateful to lick the boots of the capitalist pigs. (Caveat: I know that our supermarket shelves need stacking - it's a vital role - and I'm grateful to those who do the job).

I'm careening towards a collision with those who believe it's their rôle in life to police the social strata. They will find this document interesting reading. There is much ammunition here to construct a fabricated reason for my dismissal, on the flimsy and patently absurd basis that I might be exposing the country to terrorist attack by publicising confidential details about the entrance to our impregnable fortress. Perhaps I'm bringing my profession into disrepute and otherwise stepping out of line; conducting myself in a manner unbecoming of my position of responsibility. Bullshit.

Of course I might feel a pang of regret if I succeed in raising my profile sufficiently that the powers-that-be feel they have to take some action and eject me from the world I'm not supposed to belong to. "This isn't for the likes of you" they'll say as they boot me out of the door.

"What have I done?" I'll momentarily ask myself.

It seems two-faced to sit on the fence. It seems awful to take the big bucks and not impoverish myself as a charity worker. What the hell am I doing trying to change the world without first making myself poor and destitute?

Actually, I did make myself poor and destitute.

Am I now turning my back on the struggling masses?

I like to think that I'm doing the very opposite. I'm a bridge in-between two worlds which would never normally meet. There isn't much more I could do to challenge the prejudices of those who live in sheltered worlds, inaccessible to ordinary people and especially those who are tainted by the stench of poverty. I have specifically set out to become liked and respected, while also maintaining an open secret of my chequered past. My situation is no accident.

Three years ago I grew impatient. Three years ago my project was in its infancy and I was rushing things. Three years ago I was too tired, stressed and destabilised by the traumatic experiences I'd been through. Three years ago I had a plan but I was too unwell to execute it with any finesse. Three years ago I tried to force things to happen, which was "contrived" to put it in the words of the BBC journalist I was dating. She was right.

What I'm doing right now is still somewhat contrived, but it's not easy.

You'll find plenty of writers who'll have spent a single night sleeping rough, or perhaps in a psychiatric institution, in order to provide material for them to write about.

You won't find many people on the right side of the tracks who can write with any depth of experience and knowledge about the afflictions of modern life.

Life is a one-way street.

I feel quite unique in having been able to resume a life to which my entry should be completely barred. A great deal of effort goes into stopping people just like me from being able to enter the realm in which I inhabit. A vast system exists to thoroughly exclude ordinary mortals from getting anywhere near the restricted areas where I tread.

Instead of thanking my lucky stars and being wowed by the privilege, such that I become afraid of being ejected, I try to keep doing the brave thing of being honest and open. I refuse to hide my true identity.

For the avoidance of doubt, I'm careful to blur portions of images which show things which are confidential. I'm careful to never mention anything which is sensitive or classified. I never say where exactly I work and who I work for. I never divulge any details which realistically could be ever used for nefarious purposes, or expose anything which should be secure.

Of couse... my real name and my face are public property.


How would you go about blackmailing or otherwise manipulating me, if I've already made everything about me fully public?

What do you think I'd say if you said you knew my boss' name and were going to send them the link to my blog?

You're failing to appreciate the value of living an open life.

You're failing to see that secrecy and privacy are illusional.

You're failing to accept that the pressure of maintaining your spotless CV and so-called reputation is an instrument of tyranny, which makes you easily manipulated and exploited by the capitalists.

The most rebellious thing you can do is to create a public identity you're proud of; refuse to sanitise and hide your true self and your mistakes.

Never hide.




I Work Hard: The Proof

7 min read

This is a story about brainwork...

Graphite piano

In 2008 I became suicidally depressed. I'd been part of the project which had been at the centre of the global financial crisis: namely the trading of quadrillions of dollars worth of credit default swaps (CDS) which had grown in notional book value to be manyfold greater than the aggregate value of all the tangible things, such as precious metals, rare gemstones, property, factories, oil, gas, coffee, coins, banknotes and anything else which you could point at and say "that's worth something".

The world had lost its mind.

I knew it was coming of course. I had bought gold in 2005. I had negotiated a great mortgage in 2007 knowing there was a credit crunch on the horizon. In some ways I had tangible proof that I had been doing something valuable because I owned property, cars, boats and other things, as well as considerable amounts of liquid assets. In short: I was rich.

I got rich from data and software. I got rich off the back of investment banking and derivatives contracts. I got rich off a whole lot of nothing.

In 2008 it really felt like I'd presided over the most awful crime ever perpetrated against humanity.

I'd worked hard and I'd done my job very effectively. I thought about the bigger picture and I knew - deep down - that what we were doing at JPMorgan was wrong, but I'm an engineer and I like delivering engineering solutions. If somebody asks me "can you do this?" then I want to be the problem-solving can-do guy who comes up with the solution and delivers a working system. Often times I stop and take a step back, and think about the context of what I'm doing - I consider the ethics - but that's not really my job. I just design and build software systems.

The whole "I just work here" or "I was just following orders" thing is how the Nazis managed to kill 6 million jews, so I'm not going to hide behind that flimsy defence.

I know what I did was wrong.

So, I decided to completely ditch investment banking. I decided to do something that was the polar opposite of investment banking. I retrained in the building trade.

Instead of working in an office, I worked in customers' houses. Instead of working to devise arcane and impenetrably complicated ways of moving imaginary wealth around the globe, I helped build houses for people to live in. Instead of working for a massive faceless global corporation, intent on destroying the worldwide economy and plunging us all into the deepest and longest recession in history, I worked for myself - I was a sole trader; a man with a van.

I discovered that what I'd always suspected was true: I work hard.

It's hard to prove that you work hard, when all your hard work is hidden away behind the scenes. You have no idea how hard it was to build all the websites and apps that you use every day. You completely take for granted all the facets of the modern world, where you can speak to your phone and express your unique special snowflake personality on social media. The geeks and the nerds are derided as autistic-spectrum weirdo scum, who are all potential paedophile predator perverts who deserved to have a miserable childhood getting bullied at school.

While we celebrate the doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen and suchlike, because their contribution to society is conspicuously obvious and easy to understand - like a game of cops & robbers - questions such as "what is the internet?" belie the hideous complexity of that innocuous 4-word question. If you're looking for a convenient Google-provided soundbite synopsis that you can parrot to other people, in the vague hope of sounding intelligent, you're doing a disservice to those geeks and nerds who you persecuted at school, who are the architects of the fourth industrial revolution.

It's very hard for me to prove to you that I've been working very hard during my 21-year full-time career. You're quite likely to accuse me of not working very hard at all, because there are people out there who do a lot more physical labour, and what they produce is a lot more tangible and more easily understood in a childlike brain.

It was immensely frustrating to me that I had no easily understood empirical evidence to prove how hard I work; to prove that I'm a busy bee.

I started to write.

I've written the equivalent of 22 novels over the course of 3 years.

Of course a lot of what I've written is manic rantings, but one should be mindful that during the course of the 3 years I've also written a lot of software, and software doesn't work if it's wrong. One missing semicolon in millions of lines of code and the whole thing will be kaput. You should consider the fact that it's a facet of my profession to write with coherence and attention to detail, because my editor has zero tolerance for mistakes: the computer can't handle errors.

It pleases me that I've produced 1.1 million words in my spare time as proof that I'm not an idle drug addict loser. It pleases me that I have a tangible asset, which vastly exceeds the length of the King James Bible.

Would you accuse an author of a bestselling series of novels, as being unproductive and not working for their living?

I say again: I've been writing in addition to my full-time day job.

It's true that sometimes I find my day job very easy and unchallenging, but there are other days when there are gremlins in the incomprehensibly huge and complex computer software systems, and those problems are very hard to diagnose and fix. Manual labour is governed by a simple and well understood set of physical laws: the energy requirements to lift and move heavy objects is quite easy to calculate. The amount of brainwork required to fix a problem with one of your beloved apps or websites - to give a facile example - which might affect millions of people, is not an easy calculation at all. If you think what I do is unimportant, you should see the public response every time Instagram stops working or Snapchat introduces a major change.

My motivation for writing this is, of course, insecurity. I struggle with feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Imposter syndrome asserts itself and I wonder what the hell I've been doing with two decades of my life, with nothing to show for it except a lot of crummy software which almost nobody is aware even exists. I would struggle to explain to either of my grandmothers what I do for a living, especially now they're dead.

I exist in a strange part of the world. I'm a 'tame' geek who can speak plain English. I don't surround myself with other technologists and I'm cursed with a bleeding-heart liberal streak and an inquiring mind, which causes me to question whether I'm part of the problem or part of the solution.

Because of my guilt, work ethic and insecurity, I feel like I have to create a very conspicuous and public display of my productivity, which can be easily understood. Here's the headline: 1.1 million words in 3 years.

I write because I'm afraid that you'll write me off as a lazy junkie waste-of-space loser who doesn't do anything productive or useful. I write because I don't see much other evidence that I ever existed or did anything notable; that I ever contributed to society.

"Use your talent and energy for good" I hear you say. Yup. That's working out really great for the oppressed workers, isn't it? I'm so glad that charity has been so successful that it's made itself completely redundant as a concept.

I write because I haven't decided what else to do, but I'm still thinking, of course. You might think that thinking is useless, but what is writing except for thinking on a page?




Kids With iPhones

5 min read

This is a story about a lack of imagination...

Mr Squiz

There's global moral panic - hysteria - that screen time is rotting our children's minds. There's a widely-held belief that our kids are not getting enough wholesome 'playing in the dirt' outdoors growing up time as we nostalgically remember getting in our own childhoods. "All this used to be fields" we say, even though we grew up on a housing estate in a dismal suburb, and watched lots of TV, with our parents worrying that 4 or maybe even 5 whole channels of colour audiovisual entertainment would warp our fragile young minds and leave us as dribbling morons.

I was dragged around museums, art galleries, stately homes, ancient ruins, churches, cathedrals, mosques, cobbled streets and other sites of historical and cultural interest, in the hope that some of those educational experiences would rub off on me and undo some of the dumb. Never was there an opportunity missed for extreme panic that I was enjoying my childhood too much, and I should be forced to endure some interminable excruciating lecture from an insufferable bore about their particular academic fetish.

I suppose it's a parenting strategy, to provide your children as a captive audience for people who're so lacking in charisma and life skills that they're unable to cope in the real world - roundly ignored by people their own age - while meanwhile the parents can get drunk, smoke and take drugs, and otherwise leave the bothersome business of raising offspring to a state or charity funded organisation masquerading as an educational establishment.

Why the obsession with constant education and cultural experiences anyway?

Oh, you're taking little Hugo to the museum are you? How wonderful of you. How original. Slow clap.

[I stole that line from a poster on the London Underground, mocking sharp-elbowed ambitious middle-class mothers, eager to cram their children's heads full of stuff that'll make 'em sound smart at a university interview, in the hope of barging to the front of the queue; getting a so-called head start in life]

You should read about Asian tiger parenting if you want to get a chilling glimpse into the kind of future we're headed into. Instead of worrying that iPhones and iPads are rotting your children's minds, you should be more concerned that exam result league tables, homework, extracurricular activities and the obsession with your children's academic achievements, is psychologically destroying your precious little darlings. The anxious, withdrawn, introverted adults who prefer to communicate almost exclusively via memes shared via the internet, aren't a product of the internet and modern technology, but actually the very predictable and unfortunate result of placing an excessively heavy burden of expectation on little kids.

"They'll thank me for it later in life" /  "If I don't give them a head start in life they'll end up working in McDonalds"


I do empathise with the fears of parents, of course, but I must point out the consequences of the collective insanity of believing your precious little darling is special and different, and they need to be pushed to the limit during every waking hour in order to realise their full potential.

Both childhood and parenthood look to me - as an outside observer - like an unpleasant pressure cooker for all involved, producing a plethora of psychiatric problems. There's an obsession over school catchment areas, 11-plus examinations, grammar schools and a set of metrics, which measure children's academic abilities at an ever-earlier age.

Children are somewhat cursed with filial obedience - they naturally want to please their parents. What's a kid got to these days to get their parents off their back. Seemingly, they need to completely eschew iPhones, iPads, video game consoles, television, and bury their heads in scrolls of parchment (novels would rot their fragile brains, of course).

Culturally, we seem to celebrate abstinence at the moment. We loudly boast about how little sugar we're eating. Every month seems to have a catchy name - like Stoptober - related to giving something up like alcohol or tobacco. Low-fat, low-carb, low-fun, low-stimulation, low-enjoyment seems to be the name of the game. It's as if we're seeing the rebirth of the puritans. Should we all thrash ourselves with nettles too?

I feel guilty for spending a week at a Disney-esque resort, with rollercoaster rides, water slides and other low-brow entertainment, with no historical or cultural authenticity at all - everything's brand new and made of modern materials. I feel guilty for enjoying things which were created to entertain, not to educate. I feel guilty for having a good time instead of expanding my mind. That guilt has its origins in upbringing; in a childhood dominated by my parents' panic about my mind melting and me forgetting everything I'd learned, if I stopped being educated for a single second and just got to sit and watch cartoons with my bad influence friends.

I see no evidence that technology, entertainment, games and screen-time in general, is creating a generation who are less imaginative, less creative, less academically gifted, less talented, less well-informed and less knowledgeable. If anything, the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Give a child access to YouTube and Wikipedia and they will willingly and eagerly embark upon a self-directed learning journey, which will deliver far more valuable facts for your precious darling to regurgitate, into their brainbox, than an unlimited amount of nagging, arguments, tears, tantrums, private tutors, private schools and trips to sites of historical and cultural significance.

What do I know though? I'm an idiot who likes mindless entertainment.




My Local Area

8 min read

This is a story about being observant...

Syringe caps

I don't get out much. Working away from home, living in a hotel, then trying to cram all my chores into the weekend, I don't explore my local area very much. I don't know much about where I live.

I was walking up the steep hill from the town centre, back home, and I noticed a load of orange plastic things on the ground. On closer inspection these turned out to be safety caps for hypodermic syringes. There must have been 30 of these things scattered around the entrance to a kind of alleyway. I didn't look too carefully but I couldn't see any of the syringes. There was a police van with a riot shield covering its windscreen parked not far away. Smelling cannabis in the street is very common and hardly worth noting, but seeing the obvious detritus of heroin use is more telling about the character of an area.

In Manchester last year, I would overhear homeless people shouting to each other: "you scored? What did you get?" and "two Bs and a white" which means two bags of heroin and a rock of crack cocaine. I saw people standing in the middle of the pavement in a comatose zombie-like state because they'd been smoking Spice or Mamba - brands names of synthetic cannabis sold before the New Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) made it illegal to sell almost anything psychoactive.

Homelessness and drug abuse is less conspicuous here than in Manchester and London, although there are far fewer people living here.

In London earlier this year a female crack addict ran up to me and asked me for money. I said "sorry" and then she started verbally abusing me. She must have been "rattling" pretty badly but she kept up the pretence that she was "starving" and wanted money for "a hotel". I started to explain that I'd been homeless myself and she shot back that I should be more sympathetic, but she was simply enraged that I wouldn't immediately give her the money she was demanding quite menacingly, abusively and aggressively. She didn't waste any time finding somebody else to harass for money. We didn't converse. Literally the only words I managed to say were "sorry" and then "I've been homeless" before she decided that I was a waste of time in her frenzied attempts to gather enough money for her score. I saw her again subsequently having a blazing row with a homeless man about the fair division of the drugs they'd scored.

Recently, when walking somewhere with a friend and on another occasion with my ex-girlfriend, we passed people begging and they questioned why I didn't give them money. The presumption was - again - that I should be more sympathetic, given my prior experience with sleeping rough and being no-fixed-abode. I was almost rebuked for being callous and uncaring, which is a kind of stupidity reserved only for small-town small-minded idiots. I've seen enough Brasilian favelas, slums in India and of course spent enough time sleeping rough on the streets of London, and have attempted to help a few individuals. I know better than most people exactly what kind of a difference it makes.

To be clear, I do give money to alcoholics, junkies and the homeless, but I do it in a very targeted and considered way. If some guy with a dog is right outside a supermarket, sheltered by a doorway or a bus shelter, and I happen to be walking past, I'm very unlikely to give money to that person in prime begging position. If it's raining and somebody is getting soaked to the skin in the middle of winter, it feels like a more exceptional circumstance, so I'll sometimes walk to a cashpoint and get out enough money to pay for a hostel bed. If I see somebody suffering really badly with delirium tremens (DTs a.k.a. the shakes) then I'll get them a drink or enough money for them to buy one. If somebody asks me nicely for money for drugs, I tend to look at that more favourably than being abused for saying "sorry".

I worry that I'm a "have" and others are a "have not" and perhaps it's simple logic to say that the "haves" should and must give to the "have nots" if and when they demand it. I worry that I'm a gatekeeper. I really don't want to become part of the paternalistic patriarchal sneering guardian class, who will dole out what people need provided the misfortunate wretches put themselves through the degrading experience of begging and portraying themselves as a worthy needy cause. It's not fair or right that I should sit in judgement over my fellow men and women. Believe me, it's not like that.

As a proportion of my wealth, I've given away an enormous amount. I've been extremely philanthropic. Indeed I've been so charitable that I've put myself into a financially distressed position. Anybody who thinks I'm cold and callous doesn't know what the fuck they're talking about, they can fuck off, and they're no friend of mine.

Ultimately, I spend a great deal of my time thinking about the fair division of wealth, lack of opportunities, how the welfare state should operate, and humanity's general attitude towards the less fortunate members of society. I'm no Mother Theresa but we should be wary of those who do style themselves as such, because it's very much in the interests of the ego of a person who proclaims that they "do a lot of good work for charity". Clearly, charity has had its opportunity to solve the vast social problems of the 21st century, and it's failed abysmally, except for making a bunch of wealthy twats feel very smug with themselves.

I'm greatly moved by what I see all around me, but not such that I give 50 pence to a person who I just happen to be passing, because that'd be buying off my guilty conscience very cheaply. It's only right and proper that those who have been fortunate in life should feel guilty about their luck, and that guilt should drive us to enact real and meaningful change to the whole of society... not just chucking some pocket change into a begging bowl and feeling good about ourselves for the rest of the day. The guilt is something we should live with while the grotesque problems in society are allowed to persist.

It might look to the casual observer as if I'm living a luxurious life on my 6-figure income, but in fact I live in a very precarious situation. It frustrates me very much that I'm in too much of a fragile position to be able to jeopardise my own recovery trying to help others. I tried that and it was a welcome distraction from my own problems, but it was also excessively costly to my own survival prospects - it nearly cost me my life. I think it's quite fair and reasonable that I should put on my own oxygen mask before helping others.

As this story progresses, you'll see a change in what I'm up to and where my focus is, but right now sadly I have to focus on digging myself out of the hole. This is not selfish - it's what I have to do if I'm going to remain alive.

It is frustrating that I don't have spare capacity or any money to help others, beyond what I already try to do by sharing my story, but that's just the way things are going to be for the next 6 months or so.

If you think I should be volunteering or working for a charity, you're an idiot. My life would collapse in a domino-like chain of events which would see me bankrupt, evicted, penniless and destitute in the blink of an eye. I myself would become one of the very people I aim to ultimately help. You have entirely failed to grasp the gravity of my situation and the difficulty of dealing with everything I've been dealing with, and indeed still am dealing with.

I find the kinds of comments from my former friend and former girlfriend about giving money to the homeless vastly more insulting than the crack addict verbally abusing me for not immediately giving her the money she demanded, although all have missed the obvious point: that I have the first-hand experience, and I'm the one who's doing what I can, rather than telling others how they should act.

Homelessness and heroin addiction are a huge problem in my local area. I'll do my bit to help as and when I can.




One Year in Pictures - a Photo Story

7 min read

This is a story about the last 12 months...

London sunset

The story begins in London, looking out at the skyline of the capital from my balcony. This is the last photo I took from my apartment in London before I had to leave to go chasing cash... I was practically bankrupt.

Self storage

That's everything I own all boxed up and put into self storage. That's all the stuff I've managed to hang onto through the past few years. I'm amazed I even managed to accumulate and retain this much stuff, considering that a few years ago I was homeless and even sleeping rough. In a way, it's liberating that my life can be boxed up and moved so easily.

Packed suitcase

That's all I could manage to carry on the train to Manchester, leaving my beloved home city of London. I'll always think of London as home first and foremost, because I've spent more time there than anywhere else. Yes, I got my ass kicked, but the place was relatively kind to me. I've still got plenty of friends there, at least.

Manchester apartment block

Here's the apartment block where I was moving to. I'd never set foot in Manchester before in my life. I'd never been inside the apartment. I didn't know anybody in the city. In fact, I hardly know anybody in the North of England. In retrospect it was insane to move to Manchester, but I was desperate - I was bankrupt and I couldn't afford to pay the rent in London anymore, so homelessness and destitution were imminent. I did what I had to do.

Ironing board

I was lonely but there were girls. I was so busy with my work that there wasn't a lot of time for making new friends. I was really gutted about a breakup a couple of months earlier - she was such an amazing girlfriend - and it seemed to make sense at the time to meet somebody new. It made things more bearable, having a partner.

Tramadol capsules

Things were fragile; delicate. I was under so much pressure and I'd been through such emotional upheaval leaving my home and moving to a new city, as well as the exhaustion and the stress of it all. I often thought about killing myself. I even took this photo of one of the boxes of capsules I used as part of my massive overdose suicide attempt.

Psych ward

Psych ward. Not just any psych ward - this was a PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) and my fellow patients were very sick. I arrived here after my suicide attempt, having spent days in a coma on life support.


Wales. What the hell was I doing in Wales? I might've been born in Wales but I've never lived here. The hospital were going to discharge me into some kind of supported housing, but I had no idea where in the country I was going to be housed. I've got no local connections anywhere. I could have stayed in hospital and taken a gamble on social services finding me somewhere tolerable to live, but instead I accepted the kind offer from a doctor who read my blog - I moved into their converted garage. I was homeless and it was the state's responsibility to house me because I was vulnerable, but there was too much danger I'd end up housed somewhere where I didn't know anybody. It turned out the doctor was married to somebody my friend was friends with... there was a connection.

Warsaw snow

Warsaw. What the hell was I doing in Warsaw? I needed money and I needed it fast. An old friend put in a good word for me with his boss and the next thing I knew I was packing my bags for a business trip to Poland.

Busy underground

London again. This time I was commuting from Wales and living in AirBnBs. I stayed in 12 different AirBnBs. It was a horrible existence, spent on trains and in really crappy accommodation. I nearly ran out of money. It was unbelievably stressful, having to pretend like everything was OK and normal, when in actual fact I'd already been through 6 months of hell and things were worse than ever. I was no fixed abode, living off the charity of a doctor who read my blog and emailed me, and I was almost out of cash but I still had to get to work every day and pretend like everything was normal.

Train cancelled

Dating again. I decided that there was no point in dating in London because I didn't plan on staying in London for any more than another couple of months... I couldn't stand the commuting and the AirBnBs. I was dating, but I still didn't have any money, or a car, or an apartment - I was still virtually bankrupt and no fixed abode. What the hell was I doing dating?


I got a local job. That meant I needed a car so I could get to work. I had a horrendous chest infection, but I needed a car and I needed one fast. I barely had enough money for the car, the road tax and the insurance. In fact, I didn't have enough money - I had to go into even more debt in order to get myself back on the road.

Apartment keys

I managed to rent an apartment. That was stressful. They were asking for the whole 12 months rent up-front at one point. I was struggling to prove that I was able to pay the rent, of course... I'd spent the past 9 months on the brink of bankruptcy so of course I was worried that my credit score was destroyed and I wouldn't be able to rent an apartment. Once again, I spent every penny I could lay my hands on and went deeper into debt, but I desperately wanted some security... a place to call home with a legally binding tenancy agreement... no longer dependent on the charity of the kind people who'd let me live in their converted garage.

Cod and chips

A brief moment of domestic bliss. I had a car, an apartment, a local job and a local girlfriend. We were a "dinky" couple - dual income, no kids. We ate out or had takeaway nearly every night, or cooked luxury ready meals. We were planning a holiday together.

Baked beans

Easy come, easy go. I broke up with my girlfriend. The work project had been completed and the local company were letting me go. My windows were covered with paper so nobody could see in and I was eating cold baked beans out of a can with a business card as an improvised spoon.


Instead of a week lying on a sun lounger by the swimming pool, on holiday, I managed to snatch a weekend mini-break to a European city with an old friend. It was exhausting, but of course great to see my friend. My week-long holiday was cancelled. I haven't had a proper holiday for 2 years.

Leaving gift

A leaving gift from my local job. They got me a card and everything. The gift was alcohol. It was a nice gesture. I like alcohol.

Time to talk

Another day another dollar. I got another job. It's still in Wales but it's 90 minutes drive away in rush hour traffic. My mental health is destroyed and I find it ironic that there are posters everywhere in the office saying "it's OK to talk about mental health" but there's an unwritten rule that says I'm supposed to be a reliable, steady, dependable worker who never complains and just gets on with the project... I'm not allowed to take sick days. I'm back living out of a suitcase again. I'm still a long way away from where I need to be.

Pint in the pub

This is my life now. Drinking in the pub next to the hotel, which is near my new office. My new colleagues are nice - and super smart - and the project is interesting, I guess, but I really need a bunch of local friends, a local girlfriend etc. etc. and I could really do without the loneliness and the boredom and the isolation and the pressure and the stress, which are all as present as ever.

A pretty crazy 12-month rollercoaster ride. I'm very surprised that I'm still alive.





4 min read

This is a story about preferential treatment...

European sockets

If you Google Translate "Very Important Person" (VIP) into Portuguese, you get "Pessoa Muito Importante" (PMI). It seems like the Portuguese prefer the acronym CIP, but I can't find a definition of what that stands for.

Anyway, as well as getting to spend a couple of days with my friend, I also get to be his guest in the airport lounge reserved for frequent fliers. The big advantage of this is a comfy seat near a power socket, where I can do a bit of work, write this blog post, and otherwise kill time until my flight starts boarding, which won't be for a few hours.

Most of the conversation with my friend during Saturday, Sunday and today, has revolved around middle-class guilt and social conscience. Is it right, for example, that the most wealthy are able to hide their money in Swiss bank accounts and offshore, to shield it from taxation? As a proportion of a person's income or net worth, it's the poor who shoulder the biggest burden in taxes, fees and other things - such as exorbitant interest rates on loans - which prejudice the opportunities of the most disadvantaged members of society, to escape from poverty.

A friend who's a chartered accountant has decided to become an independent consultant, like me. We discussed the tax efficiency of owning and operating our own companies versus paying full income tax and National Insurance on our gross income. Surprisingly, we pay slightly more tax than those who are PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and have their taxes deducted at source by their employers.

Also surprising is the laudable decision of some of my friends who have been lucky enough to become wealthy, to not hide their wealth offshore or in Swiss bank accounts - they're paying their fair share and playing by society's rules; they're giving back to the economies which they profited from. You might say that "laudable" is the wrong word, but there is a considerable burden involved in the administration of complex tax affairs, and the bureaucracy of ensuring that governments receive all the taxes which they are due. Often times, it would be far easier to avoid taxes than to pay them, because there's a whole industry which profits from providing simple and convenient services to the wealthy.

Are we being philanthropic; altruistic? No, of course not. The thing that's driving our behaviour is guilt. We feel guilty that we have been lucky when others have not been. Paying taxes doesn't absolve a person of that guilt, but deliberately avoiding taxes is something extra that the lucky ones should feel guilty about.

What about giving money to charity? Does that absolve a person of the guilt they feel about their fortune in life?

The problem is that a clean conscience can be bought very cheaply. A seemingly large charitable donation might actually be only a tiny fraction of a person's net wealth; a bit of 'disposable' income that wouldn't be missed at all. Even more perversely, tax rules can make a rich person's donation of "pocket change" look like a significant act of philanthropy, while a poor person's unavoidable tax burden is by the far the greater contribution, and yet not recognised as such.

Then, there's the protective bubble problem. If you work on a secure campus or private estate and live in a gated community, you're largely insulated from seeing poverty, homelessness and disproportionately protected from becoming a victim of crime. In fact, just living in a wealthy country, you're insulated from the global wealth disparity created by the subsidies, import tariffs and other economic weapons which are employed to keep the rich rich, and the poor poor.

After 3 days of chatting, my friend and I arrived at the conclusion that we'd have to go through 3 generations of misery to reach a state of global equality and social justice. When I say "we" I mean mostly the wealthiest 2% of people on the planet, which my friend is convinced we can count ourselves amongst; he and I.

How can I disagree with him that I enjoy a life of wealth and privilege which 98% do not, when I'm sitting in a leather chair typing these words on one of my 5 laptops, enjoying free electricity, free food & drink as well as having the leisure time to craft this valueless contribution to the internet's quadrillions of webpages.

It's OK though: I'm a CIP. I deserve preferential treatment.




Hidden Homeless

6 min read

This is a story about having a place to call home...

No fixed abode map

Here's a picture of what it's like being of no fixed abode. The pins mark the 12 places where I've stayed in the last three months, with the exception of a hotel in Warsaw and my friends' place in Wales. You might not think of me as homeless because I've not been sleeping rough, but I've not enjoyed the security of owning a home or having a tenancy agreement. The process of evicting somebody onto the street is not that difficult if they're in rent arrears or defaulting on their mortgage, but things are even more insecure if you're no fixed abode. You have no rights if you're sofa surfing. This is not a criticism of the wonderfully kind and generous thing that my friends have done, letting me live with them, but it's still a form of homelessness to not have a home of your own.

It's really expensive being homeless. If you can't raise the money for a deposit you'll pay a premium for a hostel bed or to rent a room. It cost me an absolute fortune in train fares, travelling back to Wales every weekend because Friday and Saturday nights are more expensive than staying midweek in London, and there's less availability.

You might think it's laughable that I consider myself to be homeless, but I've slept rough and I've lived in hostels. I know what homelessness is. I know what being down and out on the streets is. I've lived it. I'm still homeless - one argument with my friends and they could ask me to leave. I don't have secure housing. That makes me homeless. Yes, my friends are incredibly kind and charitable, but can you imagine what it's like living without the legal protection that you take for granted? In Maslow's hierarchy of needs shelter and security are the foundations on which our entire sense of happiness and contentment are built. Can you imagine not having a home of your own, but instead being reliant on the ongoing charity of perhaps one single person? Can you imagine how insecure that would make you feel?

Undoubtedly my life has been saved by my kind friends taking me in and making me feel incredibly welcome in their family. Undoubtedly my recovery, my stability, my improved situation can be credited to the kind family who took me in. Without their love, support, food and shelter I'd have been shoved into to some godforsaken B&B in the Greater Manchester area and probably have gotten stuck in the revolving-doors of the mental health system, seen as a basket case and a drain on society; an undesirable. With support I've been able to get myself back on my feet, almost.

I'm really not biting the hand that feeds me. I'm incensed that it's so hard to find security in British society. All I want is a secure place to live and a tolerable job that pays enough money for a modest little life. Why is it so hard to re-enter civilised society? Why are there so many gatekeepers and obstacles, stopping people from pulling themselves by their bootstraps and getting themselves back on their feet?

The stress and anxiety of the bureaucratic nightmare involved in getting a job and renting an apartment is a utterly dreadful. I've had to produce so many documents, fill in so many forms, answer so many questions and have my life poked and prodded by an army of nosey parkers, intent on discovering any black mark that might give them an excuse to reject me. I don't know why people even bother subjecting themselves to such an ordeal. I can see why so many people find themselves homeless - it's just so awful and stressful to keep the plates spinning and the wheels turning and remain a member of civilised society. There's an enormous barrier to entry, and I'm one of the lucky ones because I don't have a criminal record or a bankruptcy that makes me one of society's rejects.

One week today I might get the keys to an apartment that I can call my own if I'm lucky. I'm going through a tenancy *application* process. It should be noted that it's seen as an application - I'll only be allowed to hand over my hard-earned cash to somebody who's not going to work for it if I'm lucky. I'm only allowed to be a slave of the rentier class if I'm lucky. I shall have to doff my cap and kowtow and pray to the sky monster that I am allowed to have something that should be a basic human right.

It's awful that property is seen as an asset. It's awful that we have to mortgage ourselves up to the eyeballs or pay rent for all eternity, to line the pockets of the capitalists. Property isn't something we should profit from. Property is essential for life, and to attempt to profit from it is wicked and evil. It's no different than buying up all the insulin and then price gouging, because the alternative to not having it is death. Profit and capital gain is not driving efficiency, it's driving misery. Property speculation is not rewarding hard work and useful contribution to society... in fact it's rewarding the most antisocial people in society.

While the headline news for the best part of two weeks has all been about a man who got sick but hasn't actually even died, have we forgotten how many people are living in poverty? Have we forgotten about the mental health epidemic that's ruining so many lives and causing so many suicides? Have we forgotten about how many people are just about managing, or in fact are not managing at all - those who are on the brink of financial ruin, poverty, destitution - and are having a thoroughly miserable time? Have we forgotten about the tens of millions of British people who are living lives of quiet desperation, because the media has an agenda to push - that we should supposedly give a shit about one former spy who hasn't even died yet - instead of the very real suffering of a vast and ever-growing proportion of society?

I can understand why they call the magazine sold by the homeless The Big Issue. Why aren't homelessness and housing issues top of the political and media agenda? I couldn't give two fucks about a half-poisoned spy when so many people are freezing to death on the streets.




Unconditional Love

7 min read

This is a story about being alone...

Pier balance

Who do I turn to if I need to confide in somebody? Who will be nonjudgemental, accepting and supportive? Who will fight my corner and defend me? Who will help me to feel better if I'm attacked; bullied? Who's got my back?

My life fell apart, so what I have now is this blog. Here's where I come when I'm feeling hard-done-by. Here's where I come when I need somebody to listen to me. Here's where I come when I need a shoulder to cry on. Here's where I come when I need some love. I don't trust anybody else to be there for me when I need them. I've found myself all alone far too many times, so this blog is my safety net... it's my connection to the world.

I can't even write about what I want to write about. There are strings attached in my life. I have unwittingly agreed to a kind of contract where I pay an intangible price. There are expectations placed upon me and a kind of intrusion into my life that most people don't have in their adult lives. There's a certain amount of arse-kissing and ego massaging that I have to perform, seemingly in repayment of a debt that I didn't know I'd incurred. I have to watch my step; watch my words.

My blog is where I come when I'm hurting. Writing is what I do when I'm frustrated and angry, or insecure and upset. Without this outlet I don't know what I'd do, because I doubt I could have healthy relationships without being able to vent. The fact that I'm venting publicly is good - read if you're interested and don't if you're not. Writing publicly is important, because it means scrutiny. If I'm being an arsehole then everybody sees that I'm being an arsehole. If I'm making a fool out of myself, everybody sees that I'm making a fool out of myself. If I'm a horrible person, I've got nowhere to hide.

Important friendships have fallen into disrepair. I don't have regular healthy social contact. I don't have a big enough circle of friends. My life was profoundly dysfunctional, and it still needs a lot of work. I don't have anybody much who I'd pick up the phone to... and less so than ever before due to an event that affected a couple of friends.

I write at length about my distress, but I'm treated like I'm unaffected by anything. My instinct is to withdraw from life completely; to cut myself off. If you've got problems, I'll leave you alone. I'm just trying to survive in my little corner. I don't come and bother you, so don't make out like I'm a problem in your life. I'm just trying to cope in my own way, which boils down to pretty much just my writing. I've got an incredibly small footprint, when you think about it. I live mostly in complete isolation, and I'll keep it that way if it's so problematic for me to exist.

I think a lot about suicide. I think a lot about extracting myself. I think a lot about disappearing. It's not my mission in life to ruin anybody's day. I'm already feeling insecure enough. Sorry for existing.

I'm tired; so tired. You can't even imagine what it's like to lose your support network and have the very fabric of existence crumble around you. I have friends who I'm occasionally in contact with via messaging apps. Once a week or so I speak to friends. Compare that with the vast numbers of people you speak to at work and otherwise in your rich and varied existence. Compare my isolated existence with your own. I can go for whole weeks at a time without speaking to another person. I've lived my life out of a black holdall for longer than I care to remember. I never unpack. I never get settled. I can't remember what it's like to feel like I'm home and I can just relax - I'm always a guest; an interloper.

Exhaustion leads me to warped thinking. I imagine that the best I can manage to do is kill myself without making too much mess. I think about all the different ways I could kill myself, and what I could do in preparation to make it easier on those who'd have to deal with it. It's exhaustion that drives me to this. No matter how hard I work, it isn't good enough. I might as well give up.

I wonder about how far I am away from being able to live independently and regain my pride and self-esteem. I wonder how much stress and effort and time and money and energy it's going to take. I wonder if I can do it, or if it would be my final act before I hit the wall - I'm right at the limit. If you think I'm rushing things, you're wrong. Things have been shit. I'm trying to get away from intolerable and unsustainable situations. I want to collapse and not feel guilty about it. I need to collapse. You might not see the effort that's been put in, but that's your problem not mine. I couldn't write about my distress any more clearly than I have been doing. I couldn't communicate any more clearly.

I take constant risks. What will my girlfriend think if she reads this? How will this affect other relationships? Am I jeopardising the charity I receive? Of course, I've crossed a line that I didn't want to with regards to writing non-corporate-friendly stuff too. I'm risking this being read by some corporate drone intent on fucking me over.

I can't even care about that stuff. I'm at my wits end. I'm so close to making some breakthroughs, but there's still so much hard work to do. I can't cope with having to filter and self-censor. I can't cope with being all alone. I have to write. I have to confide and cope in the only way I know how. I have to get these feelings out of my head and down onto paper.

I'm not in a routine. I've not got anything to fall back on. The consequence of failure is destitution and death.

I'm random and I'm disjointed and I'm hard to follow. My writing is purposeless, but yet it seems to be causing a few ruffled feathers. You know what? Fuck you. My writing was here first and it'll be here long after you're gone. My blog is reliable, dependable - it gives me a sense of security. Fuck off and whinge to one of the many members of your extensive support network. Fuck off and meddle with somebody else. Fuck off and leave me alone. My blog is my consistent reliable friend, when I need one most.

What I write here might seem a little passive-aggressive, but here's where I work stuff out that would get worked out with my extensive social support network, if my life was all sorted and perfect, which it's not. I'm not going to have some kind of overnight transformation, because it would be impossible to instantly get all the things I need. What you're looking at is a work in progress. What you're peering into is the muddy water that hasn't cleared yet. If you want to judge me on this stuff, why don't you fuck off?

I don't know where this stuff's coming from and I don't know where it's directed. If you don't like it, don't read it - simple.




A Short History of Nothing

9 min read

This is a story about a boring and uninteresting life...

Concrete bunker

I hate writing with constraints. I hate having somebody looking over my shoulder while I write, commenting on my half-formed sentences - writing is not a spectator's sport. I hate rushing to finish a piece of writing; I hate trying to squeeze in the time to sit and write. I hate having to consider who's going to read what I write and to second-guess what they're going to think. I hate having to write with a filter and to write in anticipation of how people might interpret things if they were to take my words out of context.

The context is that writing has been my stable and secure companion - my trustworthy and reliable friend - during some very turbulent times. The context is that during the period which I have been writing almost every day, I've been on one hell of a journey. With writing as the only constant in my life, the progress that I've made becomes more apparent - if you read my earlier writing then you can dip into periods where my life was quite profoundly different, although the words on the page don't really give that away at first glance.

To me, sitting down in front of the keyboard feels the same today as it did at any time in the past. To me, I'm every bit as coherent and articulate and compos mentis as I ever was - I can't perceive any difference in myself between who I am today and who I was at any previous time when I was writing this blog. If there have been changes, they've been to subtle to perceive in myself, given I have to live inside my own head for 24 hours a day. "You're looking well" or "you sound well" my friends say to me - they have the benefit of dipping into my life periodically, so they can see the trends, but I can't do that.

I suppose there is a great deal of improvement in my life, even if a lot of it remains merely potential at the moment - there's still a lot of hard work to do. I suppose if I was to think back to where I was a year ago or so, things are a great deal better than they were.

I didn't write yesterday but it's rare that I skip a day. Two years ago I accidentally destroyed an iPhone and a Macbook, on this day. A year ago I didn't even write for a whole week and when I started writing again I told some random tale of historical events from my divorce, seemingly to nobody in particular. It looks as if I was wrestling with the feeling that I was letting my [ex-]girlfriend down. I know what was going wrong - every single winter for several years, I've struggled.

I can see from the archives that I was away skiing back in 2008. March used to be a great time to be kitesurfing in Venezuela. This would be the perfect time of year to spend a couple of weeks lying on a beach. I wonder how far I am from those better times, when the years fly by because my life has regular holidays to hot countries. I wonder how much more hard work it's gonna take before I get back into a sustainable pattern of work, which largely depends on being able to have nice holidays to look forward to. I've chosen a lifestyle that is mostly miserable during office hours, but does carry substantial rewards during leisure time.

I'm not sure what to write about. I'm pretty sure what not to write about, but it's hard. To not write anything that's personal and could make me identifiable is really hard. To not write any of the detail of recent years is difficult, when I'm still processing those events. To break the habits I've gotten into and to lose the catharsis of writing about what I went through, is a big change. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to be entirely forward-thinking and live in the future when it comes to this blog, because the future mostly holds anxiety for me. I'm anxious, for example, about the day when this blog is stumbled upon by somebody who I'd prefer not to read it.

This is a weird transitionary period. I presume I'm writing with reasonable clarity, except for the fact that I'm being cryptic and omitting any of the gory details that already exist in the archives. I presume that my life - which seems stable to all outward appearances - is now becoming something valuable that I don't want to damage. I'm getting the things I need quite quickly now - there has been a lot of very rapid change; improvement.

Potentially, I'm shifting from the intolerable and unsustainable, to a life that's liveable. Potentially, the destructive patterns of the past have been vanquished - I've overcome some pretty insurmountable obstacles and I'm beginning to get a whole load of things lined up in my favour. Life is getting easier.

Historically, I've done a lot of moaning. The archives contain a lot of complaining. I've whinged a great deal about how awful things have been, but now my luck appears to have changed. I'm terrified that something's going to go wrong, but at the moment things seem to be going right.

I could erase my written records. I could expunge my digital identity. When I think about what I've written, I'm glad that I have created some evidence that I existed; I'm proud that I've documented my struggles. If I re-read what I wrote in the past, it's difficult for me to re-live that experience... I struggle to relate. There's a lot of stuff in the past that wasn't exactly brilliant, but I don't think that the answer is to pretend it didn't happen. No good ever came of pretending that I've got a blemish-free past and I've not got any baggage.

I feel reasonably well-adjusted, because I've exhaustively documented what's been happening to me. I feel more secure knowing that I've attempted to capture a little bit of myself at regular intervals. I feel like I understand myself, and that I know who I am. I feel like I have an identity.

It's a difficult changeover period. I'm moving towards a more 'normal' life that you would recognise. I'm moving from a profoundly dysfunctional place to a functional one, even if it appears like I've been getting on with life just fine. I can still have a disproportionate reaction to the most ridiculously mundane stressors - having to buy a birthday present, have a haircut, get to work on time - but these things can leave me paralysed... without help I'd give up and refuse to leave the house.

I don't know what my life is now. My life is still taking shape in its new form; there are big changes that are happening. I need to learn my new routine. I need to prove myself all over again.

Suddenly, I have a girlfriend, a local job and a car. Suddenly, my life looks worth living, but it's also something that I could inadvertently damage. I have to be careful that I don't say anything that might prejudice my future. Before, I was writing urgently because I needed to get as much of myself down on paper before I died. Now, my big fear is how I'll react if something major goes wrong, but it might be me who precipitates my own downfall. I'm starting to have to pretend like I'm Mr Normal and my past is absolutely perfect, like everybody else does. I'm starting to feel the pressure to present a sanitised version of myself that's fit for corporate consumption. I'm starting to feel the pressure to put on the 'boyfriend material' mask that's suitable for introducing to parents and the like. My 'good' life carries with it a great deal of fear of failure.

There's a small part of me that wants to continue to make changes really rapidly, and to continue to fix up the broken things in my life. I want to rush out and rent myself a place of my own, and move out from my friends' place so that I'm living independently - standing on my own two feet. Part of me is in a big hurry to regain the self-esteem that's been lost due to my atypical living arrangements. Part of me is in a big hurry to encumber myself with societal obligations - such as paying rent and bills - that I've been lucky enough avoid for a while, because my life was so dysfunctional. There was no way that I could cope with much stress and responsibility, and my friends helped me... they continue to help me. It's embarrassing. I'm ashamed that I needed charity.

My past is not compatible with my present. My living arrangements are not compatible with forms that need to get filled in - I'm neither renting nor a homeowner - and middle-class dinner table chit-chat. There's a huge contradiction between the work I do and the difficult personal circumstances that I've been escaping from. Work colleagues, girlfriend, new people I meet... they're not going to understand. I don't fit neatly in a box. How can I be so successful in some areas, and have other parts of my life that are still undergoing repairs?

This is not a case of "fake it until you make it". I've already made it. I know the way - I've trodden this path before. However, there are undoubtably a whole load of things that got very messed up and I'm in the process of fixing. People don't really like the idea of recovery, improvement or otherwise escaping our fate - we're very keen to label and abandon so-called no-hopers; we're very keen to leap to the conclusion that somebody's of a certain 'type' and label them for life.

I'm changing. You've caught me on the hop. You're peeking behind the curtain. You're ruining the magic. This is the trick, you see: to fix the unfixable.

I can't write any more at the moment. I need to keep fumbling through this difficult transitionary period. I need to find a new voice, which acknowledges the past but doesn't drag me back there. I need to make sure that my identity doesn't depend on a certain amount of drama and destruction. I'm certain that my future depends on a return to more tranquil times.