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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


Blogger's Digest - Day Seven of #NaNoWriMo2019

10 min read

Blogger's Digest: a Novel


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...



6 min read

This is a story about my big mouth...

So many screens

I have had a pretty simple game plan for my re-entry into civilised society: keep my damn mouth shut. Every time I think I've got something interesting to add or that I'd like to join in a conversation, either because I'm bored or maybe just because I'm feeling left out, instead of doing that I say to myself "that's a bad idea" and I attempt to busy myself with my work.

I'm trying to keep my head down.

I'm trying not to be noticed.

I don't do a very good job of keeping my big mouth shut sometimes. When I'm tired, sick and otherwise destabilised, I over-compensate for my insecurities by talking loudly and confidently about things I know almost nothing about. So far I've been patiently tolerated, and managed to luckily say things which have not been altogether wrong, useless, offensive or otherwise completely revealing the true extent of my imposter syndrome.

Sometimes I'm very good at quietly getting on with a difficult piece of work. Sometimes I'm able to do exactly what I need to do, which is to concentrate on producing a lot of high quality work, and staying out of trouble.

I'm highly opinionated and I've got a lot to say. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas. The office is not the place to explore those ideas. The best colleagues in a large organisation are the ones who don't rock the boat. If you get too many people in an organisation who think they're hot shit, the whole place becomes hell on earth very rapidly. It only takes a few arrogant assholes like me to ruin a lot of people's day. The best possible thing I can do in the office is to rein in my motormouth.

Writing without a filter every day has gotten me into the habit of engaging my mouth before my brain. When I write, I do so without considering whether I'm making myself look like a dickhead, whether I'm upsetting anybody or generally thinking about the consequences of what I write. I generally assume that what I write is harmless.

At work, the tiniest slip of the tongue could be disastrous. There are things which are simply unspeakable at work, and it's best if you don't even hint that you might have an opinion. Gender, politics, religion and other emotive topics are best avoided in their entirety. To express liberal-minded sympathies with the wrong thing could cause your colleagues to assume that you're in favour of legalising murder, rape, pedophilia, bestiality, terrorism and the distribution of syringes filled with heroin to newborn babies.

It's best to say nothing.

Although it's very difficult to do, I avoid looking at any websites which are not work-related. I don't want to take the chance that somebody might even glance over my shoulder and assume from the title of the Wikipedia article that I'm reading, something about who I am.

Obviously, it's a patently absurd situation, where I spend a very great deal of time writing and publishing a public document which explicitly declares every single weird thing which goes on inside my head, as well as my unflattering mistakes of the past. How can I go to so much effort at work to present a bland beige nondescript and mostly absent personality, entirely designed to obfuscate any identifying features, and yet at the same time put so much time and effort into making every minute detail of my entire life publicly accessible?

I suppose if I didn't write like this, I would struggle a lot more to keep myself contained at work. My inner turmoil would express itself in unhelpful and unprofessional ways in the office, through the way I speak, write and interact with my colleagues. I often have the impulse to sneak a little bit of my real personality into the dry technical work that I do, but I'm able to resist that urge, because I have a creative outlet.

Today was not a good day.

I've been tired and unwell, which compromises my ability to think before I speak. I've been procrastinating, because I've got a difficult piece of work to do and my brain hasn't been fully functioning. I have some interesting and eccentric colleagues, who are truly delightful to spend my working week with, but I've been unable to resist the temptation to keep myself to myself and stay out of trouble. In short: I've been far too outspoken and unguarded.

I'm not such an idiot that I haven't carefully considered most of what I've said. I've managed to deliberately stay out of conversations which almost definitely should never be held within the four walls of a respectable organisation. I've managed to remind myself to be evasive and vague most of the time but when I left the office this evening, I was suddenly filled with regret that I was not more secretive and opaque.

It's hard to resist the temptation to have an unguarded social interaction with somebody, when they genuinely seem interested in who you are and what makes you tick. When colleagues are showing a genuine interest in my life outside work, beyond simple nosiness, it's flattering and makes me feel wanted. I have such a desperate need to belong and to be accepted, that it's hard for me to maintain my defences and keep my mask in place.

I fear there may be unexpected negative consequences. I'm paranoid that I'm damaging my reputation and weakening my position. I'm more worried than ever that my spotless image is being tarnished, by my own words.

I live constantly in the exposed and vulnerable position of having more than a million unflattering words easily accessible to anybody with an internet connection and the ability to use Google, but it's the comparatively few words I've uttered in the office which trouble me the most.

Perhaps I should feel heartened that my colleagues want to know who I am but I'd almost prefer it if they read my blog, rather than got to know me through my thoughtfully considered and highly sanitised words, designed to be safe for office consumption.

I feel like I'm repeating the mistake I made in 2014 and 2015, where I was so confident in my technical abilities, the quality of my work and the value of my contribution, that I relaxed too much. Being myself in the office was not a good career move.

It's hard work, putting on a corporate mask, but it's financially rewarding. I really don't want to be the architect of my own destruction.




My Misogyny

8 min read

This is a story about the battle of the sexes...


"Secretly, you'd love to know what it's like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl" is a quote from Ian McEwan's 1978 book The Cement Garden which was released as a film in 1993, then sampled in a Madonna song released in 2001.


"You think that being a girl is degrading" is another quote from the same work of fiction.


Half right. Half wrong.

Why should we ever expect to be more than 50% correct on a binary matter?

I'll never know what it's like to carry a baby for 9 months and eject it from my body, but I do know what it feels like to be penetrated with a penis and have somebody ejaculate inside me. I'll never experience what it's like to live with the heavy burden of knowing that I carry the reproductive capability of bringing new life into this world - post-fertilisation - from the tiniest quantity of love snot squirted into a bodily orifice, to several pounds of blood and mucous covered incontinent midget incapable of supporting the weight of its freakishly large head, tearing its way out of the same hole the love snot went into. If you're a girl, you'll never know what it's like to be a member of the expendable sex, who account for 99% of all combat deaths, 97% of all workplace deaths and who die four whole years earlier just because of the dangly bits in-between our legs.

"It's a hard life being a beautiful girl and having horny men throwing themselves at you" I hear you say. "Passively fending off all these explicit offers from people who want to sexually satisfy me - to give me pleasure - is a real chore" you churlishly complain.

Of course, because I'm cursed with the so-called gift of empathy, I can see that shaving legs and armpits, putting on make-up, wearing high heels and a bra and other expectations of societal conformity are quite demanding on wimmin. Furthermore, I can see that while both sexes are expected to make themselves look as artificially young as possible, such as men removing their facial hair, wimmin definitely get a rough deal during the period when no amount of make-up can plaster over the obvious effects of ageing. I'm privileged to be able to wear my greying hair and slight beer-gut as a badge of honour, conveying my status as a cash machine. I'm honoured to be able to provide the cold hard capital to support a lifestyle that a woman has become accustomed to.

"I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings" goes a Destiny's Child song. Yes. Very good. Slow sarcastic clap. I refer you to earlier stats about 99% combat deaths and 97% workplace deaths. Call me when you dig your own ditches too.

Why are we at war like this?

In the past year fully 50% of the female computer programmers I've worked with have been transexual.

I can see the appeal.

50% of the female computer programmers I've worked with have received indisputably preferential treatment.

I'd quite like to play dressing-up games every day and have horny potential mates fawning all over me, while I passively decide who gets to pleasure me and who doesn't. That sounds like quite a nice life, doesn't it?

Would I have my testicles and Adam's apple surgically removed, my vocal chords adjusted, my breasts augmented, my hormones meddled with, and still suffer the taunts and jeers of insecure man-children, threatened by the fact that they'd really like to put their penis inside me, but they're too afraid of what other people would think? I'd fucking love it.

I've been comfortable enough with my sexuality and identity to experiment with homosexuality - or bisexuality to be more accurate - and I found many parts of the experience to be liberating and a boon for my self-confidence. I can see that the accumulated unwanted advances of horny men could become bothersome over a lifetime, but isn't that rather taking your good fortune for granted? While the so-called patriarchy is accused of not being aware of its own privilege, the same accusation could easily be levelled at wimmin.

I appreciate that the specialisation of the sexes each bring their own unique challenges. I'm well aware that the hashtag MeToo movement has hit upon a raw nerve of the unpleasant consequences of a system of mate selection which simultaneously demands men to be bold, confident, forthright, daring and to make the first moves, while also expecting telepathic mind-reading abilities in order to preserve a woman's birthright to unlimited offers of sex without ever having to make her own wants explicitly and overtly known.

Thus we arrive at the InCels' anger over Chads and Staceys.

I'm not an InCel.

I can have sex whenever I want.

I have literally hundreds of millions of wimmin who will have sex with me.

For money.

Oh yes, there's that rather unspeakable truth, isn't there? There are fucking loads of prostitutes, escorts, sugar babies and other wimmin out there who will have sex for material gains. Female chimpanzees will trade sex for tokens which can be spent on desirable products.

When we talk disparagingly about the patriarchy what I think we're really talking about is paternalism. We all hate to be patronised, but anybody can be patronising... not just men. In fact, men hate to be patronised so much that 79% of suicides are men, who often feel like they've failed and cannot face the indignity of being down on their luck. That's right - more than 3 times as many men kill themselves than wimmin.

You still wanna be a man?

You can be.

On the internet, nobody knows that you're a dog.

Computer says no.

I live in a binary world.

Computer programming is an almost almost exclusively male profession. Investment banking is an almost exclusively male profession. For most of my career I've been a computer programmer for investment banks.

Do you think we sit around plotting ways to thwart wimmin? Do you think I'm part of some big conspiracy to stop wimmin getting the super highly paid investment bank programmer jobs?

I married an investment banking computer programmer. I know they're a rare commodity.

They know they're a rare commodity.

Can't we all just admit that we're getting some kind of kicks out of our own special place in the universe?

I've spent more than 21 years in a full-time career which has essentially been spent wrangling with a cold unthinking and unwaveringly rational calculating machine, which doesn't give a fuck about your emotions. If your work is bad and wrong, it's fucking dog shit and the machine is not going to be nice about it to save your feelings.

Computer says no.

It doesn't matter how much you bat your eyelids and do a pouty Instagram sex duck-lip face at the computer, it's not going to roll over and let you get away with jack shit. There's no twisting an emotionless calculating machine around your little finger. If your work is wrong it's wrong and that's tough shit. Fix it.

This is my worldview and it's uncertainly corrupted by wealth and privilege, but I've also had the benefit of spending more than two whole decades working full-time for a boss who nobody could ever in their right mind accuse of having a gender bias. My computer quite literally does not know whether a girl or a boy wrote the code it's running, so fuck you.

If you want to hide within the shades of grey and obfuscate your obvious incompetence with your emotional intelligence, gained through your genetic predisposition towards maturing earlier than your brothers, so they didn't try to fuck you, while meanwhile twisting your daddy round your little finger because you were the apple of his eye and a spitting image of the woman he spurted his love snot into, perpetuating the whole miserable cycle of life, then be my guest. I'm afraid to say that it is you who is upholding the status quo, not the conspiracy of the so-called patriarchy. I'm sorry to say that there's a price to be paid for the considerable benefits which you enjoy, wimmin.

Am I a rape apologist? Do I condone overt sexism and sexual discrimination, where it obviously exists.






9 min read

This is a story about individualism...


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

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

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

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

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

I wish I was gay.

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

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

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

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

All these things are unspeakable.

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

I'm on extremely dodgy ground.

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

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

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

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

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




Airbrushing History

5 min read

This is a story about the right to be forgotten...

Twitter 404

If you're transgender, you might want all records expunged which could link you to the gender you had previously identified as. Similarly, if you're recovering from an illness or being otherwise rehabilitated, you don't really want the whole world to know you were sick. We have specific laws which stop people from revealing a person's old name or other identity details, after they have changed gender. We have specific laws which allow criminals to be fully rehabilitated after their convictions are 'spent' - nobody is allowed to know that they were in prison after a certain number of years have elapsed since they "served their time". Our medical histories are private and confidential, and to reveal details of somebody's medical records would be a criminal act.

We work very hard to ensure that people's entire future isn't jeopardised and prejudiced by things that happened in the past. We have laws that specifically forbid discrimination and other laws which prevent questions being asked; e.g. requests for information which would be an invasion of privacy and would likely be used against a person in a discriminatory manner.

Things get a bit harder when we start to talk about things that we ourselves have somehow made public. If you decided to put your full name, date of birth, place of birth, where you work and what you ate for breakfast onto Facebook or Twitter, should you suffer the consequences for your naïvety when sharing such things on the internet?

Sometimes the internet doesn't forget.

Google has quietly dropped access to its caches - you used to be able to see copies of a webpage that Google had stored, so you could see things that had been deleted or changed - you can't do that anymore.

In theory, if you put something up on the internet which you later regretted, removing it should eventually mean that it's digitally deleted and therefore it's as if it never existed - it's not like a newspaper or a book, where ink and paper were combined to create a permanent physical record. If some of the 1s and 0s of binary data get changed on the internet, it's virtually impossible to prove that any data has been deleted or amended at all. I could forge a copy of any webpage I wanted, saying whatever I wanted it to say - how is it possible to prove that a copy of a webpage is a bona fide snapshot of what it looked like at a certain point in time? It's impossible.

There are parts of the internet that have been copied so many times onto so many different computers that the archives will probably never be lost. "Blockchain" is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot at the moment, which is just another word for a load of data which is held on loads of computers, all connected together on the internet. This is what we understand to be an "immutable" record of how a piece of data looked at a certain point in time, because there's consensus amongst multiple sources, such that it's highly likely that a person did write something on a certain date, back in the early days of the internet, preserved in the archives... or that a certain transaction took place, preserved in the blockchain. However, the internet is now far too large for there to be any kind of archive of everything, let alone multiple copies which could prove conclusively what a webpage looked like on a certain date.

Thus it's almost but not quite possible to airbrush history on the internet. The internet is somewhat amnesic.

I've tried to avoid deleting anything from my website or editing stuff that I've published, but occasionally I think that discretion is the better part of valour, and I modify or delete things. Often times I regret deleting and modifying things... there always seems to be a consequence for removing information which could hold people accountable... better to hold your ground and simply take a position of truth and honesty, I think.

We have laws which protect people who are honest and truthful. Journalism would not be able to survive the libel lawsuits if we didn't enshrine the right to speak truthfully into law. In the UK we don't have absolute freedom of speech like in the United States, but we do have the right to speak and write provided we speak truthfully and our opinions are the fair and reasonable ones that any person would be likely to share, given the same set of facts.

My strange crusade of the past few years has been to write with candid unflinching honesty, everything about myself, both good and bad. Sometimes however, I've had to write about things that are upsetting me, which has involved writing about other people and sometimes about organisations. It's difficult to know where to draw a line. If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that 99% of people have completely different feelings about risk and privacy from me. I'm sacrificing my privacy and taking a huge risk, which most people don't want to do, so I need to be careful I don't accidentally co-opt anybody into my personal crusade. It should be noted that I take extreme care not to identify anybody or share anything private which could be linked to any individual.

Thankfully, most people don't give a shit about anybody other than themselves, so I've been able to write pretty much whatever the hell I want and nobody gives a damn.




Lone Wolf

4 min read

This is a story about desperate men...


If you ever wondered about the origins of extremism, you probably think it has something to do with religious fanaticism, indoctrination or some underlying hatred of a certain race, gender or other form of identity. You'd be wrong.

People strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up because they're marginalised and they feel like they've exhausted all other avenues; their voices are silenced; they're oppressed.

Think about the "lone" part of "lone wolf" and you can see that at the very core of disturbing behaviour is loneliness, isolation... and in a lot of cases discrimination, stigmatisation. Lone wolves are pariahs. They are so often described as "loners" but do you think that loneliness was their choice?

The more we demonise and profile certain groups, lumping them together as probable perpetrators of atrocities, the more we isolate and marginalise them.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You think you can bully and abuse somebody until they do what you want? You think that the solution to the so-called bad eggs in society is to filter them, block them, ignore them, threaten them and marginalise them? You think that through fear and intimidation you'll achieve anything? You think that by excluding people from the conversation - denying them a platform - you're making the world a better, safer place?

You think you can put locks on your doors and hire muscly men with pointy sticks to keep you safe? You think you can build a wall? You think you can create an impregnable fortress, where you're safe from the dangerous fanatics; the lunatics?

I think it has the opposite effect. The more Islamophobic we get, the more at risk of terrorism we are. The more we perpetuate the lie that all men are violent murdering rapists, the more at risk of incel extremism we are. The more walls and barriers and so-called 'security' and 'defence' that we surround ourselves with - marginalising and excluding members of society - the more lone wolves we create.

If this sounds threatening, I don't mean it to. I'm sad. I'm sad that we have a society that grows more and more fearful, and more and more mistrustful. I'm sad that the net result is this unpredictable, unstable, dangerous world that we live in. I'm sad about it.

If you want to defuse and de-escalate a situation, don't bully and intimidate. Apologise first, ask questions later. Communicate. Lower the defences. Lower your weapons. Take down the fences; the barriers.

Think about who is strong and who is weak. Think about who has the power and the force, and who has none. Imagine the example of the Palestinian children throwing rocks at an Israeli army with tanks, guns, drones, missiles and the rest of its military might. Think about how pissed off those poor people, who are basically unarmed, are about being tyrannised by those with so much power. It's a pressure cooker; a tinderbox.

Why not offer an olive branch; make a peace offering? Why not be the bigger person and back down, even though you know you're far stronger, far mightier and you can crush your opponent in a humiliating defeat whenever you want?

The route to a safer more co-operative and more stable world is not bigger and better weapons, and more henchmen to threaten and bully, it's surely got to be communication, diplomacy and just downright being nice to each other - apologise first, ask questions later.

You might feel self-righteous in your insular bubble. You might feel like you have the moral high ground. It's dangerous territory though. So many tyrants in history thought that they were justified in their actions; their atrocities.

Friends close, enemies closer and all that, eh?




Men's Work

6 min read

This is a story about intolerable pressure...

Lipstick kiss

I have to start this piece with a lengthy preamble. To write about the difficulties faced by men in modern society could be misconstrued as sexist, chauvinistic, misogynistic and unsympathetic towards the suffering and struggles of women. To breathe a word about the struggles that men face, could be seen as a slap in the face to women who receive unequal pay, or suffer sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and far greater rates of rape, murder and assault perpetrated against them by men, than by women. In short: I am not writing in any way to perpetuate the inequality and suffering that women have to deal with every day. My piece is simply about the pressures that modern men are dealing with.

Further to my list of caveats, I write from the point of view of the experiences and knowledge I've been able to gather up to this point in my life. I accept that I will never know the agony of childbirth. I'll never know what it's like to be pregnant. I'll never know what it's like to be a woman. This isn't a piece about women. I'm not seeking to address ANY of the difficulties faced by women. I know nothing about being a woman, and I'm not going to write about it. I'm not depriving anybody - man or woman - of their opportunity to share THEIR story and have equal airtime and consideration. I'm not shouting anybody down. I'm not shutting anybody up. I'm not offering a viewpoint that says that what I think is more valid than what anybody else thinks. These are my thoughts and my thoughts alone, shaped by my experiences as a white, middle-class, hetero man, in no way intended to compete with the experiences of any non-white, poor, LGBTQ+ women, who are obviously going to have a remarkably different set of views from me.

I am sympathetic to the plight of women. I'm unlikely to be equally sympathetic, because I have an inbuilt bias towards being able to empathise with those who've had broadly similar experiences to me, because they're also white, middle-class hetero men. I don't choose to feel less gut-wrenching sympathy when I hear about - for example - unequal pay in the workplace... it's just not as emotive for me, because perhaps I haven't been affected by it. If I'm not part of the solution, I must be part of the problem, but my writing is not about how guilty I feel for the circumstances I was born into; my writing is about things I can directly relate to. I do not seek to discredit, devalue or otherwise detract from some very real issues faced by women. I mean only to comment in an area in which I feel qualified to do so.

So, 500 words of preamble. Now I can write with a little more precision on the topic that concerns me.

I decided that I wanted to write a bullet-pointed list of all the things that a guy - someone like me - faces during their life, presenting significant problems. I'm trying to add up all the little things that whirr away in a man's psyche, driving his behaviour and causing him distress. I'm just going to write these things down in the most succinct way, because I want to explore everything I can possibly think of.

Here we go:

  • "Boys don't cry" / "man up"
  • Inheriting the family name. Following in your father's footsteps
  • Mummy's boy / suffocating
  • "You're the man of the house" - expectation of maturity
  • Boys develop more slowly than girls, both physically and academically
  • Oldest & biggest boys in school year bully and physically dominate
  • Societal obsession with sports and sporting achievement
  • "Get married and start a family" is not a career choice
  • Breadwinner
  • Provide for the family
  • Protector
  • Boys can't hit girls, even in self defence / retaliation
  • Encouragement of violence - bullying, boxing, fighting, sport
  • Discouragement of sensitivity - "soft", "wimpy", "homosexual", "effeminate"
  • Hypocrisy and contradiction - violence is both heroic (e.g. war) and vilified
  • Hooligans / vandals / gangs - provide fraternity, but demonised
  • Lack of sporting ability = social exclusion
  • Interest in sport a necessity for social bonding
  • "Make the first move" - guys do the chasing - "ask her out"
  • Knock-backs / rejection / misread signals
  • Assertiveness, persistence - important to "pull" a girl
  • Sexual conquest is seen as adversarial - a game
  • Impotence concerns - "can I get hard?" / "will I stay hard?"
  • Premature ejaculation concerns - "can I last long enough?"
  • Bedroom performance concerns - "can I make her cum?"
  • "Treat 'em mean" - appearing aloof and unattainable
  • Neediness and vulnerability - insecurity and need for security
  • Peer approval - bragging and bravado
  • Status symbols - the car, the house, the job
  • Professional identity - coveted job titles, doctor/lawyer etc.
  • Fear of failure - bankruptcy, homelessness, joblessness, redundancy
  • Fear of rejection - loneliness
  • Doing stupid things to show off / impressing others
  • "All men are rapists"
  • Suspicion / trial by media / allegations
  • "Men are violent"
  • "Men are dangerous"
  • "Men are paedophiles"
  • Get rich, or die trying
  • Risk of homelessness
  • Low-priority for help - considered not vulnerable
  • Identity issues; body dysmorphia - use of steroids, huge muscles
  • Need to look masculine, avoid gender ambiguity
  • Weight of expectation. Assumption that advantages will lead to great success
  • "It's a long way down" - falling from grace; loss of status
  • Hide pain. Don't talk about problems
  • Self reliance
  • Isolation - man is an island
  • Most idolised and revered men are athletes - worship of physique
  • "Loser" - no job, no money, no career, no skills
  • Thief / junkie / criminal / bankrupt / dosser / tramp - always a man
  • "It's all your own fault" / personal responsibility; accountability
  • Passivity = homosexuality
  • House-husband = not an option
  • Succeed or kill yourself

That's all I can think of for now. The list is all over the place, but I wanted to cover as many different things as I could think of in a short space of time. To see it written down like that is somewhat alarming, because it doesn't seem to convey the struggle that I believe men face, and that causes so many men to end their own lives. It's strange that I can write a single word like "provider" and that succinctly sums up a whole heap of pressures and responsibilities that a man shoulders, but it's just one word.

So, I'm going to leave it there. Half words of caveat and half words that are powerfully charged for me, as a man. I leave it to you, dear reader, to expand each bullet point and decide whether it's all a lot of fuss about nothing. I had to write this today, because of an event today that I can't write about. It's complicated.




Body Parts

6 min read

This is a story about unsolicited pics...


I'm kind of an asexual being, which is unusual for somebody with bipolar disorder. Of course, I have my moments of madness, where I'm convinced that I'm irresistible to the opposite sex, but it's life experiences that have inflated my ego. With a seemingly unending stream of positive examples that I can draw upon, there is no pin to prick my ballooning self-confidence and self-assured manner. Similar to irritating arrogant idiotic cocaine-snorting men - puffed up with grandiose notions of my own importance - I exude something that draws susceptible creatures in, like attracting moths to a flame.

It is with some guilt and worry that I search my conscience to see if I have become a sociopathic narcissistic conman, out to take advantage of anybody who's ensnared in a web of self-delusion that I have not acknowledged until now. Perhaps, I have lied to myself so successfully, that I believe my own bullshit. I've adopted a strategy of unrelenting introspection and examination of the morality of my behaviour, accompanied by complete heart-on-sleeve emotional openness and vulnerability. However, I must admit that making myself vulnerable appears to have the opposite effect to that which the most masculine of men would imagine - that of bringing out protective instincts and something feminine in women who no longer need protecting from wolves and sabre-tooth tigers... not that I ever believed in such patriarchal fables anyway.

Am I a feminist? Absolutely no way. I prefer boobs that have spent their life supported by a brasier, so that their youthful protestations against the force of gravity have been assisted. I like long hair, not short; I like skirts, not trousers & dungarees; I like giggles & heart-melting eyelash batting, not being told I'm guilty for all the sins of those who share a Y chromosome.

Every female friend of mine reports the phenomenon of receiving - via the medium of electronic communication channels - pictures of the erect male member from somebody with whom they have engaged in the preliminary stages of the courtship ritual. Not a single woman I can name has found this either desirable or sexually arousing, but yet the practice seems to continue unabated. Perhaps these men would have better luck on Grindr, with those of their own gender.

I'm a passive observer. It's as if by having my sexuality neutered by stress and chemicals, I'm able to see the bizarre nature of human behaviour in the same way that you would impassively and objectively view a BBC television documentary about the mating of birds or bees.

When I was younger, I couldn't imagine being in the navy or on some kind of seagoing vessel, oil rig or working another kind of job where I would be away from the steady supply of sex, on demand. It was unthinkable to me that hundreds of men might be confined inside a metal hull, surrounded by seawater and lashed by the waves - for weeks or even months at a time - without the comfort of kissing, spooning and the joy of pure unadulterated fucking.

Even today, as my virility declines, I am still insistent on proximate co-location with any prospective sweetheart, despite the fact I'm lonely and single.

It's probably true that free high-quality pornography, streamed over the Internet for instant gratification of any sexual peccadillo that takes one's fancy, has contributed to a world where every male fantasy is fulfilled - rule 34, which states that porn exists for everything you could possibly imagine, and more that you can never un-see.

What a world we currently live in, where sex tourism is openly discussed without shame, despite it being a form of slavery. Craigslist advertises rooms that are available to young women 'rent free' - the payment being made in kind, not in cash. Webcams and stripping become irresistibly attractive income sources for female students looking to fund their education.

We have become culturally indoctrinated by a myopic and ill-educated worship of money - fiat currency - where we obsess over salaries, bank balances, the cash in our pockets and the value of our homes and other assets. We worry about pension funds and funding our kids through college/university. Yet, we are not smart enough to perceive our own obsession over the ridiculously abstract concept as exchanging pieces of paper with numbers written on them, all day long. The entire globe has been perverted by 'wealth' into a place where girls and women are preyed upon by lecherous disgusting old men. I hope you're happy, with the 'value' of your stock portfolio, while your daughter parades herself in front of an unthinkable number of horny tossers, masturbating furiously... your obsession with 'money' made this happen.

Who am I to talk about such things, when I've been so close to ground zero? There's an easy answer to that - I'm the guy who's well read in economics as well as having first-hand experience of every aspect of banking... I know what money actually is. There really is a magic money tree - the stuff just gets invented out of nothingness.

I have no right to talk about moral bankruptcy when I'm a white male, living in the developed world and after enjoying a life that so many people dream of having - it's a terrible hypocrisy. I glamourise and glorify things that are truly atrocious, don't I?

Perhaps I will be vilified after my death, like those who profited from the more conspicuous forms of slavery and human trafficking of the past. My only defence is that I did not choose the time or place of my birth, nor my parents or my gender - this defence is fairly watertight until when, exactly? At what point do we become culpable for our part in some global conspiracy to enslave the vast majority of humanity? At what stage in life do we accept responsibility for our conscience, our decisions and our moral compass?

This is why I write: when I am dead you will have a corpse, but you will not have the contents of my mind. I'm uploading myself into the cloud, so that you may judge both my inner and my outer self.

You could be the world's expert on human anatomy, but the fatty tissues of my brain would be virtually indistinguishable between my cadaver and any other.

These corporeal vessels which we temporarily inhabit tell us nothing about our minds and our personalities, although I cannot deny that I sometimes receive a sexual thrill when I see a woman's nipple.

"Send nudes" is the precursor to 'Netflix and chill', so I'm told.




Brave or Stupid?

10 min read

This is a story about hypocrisy...

Lovely legs

I wasn't born into a wealthy family. I don't have trust fund income. I'm practically disinherited. My relationship with my parents was causing me far more harm than good. I don't have lottery winnings, bonds, gilts, shares, Swiss bank accounts, briefcases full of banknotes or any other assets; securities; cash; collateral. I don't even have youth and toned physique on my side any more, so men aren't going to pay for the pleasure of my company, which was always plan "Z" in the event that plans "A" through to "Y" had failed.

I've got 61% of my kidney function left, I can't feel my left foot, although - irritatingly - I do feel pain if I stand on something. I also get something akin to phantom limb pain. As far as my brain is concerned, most of the time my foot doesn't seem to exist anymore, but at night it aches all over parts of my foot, ankle and calf. It aches so much I can't sleep without pain relief and/or sleeping tablets. I drink too much. I put all the weight I lost back on. To top it all off, I'm going to be closer to 40 than 35 soon.

I'm in a precarious position.

I couldn't work doing a job that required me to stand for any length of time. I couldn't work a job that required me to do much walking at all. That rules out McDonalds, stacking shelves and being a security guard. Even the homeless people who sell The Big Issue do so standing up.

So, why would I risk my professional reputation by blogging and tweeting so candidly about every innermost thought and private detail of my life? Don't I care about my job? Being able to find gainful employment is pretty important for me, as I don't own a home and I don't have the fallback option of living with any family member. Loss of income means I can't pay rent or even afford a hostel bed. Putting my private life out into the public sphere looks like I'm jeopardising my career - my reputation - and therefore my job - my income - and my housing. Doesn't it seem like I brought my recent crisis, where I was almost homeless, on myself?

What does homeless even mean, anyway? Well, if you're not receiving social security benefits - job seekers' allowance (JSA) or employment support allowance (ESA) - then you don't get any other benefits either, which includes housing benefits. If I go to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets council offices and find their housing department, and tell them that I have been paying over £2,000 a year in council tax, but I've become homeless, they will just tell me to f**k off, in no uncertain terms.

That's what homeless means: it means that every single safety net has failed you, and you will be sleeping on the streets. It's happened to me. I've been homeless.

You would think that this would make me dash to the Job Centre to sign on for JSA as soon as I lost a job, or phone the government telephone line to apply for ESA as soon as I got sick, but there are rules. Strictly speaking, I've got a job - I'm a company director - and strictly speaking I've already got a salary... it's just that my company hasn't been able to afford to pay me for several months. My company only sells one thing: me. If I'm broken, my company doesn't have anything to sell, so it doesn't make any money.

Here's how the government process goes:

Q. Have you lost your job?

A. No, I have a job

--- I'm not eligible for JSA --

Q. Are you able to work?

A. Yes, I do unpaid work every day, without too many problems

--- I'm not eligible for ESA ---

Q. Are you receiving JSA or ESA?

A. No. I'm not eligible for either

--- I'm not eligible for housing benefit ---

So, I get shunted out of the welfare benefits system and into the hands of the NHS, who view me as a vulnerable person in crisis. Therefore I could be hospitalised for 24 hours, 28 days or 6 months, purely because otherwise it's pretty clear that I'd be fucked. I could be housed in a crisis house for a couple of weeks. However, until I tell the government a white lie - that I'm so disabled by mental illness that I can't work - then none of that income tax, national insurance and council tax that I paid over the years, is going to be used to give me some assistance with housing and income, until I'm recovered enough to go back to working full-time. Equally, I'm not going to get any paid employment until I omit to tell a prospective employer that I have had some health issues and need to work part-time, until I'm well enough to work full-time.

Do I kowtow to the government for less than £100 a week of ESA money? When you lose your ESA, you lose your housing benefit too. Where's that going to get me? Back to square one.

Do I start a full-time job earlier than I'd like to? I pretty much have to. I don't have any other options, given that the other options lead back to the same place: homelessness.

There are a lot of things that make my situation very unique and hard for the 'one-size fits all' government systems to cope with. Nothing is left to the discretion of the people who have to deal with the unemployed, the sick and the homeless.

As Joseph Heller described wonderfully in Catch 22, there are situations where to act rationally leads to the least desirable outcome. Most men don't want to fight in wars, because they'll probably be killed. Therefore if you're driven insane, that's actually the most sane response - through your madness, you also proved your sanity, ergo, you're fit for battle. Quod erat demonstrandum.

I've made my choice to use my professional reputation to get work, but I also have every detail of my private life and my psyche fully on display in the public sphere. I have no security. I have no job. I'm soon to have no home.

I would be a hypocrite to take down this blog and delete my Twitter account, because I've lived for 2 years in the public sphere, documenting very private and personal matters, which might seem to contradict my professional reputation that a person may glean from my CV, LinkedIn, meeting me, talking to me and talking to the people I've worked for and otherwise know me in a professional capacity.

It seems cowardly, having taken the brave step of being honest with 7,000+ Twitter followers, that I would hide these 750,000 words from a handful of people, because I'm afraid of damaging my professional reputation and career. We're all human and we're all fallible. To err is human. However, to document one's own mistakes and shortcomings is not at all common. To put more of yourself into the public sphere than is hidden away in any other dark recess of the world, including your own brain, is exceptional. I read things I've written less than a year ago, and I don't remember writing them, but I did. I wrote it all; every word.

It seems stupid, having an excellent professional reputation and a successful career spanning 20 years, and having made a great deal of effort to secure vital income and housing, to risk losing it by having my private life and confidential matters, publicly available. My job security depends on my employer's confidence in me to do the work that I'm highly qualified and experienced to do. Most people hide their weaknesses and their struggles. To project a false image - to be vain - to protect your ego and appear impressively faultless, is the normal thing to do.

Do I stand by my labour of love, and defend it, despite the vulnerable position it puts me in? Do I capitulate under the pressure to conform to social norms, and hide this other part of myself away in some private recess?

What's going to happen? Is it true that putting unflattering things into the public sphere is automatically damaging to your professional reputation? Who's been brave or stupid enough to try the irrational and risky thing that I've done? Who would be brave or stupid enough not to pull the plug, to de-risk the situation and limit any damage that might be done?

I can't pull the plug. I need this blog. I need this identity. I need to be brave, even if it feels stupid, because otherwise I'm a hypocrite.

In the world I want to build, we don't need alter-egos; we don't have a professional persona; we don't maintain flawless CVs with no gaps between employers; we don't make a distinction between who we are privately and who we are publicly: we are just ourselves, all the time; warts and all.

I am guilty of imagining utopian ideals, but this is different. The lines between work & home life; public & private life; speakable & unspeakable; stigmatised & unstigmatised... those lines are being blurred and people are becoming proud of identities that 50 years ago were literally illegal under UK law.

We have laws that prevent discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, religion and a host of other things, but a woman may still choose to publish a book under a male pseudonym, when gender bias shows that she will sell more books if she does so.

I would be vain and egotistical if I painted myself as some brave campaigner for ending the tyranny that a 'career' and the painstaking care we take over our professional reputation, wreaks on our lives. However, this blog has helped me to overcome career-ending obstacles. What can you say your spotless CV brought you, when you eventually crumbled under the pressure to maintain an unsustainably perfect façade?

I recently said "vanity and ego: I hope they keep you warm at night". I said it slightly maliciously, with my words dripping with sarcasm. I felt regretful for saying that to somebody.

Perhaps therein lies the truth of it all: is this a vanity project, or is it the very definition of a deflated ego to publicly display the side of your character that you always kept hidden?

I'm going to decide, because I assume nobody is going to read this. To assume I have interested readers would be vain.

It feels like a pretty brave thing for a stupid person to do.




I'm Her Bit of Rough

5 min read

This is a story about fragile male egos...


Insecurity. Wrenching away my self-confidence, my self-esteem, my sense of value. Insecurity is degrading and causes me to say things through fear and pain, further undermining my decaying self respect. Those sensitive subjects; the nerves; the over-reaction. What am I even arguing about? I can't admit it, because it's too shameful and it leaves me even more exposed. I feel so vulnerable. I can't tell anybody what my weaknesses are.


She never said it, but she could. It's not normal to like sex. I'm a freak; a weirdo. I'm a dirty old man for wanting sex. I'm too much of an easy target. It's too much fun, to knock somebody back when they're vulnerable. What power! What fun!

I haven't worked since September and I'm rapidly running out of runway. I feel pretty useless. I can't risk spending money on holidays and eating out. I don't feel like a provider. I don't feel very manly.

Without work or hobbies, I don't have any projects to feel proud of. I have this blog, but it's easily dismissed as a ranty diary, with no real substance behind anything I write. Anybody can voice their unqualified opinions on the Internet, can't they? Just another ignorant stupid voice. Nobody cares what I've got to say, because I'm not speaking in a professional or academic capacity.

The antidote to the fear that my chequered history might be discovered, is to write candidly about it. However, I'm no more than a couple of months away from being bankrupt and evicted onto the streets. I'm no more than a few clicks of the mouse away from relapsing into drug addiction. I'm months - if not years - away from financial security, luxury holidays, fine dining and the rest of the trimmings of wealthy urban lifestyle.

It's been so long since I had all the pieces of the puzzle: the job where I'm an expert, the income that exceeds my expenditure, the savings that give me a safety net, the comfortable and secure place to live, the friends who give me a social life, the hobby that I'm good at, and the girl to share the good times with. Who wants to share in my misery, depression and the unravelling of my life?

Every insecurity - am I fat, ugly, stupid, worthless? - becomes amplified the longer I languish in obscurity. I'm a hermit, writing in my bedroom and pushing my words out into the ether. Who even knows that I exist? Who am I? Why was I even born?

My entire existence is fixated on financial income. Without money, I'm nobody. Every failed interview is a disaster and depression threatens to consume me. I drink copiously to cope with the stress and anxiety, but it's a flawed solution. I know I could take a low-paid job that I could do with my eyes closed, but it would pain me to be so undervalued; under-appreciated; unchallenged.

On Saturday night we meet some people; I'm drunk. Making polite conversation, I'm asked what I do. Nervously, I say that I'm an IT consultant, but it feels like a lie. I work for less than half the year and it makes me unwell; I hate it. My debut novel is mentioned and a dam is broken; I'm gushing forth with rabid enthusiasm about my writing. I can sense that my eyes are wide open and there's an intensity to the way that I'm speaking. My speech is almost pressured; rushed. Then, I think that I've become horribly egocentric. I regret talking expansively about myself, in response to polite middle-class smalltalk. I'm embarrassed about how narcissistic I am.

She tries to reassure me, but I struggle to believe what she says. She's a famous bird off the telly and she even passed her O-levels without cheating or nuffink, so what does she see in me? Surely she's dumbing herself down, so that I don't feel as intimidated?

Gender roles are reversed. She takes me out for dinner. She says she'll protect me. I could easily become her cheerleader; idolise her; put her on a pedestal.

I dig into my archives, looking for things that I'm proud of. The problem is that most of it was years ago. What am I doing at the moment that I'm proud of? I haven't yet managed to find a publisher for my novel, let alone a new IT contract. What opportunity do I have to strut my stuff?

A game of Monopoly: now's my chance to demonstrate my entrepreneurial business talents!

But, there's too much pressure on this rare opportunity and it's a game of chance. Luck doesn't go my way and I'm losing, despite playing a winning strategy. The board gets flipped over and the pieces go everywhere. What a bad loser!

What can I do? I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't.