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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


Wrong Time, Wrong Place

7 min read

This is a story about fitting in...


I'm on holiday now. This required a very considerable amount of effort, including a hasty dash to the airport two days earlier than planned, and a couple of very expensive COVID-19 tests: one PCR and one LAMP.

Anyway, with all my COVID-19-free credentials in place, I was able to travel and reach my destination. The stress about whether or not the winter second wave [of COVID-19] would overwhelm the hospitals, and necessitate more lockdowns and travel bans, was almost unbearable, given how hard I've been working, for such a prolonged period. Although you might say it was foolish, I was pinning a lot of hopes on a Christmas getaway, as a reward.

Who am I to get a reward when so many people have lost their jobs, can't pay their rent/mortgage and/or bills, are using food banks and are otherwise suffering dreadfully?

Nobody. I'm a nobody. I'm not entitled to it. I just have it and that's the way it is. I'm a have and most people on the planet are have nots, and it really sucks. I didn't choose the time and place of my birth. I didn't choose my parents. I didn't choose most of the important stuff, which yielded this result: I am on holiday, in a hot and sunny location, with a few dollars in my pocket and no particular worries about keeping a roof over my head or food on the table.

did ask for this. I did want this. Did I feel entitled to it? Only as much entitlement as is proportional to the effort and emotional energy expended, I think. Only as much entitlement as is proportional to the psychological damage which would have been inflicted.

There are people who've had their life savings wiped out. There are people whose lifelong dream business has been bankrupted. There are, of course, many people who've lost loved ones, who they had planned to spend many more happy years in the company of. Entire industries - like cruise liners - and their ancillary businesses, have been wiped out. Hospitality was pretty much wiped out. Cinemas, theatres... the performing arts, like theatres and live music venues... wiped out.

I can't speak for those people, who have suffered those misfortunes and hardships. I can empathise with them, sure, but I have my own unique situation.

I've been writing "the world's longest suicide note" for five and a half years. That time period has included no fewer than four life-threatening suicide 'attempts'... I write the word "attempts" in inverted commas, because none were particularly well planned or executed, but instead they were provoked by circumstances beyond my control.

This year, I decided, things were going to be different. My preparations have far exceeded anything I've done before.

Some years before I started writing this "suicide note" I had obtained some potassium cyanide, which comforted me, knowing I had the option of a reliable exit method. Then, during an acrimonious divorce, I made the decision to safely dispose of it, believing that a clean break and a fresh start, would lead me away from suicide. I was wrong.

I've had some difficulty obtaining potassium cyanide again, but the synthesis of sodium cyanide is not beyond the abilities of a keen amateur chemist, with a decent budget to purchase some very specific pieces of equipment. Dealing with molten salts at 600 degrees centigrade, and indeed, any handling of an extremely potent poison, outside of a laboratory, and without professional training and supervision, was bound to be extremely dangerous, but it seemed viable.

Somewhat daunted by the task of synthesising my own sodium cyanide, I then explored the more obvious route: although there were challenges, obtaining compressed inert gas was, comparatively, easy. I have resolved never to detail the precise paraphernalia and method, because the "barrier to entry" is a useful obstacle for the impulsive... I am alive, because my impulsive suicidal acts were far less likely to succeed.

It comforted me to know that, whatever happened, I would not have a repeat of previous years when I have found myself hospitalised; surviving. It comforted me to know that I had control, no matter what circumstances arose: if I was blocked from travelling to somewhere hot and sunny, then I would have everything I needed to end my life, already in place.

It seems a bit like a childish temper tantrum, when I write it down, but if you've followed the story, then you'll know that I've spent a very long time bordering on suicide, and it should not be seen - in this context - as a rash or tantrum-like act, to end my life, due to a "final straw" being too much to bear.

Thinking about it now, lying on a sun lounger, drinking an ice cold beer, enjoying gorgeous hot weather and clear blue skies, looking at the sea... it seems unthinkable that I would have the paraphernalia to swiftly, painlessly, and reliably commit suicide, sitting at home, ready to be used whenever it's needed. As thought experiment, I asked myself "how would I kill myself, right here, right now?" and the answer was easy: there are some really massive cliffs I could throw myself off. However, unsurprisingly, the positive psychological effect of a long-overdue holiday finally arriving, has completely changed my mindset: why shouldn't I enjoy a nice rest, and go back to the UK feeling refreshed, and keep working for as many years as I feel able to, before I 'retire' by killing myself? For sure, sitting in the sun, drinking ice-cold beer, I put an optimistic upper-bound estimate of 10 or even 15 more years, before it's time to go. I had probably not got 10 or 15 weeks, or even 10 or 15 more days left in me, when I attempted to leave the UK.

Having lost 12kg (26 pounds... the best part of 2 stone) in weight and substantially improved my fitness through regular exercise, plus spent almost half of 2020 completely sober, it gladdens me greatly to drink beer and wine, and stuff my face with french fries smothered with cheese & bacon. If you don't think I have paid for what I am enjoying, you are a fool. Am I entitled to it? No. Of course not. I was prepared to die for it, but that's all; nothing much. And of course, I never forget, that 97% of the world will work much harder and risk much more for their shot at happiness, and most will fail... but I'm not them, am I? I'm me.

Exceptionalism and individualism, exemplified by the idea that "the rules don't apply to me", is writ large at the moment, with Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic showing just how idiotic the nations of the USA and UK can behave, thinking that they can go it alone, and that through Ayn Randian "rational self-interest" anything other than a hellscape will emerge, has now been proven, beyond all reasonable doubt, to be wrong; unbelievably wrong. I'm well aware that my words are full of hypocrisy, but I actually don't care: my plans are different from yours. You are attempting to make copies of your genes, via breeding, and I am resigned to my fate: suicide.

I probably won't write again for a while. My routine now involves sun loungers and ice-cold beers, so my need for this coping mechanism has been almost eliminated.

In my concluding comments, I should at least make this unambiguously clear: I feel very fortunate to have been able to slip the bonds of the plague-infested United Kingdom, and make my way to a hot and sunny country, where I am enjoying fine fare; relaxing and otherwise somewhat unencumbered by the weight of my responsibilities, temporarily. A holiday is probably not a universal cure for major depression, but it fucking helps. If you had any worries that you would learn that I was in hospital or dead, at some point over the festive period, you should be reassured that I'm 99% certain to be sipping cold beer in the sun, in a relaxed mood.

It was a 50:50 coin flip, but things turned out just fine.




Freedom of Information

4 min read

This is a story about the public domain...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, sorry for the self-pity.

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

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

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




Eating Disorder

6 min read

This is a story about dieting...


All humans, and indeed all animals, enjoy drinking, having sex and/or masturbating, drugs and/or other intoxicants, and eating. I know that you are all leaping onto your keyboards to tell me that you don't drink alcohol and you don't like sex, but I'm sorry to say you're wrong, in regards to what I just said. Your thirst is quenched by drinking water, which releases endorphins, just the same as you also get a brain chemical reward when you achieve orgasm, or some other form of sexual gratification. I don't give a shit what you think in your moronic brain: millions of years of evolution are not wrong... the very core of your being is designed to ensure that you stay hydrated, fed, and at some point make an attempt to procreate. Sorry that you thought you were special and different. You are not.

"But I was born incapable of enjoying drugs" you might wail. Yes, yes, I know you think that you somehow won the lottery while being hit by a meteorite and struck by lightening, and you very much think of yourself as a special unique snowflake, but your self-appointed "asexual" status, or whatever the hell it is, does not alter the fact that your brain is so exceptionally complicated, that it does not differ from that of your parents, who ate, drank and had sex, sufficiently to produce anything so pronounced as the absence of any of the enjoyments I listed.

"But I was born without a tongue". Yes. Sure you were.

"But I was born with depression so severe that I can experience nothing at all except for pain and suffering". Yes. Sure you were.

Okay, so, enough of your bullshit.

You like eating, so that's why you keep doing it. The 'liking' part is something which can be philosophically debated ad nauseam, but we have established that you eat, because otherwise you would not have reached the point where you can read stuff on the internet and argue with complete strangers about your weird self-invented identity.

Okay, moving on.

Some people have eating disorders.

Let's repeat that, because it's the point of this whole essay.

Some people have eating disorders.

Eating is nice and enjoyable, but some of us eat "too much" which shouldn't really be considered a problem, but it definitely causes health complications, eventually. Eating "too much" can be considered an eating disorder.

We tend to just call people who eat "too much" things like "fat" or "overweight" or "obese"... but whatever we call them, these are usually pejorative terms. We look upon people who eat "too much" as greedy, lazy, lacking self-discipline, lacking willpower, and generally morally inferior, lesser human beings; deserving targets of abuse and castigation; not worthy of our respect.

Basically, don't eat "too much" or else people will treat you like shit.

Got it?

Then weirdly, there are people who don't eat very much, who are totally awesome people. I mean, like, just because they eat a bit less than other people, we celebrate them: we parade them around as if they're special and different; we photograph and film them; we shower them with money. We idolise a whole bunch of people who don't eat very much. We have built multi-billion-dollar international businesses, who do nothing other than to worship a bunch of people who don't eat very much.

Basically, eat less than you'd like to eat, and people will treat you much better than if you eat a normal amount.

Got it?

Obviously, it's quite difficult to get the balance between not eating very much, and not eating enough just right. It's very hard to judge whether you're eating the right amount, when the aim is to not eat very much. If the aim is to not eat very much, then why not eat nothing? Obviously, you can't eat nothing - although many people will try - because eventually you will die of starvation, but because the human body is very tough, it's very hard to know what "enough" is, when there's so much pressure to not eat very much, and so much reward for not eating very much.

Once you've made the decision to not eat very much, where does it end?

In the past couple of months, I've eaten several hundred calories fewer than my basal metabolic rate. Also, I have had many long periods where my calorie consumption has been zero. The result has been predictable: approximately 10kg (22 pounds) of weight loss in the space of no more than two months. Of course, this is ludicrously unhealthy, but I want to be thin because being thin is considered attractive.

To achieve the extreme weight loss, I have had to forgo a lot of eating. One of my favourite things to do, in the whole world, is to eat. Not eating is extremely awful; distressing; unpleasant. It is an extreme sacrifice, to stop eating, or to eat significantly less than I want and need to. However, the reward for being thin, is to be attractive and so I have done it.

The problem comes in - as an eating disorder - when I look in the mirror at my body, which is a healthy weight, but I see a fat person. Given that my aim was to be thin... if I don't see a thin person when I look in the mirror, and I've undergone such extreme dieting in order to become thin, that I will continue to eat far fewer calories than my body requires, just to pump blood around and keep me warm.

I'm cold. I'm cold all the time. It's awful, dieting.

Yesterday I ate 847 calories. Today I plan on eating zero calories. Tomorrow I plan on eating approximately 700 calories. That is extreme. However, this is necessary to be thin.

If somebody was to accuse me of having an eating disorder, I would disagree, because I will simply stop this extreme diet and start eating a more normal amount of calories, once I am I am thin. However, the question is: when will I be satisfied that I am thin? I have a very easy answer to that: when the National Health Service website admits that I should stop losing weight. I'm already "healthy" according to my BMI, and indeed I have a slim waist of 32 inches, which is excellent for a 183 centimetre tall (6 foot) 41 year old man... everyone should just fuck off and leave me alone but oh no the fucking NHS website couldn't just leave it alone, could they? Even though I've lost 10kg in two months, they are still saying I should lose more. Okay then, fine. I will. Fuck you.





5 min read

This is a story about being unpleasant...


We like to think that niceness, and conversely, nastiness, are innate inherent personality traits, which are fixed immutably at birth. We like to think that the world divides neatly into the nice and the nasty. We might, for example, lazily assume that all criminals are nasty, and that all nurses are nice... to take two very simple examples of commonplace simplified thinking.

While we might all agree that the world would be better if we all aspired to be as nice as possible, and that the world would be better if we all vowed to never be nasty.

Sorry. Nope. Won't work.

Less than one month from now, every gym in the western world will be crammed full of fat people, who aspire to be thin, and who have vowed to lose weight; who aspire to eat less and who have vowed to get fit. Almost all of those people will fail. They will fail, not because they are bad people but because the circumstances around them, exert such a great force pushing them towards being fat and unfit, and away from being thin and fit, that their limited willpower will not last very long. The short-lived nature of their willpower is not a character flaw, but something which is integral to all of us, psychologically.

Imagine that I am very fat. Imagine also that I am unhappy about being very fat. Then, create a single hypothetical day of the year, where everyone in the western world all decides, en masse, to join a gym and start getting thin. Most of the reasons for becoming thin always existed: to be more attractive, to be healthier, to live a longer life, to be able to be more fit and active; able to exert more energy doing fun stuff, and not just shifting blubber from one place to another. So, what's different about New Year's Day? Nothing. Nothing except that millions of other idiots are all having exactly the same idea, at the same time, so there is an immense social movement, carrying a fat person on a wave of delusional euphoria: "this year I'm going to lose weight!" they all declare, as their New Year's resolution.

Why almost all of them fail, is not due to personality flaws, weakness, laziness or even because they are nasty people. They did intend to lose the weight, but if it was easy then they wouldn't have waited so long to do it, would they? If it was easy, then there wouldn't be smug thin people, rubbing everybody's faces in the fact that they're so thin, would there? Being thin would be nothing to be proud of, and to parade around, if it was easy.

We might then, re-evaluate the way we think about fat people. Fat people are nice, because they are just minding their own business, doing what comes naturally to them: eating. We cann't ever say that eating is a nasty act, because we all have to eat, otherwise we die. There is no malice in eating.

Equally, we should re-evaluate the way we think about thin people. Thin people are nasty, because they are deliberately doing unpleasant things, like dieting and exercising, which are not at all natural, in order to feel superior to everybody else. Thin people are maliciously motivated to parade their thin bodies around, figuratively screaming "look at me you fat fucks... I'm so much better than you are, you bunch of lazy porky cunts". That's pretty nasty.

Looking around, we can find other examples of niceness in unlikely places. Crack and heroin addicts who only steal from rich people and/or from large corporations, like retail chains, in victimless crimes like shoplifting. Ethically, there is no difference between shoplifting from a multinational corporation, or buying their products: neither one harms or benefits anybody. In fact, if anything, the presence of shoplifters creates many jobs, for security guards, police and the manufacturers of anti-theft devices. We can think of crack and heroin addicts who commit acquisitive crime, so long as it's just shoplifting, as an essential part of a healthy economy; job creators. What about the crack and heroin addicts who have sex with ugly men? How would those ugly men get sex otherwise?

As you can see: so called 'nasty' people can actually turn out to be very 'nice', and vice-versa. Anybody who's ever had to deal with somebody who actively thinks of themselves as a saint, will know that they're invariably an insufferable cunt... like a doctor who likes to think of themselves as "saving lives" when actually they work as a GP and all they do is make the process of accessing medication into a slow and painfully bureaucratic process, adding zero value and costing everybody a lot of time and money, plus meanwhile preaching holier-than-thou bullshit about how slightly overweight people should lose some weight, unsolicited, to all of their patients, who have no other choice but to listen to the nasty person give their lecture, lest they be refused a handful of pills they could've just bought from a pharmacist, cutting the nasty full-of-themselves so-called doctor out of the loop altogether.

I was going to write, also, about how nice or nasty you are is dictated by how rich you are, and how much pressure and stress you're under... but that will have to wait for another time. Meanwhile, fuck off.




Manic Rant

4 min read

This is a story about image...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Winter is a Nightmare

4 min read

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


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

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

Poor me. Poor me etc etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Would You do it for Free?

4 min read

This is a story about labour...


A reasonable test of whether or not you love, or even like, your job, is to ask yourself the question: would you do it for free? Personally, I wouldn't willingly choose to participate in ordinary organisational office life, which is not to be disparaging of my colleagues, but there are so many better, more humane ways, to organise ourselves versus large hierarchical organisations, with life revolving around going to a building for the majority of days each week, for a substantial percentage of your precious waking hours.

The part of my work which I will keep doing, whether I'm paid to do it or not, is technology. I have rejected technology a few times in my life, in an attempt to live a life which is more connected and in touch with the tangible: to see my work in physical form. The 'weight' of the entire internet, is estimated at little more than a tennis ball, if you add up all the electrons which are storing and transmitting data, across all the computers, networks, smartphones, tablets, telephone wires, airwaves... the whole shebang adds up to barely a whole lot of nothing. Some kind of massive solar storm could potentially burn out transformers and other parts of the electrical grid, but almost all the physical cabling would survive, along with most of the electrical devices. Conversely, data is mostly so ephemeral, that it barely exists physically, as evidenced by the tennis ball example.

The thing which I do so much of for free, that it might be worth considering whether I should figure out a way to make it pay, is writing. Of course, everyone wants to be a writer, or some kind of artist. The world has no shortage of writers. Plenty of people will do it for free. The same could be said of tech though: the world is full of tech hobbyists, and by my own admission, I would still be doing some kind of tech for free.

I think the vast investment in writing is paying dividends. A former work colleague often spoke of a force-field which he called simply "too much typing" which was the barrier to entry for most people wanting to get anywhere in tech. People are very happy to click a download button, or copy-paste something, but somebody, somewhere, sometime or other, has to do some damn typing.

I freely admit to having been pretty lazy for a lot of my career. Everything I've ever done in tech has been very easy and unchallenging, so there's never particularly been a need for a lot of typing. I'd be lucky if I wrote as much as ten lines of code per day, on average, during many long boring and unproductive days, employed by organisations who wanted to own me, as an intelligent ornament; to ensure that no competitor would have me, but keeping me for no other requirement except to deny others my labour. As such, I too couldn't be bothered to do much typing, because there were no interesting challenges.

It's strange how the job of fiddling with tools but never actually making anything seems to be the pitfall of so many. I was building something for a friend today, and I thought that there were a vast number of things I could be doing, which were attractive alternatives to doing the job in hand, which most other people I've worked with would have done instead. I built something pretty damn ugly and inelegant, but it worked and it delivered interesting and useful results, which the shiniest of shiny things never do. 'Perfect' systems do exist, but they don't do anything: as soon as systems come into contact with the real world, and are forced to do real, useful stuff, then the perfect imaginary world collapses, and the system turns into a big tangled mess. This is why engineers prefer to tinker and polish their tools, and never actually make anything; to stay in the safe make-believe imaginary world of perfection which they've created, bearing no resemblance to reality.

Similarly, I think now, I enjoy writing and publishing, but mainly I enjoy not having to debate or reason with unreasonable people; I don't have to persuade anybody or listen to dull, uninteresting and unintelligent opinions. I am, however, living in a fantasy world in which I can create 'perfection' so long as I don't have to come into contact with reality. That's just fine with me though... I'm doing this for free, so I can do whatever I want.




Dreading the Weekend

4 min read

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


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

Not me.

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

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

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

Why not?

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

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

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

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

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





4 min read

This is a story about hunger...


I've only ever been on a diet once before in my life, about a year and a half ago. I was going on a beach holiday and wanted to get thinner, for reasons of vanity, which must pretty much be the main reason anybody ever goes on a diet, surely. I remember that it was pretty easy: the weight came off quickly. This time has not been so easy.

I wanted to avoid talking about things which are long and difficult, lest it become boring and repetitive. The combination of lockdown, sobriety, dieting, exercise and various other health-related activities - or more specifically, non-activities - was going to make for pretty boring reading, so I shied away from writing altogether.

My diet is, I'm told, quite extreme. I've been aiming to eat a maximum of half my calorie need, every day: 1,250 calories. In reality I've probably been eating closer to 1,500 calories per day, but it's still substantially less than the bare minimum needed to maintain my weight, which of course is the whole point. I don't want to bang on about the hard numbers, because it's very boring.

Psychologically, I wanted to cross a threshold quite quickly, to get below a certain weight because it then seemed like I was the 'right' side of a bad number instead of the 'wrong' side of a bad number. Ultimately, I'm trying to get my BMI down into the 'healthy' range again, but I've had to set myself some milestones along the way.

I've never owned a set of scales. My reason for dieting the previous time was that I wanted a flatter tummy. My reason for dieting this time is the same, but I bought some scales thinking it would be good to have some hard numbers. I WAS WRONG. I was in for a big shock when I stepped on the scales for the first time. I had let things get pretty bad, even though I was kidding myself that things weren't that bad, and it wouldn't take long to sort the problem; wouldn't take long to lose the weight.

I think I'm about 5 weeks away from reaching a healthy weight, which is not bad at all. I have the motivation of a holiday, which helps.

It's a fairly tough regimen, not drinking at all, trying not to snack, calorie counting... I'm not used to it. I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, but lockdown has tipped the scales, as it were... I've been fighting a losing battle. I didn't think it was difficult or even necessary to watch what I ate; I didn't think I'd ever find myself in the position of dieting. I was wrong.

I wouldn't say I'm hungry all the time, but I am cold all the time, and I am tired all the time. Low blood sugar is playing havoc with my mood and energy levels, and also my ability to think and concentrate. There are lots of times I notice that I'm craving sugar. This could, of course, be as much my sobriety as much as my diet: for sure, being teetotal should be taken into consideration.

The reason for my sobriety is obvious: alcohol is so calorific; so fattening. Also, when drunk or slightly tipsy, I make poor decisions about food - I get takeaways, eat snacks and generally lose self-control. It's not unheard of for me to eat an entire can of Pringles, or suchlike, when inebriated. It's an easy way to cut a lot of calories, by simply not drinking.

In absolute terms, I've lost 3.5kg (almost 8 pounds) in 4 weeks, which is OK; pretty good. I want to try to lose a kilogram (2.2 pounds) per week, just for easy maths, and also because psychologically, it seems like a good milestone. However, there's no way I can reduce the amount I eat without putting myself through hell. Having used food and alcohol as coping mechanisms, life's very difficult without those crutches.

My clothes are looser and my tummy is flatter, but according to the scales I have a long way to go. If I can keep it up though, I will be looking nice and slim for my holiday.

I know this diet stuff is a bore, but I wanted to tell you about it anyway.





7 min read

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


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.


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.


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.