Tuesday, 30 December 2014

And so, farewell 2014

Right. New Year's Resolutions time. Awesome. These always work out so well.

I pledge to:

1. Give up smoking. OH WAIT, I already did that.
2. Write a book. OH HANG ON. I already did that.
3. Adopt a dog. HOLD UP, I already did that.

Ahhhh. That was nice. A bit of back slapping never goes amiss, even if you're doing it to yourself. Fnarr.

I actually didn't make resolutions to do any of those, as it goes.

I'd already adopted Sushi before the end of last year, I had no faith in myself to quit smoking and I assumed I would fail again to write a book.

Maybe it's better to start the year with zero expectations and then just kind of have a bash as the year goes on?

The ways we can make ourselves feel guilty are myriad. Sometimes I think I am actually Catholic at heart. I manage to feel guilt over pretty much everything. Situations that have absolutely nothing to do with me. All the times I put on a pound. All the times I piss someone off. All the times someone pisses me off. It's a very tedious way to live.

For 2015 (and holy motherfucking shitballs, how did we get to the actual future guys? And how is it so exactly the same as the 1980s?) I pledge to do nothing. Fuck it. I might actually just get into bed on New Year's Day and not ever get up again. Florence Nightingale did it, so why can't I?

Now that Ebola has hit our shores (one case in Glasgow hospital - it is the end times), the economy continues in freefall, I can't make enough money to live in a shoebox and I have no idea what to do with my life STILL, I'm just going to take 2015 as it comes.

Fuck resolutions, fuck beating myself up over not being as good as other people at shit, fuck worrying all the time about the stuff I haven't done, the things I don't have and where the hell I'm going to live and work. It'll all fall into place. Or not. Either way I'm breathing in and out and I don't have Ebola. Yet. So that's a good way to start the new year I reckon.

Merry new year and all of that shizzle to anyone reading this. May 2015 vomit joy and good fortune over your duvet every day. And if not, then just do what makes you feel the least crappy. I reckon that's the best way to go.

Onwards.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

OBVIOUSLY

Hey guise, I'm an esoteric dark angel who keeps my heart on Heavens (sic) highway. RIGHT ON YELLING GUY. 





OBVIOUSLY.


And so this is Christmas...

... and what have you done?

Quite a lot actually John Lennon, and all of it without a) breaking up the band and b) beating up my wife.

That is my least favourite Christmas choon. Who wants to be berated by a hypocritical multi millionaire pseudo hippy at Christmas? And war is not over just because you want it. And talking of multi millionaire patronising types, they do know it's Christmas in Africa Bob Geldof you div so leave that dead horse alone already.

As it's the end of the year, I'm naturally starting to berate myself for all I have failed to achieve in the 12 months preceding.

But this year is a bit different

I've actually achieved some things I have wanted for years. Serious.


  1. I have completed a first draft of my first book. This may not sound much but is essentially the culmination of about 20 years of wanting and failing and half starting and procrastinating and not bothering and doing work instead and a million other things. This inspired me to: 
  2. Write short stories. Actually write them and finish them. My next challenge is to write one that isn't dark and about death and that. One step at a time. 
  3. I have given up smoking. I am a woman with little will power. Or at least I have been. Perhaps I'm not anymore. Because I've actually done it. I stopped smoking. And it wasn't even that hard. I know that's not what you're meant to say, it's meant to be awful and involve vaping and patches and gum and relapsing and shit. And, you must understand that I've been smoking since I was 14. It was my crutch every time I got sad or upset (which is hella lots) and, even though I still want them from time to time, I've come to realise that cravings are transitory. If you don't give into them they pass. If you do give into them they pass. Either way they pass. So you may as well not give into them. 
  4. I have adopted a dog. I cannot, without making you puke, describe the joy she has brought into my life. I can't believe I got so lucky with my pooch. I chose her from an internet photograph and, although I suck at online dating, I can apparently find the perfect dog for me just by looking in her eyes. Watching her grow and relax and show her personality has been a humbling and wonderful experience. She makes me smile every single day and I adore her. 
  5. I have seriously started driving lessons. 
  6. I've had further treatment for my utterly boring health problems and have some definitive answers. They're not the most direct or helpful - there is no path to curing me. The operation didn't fully work. But now I know and I am starting to come to terms with it, rather than resist the fact that I have it. It is my lot in life, and I am so lucky it's not something worse. 
  7. I have volunteered for causes that I believe in, and it has meant I have been privileged, utterly privileged, to get up close and personal with some animals that are more important that anyone seems to realise. Bats are freaking awesome and vital for the equilibrium of our ecosystem. They're also cuter than cute can be and make the best faces when you feed them. 

All of this is probably paltry by contrast. I haven't saved any lives and I haven't had a child or even managed to start a relationship that's worthwhile.

But it's small steps to the life I want and you gotta leave something for next year, right?






Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A different kind of Christmas

Christmas is weird.

I know that it's not like that for everyone. And I know that for many people it's still a magical, family time where dreams come true and all is well. Wrapped in family traditions and bonhomie, you'd have to be a miserable bastard to not like Christmas. 

For me, these days, it's weird. 

I have no traditions, I have no place to go. Every year I think, hmmmm, next year I'll most likely be in an adult relationship which will put a different spin on things. Maybe I can lig onto his traditions and find some fun in this time of year again. But obviously that never happens. The best Christmases I've spent have been with a close friend, she made me welcome into her family and her traditions and it was lovely. 

So, without a family of my own, or a partner to distract me, it can be a period of enduring rather than enjoyment. 

Since my father died 14 years ago, the magic of Christmas is an elusive beast. It is what it is. No doubt I should be over it by now. No doubt it shouldn't feel like a red hot poker of pain underneath my ribs to think about Christmas and how much I used to love it. It shouldn't make me miss him anymore than I already do. But I'm an imperfect human being who is apparently not brilliant at dealing with grief and loss. So, here I am. Facing another year of feeling itchy and out of place wherever I am. 

I feel apart from it. Like it's a big club I haven't been invited into. I see people getting excited but I just don't feel it. I'm confused at people decorating their houses now. It seems bizarre to me. But it's me who's out of kilter with the world, not the world being odd. 

I have to fight against feelings of envy and bitterness. I KNOW. I shouldn't be saying that. I should be all magnanimous and OK with it all. It tends to remind me of what I don't have instead of what I do have. Which is one of my many issues anyway. Christmas basically is hard. And I'm tired of it. 

So this year, I couldn't quite face a day of emotional numbness in the face of the pressure to have FUN and, instead of wallowing as is my wont, decided to do something different. 

I've never done the whole volunteering on Christmas Day thing. To me, it's something that happens on telly. Or in a film. It reminds me of Claire in Scrooged. I've signed up to the only thing I could find on Craggy Island, which is a Christmas Day lunch hosted by the Salvation Army. I'm obviously terrified of organised religion in all its forms, but if you can't hang with religious people on Christmas Day, when can you? Right? 

So I will be spending Christmas Day with a host of vulnerable people. I'm not sure what that means, but I think the homeless, the lonely, the disparate. A group that I should fit right in with I think. I will be doing whatever is needed, which will most likely be cleaning and a whole hell of washing up. 

And for the first time in, oooh, about 14 years, I'm excited about Christmas Day. 

I might even put the tree up before Christmas Eve this year. Maybe. 


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Internet dating. Lol.

Guy messages me asking for sex. And tells me I'm rude. Lol. 


Guy misjudges copy and pasted bilge. And deletes his profile. Lol. 


Awful homophobe is awful. Lol. 



Dominant male is 'honest and upfront'. Lol. 




Saturday, 8 November 2014

She's one bad bitch

This OKC exchange made me chortle.

For weeks now a girl has been checking out my profile.

For those unfamiliar with internet dating (congrats on being well adjusted and having normal relationships by the way), the way it works is this. If someone purposely looks at your profile, you see who it is. You seen when they look and how often.

This can lead to feeling uncomfortably stalked.

Amid the morass of blokes visiting my profile (again I stress this is not me bigging myself up, I am well aware that anyone with boobs and a face on an internet dating site gets a lot of attention) there has been this girl.

She's a local girl.

And her profile is hilarious.

She says that she will only accept messages from blokes who are 6ft 4 and over as 'I don't do midgets'.

So, after a couple of months of her looking at my profile on a daily basis, I messaged her.


I really really want to know how she gets to my profile when she searches for men who are 6ft 4 and over. 

I'm currently eagerly awaiting her response. 

I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

National Novel Writing Month

Just before 1 November, the first day of the annual NaNoWriMo challenge, I saw an article. I can't remember what it was in. Maybe The Independent. Doesn't matter. The headline was something like: No one wants to hear about your book.

It was a well sneery piece about how hearing about someone attempting to write a book is so mindnumbingly boring and how NaNoWriMo is encouraging people to bang on and on about it.

Well, fuck that, I say.

I've been writing for years. I have dreamed about having the confidence, the commitment, the discipline and the fire to finish my book for years. Whenever anyone has asked me what I want to be when I grow up, the answer is always a writer. A writer of books.

I don't want to do it to become rich and famous, I want to do it because it's the only thing I think I'm good at. Because I want to create. Because I want to get my words out, and I want other people to read them and I want them to mean something. Doesn't matter if it's only to one person. I want to write.

And now I am.

Everyone has one book inside of them, someone once said. I actually think that's unlikely to be true. I have met a fair amount of people who don't seem to have a coherent sentence inside of them. But I've also met a tonne of people who want to write a book too but they don't have the time, or they don't have the commitment or they don't have the patience.

The fear of reading your first draft is real. Reading something you've written and having that moment where you realise it's a massive pile of shit is inevitable. And I don't believe any writer hasn't gone through that. As Ernest Hemingway said: "The first draft of anything is shit." And he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Fear has held me back for years. I've started. I've taken courses. I've prevaricated and I have found every reason under the sun as to why today is not the right day to actually do it.

I first heard of NaNo in about 2004 ish, I dunno, fucking years ago anyway. A few of my friends did it. It might have been the first year. I was envious. Because they were doing something that I felt I couldn't do. For years I've read books about writing, I've read books about writers writing, I've put work first, I've dodged the issue.

But there is nothing to do but to do it. And for whatever reason NaNo is working for me. I am on Day 4 and I have cleared 11000 words. Some of them will be utter drivel. I will edit the crap out of this. But, for the first time in my life, I know I will finish a book.

By the end of this month, I will have the first draft of my first book.

I don't care what snide may come. This is one of the most exciting things I've ever done in my life and hell yes, I'm going to talk about it.

In a parallel universe

On 4 November 2014 I have lots of things to do.

I have to pitch for new work, do existing work, go swimming, walk the dog, write my book, buy flowers and go to the cemetery.

On 4 November 2014 in a parallel universe I would be doing no work today.

Instead I would with my dad, and we would be celebrating his 70th birthday.

I would give him an iPad Air this year, because I know he would have adored iPads. I would make his cake myself and it would be chocolate. It would have 70 candles on it. Because I would find that amusing. I would organise a surprise for later. We would go to a restaurant for dinner and I would have my brother there with his family and the friends he's made over the years living here.

In a parallel universe we'd then watch a film together as a family. And drink beer and eat chocolates.

In a parallel universe today would be a beautiful, exciting day.

It's still a beautiful day.

The sun is shining and I will, instead, take my beloved dog and my beloved mum and we will visit his grave.



I'll lay flowers on his grave and I will try not to cry.

I'll wish I was the me in the parallel universe.

I love you dad, happy birthday.




Saturday, 1 November 2014

It's time I faced up to it

My name is Deborah and I am a goth.

I've tried not to be. I've tried wearing colours other than black. I've even tried lightening my hair. But I just am. I like it. I've always liked it. I like black and skulls and goth music and pompous pop stars and lyrics about suicide and kohl and dry ice.

For a while in my 20s it was as if it had never happened. The crimping. The cheap black hair dye. The Sisters of Mercy love ins. But now, as I grow ever older, I love it just as much.

I like black and lace and Victoriana and mourning culture and bats and dramatic classical music and leather and spiders and dingy clubs that play Sisters and long skirts and kohl and being pale and having long black hair.

I watched Goth at the BBC last night.

Siouxise was first. Can't help it. Want to look like her. Just do. Always have, always will. I still do my make up the same way and if I can ever get thin enough I'm definitely going to wear more leather. Spellbound it was. Loved it.

Bizarro inclusions aside (Depeche Mode, really? Strawberry Switchblade, REALLY?), I did chuckle at Fields of the Nephilim. Could never take them in any way seriously back in the day anyway and my lord, it hasn't aged well. Moonchild this, Carl. You big bellend.

And then Wayne came on. I did used to love The Mission, but again can't honestly say I like them now. Tower of Strength was just so... bombastic. Overblown. A bit, well, a lot, cringey. Also how did I ever find him attractive? What exactly was wrong with my eyes in the early to mid 90s? Affected and bombastic. And what was he doing to his hair? And why the crouching? And just why?

But then Sisters came on. And all was well. Lucretia. I don't give a shit what anyone says, Sisters of Mercy wrote good music. I love Andrew's lyrics. I love their music. There isn't a Sisters track I don't like. I've been listening to them since I was 15 and I still feel the same as I did then.



Andrew has always banged on about Sisters not being a goth band. They're rock, according to him. Thing is though, he has come to epitomise the archetypal goth bloke. Must have right pissed him off. I reckon they're goth by most people's understanding of the genre. Which is, I feel, skinny whiny miserable people singing about death and dressing in black. So wrong. They're not all skinny.

And then Killing Joke came on. Bloody marvellous.

And then, rather bizarrely, Shakespear's Sister. I love 'em. LOVE them. Not sure they're goth in the strictest sense of the word, but who gives a shit. I modelled my 'going out to Death Culture at the Hummingbird  in Birmingham in 1992' on Siobhan:



Never pulled it off quite as well but have been working on it ever since.

And then there were other bands like Marilyn Manson and I kind of lost interest.

BUT a show that squeezed in The Cure (with Robert reminding us all why we fancied him back in the day), Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Sisters, The Mission AND Siouxsie forced me to my realisation. I am a goth, therefore I am.

So liberating.

And now, if you'll excuse me I have to go and listen to This Corrosion loudly.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Do you ever get any nice messages?

Sharing the joy of online dating may make it seem that all I get are 'orrible messages. 

That is not the case at all. 

Sometimes I get messages like this: 


"Hello, my universal queen I just went through your profile, I would like to be a friend, you look so pretty charming like the morning sun"


Or this: 


"Hello, 


Saw your profile and thought you seem like a friendly female. I have a high sex drive and wanted to take my chance in meeting up with you for some fun. 


Regards,"


Or this: 


"Hi, 


I'm Stephane, I'm not too sure what to think. On one hand I find you very attractive, on the other, very dangerous. One one hand you seem to be a tough cookie, on the other one, you seem to surrender to necessary compromises. 


Well, I guess at our age range, we're usually not virgin on any sense of the term most likely with a set mind on things we will and won't be allowing into our lives. 


I hope I'm thoroughly wing about the tough cookie bit, although..."


Or this: 


"those eyes, that smile can all be very dangerous if also coming with a sensual and passionate woman behind them ;-)"


Or this: 


"Hi


I just read an essay, oh no it was your profile

I thought I would reply with an equally long message, unfortunately I don't have the time and a connot find how to add dick pic

Please reply if you find this funny

X William"

Or this: 


"I never know a good opener, so here is something different. What is the name of the pointy device used in fencing?"


Or this: 


"I just crave older laides. Plus I don't get much sex due to busy timetable."


Or this: 


"I can make u rich, if you can write book. I have the story. I'm not kidding by the way... If i could put my life story and what happened in it into words... it will transform ur life... "



So, you know, it's not all bad. I am, after all, universal queen. 








Saturday, 25 October 2014

I, er, have a hosiery fetish...

For 20 minutes today I chatted to a lovely chap on OKC. We talked about horror movies, the kind of music we like and how we like our tea.

It seemed to be going well.

I had a good feeling about this one.

And then this happened:

ME: So, what do you do for fun? (after he had asked me what I do for fun and I had responded with the usual: reading, writing, dog stuff blah blah).

HIM: Do you want the vanilla answer?

ME: Oh god, you're going to talk about sex aren't you.

HIM: Are you intrigued?

ME: Not really. I only asked what you do for fun. You know. Bowling maybe? Cinema?

HIM: I, er, have a hosiery fetish.

ME: Bit soon doncha think mate?

HIM: You're so boring.

ME: Sigh.

BLOCK.

It's not that he has a fetish. Lordy, don't we all. I mean, I don't. Pure as the driven snow. But really? 20 minutes in? When all you've spoken about so far is horror films and tea?

Even if I had been looking for a quick bang behind the bins or a bit of online how's yer father, it takes a BIT longer than that to warm me up.

Straight from Carrie's good isn't it, yes it is good, I like Stephen King to HEAR ABOUT MY TIGHTS FETISH, is so crass. So teenage. So lacking in finesse and style.

Oh no, sorry, it's not that. It's me. I'm BORRRRRRRRRRRRRRINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG.

Can meltdowns ever be good?

Every now and again - and, crucially, not always linked to the time of the moon goddess and her spiffing visits - I have a right proper alarming meltdown.

It's a cyclical thing, so maybe it is linked in some way but I don't know, I'm not a doctor. And it doesn't really matter anyway. The whys are sometimes irrelevant, I am slowly learning this lesson. Only taken me 38 years to work out that sometimes, compulsively over-analysing shit is actually pointless, boring, counter productive and a waste of one's precious time.

Last night was such a time. Apropos of nothing in particular, other than the usual crushing anxiety of being alive, I lost the plot a little. Had a howl of existential angst. Basically cried a lot and became incoherent when attempting to explain myself to my cat.

Becoming suddenly entirely overwhelmed by anxiety is terrifying. And even though it's approximately the five millionth time it's happened in my life, it's always wonderfully fresh and new. That terror, dread, staring into the void blackness with the certainty that there's no way out, no one is coming to help and no one can hear you scream.

It's a terribly first world problem, I suspect. As people tediously say on social media, what about the starving people, what about the wars, what about people who are worse off than you? Thing is, you see, thinking about people who are worse off than me doesn't actually help. It doesn't make me think: "I'm alright because I'm not dying right this second or my child hasn't had its limbs blown off or I haven't been shot by a nutter gunman so I'm alright Jack.". It doesn't work that way. All that does is push me further into the rabbit hole of despair because there is so much pain in this world, so much fear, so much horror.

When you look around and you see the people suffering so much, just in your immediate vicinity, and you realise how helpless you are to actually change anything and then that runs into a spiral of crushing despair at the futility of existence and what's the fucking point anyway? Well, that doesn't really do much to lift one out of the pit. Add on the guilt of the 'self indulgence' of becoming this anxious wreck and well, the simplicity of that thought just didn't really work now, did it.

My head starts to resemble some kind of hideous depiction of hell - screaming souls and pain and horror everywhere. Think  Goya. Think Munch. Think Bacon. This is the inside of my head. Perhaps without the papal overtones:



All of this was just while sitting in front of Children in Need's Great British Sewing Bee, by the way. I wasn't in any kind of danger. At that moment no one was needing anything from me. No one was hassling me. No one was hurting me. Also I wasn't supping the liquid morphine I like to have as an aperitif. Stone cold sober panic flip out.

Nothing is working. All my plans are pointless. Everything I'm trying to achieve is useless. There's no good, no hope, no joy in this world. There's nothing. Just nothing. We're all just rattling around, using up our allocated number of breaths, filling our lives with drivel so we have something to do between the cradle and the grave. I'm 38. I'm alone. I'm possessionless. I'm somehow no more advanced than I was when I was 16. I'm screaming into a void.

And then. And this is something that happens every time. I feel calmer. I feel purged. A plan starts to form. I realise why I'm doing what I'm doing. I look at where I am and I think, hang on a goshdarn minute, maybe this is where I'm supposed to be. Maybe this is OK. I'm alive. I'm healthy (physically, ish, obviously not mentally). I have a few people who care about me. I have creative outlets that I can indulge. Things are just not that bad, guy. Lighten the fuck up, man. Breathe.

Open your eyes. Look around. And the fog starts to clear and the black starts to recede and I feel, well, OK again. Like some black sticky goo has been cleaned out of my brain.

And I've done no damage, I hope. My cat is used to it. I think he just tunes it out by now.

Being a human being is very very weird.








Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Let's talk about Renee Zellweger's face

So much is going on at the moment. And most of it is bad. Everywhere I look there are friends in pain, people suffering, animals missing, murderers getting away with it, people dying... and I can't seem to make a dent in helping anyone with anything at all.

A small glance at the news today has reminded me of the futility of hoping for any kind of actual justice - I have the angriest, rantiest fire in my belly about Pistorious and the laughable sentence he has been handed. But I see no point in writing it. I can't change anything. It's futile rage. And it's going round and round and round in my head.

Instead, I'm going to dive into denial of all actual emotions and important stuff and talk about Renee Zellweger's face.

This face.


A passing glance at this picture and I would have thought that it was perhaps Kim Basinger on a good day (also a victim of bizarre face shifting). 

But it's Renee Zellwegger, man. She of the pout and squinty eyes. She of the blond-y American-y skinny look that has worked for her so far. 

I've never been a particular fan of the lady. She was a dreadful - and I mean dreadful - Bridget Jones. There was a time in the mid 90s, you see, where Bridget Jones was funny and fresh and new. And it could have been a good film. But it wasn't, in the end.

I'm not sure I can remember her in anything else. I mean, I know I've seen her in stuff. Ooh! Empire Records! She was good in that. But she has a simpering kind of beauty that I couldn't really get into. Not that she's there to be beautiful, of course, she is entitled to look how she wishes without needing to please randoms like me.

But I wouldn't half like to find out what's going on in her noggin. What made her purposefully turn herself from this:


To this: 


OK, OK, you might think it's not fair to compare a picture from the late 90s and now, obviously a lot of time has passed. But this isn't actually about ageing or saying she looks shit older. It's nothing to do with that at all.

Here she was just last year:

Suspiciously shiny faced she may be. Chicken armed she may be. Sinewy she may be, but she is also recognisably her. Her face is most definitely Renee Zellweger shaped.

Not any more it ain't.

She's 45 years old. But somehow now looks like a 90 year old wearing her own death mask. She's literally changed her face shape. Pumping loads of chemicals into her forehead and lifting her eyes up has given her a bizarre doll like stare and a really odd hairline that looks so freaking unnatural it disturbs me.

Is it a kind of sickness? Do women who do this hate themselves so much that the only way they can face the fact that they aren't 20 is to mutilate themselves? What does she think when she looks in the mirror? Is it a good outcome for her, I wonder? She looks happy enough. I think that's a smile. It's possible she's had her face shaped into a rictus grin though, lest anyone ever see her looking anything other than blankly happy.

Maybe she likes it, and as I say, I ain't no Daily Mail. Everyone, man, women and child have the right and my best wishes to look however they wish. Wear whatever they want. I don't give a shit. It's not about her face anyway. It's not that I think her new face is horrible. It's not. It's just completely fricking different. And there's something profoundly depressing about hating your own face that much.

Perhaps it's addictive. Perhaps when you've had one little bit of botox you're hooked immediately. Maybe it's not botox. Maybe it's heroin.

And yes, this was completely puerile and pointless wasn't it? You're welcome.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Does size matter?

I have a date on Tuesday night.

I was vaguely looking forward to it. It's a guy who lives locally. That's a pretty rare find in Royston Vasey. He seems pretty OK. Not bad looking. Acceptably amusing.

We chatted.

And then he asked me.

He asked me if I'm fat.

He didn't come right out and ask me, of course. He squidged it in to a conversation about height. So, you're not fat are you hahaha, cos I don't want a fatty.

Sigh.

You've seen my pictures, I said. And I describe myself as 'average'. I don't claim to be skinny, slim or sylph like. I say I'm average. Because I am. Fucking average.

Yeah, but. This girl, right. He went out with this girl who described herself as 'athletic' on her profile and she was, dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuun overweight. So he's just 'being honest'.

Well, no. You're not just being honest you douchenugget. You have now put me hugely on the defensive because I, like a lot of women, am uber-sensitive about my weight, constantly aware I am not skinny, constantly worried about my level of attractiveness, and actually, right now, on a diet that consists of 800 calories a day.

So what I don't want or need before meeting someone for the first time is to ALREADY be on the defensive about my looks. It just so happens that my last two serious relationships became very, er, based around my weight. I have always been too fat for the guy I've been with. Always. And that shit gets wearing, man.

But instead of waiting until we meet to see whether he finds me attractive he wants me to tell him right now whether I am going to fulfil his idea of attractiveness.

I asked him whether he ever worries whether a girl in a date scenario will fancy him. He said no. He doesn't worry about that. He just worries about whether she's thin enough and pretty enough and everything else. He's just 'being honest'.

Thing is though, we all have preferences. I have a thing for shoulders. I like shoulders. But I wouldn't ask someone before I meet him whether his shoulders are nice and manly. Or whether his dick is nice and big. Because, y'know, it's my preference. And maybe when I meet him and he doesn't have those obvious attributes I'll find some other reason to like him. Maybe his personality would attract me. But if I set it up beforehand and make him feel like shit about something then it's unlikely to happen at all is it?

So yeah, size matters. It really does matter. Fuck it.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Finnigan's wake

Let's talk about Judy Finnigan.

She has a face like a melted wellie and a wig like Barbie's cast offs all smushed up into a lump that sits atop her orange head. Like Goldie Hawn having gone through a blender. Like Miss Piggy's future nightmares. Like Zelda from Terrahawks on a good day. Look:



She has been on telly forever and ever. I used to skive school when I was about 10 and there she was. On the telly with that wet tit she has for a husband. The one who was caught nicking loads of champagne from Asda once. I think they should have just let him take it, he obviously needs to be roaring pissed to put up with the crazy he married.

She's always got the shakes. You know the kind of shakes that could denote some kind of illness a la the lovely and fragrant Michael J Fox, but as they've been going on at the same level since about 1902, it seems they're most likely the DTs.

The DTs, for the unitiated, are the delirium tremens. They mean she is a piss 'ead. A 'functioning' alcoholic. If functioning is an adequate adjective to describe the meandering nonsense that passes for 'presenting' when she is in front of our screens. Whenever I saw that programme that she was on with that man she just sort of gabbled out the autocue and looked like she was going to cry.

For decades, nay centuries, Judy and Rich were the King and Queen of Daytime TV. An accolade with as much glory as that Arse of the Year award that old soap stars always win. Rear of the Year is it? People like Kerry Katona win it. I think they must have a very very loose idea of what constitutes a great arse. Katona is not a looker, let's face it. Last time she scrubbed up well was approximately 27 years ago and approximately 32 kids ago.

But then they disappeared. Judy and Rich I mean. Who knows where they went? Down the Spar to get lots of cider I think. Briefly I recall their daughter becoming 'famous' in manner of that kid what came from George Best's loins. Ahhh, whats his name? The one with no hair but was considered studly around about the time the tabloids were telling us Jodie Marsh was fit. You know. Callum! That's it, Callum Best.

Their daughter may have been on Strictly, I think. Something like that. Maybe Celebrity Shag Island. Or the jungle one maybe.

Anyway, the reason for my reminiscing over Judy of the horrendous jackets and the facially challenged wrinkles, is that she is back on 'our' screens in Loose Women. Now, I watch a lot of shit, I'm the first to admit. I watch Australian Masterchef. AUSTRALIAN. It's terrible. But even I have never watched an episode of Loose Women.

And this episode wouldn't have come to my attention had Judy not done a boo boo. A wrong 'un. She did an error. She was talking about a footballer called Ched Evans. Ched. Ched Evans. CHED. Ched raped a 19 year old woman two years ago. He was in Rhyl at the time. He was tried, convicted and jailed for five years. As is our country's wont, he isn't serving the five years (that would be madness, a rapist serving proper time? Get out of here), he's actually being released imminently.

This kicked off a discussion. Judy reckons it's totes cool that he's being let out and that he should get his job back because the rape that he did "wasn't violent" and the woman who was raped had had "far too much to drink". I think I know someone else who has had "far too much to drink" eh Judes? But pissed up were we before you went on? Bit nervous? Bit o' Dutch courage needed?

Because unless you were pissed when you said that then you are outright facking mental love.

I wonder how Judy would feel had it been her Chloe who had been pissed up in a hotel and was 'non violently raped' by someone. I wonder if she'd be feeling quite so benevolent then?

It's difficult for women to find the courage to come forward when they're raped. It's a weird culture out there. With so much bizarro pseudo feminist rantings out there that, in my opinion, do nothing but set 'the cause' back, along with the misogyny, fear mongering and culture of online bullying bullshit, it's amazing that this 19 year old took him to court. That he was tried and convicted should be enough for those of us who didn't have access to all the details of the rape (sorry, Judy, the bit where he non violently stuck it in her by accident), and now even after all of that here's people just saying that it wasn't really that bad in the first place. I wonder if Judy would like the victim to apologise to Ched for making a fuss in the first place. I mean, it wasn't even a violent rape and the victim was pissed. Probably wearing a short skirt and all. I mean, come on. That's barely rape. Right Judy?

So yeah. Judy Finnigan, how's about laying down those bottles o' booze eh? See what the world is like when you're not completely raddled, it's affecting your judgement. Lunatic.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

9 1/2 hours

Do you remember that film called 9 1/2 weeks? It as an 80s 'erotic' film starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger banging a lot. It is a really terrible film but did have a lot of sex in it. This is similarly terrible but, sadly, has no sex in it at all.  

From Ryde to York took 9.5 fucking HOURS.

How? How is our system so fundamentally fucking broken that this can happen? And how did this joy and privilege cost me around £130?

FUCKING HOW?

Is it because I was late? No it is not. Is it because I messed up the times? No it is not. Is it because I didn't have the presence of mind to pre book? No. It is not. 

It is, however, because of a series of unfortunate events precipitated by a bunch of absolute fuckwits. 

We have to work on the basis that everyone is doing their best day to day, don't we? We shouldn't assume that people go out of their way to be incapable of doing their simple jobs? And yet. And yet. Today a member of South West Trains staff at Portsmouth thought he'd take a little guess at some crucial information I needed. I couldn't check it myself because Vodafone do not allow me actual Internet (or mobile service most of the time, even though I pay diligently every month. My phone is just a very expensive thing on which I can listen to audio books and scroll through my fascinating picture collection of sushi, fatty and various bats) and I couldn't use my eyes to look at the boards because they were 'down'.

Trains were being cancelled left, right and centre. Within five minutes the same train was cancelled and reinstated three times (each time on a different platform leaving hoards of people scurrying to and fro across the station). My train was cancelled. I'm pre booked onto a connection. What do I do? I ask Steve the customer service dweeb. I know he's customer service because he's wearing a luminous yellow tabard that says 'customer service' on it. And I know he's a dweeb because he says he will 'go and check' and then spends the next 20 minutes busily avoiding me. 

I ask another customer service dude. He confidently tells me to get on X train where I can pick up a connection no problem. They're every hour. Sure? I say. Yep, totally sure. He says. 

Yeah. He was wrong. 

And I get sent to Banbury. Which is sort of like being sent to Coventry but even shitter. Which is saying something. And then the next train doesn't turn up and I've been travelling for hours and I feel sick and tired. 

I'm reading Meditations by Marcus Aureus at the moment. He would have been all stoic, calm and generous minded. I want to kill everyone armed only with a blunt spoon. of course MA didn't have to travel on South West Trains. It would have turned all his learnings on their head. 

So now I'm somewhere near Birmingham, a mere seven hours since I left the house. And I only have three hours to go. 

If this is the state of our transport system in 2014, just imagine how amazing it's going to be in ten years time. I. Can't. Wait. It will be staffed by stuffed toys in the vague shape of human beings and will feature a magical mystery tour once an hour for those who can afford to sell their organs to pay for it.

Progress. 

Feel my wrath South West Trains, you sorry shower of shite. 

Postscript: Although I did eventually arrive in York and am happily ensconced with friends now, thus making the journey well worth it, my equanimity has been shaken by the fact that my pre booked tickets for my journey back are nonsensical, incorrect and leave me stranded in Reading for three hours. However, I intend to go all Marcus Aurelius on its ass when the time comes. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A love letter...

... to the NHS.

My next blog post was going to be about this total freakfest dude on OKC, but then I got to thinking that I'm a bit sick of writing about that kind of shit. I mean, I will, because I find it freaking amusing.

But something caught my eye somewhere in internet land. Some poor American posted the bill for their surgery. And then I got to thinking.

What if I was American. Apart from a most likely atrocious accent and the inability to spell or end a sentence without an upward inflection, what would this have meant for my health?

As a person from a working middle class background with a sick father and not much else going on financially, I had a vague suspicion it wouldn't have been great.

So I decided to do a little research. Below is a list of the procedures with an estimate of the costs, based on what I could find in internet land. I've chosen the lower end of the spectrum for the procedures, but it seems that, depending on the State, it could have been at least twice as much.


MY TERRIFYING BILL:

Appendectomy  - average $33,000 (could be up to $150,000)
Cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal)  - average $13,500
Laproscopic endometrial ablation x 3 - average $4,500 each (total $13,500)
Abortion with general anaesthetic - average $1,200
Removal of pre cancerous mole under local anaesthetic - average $300
Three years of orthodonistry resulting in a gleaming, straight smile - around $5,000
Cost of approx five years mixed therapy - let's estimate at $100/session and I'm going to say around 50 sessions on the NHS over my lifetime, although it could well be more - $5,000
Sinus ablationl - estimate $3,000

TOTAL COST: $74,500.

I wouldn't have insurance, assuming I live like I do over here. My work doesn't provide anything like any kind of health benefits and, if I was a self employed writer over there, I doubt it would either.

Most of these were after I turned 19, which is after my dad had to retire through ill health. Most occurred after he died. He had no life insurance. He could not get health insurance in this country, due to his condition. He most likely wouldn't have been able to get it over there.

I would have had no orthodontistry and my mouth would right now look like the inside of some rotting graveyard from hell. I would have had no therapy and, to be honest, I actually don't know what that would mean for me.

I would have skipped the sinus op and possibly the mole removal (they said a 30% chance of cancer, so, y'know, it would have been a gamble).

I could not have skipped the appendectomy, abortion or gall bladder removal. These were not choices (for me. I mean, one of them obviously was a choice but it was the right choice, but anyway, that's a whole other issue). If I had left two of them I would have died in agony (my gall bladder was dead and rotting inside me they discovered on removal) and, well, I'm not going to talk about the other one here.

As it stands, I don't live in America. Or the 'land of the free' as it's inexplicably known. I live in England. The land of the mildly cantankerous. And all of this was funded by a system I pay into. All of this and all of the GP appointments, scans, tests and further appointments over the years was funded by a system that I grew up with. I have never known any different. I have never known what it's like to live in a society that doesn't look after each other, that will bill someone for life saving surgery, that will throw the elderly out if they don't have the money.

In this country, we do not have to weigh up the cost of life saving surgery against the cost of buying food and paying rent. In this country, we do not get landed with a massive bill when we're at our most vulnerable. In this country, we don't know we're fricking born.

This last operation was an example of the beauty of the NHS when it works as it should. I was seen by a consultant who was interested, helpful and kind. He put me on his list. Within three months he operated on me. He did what he said he would and he did stuff that could potentially save me a lot of pain in the future. Throughout the operation I was treated with courtesy, respect, kindness and humour by a fantastic team of people. I was swabbed three times for MRSA in the weeks leading up to surgery and had two blood screens. I had a pre operative nurse explain everything to me and a post operative nurse explain everything to me. I was given painkillers, dressings and instructions when I left. I have a follow up appointment in six weeks.

They were so good to me I'm writing them a thank you card.

We are so lucky. I am so lucky. And I am so very very grateful to the NHS. If I believed in anything, I'd pray so hard it lasts, because the alternative is scary as hell.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand she's back

Wowsers. Surgery's FUN innit? No? No, you're right. It blows.

Couple things have happened in the last week.

One included being put into a state of unconsciousness while a group of strangers sliced me open before waking me up and agreeing that I will most likely feel very poorly for a while.

Another was that my friend published a book.

Although this is worthy of mention anyway (from someone who is constantly struggling to finish hers I have nowt but admiration for people who finish and then publish) it's also very exciting as I had a small hand in its formation.

It Looks Like You're Writing A Letter is the first book from Alexander King.

It has a cover that looks like this.


And I edited it. 

It was written during NaNoWriMo last year. Loads of people do that and it's ace and all, but then to carry on and actually edit and polish, that's less common. And then lots of work happened - suggestions, editing and grammar tarting only from me, naturally - all work by him - but then it was finished. 

That's exciting. 

I've read it four times. That was because I was editing it though. I'm not saying that's something anyone should do. But you'd do a lot worse than reading it once. It's well good and a bargain at £1.90 (ish, something like that). 

Here's where you can get it: 

Amazon linky.

Google Play linky.

Smashwords linky.

And, if you must be an Apple drone, here's an iBooks linky

I loved editing it. Although I edit copy for work a lot and it's hardly a new phenomenon, this is the first time I've edited a book to the finish. 

It's interesting to play a part in a project but from such a distance. Although all grammatical stuff was taken on, some suggestions weren't (and nor should they be). Thrashing out plot points, character motivations or back stories with the creator seemed to get my brain going in a different way, which was new and different. 

If anyone reading this has a book, novella, short story or, at a push, haiku, they'd like editing assistance on, hit me up at blackcatwritinghelp@gmail.com. Let's talk. 

Otherwise, I'd totally download this if I were you. 



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

An ambassador for the Paralympics

Two things happened the other day.

One was a dream I had and it was ridiculous and the other appears to be a real thing that's actually happening.

Here they are.

The first thing that happened was this guy who has no legs but can run really fast and is rich and famous because of this ability and also is very good looking in that kind of way that I like (emotionless, cheekbones, spare face, eyes that are unreadable, aloof, unreachable, phwoar) was not convicted for murder.

That's quite weird really because the guy shot his girlfriend dead. She was called Reeva Steenkamp and she has been dead for about a year and a half. She was in the toilet with the door locked in the middle of the night so he shot a few times through the bathroom door, presumably to make sure she was well and truly splattered all over the walls.

He then said that it wasn't his fault because has has no legs and something about thinking that she was an intruder. She lives with him, sleeps in the same bed and, well, I think that maybe the first thing you'd do if you thought someone was in your house and you lived with a partner and your partner isn't in bed is, I dunno, assume that said partner is in the bog. I wouldn't assume that the thing you would do is put your legs on, find your gun and then shoot whoever is in the bathroom. Until they're dead.

But he shot her instead. He did this on Valentine's Day and hasn't even spent a night in jail yet. He was let out on bail. His girlfriend wasn't. She was a bloody pulpy mess in his house. They scraped her up though and he went back to doing whatever it is he does until the trial.

During the trial he said a lot of reasons why shooting his girlfriend dead in the middle of the night wasn't his fault. Something something no legs, something something vulnerable, something something SELF DEFENCE something something puke in a bucket.

So it comes to the end of it all and obviously the judge is going to convict him of murder, as, you know, that's what happened. But nah, he is only guilty of culpable homicide. He hasn't been sentenced yet but he can't get more than 15 years and it's extremely likely that he won't serve any time at all.

On top of this he's going to write a book about his trauma in the dock and he's free to compete again. Hold up, what? Yep, I said he's FREE TO COMPETE. He can represent South Africa, if he wants to. He can compete in the Paralympics if he wants to.

The International Paralymics Committee has said that the 'trial has had no negative impact on the Paralympic movement' and that Pistorious is 'a fundamental ambassador for the Paralympics'.

During the trial it turned out he has form. He plays with guns. He has a very violent temper and cannot control himself. He has intimidated past girlfriends. He is unpredictable, childish and dangerous. Oh, and he's a convicted killer. But he's an AMBASSADOR. I suppose it shows equality. It's not only people with two legs who can be psychopathic fuckheads who need locking up.

The second thing that happened was that I had a pet bat and I was in the car with my dad (who's dead) and the bat landed on his head and we were worried and then I turned around and the bat had turned into a little girl and she said she had to find the witch to find the answer so she could turn back into a bat.

Weirdly, the second thing that happened strikes me as far more feasible and understandable than the first thing that happened.





Monday, 15 September 2014

This is why I'm scared

Why do people blog? I've been thinking about this recently because, I dunno, someone probably mentioned it somewhere or something. I don't seem to be able to think about anything unless someone said it on Facebook so it was probably there. Let's go with that.

I know why I started blogging. I needed an outlet. I wanted to write. I'm lonely. I wanted somewhere to blart whatever shit I'm thinking about. It makes me feel better sometimes. It makes me laugh sometimes.

Then people started reading it. And I got self conscious and started thinking about my audience and whether I would offend anyone and how do I think of things that other people might want to read and what if I'm too open, too honest, too boring, too needy, too emotional, too much me and then people will not like me?

So I didn't write about some things that I wanted to write about and it's possible I made myself write in a certain way to try and please some invisible audience. My blog has had close on 200,000 hits. I have to discount 50% for being bots or whatever weird shit it is that people decide to set in motion. Maybe it's the NSA. Whatever. Even so that means 100,000 hits on my blog. Which means definitely more than just my ma reads it. I don't know who a lot of the people who read it are - sometimes I'll get comments and realise that actually complete strangers actually do.

It's the people I do know that make me freeze though. I write a lot about a few subjects. I know this. They generally cover being single, being depressed and obsessing about death. I get that this isn't everyone's cup of tea. But it works best when I don't care about this. When I stop thinking about this. When I get a grip and realise that what I'm writing matters not one whit (wit? no, it's whit isn't it? Could you Google that for me?) outside of my mind.

And that's why I feel like I can write this. It's cathartic you see. I need to write to feel better. It helps me get stuff out of my brain. Opening it to an audience seems to make me write more. I don't know. It's probably ego. Whatever.

I'm scared right now. I'm very, very scared. I'm far more scared than the situation merits. But, as someone who can manage to have a panic attack in Tesco, I'm familiar with feeling needlessly anxious.

This time, at least, I'm scared about something that most people wouldn't actively enjoy. No one goes out of their way to undergo a general anaesthetic after all, do they?Iit's not on anyone's bucket list. It's not a thing we do for fun. We do it because it's necessary and because there is the chance on the other side of feeling better.

But this time - this is my eighth operation. I am still counting, although it's starting to feel like an operation is just something that is destined to happen to me every couple of years until I die. Hopefully not on the operating table - this time I am being operated on somewhere that holds extremely traumatic memories for me.

I can't tell you how much this experience twists my guts to even write about. It's a visceral, physical reaction. I don't think about it much because I don't WANT TO. It's horrible. It goes back to March 16, 2001. The day my dad died. Yes, this again. As he died on the Isle of Wight, that's where I went.

Three days later I got a terrible pain. An awful pain. I knew that it wasn't right but at the same time my heart had just broken and I though that maybe physical pain was just a thing that came along with that.

As the funeral came closer, it became clear that I was not well. Not at all well. On the morning of 22 March 2001, we went to view his body. I had to go because otherwise I was afraid that I wouldn't believe he was dead. He looked pretty damn dead. It wasn't like on TV. I put a note in his coffin because I didn't want him to feel scared. Then I went to the doctor. Who told me I had to go to hospital right now.

Nah mate. No can do. I have a funeral to go to. So he gave me a pill. The pain was still there but I was just about to watch people burn my dad in a box so I didn't really awfully care. The pain was real bad. And it was getting worse.

After the funeral I went to the hospital. I missed that bit where everyone stands around awkwardly eating sandwiches. I'm glad I missed that bit. That would have been shit. I wouldn't have known what to say. I would have been like: why are you people here? Don't you know what just happened? You can't eat SANDWICHES. My DADDY IS DEAD.

Anyway, while that was happening I was lying on a hospital bed waiting for a fun time appendectomy. My operation was put back because a car accident came in or something. I guess they figured I'd had this for four days now. How bad could it be?

Thankfully some fucker knocked me out soon after. I woke up to a house surgeon telling me that my appendix was the biggest SHE'D EVER SEEN. So someone was happy. I had a seven inch scar across my abdomen. I couldn't move. When you have open surgery on your abdomen it turns out that all your muscles are cut through. Severed. Completely. I had no idea this meant that you can't actually move. At all.

Oh, and I was tripping. Hard.

I was infected. As they'd yoinked the behemoth out ("you really shouldn't have been walking around you know, we should have operated much earlier") some gunk had got into my blood. So, that meant two days of intravenous antibiotics, morphine, being expected to shit into a bed pan and absolutely no privacy.

I passed out a lot and came round always to a woman who was sticking needles in me. They took blood something like four times a day. It could have been more actually. Paracetamol had to go in me because my temperature wouldn't come down. I couldn't take anything by mouth so guess HOW THAT HAPPENED? Yeah, that's right. Because that's the kind of thing you need when you're really ill, your dad's just died and now someone's sticking tablets up your arse.

My temperature didn't come down for a while.

That's when I started hallucinating. I saw my dad. He was sitting my bed. He did that smile thing that he did when he was trying to be reassuring but knew that actually the situation was shot to shit. And then I heard my ma. She was talking to one of the nurses, apologising to them for me being a difficult patient and that "she's often like that, just ignore her." I was raging. I was properly pisssssssed off by this. I demanded to know where ma was. The nurse couldn't persuade me that she wasn't there and hadn't been there. It was, after all, 4am. I just knew that bitch nurse was lying to me.

I'd only ever had my vision impaired through dropping a bit of acid in my naughty days. I didn't realise that true hallucinations aren't particularly scary because, as far as you're concerned, they're totally real. It's only in retrospect that you realise what was and what wasn't real. The blurred line sharpens and the dream world and real world seem completely separate and you wonder how you could have been so hoodwinked by your own brain and your own senses.

And no one was there really to talk to me. Everyone was busy and my boyfriend went home and then it was me, my drip and a hospital bed. And I didn't know what had happened and how my life had gone from normal to actual hell within six days. And I didn't know how I was meant to get through this. And I had no one. And I wanted my daddy so much. And he was dead. And I was here. And then they forgot to replace my drip and I started to faint. I asked the nurse if I was dying. It seemed to make more sense than any of this shit.

I wasn't dying, obviously. I was just having a really bad week.

I eventually moved to a private room because the indignity of crawling to the toilet every five minutes while holding my drip (intravenous antibiotics do not make you feel good), with a slit open abdomen and a crowd of chav kids staring at me and chewing their crispy cud was not helping my brain accept that this was now my reality.

So I moved to a private room. £90 it cost. For one room for one night. More expensive than a Travel Inn, that. Then it was me and an empty room and a shocked expression.

Finally I went back to my mother's house to recuperate until I could travel home and restart my life.

All of this happened at the hospital that I am going to on Thursday. Where they will put me under anaesthetic again and I will have an operation again. It's completely different circumstances, for completely different reasons, and it's nearly 14 years ago when this first experience happened. But it still scares the shit out of me.

See, now I feel better. I'm glad I wrote this. Talking about fear can dispel it, you see. Well, it can make it recede. I can see how the event in 2001 and the event in a few days are not connected at all and the shock of that operation doesn't affect this next one.

I can see. And I feel better. And now maybe I can sleep.













Time to die

I can't help it. No matter how many times I watch Blade Runner, I'm in awe of it. The whole way it looks, sounds, is. It's beautiful. Naturally, its utterly dark, menacing, nihilistic overtones are rights slap bang up my alley. The soundtrack is shuddering, magnificent and visceral. Even the rain is sexual.

Performances seem to ooze from everyone effortlessly. It's Ford's sexiest role, I've decided. However, that is likely to change just as soon as I see him in anything else. But he suits Deckard. He suits both the Deckard from the film and the Deckard from the book, as it goes.

Now I've finally read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and been staggered by the intricacies and the scope of Dick's story, the film seems simpler. It's Deckard and Rachel that remain the most recognisable from the book. Isodore is now Sebastian and he's not a chickenhead. I wonder why they changed what they changed? Where was Deckard's wife? Where was Mercer? Where was the Rachel copy? Inexplicably morphed into some kind of pleasure bot played by a really fabulous Daryl Hannah, that's where. A couple of years later she did Splash. Amazing.

The book never mentions the word Replicant. It's set it San Fransisco, not LA. It's 1992, not 2019. They're called andys. Short for android, obviously. Although, entirely coincidentally, andy is the name of the worst boyfriend I've ever had. Now, I'm not saying there's necessarily anything in that...

The acting and the style of the film meant that that's what was in my head when I read the book. Sean Young, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer... who else could it be? But Roy in the book is very different to Roy in the film. There are definitely fewer boobs in the book and the first Replicant Deckard kills is an opera singer, not a suspiciously filthy erotic dancer with a penchant for snakes.

In a way Scott really kind of seedied it up for the big screen. But it looks fabulous. And, from the vantage point of the 60s (when the book was written) and 1982 (when the film was made), almost, at a pinch, realistic, potentially. Of course, we all know now, that the second decade of the 21st century isn't really that different from the 1980s. But people used to genuinely think that transparent PVC clothing, vertical cars and humanoid robots would be a thing by now.

Weird how everyone's smoking like it's the late 70s and the technology is suspiciously clunky. But that futuristic crossed with 30s Film Noir crossed with post apocalyptic horror is just perfect. It's all much faster, of course, in the film. Even though the book takes place over 24 hours, so much is missed out, so much background, so much fascinating Dick stuff, that it really becomes a different story.

No talk of the Dust. Why make Sebastian some kind of toy making genius, rather than a lonely chickenhead? Why no more talk of the animals and what they mean? Why no bloody wife? Is it just because it would be too icky for the hero to fall in love with Rachel while cheating on his missus? Really?

But oh my. As much as I adore, love, revere, admire and, yes, slobber over Harrison Ford, this film belongs to Rutger Hauer. Who, by the way, definitely didn't miss leg day before filming this. His final speech is positively Shakespearean. He reminds me of Hamlet, Prospero and Caliban all wrapped up into one peroxided package. He conveys the tragedy of their awakening, their slavery, their false lives wonderfully. The pathos and the confusion and the grief and the betrayal.

It's almost like being a human.

At least they know how long they have. Maybe that's why Deckard looks happy when he realises he's one of them too. He's seen more glory in Roy's death than in anything he's killed for.

Roy is why I love the film and Dick is why I love the book. I wish he could have seen it.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Coffee causes cancer...

No, wait, coffee cures cancer. It's chocolate that gives you cancer. And air. And water. Don't take those vitamins. No, DO take those vitamins. We're all familiar with the Daily Heil style of scientific reportage aren't we? We all know that there is no truth in their horrible clickbait articles about the 'dangers' of the every day. We've come to expect it. It's a national joke. Right?

So when did The Grauniad start joining in? If you're on Facebook or spend any kind of time lolling about on social media, and, let's face it, if you're reading anything I'm writing, then you definitely are. If you have any kind of office job then, obviously, you'll be spending at least 80% of your time on Facebook. I mean, what's the alternative? Actually trying to give a shit? Don't be silly.

If you are a follower of The Guardian on Facebook, Twitter or whatever the kids are using these days, you'll most likely have noticed that they have fully embraced the prevailing lore of media. The new media. The social media. That is, any kind of impartial, skilled writing goes straight down the swanny in favour of a headline that will get everyone all riled and emotional.

Naturally, 90% of The Guardian's headlines are something to do with feminism - not real feminsim, the neu feminist shit that just twists all messages and dilutes anything of any import, you know the kind. Usually in list form with women holding up placards about something or other. Tedious it is, and I absolutely consider myself a feminist, in that I would really like it if things could be equal, yeah?

Considered, reasoned, impartial debate has gone and in have come headlines like this. This isn't part of the 90% of their headlines that incite gender war, purely to get everyone to fight with each other in the comments. This is part of the 10% of headlines that completely bastardise research/comments by 'scientific experts' to impart a 'warning' that is 99% bullshit. See how I use lots of stats? They're about as accurate as this kind of shit:


And I fell for it. I started arguing in the comments. Hang my middle class head in shame. People obviously started getting racist, offensive, abusive and willfully missing my point. But this pissed me right off. RIGHT off. 

I'm a passionate and dedicated advocate of mindful meditation for mental health issues. It has helped me more than anything else - and we're talking about literally decades worth of pills and therapists. It's the single best thing we can all do for our own mental health - and that includes people who don't suffer from depression and anxiety. 

The debate about mental health was briefly opened up online due to Robin Williams' tragic decision that he couldn't take it anymore. My issue with articles like this is that it's sensationalising the miniscule amount of people who might not benefit from meditation. On reading the article it turns out that A Psychiatrist was talking about people who are severely mentally ill. People who are so ill that breathing in and out without proper medical care is dodgy. And I don't deny that they exist and that no, mindfulness meditation probably isn't what's best for them. BUT for MOST people who are reading the fucking Guardian, mindful meditation is a solid gold positive. 

And it upsets me that a media outlet like The Guardian is taking the time to publish sensationalist crap about something that is within everyone's grasp. We can't all afford private healthcare, we don't all want anti depressants, we don't want to join endless waiting lists for psychiatric care. 

I wish I'd started meditating years ago, who knows how much I would have been able to help myself by now? 



Monday, 8 September 2014

Might as well face it...

I'm addicted to drugs.

I've been popping prescription pills since I was 19 years old. I had a nervous breakdown and was slapped on SSRIs - it was Seroxat back in them there days. I remember my GP telling me excitedly that they were absolutely non addictive, side effect free and basically a miracle of miracles. It was not long after they had been discovered and it was just after Prozac was handed out like smarties.

And, to be fair, they seemed to be the miracle he described. I went from an almost catatonic state to being able to function. From total agoraphobic to student again. From someone who couldn't lift her head up and walked around like that wee dead girl in The Ring to someone who could socialise, work, think, feel, again.

Because I was on them I stopped taking illegal drugs (don't wanna mix them up, kids), and I cut down drinking a fair amount. And I was 19. I had two years of Uni left to enjoy and I was so relieved to feel some freedom from the pressure of suicidal thoughts that I honestly didn't give a shit. Fine, they say I have a chemical imbalance in my head, and I need these drugs. Fine. FINE.

A few years later I decided to stop them. Just stop taking them. Bad idea. For drugs that were touted as non addictive, turns out they're addictive as all fuck. Ask a GP to help you come off them and they tend to skirt around it. "Wait until your life is stable and you're happy," is something I've heard from more than one.

Seriously, dude. Seriously? Who has a life that's smooth and lovely and marvellous? Who? Fucking show me someone and I'll eat my hat. You dick. But I kept taking them. Because, well, it's easier, alright? It's just easier. When you're on a drug that fucks you the fuck up as soon as you stop taking them, it's a lot bleeding easier to just stay on 'em.

I was all about the easy. I figured I'll just stay on them forever. No big deal. Other people take more, take worse, so, you know. Fuck it.

A few years later they shifted me to Sertraline. Can't recall why. I think they've stopped giving out Seroxat, to be honest. It went from wonder drug to dodgy fucking drug pretty quickly. Studies came out saying that, actually, it increases suicidal tendencies in a notable amount of test subjects when they tried to stop it.

An anti depressant that makes you suicidal? Awesome.

So I stayed on it.

I've been waiting for that magical time where I am totally chilled, happy and fulfilled and can come off my highly addictive drugs that I've been on for 19 years, but guess what? Hasn't happened.

Then recently I got to thinking. What if without these pills, I'm alright? What if I don't need them? What if I'm better without them? What if some of the head fog and sad is because of them? Thing is, they have some brutal side effects when coming off them. Really nasty. I don't mean Trainspotting babies on the ceiling or anything, but I do mean a very odd depersonalisation feeling along with severe vertigo. Both of which kick of panic for me.

So to decide to come off them is a pretty damn big deal. I've quit fags this year, imagine if, by the end of 2014, I'm free from a drug I've been taking since 1993? Who will I be? How will I do? Will depression still be such a looming demon? Will I be able to manage my symptoms better? Or will I crack like a pane of glass after it's been nutted by a rhino?

Let's find out, shall we?