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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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False Economy

3 min read

This is a story about value for money...

Torn jeans

I watched a documentary about the manufacture of jeans, and I was surprised to learn that most of the jeans which we buy in our high-street shops come from a handful of factories, in Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Indeed, almost 80% of the jeans we buy come from nearly identical factories. The premium brand jeans are made in exactly the same factories, using exactly the same method, and by exactly the same machines and people. The only difference between £300 jeans and £30 jeans, is the label, and the style.

Of course, you might say, style is everything. For sure, I don't want my jeans to be too heavily faded, too baggy, too skinny... but also too plain. Having a bit of character is what makes a pair of jeans look good - fashionable - instead of being just a plain old pair of blue denim trousers.

You might think that, knowing the facts that I do, that I wouldn't be so foolish as to assume that my mid-priced jeans would last longer than a cheaper brand... but you'd be wrong.

The knee just tore on my premium brand jeans, which cost me about twice as much as I've ever spent on a pair of jeans in my life. I suppose I've owned these jeans for two years, and worn them almost every day, so in terms of value for money, we could say that they've cost me something like 18 pence per day... which sounds quite reasonable, to me.

The problem with "pre-distressed" jeans is that, although they look 'good' from the moment you put them on, they end up looking progressively more and more scruffy, until people just assume that you're so poor that you can't afford new clothes; until they cease to be fashionable and instead become part of a dishevelled look, which nobody finds particularly attractive.

Anyway, I've done something which I've never done before in my life, which is to purchase clothes without trying them on in a shop. I had a horrible retail experience on Sunday, where I had to queue in the rain to get into the shop, and then queue again to purchase the product I was buying. Also, given that my city is in a second lockdown, it seemed more civic minded to do my shopping online.

At least I don't have to be in the office anytime this year, so nobody at work will see me wandering around in jeans with a massive rip in the knee. I literally only ever own one pair of jeans which I love and wear all the time. I suppose I should buy several of certain items, when I find something I like, so that I have a like-for-like replacement when the item(s) eventually wear out. I've done that before, with a few things, and it's a good strategy for somebody like me, who has a very small wardrobe.

I'm sure you probably came here hoping to read something a little less mundane than a 500 word essay about my worn-out jeans. Sorry.

 

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Blogger's Digest - Day Seven of #NaNoWriMo2019

10 min read

Blogger's Digest: a Novel

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Seven

How does one set about making new friends in a new city, when you reach an age where everybody has coupled off and settled into their cliques? This was the question which weighed heavily on my mind, acutely aware as I was that my Brighton colleagues' life priorities were completely different from most of those who I'd worked with in London. Maybe I was just getting older, but it seemed like everybody was married with at least a couple of children. Trying to arrange a night out required a lot of notice and pre-planning - childcare arrangements and what little remained of parents' social lives became a logistical nightmare, and the a well-attended social function could not be held on an ad-hoc basis.

There was a thriving sports and social club, which catered for 5-a-side football, squash and badminton, and a smattering of other sports. As part of my efforts to calm the hyper-competitive side of my personality, I decided to avoid sports, which left me with few other social opportunities which were workplace-related. There was a company Christmas party, a department Christmas party and a a team Christmas party, but for the other 11 months of the year, there was nothing. From 'getting to know you' casual conversations with my colleagues, I understood that their entire lives were spent ferrying their children from party to party: an endless procession of parties and social functions for kids, but an adult night out was something which parents only enjoyed a handful of times each year.

I gravitated towards a group of alcoholics, who had either been quietly relocated from London to Brighton, having spent a month drying out at The Priory rehab, paid for by the company, or some of those whose behaviour was slightly more disgraceful were now kept on a tight leash: short employment contracts and zero tolerance for their prior antics, which had often involved going AWOL for days or even a whole week, and returning to work in a very bedraggled state.

The tolerance of workplace alcoholism was ubiquitous in investment banking. At a certain level of management seniority and age, I couldn't think of a single individual who wasn't excessively partial to their particular drink of choice: red wine, whiskey or vodka. Physical features of these senior colleagues told the whole story: red noses, liver spots, bags under their eyes, beer guts and a haggard look which added ten or fifteen years onto their appearance. They were some of the most brilliant, entertaining and hyper-intelligent people I ever had the pleasure of working with. It was a crying shame that none of them seemed to live beyond their mid fifties, and many were dead by their mid-forties. Given that I had known so many of my former colleagues die from alcohol-related illness, I was certain that investment banking must have a problem far in excess of the national average - alcoholism was practically institutionalised.

During the summer, I had a brilliant time. My new group of friends knew lots of wonderful beer gardens and other sun-traps where we could enjoy several pints of beer or cider, before staggering back to the office. After work, there were delightful terraces to sit on, drinking, while the sun went down. Looking out at the holidaymakers enjoying the beach and the sea, we vicariously partook of their wholesome activities - we felt like we were part of their healthy lifestyle, when in fact we were drinking vast amounts and going home incredibly intoxicated every night.

I suppose that wearing the so-called "beer jacket" meant that when late September arrived and there was a chilly morning, I was a little shocked. I hadn't put a lot of thought into what life would be like aboard my yacht, during the winter.

With a fan heater on a timer switch, I was able to make the bathroom warm enough to make showering bearable. With thick quilts, blankets and warm clothes, I could keep myself cosy enough throughout October. However, as the temperature dropped lower and lower, it was clear that I needed to make a drastic change - my ability to heat the yacht, and its insulation, were woefully inadequate for the UK winter.

One of the reasons for purchasing the yacht had been that I knew I would be able to live aboard it very comfortably in the Mediterranean, or other more southerly and pleasant climates, if my job didn't work out - I owned a truly mobile home. But, the voyage would now be unbearably unpleasant and quite dangerous, with winter almost upon us - gale-force winds regularly swept eastwards from the Atlantic, along with gigantic waves and an immense amount of rain.

Sailing during the late Spring to early Autumn period was amazing in the English Channel, which is one of the windiest places on the planet. Force 4 wind with gusts of force 5 can be very enjoyable for an experienced sailor - exciting - but wet-weather gear is still required even at the peak of summer, because the spray, rain and wind-chill can quickly turn life at sea into a very cold and hostile environment. With the autumn bringing monster waves and storm-force winds, along with biting cold wind and water which feels like ice, there is nothing at all enjoyable about sailing after the end of October.

The prospect of being hit by repeated storms as I battled my way south, attempting to reach the Gibraltar Straits and the warmth of the Med, or perhaps the Canary Islands, was nigh-on suicidal. If I didn't break my mast and have to be rescued, perhaps I would be seriously injured, killed, or at the very least spend a very long time freezing cold and regretting ever having left port. Any crew member who agreed to help with the passage would either be mad or inexperienced and incompetent - it wouldn't be responsible of me to even ask anybody to undertake such a dangerous trip with me.

Meanwhile, I had met a girl - Sian - using a dating app, and I had been spending an increasing amount of time at her house, motivated in no small part by the fact that she had central heating and double glazing. We were an odd couple, given that she was a Gender Studies lecturer at the University of Sussex, and everybody had assumed that she was gay, including her parents. She was also extremely left wing and a regular participant at protest marches: particularly anti-capitalist marches. I thought that my investment banking background would mean that we'd be entirely incompatible, but she was well read, well travelled and had some fascinating opinions which she expertly articulated, so she was incredibly entertaining company. She also enjoyed frequent sex, which was unusual for somebody who'd had so few partners that her nearest and dearest assumed she was deep in the closet.

I suppose the guilt I had carried my whole career, particularly around my direct involvement in investment banking during the financial crisis of 2007/8, meant that I had become more left-leaning and somewhat of a skeptic, regarding capitalism. I knew that people had lost their homes, businesses and vast numbers of people had become dependent on food banks, as a result of the irresponsible actions of people like me. I had suffered no hardship - ever - in my adult life, and I was never going to be forced into a zero hours contract job at McDonalds or to become part of the 'gig economy' delivering takeaway food on a bicycle. I had profited handsomely during the boom years, and I had continued to enjoy an exceptionally high standard of living, without interruption. Guilt had driven me to educate myself about the hardships faced by ordinary British people, and I now read The Guardian as well as The Financial Times; I read the New Statesman as well as The Economist magazine. Having been surrounded by Conservative voters throughout my life, I had lately become more open-minded about Labour policies. I had begun to read books which were harshly critical of the many failings attributable to Neoliberalism, and made a convincing case for socialism, social enterprises and sustainability; the green agenda.

Sian also really liked wine and movies, which was great. It was an ideal way to spend the winter: snuggled up watching challenging award-winning subtitled films which had achieved much critical acclaim in liberal arts circles, getting drunk, having a debate about how to fix the world's problems, and then having great sex.

While she was naturally reluctant to introduce her investment banker boyfriend to her friends, many of whom were right-on feminists, activists and viewed every act of coitus with a man as a victory for the patriarchy, and a terrible defeat for the oppressed minorities, we were - in a strange way - quite compatible. Perhaps it was a relationship of convenience, and it certainly allowed me to defer the problem of how to heat my yacht.

Sian had sudden bursts of uncontrollable excitement. "You MUST take me out on your boat!" she would say. At other times, she remembered that my yacht and my luxury-brand car were emblematic symbols of everything that was wrong and unjust about the world. She asked me to park around the corner from her house, lest one of her friends notice that she was dating a wealthy man, and worse still, an investment banker.

I had the sense that our fundamentally different paths we had taken through life - her through academia and me through an investment banking career - meant that we were never destined to have a long-lasting relationship. I liked her a lot and I certainly never thought or acted as if what we had was casual but there wasn't the same pressure that I was used to, when I had been looking for the right woman to marry and have children with. We were content, snuggling under our blanket, sipping wine and watching subtitled movies; we weren't grasping and reaching... constantly struggling to achieve more and more. It felt nice. It felt healthy and normal.

Equally, I wondered how Sian would be received if I received an inevitable invite for dinner with my boss and his wife, once word got around that I had a girlfriend. My drinking buddies had been seeing less and less of me, until the point where they no longer bothered to ask me if I was going to join them for after-work drinks. They were sure to tip off our gossip-hungry colleagues, and I wouldn't be able to brush off their questions by saying "it's nothing serious" or "it's early days" for very much longer.

If Sian was appalled by my two obvious vulgar displays of wealth and status - my car and my yacht - then she was going to struggle when we went for dinner with my boss and his wife, at their home, which might as well have been wallpapered with £50 notes and built with gold bullion bars, because it screamed "I'M RICH!" at the top of its nouveau-riche voice. I dearly wanted to spare poor Sian an evening of biting her lip, while my boss' wife no doubt wanted to complain about the difficulties of selecting a good private school, and the expense of stabling their horses, with the tactlessness of a woman who's never encountered an ordinary person in their entire life.

I was content, however; content to see out the winter in this fashion. Life was good; life was treating me very well.

 

Next chapter...

 

Gas Leak

7 min read

This is a story about todo lists...

Gas meter

My list of simple mundane and relatively easily-achieved tasks seems to keep growing, despite the frenetic pace with which I am doing things. Most of my energy is ploughed into the project I'm involved with at work, which is reaching a critical juncture, but there are also other deadlines bearing down on me.

My car's roadworthiness test must be completed within the next fortnight. I had few problems with the car last year, but it's getting very old so I am not expecting to be so lucky this year. Certainly, there is a wheel bearing which needs replacing and the dashboard tells me that it's 5,000 miles overdue for a service. I would be very surprised if it did not cost me several hundred pounds and leave me without my car for a few days. The timing is not good, because I really need to be in the office every single day of the working week at the moment.

It might sound silly, but my hair needs to be cut twice in the next month. My hair is well overdue being cut - especially in the warm summer weather - but I will also want to get my hair cut again soon before going away on holiday. I'm planning on spending quite a lot of time in the sun, so it makes sense to have my hair cut short before going abroad, otherwise my skin will be pale under my mop of hair.

For a whole week of the holiday, I will be expected to wear quite smart clothes - a collar and trousers with some smart shoes - instead of the casual beachwear which is my usual attire when on holiday. I like to spend my entire holidays wearing a T-shirt, board-shorts and a pair of flip-flops, but the resort where I'll be staying insists on outfits more befitting of a golf clubhouse or country club. I usually stay in laid-back surfer crash-pads, and I'm not a member of a golf club or a country club, so my wardrobe lacks chinos, polo shirts and other clothing items which are de rigueur in the kinds of places where rich old men hang out, flaunting their wealth. Therefore, I need to go shopping, to buy a whole bunch of clothes which I only really need because of the dress code at the holiday resort where I'm staying for a week.

My clothing situation is generally pretty bad. I only have one pair of jeans which are not completely worn out, and wearing board-shorts to work would be unprofessional. I wear a smart dress shirt every day along with a fine-gauge knitwear V-neck jumper - it's a kind of uniform for me. However, the weather is improving and the office has no air-conditioning, so I would like to have a lighter pair of trousers to wear and some other shirts, which will look smart and professional without a jumper. My summer shoes are falling to pieces. Some of my colleagues wear sandals, but I've never seen any colleagues wearing flip-flops and I think it would be unprofessional of me to do so.

In order to pay for the most ludicrously expensive and over-the-top ridiculously luxurious holiday I've ever had in my life, I will have to do some quite clever accounting: juggling money around the place, so that my cashflow is not impacted. There are lots of parts of the holiday with a balance to pay, and I need to be careful to make sure that I don't use up more than 50% of the credit limit on any of my credit cards, which would adversely affect my credit rating.

My credit rating is super important right now, because I'm undergoing security vetting which is an incredibly invasive and exhaustive examination of every aspect of my life, including my credit history. It's important that I manage my money well so that part of the vetting process proceeds in an unproblematic fashion.

Spending 17 nights away from home and skipping 12 working days poses a big problem for the project I'm working on. The timing is less-than-perfect, putting it mildly. I need to take a holiday - I'm exhausted - but I also need to ensure some very important milestones are not jeopardised, plus my job is under threat and the loss of income is a source of stress. I will not be returning from holiday feeling relaxed, because I will need to secure myself a new contract as quickly as possible.

My todo list also includes difficult things, such as tapering off medications which I no longer want to be dependent on. There's relentless pressure on me to keep cutting my dosages, so that I'm medication-free by the time my holiday starts.

I need to get ready for a barbecue I'm planning on throwing to celebrate my 40th birthday. This requires the purchase of an actual barbecue, plus charcoal and all the food, of course. Further, I will probably have to make sure I have adequate beds and bedding for any guests who are staying over. I have plenty of time to prepare, but it's another deadline that is looming.

My kitesurfing equipment really needs some TLC before I go away on holiday and I need to purchase her a kitesurfing harness for my girlfriend if I'm going to teach her how to kitesurf while we're on holiday. Some of my kitesurfing equipment is more than a decade old and likely to break, unless I replace the worn-out parts. Having an equipment failure in a remote part of the world is likely to be expensive and/or cause me to lose valuable time on the ocean.

None of this is beyond the wit of man, but it's very hard to take care of all these odds and sods when I'm extremely time poor and quite exhausted by my very demanding job. I suppose things will happen at the last minute and everything will be alright, but I also anticipate that the next two months will drain every bit of energy I possess. I suppose there will be the occasional moment - on holiday - when there is nothing pressing in the complex itinerary: a flight to catch, a long drive, or indeed a smart outfit to be donned in order to simply grab a bite to eat.

These are almost all first-world problems, and indeed wealthy middle-class problems. I know that many British people on low incomes will struggle to get their decrepit old cars through their roadworthiness tests, but at least I have the financial means to pay for any unexpectedly high garage bills, although at some point it's not economical to spend hundreds of pounds on a car which is worth less than my smartphone, and I would be better off buying a new car, which at least I am fortunate enough to be able to do... although I would question whether it's a smart move getting a new car when my future employment is uncertain.

As you can see... I've got quite a lot going on at the moment, and not enough hours in the day.

 

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My Friend The Alcoholic

6 min read

This is a story about unorthodoxy...

JPMorgan

This time last year I saw my old friend from JPMorgan in Warsaw. He'd just gotten me a job. I was almost bankrupt. Some years ago we had been propping up the bar at 4am, the last remaining men standing after all-day-drinking to celebrate me leaving the investment banking world... temporarily. We have the same attitude and approach to life: Everything to excess.

I'm writing this with a little haste, because I'm in a compromised situation.

I need to tell my friend not to kill himself - having received a number of worrisome messages and a call recently - but I can't do so in a direct manner, because it's barely more than a year ago that I tried to take my own life. I know that nobody could have talked me out of it. When I communicated, I did so to ensure that my intentions were clear: I did not want misadventure or an open verdict to be recorded by the coroner.

But.

This is not about me.

This is about a friend who sounds like he's about to end his life.

I have no idea what the emergency setup is in Poland. I have no idea whether a person can be located by their smartphone. I have no idea what the crisis intervention services are like. I have no idea what it's like to be 'sectioned' or otherwise interred for your own safety - 'committed' one might say - in Poland, and whether I might be unwittingly unloading a whole unwanted extra pile of shit on my friend's head, by raising the alarm.

I'm not ungrateful to those who contacted the emergency services on my behalf, who undoubtedly saved my life, but I'm aware that my decision-making power was taken from my hands. In fact, I clearly said at the hospital that I didn't want any medical intervention, but they decided I didn't have the capacity to make the decision to refuse treatment.

Does my friend have capacity?

He says he's drinking 2 or 3 bottles of vodka per day. I'm a borderline alcoholic, and I'd say that my judgement is pretty impaired when under the influence. I doubt I'd have so readily swallowed all those tablets during my suicide attempt last year if it wasn't for the Dutch courage of a gutful of booze.

It's easier to make the final decision when intoxicated.

Perhaps this gives me the moral authority to intervene and save my friend from himself. Perhaps it's my duty to inform the emergency services, such that my friend can sober up and then see how he feels about killing himself once he's got a clear head. How's he going to feel about being forced to sober up and face the decision to go on living in the cold light of day, with a dreadful hangover?

I can tell you all the answers to these questions.

I can tell you exactly how it feels to regain consciousness when you had hoped you'd be dead.

So can my friend.

I can't patronise him. I can't talk him out of what he wants to do. I can't approach the subject.

Strangely, I hope he has capacity enough to read this.

If he does - and I might try to prompt him into reading it - then what do I want him to know?

He needs to know that almost exactly one year ago, I was convinced that my life was totally beyond any hope of salvaging, but he salvaged my life. He got me a job, which rescued me from certain bankruptcy. He got me a job in the nick of time. He saved my bacon.

What can I do for my friend?

I remember he told me how buoyed he was by all the support I get via social media. I remember how emotional it made him feel, reading the comments section on my blog.

I want him to feel that outpouring of love from all four corners of the globe. I want him to feel anchored by connections.

My friend and I tend to value our sense of self-worth by the number of dollars, euros or pounds that somebody will press into our sweaty palms for a day's labour. My friend and I both feel valued when we're paid a lot and a company is chasing us for our skills.

It's disturbing to me that my friend knows that he can get a highly paid job in any investment bank in the world. He knows that he's needed and wanted in the corporate sector. It's worrisome that he knows that, but it's somehow not enough. I can relate. I know what that feels like.

I don't know what to offer him.

To remind him of his value and how much he's cherished is a cliché. I can't patronise him by talking about how much he'd be missed and what a huge hole he'd leave in all the lives he touches.

We're talking about the man who quite literally reversed my fortunes, exactly 12 months ago - from bankrupt to bankrolled; from rags to riches.

What can I say, except that I've written these 900 words with as much speed as I can manage, because from the tone and content of my last phonecall with my friend, he's in a very bad way. I'm very worried about him. I'm acting as swiftly as I can, in an unorthodox fashion, because I want to do something to interrupt and disrupt his behaviour, which looks to be on collision course with disaster.

I know that if anybody said to me that I lacked capacity, or was so patronising as to believe that they know better, and I should be relieved of the decision-making power to end my own life, then I would become doubly stubborn and bloody minded. I'd kill myself just to prove you wrong. Of course I would.

What can I say? I need to publish this, urgently.

I hope my friend reads this. I hope my friend - who helped me get back on my feet almost exactly a year ago - is somewhat moved by my desperation to try something, anything to move the conversation towards positive exciting plans for the future, and our next adventures.

I haven't been writing regularly, and of course I tend to be very self-centred, but I hope that I can continue to write, and include my friend as a living member of the tiny little world in which I inhabit. There are quite literally only two people who I speak to on a regular basis, one of whom is threatening to make an early departure from the party.

He might feel a little uncomfortable that I've made references that almost made him identifiable. Good. I'd rather have him angry and upset with me, than having missed an opportunity to get his attention. I'm being deliberately disruptive and provocative.

Please, mate, don't put me in this position!

Don't make me decide whether I have to call the emergency services or not!

This sucks!

 

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Safe Socks

2 min read

This is a story about retail therapy...

Supermarket Socks

My latest addiction is sock-buying. I am spending almost £16 a week on socks. My sock habit is raging out of control.

I'm not buying socks like the ones pictured above.

I've become hooked on buying stupid childish socks in bright colours and with cartoons on them. I'm getting immense pleasure from buying socks with whimsical slogans on them. I'm totally addicted to the buzz I get from choosing, buying and wearing sills socks.

I'm not a morning person.

However, choosing the socks I'm going to wear on any given day, is something that's a real highlight of my day. For something so relatively inexpensive - costing an average of £2.67 per pair - those simple socks pack a surprising punch. I feel genuine joy and happiness every time I see my growing sock collection and I pick out the pair that I'm in the mood to wear.

I have socks with an English breakfast of sausages, beans and fried eggs on them. I have socks with foxes on them. I have socks with dinosaurs on them. I have socks with hamburgers on them. I have socks with sock puppets on them, as a demonstration of the meta-stupidity I've descended into.

I know that other members of my clan of geeks have huge T-shirt collections, but it would be inappropriate for me to wear a T-shirt at work, no matter how witty and hilarious I thought its design was. My choice to wear silly socks is my way of thumbing my nose at the establishment, while also recognising that it's a pretty good idea not to bite the hand that feeds me - I'm well paid, I like my colleagues and I find the work to be increasingly tolerable.

Given the vast number of things which I could possibly become addicted, and the harmful behaviours and bodily abuse which could ensue, the sock thing seems mostly harmless.

 

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Spotlight

10 min read

This is a story about stage fright...

Chess board

I'm annoyed with myself. I feel like I've let myself down. I've squandered another great opportunity. I've wasted a good chance.

For the past 23 or 24 days, I've been writing as much as I possibly can as fast as I possibly can. I threw caution to the wind and decided to increase my daily word count in a desperate attempt to reach a million words as quickly as possible, because the end was in sight. Nobody much wants to read 2,000+ words of rambling drivel from somebody whose sole intention is to churn out enough copy to achieve an arbitrary objective. I haven't given enough careful consideration to what I want to say before I've said it. I've gotten swept up in the numbers and abandoned my longer-term objective of writing little self-contained pieces on specific subjects. Quality has suffered.

I decided I wanted to write about monkey dust because it was in the newspapers. Nobody much wants to read about addiction problems, because it brings out the ugly side of human nature. We all know very well, because of demonising tabloid news articles, that addicts can become desperate and depraved and can do dreadful things. It's impossible to write about addiction without a little of the stigma attaching itself to the author. People view you as a bit dirty and undesirable if you admit to having had substance abuse issues. It's often better to brush any addiction issues under the carpet and pretend they never happened, for the sake of avoiding stigma and demonisation.

I've written a lot about writing, which is far too meta. I've really gone on and on ad nauseam about my word counts and my million word goal. I've left my readers in absolutely no doubt about my unwavering and blinkered aim and objective, which mercifully will have been achieved in the next couple of days. 997,849 words to date, and counting.

I'm annoyed.

I'm annoyed because I write about all kinds of things, and sometimes I write things I'm really pleased with. Sometimes I write things and I'm pleasantly surprised to receive messages saying that I really nailed something and it resonated with my readers. It's amazing when I write something that's good enough for people to take the time to give me positive feedback. Feedback is a kind gift. However, annoyingly I've been writing for the sake of writing, just to achieve sheer volume and as a way of coping during a quite unpleasant period of my life where I'm living out of a suitcase.

What has particularly irked me is that I've suddenly had a flood of new visitors to my blog, reading my stuff at a time when I feel like I'm writing really badly. I feel like people are getting a really bad impression of who I am and what makes me tick. I feel like I'm representing myself very poorly, given my recent spate of rushed and voluminous but otherwise not-very-high-quality crap that I've just churned out for the sake of maintaining my daily target word count.

My 'pinned' Twitter post is something I wrote about my experience of regaining consciousness in hospital, after a suicide attempt. I thought it was important to pin it because I'm approaching the anniversary of that event and it weighs heavy on my mind just how crappy I'm feeling still. I'm finding it important to revisit key moments in the past few years of my life to gauge how I'm progressing; indeed to see if I'm progressing at all. I keep having moments where I feel like I'm not getting anywhere at all, and I lose hope that I'll be able to ever have better and happier times. When I lose hope, I lose the will to live.

I re-read my Surviving Suicide post and I was appalled at the quality. For some reason the punctuation was very strange and I'd told the story in a very odd way. It wasn't my usual writing style at all. I was embarrassed and frustrated that a lot of people had read it when it needed thoroughly proofreading and editing. It was a poor representation of both the experience and the quality - or lack thereof - of my prose.

It seems totally impossible to predict when and what will engage with people on social media. Sometimes I sit down and write something which seems rambling and ranty to me, but is very well received. Sometimes I write something that's throwaway and it sparks an unexpectedly huge response.

After my suicide attempt last year, I was very unwell. I found myself discharged from hospital with no support and a whole heap of problems to deal with - I was missing my wallet, mobile phone, laptop and other devices which would allow me to get in contact with anybody. My medications had all been taken to hospital and I had to go to my doctor to re-obtain prescriptions for everything. I had to use my passport - my only form of ID - to get cash and replace my phone. It was all a very big ask of somebody who'd just survived a suicide attempt and was totally alone in an unfamiliar city. The stress and abrupt cessation of the medications which were keeping me mentally stable, tipped me into outright insanity.

A great number of people had been worried - quite rightly - about my safety and wellbeing. For several days there wasn't a lot of information freely circulating about whether I'd survived my suicide attempt or not. I feel very frustrated and upset that I was then subsequently too unwell to communicate very effectively. The ordeal I went through post-hospital-discharge destroyed a lot of my opportunity to comport myself with any dignity and give a good impression of myself; to connect with concerned and caring people.

In the 11+ intervening months between then and now, I've managed to gain some rhythm and routine and greatly stabilise myself. My life is vastly improved. Although I'm still living somewhere with very few friends and no family - no local connections - I've got secure housing and more financial security, at least. I've spent almost all of the last 11 months free from medication and substance abuse and my mental health has been comparatively stable. To be unmedicated and functional, and to have been able to keep writing throughout the journey, is something I'm very proud of. To have worked hard, held down jobs and finished important projects is something which is great for my confidence. The achievements of the past 11 months give me hope that I'll be able to have a better quality of life in the not-too-distant future.

Another great big surge of blog visitors was precipitated by a tweet which unexpectedly seemed to hit a nerve. Again, I've been left feeling ill-prepared to capitalise on the opportunity which presented itself; I've not communicated effectively. I was thoroughly caught on the hop.

What I had wanted to do was to reach my arbitrary million word target, then to have a consolidation period where I'd write at a more leisurely pace and attempt to increase the quality. Only then would I perhaps start to talk about how I'd reached my million-word goal. I didn't want anybody to really see that the final sprint to the finish line was done in a rather ugly and ungainly fashion. I feel like somebody who's started telling a joke, only to realise that they've forgotten the punchline.

It's now 998,772 words, by the way.

What exactly is the punchline of this joke anyway? Clearly having a million-word suicide note is something that's caught people's eye, but it's not a suicide note unless I kill myself, is it? Irony of ironies, having a massive flood of supportive messages from all corners of the globe has turned my sense of isolation and loneliness into happiness that I've managed to connect with so many people. Nothing could be better than something so positive that's almost completely unexpected.

I'd psychologically prepared myself for a general "meh!" response to my million word achievement, but I hadn't imagined that I'd get a massive response before I even reached 1-million words.

From what I've experienced of the battle to be heard - noticed - things are always much much harder than you could ever have imagined, and when you do manage to get a bit of exposure that you think will propel you to stardom, fame and fortune, the result is always incredibly disappointing. Having something you wrote retweeted by an account with millions of followers doesn't result in a huge surge of readers suddenly devouring every bit of content you ever wrote. Getting mentioned in the media doesn't bring vast numbers of intrigued visitors; doen't generate hundreds and thousands of new fans. It's a tough gig getting noticed and being heard.

"What are you going to do when the spotlight's on you? What have you got to say that's so important?"

These are good questions. When you get your 5-minutes of fame, what are you going to do with it? Why should anybody listen to you? Why do you deserve to be on stage? Why should anybody share their platform with you? What have you got to say that's interesting and different and profound and original and witty and funny?

Of course, you might find that when you suddenly find yourself holding the microphone, your mind goes blank. BZZZT! NEXT! YOU'RE RUBBISH! GET OFF!! GET OUT OF MY FACE!! LOSER!!!

One of the reasons why I don't really tweet is that I like to compose my thoughts in reclusive isolation, and to then share them when I feel like they're fully-formed. Instead of delivering a series of 280-character soundbites and having the distraction of wondering how each one is being received, and the subsequent discussion that follows, I can dump 2,000 words out into the world in a single lump, and then forget about it. I'm getting things off my chest with very little discourse and dialogue. In a way, I'm lecturing. It's been easier to get to this point without getting sidetracked in the comments section.

I always had a strong belief that having the weight of a vast amount of published content behind me would give me more credibility. While I might have undermined my own credibility with periods when I've been writing rubbish, the sheer volume of my creative output is hard to overlook. To keep writing and publishing and not really worrying too much about the hit-and-miss nature of things, is the only way to keep moving forwards and to become prolific enough to be notable. Perhaps my writing is all of dubious quality, but through sheer perseverance I'm getting somewhere.

999,310 words.

Some time ago I decided that 700 words was the sweet spot for a blog post - not too short and not too long. Yes, sometimes people want the occasional long read, but most of the time they like to catch up regularly and stay up to date, and that requires nice short, sharp, concise and thoughtfully composed blog posts.

I am now within 700 words of the finish line.

This is amazing.

Tomorrow, I can reach my goal at a leisurely pace. Tomorrow is the day when I want readers to be with me; crossing the line with me. Tomorrow is the culmination of 1,082 days writing an average of 924 words. Tomorrow, my arbitrary goal is finally achieved and my "headline" number has been reached.

Tomorrow I will write something good, I promise.

The pressure.

So. Much. Pressure.

The spotlight is on me.

Will I choke? Will I have stage fright and be unable to utter a word?

so want to write something good.

 

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Stuck Indoors

10 min read

This is a story about anhedonia...

Bright light

I'm not under house arrest. I'm not in prison. I'm at liberty to do whatever I want. I don't have to spend my evenings and weekends alone. I don't have to spend my working day in the office. The reasons for my choices are too subtle for anybody who makes a lazy appraisal of my life to discern.

My attention span and ability to concentrate during periods of extreme boredom is very poor. My perception of time is warped to the point of being unbearably and agonisingly slow. I just want it to be December already. I want to press the fast-forward button and skip all the monotonous bullshit between now and then. I know where I'm going and I know how to get there, so there's absolutely zero enjoyment of the journey; in fact it's pure torture.

My summer has been spent at a desk, in a hotel room, or lying on my sofa. My whole year has been characterised by endless suffering in a desperate attempt to get back on my feet financially. I'm out of the danger zone, I bought a car and rented an apartment. Those are the highlights of my year. Now I'm just going through the motions until I have enough cash to clear my debts. I'm well paid and my financial position is improving rapidly, but my perception of the passage of time is so messed up that it doesn't feel like I'm getting anywhere. When I do the maths and work out how far I've still got to go, it seems ridiculously far away considering how much suffering and sacrifice I've gone through to get to this point. Suicidal thoughts are back.

It might seem like I've got the leisure time and the money to do anything I want, but I would never have survived as well as I have done if I hadn't had periods where I suffered. It's the suffering that equates to cold hard cash. Do you think they pay 6-figure sums of money for doing work that's fun? Do you think you get rich by doing stuff that you love? That's a fantasy for rich spoiled brats. Most of us have to suffer if we want to make a quick buck. The more you suffer, the more money you make.

"You can do anything you want. Follow your dreams" people say to me. It's not true. I have responsibilities and moral obligations. I'm trying to make things right and that requires a great deal of suffering. There are plenty of people who'd run away from their problems, and I'd know about that because I'm owed thousands of pounds by people who seem to think that it's OK to pick my pocket. I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm trying to do the honest and honourable thing. I'm doing things the hard way.

I have enough money at my fingertips to live a life of profligate luxury, but all that money is accounted for. I'm not living in a hovel on bread and water, sure, but I'm certainly denying myself a lot of lifestyle choices which would seem like just reward for my suffering. The whole point of doing a job that you hate is because it earns you a lot of money. One simply has to choose between a rewarding and fun career, or work that's extremely lucrative, and usually requires a high living standard to justify the awfulness of putting up with the dreadful day job. You can be a penniless artist, or you can sell your soul to the devil: that's the choice we all have to make.

Perhaps my job and the work I do is not wholly objectionable, but it jars with my psychological make-up. There's zero excitement and creativity; nothing is novel or interesting; I'm not challenged. The challenge is simply in withstanding the boredom and the monotony. I live with unbearable amounts of dread: I dread the intolerable boredom. I dread the endless waiting. All I seem to be doing at the moment is just waiting; killing time.

I feel momentarily excited by the prospect of spending a bit of money. I want to buy a microwave and a dehydrator for the kitchen. I want to buy some more wine glasses. I want to want to buy stuff, but I know that I'll feel buyer's remorse, so I rein myself in. That's unusual for me.

I try to get excited about how much money I'm able to save each month, but it's not exciting at all. Each day is such a struggle that I end up feeling depressed about how little I'm earning, even though I earn an obscene amount of money. I should be happy about how quickly I'm managing to dig myself out of the hole, but instead I'm depressed about how slow time is passing and how long it's going to take. December seems like an eternity away.

The problem is that I'm solving problems I've already solved. I'm doing things I've already done a million times before, so there's no doubt that I'll be able to do them again. I already invented very successful strategies for becoming rich and successful, and it irks me that I'm having to start my life over. I feel like I already won - which I did - so somebody should just give me my damn gold medal already, rather than making me run the marathon again.

Of course, I pissed away a huge fortune. I had the enviable pleasure of going on a total rampage for years, doing whatever the hell I wanted. I bought whatever I wanted, travelled wherever I wanted, never had to wait for anything and generally spent money like it was going out of fashion. Arguably, I've had the fun so I should now pay the price.

In fact, most of my financial woes come from a very miserable and mundane period of my life, where the money was spent on nothing more than general living expenses: rent and bills etc. When I've splashed the cash with gay abandon, I've always had a lot more of a memorable and exciting experience, than simply lining the pockets of the capitalists. My impulse purchases have always brought an amount of pleasure that was commensurate with the price tag. Whenever I get excited about something, there's usually an angle which is financially beneficial.

My life is austere. I'm not excited about anything. I'm saving a lot of money, but I'm thoroughly miserable.

My last big spending spree was buying everything I needed for my apartment - plates, bowls, saucepans, cutlery, kettle, toaster, kitchen knives, utensils and the myriad other things which are essential for daily living. There was little joy in it, because I already had a house that was packed full of everything I'd ever want or need. I was repeating something I'd already done and there was no pleasure in it. You'd be surprised how hard it is to start over from a completely blank slate. You take for granted so many little things you've accumulated over the years.

My life is hyper-efficient. I'm living the minimum viable life. If I break or lose something it's fairly catastrophic, because I have exactly as much as I need, and nothing more. Sure, my apartment is ludicrously large for my needs. Sure I could use public transport instead of owning a car. Sure, I could live even more frugally, but I don't think you're talking about a viable reality. There are homeless people who struggle to even protect a single backpack with some precious belongings, and they manage to survive. Sure I could survive with a single backpack, but it wouldn't be compatible with other parts of my life, such as working a full-time job in an office. If you're a homeless person sleeping rough, that life isn't compatible with civilised society. Society expects me to have fresh socks every day and a crisply ironed shirt... although I've managed to avoid buying an ironing board and iron so far [I use the one in the hotel].

I've temporarily halted any attempt to have a social life. I took some time out from dating and relationships. I'm estranged from my family, except my sister who I exchange a handful of messages with each year. I've put everything on hold until I'm in a better position.

I hated it when I was dating earlier this year, and I was being pummelled with questions about what car I drove and whether I owned a house. At the time I was living in somebody's converted garage, effectively homeless. At the time I was carless. At the time I was virtually bankrupt. Every question that was designed to tease out whether I'm rich and successful - and a good provider - was in fact a dreadful reminder that I'm not yet a secure member of civilised society. In the blink of an eye, I could be back on the streets.

Pride and self-esteem are at stake, but also people just can't cope with the idea that somebody's been through rough times and lost everything. People would think there's something wrong with me and I wouldn't be able to get a job or get laid. How many times have they hired a homeless person where you work? Never. I've survived because I've been sneaky enough to never let on that I've had incredibly awful stuff going on in my personal life, and nobody would ever suspect a thing because it just doesn't happen - no homeless person would ever be so audaciously brazen as to apply for highly paid jobs, as if they're a regular ordinary person.

This protracted pantomime, where I'm having to pretend like everything is A-OK in my personal life when in actual fact I've been one tiny slip-up away from begging on the streets for the whole goddam year, has been indescribably exhausting and trying. You might think that I'm being too proud, but I really promise you that my personal life problems would not go down well in the office; my run of financial fortune would be quickly curtailed if anybody knew how desperate I am.

I'm stuck indoors and it looks like a choice, but it's not a choice. Nothing in my life is a choice. It's all carefully calculated and necessitated by circumstances. My circumstances dictate my behaviour, and the constriction and constraint affects more than just my decision about where I work and what kind of work I do. The circumstances dictate my mood, and my mood is every bit as miserable and depressed as you'd expect of any slave and prisoner.

At least you can win a race. I'm not part of the rat race; I'm just trying not to lose.

 

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The End of Privacy

7 min read

This is a story about data protection...

Messenger bag

Congratulations. You found me. Somehow you managed to figure out my real identity and hack my personal data. Somehow you've managed to discover all my most closely-guarded secrets. You've compromised my privacy and discovered all my data that was held securely in the vault.

I'm fast approaching 900,000 words that I've written on this blog. I've written extensively about my childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, losing my virginity, first love, getting engaged and married, getting divorced, my mental health problems, my problems with drink & drugs, homelessness, near-bankruptcy, trouble with the police... I've written about everything. Everything you could ever hope to find out about a person is all documented right here, in unflinching detail.

I repeat myself.

I repeat myself because nobody fucking cares. I've written all this stuff about myself and left it out there for anybody to read, and it doesn't matter - everybody's too wrapped up in their own lives to give a shit about the details of anybody else's messy little life. I've published high-resolution photos of my passport. I've published every single detail you'd need to steal my identity, but nobody can be bothered. Most of us are far too boring and mediocre and average and uninteresting for anybody to give a shit.

Perhaps you've been so stupid as to share personal information in a way that's easily harvested in vast quantities. Maybe you're just another idiot who made their date of birth public on Facebook, or told some other popular website personal details about yourself, where you completely ignored the messages that told you exactly what data would be shared with 3rd parties.

You've got free email. Free photo sharing. Free messaging. Free document storage. Free business contacts. Free marketing. Free social networks where you can connect with your friends and meet other likeminded people. How the hell did you think any of it was funded? If the service is free YOU are the product.

The email address on the bag pictured above is my business email address. You can email it and your message will be delivered to me. I've been very careful to not mix my professional identity with my Nick "manic" Grant identity, because I work in very boring corporate environments which don't take kindly to people with mental illness who've recently been destitute and locked up on psych wards. There's a fundamental incompatibility with my true identity and the persona that allows me to get good jobs and get ahead in a corporate environment.

To write that email address in text form on the pages of this website would mean that Google would index it and make it searchable, such that my email address would be added to spam lists and my inbox would be inundated with crap. To write that word - the name of my company - on the pages of this website would tie me to any search that included my name and my company's name. I'm already on page 2 of Google, and I'd hate to make it any easier for me to be found. People already find me very quickly on LinkedIn, so heaven forbid what it's going to be like if people start digging for me on Google and stumbling on this blog.

A colleague of mine has already found my blog. I can see that he has an iPhone Plus and he uses the WiFi at our workplace to read my blog. I can see what pages he looked at and how long he spent reading them. Perhaps he doesn't know that I know this, but maybe he does now... if he's just read this. If you think I'm spying on my readers you should know that every tech company collects analytics on its users. Of course, I can't know who every individual is, but I can make very good educated guesses by looking at the IP address they visit from - which tells me their location, their ISP or workplace - and the kind of device they're using.

If you think it's unethical to spy on the people who consume content for free, you should consider whether you'd be prepared to pay for Facebook, Twitter, news websites, funny comics, interesting blogs, videos, games and all the other content you regularly consume. Would you pay for email? Would you pay to keep your photos and documents safely stored in the cloud? At the moment, you receive so much stuff for free, because your data isn't private - you consented to give it to us tech boffins so that you could get free stuf. You made the deal with the devil.

If you think you have privacy you're incredibly naïve. The details of your confidential medical consultations are discussed casually around the dinner table. The details of your life are pored over by the guardian class, who present themselves as protectors of your privacy, but are in fact terrible gossips who share all the lurid details of your most embarrassing moments with all their guffawing chums. There's no privacy - it's an illusion; a fantasy.

Having dealt with GPs, psychiatrists, hospitals, the police, security vetting people, tenant vetting people, credit check people, proof-of-identity people and numerous others who've sought to invade my privacy, I can tell you from first-hand experience that information washes around quite freely and there's very little protection of your precious privacy. The most sensitive information is casually chucked around in the most careless fashion. You're delusional if you think your data's protected.

I became disillusioned with data protection and privacy, and I decided to go public. I decided to write 900,000 words that give complete transparency about who I am and what I've done. I have no privacy. I live in the public eye - everything you could ever want to know about me, including my very worst, most embarrassing and most unflattering moments, are documented here in unflinching detail. This is what happens when you embrace the post-privacy world that we live in.

What do you want to know? Do you want to see my pornography viewing habits? Do you want to see secret webcam screen recordings of me masturbating, or maybe just picking my nose and scratching my testicles while lying on the sofa in a pile of my own filth, watching crappy TV shows? If you want to know what a person's really like behind the mask, I'll give it to you. Guess what? We're all a bit pervy and none of us is perfect; we all have flaws and stuff that we'd be embarrassed if anybody knew, but it's there - we're all basically the same.

Google does not yet read the text on images and make it searchable in the same way that it will for this word: googwebcamasturbdex. Try searching that word tomorrow, and you'll see that it's Google's top search hit. Try searching my email address and you won't find this website, however... which is how I want to keep it until the world finally accepts that we're living in a post-privacy era and we can see that we ALL have flaws.

I'm taking a HUGE risk having all this stuff about me out there on the public internet. I risk my reputation, my business, my income, my livelihood. I risk becoming unemployable. I risk being black-balled, because nobody wants a homeless bankrupt junkie alcoholic with mental heath problems working in their precious corporation. I'm risking it because it was exhausting, trying to keep my privacy in the era when privacy finally became a thing of the past; a relic.

Does privacy help you? Is it a big deal that Facebook leaked 4% of their users' data? Would you have paid for Facebook if it meant that your data was secure?

I think in time you'll come to see the world like I do - secrecy is hard work and life is better when you're transparent and open. I can highly recommend uploading yourself to the public cloud for safekeeping.

 

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Black Mark

7 min read

This is a story about disadvantages...

Semicolon sticker

There are a number of ways to get a black mark against your name. Every exam grade that's lower than a "C" is not going to be looked upon favourably. A degree of class 2:2, a third or - heaven forbid - a pass, is something that's going to follow you around like a bad smell. Any gaps on your CV are all damning indictments of your character. These are some of the least bad disadvantages that could be working against you in life.

Police cautions become spent on the day they're issued so you don't have to declare them to any prospective employer - unless you are subject to enhanced checks, because you work with children or vulnerable adults - but a criminal record has to declared up-front. Bankrupts are often compelled to admit to their financial misconduct and being a former bankrupt is often grounds for not employing a person. It even seems commonplace to perform credit checks on people now, as part of vetting for a job.

These are the disadvantages that people have, arguably because they're victims of circumstances beyond their control. The education we had, the friends we made, the wealth we've enjoyed... these are luck, not good judgement. We don't choose our parents. We don't choose to be born into poor uneducated families with a history of criminality, living in poor neighbourhoods - council estates and the like.

Then, we come to matters that are more obviously in our control - the choices we make as an adult.

What are all the things you'd think about when considering whether to get a tattoo or not? If you're a sensible chap or chapess, you'd think about all the bad fashion decisions you've made over the years, and rationally you would think that you wouldn't be able to choose a design that you'd be happy to wear for the rest of your life. Many 'tattoo fixers' are asked to erase the name of an ex - the ink was committed to skin when the relationship seemed as if it was going to last forever, but it didn't.

If you were still intent on making a permanent mark on your skin, you might consider where you're going to do it. If you get something on your foot, it's going to be visible when wearing summer shoes. If you get something on your arm, it might be visible when you roll up your sleeves. Why would anybody get a tattoo on their neck or face?

To all intents and purposes, I come up smelling of roses when the usual background checks are done. I have a fine set of academic qualifications, I have an all-star cast of multinational corporations on my CV, I don't have a criminal record, I've never been bankrupt. I enjoy a considerable advantage over many hopeful job applicants, who are paying a hefty price for something that happened years and years ago. To look at me, to study me on paper and pore over the vetting checks that are routinely done, you would see no evidence of any problems that the checks are supposed to find.

Did I say "look at me"? The careful observer might detect one little clue that I've not led an entirely blemish-free life. I have a black mark that clearly advertises that I've had problems. I write this blog, but you'd have to search for it to find it - you'd have to cyberstalk me - but there's a mark on my body in a totally visible place that you should be able to see, whatever clothes I'm wearing... I can't cover it up.

What the hell is a 35-year-old man who works in offices for prestigious organisations doing getting a tattoo in a visible place? Surely it would be career suicide? Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos don't get hired into positions of professional responsibility. Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos are not made of the right kind of stuff to enjoy positions of senior management responsibility. Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos are trash; scum; the dregs of society.

Getting a tattoo was stupid, of course, but it was also brave. Getting a tattoo was direct action: a protest about my sister having a hard time from my parents about her inked body. Getting a tattoo has been the best way to thumb my nose at bosses who desperately want my skills and experience, but who would never dream of giving an opportunity to somebody who's been less fortunate in life. Getting a tattoo is a running gag - a joke - which attacks all the gatekeepers who are seeking to keep the riff raff from getting ahead in life. When I sit down for an interview, my tattoo can't be seen face to face - it's behind my ear. It's usually too late - I've been hired - when the bosses first notice it. So many people don't get their foot in the door, because there's a black mark that causes them to be dismissed out of hand as an unsuitable candidate.

Why a semicolon?

If I was ever asked by a colleague, my answer would be that it's a programmer thing - I finished every line of computer code I've ever written with a semicolon.

The truth is that I'd been trying various ways to restabilise my life, which mainly revolved around earning bucketloads of cash as an IT contractor. The pressure and stress of one particularly nasty IT contract had pushed me to the brink of what I could survive. I'd asked to be hospitalised for my own safety. I flew to San Francisco, leaving myself just 4 hours to get to the airport from the time I booked the tickets, and went directly to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was erratic. I had no idea what to do, so I did everything. There was one thing that was constant: writing. The idea of the semicolon has come to mean that my story - this suicide note - could have come to an end, but I chose not to end it and keep writing. I jumped on a popular bandwagon. I joined a movement. I copied something that other people were doing. I tend to zig when everybody else zags, so getting a tattoo like other people's felt really good; it felt right.

Everything seems to piece together and make sense when seen as a whole. Writing under my real name and writing without a filter - completely candidly - and declaring my every fault is career suicide. Having a visible tattoo is career suicide. Those things together are the only way that I was going to cope when constantly dealing with gatekeepers who want to check my criminal record, check my credit rating, check if I'm a bankrupt, check my academic qualifications, check my references, check my passport and birth certificate. If the gatekeepers could, they'd pry into every single part of my private life... so I'm letting them. Here it is - come and fill your boots!

Who knows where this experiment's going to lead me. Perhaps I will suffer more discrimination. I've already lost two lucrative contracts as a direct result of living my life as an open book. Perhaps the disadvantages will continue to stack up and I'll be derailed from the fast track and shunted into the sidings, like so many people who've had the misfortune of accruing a black mark against their name.

If I seem at all disrespectful towards those who don't have any choice - they have criminal records, bad exam grades, a CV full of gaps and roles that don't have fancy job titles - then I apologise. Perhaps my little game can only be played by me because I'm so privileged.

I hope that what's going to happen is a move towards a more open society, where we can be honest about our past transgressions.


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Sorry About Your Nose

2 min read

This is a story about social gaffes...

Birthday card

The world is a minefield. A misplaced foot - even in one's own mouth - could see you blown to smithereens. Safely and successfully navigating the maze of human relationships, to reach the prize of friendship, is a nigh-on impossible task for those who are prone to make innocent blunders, as I often am. It is my curse; my life's biggest hardship - that my best intentions are misconstrued and people are offended.

I am eager to impress and please the people who I meet. I do, after all, sit behind a computer screen for most of my life, and have limited opportunity for real face-to-face social interaction. Should it not be expected that I would stumble and err in the real-world environment that is almost alien to me? It sounds as though I am making excuses for my behaviour, which I am.

When we meet, I will judge you for your terrible fashion sense, the dregs of your regional accent, the uncouth behaviour that belies your lack of good breeding. "I shan't be inviting this prole to the polo club" I often think to myself, as I smile and make pleasant smalltalk with the hoi polloi, who stray across my path.

If - God forbid - you should invite me into your home, I will be making a mental inventory of everything I find to be in bad taste. I doubt a single drop of Farrow & Ball paint has touched your walls. If you don't have a picture rail AND a dado rail in every room, you might as well just bulldoze the whole house.

Apparently, some people are not as appreciative as they should be, when I offer to elevate them from the disgusting squalor and odious personal appearance that holds them back from entering high society. Even a turd can be polished, but yet some people are resistant and even hostile towards my well-meaning comments.

I often imagine that I may be beatified at some future point, for my services rendered to the tasteless individuals who I have selflessly tried to help. However, it often feels like a futile task which has made me few friends. I have even been struck from the Christmas card list of many of the individuals who I've tried to help.

The world is a strange and confusing place.

 

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