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All I Want Is Everything

9 min read

This is a story about stubbornness...

Country Home

I try not to talk about my friends too specifically, but shall attempt to tell you about two friends who are notable for both their differences and their similarities.

The first of my friends who I want to tell you about was undoubtably born into wealth and privilege. His father was a judge and the family has a number of homes around the globe in some of the most expensive cities to live in. His family is extremely asset rich and my friend grew up with servants in the household. Without being too indiscreet, my friend was called posh by even his upper-middle-class university chums, who attended the same Russel Group red-brick high-ranking academic institution, where the less intelligent privately schooled childen get sent when no amount of private tutoring and extra lessons are going to turn them 'gifted'.

The second of my friends who I want to tell you about is the polar opposite of the first in many ways. The other friend I want to tell you about was undoubtably born at a considerable disadvantage to 99.9% of other people, due to a life-limiting illness and relatively poor family. No private schools. No private tutors. Not much money at all, in fact. It would be too indiscret to say more, but it's incontrovertibly clear from the evidence that this other friend arrived at a similarly highly esteemed university on merit alone.

I wanted to tell you about these friends, because I feel as though I should give you - the reader - an idea of where I fall on some relative scale.

I was not born into wealth, but because my parents were drug addict alcoholic losers who refused to get a proper job and work hard, my grandmother saw fit to buy a house for my parents, in which to raise me, her only grandchild at the time - my sister wasn't born until I was 10 years old. The pity that my grandparents took on me - as an innocent small child being raised by druggie losers - meant that my parents received vast sums of financial assistance. This financial assistance meant that I attended better state schools than would have been possible if I'd been at the mercy of my selfish lazy layabout druggie loser parents. Those better schools happened to be in Oxford, where there happened to be many sons and daughters of many brilliant but underpaid academics who couldn't afford to send their children to private school.

We three friends ended up cohabiting briefly. My posh friend with the wealthy family had bought a £1.5 million house in London, thanks to a hefty deposit contribution from his parents manyfold more than most people would pay for an entire house. My friend from humble beginnings was a lodger. I was a house-guest of my friend, because I was selling the house I had bought entirely with money I fucking earned. My house was being sold as part of my divorce settlement.

A running joke I have with my posh friend is that I earn more per hour than him. This was the case for a very long time, but there was a brief period when I parked my ambitions, when meanwhile his career started to finally gain traction and his earnings began to skyrocket. Despite my years of mental health problems, homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, near-bankruptcy and a horrible acrimonious divorce which pretty much triggered the whole thing, I've been very pleased to continue to earn more than him per hour.

However, one should note that my friend from humble origins is now earning more per hour than both me and my posh friend. My humble friend has managed to make a property purchase, entirely with money generated by his hard work and dedication.

I wonder about two things. Firstly, why would you sell your soul and become a wage slave if you're born into obscene wealth? Secondly, why would you sell your soul and become a wage slave if your life is going to be short due to a health condition?

The latter is easier to answer, because I've enjoyed a very high standard of living thanks to doing what my lazy fucktard druggie parents didn't do, which was to get a proper job and work hard. The former is a harder question to answer. I have absolutely no idea why my posh friend works so hard when he could have had an amazing standard of living without lifting a finger. Equally, I have no idea why my own parents didn't bother to get off their lazy druggie arses and work for a fucking living, instead of sponging off my grandparents and the state.

This is the scale I judge myself on.

I'm no working-class hero.

I'm not from particularly humble origins.

I can't claim to have suffered dire poverty or incredible deprivation - my grandparents simply wouldn't allow it.

However, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth either. If I speak with a posh accent and have a certain way with words, then all the credit for that is due to my school-friends in Oxford, who had professional and academic parents who were well educated and hard-working.

I'm in awe of my friend who's achieved so much more with so much less.

We all sit somewhere on the scale, with the extremes being the starving African orphan, versus the billionaire son of a billionaire who lives exclusively on a diet of prize-winning bullock semen or champion racehorse stallion semen, drunk out of a freshly cut rhino horn.

We all tell ourselves stories about how well we've done in life, or how hard our journeys have been. "Our life as a pair of hateful antisocial sponging co-dependent drug-addict alcoholic lazy layabouts was wonderful until this entitled baby came along, ruining our buzz" is what my parents say, even though contraception and abortion have been universally and easily available for their entire fucking lives.

I feel a bit guilty about wanting to have secure housing, financial security, employment security and a reasonable standard of living, but at least I fucking work for it even though I've sold my soul and become a wage slave. My work is relatively easy and I'm certainly highly rewarded for comparatively little effort. For sure, there's no justice in the world. There are people who work far harder than me in much worse conditions, who are paid a tiny fraction of what I earn. There are people who don't work at all and who have a fabulous standard of living, which I don't begrudge them, provided they haven't perpetrated some terrible crime against humanity in order to gain their enviable wealth.

If you want to categorise me as a spoiled, entitled shit, who has no perspective at all, you can use the presented evidence selectively to build your case. If you want to applaud me as an example of great success against the odds, you'll be able to use different parts of the same set of evidence to build a completely different case.

I really don't know what to tell you, because I can see the advantages I've enjoyed but I've also had to struggle through adversity. My aspirations seem normal enough in many ways, but in other ways what I want seems to be an unreasonable expectation. Do I want an unrealistically high standard of living?

The beauty of my situation - you must understand - is that I do not perpetrate the vile consequences of my selfish choices against any children who did not ask to be born, and I have exercised every opportunity to prevent pregnancies and maintained the backstop of pregnancy termination, although it's not my choice to make - at least I have made worst-case-scenario plans where necessary. Can you criticise me for my choices, when I have no dependents?

I think about my sister, of course, but the first 10 years of my life were spent alone... so very alone. When I think of childhood, I think of loneliness, bullying and neglect. When I think of childhood, I think how much my parents loved drugs and alcohol; I think how much they used to love lying around drunk, high or both, doing fucking nothing; unproductive and idle. How dearly I wanted to be loved and cared for properly. How dearly I wanted the security and protection that parents are supposed to deliver, but they were too intoxicated to give a shit about anything than their substances of abuse and their selfish wants.

Why the hell am I writing about this stuff?

I wanted to write something short.

I wanted to write something fun.

I guess I was scared I was going to write something smug.

My life is going alright at the moment - pretty damn good - and I'm wary of getting carried away. I could quite easily lose perspective. I'm scared that I might forget how hard it's been to get here, because it's also been easy in some ways. My life has ludicrous contrast and comparing myself to my friends often does little to inform my judgement.

Sorry if I seem smug and entitled in the coming months. I hope you've followed the story and you feel pleased that my life is very different from how it was when everything was fucked up. I hope you see I've worked hard to get where I've got even though I was never a starving African orphan.

 

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I Am Ridiculously Exposed

6 min read

This is a story about laying it all on the line...

Glasses

My livelihood, any realistic prospect of me being able to pay back my mountainous debts and the impossible dream of restoring myself to health and wealth - escaping the nightmare - hinges upon successfully blending in as a part of an organisation which is particularly noted for being intolerant of anybody with bad character.

I've been required to fill in a 66 page form which legally obliges me to disclose criminal convictions, psychiatric problems, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, partners from the last 3 years, marriage, divorce, bankruptcies, loan defaults, debt repayment agreements, financial conduct and details about my parents. Most employers are only entitled to know about any unspent criminal convictions, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, but I work for an organisation that knows everything.

Of course, I'm ahead of the game, because I've already publicly declared every single unflattering thing about myself.

Luckily I've never been convicted of a crime, but there are still some things I'm legally bound to disclose which would portray me in a less-than-ideal light to the powers that be, who will judge me based on what they see on paper. My life and my future will be reduced to a few scribbles on a form.

Many people have been through rough breakups and divorces and had breakdowns. Many people suffer from mental illness. Many people have had periods where they've drunk too much or dabbled with recreational drugs. Nobody is squeaky clean.

I'm in the ludicrous situation where I'm more-or-less managing to plod along and keep my mouth shut, and demonstrate that I'm a competent and capable valuable team member at work, but I've continued to write and publish this blog using my real name. I've continued to write with unflinching honesty about some of the terrible stuff I've been through and the aftermath of problems I'm dealing with, as I desperately attempt to get back on my feet.

I'm in the ludicrous situation where my hard work is beginning to pay off and my debts are getting rapidly repaid. I'm in the ludicrous situation where there's an end in sight, provided nobody screws me over.

It appears to be self-sabotaging that I would continue to write and publish stuff which makes me so exposed and vulnerable, but in fact my online presence has been one of the big factors in my recovery. Without being able to share my story and connect with kind supportive people, I couldn't have gotten this far. Without having the sense of identity, pride in my achievement and the structure and routine that daily public writing gives me - the scrutiny - then I would have been destroyed by my problems and would have perished in obscurity long ago.

Whaddya want to know about me?

Trouble with the police? Sure. I got caught with legal highs a couple of times.

Psychiatric problems? They don't call me Nick "Manic" Grant for no reason. I make no secret of having bipolar disorder.

Drug and alcohol abuse? Not the former anymore but the latter is a bit of a problem, although my drinking doesn't seem to be any more abusive than that of most of my colleagues. Arguably I'm successfully self-medicating, because I'm functional and unmedicated.

Partners from the last 3 years? I haven't co-habited since separating from my wife.

Marriage and divorce? Tied the knot in Hawaii. Divorced 18 months later.

Bankruptcies and other debt problems? I pay my bills. I've never defaulted. I'm a good debtor.

Financial conduct and credit score? I need to pay back half my credit card debt ASAP but that's the only bad thing on my credit file.

Parents? They're not seditious traitors. They're not Russian, Chinese or terrorist sympathisers. They're not political agitators.

What about my character in general? I've had a successful career spanning more than 2 decades, working for some very big organisations on important projects. If I was some kind of fraudster or con artist, my true character would surely have been unmasked by now.

There's a lot written down here which could easily be twisted and used against me by somebody intent on casting me in a bad light. I write a lot of things about myself which are very unflattering and wouldn't usually be publicly declared by people. I spend a lot of time asking people to take the things I voluntarily tell them and to decide for themselves how they want to judge me.

It's a ridiculous thing to do.

For one reason or another I've become easier and easier to find, for anybody who bothers to look. Because of a recent mistake I made I've become even easier to find than ever before. All the effort that I've put into projecting myself into public consciousness, because I've been on the verge of suicide for so long, is finally gaining traction and I'm becoming a victim of my decision to make myself exposed and vulnerable.

Every time I write and publish I have to consider the consequences to my life. I have to make a decision between my ideological belief that we have a right to live with the freedom to be proud of our identities and to be open and honest, without fear. If we really live in a free country I should be free to be candid and not suffer persecution and tyranny. If we honestly believe in equal opportunities and our laws forbidding discrimination, then we need to take the brave and bold step of speaking without fear of repercussions.

This vast repository of information that I've created is the polar opposite of a 66 page form, designed to distill me down to a few ticks in boxes. This 1.1 million word document is intended to frustrate the reader who is looking for a convenient pigeon hole to stuff me into.

Do your worst. I'm not afraid.

 

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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?

 

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Insignificant Speck

5 min read

This is a story about sonder...

Supermoon

Is it useful to have a realistic appreciation of your own insignificance? Is it useful to correctly perceive that you're not significantly different from any of the 7.6 billion other people on the planet, or the 108 billion humans who lived and died since homo sapiens first appeared as a new species? Is it useful to be conscious of your cosmological insignificance, where the entire human race will be obliterated so completely that it will be as if we never existed? Is it useful to understand the fundmental laws of physics well enough to know that there isn't going to be a technological breakthrough which might allow us to travel to another star when our sun dies? Is it good to know that in the long run, nothing matters, because we live in a godless universe with no afterlife, and we are destined to be forgotten?

Just as we might become aware that every other person has a rich and complex life of their own, we can equally become aware of humanity's wider insignificance.

Warp drives, wormholes, time travel, cryogenics and hypersleep are all lovely sci-fi fantasies, but we can't even solve the basics, such as the fair distribution of wealth so that we can all have clean drinking water and enough to eat. There isn't going to be a colony on Mars. We're as likely to kill ourselves in nuclear armageddon as we are to die because of runaway man-made climate change. Yes, we've made great strides in science and technology in recent years. All those advancements are being used for killing each other in increasingly nasty ways.

The population growth trends are easy to extrapolate, along with predictions about our ability to use the available land to produce food, leading to the unavoidably obvious conclusion that we're going to have mass-starvation of billions of people, in barely a couple of decades. If you like to trot out the tired old lines about what a monster Stalin was, you ain't seen nothing until you've seen what capitalism can do to billions. It's already easy to see what industrial capitalist society has done to the environment, causing all manner of extreme weather events and natural disasters, which are anything but natural, because things are exacerbated by man-made climate change.

It's easy for me to write about the need to show some restraint and forego some luxuries, because I've been lucky enough to have enjoyed those luxuries for quite a long time. What about all those people who haven't yet had a taste of Western imperialist decadence? Isn't it unfair that those who've only ever known poverty and deprivation will never get to live a decadent lifestyle?

Many in the guardian class would prefer it if you just damn well knew your place, and stopped trying to improve your standard of living. How else are the guardian class going to snobbily believe they're a cut above the rest of the society, if every man and his dog is able to have a nice lifestyle? Get back in your place, you proletariat scum.

Thus, we arrive at the new class warfare. We ALL think that we should be at the front of the queue, and we ALL know how to get there, thanks to the internet.

The internet is a humbling place. Where else can you face such an enormous deluge of individual people who all think they're special, unique and different? Everybody's going what they think is an important opinion to share; that they have a voice that needs to be heard. Everybody thinks they're good looking, talented, intelligent. Everybody thinks they're capable of original thoughts and ideas; that they're creative.

It's hard to maintain your own sanity when you see all those social media accounts controlled by all those individuals, who've carefully chosen their name, bio, profile picture, and then carefully creates and curates their own content, according to their personality and the image they wish to project. It's hard to be a homo sapiens with the same hardware that evolved 350,000 years ago, when the population was 99.999% smaller and we didn't have any technology except fire and pointy sticks. Our brains really aren't built to cope with constant reminders that we're an insignificant speck.

We might hope to build up our social media following - our celebrity status - and begin to broadcast ourselves to big audiences, hoping to make ourselves feel somewhat less insignificant, but it's delusional. A judge and jury might convict a person of a serious crime, locking them up for life, but all 14 of those people will die at more-or-less the same time, be cremated or buried. In 4 or 5 generations, those 14 people will be completely forgotten - the criminal will be indistinguishable from those who sat in judgement. For a psychiatrist to diagnose a patient as having delusions of grandeur, is also a delusion of grandeur - both are suffering from the delusion that they have any importance at all, when clearly they are both equally insignificant.

Significance is an invention of the human mind, as a coping mechanism for the increasingly inescapable realisation that nobody matters, nothing matters, we're all dead in the long-run and every piece of evidence that we ever existed is destined to be obliterated some completely, that even alien archeologists with futuristic gadgetry, would never know anything about our entire race; our whole history.

It's pure vanity to think that you're important; that you'll be remembered.

 

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I'm Killing Myself

8 min read

This is a story about numbing the pain...

Wine bottles in the cupboard

I remember a time when I used to plan my weekends to make sure I was busy and socialising. I used to throw parties, take friends out on my boat, go out for dinner and otherwise ensure that I was engaged in the lives of the people around me. I put a great deal of thought and effort into bringing people together. When I had free time I'd scroll through my list of contacts and phone people who I hadn't spoken to, to maintain the bond of friendship.

I don't do any of that anymore.

My life became chaotic and collapsed, due to relationship breakdown, mental health problems and drug addiction. I was highly embarrassed that my picture-postcard perfect little life had become pockmarked and blemished. I was deeply ashamed that I was seemingly failing; fucking up. As addiction began to dominate my life I was no longer reliable. I bailed out on attending the stag do of one of my best friends, simply because I was too deep in addiction hell. I nearly bailed on my own stag do because I was struggling so much with addiction.

That was a transformative period of my life, from around 2006 to 2012 or thereabouts.

Friends travelled from all over the country for the combined birthday and engagement part of my [now] ex-wife and I. She threw a tantrum, because I had a huge number of great friends and perhaps she was feeling insecure, who knows? She said it was the worst night of her life, so I called a cab for us to go home. She wanted to stay. Why does anybody want to stay at the "worst night of [their] life"? It didn't make any sense to me.

My whole life no longer made any sense. Instead of being the guy who arranged for huge groups of people to come together and travel all over the world; instead of being a socialite who arranged gatherings and generally threw wild parties, I slowly allowed myself to be beaten - quite literally - into submission. I curtailed my gregarious and outgoing nature, in the face of the stroppy tyrant who I was trying to placate.

Of course, I should have walked away.

I was trying to change to please somebody. I was in love and I thought that it was the grown-up mature and sensible thing to work really hard to please the person you love. I thought that hard work would conquer the day. I was wrong.

I tried so hard, sacrificing so much that was important about myself, and becoming more and more isolated and depressed, because she took such objection to the fact that I was generally liked by a lot of people and seemingly able to inspire get-togethers. She threw tantrums about all the things I loved doing: organising group holidays all over the world; arranging to meet up; arranging parties and generally being a social butterfly. She worked hard to socially isolate me and break my spirit, and I let her do it. It was my mistake. I messed up.

I didn't realise that you could just break up with awful people.

I didn't realise that you should just give up on horrid people.

I didn't realise that walking away was an option.

I ignored my friends when they told me to dump the "poison dwarf".

Writing this now, I sound a little bitter and twisted about it. It happend. I can't change it. It's history and there's no point dwelling in the past. I need to move forwards and get on with my life.

There's a whole clusterfuck of stuff to do with my loser druggie parents and their selfish fucked-up selfish shit that they perpetrated agains me, ruining my childhood, that I'm very bitter about. I'm never gonna get to re-live my childhood. It fucking CUTS ME UP that I speak to so many people who fondly remember their childhoods and generally reminisce about things from their childhood that were completely denied to me because my parents are a couple of selfish bullying druggie alcoholic fucktard losers, completely devoid of any sense of responsibility towards their children or otherwise able to act with a shred of human decency. That shit FUCKS ME UP. But, whatever... it was a long time ago. I need to move on. I'll never forgive. I'll never forget. But it's no use clinging onto the bitterness and knowledge that my childhood was unnecessarily and brutally fucked up by that pair of selfish self-centred druggie cunts.

Don't talk to me about personal responsibility.

I take personal responsibility to a level you couldn't even comprehend.

You have no idea how much I lay awake at night thinking about my place in the world and how to make things right and do the right thing. You have no idea how much I deny myself my bestial instincts to rut and reproduce, like the rest of you filthy fucks, not giving a shit about the consequences. You have no idea how hard it is to live a life with as little hypocrisy as you can muster, and the guilt for the hypocrisy that you're fully aware of but is seemingly unavoidable.

The only way to live a life free from the original sin of being born a white man in wealthy western middle-class society, is to kill myself. The guilt I feel because I'm not a starving African paraplegic lesbian, is enough to drive me insane. I genuinely feel empathy for anybody I come into contact with, and I want to make a difference in the world, but I'm also cursed with a rational mind and a kind of brutal pragmatic realism, which means I cynically see every attempt to improve the human condition will be quickly thwarted by the ubiquitous greed and selfishness... but that doesn't mean I don't try really hard, through the avenues which are available to me.

Ultimately, I earn a lot of money which doesn't feel like a fair reward for my contribution to humanity. I'm cursed with cynicism and a realist's depression at the state of the world. I drink. I've drunk for as long as I can remember. My parents are alcoholics, so why the hell wouldn't I drink?

As I puffed and panted my way up the steep hill, walking home with a bag full of bottles of wine, I felt my chest tighten. I know that I'm killing myself.

I drink and it's killing me.

I drink A LOT.

My heart bleeds for the world. I'm a hand-wringing Guardian reader. I'm a lefty-libtard snowflake. I still believe that a better society is possible, and it upsets me that a tiny elite are stopping the will of the people from being realised.

I'm attempting to deal with my mountainous personal responsibilities, while also reconciling my heartfelt values in a world which economically incentivises me to screw everybody else over. Why not sell deadly drugs? Why not work for a bank which helps launder the proceeds of crime? Why not generally sell your soul to the highest bidder?

It. Fucks. Me. Up.

I've tried to be kind and generous, and all that's ended up doing is bankrolling some of the most selfish fucked-up awful people to perpetuate and perpetrate misery-making onto humanity.

It's a messed up situation.

I drink because otherwise I'd kill myself. I drink because it's a long drawn-out way of killing myself. I drink because maybe I don't have the guts to do the ethical thing, and immolate myself in protest at the shit I see all around me.

It seems foolish to injure myself in this way, by choosing to drink so much, but how else am I supposed to cope? How am I supposed to get through the day and suffer the bullshit which I'm all-too-able to perceive with a mind which has been developed into a hyper-rational thinking machine. I see the cognitive dissonances everywhere. The sickening stench of bullshit is overpoweringly strong.

I'm sorely tempted to make a grand gesture instead of allowing myself to be written off as another "natural causes" death, when in fact the truth is that my physical health has suffered dreadfully because of the awfulness of the world I see around me. My mental health is dictated by the bullshit of meaningless jobs and unfair wealth distribution, and the senesless selfishness; lack of anybody who wants to change the world for the better. The suffering directly correlates with the urge to reach for the bottle - why the hell not?

Why the hell not? I see no reason to be miserable, sober and fit. I'd rather be dead.

I can't imagine anything worse than having to face the bullshit of existence without intoxication, and without the hope that I might suddenly drop dead from a heart attack.

I honestly think that I'll feel relieved when I know I'm about to die. Finally some fucking peace.

 

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An Essay on the Abolition of Interest Slavery

7 min read

This is a story about the money multiplier...

Cash

Let us imagine for a moment that I manage to obtain a banking license and start a brand new bank, but I don't have any money. In this hypothetical example you want to buy a house valued at £100,000 - for the sake of easy maths - and you have a £10,000 deposit. Further, let us imagine that there are lots of people who would be glad to take out personal loans, overdrafts, credit cards and other kinds of borrowing, and pay high rates of interest. Let us set the central bank lending rate at 0.5%, the mortgage rate at 5% and the unsecured lending rate at 20%. With me so far?

What I seek to prove to you is how capitalism is rigged so that those who control the money in the economy - the bankers and other capitalists - can make as much money as they want and not work at all, while the rest of us pay double. We pay with everything we earn and we pay again because we pay with our time and labour, which all ends up in the pockets of the capitalists.

Here's how it works.

You go to your bank with your £10,000 deposit. You give the bank your hard-earned cash.

Then, here comes the magic trick.

Your £10,000 is a liability on the bank's balance sheet. That is to say, if you were to deposit £10,000 the bank would be liable to pay you back as and when you demanded to have your money. However, the banks can do a little trick to turn a liability into an asset: It's called the money multiplier.

Banks only need to keep about 5% - or less - of the money that's deposited with them. So the bank can lend out £9,500 of your £10,000.

Then what happens?

Well, that £9,500 comes back into the bank in the form of a deposit. Let's say that our bank is paying a very generous 0.25% interest on their deposits. So, the bank has a £10,000 liability on one side of its balance sheet and a £9,500 asset - in the form of a loan - on the other side of its balance sheet, plus £500 in its reserve account. The loan brings in interest of 20% and the deposit attracts interest at 0.25%. The net monthly income for the bank is therefore £158.33 and the net monthly cost of interest payments is £19.79, yielding a very healthy £138.54 of profit every month for doing nothing.

So that's almost £140 profit every single month - £1,662 per annum - for doing absolutely nothing! But the best part is that it doesn't end there.

Because the bank now has a deposit of £9,500 it can now lend 95% of that. The bank can lend £9,025, making sure it keeps 5% in its reserves. The bank then has assets of £18,525, liabilities of £19,500 and reserves of £975. Somehow £18,525 has appeared out of nowhere.

The two loans yield £3,705 a year, while the deposits only attract interest of £463, giving a net annual profit of £3,242.

Three thousand quid a year for doing nothing!!

Yes.

That's right.

But it doesn't end there.

The bank keeps on lending money that it doesn't have.

A loan of £8,574, a loan of £8,145, a loan of £7,737, a loan of £7,351, a loan of £6,983... and so on.

Eventually, the bank has made loans of nearly £190,000 from an initial deposit of only £10,000. The bank also has deposits of almost £200,000, but these attract very little interest. The annual interest payable on the loans is £38,000 and the interest payable on the deposits is only £5,000, so the bank has an annual profit of £33,000 for doing nothing.

Now what?

Well that person still wants to buy that house so the bank is going to need some money. Where's it going to get the money? Well, no problem - it will borrow it from the central bank.

The central bank will want some collateral as security against the loan, but that's no problem because the bank has assets of almost £190,000 worth of loans bringing in £38,000 of anuual income, so it's clearly a creditworthy institution. The central bank is happy to lend the bank £90,000 at interest of 0.5%. The bank can then use that money to buy the house, which it adds to its balance sheet as an asset.

Now the bank owns a loan book of £190,000 worth of loans, cash reserves of almost £10,000 and a house valued at £100,000. It's very important to note that the person who wanted to buy the house does not own the house - it's the bank's property!

The bank now signs a mortgage contract with the house buyer for 25 years at 5% annual interest for a loan of £90,000. This loan will yield £4,500 per annum in interest payments for the bank, but it only costs the bank £450 a year in interest which it has to pay to the central bank, netting it a profit of £4,050 per annum, in addition to the £33,000 of other profit it makes from its loan book.

Now the bank is making a total annual profit of £37,050 and they are doing nothing.

Nothing.

Meanwhile, the person who bought the house needs to earn at least £6,312 a year to pay their mortgage. The person who bought the house no longer has the £10,000 they saved up. The person who bought the house has not only handed over their savings and committed themselves to having to pay a large amount of money every month... now they have to go and get a job from the capitalists or else they're going to be homeless! Remember, the bank owns the house, not the person who pays the mortgage - the witless idiot is now enslaved by capitalism.

Also, there are more than 100 people who took out loans, credit cards, overdrafts, store cards and other forms of unsecured personal debt, who now have to work hard to pay off the loans at 20% interest. People have become indebted by an additional £190,000 because one person wanted to buy a house, but they didn't realise they were going to get conned along with the rest of working-class society.

The magic trick that gets used by the banks is called fractional-reserve banking, which it allows a very small group of capitalists who have a banking license to economically enslave the whole of society in debt-based indentured servitude.

When loans are necessary to purchase basic survival needs - such as shelter - then there's no other word for it except for slavery. Shelter is not a luxury. Shelter is not an optional nice-to-have.

Insecurity about our shelter drives us into the open arms of the exploitative capitalists, who benefit doubly, because they earn money from us in the form of interest on loans and mortgages, and they have us right where they want us as an insecure workforce who desperately need to keep our regular income lest we be evicted and have our homes repossessed. The workers own nothing and the capitalists own everything. The rentier class have all of the wealth and do none of the work. Capitalism is the greatest crime ever perpetrated on humanity.

I hope you've been able to follow along the basic maths, and you can see how rigged the game is. It's quite simple to explain this horrific scam.

 

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Universal Basic Income

7 min read

This is a story about late capitalism...

Bank notes

Having been part of the JPMorgan team who built a system to process more than a quadrillion dollars of credit default swaps per annum, and also the system to find out who was holding the pass-the-parcel when the music stopped, only to discover it was full of dog shit, I feel pretty responsible for the credit crunch and financial crisis, which has plunged us into a global recession many times worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. I'm pretty disillusioned with capitalism.

I've had front-row seats for most of the insanity of the past 25 years - dot com, Y2K, 9/11, credit crunch, financial crisis of 2007/8, Bitcoin etc. etc. - and I was a fully paid-up subscribing member of the 2% profiting handsomely from others' misfortune with my snout deep in the trough.

By 2008 I was sickened by the way I'd turned a blind eye and ignored my moral compass, because I enjoyed the wealth and privilege. I was able to buy a house, a yacht, a speedboat, sportscars and go on enough luxury holidays to help me set aside my misgivings about what the investment banks were doing to the global economy, by creating fabricated securities such as derivatives, which were somehow valued at a vastly greater sum of money than the aggregate value of all the precious metals, gems, land, property, cattle, food, commodities, industrial plant, machinery, companies and cash that exists on the whole planet. I was shackled with golden handcuffs - who in their right mind would give up their trophy wife and pull their kids out of private school, to slum it with the hoi polloi?

I decided that I was sickened by the bullshit synthetic world of digital securities and digital bank balances, and the global computer network with all its software and data, which actually doesn't create anything real or tangible. It seemed like the infamous tulip speculation bubble in the Netherlands during the 1600s. It seemed like utter insanity to place so much importance on a bunch of binary ones and zeros which exist nowhere but as a tiny magnetic bump on a disk platter, an electron in a memory chip or a photon in a fibre optic cable. The entire weight of the internet is estimated to be about the same as a golf ball, if you add up all the electrons. It's madness to think that any of our digital scorekeeping - i.e. your bank balance - will matter at all when global warming really starts to bite.

I quit my investment banking IT job at JPMorgan and I retrained as an electrician. I wanted to build real and tangible things with my hands. I wanted to learn a trade which couldn't be outsourced or automated. I wanted to escape the virtual realm of high finance and software and into a field which could make a real difference in people's lives. Try living for a day without your lighting, heating, hot water, power shower, cooker, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, kettle, toaster, fridge, freezer and the myriad other electrical appliances which you don't even notice are there in your life, saving you untold time and physical labour.

It turns out, we don't value tradesmen as much as we value bankers.

I could've scraped a living, but it was hard work with little reward. The work was dangerous and dirty and the general public expected to get everything for virtually nothing. I didn't much fancy working my whole life with the threat of bankruptcy and my home being repossessed, never having enough spare money to enjoy what little leisure time I had. Economically, it wasn't viable to be a tradesman, except as a kind of break-even hobby. It made no economic sense to use 100% of my brains and brawn, but receive so little reward.

Subsequently, I've returned to making software systems for banks, doing so as a consultant and getting paid even more. I've been a leech on a leech, and the cash has poured in.

Throughout this journey my priorities have completely changed. Instead of aspiring to acquire and accumulate vastly more than I would ever need, and fantasising about buying bigger and better houses, yachts and other material possessions, my fantasies have taken on a completely different guise.

I've been fantasising about quitting the rat race, and having secure housing. I've been fantasising about having enough money to read books and write. I've been fantasising about having time and being free from the tyranny of the alarm clock and bullshit jobs.

I'd live in a Soviet-style apartment and have beige products - no consumer choice - if I could be intellectually free. I'd travel on the bus and give up exotic foreign holidays if I no longer had to play along with the charade of late-capitalism, where we are all commuting too far, working too many hours, and living under constant threat of losing our jobs, losing our homes and subsequently being made destitute. Given the choice, I choose equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

It seems pretty obvious that the equal opportunities experiment has run its course and it would be inhumane to continue. Free markets are efficient, but they are only efficient at stripping away people's security, happiness, dignity and any hope of ever feeling content or satisfied. Capitalism is - by its very nature - a force which will price gouge humanity for the basic essentials, such as food, housing, transport, healthcare, medicine and to some extent education.

Our poorest 50% struggle to afford the basics, while even the very rich are miserably struggling to attain the academic qualifications which will allow them to compete, lest they be trampled by the struggling masses, desperate to realise their opportunities. The competitive element of capitalism has turned us into slaves. Our lives our wretched and appalling.

I desperately want to drop out of the rat race, but to do so would see me persecuted. I wouldn't even be allowed to sleep rough and beg for food without being arrested and locked up. Society offers me no ability to house, feed and clothe myself, with any degree of security or quality of life. Working a zero-hours contract McJob is not going to earn me enough to pay rent and bills, buy food, travel to work and have any kind of life worth living. The theft of our time and freedom is an awful crime perpetrated against most of society. The chance to stop and smell the roses is denied to us when we do not have secure food and housing.

The only viable solution that I can see is universal basic income (UBI). I just don't see how else we're going to be able to stop the terrible decline in living standards and save humanity from the tyranny of exploitation by the capitalists. It seems like we're at breaking point when even the middle class children are becoming slaves to the capitalists, with enormous loans for their education, which might win them a low-paid job in a completely unrelated field from their university degree if they're lucky - the unlucky ones end up unemployed.

It's a sad state of affairs when our fantasies revolve around basic needs, such as secure housing.

It's not my idea of a good time, sitting at home smoking cannabis and playing computer games, but I don't see any reason why it's not morally acceptable or right to allow people to do that, and not threaten them with homelessness and starvation if they don't get a bullshit McJob and otherwise comply with the tyranny of late-capitalism.

The idea that we live in a land of opportunity and that hard work will bring rewards has been proven to be a lie, and ever more-so during each passing year. It's time to let people live lives of quiet dignity, rather than frantic futile desperation.

It's time to just give everybody enough money to live in peace.

 

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Chore

11 min read

This is a story about strict routine...

Washing machine

I don't feel like writing today. I saw something in the news which I wanted to write about and I even started a blog post, but then I kinda lost my way when doing a bit of research. I had selected a photo - different from the one above - and I started to feel that it was unwise to use it because it shows my face without my cunning and infallible disguise. I'm starting to think more and more about how people perceive me and the damage I could do to my own reputation if my blog was read by my work colleagues.

There are certain things that will cause people to look at you in a completely different light. There are prejudices that are so powerful that they can warp reality and turn good people into twisted grotesque imaginary monsters. To write about addiction is to bracket myself with baby-eating, granny-mugging, child-raping, ethnic-minority-murdering, every-other-bad-thing-you-can-think-of, demonised people who are blamed for all the ills in society. Your average injecting crack and heroin addict is going to commit a hundred or maybe even two hundred crimes every year to feed their habit. However, it's a non-sequitur to think that everybody who's experienced a period of drug addiction in the past is an immoral murderous criminal. "Death's too good for 'em! String 'em up!" cries the tabloid press and the public lap it up, even though the vast majority have never been a victim of crime, nor are they aware that the so-called character flaws which potentiate addiction live inside all of us.

I was going to write about that oft-used song lyric: "there's a monkey on my back". I can't say that I ever felt like I had a monkey on my back when I was a drug addict. "I'm waiting for my man" is another famous addiction-inspired song lyric, which again is something I can't relate to at all. In fact I can't relate to any of the addiction references in popular culture. I've never 'scored' drugs from a dealer. I've never been part of a drugs 'scene'. I never adopted a drug as part of my identity - I never wore clothing with a cannabis leaf or some other drug reference advertising my addiction.

There's a lot I don't understand about drug addicts even though I was one myself. I don't understand why many addicts buy crack cocaine when they could easily make it themselves with baking soda. I don't understand why addicts buy their drugs in small quantities. I don't understand why addicts buy impure and weak products at hugely inflated prices. I don't understand why there are heroin addicts when they could easily bulk-buy fentanyl, which is much more powerful. I don't know why addicts don't just stop being addicts and get rich - like me - whenever life gets tough.

Of course, I do understand all those things. I understand that the only difference between me and an injecting crack and heroin user, is that they were exposed to a drug 'scene' which brought them into contact with dealers, street drugs, needles and other drug paraphernalia. Addicts are caught in the never-ending cycle of scoring drugs, turning tricks, petty crime and everything else that's part of the chaotic life of an injecting drugs user, and the only difference between them and me is that I know that there's some hope that I can escape a miserable life of poverty. What hope does your average crack and heroin addict have of earning a 6-figure salary a month after they quit drugs? What hope do they have of ever earning a decent wage?

I've been able to use my wealth, intellect and other privileges - such as my science and technology skills - to research and obtain high purity drugs of the maximum potency at rock-bottom prices. Instead of messing around with £10 bags of crappy cut heroin, I'd do the research and find out what the chemical with the biggest bang for my buck would be, and then buy it in bulk.

What happens when you have access to a practically unlimited amount of drugs and a practically unlimited amount of time to use them, is that you discover the meaning of the word: practically. It's practically impossible to satisfy a desire for addictive drugs. Given enough drugs and enough time, you just die. Eating, drinking, sleeping, personal hygiene, bathroom breaks and other bodily functions are put on hold for as long as possible. There are some addicts who are perfectly functional - they go about their daily business under the influence of drugs and they can carry on like that for years. That's not really addiction though. Addiction specifically means harmful drug use. Smoking, for example, harms the health of the smoker and the health of those who have to breathe their second-hand smoke. Arguably a pill-popper isn't an addict at all, if the pills are not causing health damage. My own addiction took the form of the very worst kind: the insatiable appetite for a drug to the exclusion of everything else, including the basic necessities for human survival.

At some point drug-taking either becomes a chore - it's something which has to be done to stave off the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms - or it becomes so destructive that destitution and death become certainties. I'm sure there are a handful of homeless people who could see that their addiction was making them unable to work and unable pay their rent or mortgage, and they would be evicted eventually, but they didn't want to stop the drugs: they'd rather be homeless, living in a tent or otherwise sleeping rough, and able to carry on with their addictions. Most homeless addicts probably couldn't see any hope of avoiding homelessness if they quit - there was no incentive. The drug-taking becomes a chore and there's no hope of escaping the dreadful circumstances when you fall too far; the health damage is too severe and the behaviour patterns are too entrenched... rehabilitation would take years, and the best possible hope for those people who dropped out of mainstream society for a long time, is that they could become burger flippers, shelf stackers, toilet cleaners and street sweepers. I have nothing against the untouchables on the bottom rung of civilised society, who do the worst jobs for the worst pay, but it's hardly an enthralling prospect to be shackled to a dreadful job which doesn't pay enough to cover rent and bills, and robs a person of their time and freedom. Given the choice, I'd rather be begging on the streets.

My life is a chore. I'm doing things which I've done a million times before - so there's no doubt that I'm extremely capable of doing my job - and I'm working on projects which are exactly the same as every other project I ever worked on. It doesn't matter if it's Space Invaders, torpedo guidance, stockbroker share prices, computers for schools, public transport, investment banking, government... whatever. Same shit different day. I make systems which are just like the old systems. It's like painting a white wall with white paint, over and over and over again.

Life's a stupid pathetic pointless game. Money is the 'score' and the more you have of it the better player you are, supposedly, but everybody starts with a different amount and the ones with the most are cheating the most. There are other ways to score points, such as academic qualifications, but again, those who start with the most money have the most leisure time to pursue academic interests and surround themselves with people who'll help them obtain those qualification. Winning a game of chess doesn't mean you're smarter than your opponent if the game wasn't on the clock. Winning a game of chess doesn't mean you're smarter than your opponent if you were raised by chess grandmasters and your entire childhood was structured around a single purpose: to make you into a brilliant chess player.

As we scurry around desperately trying to comply with the rules of the game, which mostly means being exploited by capitalists and living in constant fear of losing our job, our home and our children, we surely must stop and think that this is insanity. Why would mortal creatures waste their precious time playing a rigged game, for the benefit of the rentier class who oppress them and profit from their labour?

It must surely be due to drugs and drug addiction that the present situation is allowed to continue. How else are people able to buy alcohol, cigarettes, tea and coffee if they don't have miserable exploitative jobs? How else could we tolerate the intolerable except with massive amounts of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, tranquillisers, sedatives and sleeping pills? Why would we bother with the miserable commute and the horrible work, unless there was the promise of some artificial and chemically induced bliss during our breaks and at the end of the working day?

You can have as many slaves as you want, but they won't work without coca leaves, khat, betel leaves, areca nut, tobacco, tea and coffee. Fear, intimidation, pain and torture will only get you so far. There needs to be carrot as well as stick.

If you watch enough X-Factor and Pop Idol on TV then you'll see that all anybody has ever wanted for their whole entire life - more than anything else - is to be a singer. Why then are those who succeed against the odds in becoming a rich and famous pop singer, are very often afflicted with addiction problems and many die young?

Consider how hard it is to escape from the poverty trap. Consider how hard it is to escape the rat race. Consider how hard it is to accumulate enough wealth to be truly free. Consider the effort and exertion necessary to break the chains and liberate yourself from the shackles of capitalism and bullshit jobs.

Unfortunately, most people's idea of freedom is flawed. Are you looking forward to your retirement? Why? You'll be old and your health will be declining... why didn't you retire when you were young and fit? Are you looking forward to fame? Why? You'll be working for your sponsors; you'll be working for your fans. Are you looking forward to being rich? Why? What are you going to do when you are? If you spend your money you'll be poor again, and you'll be just as much of a slave as you ever were, except you'll have developed expensive tastes.

Drugs strip away all of capitalism's artificial constructs. A £10 bag of heroin will get a billionaire just as high as a homeless penniless person. Drugs can - in a way - become a way of life which has much more meaning than the pursuit of wealth. However, the insatiability of a drug addiction; its intrinsic destructiveness and lack of meaning beyond the internal experience of the drug addict, leads inexorably to the desire to use drugs as a form of protracted suicide.

Art is the only known antidote, but art is denied to the vast majority of humanity. Only wealthy spoiled trust-fund brats are truly free enough from the tyranny of capitalism to be artists. Of course many of the spoiled brat offspring of the ultra-rich will become drug addicts, because they're too stupid to appreciate the incredible privilege it is to be able to be an artist.

Perhaps the other choice is to bury ourselves in bestial behaviour. If you're blessed with enough stupidity and ignorance to be happily consumed by your reproductive efforts, all the best to you - enjoy yourself. Sadly, this isn't an option for those who've read too many books and newspapers, and have become aware of the absurdity of existence - ignorance is bliss, and there's no returning to those blissfully ignorant times once your eyes have been opened to the stark reality of human life.

In a godless world with no afterlife, free from magic, spiritual and otherwise ethereal non-existent mumbo-jumbo, there's little which is comforting and inviting in a hostile universe which obeys strict mathematical laws. Just a few hundred kilometres away there's the vacuum of space, where you'd just turn into a frozen corpse and float around weightlessly for billions of years. And you're worried about losing your minimum wage zero-hours contract McJob cleaning toilets just so that you can give every penny you earn to a capitalist, even though you already give every waking hour of your life to a different capitalist? Don't you feel conned; cheated?

I don't feel like doing much, but is that really surprising? Is it so surprising that life feels like such a chore?

 

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Dysfunctional

13 min read

This is a story about all the little things you take for granted...

Shopping basket

Take a look at your mobile phone recent calls - that tells you who you pick up the phone to when you're feeling blue or something bad has happened in your life. Your recent phone-calls is a good way to see who your social support network consists of. Maybe it's your mum, or maybe it's a brother, sister or best friend. Maybe your recent calls are all work-related, but work can provide support and meaning to life; purpose.

Now, think about the last few journeys you took. You live in a place for a reason - maybe it's where you grew up, or maybe you had to move there to get a job, but you've got connections to the area. You know how to navigate around the place, to get from your house to the shops, and to get to your job. You know how long it takes to reach other important places, like the train station, the bus station, airports, major road junctions and big cities. You know how long it takes you to get to nearby beauty spots and tourist attractions.

Think about all the things you routinely do. Think about where you shop for food and drink. Think about where you'd go if you needed to buy a new pair of shoes. Think about where you'd park and how you'd get there. Think about whether you'd need to pay for parking or whether you know somewhere you can park for free. Think about when it'd be busy and when it'd be quiet, and all the local knowledge you have about what shops there are, what they sell and where they are.

Think about where you'd go in a crisis. You know where the hospital is and you know where the police station is. You know where friends and work colleagues live. You know where to find people and you know where the crime spots are; you know which areas to avoid. You know which places are daytime places, and which places are night-time places.

You do your recycling don't you? You know which day you have to put the bins out, and what recycling is collected on what day. You know which colour boxes and bags have to be put out for collection, and you've gotten into the habit of separating your glass, plastic, cardboard, cans, food waste, garden waste and everything else from your general trash. You know where the dump is if you have to dispose of something bulky.

You have a vague idea of the meals you like to cook and eat. Maybe you plan ahead and you've decided on every meal you're going to eat for the next week. You know all the ingredients you need to buy. You write a shopping list. You know which supermarket you're going to go to and you know every aisle which has the products you want. You know when's a good time to go so it's not too busy. You know where you're going to park your car. You know how many shopping bags to take to bring your groceries home.

You budget and you have a good idea what your bank balance is at any particular point in time. You're saving up for a holiday. You know how much the repayments on your car loan cost you, and how much your mortgage is. You know how much the household bills are. You know what you spend on groceries every week. You know how much you spend on transport. You know how much spare money you have. You know how much you can spend on a night out at the cinema, at a restaurant or at a bar.

You know where your income comes from. Maybe you're on housing benefit and Employment Support Allowance. Maybe you get a paltry salary and your wages are topped up with tax credits. Maybe you have a regular average job which just about covers your monthly costs. You know exactly what your take-home pay is, and exactly when it will arrive in your bank account.

You're planning a holiday. You spent a long time choosing where you were going to go, and you'd been saving up for it for a long time. You're really looking forward to it, and you've planned the itinerary and you've budgeted to make sure you have plenty of spending money, so you can convert your money into local currency and enjoy yourself.

Your car needs taxing, testing and insuring every year, and you know exactly when those things fall due. You know that your car needs servicing and that it will cost a certain amount for tyres and other things every year.

There are birthdays. So many birthdays. It seems like every week there's a card to post off; flowers to send. Some birthdays require a trip. Some birthdays require presents.

There are births, weddings and funerals. There are family emergencies. There are elderly relatives to be cared for. There are friends who are having a tough time. There's your loser brother who's in hospital again.

Maybe you work. If you do, you've probably done the same kind of work for your whole adult life. You know what kind of working environment you belong in - whether that's an office, a building site or a hospital - and you know precisely the job titles and organisations which are likely to employ you. You know the jargon and buzzwords. You know what salary to expect. You know how to do your job blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back.

Maybe you've got kids. In fact, you probably do have kids. You know exactly when they have to get up, what they're going to eat, what they're going to wear, where they need to be taken and how they're going to get there, how long they're going to be there for, who's looking after them and what exactly they're doing when they're there. You know when you've got to collect them and which friend they're bringing home. You know what after-school thing they're attending. You know what paraphernalia they're going to need, both during the day and after school - gym kits, science projects, spelling homework, reading books borrowed from the library, the trumpet and trombone, their Brownie's uniform and the cakes they've baked, their swimming costume and the thing they're going to wear at the dress rehearsal for the play. You've thought about a nutritious and delicious lunch for them, which balances both healthy eating and their particularly picky tastes - you cut the crusts of their bread and scraped the seeds out of the tomato; you gave them the flavour of crisps that they like the best and a drink that's marketed as a "low sugar" version of the drink they really wanted.

You've probably got kids, and you've already decided who they are and what they're going to achieve in life. You've got their whole life mapped out ahead of them - you know what subjects they need to study and what grades they need to achieve and which universities they're going to apply for, and which career that means they'll end up in. You know how you're going to sharp-elbow your precious little darlings to the front of the queue. You know how you'd do anything to give little Henrietta a head start in life.

You haven't really thought about the fact that your kids are going to get into mountains of debt and emerge from university with a worthless degree into a particularly hostile job market where they'll be completely unable to secure employment in their chosen field. You haven't really thought about how the student maintenance grant will nowhere near pay for the cost of living while they're studying. You haven't really thought about how your precious little darlings won't be able to get on the housing ladder. You haven't really thought about how your kids won't be able to make their pathetic wages stretch to pay for even the basic essentials: rent and bills. You haven't really thought about how you're going to have to buy them a car, pay the insurance, pay the deposit on every place they rent and generally bankroll them because they have no chance of achieving financial independence in the current economic climate.

Your parents are getting older and their health is failing, but they're going to live into their eighties in their massive house with lots of empty bedrooms. Your parents will require an increasing amount of assistance to be able to continue living independently, but you already spend over 100 hours a week working, commuting and doing the school run. You're already maxed out. You're already stressed out of your mind and you spend every penny you earn. You can't afford to work part time. You don't have any spare time or money to deal with all the hospital appointments and minor operations in your parents' lives.

You feel like you're on the brink of a breakdown all the time. You feel like you're rushed off your feet 24 x 7. You know that you need 2 weeks in bed, but you can't stop for a single second because you're stressed out of your mind keeping all the plates spinning. People are counting on you. You're a breadwinner; you're the one dependable person at work and people keep asking you to do more and more in less time; you've got to deal with the kids and there's so much to do; nobody else is going to do it; you can't let anybody down.

You know who you are and what your place is in the world. You have a purpose. Your life has meaning, even if that meaning is as slave to the brats you spawned to replace yourself. You have an identity. You know how you like to wear your hair and what your 'style' is. You know what clothes are clean and what clothes you are going to wear at any given moment - you have work clothes, comfy clothes, cleaning and gardening clothes, fancy clothes, casual clothes, holiday clothes, winter clothes. You have shoes for every occasion and shoes for specific purposes - running shoes, tennis shoes, cycling shoes, wellington boots, walking boots, horse-riding boots, f**k-me boots.

You have pets. You have cats, dogs and your kids have rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Your parents have pets too. The pets are part of the family. The pets have birthdays too.

You have stuff.

So. Much. Stuff.

You own a house; an apartment. You own furniture. You own curtains and carpets and rugs. You own a fridge, freezer, cooker, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, kettle and toaster. You own a vacuum cleaner, mop and broom. You own bedding and towels. You own sofas, beds, dining tables, chairs. You own chests of drawers and wardrobes. You own sideboards and dressers. You own steamers, slow cookers, fryers.

Now I really have segued into a Trainspotting monologue, by accident.

You've sewn all this stuff together into a life which is more comfortingly familiar than you're even aware of. Yes, you might go away on a self-catering holiday for a week in Spain, and all the brands in the supermarket are unfamiliar and the kitchen in the s**tty apartment you rented is completely unfamiliar to you, but when you go home you're relieved to be home. Your home never went anywhere - you had two homes briefly, and you were just temporarily having a holiday, but you knew that your home was still exactly where you left it.

Try if you can to imagine losing all that. It's a near-impossible thing to do, to empathise with the plight of somebody who's been so uprooted that they've lost everything I've just described, and they find themselves to be lost and bewildered in the world which they detached from. The world's a very different place when you lose all your local connections, your support network, your possessions and your home comforts, and everything else that constitutes your entire life.

Sure, I have an apartment where I've lived for 5 months. Sure, I have a job where I've been working for 4 weeks. Beyond that, I have 2 friends in the place where I live and 1 friend in the place where I work. My list of recent calls on my phone is mostly cold-callers, although I am lucky enough to have a friend who phones me regularly, although I've actually never met him in person. My support network doesn't include anybody who I see regularly face-to-face. My list of contacts doesn't include anybody who I could call if I needed a hand getting home from the hospital, if I'd had an accident.

When I was in hospital on dialysis with kidney failure in London, I had visitors and it was lovely. I don't live in London anymore. I live somewhere where I don't have any local connections. I don't have much of anything, although I am lucky to have a roof over my head and a source of income, although it's somewhat insecure. I've been lucky enough to hang onto a few precious possessions, and I've even accumulated a few more along the way - not everything was lost.

I worry that person, who I've always thought of as one of my best and most loyal friends, is deliberately ignoring me. I feel like I must've done something wrong. I feel like I must've done something to offend or upset him.

My guardian angel is increasingly busy with her life in London, although we're still in regular contact. I feel like she's the one person who'd be there for me if I was deep in the s**t, but I've relied on her very heavily to rescue me from all kinds of sticky situations over the past few years. She knows me through my blog - we didn't know each other until I started blogging.

These are the fragile little hooks that I hang on, suspended over the precipice: I have a place to live, a job and a handful of people who I speak to via text message. Other than that, I'm pretty much cut adrift from humanity.

It's like I'm on a self-catering holiday in a strange country, except I don't have a home, friends and family to go home to.

 

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LGBTQQIP2SAA

9 min read

This is a story about individualism...

Disguise

It's fun to dress up. It's fun to put on a silly voice. It's fun to wear make-up. It's fun act camp; to mince around. It's fun to belong to a subculture; to be able to identify with your 'kind' - your clan or tribe. It's fun to think of yourself as special and different. It's fun to have a sense of belonging and a strong sense of identity.

Take a walk down Old Compton Street in London's Soho and you'll see lots of men with shaved heads and moustaches wearing white sleeveless T-shirts. They call them clones. The clones are kinda über-masculine - they're generally stocky, muscly men and their bald heads and moustaches accentuate their extreme masculinity. They're so masculine that they live in an all-male world. There's a kind of hyper-sexuality to the clones coupled with a general sense of aggression and strength. It's notable that the clones appeared on the scene before the acronym LGBT started to gain all the additional letters, and vast numbers of teenagers started to become non-binary and pansexual.

In a world of toxic masculinity the pressure on cisgender (i.e. straight) white middle-class men has become unbearable. Born with original sin which means that to whisper "me too" when entering the highly charged arena where everybody claims to be an oppressed victim, is to be aggressively abused by every identity group, from feminists to LGBTQQIP2SAA gender-queers. "Check your privilege" we are told, when it's blatantly obvious that only a very tiny minority of white straight men are the ones who wield any power and control. It's highly unpleasant to be blamed for a situation that I neither created nor supported and I have no power to change.

Viewed as a "success object" I'm regularly asked about my ability to provide, which is like having somebody lecherously staring at my breasts. "Do you own your own home? What car do you drive? Do you have a well-paid job? Do you have a prestigious job title?" I'm asked, with a complete lack of subtlety that I'm being probed to find out if I'm wealthy and conventionally successful or not. It's like having my bum pinched or squeezed. It's like having a lewd pervert mentally undressing me.

I cringe with embarrassment that I wrote a blog post [now deleted] entitled "Feminazi" once, with only a hint of irony. I was trying to annoy an ex because I was in a messed up state - very unwell - and I was suffering some rather strange thoughts and ideas. I'm making excuses where none can really be made, but that's what I did, and I'm ashamed of myself. In the blog post I listed all the many disadvantages of being a man, such as 97% of workplace deaths, 99% of combat deaths, 79% of suicides etc. etc. Those things are all very good evidence that modern man has a pretty tough gig, but I was flirting with misogyny at times and presenting my beliefs with an unhealthy amount of anger and bitterness driving what I was writing.

I wish I was gay.

I've wished I was gay for a very long time. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but it's just not for me, unfortunately.

The reason why I want to be gay is that I've found the homosexual world to be more to my liking than the world in general. I like the quick and easy casual sex of Grindr. I like the flamboyancy and femininity of acting camp. I like the 'scene' and the identity that being gay brings - they don't have "hetero pride" parades, do they? I mainly like the fact that I can be ogled as a sex object and be passive, with potential sexual suitors buttering me up and massaging my ego, and all I have to do is decide who I want to have sex with. In the hetero world as a cisgender man, it's stressful taking risks, making the first move, trying to impress and having horrible knock-backs; it's a lot of pressure to present yourself as eligible and successful, and having gone to all the effort of getting a girlfriend there can be power struggles, with sex and children used as pawns and men are the usually the ones who lose out.

Of course by now, you're probably screaming at the screen that it's harder being a women, gay, trans or whatever particular thing it is that you identify as. You're probably very offended. You probably believe that my opinion is somehow encroaching on your rights and that I'm stealing valuable airtime which needs to be used exclusively by oppressed minority groups.

Everything I write, I worry that I'm somehow veering dangerously towards opinions that would be more at home on Brietbart. I consider myself to be an open-minded lefty liberal who's been through bi-curious periods of life and is quite comfortable with my identity, insofar as I don't think I'm homophobic or transphobic. I really don't think I'm a misogynist, although I admit that I rather bristle with annoyance that men's issues cannot be openly discussed without aggressive hostility being directed towards men who are suffering some very real and extremely horrible issues, and simply want to share their opinion and experiences. Obviously, to be lumped together with the likes of Donald Trump because I'm also a wealthy white man, is quite offensively racist - I'm not part of the so-called patriarchy just because of my skin colour and socioeconomic circumstances.

All these things are unspeakable.

I'm quite well aware of experiments such as this one: Two groups of psychiatrists are given identical case notes on a fictitious person, but one group is told that the person is black, and the psychiatrists in that group will view the fictitious person as much more violent, suspicious and dangerous, even though the only difference in the available evidence is skin colour. Clearly, people of colour still experience dreadful prejudice and discrimination, but we should be able to discuss other instances of prejudice, discrimination, oppression and abuse without considering certain things to be 'off limits'. I know that anybody who said "all lives matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, was heavily criticised for seemingly undermining the central point: that black people suffer a grossly disproportionate amount of police brutality, incarceration and general mistreatment by the criminal justice system. I don't write in reply to movements which seek to reduce rape, sexual assault, discrimination, racism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, hate crime, oppression, exploitation and all the other awful things that are going on in the world; I write in addition. Holding and expressing my opinion does not diminish, discredit or undermine anybody else's struggle.

I'm on extremely dodgy ground.

I feel vastly outnumbered. I can't count myself amongst the angry white working-class disadvantaged men who swill lager and spout racial hatred with a St. George's flag draped around their chubby shoulders. I can't count myself amongst the highly-educated metropolitan liberal middle-class elites, although this is the group I most closely identify with. I can't count myself amongst the homeless addicts and alcoholics, although this is the group I'm most socioeconomically closely related to, surprisingly. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but I'm clearly not able to join the LGBTQQIP2SAA club, despite my best efforts. I know that there are men like me - at least in terms of gender, sexual preference, skin colour, education and wealth - who have successfully infiltrated feminism and groups of Social Justice Warriors. Perhaps I could ally myself with a group of outraged individuals and add my angry and aggressive voice to the unified noise that they create. I would certainly like to feel that I safely belong to a group, rather than being an outlier who holds very untrendy opinions which could even be mistaken as similar to those held by horrible gangs of knuckle-dragging thugs.

Am I a racist, bigot, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic fully paid-up member of the patriarchy, responsible for the oppression of all the very many minority identity groups who'd gladly queue up for an opportunity to abuse me? I certainly lose a lot of sleep at night worrying that I've unwittingly wandered into the less extreme fringe territory of the groups that I detest: the right-wingers.

I'm somebody who's had a lefty liberal multicultural upbringing, and who has been open minded to the point of being almost a terrorist apologist, so desperate am I to distance myself from the Islamophobia sweeping the UK and US. I'm somebody who's always aspired towards equality in the workplace and at home, and has lived and worked in environments more diverse than any other place on the planet: 110 languages are spoken in London, which is twice as many as the next most multicultural city. Is it possible that I'm actually the enemy? Is it possible that I don't know myself at all, and I'm actually chomping at the bit to get swastikas tattooed all over my body and then go tell some women to get back in the kitchen, before kicking a transexual to death?

What has happened in the world where I feel like I've done something wrong and I'd better keep quiet for fear of causing offence and becoming a target for abuse? Why do I feel like I'm speaking the unspeakable? Why do I feel like I'm uttering heresies which no member of the lefty liberal metropolitan elite should ever utter? Why do I feel like I'm risking further isolation, loneliness, exclusion and being viewed as the enemy by people who I like and respect?

I wonder what my right-thinking right-on friends would say if they read this. I fear that they think I've been driven into the arms of the Brietbart brigade and I've become a nasty horrible right-wing scumbag. Is that possible? Have I missed something? Am I sleepwalking into enemy territory?

 

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