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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


The Boy Done Good

6 min read

This is a story about achievement...


If I manage to slip the bonds of the United Kingdom tomorrow, I will have done extremely well. I know for certain that I do not have COVID-19, of any variety, because I am tested every week by the University of Oxford/ONS study, and I never leave the house except to go mountain biking on my own. Additionally, I literally just received the results of a very rapid but very accurate new test, which is about as good as anybody can ever get at saying "I haven't got COVID".

I mean, it's very simple: I just don't have it.

I don't socialise. I don't leave the house. My cat doesn't leave the house. I don't have children (which is the main thing) and I haven't travelled for 16 consecutive months, so it is impossible for me to have caught it.

The people who have caught it and who have been spreading it, are the people with children; the people who've been going to pubs and other social gatherings, the people who've been circulating amongst their friends and family... basically, carrying on like normal. Of course, then there are the people, for whom direct social contact is unavoidable. There are so many jobs which can't be done from the safe comfy confines of a home office, and those jobs are essential to almost all our lives.

However, in most cases the virus is being transmitted entirely unnecessarily: just close the schools; close the non-essential businesses... and by non-essential, I mean NOBODY'S GOING TO FUCKING STARVE IF YOUR GYM HAS TO CLOSE.

I am, however, a hypocrite. Although I have spent all year as a recluse - a hermit - and I wasn't one of the heaving masses who flocked to the shops when they re-opened, or rushed to the beach, or threw house parties. I wasn't one of the crowd. I wasn't one of the herd. Despite my laudable behaviour, regarding lockdowns and suchlike, I eventually needed a holiday. I am attempting to have a holiday.

I must admit that I was very sneaky. As soon as populist governments started talking about giving people a "normal" Christmas I knew that expectations would be set unrealistically, and it would be politically impossible to do a U-turn, having built up the nation's hopes of enjoying a very brief period of yuletide festivities: basically, to snatch away the nation's excuse to get drunk, spend loads of money, and eat loads of festive food, seemed unconscionable, once the expectation had been set.

It's a logical impossibility to say "we're following the science" and also talk about a "Christmas ceasefire"... let alone make a series of moronic date-based predictions, which were ostensibly not based on any science: nobody possesses a crystal ball. When politicians spoke of beating the virus by Easter, July 4th, the start of the new academic year... are they really so stupid? No. This is modern populist politics, where ideas are tested on focus groups and policies are driven by vote-winning data. Yes, politicians are following the science: the data science of how to push people's buttons, which is usually the preserve of the advertising industry.

So, I booked a holiday, with the dates intentionally matching the "Christmas ceasefire" with the virus, as promised by our Prime Minister. I thought, foolishly, that any U-turn would be such a huge disappointment, and spread such anger with the government's bungling of the pandemic, that they wouldn't dare to break their promises.

Instead, what we have ended up with, is a system so bureaucratically complex as to be unenforceable, and indeed a momentum in the country, which inevitably builds in the lead-up to Christmas, that martial law, curfews, road blockades, sabotaged bridges and other such activity, would not stop the average British family from proceeding with their Christmas plans, which were so meticulously made.

If German and English soldiers weren't prepared to kill each other, during the famous WWII ceasefire, and even played a game of football in no-man's-land, what policeman or solider is going to break up a typical family of otherwise-law-abiding and obedient servants of the crown, for the crime of getting their family together for an event so deeply enshrined in our culture? Even the most officious of policeman and soldier, is also indoctrinated by their cultural upbringing, and so they empathise and sympathise with the plight of those who have been asked to follow insanely complicated rules, at the last minute... so much so that the politicians and their 'power' are shown to be utterly worthless, in the face of two things: 1) a virus, which does not know about any culturally significant events in the calendar of particular civilisations; and 2) a population, which already knows and accepts that many of its elderly will not survive the winter; death is inevitable.

I'm the worst kind of hypocrite, because I know that I am prone to thinking that there's "one rule for me, and one for everyone else". Like the very most despicable people on earth, I know what's good for you. I do not, of course, practice what I preach. Perhaps, for example, I will be the individual who is unknowingly carrying a mutant variant of COVID-19, which will ultimately return humanity to the stone age. Because of my selfish individualism, all the "end of lockdown" partying and other acts of myopic idiocy will pale into insignificance.

The next time I write to you, I will have either successfully pulled off an egregiously antisocial act, which might seem small and inconsequential if considered in isolation, but, we must look at the bigger picture: perhaps I am the patient zero, and the ultimate hypocrite.

In fact, I cannot be the ultimate hypocrite, because I have always recognised the importance of certain festivals and other events in the calendar of different cultures, and I actually agreed that attempting to have a somewhat normal Christmas was the right thing to do. The unforgivable error, in my opinion, was the cynical attempt to do a U-turn, and hide behind an unfathomable rulebook, in the hope that the blame could be deflected onto the individuals, instead of the politicians who made promises they couldn't keep. I, personally, would have held a press release and just said: "you're going to kill granny and granddad, but you're allowed to make that choice if you want: you're not stupid; you can be led by the science too... it's not that hard".

Anyway, spare a thought for your poor author: laying on a comfortable bed in a 5-star hotel, penning this essay, tragically unable to utilise the swimming pool or eat in the award-winning restaurant. Spare a thought for the stress your author has endured, not knowing with certainty whether or not he will be able to board a flight to paradise tomorrow, or not. Your hand-wringing over a paltry 1.7 million deaths pales into insignificance, when compared with my own very real first-world problems.




Who Are The People That Matter?

6 min read

This is a story about estrangement...


I had a theory, a couple of months ago, that if I chucked all the spammers off my website and stopped allowing public comments, it would be 'better'. What I meant by 'better' at the time, was a combination of a better image in terms of not having tons of spammy bots, filling up the comments section, but also, I was fearful that my site would be algorithmically marked as spammy, and therefore expelled - or at least very harshly punished - from search results, burying my writing... making it impossible to find.

My theory backfired. From a peak of 7,000 visitors a day, I am back where I started: I can make an educated guess about who most of my regular readers are.

Of course, we can talk of sour grapes and self-serving arguments, until we're blue in the face, but for one reason or another, a second of my current work colleagues openly admitted to reading, which was very kind of them. So, amongst my [presumably] regular[ish] readers, I can count two colleagues who I work with on regular[ish] basis.

I notice that the first people I told, on Christmas Eve last year, that my kidneys had failed and I was on dialysis in hospital - very sick - were my work colleagues.

I spoke to some people on the phone, like my sister, and a very dear friend from Bournemouth. A friend from London was going to come and visit me. A work colleague - not one of the admitted readers - did actually visit. Another friend who I'd only met in person twice, but have spent a long time talking to online, and who has read my blog, came to visit.

It does concern me, that I have spent a lot of this year, a hair's breadth away from ending my life, and this Christmas is shaping up to be particularly stressful, when I so desperately need it to be relaxing; I so desperately need the opportunity to recover, rest and recuperate, after a pretty hellish year.

I think things were a lot worse earlier in the year. Presently, I have plenty of money and good credit, so I'm prepared to go to any lengths to keep myself safe this Christmas, which basically translates as: not being home alone in a City where I don't have a social support network, the weather is terrible, and where I nearly died a year ago... quite deliberately.

My colleagues never quite, but still, quickly forgot that I nearly died of multiple organ failure, because that's the way I wanted it: I went back to work and carried on as if nothing happened. What almost none of them know is that I deliberately poisoned myself, I knew my kidneys had failed for many days, and I just lay down on the floor - in great discomfort - waiting to die. Dying is not quick, I'm afraid, unless you do it right: overdoses are tricky things.

I did very recently attempt to obtain a potent poison, but it proved slightly more difficult than it first appeared to be. I'm not a stupid man, and of course I have an almost infinite number of avenues I could pursue, to end my life, but death by poisoning seems to be the most preferable: ideally something which quickly brings unconsciousness, and is painless.

Twice in three years, I've been saved in the nick of time. Once, the emergency services got me to the hospital, just before I started having seizures... 15 or 20 minutes later and I'd have been dead. It was a miracle they discovered me and got me to hospital so promptly. The most recent time, I had lain on the floor, with kidney failure, dying very slowly, for a few days... I'd had time to try a few different ineffective overdoses... it was not a well planned or executed suicide at all: I knew that my only chance was to remain undiscovered until I had a cardiac arrest, which my blood toxicity when I arrived at hospital, showed that I wasn't far away from, due to extremely high potassium levels - a side effect of kidney failure, which I knew.

I should make it clear, I do not plan on committing suicide this Christmas. I am doing everything in my power to keep myself safe. I'm not sure what compelled me to try to obtain the highly potent poison, very recently, but I suppose I felt like having the option, ready, at hand, was prudent preparation, because I refuse to have another bad year.

Of course, as I said, I'm not a stupid man: if I make that very definite final decision, I will execute it, and I will not change my mind. Things get a little harder at Christmas time, in terms of options, but there are still a near-infinite range of options, if I really do feel that I absolutely have to end my life immediately.

Things feel a bit different this year. I feel like there are people I would talk to, if I was getting close to attempting suicide. It's been a long time since I've felt like there was anybody who I'd talk to first... before putting plans into action.

Things feel a bit different right now. I feel like I can solve problems, as opposed to feeling like there's an endless procession of insurmountable obstacles, with each one threatening to destroy my life. Ultimately, I have plenty of money and I'm in the right frame of mind to find solutions other than just ending my life. There isn't anything, except a tragic event involving my sister, niece, friends or cat, which would be enough to provoke me, I think, beyond my general state of depression that my life must inevitably end prematurely anyway, simply because that's my [early] retirement plan.

I feel like I've got people who care about me. I feel like I've got people who understand what I'm going through. I feel like I've got [short-term] options. That's enough to keep me alive this Christmas, I think.




I Don't Write About You, Your Organisation or Your Project

7 min read

This is a story about confidentiality...


Does that blurry blob at the end of the rainbow look recognisable to you? Are you sure? Isn't it far too pixelated for you to be able to figure out what it is? Haven't I gone to great enough lengths in my obfuscation, to make it unintelligible?

Do you think that, if you search, you'll find somewhere I slipped up... some place where I mentioned a person's name, an organisation name, a project name?

I know you're looking.

I've collected the data and done the analysis; I have the stats.

I know what things you've searched for.

What I don't know is why you're searching... but I can guess. You want to see if I'm badmouthing you, or your organisation, or your project.

I assure you, there's not a single word - nay, not a single letter - which references you, your organisation or your project.

I've been working for a very long time, for a very large number of organisations, and almost all of them have been extremely paranoid about security. I started my career in defence, dealing with highly classified documents and going to places which required very high security clearance. I shouldn't particularly even say that but it was a long time ago. I'm not allowed to say whether - today - I hold any kind of security clearance, or have access to any kind of classified or otherwise sensitive material, for the obvious reason that it would compromise security... these are lessons I learned when I started my career, in defence, in 1997. That's a hell of a long time to spend, strictly adhering to security and confidentiality procedures, and so they are deeply ingrained in me.

After leaving defence, I moved into investment banking. Banks, as you might well imagine, are just as paranoid about security as the defence industry, because bad people want to steal money just as much as they want to steal intelligence, weapons and suchlike.

Like I said... for most of the past 23 years, it has been a routine part of my career, to treat every piece of information that I possess, or have access to, with the utmost respect and adherence to a strict code of conduct, with extreme penalty for transgression. Also, like I said, I am neither confirming nor denying my present activities, or anything else, which would prove useful to a bad person, or persons.

The other reason for searching the 1.4 million words I've written and published, is because I am, admittedly, a very harsh critic of fuckwittery. "Fuckwittery" has been very deliberately chosen by me as a nondescript term. As the famous quotation goes: "I cannot give you a definition of pornography, but I know it when I see it".

Am I supposed to be sorry that I don't like fuckwittery?

Am I supposed to pretend that I do like fuckwittery?

I need to vent, and I don't really have any opportunity to vent, given that I live on my own, with no nearby friends or family, no housemates, no partner... nobody. Are you getting that? Is that getting into your thick skull? I've got nobody. If I had severe chest pain, I would just lie down on the floor and hope to die: I wouldn't phone anybody, I wouldn't text anybody... I would just hope that my heart would stop before... before what? Who would knock on my door? Who would ring my doorbell? Anybody who came to my house, like a neighbour asking if it's OK to park on my driveway, would just presume that I wasn't home. THAT'S THE WAY MY LIFE IS.

It was unfortunate that, last Christmas, me ex-girlfriend was certain that I was at home, and after she spent several days persistently shouting through my letterbox, and getting no reply, she called the emergency services. It was unfortunate, because otherwise I would not have had to experience 2020. It was unfortunate because I was so close to what I wanted. I was so close to dying of multiple organ failure. Frankly, I didn't give a shit what I died of... I just wanted to die. I lay dying, knowing that my organs were shutting down, in a lot of discomfort for DAYS AND DAYS and I NEVER ONCE thought that I wanted to phone, text or email anybody.


So, this is what I do. This is how I cope. This is where I vent.

When I see insufferable fuckwittery, beyond the limit of what I can cope with, I write - in general - about the insanity of the world. I don't write about YOU. I don't write about YOUR ORGANISATION. I don't write about YOUR PROJECT. But I DO write about how utterly fucked up and stupid the world is, and what an incredible amount of fuckwittery the world contains.

If you're taking things personally, I'm sorry, that was never my intention. If you ask yourself the question "am I a fuckwit" and the answer is "no" then VERY CLEARLY I AM NOT WRITING ABOUT YOU so you've got nothing to worry about.

Anyway, feel free to search away through all the 1.4 million words, but you can take my word as gospel: you're not going to find any slip-ups, because I'm not a fuckwit.

If I have written something about a specific person, or organisation, they know why I did that, and they know that it was the truth, otherwise I'd have been sued for libel; they know that I was within my rights, in terms of my contractual obligations and code of conduct, otherwise I'd have been disciplined or sacked. But, generally, it's not my style. 99.999% of the time, I'll never write about anybody, any organisation, or any project, or suchlike.

Fuckwitterly is so commonplace that there's no need to single out any individuals, organisations or projects, for direct attack... it's perfectly adequate to make vague statements which apply to millions of really shitty badly-run organisations, with their bazillions of terrible projects, stuffed full of utterly appalling fuckwits; fuckwits of mind-boggling magnitude.

But, it must be remembered, that in the vast ocean of fuckwittery, there are lots and lots of lovely lovely people, who I like and respect very much, and want to be friends with... but things haven't worked out like that. Instead, I'm isolated and suicidal, and my patience for fuckwittery does very occasionally boil over... and the pages of this website are where you might find one or two clues that I'M REALLY FUCKING SICK OF THE FUCKWITTERY.

Of course, to hope to find a fuckwit-free utopia, at any point in my lifetime, is ludicrously improbable. The best I can hope for is to end my life, having created a tiny island, which is mostly free of fuckwittery, in the unimaginably humongous ocean of fuckwittery.

This was supposed to be a "sorry I made you upset" essay, but it's probably turned out to be rather the opposite.

Anyway... keep hunting; keep reading. You might learn a little about who I am, which couldn't hurt, even if you decide that I'm an incurably horrible man... at least it's more information than you possessed before, when you presumably thought that I was Jesus Christ and had led a life entirely free of sin; an infinitely patient, kind, forgiving and tolerant man. I AM NOT THAT MAN. I AM A LUNATIC WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER WHO IS SUICIDALLY DEPRESSED AND IS SICK OF THIS LATE-STAGE OF CAPITALISM TO THE POINT I WOULD BE GLAD TO HEAR THE WORLD WILL BE OBLITERATED BY AN ASTEROID.

I hope you're making notes. Make sure you bring this up at my next performance review.




I Have Fewer Friends Than You Think

8 min read

This is a story about social isolation...


In this age of social media, it sometimes feels like we've got more friends than ever, given that it's easier to meet new people online, and to maintain some degree of friendship over any distance, remotely.


There are a set of tests, which I hope you would agree with, which establish your true friends, from the people who you were once 'kinda' friends with, but aren't friends with anymore:

  • Does your friend visit you, in person?
  • Do you speak to your friend, on the phone or via video chat?
  • Are those visits and/or chats regular?
  • Would your friend visit you if you were in hospital?
  • Would your friend let you sleep on their couch, or in their spare room?
  • Would your friend help you move house?
  • Would your friend feed your pet, in an emergency?
  • Would your friend lend you £1,000... even if they had to borrow it?
  • Would your friend testify to your good character, in a court of law?
  • If you went missing, for 4 or 5 days, would your friend notice?
  • If you phoned up your friend, in a desperate situation, would they go out of their way to help?
  • Would your friend rat you out?
  • Could your friend's opinion of you be changed, almost instantly, by one-side [another person's side] of a story?

Turns out that it's a longer list than I thought it would be, but I think the questions are all important ones, in order to find out who your true friends are.

Of course, we might say that for most of this, it'd be the job of family to provide support and unconditional love, which meets the conditions of many of those things on the list. I've got one thing to say to that: fuck you, you cunt. We don't all have wealthy, kind, caring families around us. For some of us, our friends are our family. For some of us, there's nobody to fall back on; nobody looking after us.

This is not an attempt to guilt-trip any friends. This is not a veiled criticism. It's just a fact, that if you don't have a friend (or family member) who ticks every single one of those boxes, then your life is precarious; you live on the edge of life and death.

I'm going to go through the list, and think about whether I have that minimum viable social support network, or not.

I do have friends who have visited me in person this year. I do speak to two friends regularly on the phone or video chat. I do have a friend who visited me in hospital, most recently. Past experience tells me that my friends would gladly see me sleeping rough, but that might be different today... I definitely had one offer, kinda, to stay with a friend, his girlfriend and their very young baby, in a tiny bedsit, which is definitely something worthy of consideration. I'm not sure I'd ask for help moving house, but none would be forthcoming. None of my friends would feed my pet. I could borrow £1,000 from a friend. I would hope that at least one friend, of good social standing, would be prepared to testify to my good character in court. I could easily go missing for 4 or 5 days, or more, and my absence not be noticed. I would struggle to persuade a friend to help me, in a desperate situation. Yes, I have friends who would rat me out... but I think one or two would not. A few of my closest friends would want to hear my side of the story, before making their final judgement.

In summary, I think it's fair to say that I live a precarious life and death existence, without hyperbole.

How many friends do I have, who are true friends? 3, 4... 5 at the most? Maybe that is more than most people, but the litmus test, for me, is the number of friends who made the trip to hospital when my chance of survival was so low: just one friend, each time. There were more friends who came to see me, when I was hospitalised the time before, thanks to a wonderful ex-girlfriend who helped make that happen. Also, I should say that I did tell my sister and another friend not to bother making an exceptionally long journey, during my most recent hospitalisation, when it was clear that I was going to recover.

We might, in a particularly mean and cynical way, say that I have been hospitalised a lot during the past 6 or 7 years. It hasn't been "a lot" and I've got one thing to say on the matter: fuck you, you cunt.

It takes two to tango, so I must ask myself: have I been a very good friend? It's true that I could bolster my superficial friendships, but that seems like wasted effort. When it came to the biggest test of friendship I've ever faced, I dropped everything for that friend: I made them my number one priority; I did everything humanly possible for them. I can say, hand on heart, that I pass all the tests that I have listed: I might not have almost any true friends, but the ones I have... they can count on me during the most difficult life events.

To those who say I might be pleasantly surprised, if I found myself in hot water: fuck you; you're wrong. I've been homeless, slept rough, penniless, locked up, hospitalised, left for dead and completely fucked over by situations I've had to deal with all on my own, so I know who my true friends are, and I know how precious few they are.

If you think I'm ungrateful for the lazy "chin up" social media messages I get from time to time, I probably am. "Chin up" doesn't put a roof over my head. "Chin up" doesn't make the difference between life and death. The sentiments are worthless; worse than worthless: they are valuable to you in making yourself feel better about not doing anything, but of no value to me.

However, it must be admitted that my situation has been made worse by needing to move away from my ex-wife, and my parents incessant hard work in lobbying against me; spreading lies and disinformation; maliciously attacking my character and exhaustively portraying me - falsely - as of bad character; evil.

My parents incessantly changing the school I was in - 8 different schools - and moving around, disrupting every childhood friendship, was the coffin nail in any chance of me forming lifelong bonds. Yes, I am still in contact with old school-friends via social media, but my constantly disrupted childhood provided no opportunity to cement friendships which last substantially into adulthood, although I was immensely grateful when a handful of old childhood friends contacted me in recent years, unexpectedly.

I've written far more than the daily word count limit I have set for myself, but that is in no small part, because I am so socially isolated. The misery of my childhood haunts me more and more, like a post-traumatic flashback. The sins of the father - in my case, an unemployed lazy druggie, who selfishly didn't care about the damage to my childhood schooling and friendships - are visited on the son, namely me, of course. I don't write this in the sense of saying "I blame everybody else for my problems" but as a factual explanation of why, in due course, I will end my life prematurely.

The friends who are keeping me afloat: Oxford, Worcester, Croydon, Prague, Fareham, and maybe an honourable mention of Newport and Pa Tong, maybe a bit of a mention of Portishead... Bournemouth & Poole, kinda. Cardiff and Bridgend maybe, but it's complicated. How many is that? 4 or 5 actively. Another couple occasionally. Another few much less frequently, but old enough friends that I think they'd pick up the phone if I was in the shit. Is that enough? Evidently not, but I'm grateful for what I've got. In fact, if you see where you live on the list, you should know that if you've been in contact recently, I'm incredibly grateful, and you're the difference between life and death... no exaggeration.

In conclusion: that's it. That's all there is. It sounds like it's more than it actually is, during an average month. A few phone-calls to Oxford. One or two to Worcester... that's it for regular social contact. My guardian angel is there, but a long way away; we hardly speak. My friends in other countries.... visits are hard. I spend as much, if not more, time speaking to friends who I've never met in person, than I do to old friends... that's an alarming situation.

Anyway, it is what it is: I'll work, get my money, then kill myself. That's that. I know now: my social needs will never be met, and I'm trapped in an unbearable situation. All I can do is hope that my enormous effort to document who I was, and the impression I've left on most of those who've met me, has been on the whole more good than bad, and that my true friends will defend me from people like my parents, who maliciously want to paint me as an evil character; a demon.




People Read This?

7 min read

This is a story about audience...


There was a time when I had so few readers, I could make an educated guess as to who each of them was. I have a loyal reader who lives in Milan. I have a loyal reader who lives in Worcester. I have a lot of loyal readers in various locations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand. For larger cities, like London, it was a lot harder, but for smaller cities like my home city of Cardiff, I could still figure out roughly who was who, amongst my regular loyal readers.

Over the years - five and a half years to be precise - I have had visitors who were former or current work colleagues. That shouldn't be a surprise, I suppose, given that I have this public document, which intimately and candidly records my stream of consciousness, warts and all.

I say "warts and all" but we obviously behave differently in private than we do in public.

When I had only a few readers, they were people who I had regular conversations with; there was a personal connection between what I was writing, and them: I considered how my writing would be received by them. I thought to myself "I wonder what they will think when they read this?".

Then, a strange thing happened.

Little by little, the number of people who were reading my stuff started growing, quite substantially. Within a fairly short period of time, it was almost impossible for me to keep track of my regular readers, in amongst all the strangers, who were reading my stuff for the very first time; people who I'd never met or had a conversation with.

Because so many people were reading, a lot of them decided to email me, or otherwise contact me directly via Twitter or Facebook. As you can see from the graph above, my writing was being read by a substantial number of people, and I was being contacted many times during the day.

Then, another strange thing happened.

I decided to cull a lot of spammy/fake comments. Google didn't like that very much, so they harshly penalised me: my website dropped from the first page of Google, way down in the search results. The number of people reading every day dropped back to almost the same level it was before the unusual spike; almost to the point where I could pick out people who I know - regular readers who are friends - from in amongst the sea of strangers.

But, I never really re-adjusted: I no longer think, automatically, about who might be reading what I write.

I often think "it doesn't matter what I write, because I am going to kill myself quite soon". However, I do have some friends and other people, who I don't want to upset or offend. I'm not so sociopathic, that I have no empathy for other people's feelings. I am genuinely remorseful, when I learn that I have hurt somebody.

I wrote yesterday about a friend - a work colleague - who's one of the few work colleagues who's contacted me to tell me that they're a reader. That friend is probably the only person in the world of whom I regularly think to myself "what would they think, if they read this?". In fact, that friend has posed that question to me: what would our colleagues think, if they read this? I tend to assume that they do not read this.

Generally speaking, I tend to assume that nobody reads this, in the very small circle of people who I interact with in "normal civilised society". That is to say, I assume that my neighbours don't read this, nor does my doctor, nor does my accountant, nor does my landlord, nor anybody else who has some kind of interest in me, financially or professionally. That extends, naturally, to work colleagues: I would assume that they would connect on LinkedIn, send me a friend request on Facebook or ask to connect on Instagram, or some other popular social media site, if they wanted to be "virtual" friends. In fact, in a professional context, I assume that nobody wants to be my real friend, except the friend who contacted me to say that they read what I write, here, on this website.

Which is the reasonable thing to assume? That nobody reads this - except those few who I know about, who read occasionally - because I'm not that interesting or likeable; also why would anybody I meet think that I would have written and published 1.4 million words on a website, which they could easily find with Google? Or, is it more reasonable to assume that people are curious, and given that I work with a lot of people, a handful of them might have been bored enough one day to put my name into a search engine.

Also, of course, my profile picture does have a cunning disguise... so how would anybody know for certain that they'd found the Nick Grant they were looking for?

In conclusion, I suppose what I've written takes on a very different complexion if it's being read by work colleagues. There have been plenty of times when I've been gripped by the delusions of grandeur which accompany bipolar manic episodes, and I have expressed my irritability, frustrations, and low opinion of some of what I've witnessed during my working hours; also I have loudly broadcast my arrogance, aloofness, smugness, and given the general impression that I have single-handedly delivered all the work involved in a very big budget project, in spite of the lesser mortals who've tried to thwart me.

As stated, I'm not sure who's reading this, but on the assumption that every single one of my colleagues is reading: I'm really sorry for being a dick. I'm not always right. My productive contribution is negligible. The upset I have caused has been inexcusable. I have vastly over-estimated the value of what I have delivered. I'm the guy who ruins people's working day, and makes the working environment unpleasant; unbearable. I'm really sorry.

I know that I don't offer nothing and I know that I don't create only problems, but it seems like the balance is wrong. My brain tells me that what I do is important, although I am acutely aware that I am very far from being indispensible (which is quite deliberate, I assure you: I hate key-person dependencies) my brain tells me that I am useful to have around, and that when required, I can do stuff which is really helpful. However, my brain often converts that into: "I am Jesus Christ re-incarnated; there is no greater living human being than I; I am the son of god" based on very little evidence, and it's only counter-balanced by the continuous thought "existence is nothing but unbearable suffering; existence is futile". In the middle, my brain then tells me "in order to give life some meaning in this godless universe, you should build some really fucking nice software which will impress people".

The net result of all of the above, is that, it turns out, I'm a real arsehole to people, sometimes. Sorry about that. I don't actually have an excuse. There's probably a simple solution, which would stop me being an arsehole. Most people's solution is probably just to decide "I'm not going to be an arsehole"... it's that simple.

I would just ramble more if I kept writing, but the final thought is this: I'm really sorry. I really do want people to enjoy my company. I really do want to make people's day better. I do think about it, when I've been a dick. I do feel guilty. I am sorry.




Freedom of Information

4 min read

This is a story about the public domain...


"Are you going to [write] about it [and publish it for the general public to see]?" a friend and trusted confidante asked me, today. My answer was: "I doubt it".

It would be really annoying if you didn't know what the heck I was going on about, so I shall immediately fill you in.

Because I have been working for a very large organisation for, what seems like, a very long time, my mental illness is starting to become harder to conceal. Or, perhaps, it's my horrible personality, which is finally making itself visible, having concealed it for as long as possible. Either way, the mask is slipping. I am saying, doing and writing things which are less-than-ideal.

Theoretically, almost everything I write during my working day, is available to be read by you. If you were determined to read the vast amounts of stuff I've written, not already available on this website, then you could theoretically obtain most of the remainder to read.

I don't often tend to forget that almost everything I write is either published to the public internet, where absolutely anybody can read it with extreme ease, or published elsewhere, freely available for members of the public to read, or to request permission to read.

Don't bother to ask me the exact rules, but I write and publish thousands of things every year, during my working day, which are fully public, but not on this website, however, they can be found and read, with little difficulty. There's some other stuff too, which is theoretically available for the public to read... but that process is much harder. Then, there's this website, which is probably the easiest to find, containing the most comprehensive collection of the entire contents of my brain, transferred into text, and published in such a way as to permit easy reading.

I have no control over my mood, but I am aware of my mood disorder. I can attempt to compensate for my mental illness. However, my mood fluctuations - from suicidal depression to manic highs - do colour my writing. When I am suicidal, predictably, most of my writing will be affected by the extremely severe depression. When I am manically high, most of my writing will be affected by my racing thoughts and delusions of grandeur.

Then, we must also consider my state of mind, independent of my mental illness. I have, for example, worked for 16 consecutive months without a holiday. I have been working hard. Too hard. I mean, I really put in a great deal of effort. I'm not just cruising along. I'm busting my balls, every day.

Not wanting to start a pity party, but I've also been doing a very extreme diet, in order to reach a healthy weight. Oh, and I'm single at the moment, and I don't have any friends living nearby. Oh and I'm estranged from my whole family, except for my sister who I only speak to once every couple of years, on average. So... all in all, not a good recipe for a happy human, even without mental illness in the picture.

Did I mention I stopped drinking back in September? Being teetotal is supposed to be a healthy choice, but how are we supposed to unwind after a long stressful day at work? For sure I lost a load of weight - 10kg (22 pounds) - but not being able to have a glass of wine after work is fucking awful.

Anyway, sorry for the self-pity.

Against this backdrop of lockdown, no friends, no family, no girlfriend, working incredibly hard, no holidays, and of course my mental illness, it should not come as any surprise that my behaviour can get pretty erratic and weird at times.

The incident mentioned at the start of this essay, was related to me being harshly critical of something. What I said wasn't untrue, nor was it mean or malicious: it was purely factual. However, I used some pretty powerful and colourful language, which would have left the reader in no doubt that I was less than impressed by some of the madness I'm forced to witness on a daily basis, with little or no opportunity to influence any outcome in a positive direction.

You might say I was ranting, and the manner of my ranting was unprofessional. I have a reply to that: sorry.




Everybody Wants to Die Rich

5 min read

This is a story about retirement...

Opera house

It's unusual that nobody sets out to be impoverished in old age - quite the opposite - but most people will end up poor during the twilight years of their life. It is unusual that so much money is pumped into pension funds, but so few enjoy a wealthy retirement.

I suppose, for people who work but don't earn much, there's an ever-decreasing opportunity to build up any kind of pension pot. Since the demise of both final-salary pensions, and social housing, the difficulty of balancing the immediate needs of food, housing, clothing and other essentials, far outweighs the impending old-age poverty. Although the home-ownership fetish appears to lead to some security, in fact the cost of council tax, energy bills and food, is still substantial enough to erode anybody's meagre pension income, even without the cost of a mortgage. Old-age poverty is inevitable.

Given that we are all aiming for the same thing, in theory, it's remarkable that most of us fail to achieve it.

I suppose some will say that they love their work, and they're happy to accept that they're underpaid, because they are happy with their career. I suppose some will say that friends and family are their wealth, and haven't paid much attention to the trivial financial nonsense. In fact, they all care about what happens to them in old age, it's just that they assume - wrongly - that things will work out OK. Things will not work out OK.

Pensions are, unfortunately, a Ponzi scheme. All public companies function on the basis that very large pension funds will automatically have to buy their shares, once they reach a certain market capitalisation (i.e. valuation). Many private companies, angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity fund managers, entrepreneurs, investment banks, and whole swathes of other ancillary leeches, function on the assumption that there is a virtually unlimited supply of new suckers, prepared to pump a substantial portion of their wages, into the Ponzi scheme, allowing others to siphon it all off. There are more people withdrawing obscene amounts of unearned money, than there are honest hard-workers injecting new money into the system, and as such, failure is inevitable.

I find it very unusual that many people feel wedded to a particular corporation, which evidently pays them very little versus the market value of their labour, which can be worked out by the profit generated for the company. The argument is often that it's a "safe" job, that redundancy money provides "financial security" and that they're somehow locked into a pension scheme, which is expected to provide a "generous" retirement.


Everybody wants to retire well-off, but unfortunately, demographics and the refusal by the generation who most recently retired, and are in the process of retiring, has brought the whole Ponzi scheme crashing down.

Not everyone can retire on a final salary pension. In fact, already, far too many have been allowed to retire on a final salary pension. The huge burden placed upon the few at the bottom, by the massive number of grotesque fat greedy pigs at the top, creates an inverted pyramid which must, inevitably, topple over.

Yes, it's all well and good having a lot of industrial action to demand the impossible. Useless do-nothing people in do-nothing jobs went on strike, threatening to do nothing and harm nothing... then when they finally pissed off and made some space for others to get promoted and start earning a decent wage, there are now too few of the decent salary earners to pay for the disgustingly high final-salary pensions which were unearned by the lazy fucks who expect to spend a far greater proportion of their natural lives than any generation in human history, riding on the backs of the overworked and underpaid working class.

Yes. My granny and granddad spent approximately 15 to 20% of their lifetime in retirement, which was pretty good going. Now that has doubled. To expect to spend 35 to 45% of your life, with good health, living by picking the pocket of your sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, is criminal.

The generation who just retired and is in the process of retiring, will die rich, up to a point. Inflation eroded their debts and gifted them vast property wealth, without having to do a single day of labour. They will, of course, have to relinquish a small amount of that wealth when they eventually need to go into a nursing home, but because of good diet and medicine, they will enjoy the health of a 40 or 50 year old from their parents' generation... for many decades.

Meanwhile, the generation who are working now, today, will have no opportunity to retire rich, unless they are in the top 2 or 3% of earners; born into a wealthy family. For 97% of the country, nothing awaits in old age except for cold and hunger.

It is highly unusual that, despite all the furious energy expended, scurrying around busy as hell, so few people have managed to comprehend the fact that their effort is futile: they're going to die poor, and their children are already poor; their grandchildren are just utterly fucked. Take a look around: there's nothing for them... no jobs, and no comfortable retirement at the end of it. It's all fucked.

I'm afraid neither compound interest, financial planning, nor hard work is going to make the blindest bit of difference: the numbers are too stacked against you; Ponzi schemes always fail eventually.




Manic Rant

4 min read

This is a story about image...


I have completely forgotten that people perceive and judge me, often by the public persona which I present. I have completely forgotten that people read what I write, who are my friends and work colleagues. I have completely forgotten to present a mask; a fake artificial image of how I want to be perceived, through an entirely fabricated story, which never really happened.

Without alcohol as a crutch, I am almost entirely reliant on a daily dose of writing, as catharsis for the overwhelming thoughts and feelings, which have no other outlet.

I sit down in front of the blank page every day, and I write as if nobody is reading, but it's not true: there are people reading.

My brain has been impaired, more than usual, because of extremely low blood sugar. I've consumed an average of fewer than 300 calories, on average, during the past 4 days, which is a ridiculously low amount. Of course, I've successfully managed to drop a kilo of weight (2.2 pounds) in under a week, but I've put my already fragile mental health under extreme duress.

Thinking about what I've written from the perspective of a hypothetical person who I want to like and respect me, it seems as though my words have been regrettable. I've launched into various tirades against the whole of humanity. I've ripped ordinary folks to pieces, with long grandiose delusional rants, written in a state of temporary mania.

In fact, my mania is not-so-temporary. It seems as if my mania can last months, if not years. I suppose the kind of mania which more traditionally manifests itself - spending money, taking risks, being sexually promiscuous, gambling, drinking, taking drugs, having grandiose delusions - is pretty clearly not present, but I know that I'm quite cunning at hiding my 'true' mood. Of course, there's no hiding how I really feel, because it's all documented here, but that's by design. On average, most of my work colleagues won't be reading this, so on average, most of my work colleagues won't know how utterly insane I am; how mentally ill I am.

I've thrown caution to the wind, somewhat, and started writing whatever the hell I want, without thinking about the consequences, insofar as my professional image and reputation. I don't think it's deliberately self-sabotaging behaviour, but I certainly don't feel like I'm desperately clinging to my source of income, terrified of getting booted out of my client's organisation because of my madness... which is a big change from the preceding couple of years.

Of course, I've not yet earned enough money to retire, so any loss of income would be pretty catastrophic. There's no good reason for me to burn and bridges, and in fact there are many good reasons to preserve whatever reputation I have painstakingly built. However, I'm also really tired and in desperate need of a holiday.

I've lost all control over what comes out of my mouth, and what gets written down on this page, at least in terms of a well thought-through plan, or in terms of some in-depth thought into the possible consequences. My mouth has already run at a million miles an hour, and whatever stupid stuff I was thinking has already been heard or read, long before I've had a chance to consider the implications and regret it.

I would quite like to repair my image, and to even possibly enter a new era, where I'm perceived positively; where people once again think of me as a reliable, dependable, likeable, useful sort of person, instead of a maniac who has to be tolerated, begrudgingly, until the earliest opportunity to boot me out.

It doesn't feel, day to day, as if I'm skating on such thin ice, versus the conflict I was going through before, and the regrettable way that I was acting, but my perceptions are exceedingly wonky: I am no doubt spewing a near-continuous stream of reputation-damaging, insulting, aggravating and otherwise regrettable things, which are rapidly destroying any goodwill which I had accidentally accumulated.

There are so few working days now, for me to limp through, before I take a long-overdue holiday, but that's no reason to think that I can't totally screw everything up.




Winter is a Nightmare

4 min read

This is a story about the worst of all worlds...


I was already depressed and anxious before the winter started, but now I'm really depressed. I get seasonal depression very badly every winter, but this winter seems worse than ever.

The most dreadful combination of factors, includes the exacerbated isolation of not having any local friends or family, magnified by the pandemic lockdowns, being single, not drinking, unmedicated, on a diet, tired, hungry and generally pretty pissed off with life, having worked 16 months back-to-back without a holiday; only a single day off, except for the very occasional bank holiday and a period where I was hospitalised with multiple organ failure, which doesn't really count.

Poor me. Poor me etc etc.

Yep, this is self-pitying stuff, but I don't care: I'm miserable and this is the only coping mechanism I've got.

In an attempt to count my blessings, I guess I've only gotta work for three more weeks before attempting to take a long-overdue holiday. My finances are heading in the right direction. My weight is headed in the right direction. My fitness is headed in the right direction. The project, which has been my all-consuming passion for the best part of a couple of years, is at least not in terrible shape, which is something of a minor miracle. I don't have to waste my life commuting, which is good. I don't dread my alarm clock going off or struggle to get up in the morning, which is definitely a miracle.

My mental health is definitely in tatters, as I swing from suicidal depression to manic ranting, but the rigid structure and routine I've installed in my life, is holding me steady. It beggars belief that I have managed to save as much money as I have, work as much as I have, and produce as much as I have, while undergoing a near-continuous mental health crisis, which very nearly killed me less than a year ago... even getting hospitalised with multiple organ failure didn't much disrupt my stride.

I know that winter is a dangerous time - a threat to my life - and I had successfully employed some great techniques to cope: namely, getting the hell out of this miserable country and going somewhere hot, as much as possible during the winter. Of course, as soon as I found myself trapped here last winter, it was curtains. We will see what happens this year, but there's a glimmer of home that I might escape both the terrible winter weather, and the threat to my life which implicitly comes with being in the UK during the winter.

The period when I had the most face-to-face contact with other humans, was during the height of the pandemic, when we stood on our doorstep and clapped for the NHS. I was getting a daily dose of talking to other humans, in-person. Now, I spend the long winter evenings and the miserable weekends totally alone.

Of course, almost everything which I hate about my life, appears to be a choice: I'm choosing to not drink any alcohol, I'm choosing to diet, I'm choosing to be single, I'm choosing to be unmedicated. All of these choices are good for me though, so it's not really a choice, but a necessity. I know that in the long run I will have substantially improved my bank balance, flattened my tummy, and maintained my sanity, none of which would be possible without short-term sacrifice.

I'm sitting here with my stomach gurgling angrily. I over-indulged with food at the weekend, although I was still well below my calorie requirements and as such, still dieting. However, my weight loss is not progressing as quickly as I want it to, so I'm fasting for 40+ consecutive hours. The hunger is made all the worse, by all the other things I've got going on.

Still, just three weeks to go, I tell myself. Just three weeks before I attempt to take a long-overdue holiday.




Dreading the Weekend

4 min read

This is a story about time as an enemy...


I suppose almost all of us live for the weekend, or the equivalent: the working week can't pass quick enough, and our precious leisure time doesn't last long enough. "Is it Monday morning already?" we ask ourselves rhetorically, with disappointment in our voices.

Not me.

Although Friday does hold a special significance for me, it is only that I have successfully completed another billable week, earning myself a chunk of cash, which takes me a step closer to financial security. Given the choice, I would work 7 days a week, in order to achieve financial security 40% quicker. I do not look forward to the weekend, at all.

Of course, it doesn't help that my social isolation has increased, from one extreme to another: I never see another soul, at evenings and at weekends. The only people I see are strangers at the supermarket. The only words I exchange - in person - are with the cashier at the checkout. Given that I shop for food roughly every three weeks, that's an existence which is more extreme than almost anybody on the planet. A goddam Tuareg in the Sahara sees more people than me; has more social contact. A goddam monk who's sworn an oath of silence has vastly more social contact than me.

could theoretically do something about it. For sure, I could join a book club; I could become a train spotter; I could develop an interest in ornithology; I could dress up as a superhero and go to comic conventions: the world is my oyster, but - so it would seem - I'm not seizing any of the infinite opportunities open to me, to build a real-world social network.

Why not?

Why am I not out there in the big wide world, making friends and meeting people?

I have, for example, deliberately decided to be single for a while. All of the COVID-19 stuff seemed to be making dating very complicated, what with various lockdowns and restrictions on the lives of single people, and besides, I wanted to lose some weight: restaurant meals and alcohol were never going to allow me to lose weight. Also, there's nothing quite as crazy-making as people. Recently, I was the victim of a tirade of abuse, for example, which was completely unprovoked; unjustified. I haven't got the time or the energy to be abused by nasty crazies. I really don't need my inbox brimming with hateful abuse, which bears no relation to anything I've ever said or done in my life. I'm quite glad to be able to ignore that kind of unjustified abuse, because I'm not looking for a girlfriend, or indeed trying to make any kind of connection with anybody: I'm just trying to survive the winter.

The hours pass painfully slowly. It would seem like any sensible person would do something, if they were suffering as badly as I claim to be, but it's not true: in my circumstances, you'd do the same thing... eyes on the prize. You too, would suffer in the short-term, even if it seemed unbearable, because you would also know that there's only one route ahead; only once choice, although it appears to completely ignorant idiots as if there are more choices. There are not. There are no other choices.

I look around at the options, and all I see is futility. I don't want to pretend that I believe in a sky monster. I don't want to pretend that I like Salsa dancing. I don't want to pretend that I'm interested in trains. I don't want to pretend that I'm interested in birds. I don't even want to pretend that I'm interesting in boring and unintelligent, unambitious provincial hicks, who've never travelled and experienced other cultures, with no aptitude for free thought and certainly no capacity to entertain the notion that life should be lived in a way which is dissimilar to that of slugs, wasps and other simple beasts, like the pram-faced breeders spewing out an endless stream of pink screaming flesh into a life of misery and disappointment.

Eyes on the prize: I'll never have enough money to live out my natural life at an acceptable standard of living, but mercifully I can choose the precise day of my death, to co-incide with both what is bearable, and what is affordable.