Tuesday, 31 December 2013

That was the year that was

I've seen loads of people posting their fabulous 2013 round up along with their amazingly ambitious resolutions for next year.

Usually I'd probably do the same thing. It is important to extrapolate the positives from whichever merry dance 2013 took you on. It is important to rationalise any badness and turn it into goodness, even if it's just words on the screen. Especially, perhaps, if it's words on a screen.

I battle frequently with the almost irresistible urge to whitewash my status updates, blogs and opinions because I don't want to be seen as whatever it is I'm worried that people see me as today. It seems endlessly important to be seen as positive or philosophical or just so lucky and happy.

It definitely isn't done to show the exhaustion of depression or the weariness of yet more bloody illness or the general malaise of a life unfulfilled.

With this in mind I would quantify 2013 as a year of ups and downs, of interesting and eye opening revelations concerning what were once close friendships and the start of some exceptional ones.  It's been a year I have uncharacteristically survived without getting fired and a year in which I have only had the one operation.

It's been a year where I moved house twice and have now apparently marooned myself on the island where the sun never shines and the rain never, ever stops.

I do, of course, have resolutions. Same as everyone else. I am going to write the book, get fit, have a think about stopping smoking and make myself meditate far more regularly. All of these normal, sensible choices to improve my health have sunk into my consciousness over many years and now, facing my 38th year and I can't just ignore it all any more.

Time to just woman up. Not tonight though. Tonight is for a bit of prosecco and a couple of cigarettes and a lot of not thinking at all.

For anyone who reads this, I wish you and all of us, a 2014 full of alright stuff, a couple of realistic achievements, maybe an excellent hair cut for example. Go forth, be nice and above all be well. Happy New Year.

Monday, 30 December 2013

I did not need to see that

Today I began my rest cure proper. For I have decided that my sojourn on this island is in the manner of the Victorian style 'taking the waters for nervous exhaustion' type thing.

There are no waters to take.

So instead I joined a health club. Me and gyms aren't friends in general but this club has something I enjoy. It has a pool. And, although it's mostly populated by yuppy Londoners who frequent the nearby yacht club, it is also pretty much guaranteed to be child free a lot of the time. Which I find the most essential selling point to anything I do these days. I know it's an unpopular opinion. And it doesn't mean I don't like kids. Well, not specific kids. Those related to me, for example. And those of my friends, of course. As  individuals they can be charming and funny and interesting. En masse I find them something I want to be away from. Far, far away from.

I went for my first swim this morning. As I walked into the changing rooms, my eyes immediately began to burn. Not, as you might suspect, from the chlorine, but from the sight that greeted me. The sight of an enormous, pendulous fleshy arse.

I don't know what it is about old women in communal changing rooms but I dunno that it's the wisest choice for everyone in the vicinity to park yourself immediately opposite the entrance to said changing rooms and then bend over while drying one's toes. She was winking at me. And it's really difficult to unsee that kind of thing.

I flinched and ran into the toilet to change. I don't do communal changing rooms. Ever.

The swim was perfect for about 20 minutes. Well, except for the immediate burning sensation in my under used muscles. This passed and I plodded up and down.

Two women joined me, at least 65 of they were a day and  immediately started ploughing up and down in a proper crawl.

The same women were in the changing rooms afterwards, again with the blatant nakedness. Chatting to each other about the yacht club, they looked at me rather like I'm another species and carried on gossiping.

One  enthusiastically sawed a towel briskly in between her legs while shagging off someone or other.

I tried not to see the things I saw today but they are burned on my retinas. I'm considering fashioning some blinkers from socks or something tomorrow. This is meant to do me good, not add to my nervous trauma.

It was good though. I followed it up with a walk in the stinging rain along a wild and stormy sea front. There is nothing like the sea when it's angry and grey and wild and ferocious.

After all of this unaccustomed exercise I felt amazing. For about an hour. Then I passed out. And am now struggling to walk. But it's a start. And that is good.

Friday, 27 December 2013

It's illegal to tell you that

I went to buy fags yesterday.

I know. It's a filthy, disgusting, horrible habit and I should be shot at dawn for continuing to smoke in the face of all evidence and knowledge and proof that it is damaging and degenerate. I KNOW. However. I went to buy fags yesterday.

For those non smokers among you, which seems to be everyone in the entire universe these days, things have changed. A lot.

I'm not just talking about the increasingly complex branding displayed by a schizophrenic and, frankly, insane, Marlboro. Or the comically high prices (almost £9 for 20 fags), or the health warnings plastered on the sides (diseased lungs, dead babies and that really weird autopsy one with the moustache and thing exploded out of his throat). It's the way they're selling them.

In the shop next to my old place in York, they had a sparse amount on the shelves. You had to point to the ones you wanted and then the lady behind the counter would do something or other and then they would pop out of this huge great vending machine in the corner. She said 'that's the law now'. It's not. Because nowhere else is doing it.

Yesterday in Tesco they have instigated the new rules about displaying the cigarettes. They are now locked away behind rolling screens.

Personally I think it's an utterly ridiculously pointless measure. Either make the damn thing illegal or wise up to your hypocritical selves and admit that the only thing that's keeping the NHS 'going' is the extortionate tax paid by smokers. Treated like second class citizens, herded out into the rain to smoke, sneered at by the healthy, mocked by the born again non smokers. It's not an easy life. the least that could be expected as an adult looking to buy a legal product is that I can see what's on the fucking shelves.

"Do you have Marlboro Touch?"

"No. Not anymore."

"What do you have? Can I have a look?"

"No, that's illegal."

"Er, well, how do I know what you've got?"

"Here's a list. Find the product you want and ask me and I'll tell you whether we have it."

Ooooh, this is fun, I thought. A parlour game. WHAT LARKS.

"It says you have Marlboro Touch on this list."

Scathingly: "Yes, but that's the list for the whole of Tesco, not for this store."

"So, can you tell me what you have?"

"No, it's against the law."


I didn't say that.. Except with my eyes.

"Marlboro Bright Leaf then?"

"No, we don't have those."


Thirty minutes later I have read out the list to him and eventually we come to an agreement that yes, he does have Marlboro Silver and yes, he can sell me those. Presumably as long as I smoke them without actually seeing them with my eyes.

Next step is having smokers walk a tightrope over pits of flames while reciting the Qu'ran backwards and juggling baby piglets. Only then will they be allowed to look at the list of lists and tediously go through every product until Kev from Ryde Tesco deigns to sell them some motherfucking cigarettes.

I need a fag.

Like I never existed...

You know that bit in the Bible when Jesus was cast out of somewhere? Actually, I'm not au fait with the details, but I know he was cast out of somewhere or other and had to go and commune with the bush in the desert or something like that.

Anyway, my point is, I know exactly how he feels.

Being excluded from something and unceremoniously cast out with nary a word is pretty tough to take. And so I found it today when I went to check my OKC profile.

It's just something I do at this point. Every time I open up my laptop, usually to do some kind of work, I check Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and OKC. It's just what happens. Then I have to flick between all four a few million times, make two cups of coffee, have a tidy up, maybe a walk and eventually I'll do some work. It's how all great writers write I hear.

If Oscar Wilde and the like had access to the internet there is no way on earth they would have been churning out their amazing works, you know. They'd have been too busy looking at pictures of cats and dogs in Christmas outfits.

Well today I couldn't log in. It actually wouldn't recognise my user name or email address. I have been expunged from OKC history. Like I was never there.

There is a reporting system and, yesterday, a man who kept on and on at me to reply (apparently I owed it to him because it was Christmas Day - I wasn't sure the birth of Jesus had any bearing on it but what do I know), so I did reply and told him I wasn't interested. Well, he didn't like my reply and threatened to report me. Go ahead sez I. Looks like he did.

They don't even send you an email saying: "We have deleted you because Carl in Birmingham was all hurt and upset because you didn't like his face." They don't even tell you you're deleted. You just can't log in.

It's like if you went to work and no one recognised you. And no trace of you existed. Like in a Liam Neeson film.

It's kind of thrown a spanner in my snark works but I just don't know if I can be fagged to write another one.

Kind of weird how it's OK for guys to send you pictures of their penis but if you tell an insistent one to bog off then you're persona non grata.

It's the end of a beautiful era.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

I am not there; I do not sleep

There's a poem that goes like this:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not here; I did not die.

When I went to the cemetery to see my dad this morning, these were the words chanting through my mind. This is, at least partly, because so many people choose to put the first stanza on the gravestone of choice. It's clearly a popular death poem. We don't have that many to choose from really. Pretty much that Auden one, a Rosetti, maybe a couple of war poems. And this.

But also, I think, because it is very soothing, if you let it be.

I have a cynical commentary running through my head in response to it. Yes, I do actually hear voices. I don't. I mean, I kind of do, but only in the same way that you do I'm sure. Probably. Anyway.

The poem will start: Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep.

And I know what it means. And it is soothing to think that everywhere I look I can be reminded of my dear dad. And that I can look up at the stars and imagine that somehow he has turned to dust that has become part of the universe again. I do do that. Sometimes.

But today, in that cemetery on Christmas morning I found that I was sitting at his grave and I was weeping. Because he is there. In that grave. Well, his ashes are. Because we put him in a box and we burned him and the only way I can spend time with my dad now is to go and sit in a soaking wet graveyard on Christmas morning and sob over his small, plain gravestone.

So that's what I did. I didn't mean to sob. It's been 12 Christmases. I'm used to it. It's fine. I know I won't see him and that Christmas just doesn't really feel like anything any more, and that's fine. I'm alright with that. I never get to go and see him because I have never lived near enough to his grave to do so.

I didn't know that it would punch me in the soul like that.

His grave is under a tree in a beautiful, beautiful graveyard. He's hidden away from the ostentatious graves that make up most of it.

As I look up from his grave I see a teddy bear in a Christmas hat on one of the more heartbreaking efforts that litter the cemetery. Children's graves with desperately sad messages, toys, tiny Christmas trees and endless ornaments. I straighten the flowers on a few graves near my dad's. The crazy ass weather has knocked a lot of the flowers over and no dead person deserves that on Christmas morning.

There is only me, my ma and one other woman in the graveyard. Maybe we missed the Christmas Day rush. She straightens flowers on a relatively new looking grave and then spends 20 minutes staring forlornly at it. Because that's basically what you do. It's an odd kind of comfort you can get from a soaking wet slab of marble in a field.

Because the last line of the poem, you see. That's just gobshitey bollocks. You are there in that box because you did die.

I didn't mean to weep on your grave dad. It was terribly cliched. I just really, really miss you. So much. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Water, water everywhere...

Fucking hell. Fucking fucking fucksticking bollocking hell.

When I landed on the Isle of Wight, which is apparently the island version of Royston Vasey these days, it was a bit shitty weather wise. The ferry was very slightly choppy, which I naturally freaked out at. By this time into the 8 hour journey my nerves were shot as I was convinced my fat cat was dying of stress in the back of the van.

Turns out it was me.

As soon as I let him out of his cat box he ambled around, yawned, stretched and stuffed his fat cheeks like nothing had ever happened.

It started raining when I arrived here. And it hasn't stopped yet. Four days on and it's been an unrelenting stream of icy water, sweeping from the sea and battering the back of our exposed house.

Last night, just as I was about to settle down with some right shit telly and maybe even a small Baileys, some kind of mega ultra storm from hell descended. The gods are apparently pissed the fuck off. Horizontal rain drove water through the tops and bottoms of the windows of our jerry-built conservatory until it was uncontrollably streaming through all the gaps and destroying everything in sight.

At times like this one discovers their inner metal.

I don't have any.

I have inner cotton wool.

I just wanted to lie down and let it all just happen.

But instead I got some of that weird plastic sealant stuff and bodged it on to the windows with my bare hands. Stood bare foot in streaming water trying to seal gaps like some fool sticking their finger into the Hoover Dam. That was me. Then I realised that maybe the fact that water streaming through the electrics wasn't the best thing that ever happened, so we turned those off.

Upstairs the window that was slightly broken before the storm hit became extremely broken indeed. Water streaming through upstairs and downstairs, wind that you can't hear each other yell over, no defences and not much clue what to do.


We watched Jane Eyre through the eye of the storm and it cheered me up quite a lot. Fassbender as Rochester is one of the best casting decisions since Harrison Ford and everything he's ever done. But there's only so much distraction one can derive from a film when the wind is howling and everything is crashing and rattling and vehicles are stuck on the hill outside and for a moment it feels like this is actually it. The end of the world as we know it. The apocalypse. The very damp apocalypse.

Eventually we slept to wake up to detritus aplenty and more water than you ever want to see in places it shouldn't be.

I may have got up this morning and had a small weep. Which is exactly what one doesn't need when one needs to be all dynamic and problem solving. But a few hours later and the calm after this storm and before the next on Friday means that joy to the world is restored.

I can see sunshine streaming through the rain covered window panes and I can hear that the wind is a small howl instead of a screaming roar.

So, I may be living in a weird world where nothing works (no mobile, dodgy telly and patchy WiFi) and a world where apparently gale force 10 winds are the norm, but I'm finally feeling the stir of a tiny festive feeling deep inside.

It could be time to get the tree up. Maybe.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

These stairs should be condemned

I was up at 6 packing and taping and packing and taping and sobbing and packing.

But I was ready with 20 minutes to spare.

The storage men were late.

As I looked out of the window I suddenly noticed two old lads waving up at me. I thought they must be lost. They were easily in their sixties so obviously couldn't be the professional moving and storage firm I'd booked at great expense. Right?

Yeah. You've seen where this is going haven't you? Yet another craptastic episode in the cut price ITV sit com of my life.

They were wheezing and coughing and breathing hard just walking up the first of my three flights of stairs.

I was agahst. I had at least a thousand books in boxes. That they would have to move. I don't know CPR.

Even more so when they coughed and spluttered their way up to the attic and said:

"Your stairs shouldn't be used."

Urm. Sorry?

"They're dangerous"

Well, they're not. I use them loads. I go up them and down them frequently. I just do.

They seemed to get over that but then said that there is "too much stuff".

Well, there isn't. There is the stuff that I was quoted on. By your boss. When he came here and looked at it with his  expert eye.

"Well, you shouldn't listen to him. He just says anything. He does it all the time."

Canned laughter.

Three tortuous hours later they're gone. Luckily no heart attacks were had. There was the time one of them went outside and had a screaming row with his wife on the phone, loud enough for everyone on Fishergate to hear. That was fun.

Then they charged me double because that crazy boss of theirs apparently just makes shit up as he goes along.

And these are the people I'm leaving all my lovely stuff with for the next year or so.

So that's a thing.

Only the whole house to clean now. Which is why I'm writing this while crouched on my makeshift bed (two cushions and a duvet) because I would rather walk through broken glass and then systematically jump up and down on the shards than clean one more fucking thing or pack one more cunting box.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Loose all faith and hope in obama.

I've had a hell of a day punctuated by vomming, valium and weeping. So I don't really have any energy to analyse this beauty. No need, really. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The corporate psychopath

Did anyone watch Psychopath Night last night on Channel 4? I was all over it like a tramp on chips. I love that shit. Exactly my idea of perfect Saturday night viewing.

I read Jon Ronson's book, The Psychopath Test a while back, which basically said everyone is one and no one is one. Kind of. So that wasn't helpful. I wanted to find out whether certain people in my life (were in my life, I should say) are, as I strongly suspect, absolute howling psychos or whether it's my hatred of their shitty actions that makes me think that.

Of course, I was only filtering this through my broken brain so it was always going to be rather biased.

It was a tad disappointing to have the programme laid out as a Top 10 'best psycho films' complete with talking heads. Admittedly, the talking heads were, we're told, 'experts' in psychos. And some woman from the FBI or something gave her verdict on the portrayals of psychopaths in films ranging from Psycho to We Need To Talk About Kevin.

The film analysis was poor. I mean, poor as fuck. They seemed to have not seen We Need To Talk About Kevin and missed the entirely relevant subtext that the mother herself is the sociopath/psychopath but you know, whatever.

But I still liked seeing some of my favourite psychos on screen for a bit.

There was much talk of nature/nurture and what quantifies someone as an actual psychopath. And, of course, the difference between psychopaths who kill, torture and maim and those that just like to be cunts because they can.

There were tales of charismatic psychos fooling lots of doctors and shrinks and lots of sheepish looks from those who were hoodwinked. Of course, they shouldn't be sheepish at all. That's kind of the point of a proper bona fide psychopath. The traits used to define a psycho include empathy (lack of), a grandiose idea of themselves, the ability and drive to step all over people to get what they want and basically being cruel fuckheads with nary a thought for anyone else.

There are others and, the experts seemed to say, it's having these mixed with just the right amount of childhood trauma and a soupcon of bad genetic weirdness that makes for your Dahmer style psycho. But, as for the other kind, the ones that don't kill, they are all around us.

The top profession in terms of number of actual psychos in it is, naturally, banking. What a shock. Then lawyers. Amazing. And third came the one that interested me the most - media.


And then they went on to talk about the prevalence of corporate psychopaths. I think we've all met these in our time, no? The inexplicably successful asshole vaguely masquerading as a normal person? The one who reels you into a position within their company with promises and smiles and seemingly bucket loads of charm, only to drop the pretense pretty much the second you're through your probationary period, to replace it with head games, cruelty and bullying. Just, it seems, because they can.

They delight in the kind of in house bullying that frequently occurs within small companies and, in bigger ones, within teams. They actually cultivate these kinds of destructive behaviour, knowingly and willingly. Their rule is 'divide and conquer' and they care not one whit about you and your life. It doesn't matter if you are ill, having mental health issues, have children who are ill, it just. Doesn't. Matter.

All that matters is the money they can make and also the power they have over you. I used to think it was solely money driven but I no longer think this. After certain experiences, I conclude that these corporate psychopaths enjoy what they do to people. As much as they enjoy anything.

It's tempting to analyse these shitbots and assume that they must have had some kind of traumatic event that turned them into inhuman fucktards. But, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I don't give a shit. They're assholes. Deep and dark and nasty to the core. And the best thing, should you be unfortunate enough to come into direct contact with one of them is to cut the shit and get out of there.

No good will come of attempting to work with these kinds of people. If you, yourself are not a sociopath or a psychopath, suffice to say that you do not need that kind of poisonous wankfestery in your life. No matter the salary. No matter the job. No matter the career.

These people are destructive and damaging and petty fucking losers. Get out, stay out and breathe freely. There's a whole world of none psychos out there.

After watching these psycho fest I did the psychopath test, which you can find here. I am, apparently a mere 27% psycho. I was kind of sad about this for some reason. I just like to win things.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Just put stuff in FUCKING BOXES

How hard is it just to pick stuff up and put it in boxes? Why can I not just DO IT. Why am I paralysed by some kind of fear? Why do I seem to think that not doing what I need to do will help this crushing sense of panic? Why? Why? WHY?

I need drugs.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Memory box

As I slowly drag my way through the painfully tedious palaver of packing up my shit I'm discovering things.

A box of art equipment that would have come in really handy, if only I'd remembered I had it, for example. The remote control and power lead for the TV I sold last week to a mate who was most disappointed to realise it was fecking useless without the bits. I'm glad I've found those, it has to be said. It was all getting a bit embarrassing.

And mostly, I've found photographs. Books of memories, some of them mine, most of them not. We were never a big photo family. It must be impossible for young 'uns today to grasp that people used to just go and do things, including holidays and Christmas and the like, without taking photographs of it every two seconds. We didn't even have a photo face.

I'm pretty freaked out by the selfie squint thing I see all over my Facebook from the cool kidz. It's weird. When did looking constipated become the thing? I don't understand. I'm so old.

Anyway, back in my day, we'd take some photos with a shitty disposable camera thing and then generally forget to have them developed. This, along with some rather disturbing massive blanks in my memory of childhood means that there are many gaps. I wonder what it would have been like had we been able to catalogue every single thing. There are definitely many moments and haircuts and phases I'm more than happy to pretend never happened, to be fair. No one needs their growing up moments broadcast to the entire world.

But my own memories are usually painful. I see pictures of my dad and my family and I wish so much that I could go back. Just for five minutes. So what I prefer to do is look at memories before I existed. Pictures of my parents are few and far between. Combined with the fact that they both lack any kind of vanity, they were also just not very photography through the years. So, that means the ones I have are treasured.

Like this one:

My mum rocking the late 60s by having some crazy Spanish lady pour Sangria down her neck, to the obvious delight of my father and shock and awe from the lady next to her. 

Also this one:

I love this one. Before illness and stress and kids and all the things that came afterwards. Just my mum and dad. Happy. Dad seems to be taking it more in his stride with the Sangria, it has to be said.

A moment frozen.

And then I found this of my beautiful mother.

I'm so glad I have these. And forever annoyed that my ma's hair was way better than mine.

Monday, 9 December 2013

York sandwich

I now have 10 working days left in York. But fuck 'working days' because I don't have a proper job. So, really, I have 13 days left in York.

And in a way I'm leaving this city much as I arrived - a big ball of spiky anxiousness. As soon as I moved from my comfort zone of Leamington Spa, I haven't managed to chill the fuck out, if I'm honest. In fact, it could be said - and, indeed, has been, by the odd doctor and shrink - that my panic disorder has become A Thing.

Here is a list of things I can't do without the very high possibility of having a panic attack: go to shopping malls, go into wide open spaces, eat out at restaurants, go to parties, go to pubs, go to fucking Waitrose, go for a walk, fly, go to a station. In short, as long as I stay within my house and approximately five other tightly controlled locations, there is the humungous chance that I will have a panic attack.

I have been here before. Agoraphobia has been an on and off thing since I was about 16. So it's not new to me. It's been up and down since then, with some years very very little and other times a heinous amount. After the stresses and strains of the last year or so, the severity of it is freaking me out somewhat. And the pressure. Oh god, the pressure. I want to take my brain out and wash it. In bleach. Start over.

The number of things I haven't been able to do, attend, see and experience since I've lived in York are, of course, major reasons why I'm moving to somewhere I can properly relax. Get better. Sort it out. Get my head together. Do some meditation. Chill the fuck out, man. Stop taking everything so very, very seriously. Regularly get drunk again. Do some life affirming stuff.

But before then comes a month of high stress and full on terror in some cases. And before that comes packing. Even that's making me anxious. I selected the nine pairs of shoes I'm going to take with me yesterday. NINE. That's fewer than I had when I was nine. Nine pairs of shoes, about 100 books and a few clothes. Fatty is going to have more stuff going down with him than I am.

I'm going to be living like an actual nun. Without the praying. Obviously. I could be down for some Huxley style Devils action though.

Time to wrap this sandwich in cling film and stick it in the freezer for a while. I'll be back for it later.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Two approaches, one result

Compare and contrast.

First guy:

So many things wrong with this. So many.

Second guy:

So many things wrong with this. So many.

And the rest of it...

I'm smashing up furniture, dismantling things I've had for years and getting rid of around 50% of my stuff. It's all very pleasing and cathartic. There is a slight concern that I will go too far and when I need to move into the next place I'll suddenly realise I have bugger all in the way of furnishings and fittings.

I'm liking the idea of shedding a lot of detritus for 2014.

Including the rest of my self help book library.

The very fact I bought some of these - and every single one has been read and, at one time, read over and over again - makes me want to give my past self a proper big cuddle. 

Trying to push my personality into the right mould for my partner took its massive toll and I seem to have apparently blamed myself for most things. And, in the way of women everywhere, tried to work out a way to make it all better. 

If only I was less jealous, less insecure, more laid back, more amusing, more confident, more, more, MORE then maybe this relationship will work and everything will be marvellous. So much upset and stress and worry and self hatred. And all because I couldn't just look at a situation and realise it for what it was. 

Sigh. Come here, past Deb. Have a little cuddle and a big old slap round the face for wasting so much precious time. 

Here we have: 

  • Why Men Love Bitches - really Deb? Really?
  • The Highly Sensitive Person in Love - oh dear. 
  • Jealousy: Why It Happens and How to Overcome It - we covered this in the last post. 
  • Overcoming Mood Swings - having read this and absorbed it, I would suggest this doesn't work. 
  • Obsessive Love - sigh. 
  • If This is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure? - I can't even.
  • Overcoming Low Self Esteem - I haven't. 
  • The Glass Half Full - it isn't 
  • Don't Call That Man - good advice
  • Fuck It - the tenets of Buddhism with added fuck words. 
  • It's Called A Break Up Because It's Broken - this one is actually good. Particularly for those moments when you start thinking about all the 'good' times. And then eventually realise that the 'good' times were the times when you were watching BSG with each other because you had nothing in common. 
  • How To Mend Your Broken Heart - Paul McKenna didn't make me thin, he didn't make me confident, he didn't stop me smoking but he may have been a bit helpful here. All meditation and visualisation based, it was good at the time I really needed it. As in, the time when I stopped eating food and lived on red wine for six weeks. 

These books reflect the years 2005 and 2008/9 respectively.

I am so happy that I am here now.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The books don't work

I'm licking around the edges of the yoghurt lid of a cold, dark time. I'm dipping a toe in the murky water of chaos, mess and upheaval. I'm venturing into stick, black trauma.

Yep. I've started packing. This may not sound like a big deal but you mustn't underestimate how intrinsically lazy I am and how very much I want to just snap my fingers like a much more dour Mary Poppins and have it all done and dusted.

I don't want to go through my 2,000 books and decide whether I can bring myself to cull any. I don't want to then decide which of my precious paper babies I will be leaving in storage and how many I can get away with taking to the Isle of Wight. I don't want to choose which Jesus pictures come with me and which have to lie face down in the cold, dark storage place. I don't even know where the storage place is. In a couple of weeks, men will arrive and will take my stuff and cast it into some vague abyss somewhere. Presumably it'll be alright, wherever it is.

So this time - the fourth time I've moved in 18 months - I'm being ruthless. I'm casting books out. Ones that I will never read again. Some that I just shouldn't read again.

I decided that old chick lit, old copies of the classics that I have multiple times, random thrillers and all self help could go.

I have only been through about 500 books. And this is probably a third of my self help library.

So that's:
  • The Dance of Anger - all about women's anger with stuff and things and men. Mostly men. Biased, narrow minded and totally pointless but quite good for when I properly hated all men for about five minutes.
  • Staying Sane - Dr Raj Persaud basically lays out a shit tonne of patient stories about their messed up lives. It's really interesting in a rubber necking voyeuristic kind of a way and at least reassures you that no matter how shit you feel, there are apparently a gazillion people out there in much bigger messes than you. Unless he made them up. Which he might have done. Wasn't he one of those telly doctors? Is he even a doctor? Have I been swindled?
  • He's Just Not That Into You - this American publishing sensation actually makes some pretty good points but as it was spawned by a Sex and the City writer who is smugly loved up with his wife, it's pretty hard to swallow. Still, it's pretty amusing but ever so 2003. Much better than the film. Obviously. The film was execrable.
  • Overcoming Jealousy - I bought this when I was going out with a knobhead who told me it was all in my head. So I thought I better try and work out why I'm so irrationally jealous and 'ruining everything'. Turns out it wasn't irrational and he was fucking her. So, you know, swings and roundabouts. I'm not irrational and he was a dick. Don't remember what the book said, probably something along the lines of how you should never question your man ever and that it's a very unattractive trait.
  • How To Quit Without Feeling Shit - bought it for my fag addiction, it said I should quit sugar and so I quit the book. Didn't even feel shit.
  • On My Own - as far as I recall, it's about how its totes fine to be a single woman and you should embrace it and be all happy with it and all of that. Written by a woman who'd managed to get herself off the shelf though. Just in case you thought you could completely relax. Seriously. She spends lots of time mentioning 'before I was married', 'before I met my perfect man'. Oh do fuck offfff dear. 
  • Breaking the Bonds - actually a pretty good book about depression and the neural pathways that form and make it so very difficult to break out of the depressive mindset.
  • Irrationality - one of those new breed of zeitgeisty not-a-self-help-book-but-it-is-really books that makes you question everything. Always written by male journos. Usually have a beard and are known for their sardonic wit.
  • The Worry Cure - does not cure worry.
  • Stress Buster - does not bust stress.
  • The Last Self Help Book You'll Ever Need - says that all self help books are damaging bollocks. Might keep this one.
  • How to Break Your Addiction to a Person - actually pretty damn handy for anyone who's in an emotionally abusive thing and can't work out why in fuck they keep going back to the greasy little tick at the centre of it. Helpful at the time and thankfully no longer necessary. Ever again.
  • Self Esteem - turns out if you're suffering from a lack of it, books talking about it don't much help really. Very American and upbeat. Shudder. Guess what, not everyone IS special and different and amazing and beautiful, no matter how many mantras they chant at themselves in the mirror.
  • The Single Trap - I think this was about all the things you do wrong to make men run away from you and how you fall into 'the single trap' and then has tips of how to get out of it and catch a man. Fuck off.
  • TA Today - that's transactional analysis rather than territorial army. And very interesting it is too. Useful. Unculled.
  • Understanding Psychology - I still don't. 
I do like self help books. But it's time to let most of these go. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Last things

Tonight was my last ever art class in York. This makes me sad in a multi-faceted way. I'm often amazed at the capacity the human mind has for different kinds of sadness.

This makes me sad because it's the first of the lasts.

I'm not good with Last Things. I get too attached to things, people and places. I will be ticking off: last walk by the river, last visit to the library, last visit to the museum, last time with this friend, last time with that friend. And so it will go on for the next three weeks, until it will be the last time I lock my front door.

Knowing it's my last art class is particularly sad as it was the first thing I did in York that I liked. I met the incomparable Greg McGee and he introduced me to people who became my friends. It was a beacon in the dark when things went all shitsville with That Job and I'm going to miss it. A lot.

I still can't draw for shit, like, but that's my fault for being rubbish at being in any way diligent.

I'll find a class on the Isle of Wight but it won't be the same.

Last things suck.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Abortion twat

OKC asks you lots and lots of questions. Most are pointless, a lot are about sex and then there are a few key questions that are actually useful.

Like the ones this knobhead gave answers to.

Still, saves time doesn't it.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A busy lunch hour

No word of a lie, these two stellar examples of OK Cupiders happened within the hour! It must be something in the air. Perhaps it's some kind of lunchtime treat they allow themselves... "Ah, it's been such a long day at work so far, I'll just have a cup of tea and be revolting on the internet for five minutes."

First up, we have a lovely wee chap whose user name is 'givemebjs'. Come on laydeezzzzz, tell me that doesn't get your knickers all damp.

He asked me if I'd like to rate his cock out of 10. I thought I'd go for a different approach. My reasoning is thus. If you tell them that they are the spawn of satan and right creepy mofos who should go away and have a good, hard think about themselves it seems to turn them on. A vast amount of these kinds of men seem to read that as some kind of flirting.

I'm not sure where they learned about the birds and the bees but something has clearly gone wrong somewhere. So I thought if I respond positively maybe they would disappear in a puff of spunkrags.

By the way, any ladz out there, if you have an answer to my question of "WHY do guys do this?" please do drop me a line and let me know. Can't they just look down? Do they need someone to validate them that they do, indeed, have a penis? What is the endgame here?

At least that was amusing. If there's one thing I hate it's married men trying to get their leg over with me. I hate it. It makes me want to punch them in their tiny nuts. 

So when this guy decided to message me mere minutes after penis guy, I wasn't in the mood. 

Note how he says: "I really like what I see here [because that's all that's necessary boys, as long as you like what you see then you don't even need to worry about what the other person thinks because, clearly the only thing stopping you is] at the moment, and for a little while yet, I'm not really boyfriend material, kind of too married for that. [kind of too married for that. Only kind of though. Maybe there's a chance for me. Oh, how I long for that moment because] it's a pity as it looks like on sex we might be matching each other quite perfectly and otherwise I also seem to fit your criteria [his thought processes are very pleasing for him aren't they?]."

I was up at 4. I'm tired. I can take some idiot asking if he can get his wang rated out of 10 but I can't take a man being so fucking slimy and pathetic.

I never did get to rate that dick, just for the record. That loss will haunt me. Perhaps forever.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Look at this crazy bitch

You will no doubt have seen a photograph doing the rounds, showing some perma-tanned American woman with a shit eating grin posing proudly over the corpse of a dead lion.

This woman, in fact.

As I'm British and, as such, have a normal relationship with wild animals in that I don't have an uncontrollable urge to murder them and then be dead happy about it while mounting their head on my wall, I've never heard of her before.

She is called Melissa Bachman and apparently makes lots of videos about her seemingly endless hunting 'adventures'. She appears to have killed everything, from crocodiles to turkeys and everything in between.

And for some reason this lion picture went viral. Which is weird, because when you take a closer look at her fan page she does this every other day.

Here. Have a look. If you were under the impression she is one lonely nutter in the wilderness, you'll see from her page that she very much isn't. Every time she posts the tragic corpse of whichever noble creature she's decided to slaughter she gets loads of people congratulating her. It's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.

Here's her with a dead bear. Particularly lovely are the captions she puts with these pictures. She talks about how happy she is and how beautiful these corpses are. She mentioned in the caption for this picture that she was really pleased because the bear she just killed is blonde. That's lovely isn't it? Heartwarming.

And her with a dead stag. Beautiful isn't he? And dead. Very, very dead. She's happy though. Grinning away like a made up psychopath.

Her holiday photos must be a fucking riot.

I could go on and post picture after picture, but I suspect that you get the idea.

Her page has more than 20,000 fans and plenty of them like her pictures, statuses and hunting boasts every day. I had no idea there were that many people in the world who could be so stonkingly happy and gosh darn proud of themselves for killing animals.

The people commenting on her pictures urge her to ignore the haters and express their envy at her lifestyle. How is it when serial killers are caught, fingers are pointed to their cruelty towards animals - check out Dahmer's boyhood tales for a great example - and yet when a grown adult decides to devote her life to the unfair and inhumane slaughter of animals, it's tolerated, encouraged and enabled?

She is hosted by various wildlife parks who lay on animals for her. Like Nero picking off the slaves, she then sits on her arse and picks them off. Again and again. This isn't even a 'sport'. This is just someone being presented with an animal to shoot. Just because they want to.

The woman is fucking inSANE. This is not normal behaviour. I don't give a shit how many US gun defenders wank on about their right to bear arms. What the fuck is THIS SHIT? The right to kill animals for fun? It's not a sport. There is never any fair fight. It's just killing.

Her website appears to be down but from what I can glean this is not the first time her pictures have gone viral and caused horrified people worldwide to create petitions trying to get the woman off the air. It has worked to an extent - back in 2012 National Geo bowed down to pressure and took her videos off their channel, but she is clearly making a very happy living out of this hobby and, apparently, has many tens of thousands of supporters.

This latest kill - the one where she's so exceedingly happy that she killed a lion - has led to this petition, which has so far amassed 135,000 signatures. Started by a South African resident who points out that Melissa's way of hunting is diametrically opposite to South Africa's commitment to conservation, the petition asks the South African government not to let this mad woman into the country again.

If you'd rather this utter cunt didn't get her own way anymore, maybe give it a quick sign.

I'm just about to start up a petition asking the South African government whether they'd consider pitting an unarmed Bachman against the wild lions. See how far the mad cow gets then.

Friday, 15 November 2013

What do you need those for then?

I went to the chemist earlier because I wanted something to help with the fact that I feel like I'm swallowing half a gallon of cataarh every time I swallow.

They said there was nothing that could help so I bought some random stuff anyway.

While I was at it I bought some Imodium

I don't know whether you're familiar with this product but it's basically a tablet for diarrohea. Solely for that purpose. There is literally nothing else that it works for or on. No matter which way you look at it, if you're buying Imodium, everybody knows why. If you have diarrhoea then take one of those, you're grand for a couple of days. Anyone who has been a big drinker and/or drug imbiber will probably be familiar with it.

I like to have it in the house. After all,  IBS is a bitch and takes no prisoners. Plus I live like a boy scout (if he was a middle aged woman who's ill a lot) and like to be prepared.

I get to the counter. She eyes me suspiciously.

I'm buying paracetamol and the aforementioned Imodium.

She says: "Are you on any other medication?"


"Well, what do you need these for?" pointing to the Imodium.

Sorry, what? What do I need the diarrhoea tablets for? The tablets that are marketed SOLELY for diarrhoea? Those ones?

There is, naturally, a queue. And, although it may not seem like it from my apparent openness on this blog, I actually don't particularly want to discuss the state of my bowels with a shop full of strangers. And I'm pretty sure they're not interested either.

So I look askance and say: "Really?"

"We have to ask." (Not even slightly true, by the way).

"It's Imodium. And you can buy it on supermarket shelves."

"Why do you need it?"

Fuck me. I'm going to crush it up and snort it. I'm going to sell it at the school gates. I'm going to take 12 and never take a shit again. OR

"In case I get the shits."

I have literally bought full on Class As with less hassle.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

It's all about the adverts

People are talking about adverts a lot at the moment. Something about a rabbit and a bear. And Lily Allen. Shitey adverts peddling all sorts of balls that no one in their right mind actually wants under the guise of some kind of weird nostalgia for a 70s style Christmas that never even existed. Grab a song, any song. Stick a warbly woman's voice on it. Have someone who would make Richard Curtis look like Quentin Tarantino write the script and bada bing. You got a Christmas advert. Emote NOW proles.

But this is not the advert I want to talk about. I am a sucker for an ad with animals in, but even I was uncomfortable with the bear being yoinked out of its natural hibernation state in order to open some crappy alarm clock. Also the inter species love affair was a bit weird.

I want to talk about another new advert I saw on TV tonight.

For Vagisil. Odour Shield Wash. The intimate treatment and daily care range. Oh ladies, did you not know that you even needed this? Think on. The advertisers have a message for you.

It starts off with some kind of animation in pinks and purples (obviously) and talks about being 'real'. 'Let's be real ladies'. It says. 'We know you all sweat in your intimate area."

Do we? Intimate area? Really? Is that what we're going with?

I mean, if one is running or exercising heavily then yes, one might perspire. But it's a bit of a leap that every woman routinely leaks beads of sweat in her gusset area 24 hours a day, leaving a trail of bodily fluids in her wake.

So it goes on.

"Your sweat smells."

Does it? DOES IT?

I mean. Are you saying that I SMELL? Down THERE?

I'm pretty sure I don't. What with having a shower every day and that. I'm almost definite that I don't go around leaking smelly sweat everywhere. And I can't say I've noticed any woman doing so ever. Surely if all women who don't douse themselves in powders from Vagisil and do a twice hourly sniff test smelled then we'd notice?

But Vagisil says, all cosy like, in their new advert that I do smell. Even though I don't. And they then tell me I need to 'do something about it'. Because a lady sweating and smelling can't be allowed. Mustn't have that! What if a man should think that one sweats? And farts? And wees? Heaven FORFEND.

No, what I need is an  'intimate treatment and daily care routine'.

But I have that. I shower.

Nope. Not enough. There's an entire range of washes, creams, perfumes and powders designed to absorb any tiny smidge of natural female emission and tidy it all away masked under the smell or rose petals and fakery.

Shave every single hair from your body. Obsess constantly over whether you smell. Definitely worry while having a period - that's the time when you need the double strength perfumed pads just in case your totally natural and already unenjoyable bodily function gets in the way of a man's olfactory system.

Never mind that men freaking stink. Man smells are manly. Man smells are allowed. Man smells are rugged. Woman odours (we're not even allowed to use the word smell. We must perspire and have odours) are taboo. In 2013. Even though the vast majority of women never emit an odour from their 'intimate areas'.

But hopefully, Vagisil, they're just paranoid enough to spaff shit loads of money on snake oil and fairy water that promises to make them feel all secure in a world of insecurity created almost entirely by advertisers.

And you called your product VAGISIL for fuck's sake.

Go drown yourselves in a lake of Vagisil lotion you quacktastic paranoia peddlers.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

This is why

When I tell people I'm moving to the Isle of Wight the responses have been varied, ranging from "Where?", "The Isle of Man?" and "Why would you go there?" to "It's full of old people" and "Good luck with finding a boyfriend there."

So that was encouraging.

Thing is, a lot of people haven't been to the Isle of Wight so they won't know that most of the island is lush and beautiful. Like this.

Why do I even let these comments strike doubt into my blackened heart anyway?

Either way, it's too late. My flat is going to two lovely girls who fell instantly in love with it and I'm sure will treat it well. So that's made me feel better - I get severely attached to houses and the thought of this one going to someone horrible who won't give it some love was awful.

And the reasons I'm going are good ones. It's not like when I left Leamington, which was at least partly to get away from someone who was mashing my brain and feelings into dust on a regular basis. And to escape the stifling claustrophobia of a small town I'd lived in for 12 years. Or for a job that turned out to be the biggest pile of shite ever. Lord above, that was some experience, and worthy of a blog post all of its own. Possibly a book. Or a mini-series.

Of course, I didn't move for the job anyway. Not really. That just gave me an excuse. It was still a passive move in many ways. I was offered this job by this seemingly alright company and it gave me a reason to get out of Dodge. So I did. I didn't seek out the job, I didn't make an active decision to find a job, it just came to me.

This time, my decision is active.

When friends, therapists, shop assistants, drunkards and tramps have asked me what I actually want to do with my life, it's always come back to the same thing. I want to live by the sea, I want to write a book and I want to adopt a dog.

Over the next six months I'm going to do all three of these things.

York has shown me a lot of things over the last 18 months. One of those things is that I will never work for a corporate business again. Ever. I will work for myself or in bars, shops, clubs or kennels till the day I die. Being chained to a desk and forcefed utter wankery for 40+ hours a week does not do it for me. Watching people fall apart because of arbitrary pressure they're put under by nasty, sociopathic fucktards who think because they run a business peddling snake oil to customers it gives them the right to mash people into the dust.

I mean, allegedly. Obviously. I'm talking hypothetically. This is a hypothetical example of why the thought of working for some businesses ever again makes me dry heave. So, you know, take it with a pinch of salt. Not saying corporate life isn't for some people, just saying it ain't for me. And a small disclaimer, I have also worked for a nice company while in York.

I used to feel that I had to do it anyway. That because I need money and it's what people do that I had to follow this path.

But that's bullshit.

All the things I don't have make me sad sometimes - I think that's a natural state of mind. I don't have a family, I don't have a partner, I don't have a mortgage and I don't have a career that keeps me tied to one place. I can do my job anywhere.

These are also all the reasons I can go and do what I'm about to do. I am free in a way I never expected to be and I want to enjoy it in my own ways. These may not be the ways of others, but they're my ways.

So I'll give this a go. How bad can it be? I'll walk my three legged mutt on beaches that look like this:

I'll write 5,000 words a day still, but it'll be of my book. 

I'll be near my mum - and my dad - for the first time since 1999. 

I will have space to breathe, think, read and write. 

This is why this is a good decision. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Get out of my motherfucking house

I've been up since 6 because I need to clean my house and make it all nice so that other people can come tramping through, poking into my cupboards and judging my taste in interior design.

One is coming this morning and one is coming tomorrow morning.

This may well happen every morning until I move. On 20 December.

Always my least favourite part of moving, this is. It feels so invasive and personal.

Like, can't they make do with photos? I could draw them some pictures of what it looks like. I'll let them look through the windows. Can't say fairer than that.


Not for the first time - more accurately -  for about the 90th time, I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing.

One of the problems of spending most of your time on your own is that there is no one to use as a sounding board. No one to check that your latest life plan isn't a big pile of steaming turd. No one to pat you on the head and say: "there, there" and "it'll be OK".

Even if it is just empty platitudes by someone who knows no more than me about my future, it would still be nice to have every now and again.

I'll just keep blundering on through for now. I must stop moving house at some point though. It's very tiring.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


"There's a murderer in my head who is trying to kill me," says Dominic.

He's in triage at Bedlam. And someone has to decide when and how he gets to go home.

It's heart wrenching watching his struggle. More heart wrenching is watching the effect it has on his kids and wife. Those kids are terrified that their dad is going to die. They want him to stay in hospital. Naturally. I mean, you would. He safe there. And he's shown that he can't be trusted because when he was sent home last week he took another overdose.

He's 45 and he has the mannerisms of Arthur Dent, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He looks utterly bemused at where he is, how he got here and how he keeps ending up here. He even wears a dressing gown and carries a towel. He's mild mannered and unassuming. Terribly English and polite to all the staff and the other patients.

Rupert, on the other hand, is terrifying. A huge, great bear of a man, he's 6ft 4, almost unintelligible and really, really pissed off. He's a regular it turns out and is often triaged and kept in for short visits.

They give him a trust exercise to pop out for an hour on the proviso that he comes back in good time. He promptly disappears for eight hours, gets blind drunk and comes back waving a massive stick around.

Someone also has to decide when and how he goes home.

Angelica is held down and injected with anti-psychotic drugs. She's a German lady who flew over here to meet her fiance who is waiting for her. Except he's not. He doesn't exist.

Katrina on the other hand tried to kill her ma over an iPhone. She's diagnosed and is brought under control with a potent cocktail of medication that stabilises her manic episodes. She seems so fucking lovely. She writes an apology to her mother saying: "If I kill you, I'd have to kill myself."

She is bright, verbose, logical and appears to clearly understand her condition. She is really nice. She's someone you wouldn't mind having a drink with. And she has this imbalance that ruins her life.

And someone has to decide when and how she gets to go home.

It's intelligently done, this series.

The juxtaposition of the Bedlam madhouse of days gone by and today's clinical drug driven triage process is fascinating.

As the head doctor dude explains, the whole reason people can leave the ward after a couple of months. The reason why there are only 18 beds on the ward, as opposed to the hundreds it would once have had, is down to one thing: drugs.

Drugs stabilise these people and allow them to live their lives.

Katrina recognises how lucky she is to have been diagnosed young and to have found the magic drug cocktail that gives her the choice to go back to university. Her mother is palpably relieved.

Rupert looks sad. He looks definitely less alive than when he was rampaging around and demanding omelettes. He looks sad and a bit lonely. .

Dominic is responding to therapy and medication. His kids look resigned.

Angelica realises that there is no fiance waiting for her. She knows he was never there.

Back to reality.

That head doctor guy and his team has to assess each of these suffering people and decide when they're no longer a danger to themselves or to other people. I have no idea how they do it. I freak out when I have to make a decision about where I'm going to live or whether to get a fringe. That took me about two years.

I can't admire these people enough.

TV that's in danger of making me feel and think. Amazing.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Wish you were here

No matter how long it's been, apparently it just smacks you right in the fucking face.

Every time.

Birthday and death day. We all live through our birthday every year and, equally, we unknowingly live through our death day every year.

But they're just days. Arbitrary days. So why is that approaching two separate days every year I become tenser and angrier and blacker and feel that bit worse about the world?

November 4 is my dad's birthday. He should be 69 today. He's not. He didn't get to be 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67 or 68 either.

That's a lot of years not to have.

I've felt his absence every day for every single one of those years.

This is my dad with my mum on a beach near Bamburgh Castle in the mid 60s. It makes me smile every time I see it.

Wish you were here.

Tu fui, ego eris. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Things I will miss about York: Part One

... volunteering every now and again at a place that allows me to sit on the floor and be covered in dogs. 

The Waggy Dog Creche is one of those places that they seem to have all over America but not so much over here - somewhere for dogs to go and hang out while their owners are otherwise engaged. 

Whenever I have time I go over there and hang out with dogs. Little ones, boisterous ones and some really, really shy ones. I come away covered in drool, hair and other unmentionables and always, always a lot happier. 

This is Harry. He is half Pug, half Jack Russell and is a grumpy little ball of dog.

This is Brad. Brad is a mix, possibly with a Rhodesian Ridgeback and had some kind of obvious trauma before he was adopted by his current owners. He is so shy and spends most of his time hanging out by himself. He edges closer to the group before getting spooked and legging it. He came and gave me a kiss twice all by himself and he made me melt. 

This is Hugo. He is six months old and dressed like a bee. 

This is Ted, a 13 week puppy with a very small bladder and a very high amount of energy. He's looking calm and celestial here but most of the time he's legging it around getting increasingly hysterical. Adorable. 

This is Rio. He is a Portuguese Water Dog and is perfect. I fell in love with him. He's chubby, clingy, insecure and utterly adorable. He was very patient when I dressed him as Rudolph. 

This is Tango. He has had a terrible life up till very recently. He was rescued from a hell hole in Cyprus and was a virtual skeleton not very many weeks ago. He's filling out nicely and loves to play. And I mean play. All day. 

Here's one of Tango smiling because it's heartwarming to see him so happy. 

This is Winston. He's judging you. 

This is Scout. She fell asleep. 

This big lunk is Rufus. He bowls his way through the crowd and has the best time ever. ALL THE TIME. 

Just some of the dogs I will miss when I leave York. 

Friday, 1 November 2013


It's Hallow e'en. What better night to deal with something that rules my life?


Such are my phobias and neuroses, some days I literally can't cross a road without becoming fractured by panic. A visceral, deep, physical manifestation of fear, which makes my throat close, my gag reflex to trigger and drives me to run. To escape.

Although I was once confined to my house for six entire months because my panic became so prevalent, so all encompassing, so overwhelming that I could not face it any more, I manage much better these days. For the most part. In times of high stress (like much of the first year of being in York) it becomes much worse. But it's always there.

I watched Bedlam this evening, a programme about people who are overwhelmed by their fear in such a way that they live a tortuous, hellish existence. All created by their own mind. It followed James, who looked like he should be singing in some band in Shoreditch but was actually a shell of a man, tortured incessantly by intrusive thoughts and subsequent severe OCD reactions. He'd had to drop out of university and this four month residential therapy stay was a last ditch to conquer his compulsions and regain a life.

It was difficult watching someone so tormented, so aware of his own battle and on such a precipitous knife edge of managing his conditions. Because that's what it's like when you suffer from these kind of mind games with yourself. They are always lurking, always waiting, always on the edge of your peripheral vision so there is no total escape. But you can learn to manage them. And, it seems, James did manage this and, we're told, went back to university 'anxiety free'. I hope he has. I don't think he will have though, it will be there always, I fear.

And then Antichrist. Lars Von Trier's masterpiece of, well, what? Horror? Grief? Nightmare? Adam and Eve? Hell?

Von Trier is a man much troubled by fear. He clearly has a good, deep working knowledge of sadness, anxiety, grief and the profound existentialist fear that can haunt a person with clinical depression.

I was blown away by his Melancholia, a film that rendered me incoherent with sobs due to its flawless depiction of breakdown, psychosis and depression. But I had never seen Antichrist. Until tonight.

Fucking hell fire on a stick. It's a good 'un. Thing is about Von Trier, he always manages to make his films so beautiful while brutal, so that I become enmeshed in the character's inner world. As much as one can. It's a film steeped in evil and sadness and it makes you really suspicious of foxes.

A grotesque misogynistic horror according to the Daily Mail on its release in 2009. Just let that sink in a bit. A film that looks at a host of horrific emotions, deals with heaven, hell, creation and death, mental fracture and shares what is clearly a poor view of
psychotherapy, is misogynistic. According to the DAILY MAIL. That bastion of equality and fairness. Fucking dicks.

Antichrist makes you think. Your poor brain is trying to work out what in holy fuck is going on half the time and trying to process a dead baby, a really painful handjob, death, grief, fear, pain, love, hate, the brutality of nature, religion, heaven, hell, self destruction the rest of the time.

It's beautifully shot. So beautifully shot that you find yourself watching all this horror and all of the Pain, Grief and Despair while neither sympathising with nor condemning He or She. Are they lost in a nightmare of crippling grief? Or is she plain batshit crazy and he made the biggest mistake ever when he arrogantly thought he could cure her using basic CBT and a spot of hypnosis?

He and She are in Eden, and nature was created by Satan, not God. Or He and She are delusional with grief and living some codependent psychotic break.

It's intense as fuck and, hell, I'm not going to pretend that I get even half of the symbolism. But I do know that I want to watch it again to work it all out. I'll just, you know, look away at those bits.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

SKY, believe in better... ways to rob you blind

I used to have O2 mobile and broadband. A mere week or so after I'd signed up with them, coerced by their 'good deal' for 'loyal customers', they announced they sold to SKY. 


I ditched O2 mobile for Vodafone, chosen on a whim. Pretty much stick a pin in the few companies we have to choose from and hope that they don't metaphorically do you up the arse for the duration of your 90 billion year fixed term contract, right? I tried to do that whole proper comparison thing and I listened to friends who swear by buying the phone outright and then using a pay as you go SIM, and although all of that would undoubtedly have been cheaper in the long run, the usual thing happened. My brain reaches critical mass and I just go: "Aaaargh fuck it." and sign up with whatever random crappy contract catches my eye first. 


Because I ditched them, even though I'd been a customer for 10 years, O2 decided to then triple my broadband bill.

£60 a month for shit broadband? Nah mate. 

Phone SKY they said. 

So I did. 

They put me on £10 broadband. Fine, right, whatever, sez I. 

I get the bill. It's itemised. And do you know what? I pay £2.50 a month for NOT having SKY TV. 

Let's just run through that again. I don't want SKY TV so when the man asked me if I wanted it, I said no. He didn't say that as a penalty/punishment/forfeit I would then be committed to giving SKY, which I think is a fairly massive bastard conglomerate who doesn't, strictly speaking, need to rob its lowly customers like this, I will be paying them £2.50 a month. For nothing. 

Literally, for nothing. On the bill it says: £2.50 surcharge for not having SKY TV. 

Cheeky cunts ain't they?

I complained, naturally. I suspect many people reading this will think I'm being a petty old bitch again. Moaning about something so unimportant. But this, right here, is EXACTLY the kind of thing that passive resistance is allowing to happen. Huge great bastard companies are stealing from people. People they assume won't be arsed enough to make a noise for the sake of £2.50 a month. That's not even enough to buy a pint, so why do I care?

Because it equates to £30 a year and if someone is going to benefit from an amount of money I'm not going to miss, it sure as shit isn't going to be SKY. It will be a charity of my choice. What with it being my money and all. 

And guess what? SKY listened to my point and agreed that they are completely in the wrong by nicking money from their customers in such a sneaky, pathetic fashion. ONLY JOKING. They told me to fuck off. They told me it's too late and that I agreed on the phone to the £10 charge. Which I did. If they had told me that a quarter of this £10 monthly charge was going to them for the privilege of not having SKY TV I would have told them to stick it up their fat arse. 

But I wasn't given that choice. 

I've written a strongly worded letter of complaint that I have no doubt will be immediately placed in SKY's special filing cabinet for customer complaints. After they've all had a good laugh about how they work for a company that is so shit at everything that they have to resort to stealing money from customers. 

So, what's my point? It's shit being a consumer in 2013 is my point. And we sit, glazed eyed, allowing this kind of toss to happen because it's just the fucking way it is. Fuck you SKY. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

This really really hot guy favourited me

On OKC they can give you star ratings (yes, really).

It shows how they rate you. You get a notification of this and then you see what they are like.

And then the magic happens.

Something rotten in the state of Romania

If you'd asked me a few months ago what immediately sprang to mind if asked to consider Romania I would have said excellent gymnasts, poor fashion choices, extremely dodgy totalitarian leaders who were shot on Christmas Day sometime in my childhood and thus the image of their corpses is stamped on my memory to this day and a boy called Radu who I knew at university. 

If you asked me today, I would say the fact that they kill dogs. They torture dogs. They set traps for dogs (and cats, come to that). They perpetuate breeding by not spaying and neutering and they then round up the dogs and they torture them. 

You may think I am condemning an entire country for the actions of a few. But I'm not. 

The government have passed a law that says all stray dogs will be rounded up by dog catchers - who are brutal in their treatment - and killed within 14 days if they're not claimed. 

While they're waiting to be killed they are kept in filthy, cramped conditions. They are left in pain, fear and agony. And they are starved, because hey, what's the fucking point in feeding a dog that's only going to be killed. 

I follow many Romanian animal charities on Facebook and online and there are endless pictures of starving, beaten, actively tortured animals. The dog catchers are brutal and these dogs start their lives begging on the streets. They are booted and ignored. They are starved and in pain. Many lose limbs due to being run over and left or by the traps that residents put out. Yep, people put out traps that maim dogs. 

The public shelters that the rounded up dogs go into are hellholes. 

This law happened over the last month or so and it is enforced. To be honest, even before the law the dogs were on a hiding to nothing. 

They are literally born to die. 

So, why do I care so strongly about this when there are so many horrors in the world? Because that's a cop out. Shrugging my shoulders because there are disgusting things happening everywhere to animals and people, as if to say: "Ah well, nothing I can do." isn't enough anymore. 

I am a supporter of various UK animal charities and will continue to be. But the truth is that we have no idea in this country about the scale and horror of the cruelty that goes on in other countries towards dogs and cats. No idea at all. People don't want to look. People don't want to see. 

Of course, many do. And in Romania there are a hardcore group of people with souls who are trying to stem this horrific tide. They are pulling dogs out of public 'shelters' and keeping them in private shelters which, although shitholes, are staffed by people who care. They are getting treatment for the dogs that can be treated and they are rehoming them out of the country. And they are relying on donations. 

They are metaphorically sticking their pinkie in a dam. It's an impossible fight but for every dog that is saved it's a stand against this abhorrent and abjectly cruel behaviour. 

To do my part I have found myself adopting a dog from Romania. She is called Sushi and this is her just over a month ago before she lost her leg. I'm not entirely clear on how she lost her leg but she has. She is tiny, she is nondescript and she is a perfect example of a Romanian street dog - a mutt who has never known kindness in her short life until she became a lucky saved one. 

I saw her picture, looked at her mad ears, and found myself inquiring about her. Showing their desperation to get dogs homed, the charity (K-9 Angels) - efficiently sent someone out to meet me, decided I could give her a good home and then mailed me to tell me the good news. K-9 Angels also save dogs from Thailand who are bred to go into the food chain, by the way. Yeah, that really happens too. 

This is Sushi after she lost her leg a couple of weeks ago. The dingy, dark place she is in is the private shelter where she is getting better treatment than she has ever had. She has shelter, she has food and she occasionally has a cuddle. And that is literally the best her life has ever been. 

Shit got real and I sent them the £200 to get her over here. She just made it onto the January 2014 van, which is already full to bursting with dogs getting their first chance at a life free of pain. And she will be here, all being well, after a two day journey on 11 January. At which point my friend Mickey will drive me to the dreadfully inconvenient drop off point and we will go and pick her up and I will never let her be afraid again. 

She will join Fatman in my tiny menagerie of spoiled rescue animals and I will make sure she has everything she has never had before. Not at all sure how Fatman is going to take this but he can't be the only one I give a home to. 

People have told me for years that I should 'do what makes me happy'. This is what makes me happy. And although I wish I could save every single dog in Romania, I will start with Sushi. 

If you want to donate to help the dogs of Romania that'd be OK. If you want to adopt one of these dogs that would be OK too. If you'd rather buy some pug shaped Christmas cards with all profits going to help the Romanian dogs that'd be also OK. This is an example of one of these lovingly crafted cards, which happen to feature the face of my nephew Alfie and have been designed and produced by my friend Mickey Rose. Here is where you can buy them

If you don't want to do any of that then that's OK too. Everyone has their thing that they care about and I know that I can't convince anyone that my cause is better than theirs. Of course I can't. But if you've read to the end of this then just keep it all in mind. 

Maybe a friend of yours will mention that they want to adopt a dog and you can tell them that they can save a dog from Romania if they want to. Or maybe a friend of yours is running a marathon (I cannot believe how many friends I have that run marathons) and would like a cause to run for. 

Or just tell people about it because these tortured dogs deserve to have their story told.