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Numb & Dumb

5 min read

This is a story about being medicated...

Various assorted pills

It would substantially benefit my bank balance if I was to swallow substances that would remove my brain from my skull and place it into a jar - a chemical straightjacket. My doctors are falling over themselves to give me pills that will put me into a warped kind of reality - an altered state - where my perceptions are chemically changed.

If you put your hand in a fire and it's hurting because your hand is getting burnt, you have two choices. Firstly, you could remove your hand from the fire. Secondly, you could take a drug so that you don't feel the pain or care about your hand getting burnt.

I remain absolutely convinced that I'm in a state of depressive realism that's allowing me to perceive the madness of our late-capitalist society. I see suffering and injustice everywhere I look. I see the ridiculous situation where powerful incompetent men are paid millions of pounds, despite screwing everything up, while the people who do the most essential jobs in society are paid a pittance. The poor give every penny they earn back to the wealthy men for the privilege of being alive. It's a bitter pill to swallow.

Why have we defined "functional" to mean doing jobs that we hate? Why have we defined "functional" to mean not rocking the boat; not challenging the status quo? Why are our most "functional" members of society the ones who are causing the most human misery?

To decide not to take medication is a political statement. To decline to have my body violated - simply to conform with a political system that I don't agree with - makes me into a kind of political prisoner. I'm a victim of "fit in or f**k off" culture.

It seems to me like most people depend on substances - alcohol, tea, coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes, nicotine e-liquids, antidepressants, anxiolytics, tranquillisers, sleeping pills, painkillers - and very few of us are able to live life substance-free. What is it about modern life that pushes us onto these addictive substances and keeps us dependent on them? Why should it be mandated to use psychoactive substances, just to live my life?

It seems deeply immoral to have constructed a society that's unbearable except with something to 'take the edge off'. It seems like a complete car crash of a situation that we have to reach for chemicals just to be able to function and fit in. It seems like bullying and coercion to me. I have deep ethical objections to a world that forces me to put substances into my body against my will.

I fought hard to free myself from my dependence on caffeine. Quitting coffee was challenging. Quitting tea was relentlessly difficult. Avoiding caffeinated beverages is tricky.

I had the good fortune of never becoming addicted to nicotine, except when addiction was forced upon me by my parents breathing their second-hand smoke all over me in a confined space, which was wicked and immoral.

I deliberately spend lengthy periods without alcohol, to clear my mind of all substances. Alcohol is ubiquitous and hard to avoid. There's huge amounts of peer pressure to drink.

Finally, I find myself fending off prescription medications. Without prescribed pills, life is very hard. It's almost expected that modern life is going to induce anxiety and depression in most of us, and so it's us who must change rather than us changing the circumstances that produce the unbearable mental health problems - we consent to having mind-altering substances put into our bodies, because we have little choice in the matter.

If you want money - and I imagine that you probably need it - then you're going to have to slurp tea & coffee, suck on your e-cigarette, get drunk and pop pills. We've arrived at a state where life is so utterly depressing and shit that we need all these chemicals to pretend that it isn't.

In the face of so many obvious problems in the world, is the answer to take pills that allow us to be wilfully ignorant and carry on regardless? In the face of the whole shambolic mess threatening to crumble into dust at any moment, should we be so coerced and bullied into medicating ourselves?

We live with incredible insecurity. Our jobs are utter bullshit and we could lose them at any moment. Our wages barely cover our living expenses, and in many cases they don't. Payday lenders and other legal loan sharks put us into a constant state of debt-laden fear. Our livelihoods are under constant threat; our homes. Where's the security? Where's the comfort? Where's the contentment and relaxation and happiness going to come from, in this bullshit merry-go-round of horrible jobs and insufficient money to ever escape from the rat race?

Eventually, it's all too much and we capitulate. "Give me something to make me feel better, doc" we say. We swallow our antidepressants, anxiolytics, tranquillisers, sleeping pills and painkillers because we can't afford to take time off to get better. We can't afford to drop out of the rat race. We can't afford to show any weakness. We can't afford to catch our breath.

The capitalists have got us right where they want us - numb and dumb. We're so f**king doped up that we don't realise how awful we've let things get. We don't dare to imagine a better world. We just keep chasing that ever-elusive dream that one day we'll get to quit the rat race, but we never will because we're all doped up to the eyeballs with enough drugs to tranquillise an elephant.

That's why I don't take the damn pills. That's why I'm going through the shit I'm going through - I want to experience reality and I don't want to be yet another dull-eyed slave.




On Yer Bike

5 min read

This is a story about malingering...

Universal Credit

The Conservative Government makes policy based on the assumption that anybody who doesn't work is lazy and that we - the British public - should spy on each other, bully and coerce each other into bullshit dead-end underpaid McJobs in the interests of further enriching the obscenely wealthy capitalists. To talk about the 'free' West is a joke. You're free to be homeless. You're free to be hungry. But you are not a free man or woman at all.

I've suffered many periods of depression in the past, but the present one sets a new record for its length and severity. Further exacerbating my depression has been a dire financial situation. It's true... if somebody hungry enough they can drag themselves out of bed. If somebody's in enough pain they can drag themselves out of bed. If somebody's afraid enough they can drag themselves out of bed. That doesn't mean that we should inflict fear and pain and hunger onto sick people, in order to bully and coerce them into working bullshit McJobs simply so the rich can get richer.

I spent the last 24 hours without any of the medications I've been dependent on for a whole year. It's been 24 hours of hell on earth. "Have you tried breathing exercises?" etc. etc. Bullshit. I was sick. I was really really really sick. I still am.

I've limped along for so long. It's true that I can force myself to get up and appear half functional because I absolutely have to, but it's unsustainable. In fact, it's counter-productive for me to force myself into horrible stress and anxiety-inducing situations, having what little energy I have left drained from me by some bullshit job. It's been incredibly costly to my mental health to have been forced back into the workplace when I'm still so unwell.

I'm bumping along the bottom. I barely get a whisker above the absolute lowest I can get and then I'm pummelled back into the floor. If only I had the time and the money to recover properly. If only I could get well before I'm forced back into work by economic necessity.

I'm kind of a poster boy for the Government's unethical and abhorrent abuse of the British public - I've been bent to their iron will; I've been bullied and coerced and forced at gunpoint to do shit that's fucking awful. I'm held up as an example that "depression's all in people's heads" and "people who are sick can work". I supposedly demonstrate that if things are desperate enough, mental health problems can be overcome and somebody can go to an office and do a job... except I can't.

My life is a continuous crisis. Suicidal thoughts plague every waking moment. My anxiety and stress levels are through the roof. I'm very much not at all functioning - this bullshit life is killing me.

You might think I'm being hyperbolic. You might think that I'm making a fuss. You might think I'm complaining too much, because you can't quite get over the fact that every day I put on a smart suit and I go to work in an office. You believe that the fact I'm going to work is all the evidence that you need to declare that you were right all along - depression is just a made-up illness and people who say that they can't work because of mental health problems are lazy liars; leeches on society.

The daily agony that I'm put through is enough to cause me to end my own life. Life is too unbearable. It's not like I was supported back into the workplace by a loving, caring Government and now I'm finding that it's really good for my self-esteem and I'm really glad I'm back at work. Bullshit! I call complete and utter bullshit on such infantile fantasies as the idea that some people are just lazy and they need to be punished.

It's possible that I might be able to find some cocktail of medications that would allow me to be more functional, but it's not me that's the problem, is it? It's no measure of good heath to be well-adjusted to a sick society. I refuse to take loads of pills with horrible side-effects, just so that I can conform to your bullying and coercion. I refuse to be called 'sick' when really it's the spying and hatefulness between citizens that's sick - who gets to decide that somebody else is "lazy"? It's bullshit.

The smug and arrogant guardian class have been co-opted into the coercive and bullying world of Conservative Government. Safe and well paid government jobs are given to ordinary citizens, who then become brutal and tyrannical arseholes, casting their judgement on their fellow men and women. It's not right to give people God-like powers over their fellow citizens, allowing them to approve or deny them the things they need to survive. It's too much power and it's creating a class of absolute c***s who think they can sit in judgement over those who they believe are beneath them.

I've seen people who have sworn an oath to do no harm, be turned into harm-inflicters. I've heard utterances from those who have supposedly dedicated themselves to saving lives and improving public health, become corrupted by an ideology that believes we should all be enslaved to the capitalists - anybody who's not working is a "scrounger" or a "benefit cheat" or otherwise somebody beneath contempt.

It angers and upsets me that those who are supposed to help and support and care, have been turned into beady-eyed prying spies, bullies - part of the apparatus that is oppressing and tyranising tens of millions, turning their lives into abject misery.

Where's the compassion?





8 min read

This is a story about social coercion...

Unshone shoes

You might not feel like working and that's fine - it's a personal choice - but how do other people feel about your idleness? Although most jobs are utter bullshit and produce nothing of any value to humanity, there is immense social pressure to work anyway. Try not working for a bit and see how people react. You'll see quite a nasty, aggressive, bullying side to people's character, if you tell them that you're not going to work because you can't be bothered. It incenses people that you might make the smart decision not to bother with your bullshit job. It enrages people that you'd be smart enough not to just go along with the madness of pointless makework.

Thus, we see people continuing to 'work' when it's patently obvious that there isn't really a job at all - the tasks that are being performed are entirely superfluous to anybody's needs. Do we really need any more spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations and emails and meetings about meetings?

"Everybody's got to work"

No they don't.

"But how else are we going to get money?"

We don't need money.

"Yes we do"

No we don't.

You don't need to get a job as a baker, so that you can get paid a salary so that you have money to buy a slice of the bread you just baked. Capitalism's argument that money is more efficient as a means of exchanging value, is demonstrably absurd. Yes, it seems obvious that barter is inefficient, but so is a system where we spend our lives on packed commuter trains and in offices, having our children raised by strangers while we shuffle papers around our desk, trying to look busy. There's so much busywork. It's all bullshit.

"But if we said that nobody has to work, then nobody would work"

Yes. Nobody works anyway. Did you build your house? Did you grow the food you ate? No. You work in the service industries. You sit in front of a computer, pretty much doing nothing. Only a tiny fraction of society are actually producing goods and providing services that are essential to humanity. Most people are busy doing stuff that's of no use to anybody.

To choose not to work is a smart choice. To choose not to work is to deprive society of nothing at all. To choose not to work is a protest at the insanity of being shackled to a system that provides nothing but anxiety, depression and misery. Work really isn't working. Wouldn't you much prefer to stay at home playing with the kids, or smoking cannabis and playing computer games? Wouldn't you much prefer to make music, write poetry or paint pictures? Well, why don't you? They're certainly not paying you enough for all those boring boring hours of so-called 'work'.

If we all stop putting up with boring bullshit jobs that don't pay very well, then we force society to be restructured in a way that gives us back our lives. We shouldn't be spending hours every day commuting. We shouldn't be so bored all the time. We shouldn't be wasting our precious time doing pointless made-up bullshit jobs.

Imagine what life would be life if we stopped calling each other "lazy". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped bullying and abusing each other into doing the most ridiculously menial, degrading and laughable tasks and calling it "work". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped feeling so smug and self-satisfied that we'd been busy doing the pointless bullshit that passes for a so-called job. It's madness. There's no pride in your work if your job is utter bullshit. There's no such thing as a work ethic, if your work is unethical and profoundly stupid and pointless.

Yes, there are jobs to be done, but guess what? Those jobs will get done. Don't worry about it. The fact that there are some jobs to be done doesn't mean that we all have to have pointless bullshit jobs. If you want to work, you should be a farmer or a builder. If you don't want to work, then don't. Don't go to an office and call it a job though. It's not a job. It's bullshit.

Most so-called 'work' is just new and elaborate ways of counting beans. Counting the beans doesn't make any more beans. It's far better to have a surplus of beans and not bother counting them, than to have vast numbers of useless people, idly counting beans instead of doing something more productive.

Yes, to toil in the heat of the midday sun, or in the wind and the rain, on a muddy building site or in a muddy field... it's not most people's idea of a good job. Well guess what? Good news! Hardly any of us actually have to do those jobs. We're able to use high-yield farming techniques to feed vast numbers of people with very few workers. You only have to build your house once, and then you can live in it for the rest of your life. There really isn't very much work to do.

When we remove the need to commute to our bullshit 'jobs' every day, we find that vast amounts of infrastructure isn't needed. Who needs all those offices, when office work is demonstrably bullshit? Who needs all those roads and railways? Who needs all those desks and office chairs and fluorescent lights? Who, in fact, needs to take up all that space - office space during the day and home space at night? Who needs to waste so much energy travelling between the office and home? It all becomes superfluous to requirements.

Imagine a world where you get to see your kids grow up. Imagine a world where you're not stressing yourself out of your mind, trying to get to the office on time. There's no need for any of that. Almost the entire world of work is complete and utter bullshit.

If you really think that money and capitalism are a good thing, why don't you demand a salary that would allow you to have the lifestyle you've always dreamed of? In fact, aren't you saving up for retirement? Isn't the ultimate goal to get enough money together so that you don't have to work any more? If your aim is to stop working, why don't you just stop working? Surely capitalism and money can't be working that well for you, if you're having to work when your ultimate aim is to stop working. Surely you're not being very smart, are you?

Your reaction is to bristle with annoyance at the very suggestion that you might be able to just stop working. It seems patently absurd to you, to live in a world without work and money. "Where will the things come from?" you ask. "How will anybody pay for anything without money?". It seems so obviously unworkable, to not have to work any more.

But, think about it. There's a pensions crisis and a housing crisis. Wages are shrinking in real terms. Household budgets are feeling the squeeze. Things are getting worse, not better. Your dreams of retirement are sailing over the horizon. How can we even afford all the old people who want to be idle anyway? There simply isn't enough money to pay for all the pensioners. There are too many old people and we don't pay our young people enough to allow tax receipts to exceed the bill for all those old people who don't want to work. The only solution; the only fair solution is to allow us all to stop working. Right now. Today.

Figuring out how to divide the tiny amount of labour that is actually essential, is a trivial detail. The biggest challenge facing civilisation at the moment is that the division of labour is currently so unfair, and this is creating social unrest and human misery. The biggest crime of the century is the theft of all those precious hours of our time, doing and producing nothing except anxiety, stress and depression.

Unless you think to yourself "I'm staggeringly well paid for what I do - I have everything I want and need - and I really love my job" every single day, then what the hell are you doing, you imbecile? If you think "I'm staggeringly well paid" and you want for nothing, but you hate your job, you're at least a little rational about things, but you're still an imbecile. If you're underpaid and your job is mostly pointless boring bullshit, what the hell are you doing? Quit! Do nothing!

We didn't ask to be born, and unless there's something worth living for, then what's the point of working? If there's no chance of owning a home and having some security and prosperity, then work isn't working. That 'money' that you think's so important, is actually just a mug's game. Money is supposed to represent value, but it's worthless if it can't buy the things you need.

I implore you. Be a famous pop singer. Be an actor. Kick a ball. Do those things that children do, because they're fun, and call that your job. Don't do the made-up boring bullshit. Vote with your feet. Deprive the system of your precious time - they're not paying you enough.

Only by striking, can the workers ever escape the crushing oppression of bullshit jobs.




Care Quality

8 min read

This is a story about being inspected...

A tivities

Today the psych ward is being inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the staff are so nervous that some of them feel physically sick. I try to reassure one nurse that they're doing their best, despite staff shortages and rampant drug use - the synthetic cannabinoid called Spice is ubiquitous throughout prisons and psych wards.

There's always somebody peering over your shoulder, sneeringly judging you. Is it any wonder that paranoia takes hold in a mind, destroying it? The United Kingdom has an exceptional ability to track the movement of its citizens, using simple conventional CCTV - no spy satellites even needed.

In the free West, we deride the Stasi and the KGB. We talk about China's vast number of people employed to snoop on their own citizens, but we don't acknowledge the work of GCHQ and the NSA. Have we forgotten Edward Snowden's revelations so quickly? The Government read your fucking emails and the police - the regular ordinary police - have a backdoor into Facebook to read all your private messages.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. If you believe that, why do you feel stressed if a police car is following you when you're driving, and a sense of relief when the police overtake you and disappear over the horizon? You have insurance; you've had your car's roadworthiness tested; you've paid your road tax... nothing to worry about, right?

It was only a short time ago that I was deeply indoctrinated by my schooling, that had shaped me into a meek conformist - I was fearful of defying any of society's rules and regulations. A family friend wanted to go fishing with me, and I said we needed to obtain a permit. "Our prisons are full of people who got caught fishing without a license" this friend laughed. "What are you in here for? Murder. What are you in here for? Fishing without a license" he continued jovially.

The city centre is crammed with 50,000 protestors preparing to march. I walk past a police cordon and I can hear a police officer yelling at me that I can't go the way I'm going, but I know that he'll be busy dealing with my obedient friend who will have stopped per the instructions. I keep walking, pretending to be unable to hear the entreaties to return. The policeman lets my friend go and we walk to the head of the march.

Police car

I'm sure that anarchy would be a disaster for sick and vulnerable people. I have no desire to see civilised society crumble. We can't all do whatever the fuck we want, whenever the fuck we want. Perhaps if everybody acted like I did, it would be the end of the world as we know it.

"Don't walk" says the sign in the United States. I jaywalk with gay abandon. Even in Manchester people look at me like I'm mad and suicidal, for the way I cross the road. However, it's done with such confident aplomb that nobody challenges me. I notice that people who are surrounded by plenty of steel and glass and plastic, such that they would suffer no injury at all if they killed me to death with their motor vehicle, do not give a single fuck about whether I live or die. In London, a motorist will slow down or even brake, to avoid killing a pedestrian, but these provincial plebs treat human lives with no such sanctity.

To live in a crowded city is to be humbled by humanity. To be detained against your will on an underfunded psych ward is to humbled, also. In the city, you are forced to confront your pathetic meaningless existence, as an ant crawling in its nest would be, if it had the faculties to perceive itself and its surroundings. But an ant's nest is akin to a row of gleaming skyscrapers, insofar as being a testament to what can be achieved by a society working together. On the psych ward, you are forced to confront your powerlessness over forces greater than yourself - society will exclude its troublemakers.

Perhaps you think I would endorse heroin being sold in supermarkets and that babies' pacifiers should be replaced with crack pipes?

As six police officers pinned me to the ground and my bum was injected with lorazepam, in the Accident & Emergency department of a hospital, I noticed a cleaner and a security guard nearby - some of the lowest paid people in society are often completely unacknowledged for the role they play in maintaining the division between the peasants and the aristocracy. My face was inches from the floor, but the policeman's trousered knee on my head was clean and so was the linoleum. Circles of red and green blinked at me - the police bodycams, videotaping the whole gruesome specatcle. I'd fallen from grace, but I hadn't slipped anywhere near the bottom - it's a long way down.

A friend whose judgement I trust and respect, tells me that I should drop the bad boy image of "the guy who got fucked up in Manchester". She knows that people are watching and I'm misrepresenting myself. She knows that people are lazy and won't look any deeper than the superficial image that I present.

Is my life - and the way I document it - by accident or by design? Do you imagine that when I'm writing, I don't think at all about how things are going to be perceived? The joke's on you if you don't read what I write with the prerequisite pinch of salt.

If you just dip in at random - like a care quality inspector - then you will get a random impression. On a good day you'll get a good impression. On a bad day you'll get a bad impression.

Violent restraints

Do you think the graph above shows that things are improving? No. No it does not. Things are getting worse. Much, much worse. The data above shows conclusively that during the period under examination, there was a fourfold increase in the very metric that was supposed to be cut by 80%.

Do you remember blue tablet man? Well, anyway, he assaulted a nurse for giving him a yellow tablet (5mg of diazepam) instead of a blue tablet (10mg of diazepam).

A drugs dog sweeps the ward. The patients believe the dog can sniff out cigarette lighters. I ask the handler if the dog can sniff Spice and he confirms that it can. There's Spice everywhere on the ward, despite its deleterious effect on the mental health of susceptible individuals - prodromal schizophrenia can turn into fully-blown psychosis under the influence of the powerful synthetic cannabis, making it all the more concerning that it's so widespread on an acute psychiatric ward.

The patients here are the lucky ones and they know it. Everybody agrees it's better to be here with a warm dry bed and three hot meals a day. Everybody agrees it's better to be here, where the chances of being beaten up and/or robbed are minimal. With winter on its way, months of unimaginable suffering lie ahead of Manchester's homeless population, which has increased 1,100% in just 7 years - and a huge number of them smoke Spice.

Abandon hope all ye who entered the world from the mid-1990s onwards. What are the prospects for the youth of today, and the glut of graduates who were promised that indebting themselves and spending three or four years at university would be a good move?

Does it not seem like an obvious reaction to a decline in living standards, to retreat into drugged-up oblivion?

We're sifted and sorted and dissected by tests. We're examined, inspected and measured in every conceivable way. We never have any respite from the world's desire to label us, grade us and monitor us. The pressure to meet the expectations placed upon us is relentless. Some of us will crumble and have nervous breakdowns or be paralysed by anxiety disorders. Some of us will rebel and kick back at the suffocating environment that's desperate to eject and marginalise anybody who doesn't neatly fit in a box. Lots of subcultures have sprung into existence, with members exchanging knowing looks - these people are so much happier now that they have rejected the stereotype they were supposed to embody.

It saddens me that the hard-working staff on the ward are anxious and on best behaviour, when the other 364 days a year I know that they try their very hardest. This is just one of many psych wards, where the macro problems are greater than anything that can be influenced in the microcosms.

If you're going to randomly dip in, be careful to not make a lazy judgement based on a small sample size.




Why do I Still Want to Die?

7 min read

This is a story about subservience...

Back alley

It's grim up North. I didn't think it would be but it is. Here's Coronation Street. Beautiful, isn't it? Presently, that discarded sofa would be where I'd sleep if I discharged myself from hospital.

Without the crutches of alcohol, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills, I feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, because of the precarity of my position. Without a home; without a job; without financial security - there's plenty of rational reasons to be distressed.

People implore me to sit back and relax, but they don't realise that I've got loan payments to make; credit card payments to make; overdraft interest to be paid. To have to spell this out multiple times is frustrating.

"Why don't you just go bankrupt?"

Yeah, nice one, Einstein. Did you know that I do a lot of consultancy for financial services organisations? It's imperative that I have a clean credit record - prospective employers will do credit checks on me. You might as well suggest that I go out and commit a crime and add a criminal record to my list of woes.

"It's too soon to be thinking about going back to work"

Well, unless I'm accepting that I'm abandoning all hope of ever repaying my creditors and suffering a life of poverty at the mercy of the state, then no, it's not too soon. There's a concept called runway that I talked about at length during the first half of this year. I was unwell, but during my convalescence I was running out of runway. What happens when a plane runs out of runway?

In short, I'm driven to seek income, to prop up my depleted finances and keep servicing my debts.

If you're really wanting to poke your nose into the darkest recesses of my life, then you should know that I can easily earn enough to replenish my savings and get onto an even keel, with just 5 or 6 months of contract work in London. That I ever left London seems like a mistake, but I had few options - what I did was the right thing in the circumstances.

Today, I'm detoxed from alcohol and benzodiazepines - the physical dependency has been treated - but it quite literally nearly killed me. In addition to the massive deliberate tramadol overdose, my hospitalisation meant I abruptly stopped drinking and taking benzos, which caused me to have loads of seizures - in short, you should never suddenly stop heavy drinking or taking large doses of benzos, because you could die.

So, one might argue that I'm in a better place than when I attempted suicide. Yeah, I guess the biggest threat to my life has gone - my physical dependency on medications and alcohol.

Now, the biggest threat to my life is me - the desire to be dead is an insistent nagging thought that won't go away. It makes so much sense to commit suicide: all I have ahead of me is stress.

The rebound anxiety - having ceased taking medications and drinking alcohol - is causing me to suffer an intolerable amount of unpleasant feelings. It feels like I'm going to feel awful forever, and who would want that?

Of course, my perceptions are probably warped - nothing lasts forever. However, should I really be living my life just hoping to die of natural causes?

I could be writing about how pleased and happy I am to have a second chance - I survived a very large overdose and other medical complications that really should have killed me: the team at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) were very surprised that I survived. Shouldn't I embody every trite contrived platitude you've ever heard? Shouldn't I be carpe diem'ing? Shouldn't I be counting my blessings? Shouldn't I be thanking my lucky stars?

Without stopping to consider all the reasons I tried to kill myself, my problems are not going to go away on their own, are they?

If my suicide attempt was an impulsive thing that I had any regrets about, then perhaps surviving would give me some long-lost appreciation for life. However, I'm spine-chillingly cold and rational about the biggest decision that anybody can ever make: the decision to die. Having been stuck in a never-ending cycle of attempts to get my life back together again, I was exhausted and unable to face rebuilding everything again. I'm still exhausted.

There was a fleeting chance that my suicide attempt could have been a minor setback, but I was completely shafted by the company I was working for. The mistreatment I suffered was inhumane; monstrous. I'm almost speechless that I could have been treated so badly.

I'm stuck between three things:

  1. To act positively, and go and earn some more money
  2. To act negatively, and pursue my legal rights
  3. To simply attempt to kill myself again

To follow the first option is to repeat the behaviours I mastered a very long time ago. It was 20 years ago I got my first full-time job; rented my first apartment. It was 20 years ago that I learned about office politics and how to get ahead in life - a life of corporate conformity.

Instinctively, I reject the bullshit that made me unwell. For 20 years I've observed the rats in the rat race, and for 20 years I've observed the world become a shitter place - an exploding population is on collision course with mass starvation; unrestrained fossil fuel burning has led to runaway climate change, which is causing parts of the world to become uninhabitable, killing and displacing billions of people; deregulated free-market capitalism has raped the globe's finite resources and created a culture of wealth-worship where nobody gives a fuck about anything.

To be a principled, ethical man, is a kind of disadvantage - my political philosophies about social justice and a more fair and equal world, are exploited. I find myself screwed over by people who are willing to trample on anybody and everybody, in a desperate and disgusting scramble up the slippery sides of a mountain of dead bodies.

I've proven that I can play by the rules, but the whole game is bullshit and most people are cheating. I don't have anything to prove to anybody anymore; I've shown that I can wear the corporate mask and fit in with the herd; I've shown that I can live a life of subservient conformity, but it drove me to point of taking my own life.

I don't wanna play anymore, and the only way I can see to call time on this bullshit is to kill myself.

I think to myself that I've suffered and that I must turn that suffering into a piece of art - a monument to the stupidity of humanity. It's grandiose and ridiculous to think that a piece of writing could have any useful effect on the world, but this is my only legacy. Do you deny me the facts? To think that I would no longer live & breathe was a shock to many who've stuck with me and followed my story.

Of course, I'm sick and I've got "insight" into my illness - that is to say that I can consider an objective point of view. It's natural that I'd be feeling terrible, only 24 days after I very nearly managed to kill myself. It's natural that I'd be feeling terrible, given the clusterfuck of issues I've got to sort out if I want to go on living. I can see that I may very well be feeling unnaturally anxious, because my brain is re-adjusting to life without booze and benzos to soothe the stresses that are ever-present in the world.

A doctor suggests that I avoid the news, political protests and other things that I might get worked up about. Is this akin to a lobotomy? I think I would very much like a lobotomy... that's how I arrived at the brain-numbing chemical lobotomy that I swallowed every single day. Unfortunately, my brain is very much intact.

Why am I still so painfully conscious?




Gone Fishin'

7 min read

This is a story about being observant...

ECG stickers

Where do blue tablets actually come from? Well, presumably they are pooped out by blue fish, like the ones that can be seen swimming here on the pavement and road. Can you see them - the little blue fishies?

With our Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat on, puffing from our pipe, we might deduce from the proximity of a large hospital and the lack of water, that these are not actually fish. What could they be?

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a graph of what's going on in our head, quite literally. En kephalé means "in head" in Greek, and the gram bit means "written down". Electro should be relatively self-explanatory.

Were these fish involved in seeing what was going on inside somebody's head? No, I don't think so.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a graph of our heartbeat, as denoted by the cardio part.

In order to know what our heart's doing, we are all very familiar with the stethoscope, but there's a more accurate test that doesn't depend on human hearing. The muscles that pump the 4 chambers of the heart never stop unless you go into cardiac arrest or otherwise die. Muscles give off tiny electrical impulses, and these can be measured with highly sensitive equipment - an ECG machine.

So what about these fish? Well, it looks like they're the little sticky electrodes that are put on each of your ankles, arms and across your chest around your heart. When you are hooked up to an ECG machine, you've got a stack of cables attached to you.

One of my fellow patients at the hospital was in such a big hurry to get rid of these stickers, after having the health of their heart measured, that they tore them off and discarded them onto the floor, quite possibly in a fit of rage at having been cared for by one of the finest healthcare systems in the world. It's quite understandable that having received lifesaving treatment that's free at the point of use, this individual should have ripped these electrodes off their body and tossed them onto the road and pavement - that'll teach society a lesson, now that a street sweeper will have to come along and clean up this trash!

We might note that there are only 4 stickers, and we can presume that these are the ones from the person's wrists and ankles, which would have been most conspicuous. Perhaps it wasn't until the person explored their body later, that they found 4 more on their chest - one of which was lurking around on their left hand side and might not even have been discovered until a later date.

Debate rages in the United Kingdom, about whether we should have penalties to discourage people from treating the National Health Service disrespectfully. We could charge people for a no-show to a General Practice (GP) or outpatient appointment. We could charge people for any visit to Accident & Emergency for trivial matters that could have been treated at a minor injuries clinic, or perhaps did not require medical attention at all.

There is evidence that we are starting to allow a two-tier society to emerge where none is supposed to exist. Doctors' waiting rooms have plush leather seats for 'VIP' patients - who are paying for private consultations - while the NHS patients sit on hard wooden chairs. For an operation, paying to go private might mean skipping waiting times, even though it will be the same surgical team, in the same hospital, with the same equipment and in the same operating theatre. Although it's not supposed to happen, surely some of the waiting times are because private patients are queue-jumping?

Those at the bottom struggle with zero-hours contract minimum wage jobs, with the purchasing power of their pay packet decreasing every month, due to inflation. Things are not a lot better on the next rung of the ladder - an NHS Clinical Support Worker's salary tops out at around £15,000. That's £259 a week. Ouch. My rent in London was £480 a week. The wealth disparity is disgusting, isn't it?

While the cost of housing and the cost of energy - electricity and gas - is skyrocketing with double-digit percentage increases, wages barely increase at all. One only needs to look at the use of food banks, to see that the little people are struggling - people who clean your toilet, scrub your floor, wipe your bum, cook your food, stack your shelves and scatter rose petals along the privileged path that you walk. But, these spoiled brats still vote for a ruling elite who care nothing for the wails of distress that are now becoming a deafening scream of pain.

The bulk of the BBC was moved up to Manchester a few years ago, and it's been quite evident that it's had an effect on the mindset of the people who work for the broadcaster. In London, the homelessness problem is inconspicuous in wealthy districts, but in Manchester - where homelessness has soared 1,100% in just 7 years - the problem is inescapable. The BBC has shown a number of documentaries which accurately reflect exactly what I have seen and experienced: there are vast numbers of people in dire need of assistance.

Who wants a McJob that doesn't even pay enough to be able to rent a room in a shit apartment, and have any life at all? Does it surprise you that people are smoking strong synthetic cannabinoids which allow them to escape the stress and hopelessness of a hideous reality that nobody in Government seems to want to address.

There's a crisis that's going on all around us. Pull back the covers and human tragedy is unfolding underneath.

This is not a "wake up sheeple!" alarmist or sensationalistic think-piece, but in actual fact an unfliching and painfully truthful account - I bear testament to what I've seen - of the shocking disparity between London and the South-East, where our wealth is concentrated, and the rest of the United Kingdom where things are very grim indeed.

We talk about the 'Westminster Bubble' and I can attest first hand what it's like. At the beginning of this year I was at the grand headquarters building of Her Majesty's Revenue Collectors (HMRC) and it had been refurbished to an incredibly high standard. I was taken to an extremely grand room, which was capacious enough to hold at least 50, maybe even 100 people, but only had me and the two people interviewing me. Otherwise this space was left empty and unused, so far as I could see - perhaps a metaphor for all the empty homes that have been bought by foreign investors in London.

Meanwhile, it was barely two years ago that I was in social housing apartment (council flat) in London, which was in such a poor state of repair that there was literally 2 inches of water that one had to paddle through, in order to use the toilet or a terrible shower that barely worked. It's quite clear where our tax money is going - tax breaks for millionaires, not houses for nurses.

Bursaries for nursing have now been removed, so our nurses will emerge with the best part of £60,000 of debt when they qualify, which will further reduce their take-home pay. The interest on a student loan of that magnitude is more than 12% of our nurses' starting salary of £22,000, which means they will sink deeper and deeper into debt each year.

Who will mop up your sick, piss, vomit, blood, mucous, pooh, give you a sponge-bath in bed, say soothing things and give you painkillers when you cry out in agony, come running when you press the call button and generally make you as comfortable as possible when you're unwell?

As comrade Corbyn said: a millionaire in their mansion is going to need an ambulance if they have a heart attack, just like anybody else.





5 min read

This is a story about winning a prize...

Visitor stats

This week's big climber in the UK top 40 is a new single from the National Health Service. This band has been churning out smash hits since 1948 and is loved by tens of millions of fans. Here on Top of the Pops tonight, you'll see a live performance from this sensational act. Keep watching to find out what the UK's number one hit single is, at the end of the show.

Here on this page are the dry words of a deranged individual. How will you choose to interpret them?

Language is a rather crude and imprecise tool to fully express ourselves. Ambiguity creeps in and the thoughts and feelings of the author are not communicated with high fidelity - each reader will arrive at a different impression from the text.

As a software engineer who's been building systems for some of the world's biggest companies for over 20 years, I could easily copy Uber's dastardly tactics of diverting any web requests from a certain region of the country - e.g. a specific city in the North of England - in order to display a different page.

Most of my readers are using smartphones or tablets. Readers who are using Windows XP and Internet Explorer are quite unusual, and it's easy to flag up those anomalies - they stand out in the data that I gather about my visitors.

It's not hard for tech companies and technologists to present something that has been customised and tailored for each visitor. You might think that you'd see the same Google search results as somebody else, for example, given the same search terms, but Google works very hard to identify individuals, even in their anonymised dataset.

Traditional print-media widely reports that we are living in social media bubbles, where we are fed things that we like, because we're more likely to share that content and spread it 'virally'. What is less well reported is how wedded we are to the walled gardens that we live in - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat et. al.

How long are you going to keep reading for? There's nearly 700,000 words here. Are you gonna read it all?

The best defence against anybody who would seek to jump to the wrong conclusions and make silly assumptions, is to present more data than can be reasonably processed - information overload - such that the farcical nature of reducing the complexities of life to some pathetic synopsis, are exposed as pure stupidity.

Of course, we would all love to feel that we understand all the laws of the universe. I've fried my mind with stacks of books and papers on theoretical physics, attempting to understand the fundamental nature of reality itself. Emotionally, I don't want to admit defeat, but digging deeper only seems to reveal even more unfathomable weirdness. Some of the quarks are called strange, charm and beauty. I love that.

Are you bored yet?

Can you not see that my intention is to create a maze of complexity that's impenetrable? It's not possible to know my mind. Even for me, I struggle to understand fully why I say and do the things I do. If it's hard for me, it's going to be impossible for you to dissect or categorise me; to judge me and to simplify me into something that can be captured by written language on a sheet of paper. What are you going to write in your report or your email?

There's mockery and disdain here, but if you dig a little deeper I hope you see that I don't have disrespect for anybody whose intention is to help and support me, and I have no intention of damaging my own treatment and recovery, nor anybody else's, nor cause any difficulty for the hard-working staff of the National Health Service and the ancillary support services.

Today, I'm a free man - an informal patient - but that puts me in an additionally vulnerable situation. I could be discharged from the hospital without a discharge plan - no place to live and no income. I'm sure some pen-pusher somewhere sees the opportunity for a quick win - am I just a statistic on a monthly report?

Tories out

It upsets me that front-line staff have been cut, while middle managers have plenty of time on their hands to justify their pointless existence. The managers have survived the cull, the pay freeze and the excessive demands placed on the over-stretched people who actually do the damn job. Police, NHS workers, teachers - to name but a few - are getting a bum rap.

The first thing that I'm excited about doing with my newfound freedom is going to a protest at Tory cuts and austerity, to co-incide with the start of the Conservative Party conference, in a certain Northern city. The establishment are coming to me, and I will thumb my nose at them and boo them. A friend suggested that I could throw eggs and if I got in trouble with the police, they'd probably just bring me back to hospital on a section 136... put that in your damn report.

"Risk to the community - possibly going to throw eggs at Theresa May, to protest against cuts to front-line services and damage to the NHS, as well as undue stress on the police and other workers who care for and protect our most vulnerable members of society".




Cool Britannia

9 min read

This is a story about indoctrination...

Dunkirk IMAX ticket stub

I wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday morning, condemning jingoistic rhetoric, especially in light of the emboldenment of closet racists by Brexit & Donald Trump. As our fathers and grandfathers who served in the armed forces during World War II die, I am angry that we seem to be left with a bunch of deluded nationalist wankers who think that warfare is a glorious thing. There are no winners in war - only one group getting to impose terms on another.

As children disengage from education and unjustly inherit a hopeless future of minimum wage zero-hours contract McJobs, we have witnessed the rise & rise of the Call of Duty series of computer games. The aggregate profits from Call of Duty, vastly eclipse all the money taken at the cinema box office & DVD sales, for war movies.

If you learn about warfare from computer games, not from history lessons, then you gain the false impression that wars are won by individual soldiers' heroic actions. The story told by computer games is that war is exciting entertainment and one man can be victorious against insurmountable numbers of enemy forces. When playing a computer game, you don't have the visceral fear that you are going to be wounded or killed. There's no risk to your life or health and you don't hear the screams of people, as they bleed to death in agony. When you kill a 'virtual' soldier you know they're not real - they're not human like you are. All humans have a family; you and the 'enemy' bleed red; everybody is equally shit scared of death and injury.

When we learn about history at school in the UK, it's all about World War I and World War II. We're taught about the USA sending cannon fodder for the D-Day beach landings. The Brits talk about 'winning the war'. The Yanks talk about 'helping the Brits win the war'. Due to Cold War propaganda, it's now no longer acknowledged that it was the Russians who conquered Berlin and cornered Hitler in his bunker, where he committed suicide. The fact is that Nazi Germany fought on too many fronts and over-stretched itself.

It's hard to conceptualise a war of attrition - trench warfare - like World War I, when ground troops would be sent 'over the top' only to be shot to pieces by machine guns. Through the genocide of the Native Americans and happy geographic accident, the USA has been able to pour trillions of dollars into the development of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear bombs were dropped by the USA, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians - men, women & children. The USA has a romanticised a kind of warfare that's cowardly, clean and clinical - dropping bombs on a defenceless 'enemy' thousands of feet below.

Every decisive weapon that has ever been developed in history - from the pointy stick to the suicide bomber - has conferred not only a military advantage but also a psychological one. If you've ever been prodded with a pointy stick, it's not very nice and it makes you wish you had a pointy stick, with which to at least defend yourself, if not to get revenge on the person who prodded you. If you have ever prodded an unarmed person with a pointy stick, then you are joining the ranks of every man who ever carried a spear, slingshot, bow & arrow, dagger, sword, musket, rifle, pistol, rocket launcher or machine gun. Weapons turn an ordinary animal that can only fight with teeth & claws, into an increasingly powerful combination of man & machine, capable of mass murder. The arms race is a natural reaction to armed oppression.

I like to think of myself as a cosmopolitan Citizen of the World, as opposed to a nationalist. Racists with the St. George's flag draped around their shoulders make me want to vomit. However, the educated middle-classes who work well-paid professional jobs, have many things of value - houses, cars, cash in the bank, stocks & shares, holiday homes and a bunch of other stuff too - but English white trash have nothing: no hope of a better life, and their life is dog shit anyway. The most valuable thing that an English 'chav/pleb/prole' has is their British citizenship, which entitles them to welfare benefits, free healthcare and social housing. I can somewhat understand why the Brexit brigade wouldn't want to share the only thing they've got in their life that's got any value: their UK government handouts.

I watched the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk yesterday. I saw it at an IMAX cinema, shot on 70mm film (well, the digital equivalent anyway) which made it an immersive experience. I didn't expect it to affect me emotionally. I honestly could not have given a fuck whether Private Ryan was Saved or not.

I've been a keen sailor/yachtsman, since childhood. There's something inescapably British about living on a small island. I've spent lots of time at sea, and I have no illusions about what a formidable impasse any stretch of open seawater presents, even in the absence of man-eating sharks. The English Channel - where I've sailed and kitesurfed more than anywhere in the world - is one of the windiest places on Earth and has some of the biggest tides, which create dangerous fast-flowing currents that exceed the maximum speed of many boats.

In the film Dunkirk, when the flotilla of British fishermen and amateur pleasure boaters, appeared on the horizon - to evacuate the beach packed with 400,000 troops, surrounded on all sides by advancing Nazi troops - I was crying like a baby. This is a true story. 326,000 troops were evacuated by a hastily assembled hotchpotch of any vessel that was capable of making the channel crossing and getting close enough to the beach for soldiers to clamber aboard these motorboats, fishing trawlers, sailing yachts and every other kind of boat you could imagine.

Land of Hope and Glory or God Save the King did not play as the soundtrack, nor did Rule Britannia or any other overtly patriotic clichéd music. Dunkirk wasn't plastered with Union Jacks or other national symbols. However, when the film is about to end, the soundtrack finishes with a subtle reboot of Edward Elgar's Variation IX "Nimrod" which is played grave. The orchestral piece is played so slowly, that few would be able to immediately identify the chords, name the work and its original composer.

I don't wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday and I don't watch any of the television coverage, let alone attend the ceremony.

The British Legion has metamorphosed into something that's got an unpleasant association with racists, and is on the same spectrum as the British National Party (BNP), the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First. I have a knee-jerk reaction that causes me to reject the flag-waving nationalism that inversely correlates with the economic prosperity of our once-great nation and empire. Nationalism breeds bigotry and xenophobia, which leads to hate crimes and racially motivated atrocities.

Of course, to feel guilty about slavery, the conquest of nations, genocidal massacres, imperial aggression and oppression of whole nations - hundreds of millions of people - is not something I can take any rational personal responsibility for. I wasn't alive when the British gunned down over 1,000 unarmed Sikh men, women & children, who were peacefully gathered in Jallianwalla Bagh public gardens. I protested against the invasion of Iraq. I've protested against every war that Britain has fought, since reaching voting age - when in theory, all wars became fought in my name, as a member of the UK electorate. In a democracy, the blood of the innocent is spilled on every citizen's hands.

However, something about my upbringing in Britain has clearly indoctrinated me, as I was so deeply emotionally moved by Dunkirk. Perhaps living by the sea and being a keen dinghy sailor, yachtsman and kitesurfer, has given me an appreciation for the treachery of the oceans and the difficulty of evacuating 326,000 soldiers, trapped on a beach, to a place of safety. I can directly relate to feelings of every yacht skipper towards the safety of their crew and the duty of care that is morally owed to anybody who is in need of assistance - the sea is a cruel and deadly place, and to return crew, passengers and shipwreck victims to safe dry land is a responsibility felt amongst all captains and skippers.

Watching a very British war movie, doesn't make me want to build a wall and turn the United Kingdom into a fortress; I don't want to deport every Muslim and Eastern European; I don't want to racially abuse people who weren't born in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; I don't want to EVER say that "national security" is a justification for the infringement of the sovereign rights of another nation state, through war, invasion, dropping bombs, drone strikes and UN economic sanctions that cause disproportionate suffering to innocent civilians. I didn't rush out of the cinema, and immediately want to punch the first foreign-looking person that I saw.

I'm obviously conflicted. It was a wake-up call, that I've been so subtly indoctrinated, that I'm not even aware of my own Britishness. I hope that doesn't mean that I'm more of a closet racist than I care to admit to myself or others. Am I really just as bad as Trump supporters and neo-Nazis, beneath my cultured & educated, compassionate liberal metropolitan tolerant & inclusive veneer?

It's a dichotomy, but I feel like I can watch a historically accurate dramatisation of true events, and be emotionally moved, but yet also stay true to my values: condemnation of nationalism and Donald Trump's undiplomatic rhetoric; and peacefully protesting against war and opposing racism, wherever I see it.




Giving Thanks to Her

10 min read

This is a story about gratitude...

Boxing up

In happier times, I could cycle through a tunnel under the River Thames to go and see her. During a blissfully warm Indian summer, we courted on the hills above the capital, enjoying spectacular panoramic views across London: far better than even my overpriced central London apartment can provide. Sipping Prosecco out of plastic glasses and eating Marks & Spencer finger food, it was clear that our borderline alcoholism and gluttony made us a well-matched pair, or so it seemed as we muddled through the tail end of summer, autumn and the winter.

This is not a portmortem of our relationship. If anybody was looking for that, including her, I would hope they'd read So Lonely, which gives some insight into my half of the story of our breakup: a story that would never get told to her mum, brother, best friends and work colleagues. Instead, I'm a pariah. No; worse... I have instigated protective instincts that only a short time before extended to me, as a loosely connected family member: her partner and somebody fully committed to a lifelong future together. Her brother hates me, I assume.

There's the unresolved issue of the fact that I loved that she had some association with politics, by fluke of her career, while I had made political matters the core of my thinking; political ideologies were the thing I most passionately believed in. When I write pieces which show that my thinking is ahead of the pack - unencumbered by the corrupting influence of living and working too close to the very elites who have grown apart from the electorate - I can't help but wonder what my former best friend, lover and lifelong partner, would have to say, with the benefit of her amazing intellect... but she also benefits from her privileged position of having to do nothing more than to turn up at an office each day, to soak up the status quo and entrenched beliefs of the Westminster bubble. I hoped she would read Labour's Catch 22, especially as it predated Graham Jones and Gloria De Piero's rebellion over Labour arrogance that Corbyn's popularity will be enough to sweep the party to power at the next general election.

Before continuing further, it's important to note that I'm boxing up my belongings, putting them into storage, and it's likely that I will be leaving this city of nearly 9 million inhabitants - where bumping into somebody you know is incredibly improbable - and she should know that I respect our agreement to leave each other in peace; to move on with our lives, despite the pain and heartache of a breakup. I could be in a city in the North of the country, or I could even be abroad: the chance that we should ever meet again is close to zero percent.

It should be noted that she used to read everything I wrote, proofread it, help edit it, provide feedback and even helped shaped the plot of my debut novel. This is the first thing I want to say thank you for doing, whether she reads this or not.

Bad boy

I'm doing this in a kind of reverse order of importance, so the next thing I'm thankful for is her tolerance and even good humour, over things that very few partners could be so kind and understanding about. She might not have understood what bath salts were at first; she might not have understood that I suffer from a dual diagnosis, which makes understanding me a whole lot harder than buying the Amazon bestseller on bipolar disorder, but she damn well did buy that book. By way of a comparison, my ex-wife bought the book "Nag your Loved one Sober". That epitomises of the difference between my relationship with my my ex-wife and a loving relationship.

Photo frames

The next thing I've got to give thanks for is how she listened & observed. My walls were bare even though I had a photo of nearly 20 of my best friends, a photo of me that reminds me I was a young cool kitesurfer dude once, and a photo of an animal I have always professed a desire to keep as a pet. The frames that hold these pictures were part of a Christmas bonanza of gifts that I'm now bursting into to tears thinking about. Not so much because of the thoughtful gifts - although this was without question the best Christmas of my adult life - but because I was brought into the fold of a bonded and caring family and received so much love, care and acceptance.

The sickie

Early in the New Year, I secured a new IT contract. Sadly, I sat on my leg and caused a kind of crush injury normally only seen in car accidents and building collapses. My kidneys stopped working and I found myself as a high dependency case in hospital, on dialysis. She burnt herself out trying to look after me for weeks, but not only that, she marshalled the troops: my friends and her family, in order to make me feel loved and supported. In all the multiple hospitalisations I've suffered over the last few years, I'd never received a single get well card and one of only two visitors came to demand I returned a copy of the keys to his house after a suicide attempt [not in his house]. It's imperative that I thank her [and her family] for their efforts in returning me to good health, through love and support.

Mr Squiz

Apart from raccoons, squirrels are another animal that I'm mad about. I guess that, living in London, squirrels are a cute animal that has gotten so used to human contact that they come right up to you and take things out of your hands, if you pretend to have food for them. If you do have food for the squirrels, they'll crawl all over you and put up with a certain amount of petting, even though they're wild. With the collapse of my second attempt at domestic bliss - my marriage to my ex-wife - my cat had to go live with my parents, from whom I'm estranged. I'm thankful that she gave me a third period of domestic bliss, with Mr Squiz as our inanimate pet [who she bought for me]. The lovely bedclothes, quilt and pillows are all thanks to her. She made me feel loved, and that I could love again.

Domestic bliss

No domestic bliss is complete without the trimmings of high quality kitchenwares and other day-to-day luxury items. Everthing from my tatty tea towels to my budget Ikea cutlery received a quiet makeover. My cheap-brand supermarket goods were replaced with the best that Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have to offer the upper-middle-class consumer and I started to develop a penchant for lime cordial made with 30% Mexican limes... available exclusively in the top-tier supermarkets. The hoi polloi have never tasted such delicious concentrated drink products, nor have they used John Lewis' or Joseph & Joseph homewares... they haven't lived. I must be thankful to her - without even a hint of sarcasm - for giving me a simidgin of a taste of the finer things in life.

Camper Shoes

Our final quarel might seem rather ludicrous to you. It resulted in me slicing deep gashes into the length of my forearm and making footprints in my own blood, on her walls. The only thing you can really know from this is that I was incredibly unwell, but you could also infer that there was something that was deeply important to me, about whatever was going on. It's very hard to understand people who are in an extreme mental health crisis, but my crisis was deepened and exacerbated by her decision to try and ignore me. I had tried and failed to walk to the local shop - a very short distance away - wearing my Brazilian Havaiana flip-flops, but due to the aforementioned leg injury, my left foot is completely numb and I'm unable to even feel if my big toe has become dislocated, which it easily can because of damage to my tendons. This is all highly complicated, but you should know that I've spent months each year wearing those Brazilian flip flops, and they had become intricately linked to my identity. She had offered - a parting gift if you like - to buy me a pair of summer shoes, which I could wear with my numb left foot. The Camper shoes pictured offer a wide footbed, allowing my toes to spread naturally: otherwise I would have no idea if I was getting a blister on one side or the other of my foot. She will probably never understand how important these shoes were to me; nor how important it was that she at least humour me, when our relationship had fractured and virtually disintegrated. She seemingly made an overnight change in how much care and attention that she lavished on me, in what was supposed to be a love to last until our dying days. My final thank you is for something that looks purely cosmetic or materialistic, but she eventually had the faith to make a final pyrrhic effort and expense, which she would never see any benefit of, to get me those shoes. I wear those shoes every day and the quality of life improvement they have brought me would astound anybody who hasn't experienced partial loss of the use of a limb or extremity, and the loss of the choices they get to make about their attire. This is more than simple vanity: it's identity, which is tightly bound up with self-esteem.

To write the best part of 2,000 words, in thanks to a partner who you've promised - mutually - to never be in contact with ever again, seems to plumb the depths of insanity, but while she has her resurgent career, I've had a close shave with being hospitalised and have been visited at home every day by somebody checking to see if I'm still alive. I'm not saying it's been a cakewalk for her, but she hurled herself back into her career, which was both therapeutic as well as beneficial to her ongoing job aspirations.


I'm not completely insane, and I know from the analytics of my website when I've had a visitor which is her, in all likelihood. I want to honour our "no communication" and "move on with our lives" agreement, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have have the evidence to show that somebody's had a peek to see if I'm still alive.

What I need to do is lick my wounds; to try to forgive myself for acts that were driven by mental illness; to try and accept that her choice to break our no-communication agreement was for the private swallowing of her pride and to publicly swallow her pride and for any reconciliation to take place, would be unthinkable when she thinks of herself as some kind of minor celebrity.

While that final paragraph might seem bitter and harsh, given the thankful tone of everything I've just written, perhaps it's just part of the baggage that I struggle with, alone. With any breakup, there will be unanswered questions and what ifs. With any breakup, it's hard not to look backwards until the next love of your life enters the picture. I really hope that nothing I've said would detract from my overall gratitude that I met her, shared time with her, had hope for the future with her, felt loved by her and ultimately had my life enriched by her.

It's rather tragic, but where in life can you say you don't find tragedy and regret: tragedy in what might have been if only things had played out slightly differently?




Labour's Catch 22

8 min read

This is a story about not pleasing all the people all the time...

Party Rosette

The gutter press and Tory rags have done a staggeringly good job of convincing ordinary people that their security is under threat from the invisible spectre of international terrorism. Despite the complete lack of evidence of any communication with ISIS - commanding and controlling "sleeper cells" and suchlike - the newspapers have managed to convince a worrying number of people that there's an Islamic plot to kill and maim the people of the UK, even somehow dovetailing with immigration, asylum and - by loose association - our membership of the European Union.

Our very worst off members of society live in the most fear. They fear the loss of their low-skilled jobs to migrant workers who are prepared to accept terrible working conditions. They also fear for their security, having been turned into Islamophobes by an unrelenting media narrative about terrorism, radicalisation and Muslim extremism. A disappointing number of our fellow Brits would vote in favour of policies that deported Muslims, closed our borders to immigration and asylum and expanded our police state; even arming every police officer with a gun. These working class people should be staunch Labour voters, but the 'security' (jobs and terrorism) issue swung them into the Conservatives' open arms.

Meanwhile, the surprise success of Jeremy Corbyn - to political pundits, journalists and even his own party members - is easily attributable to the number of liberal lefties who were politically 'homeless' until Corbyn re-ignited those forgotten dreams of a socialist utopia. Many who voted Labour might not have been pro-Corbyn, but what educated humanist could ignore the simplistically appealing ideology of taking from the rich to give to the poor? At last, a left wing party to vote for again! Many who had been politically dormant were re-activated by the chance to make a vote to oppose the right-wing, and their cruel cuts and austerity.

To some, it seems obvious that if Labour were to adopt a policy of blocking and derailing Brexit, they would surely have voters turning to them in their droves. Sadly, this is where Labour is caught in a terrible paradox.

By opposing Brexit, Labour would seem soft on immigration, and therefore soft on national security, which are the paramount issues in the minds of the working class, who are Labour's core voting bloc. Conversely, the Islington champagne-socialist who reads the Observer or the Guardian is appalled that Labour offer no strong opposition to leaving the EU. Even to the most rabid Corbyn supporter, they are somewhat baffled as to why he's sitting on the fence when it comes to Brexit. The reason is simple: Brexit is bound up with fears of international terrorism as well as job insecurity. To oppose Brexit would be spectacularly unpopular with the working class. To oppose Brexit would make the Labour party into a party for the wealthy educated London leftie liberals, who are a substantial proportion of the much-resented gentrifiers - seen as no different from any of the other metropolitan elites, who are out of touch with the reality of life's daily struggles in an austere Britain.

After years of politics where people and politicians believed in nothing; where policies were chosen based on focus groups and surveys; where political ideologies had been abandoned... Jeremy Corbyn represents the antidote to politics dominated by unprincipled men and women who only want to wield power. Every policy; every position on the Corbynite agenda, is driven by his conscience and his desire to do the best for ordinary people. This is a radical sea-change, from the rush to the centre and the boom of the populists. We had the era where Tory and New Labour were indistinguishable. We are in an era where a populist party can capitalise upon the pain and fears of a nation reeling from an invisible recession and security threats that have been exaggerated beyond all reasonable proportions. Corbyn represents a return to an ideological politics and strong opinions on what's best for the ordinary people of Britain, instead of the weak insipid crap shaped by polls and focus groups, which pointed to vote-winning policies.

Now that Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has proven itself to be a credible opposition and stands every chance of being in government, the next move is extremely unpalatable. As a party that ideologically stands for the working class, Labour must address that group's primary concerns, even if they're unfounded. It would be impossible to undo the damage of the Brexit campaign, UKIP, BNP, EDL and a nonstop media narrative that tells us that Islamic fundamentalist terror threatens to kill or maim us and our families, anytime, anywhere. The ongoing invisible recession caused by the financial crisis of 2007/8 and Tory cuts - austerity - has been blamed on econonic migrants, but the broad brush has tarred all immigrants, including those seeking asylum. As a principled man Corbyn has been able to do little more than sit on the fence.

Tax avoidance by the rich and large corporations costs the UK vast sums of money, wheras economic migrants actually bring a net benefit to the economy. Suicides caused by job losses and welfare cuts far outnumber deaths caused by terrorism.

It is as if, having been stressed and depressed for a long time, we discovered that we could function perfectly well with just two fingers and a thumb, and so we have decided to cut off four of our digits in the mistaken belief that it will solve our malaise.

To try to reason with those who are hell-bent on Brexit, would only be to further antagonise and patronise them; similarly with those who believe we might need to nuke Iran or North Korea before they nuke us. Those who have decided that all Muslims are potential terrorists are not open to persuasion that their beliefs are complete bullshit. Unfortunately, many traditional Labour voters hold these abhorrant views, and have a warped set of priorities, when it comes to politics, citing immigration - and national security, implicitly - as their number one issue.

The Tory party ties itself in knots, being led by a woman whose opinions can do a U-turn in the blink of an eye; a woman who believes in nothing; a woman who is the toothless, powerless figurehead of a party hell bent on creating a huge insecure labour pool, to be exploited by ruthless capitalists for obscene profits.

The best we can hope for is an awakening of class consciousness: where people realise that the Tory government does not seek to protect its people, but seeks to exploit them; where people realise that the Labour party of today bears no resemblence to New Labour or the Labour party of the 1970s; where people wake up to the injustice of the fact that the burden of Tory cuts and austerity has fallen disproportionately on the least wealthy.

Labour and Corbyn are trapped between a rock and a hard place, and can only patiently continue to stand by their manifesto and the underlying ideology - that the richest and the largest corporations should pay their fair share in society - until the electorate is finally sick and tired of Tory lies and hypocrisy.

As a champagne-sipping North London socialist, I obviously want to scream with frustration at the working class man or woman who votes against their self-interest. They've been turned into Islamophobes who blame immigration for their daily struggles in life, rather than remembering that it was the bank bailouts that started this whole mess, and the Tories who made the ordinary people pay for it. However, all my efforts have done is to label me as part of the London elite, living in a bubble... despised by the working class.

At the moment, politics depresses me, but the ever-present chance of a vote of no confidence in the government and another general election this year, would re-invigorate my interest and my enthusiasm to spread the 'gospel' of comrade Corbyn and a better life for everyone, under a left-wing socialist Labour government.

Politics is such a turn-off for most people, but I think that the referendum on our EU membership, the shock result of Donald Trump's victory and the credibility of a Corbyn-led Labour party, has engaged people who were previously disinterested and/or disillusioned.

Perhaps I'd better get ready to announce my Loony candidacy, should another election be suddenly thrust upon us.