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

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How to Kill Yourself

8 min read

This is a story about an explicit step-by-step set of precise instructions specifying exactly how to commit suicide...

Suicide salad

I get a phenomenal amount of readers every day, reading what I've written on the subject of suicide. Mostly, they come looking for information on suicide methods. I know this for two reasons: firstly, my inbox is stuffed full of people asking more questions about how to kill themselves. Secondly, it's possible to see what kinds of things people are searching for on the internet: these are standard tools, which are used by advertisers, all the time, to decide how best to target their online marketing.

So, if I was a manufacturer of steak knives, for example, I might do some research to see how many times people search for "what is the best kind of knife to cut meat with?". While I was doing that research, I might also - if I was an unethical company - search for something like "what is the best kind of knife to cut human flesh with?". If there are more people searching for the latter than the former, I might decide to spend my advertising dollars selling my steak knives to people who want to use them for a purpose which they were not originally designed or intended for.

It was always my intention to drive a portion of suicidal people on the internet, towards my website, and my reasons were always - I think - ethical and reasonably well thought through. I know with certainty, that there are a large number of people who will end their lives without reaching out to any of the widely publicised and well known counselling services, which are available in person, on the phone, or online. I know with certainty that the reason why some don't contact those services, is because they're not stupid: turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and some suicidal people don't go to services which are explicit and overt in their intention, which is to stop you from committing suicide.

I've brought you here, and I've disappointed many of you, because I have never once given any explicit instructions on how to kill yourself.

But.

Here it is.

Here is one way to kill yourself:

1. Buy, borrow or steal a steak knife
2. Cut yourself so that you bleed

Not explicit enough for you? Okay, I'll try again:

1. Obtain a sharp knife with a serrated blade
2. Make as many sharp slashing aggressive fast cuts to the area of your neck, which is in-between the front and the side
3. Repeat step 2 until you either see blood gushing out at high pressure, or you lose consciousness; whichever happens first

I'm guessing you're probably more frustrated than ever now. Yes, I know that what people mainly search for is the most painless, quickest, easiest, and "best" way to kill yourself. I know what people are looking for. I really really know what people are looking for.

The knife method fails, because it's not at all painless, although it is quick and easy, and also really obvious. In fact, it's so obvious, that I don't know why anybody would go to the trouble of buying rope and tying it to a tree or something, when the knife method is so much quicker and easier.

If you want painless, which I know you do, the most common method - which has been popular for years - other than an overdose, is to poison yourself with carbon monoxide from an internal combustion engine, meaning most probably a car. The method is so simple that I can write it in just one line: pipe the exhaust fumes into the interior of your car.

Okay? Are you happy now?

No.

If you were happy, you wouldn't have been searching "how do I kill myself?" would you? The question is rhetorical. I KNOW YOU ARE SUICIDAL; KINDA THE OPPOSITE OF HAPPY.

So, the next question, and a very important one, is one which I'm asking myself as much as I'm asking you now, as you're reading this: what now?

I plan to commit suicide, when the time is right, so I would be a hypocrite - and a dishonest cynical horrible man - if I was trying to tell you to live your life differently from how I live my life; if I didn't practice what I preach.

Let me answer the question with a short story.

A little over five years ago, I decided to write my own obituary. I was a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff. My life was totally and utterly wrecked beyond belief. My brain and body were trashed. The obituary writing turned into a writing habit, which eventually became this website, which eventually became the stability I needed in my life. This website brought me readers, and those readers helped me, even though I didn't want to be helped. The writing helped me, even though I didn't know it would help me.

I expect that, when I commit suicide, I will be a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff... so don't go thinking that this story has a happy ending. IT DOES NOT.

But.

This is my damn story now. I'm in control. I'm the one who writes the narrative, not the people who would gladly see me buried, and talk shit about me literally over my dead body.

So, ask yourself this: what are people going to say about you, after you commit suicide? Are they going to call you crazy? Are they gonna call you a drunk and/or a druggie? Are they going to say that you were bad with money, or a bum; a loser? Are you going to let those despicable scumbags write the ending to your story, or are you going to write it yourself?

Obviously, I'd like it if nobody felt like suicide was their only option, but unfortunately, so many people do feel like that... so we have to address that.

Of course, we all have different reasons for wanting to kill ourselves, but we all want the same thing: the pain and suffering to stop. Tell the damn story. Tell people why you're suicidal. You don't have to do it like me, so publicly. You don't have to do it to an expensive therapist. Get a diary. Get a notebook. Get it the hell down on paper, at least, so it's not a bloody mystery to the people left behind.

I know, often, we are so desperate for the pain and suffering to stop that we don't care what anybody thinks of us anymore; we don't care about any of that... we. just. want. it. to. stop.

Sure, yes. I get it.

But, so many people write to me, and they all tell me a little about their story; their own personal reasons for wanting to end their lives. I mean, they don't have to. Sure, a few don't say much. Sure, lots of people read and never write to me. I don't know everything but nobody does. With the incomplete information, which is still a heck of a lot more than almost anybody you know, I'm able to say that almost everyone has something to say; wants somebody to know something.

Anyway, my inbox (and DMs on Twitter and Facebook etc) are open, but apologies if I don't write back quickly, or maybe even at all, because I have to say, every single one of your personal stories is devastatingly heartbreaking, but I'm glad to be kinda there still, as much as I can be... receiving, reading, even though I'm struggling to stay on top of replying.

You wanna kill yourself? Fine. But write to me first. I want to kill myself too.

* * *

A brief summary of what I've written already on the subject:

First, I listed out every suicide method I could think of.

Then, I wrote an essay all about the reasons I could imagine which would drive a person to kill themselves.

Most people, as I said, are interested in the 'easiest' and most painless suicide method, which I kinda wrote about, talking about my own plans to commit suicide.

 

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World Mental Health Day

5 min read

This is a story about wanting to die...

Muddy feet

I've wanted to commit suicide for years and I've made several attempts, all of which have ended up with me in hospital, either in intensive care, and or high dependency, for weeks... months and months if you add up all that time. You might say that you think that I don't want to die, because I haven't succeeded [yet] and you would be correct: I want to want to live; I want to not want to commit suicide. But I did want to die and I did want to commit suicide. When I came out of a coma in intensive care in hospital, a doctor asked me if I was pleased that they saved my life. Honestly, I was not pleased at all.

More often than not, depression - as a mental illness - has no rational explanation. Grief and other circumstantial depression, although devastating, can be explained with relative ease; can be well understood. Stranger, it seems, is depression where the cause is not so immediately obvious.

Examining my own depression and wish to commit suicide, we can see a number of obvious circumstantial problems:

  • Estranged from family
  • No social support network
  • Very small number of close friends, none of whom live nearby
  • Enormous debts
  • Single
  • Can't remember the last time I had a hug
  • Boring, unrewarding and unchallenging profession [at times]
  • Physical illness, making me unable to work [at times]
  • No [realistic] prospect of escaping my predicament
  • No hobby/passion
  • Isolated, hermit-like existence
  • Troubled past; guilt, shame and regret; some bitterness

So, if we take all of that in aggregate, it seems like no wonder that I would be suicidally depressed, discounting even the irrational and almost-impossible to explain depression, which inflicts so many people whose lives do not have these problems (although they might have their own set of problems).

Let's revisit my circumstances, today:

  • Money in the bank; savings
  • No debt
  • Plans to see my sister and niece
  • Two friends who live nearby, although one is locked down due to COVID-19, so we can't meet
  • Rewarding and challenging work
  • Well-paid work; feel respected and valued
  • Physical health is OK, just a little unfit
  • Have managed to escape enormous debts, and become debt-free, against the odds
  • Have a hobby/passion: mountain biking
  • Leave the house to go mountain biking

Okay, so there are still some areas which need improvement but it's an incredible turnaround from my situation, which I've had to endure for years. I have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. Nobody should have been able to escape from the homelessness, near-bankruptcy, crushing debts and the total destitution which I faced alone. It's like I had my death sentence commuted; it's like I received a royal pardon.

The picture at the top is of my muddy feet. Nobody goes out in the mud and the rain, in the cold autumn/winter of the UK, unless they are in a good place in terms of mental health. I'm not saying that I'm 'cured' or even that I'm 'happy' but I'm making some real tangible progress. I have hope for the first time in years and years.

My mental health is incredibly fragile. My 'recovery' (hate that word) is incredibly fragile. I have no idea whether my mood is going to crash, worse than ever, and I'll be back to being suicidal. Every time I attempt suicide, there's a very good chance I'm going to succeed. You might think that I'm just being melodramatic and/or attention seeking, and that I have no intention of committing suicide, and never did, which is why I didn't succeed. If you like, I will share my medical notes from the emergency department and intensive care/high dependency: I didn't succeed because I was incredibly lucky; for example, the medical team gave me about a 30% chance of survival, last attempt. The time before, I had even less chance of survival. There's no denying the truth: when I have attempted suicide, it's not a cry for help, nor has it been 'botched' by me... it's been pure blind chance that I've been discovered before I died. I've never phoned emergency services or phoned for help in any way whatsoever; quite the opposite.

So, on World Mental Health Day, I'm really sorry for all the people in the world who are suffering. I feel your pain. I share your pain. It makes me very sad that mental health problems are so prevalent in the world. I wish we would do something to help improve the circumstances of people's lives, because that can make a huge difference. Instead of giving trillions of dollars/pounds in bailouts to banks, we should be giving each and every family a life-changing amount of money, so that they can afford to live without debt, in secure housing, and not have to work shitty soul-destroying jobs; we need the time to connect with our community and maintain a social support network; to make [and keep] friends.

Look after yourselves today, and every day. Email me if you're feeling suicidal.

 

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Profligacy

7 min read

This is a story about out-of-control spending...

Wallet

This is my wallet. It doesn't contain any cash. In fact, it doesn't contain very much at all. It's very thin, although not as thin as my favourite wallet, which unfortunately wore out. I like having a thin wallet.

My wallet contains a 'debit' card for my personal account (known as a checking account in North America, I think), a 'debit' card for my business account, and two credit cards. Also, I keep my drivers license as photo ID, and some stamps, in case I need to mail anything. So, that's 4 bank/credit cards and a card-sized driving license: 5 cards in total. That's all I need.

Sure, I need a little cash from time to time. Frustratingly, I had used the small amount of cash that I carry to pay for something, when I needed to pay the guy who cleans the windows in our street, so I had to live with dirty windows for a little while longer than I would have liked to.

Cash tends to stay in my pocket for so long, that often it ceases to be in common circulation: the UK is replacing all of its 'paper' banknotes (they were actually more like a kind of fabric, but that's just a geeky fact for you) with 'plastic' ones. The UK is probably the world's number one place to launder money, so of course we need to have wipe-clean waterproof money.

Anybody who's used a plastic banknote to insufflate a powdered substance into their nose - not me, obviously - will tell you that the new banknotes will damage the delicate membrane of your nose and cause it to bleed, quite often. However, at least you can wipe the blood off. Paying for stuff with bloodstained banknotes is rather embarrassing (but not the reason why I don't carry much cash - I just don't need/use the stuff, for any purpose).

If you've followed my blog, or you know me as a close friend, then you'll know that I've suffered from depression which has been quite relentless and uninterrupted; interrupted only by suicide attempts, I should probably add. My will to live has been long absent.

I was starting to give up and abandon all hope of surviving for more than a few more months. I was certain that if Christmas didn't kill me, like it almost did last year, then I'll certainly die in April or May next year. Basically, I could see no future for myself; no point in suffering any longer.

Then, I had a great idea: I'll buy a really fancy gaming computer, so I can play driving simulators, flight simulators, turn-based strategy games on a big monitor, and retro console games... generally get into gaming in a really big way.

But.

It was not a good idea.

Part of the reason for my depression, is because I'm home alone, in front of a screen all day. Part of the reason for my depression, is because of my sedentary lifestyle. Part of the reason for my depression, is that I lack real-world social interaction with people.

In short: the gaming PC was a bad idea.

But.

Then I had a really great idea, which was to buy a mountain bike.

I mean, I already have a mountain bike, so why would I buy another one? The mountain bike I have is the best that money can buy (to me at least) so why would I buy another one, if I couldn't buy a better one?

Good question.

Mountain biking is hard work. I used to be young, skinny and fit, but now I am old, fat(ter) and unfit. I am by no means obese and I am by no means so unfit that I can't do exercise, but my health and fitness have been grossly neglected during my interminable depression, as well as during lockdown, which made things even worse. I did try to finish the lockdown fitter, thinner and generally healthier than when I started, but, it was very hard. The best I managed to do, was to stop the rot, a little bit.

Pedalling a mountain bike uphill is hard work. You have to move the weight of the bike, the equipment, your clothes and your body, uphill. My super nice mountain bike weighs 24 pounds (11kg), my equipment could be zero I guess, if I was going for minimum weight, my clothes, including shoes, could be as little as 4 pounds (2kg)... but the heaviest thing is me. I weigh at least 22 pounds (10kg) more than I did when I used to ride my mountain bike regularly. So, basically, if I was to ride up a hill, it would be like me riding up that hill with a whole extra mountain bike on my back. Plus, I'm unfit too.

So what's the solution? Lose weight, right? Catch 22.

The best way to lose weight is to exercise, but if your favourite form of exercise - mountain biking in this case - has gone from something which is difficult but enjoyable; rewarding... into something which is so exhausting that it will destroy you to just go up one single hill, then the barrier to entry is too high.

What did I do? I bought a mountain bike which assists with my pedalling, to make it feel like I'm 22 pounds lighter. In fact, the mountain bike I bought can also assist with the pedalling so much, that it's like I'm young and fit too! Of course, I still have to pedal, and that still requires energy, so I'm getting the exercise I need to lose weight and to get fit again.

What I also did was buy a bunch of other stuff: waterproofs so I can go out in the rain, super-padded underwear to protect my ass (because it got soft since I didn't ride a bike for a long time) and a whole bunch of other really expensive stuff. Could I have done without that stuff? Sure. I guess I could carry a heavy mountain bike for miles and miles because I got a puncture. Sure. I guess I could get soaking wet, because it's autumn now and will soon be winter. Sure. I guess I could get run over by a car on the way to/from where I'm riding, in the dark autumn/winter bad weather. For sure, I could have avoided getting that stuff and said "I'm not going out on my bike today, because it's raining/dark/I've got a puncture or whatever".

You bet I'm worried that my spending is out of control. I spent a whole month's income.

Every. Single. Penny.

Like, no money for rent, no money for food, no money for bills, no money for transport... no money for anything except my bike, and the stuff to go with it. I spent every single penny of last month's 'wages'.

So, am I stupid? Am I rubbish with money? Am I a lost cause.

Well, I wanted to commit suicide for a very long time, but now I'm just excited about riding my bike; now I've got a reason for living again. I'm not sure how long that's going to last, but money really can buy happiness, it seems; or at least money can get rid of depression, temporarily. Maybe, like a drug, the depression will only go away for a really short time and I'll have a terrible hangover/comedown. I expect that's true, but let's not be too hasty. Last time I did something like this, I got fit, healthy, happy, more social, more attractive athletic body, identity, self-esteem, and I had a lot of fun. Let's wait a while before we start calling me stupid for doing this.

 

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False Economy

3 min read

This is a story about value for money...

Torn jeans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Living With Bipolar

3 min read

This is a story about false advertising...

Books

The subject matter which my website deals with, is either "living with bipolar disorder" or it's "the world's longest suicide note". In fact, it can be both. The two are not mutually exclusive.

However, I don't tend to write very much specifically on the subject of my life with bipolar disorder, because I've always had it and it's so intrinsic to me, that I find it very hard to imagine life without it. Although bipolar has caused me significant problems in my life, those problems were present before my diagnosis, and I've not found it particularly useful, in recent years, to think about my diagnosis at all: I certainly don't seek 'treatment' for the illness, or otherwise involve myself with quacks, and the like.

I suppose I write about bipolar in a tangental way, given that the mental illness does dominate my life. Suicide, for example, would not be such an ever-present danger, were it not for my bipolar disorder. Also, various behaviours, many of which would not be seen particularly as symptoms of mental illness, are driven by my bipolar disorder.

Pictured above are two books which are on my coffee table at the moment. I thought that this accidental juxtaposition served as a brilliant summary of my state of mind. As my mood plummets into depression, I pick up the book about suicide. As my mood soars into mania, I pick up the book about mountain biking.

The mountain biking is a new thing. I used to ride mountain bikes when I was a teenager and as a young man, before graduating on to other more extreme sports. Since approximately 2013, when my life disintegrated during an acrimonious divorce, I haven't done anything which you might call 'sport'... with the possible exception of riding through London traffic on my bike at top speed, which is one of the most extreme 'sports' that you can take part in; one of the activities most likely to kill you.

I'm sorry if you came to my website, hoping to read more about bipolar, but were left feeling disappointed; let down. Most people - from those who write to me at least - tell me that they wish I would provide an idiot-proof step-by-step guide, in minute detail, of exactly how to commit suicide. I am not going to do that. No. Never. No way.

Anyway, despite winter being just around the corner, which always sends my mood nosediving, and other things which aren't right in my life - I'm single, don't have a social life etc - I am extremely keen to go for another ride on my new mountain bike, as soon as my backside has recovered enough, such that I wouldn't ruin this weekend, for the sake of a short midweek ride.

I don't feel manic, but then, I never do. My bank balance probably tells a different story. I spent three times as much on my mountain bike as I did on my car, for example. I have been spending money like crazy, which is usually a sign I'm manic. Also, I am struggling to sleep. Other symptoms too.

Of course, I'm happy to be happy, but I also need to be careful that my mood isn't getting too elevated. I need to be careful, although many would say that spending a ludicrous amount of money on a bike could only be explained by a mental illness.

 

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Bad Decisions

5 min read

This is a story about getting into debt...

Bike

I was desperate for a halfway-decent car when I was 17 years old. The car I had when I first passed my driving test was the most disgusting horrible thing you've ever seen in your life, and that was before my mum crashed it, and then a blind man was paid to repair it using household paint of the wrong colour, which was daubed thickly onto the crumpled bodywork, and left to drip and generally look worse than it would have done if somebody had simply lowered their trousers, curled out a shit onto the bonnet, and then smeared the excrement.

The car, absolutely, was not a gift. In fact, the car was a curse. Firstly it was extortionate to repair, because nobody has a disgusting shit car like that for their first car, so no insurer would offer me an affordable policy. That wiped out every penny I had. Then, it was ruined: my mother crashed it, and it was shit in the first place. It was so old, that basically, it was mechanically fucked in every conceivable way. So, the insurance financially ruined me, then repairing it left me with a gigantic debt to the garage. Then, after all that, it was a hideously ugly shit unreliable horrible, horrible, horrible car.

So, I was keen to have a car that was not shit.

I got a bank loan. I got a bank loan to buy a car, which wasn't a piece of shit, looked like shit, drove like shit... I took out a bank loan to buy a fucking OK-ish fucking car, alright?

In actual fact, it was a good decision to get that bank loan, because I was happy with my not-shit car. In fact, I was fucking ecstatic to have a car which wasn't a complete pile of shit, that was financially crippling me.

Predictably, my OK-ish car was not a pile of fucking horrible ugly shit, and consequently cost me far less in garage repair bills. Predictably, my OK-ish car did wonders for my self-esteem, and I was quite proud of my OK-ish car. My OK-ish car was very enjoyable to drive, and I was very glad that I had taken out that bank loan.

Of course, I hated being in debt, but I paid it off pretty quickly, especially as the garage bills were a fraction of what they were for the horrible ugly old piece of shit, which was good for nothing but the scrap yard.

So, where am I going with this?

Today is payday. Actually, I don't really have payday, to to speak. I don't have a salaried job, in any sense that you'd understand. I run my own company, so it's not like payday is really a thing for me. But anyway, for the sake of simplicity: imagine that today is payday for me.

I've been trying to buy a new bike for a little while. Pictured above is my city bike: designed for zooming through traffic in London. I love that bike. It's great.

I don't live in London anymore. I live somewhere where there's hills.

The new bike I've been trying to buy is a mountain bike. I don't live super close to any mountains - maybe 45 minutes away - but it's pretty hilly where I live, so I need gears. As it happens, I already have a mountain bike, which I bought on motherfucking credit, OK, motherfucker not long after I got my OK-ish car. My 22 year old mountain bike is brilliant and I love it, but I want one which is better for going up and down hills. I mean, that's what my old one is designed to do, but I want a better one.

So, I'm buying something that I don't need but I want and I can afford because it's payday. I can pay cash. I don't need to borrow money or otherwise get it on some kind of credit agreement. I can just walk into a fucking shop, hand over the cash, and walk out with the brand new mountain bike.

I'm getting one.

Actually, it looks like I'm getting one which is going to cost twice as much as I had budgeted for... but I don't care. I want the one that I want, and I want it now... or rather, I want it tomorrow, because the shop needs to build it for me.

It feels - having been relatively recently homeless, horrendously indebted, and almost bankrupt - to be an incredibly bad decision. Sure, it probably is, but I've got the money - surplus - and I'm going to spend it all on this thing that I want; this thing that I don't need.

For sure, I'm not spending money that I don't have; I'm not spending money before I've earned it. For sure, this could be the beginning of a spiral back into debt, but I really don't think it's going to be. Even if it is, I don't give a shit. I've put up with too much for too long, to fuck around any longer.

Sorry for the stream of expletives. I've had to justify myself and my very real human needs, for far too long. If you ask my dad, you can get a bike that's just as good as a £30,000 full-carbon Tour de France pro-rider bike, so cheaply that somebody will pay you to take it off your hands, and buy you a fucking house too for your trouble.

By the way, I am not buying a £30,000 full-carbon pro-rider bike. I am buying a mid-range bike: not the cheapest, and not the most expensive. Mid-priced.

Okay?

Happy now?

 

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Monetization Strategy

4 min read

This is a story about mixing work and pleasure...

Billion dollar banknote

My inbox is full of an ever-increasing number of requests for me to publish a guest blog. On closer inspection, these are really requests to pay me to put advertising on my website, or links to help other websites to improve their Google search rankings. Basically, I don't get genuine requests from people who legitimately want to share anything here... only online marketing and search engine optimisation people, trying to piggyback on my hard work.

What about that hard work?

Why would I do that hard work, if I'm not getting paid?

Well, although I have moaned about crippling debts for many years, I actually have enough money. Very nearly - once - I came within £23 of bankruptcy, but I've always managed to service my debts, pay my rent, pay my bills, buy food and otherwise pay my way in the world. I wouldn't say money has been plentiful but it has been adequate even though a lot of it has been borrowed in order to bridge the gap between the necessary expenditure to stay in the game, versus being cast out from mainstream society and trampled underfoot. I don't really need whatever pitiful sum of money I could get, by perverting my artwork into a commercial artefact.

Wut?

Yes, that's right. I prefer it that my folly - this monument to my madness and stupidity - is kept as something entirely non-commercial. That means no advertising. No selling data. No product placement. No backlinks. No quid quo pro. You can't offer me anything that I would accept in exchange for turning my idiotic endeavours into a money-making scheme. If I wanted to make money, I'd have done something else. I'm not in this for the money. I don't want to become yet another lifestyle blogger, influencer, social media expert, or other person in that particular area. I'm a writer, and I'm able to write and publish whatever I want, and reach thousands of readers every day, which surely is a writer's dream? I mean, sure, some writers have to eat but c'mon! There are so many easier ways to make money than writing! Surely nobody would be stupid enough to try to make writing into their main profession, when they could just as easily work a fraction of the time, and have the majority of their working week available - free - to pursue any writing project that a writer would want to pursue.

Okay, so I only managed to complete a single novel manuscript to an acceptable first-draft standard, in the 5+ years I've been writing 'full-time' but I also produced a couple of 80% complete manuscripts, plus a 1.3 million word blog with thousands of readers, which appears on the first page of Google for a whole bunch of things that people are searching for. I don't mean this as a boast, but merely to point out that if writing was my objective, I've managed to do plenty, without having to earn a writer's pittance of a salary.

Of course I would love to call myself, more legitimately, a writer. I wish I had the balls to give up my main profession, and pursue writing to combine passion, vocation and work into a single thing, but then, I think I would feel very insecure and touchy about my work. Anyone can tell me "your writing is shit" at the moment, and I'll know that they're wrong, but it's not professional grade either; it's a damn sight better than your average keyboard-mashing internet-dweller, so they can fuck off. If I called myself a writer by trade then I'd probably take it very personally, and get really upset. I've not been writing for long enough, nor had enough external validation, to fend off criticism of my writing, if I was doing it in a professional capacity.

So, if you're thinking of contacting me, asking if I can - basically - help you sell you or your client's product or service, don't expect to get a response back from me, other than an unpleasant one. I don't go out of my way to be unpleasant to people, but some of the people who email me are really aggressive and get unduly unpleasant when I ignore them, which is uncalled for. Also, it pisses me off when people want to use me and my artwork - my folly - to further their contemptible commercial endeavours.

You will never see any ads on this website, and I will never sell the data (what data would I even sell anyway?).

 

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Stock Footage

5 min read

This is a story about creativity...

Shave

If you were to ask 100 people "can you draw?" most of them would answer that they cannot. If you were to ask 100 people "can you paint?" I expect that more would answer that they cannot. If you were to ask 100 people "can you compose and play music?" then most would say that they could not.

However.

If we asked 100 people if they could do a dot-to-dot picture, or paint-by-numbers, or indeed play a piece of music which had already been composed, then most people would say that they could do all of those activities.

What's the difference?

I suppose it must be self-confidence. Since smartphones became ubiquitous, most people would consider themselves to be professional photographers, curating their Instagram pages full of their 'art'. What happened, to change photography from an art into something which the masses think they're brilliant at, and would have no problem answering "yes" if they were asked if they can take photographs. It seems to me, that having taken away the complexities of shutter speed, aperture, film speed, lux levels, considerations about depth-of-field and whether the subject is moving... now that photography is point-and-shoot, everyone thinks that they're brilliant at it.

Why not painting?

I suppose we take photographs all the time. If you have children and/or pets, your phone will be filled with photos of your progeny and/or your fur babies. If you are a youth, your phone will be full of selfies and suchlike. We are, perhaps because of the social changes which have occurred due to technology, getting a lot of practice taking photos, but we are still getting almost no practice painting, unless you are a professional fine artist.

Why not writing?

I find it unusual that, given how much screen time we all have now, writing isn't going in the same direction as photography. For sure, I suppose that people have a Twitter account, but not a blog. People have a blog, but don't write for a newspaper or magazine. People write for a website - like Buzzfeed - but don't have any published books. Perhaps everyone is writing more, which - like photography - makes it seem like people are still rubbish at it; amateur (myself included, of course).

An interesting thing happens when you make a piece of art and put it into the public domain: people who lack the confidence to be creative, connect with that artwork; they are moved by the artwork. If you love a particular song, why don't you learn to play the instruments so that you can make more of that music? It seems a little mad, to think that we each possess the ability to scratch our own itch, but perhaps it isn't true: maybe the world really does divide into creators and consumers.

I wonder why I don't include more quotations and references in my work. It's not because I'm not well read, or I can't think of where my thoughts and ideas came from: I know my source material, almost without exception. However, while my influences are well known to me, I don't see any value in parroting the authors whose work I admire. For sure, I could write a lot about other people's ideas, but it's the amalgamation of the accumulated wealth of knowledge in my mind, which is interesting. I'm not here to masturbate the dicks of the academics who had the good fortune to be afforded the time and space to formulate their own ideas, and publish. No, I already paid for their books; they already got my money. I took the best bits - cherry picked - and used that knowledge to build my own worldview.

I think to attempt to be original is foolish; a childish mistake. When we are young and immature, we choose unusual hairstyles and wear atypical clothes, in an attempt to achieve originality. Of course, there's nothing original about red trousers or a leather skirt studded with metal spikes: those superficial and pathetic attempts at originality are, in fact, the very opposite; the classic clichéd attempts of immature insecure people, to appear original.

I often worry that perhaps I'm trying too hard to be original, making the same immature insecure attempts to deliberately avoid the typical; the common; the ordinary.

I hope that what I'm achieving, is a kind of beautiful simplicity. The authors who I admire the most are the ones who have mastered the English language to such a great extent, that they don't feel the need - driven by insecurity and pomposity - to pepper their prose with long and obscure words. As [George] Orwell wrote: Never use a long word where a short one will do. I know it's a fucking cliché to quote Orwell, which is why I'm fucking doing it: because to deliberately avoid quoting him, in a desperate attempt to appear like more of an original thinker, ironically achieves the opposite.

Of course, there's always a danger whenever we start thinking "I know enough now" and that we can stop reading; stop looking around for influential figures. My worldview is, however, difficult to substantially influence now that I'm older. My mind isn't closed, but don't expect me to suddenly U-turn on some views which are quite integral to my personality and identity, such as being a socialist; a scientist. Don't expect me to suddenly find God, or start writing about how poor people are lazy and we should kill them (or at least let them die; same difference).

To write about writing is a self-indulgence which I too frequently embark upon. Apologies.

 

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Useful Idiot

5 min read

This is a story about technocrats...

Desk

I wish I could tell you more about my day job, but I can't. I can't even tell you who my main client is, or generally what the project is that I'm working on. I mean, technically I could tell you the organisation and project, but then anybody searching for my name and that project or organisation would be brought right here, immediately, which wouldn't be helpful. I can't tell you any detail about my day, because it would probably breach code of conduct, and possibly some laws too, depending on what I told you.

Anyway.

I hate when people try to be super mysterious, and generally allude to the fact that what they do for a living is exciting; like they're James fucking Bond, or something. No, it's much more boring than that, as this quote that I love explains very well:

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." -- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

What I'm working on for the majority of my working week, is benign, most people would agree. A colleague reads my blog, openly, not secretly, and they said that they agree with me: the project, and indeed the work of the organisation is benign in their opinion too. It's hard to see how what we're doing is not benign, but we should explore the topic with a little more of an open mind.

Something which you might pay little heed to, but will be well aware of if you've ever been unwell, is that there is a vast mountain of administrative headache, which has to be ploughed through, simply for the privilege of being alive. Even though all my bills are paid via direct debit from my bank account, or auto-renewal straight from my debit card, or some other way of money disappearing constantly from my pocket, still that's not enough. The council will write to me demanding that I tell them who lives in my house, even though I already told them. The car insurance company demanding to see proof that I've never claimed on my policy, even though it is them who administers the policy. Somebody, somewhere, at all times, is expecting me to do something for them, on pain of fine, prosecution... prison even.

The United Kingdom is ostensibly a very difficult place to live, unmolested. If you were hoping to live here, simply paying your rent/mortgage and bills, and expecting that would be enough, you are very wrong: an endless stream of bureaucratic obligations will bombard you, every single day. There are reams of forms which need to be filled in in triplicate; numerous permits, licenses, notices and interminable obligations, which are met with extremely harsh penalties if these constant intrusions into your life are not dealt with immediately.

Each organisation which contacts you thinks that its demands are not onerous, which is true. Taken individually, each task is not particularly difficult or time-consuming. However, when all these small tasks are added together, the demand is huge: I really don't give a shit whether I'm doing my tax return or revising the electoral roll... both tasks are equally irksome; equally intruding into my time, effort and energy. For highly functional people, they perhaps don't notice this burden, but those who are sick - speaking from personal experience - will find it overwhelming, to the point of driving a person to suicide.

While it might seem ridiculous - improbable - that these 'easy' jobs might tip somebody over the edge, to the point that they'd end their own life, if you consider the harsh penalties which are attached to all of these things, they can all threaten to ruin your life. An unpaid parking ticket can lead to £15,000 of court costs and other expenses, which would bankrupt most people. Other minor administrative oversights, like failing to tell the council that your flatmate moved out, could lead to thousands of pounds of fines, and perhaps even a criminal conviction. Cumulatively, I'm sure that you could end up with a very big police criminal record, and be bankrupted many times, simply because you weren't able to open your mail for a few months, because you were sick.

The letters keep dropping on your doormat, and every single one is demanding money with menaces. Every single one of those letters is threatening to lock you up, take away your home, take away your livelihood, take away your children, take away your pets, take away your transport; threatening to bankrupt you, and wreck your chance of ever having a home ever again; having a job ever again. It's a pretty shitty state of affairs, that we can do that to people, who just want/need to be left alone.

 

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I'm Not Sure This is a Good Idea

4 min read

This is a story about hindsight...

Disguise

Imagine this: you've spent your whole life dreaming of becoming a published author, with a fucktonne of readers; perhaps being a bestselling author. Then, one day, you hit the jackpot: your books are flying off the shelves; you have a ton of readers around the world. Thousands of people read your writing every day. Millions read what you wrote every year. Are you happy? Are you content?

What was your objective?

Did you want to get paid for doing something you love? Did you want to convert your love of writing into a profession? Did you want approval; did you need for a publisher to tell you that what you wrote was good, before you'd believe it for yourself? Did you want fame and adulation? Did you need for the general public - en masse - to recognise your brilliance, by luxuriating in the delicious prose which decorates the pages of your books? You've got it now. Are you happy?

Then.

Suddenly you feel very exposed. Your psyche is exposed for all to see. Was it really worth it? With all the money in the world - the best paid author in the business - was it worth the effort, and the sacrifice? Was it worth it to be out there in the world, for everyone to judge?

Now the academics will pore over your words, gaining so-called "insight" into things which never existed; imagining that there is more deep meaning in your writing than ever existed; creating layer-upon-layer of intellectual mastubatory wankstain bullshit, if you're so lucky as to be considered a literary figure of great importance.

You must remain enigmatic. Never explain yourself. Culture your eccentricities: this is your life now. You are creating a myth; a legend. You have to maintain a certain image, if you want to achieve a cult following, and to be somewhat immortalised, insofar as making your way onto the undergrad reading list of an English degree at a substandard academic institution; well-thumbed copies of your book being kept on the shelves of every pretentious student in the land.

Still, is it worth it? Is this what you wanted?

Still, you have to ask yourself, why did you embark upon this fool's errand? Why did you start writing in the first place? What was the point? When will you be satisfied? When will you say that enough is enough?

Then.

There's a backlash. People hate you now. The mood of the country has turned against you. Your so-called 'overnight' success (which took decades to achieve) which inflated your ego to the point that you thought you would be welcome in the national dialogue - the daily discourse - was grossly miscalculated. People fucking hate you. You're the cunt who wrote those bestselling books, and in the popular imagination you're another elitist wealthy shitbag, disconnected from the plight of ordinary people no matter how humble your origins were.

Why did you do this?

Sure, you're rich now; you're a household name. Your face is recognisable. You can court a little controversy and fill the tabloid headlines, easily. Is that what you wanted? Was that your aim, all along?

Ultimately, aren't you infamous? Aren't you known for all the wrong reasons? If there was ever a smidgin of integrity which lurked at the centre of you, isn't that now long lost? You're just an attention seeking publicity whore. You're just a disgrace. You're not an artist. You're not a creator. You're just part of the newspaper-selling, avertising-sellling, merchandise-selling, capitalist machine. You couldn't be more distant from your original "I like writing" origins, even if you tried your hardest.

How did it end up like this?

 

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