Sunfish

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Another dawn start – nightmare woke me up again. Can’t remember the details, but I do remember going to bed drunk. Somewhere a doctor is sighing and stating the obvious about alcohol and sleep deprivation. Is four hours sleep over two nights enough? That witch Thatcher apparently only needed half an hour every night suckling on the blood of infants to function properly. Is this normal? Am I becoming one of the undead like she was? I’m tired, but too full of daylight to do anything about it. I’ll be assimilated, or put under the curse without any fight at all. My lips hurt. My arms ache. I’m half zombie already. Finish me off.

Now it’s therapy day/time in two hours. My Psychologist will make mincemeat from what’s left of my psyche like a threshing machine going through a ripe harest. If I’m not on the top of my game then therapy is a one-sided exercise full of arguments and anger. Last week we examined our relationship and I told her to fuck off. She’s only in the room because she’s paid to be. That is the bottom line. She disagreed but in that windowless room we both knew she was wrong. Goddamn this tiredness. And I’ve got no pick-me-up meds to tip the balance. I’m dead in two hours. In that comfy chair by the table with the tissues on it I’ll give up and roll over. A bloated mentally dead corpse, gibbering and taking her through really shit bits of my life. Flapping around like a beached sunfish. Brain shrinking. Skin cracking.

I have to sleep tonight before I start getting weird(er). High and dry is no place to be.

 

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Party

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Anyone else look forward to social events like they look forward to being gored by a bull? I’ve got the pain coming today. It’ll be administered at my partners friends’ house in the next village.

I’ve already been told off yesterday by my partner for not taking my tablets and for having a meltdown on Saturday; I’m a bit all over the place at the moment. So, the writing is on the wall, and the ley-lines and hexes are all intersecting on her friends home this afternoon, with its pretty garden and borrowed marquee. The rain will help to dampen the moods of my dining companions. Fuses will be short and nervous glances will shoot at me the second someone mentions politics, or mental health, or death, or…just about anything where the topic can turn serious – which is just about any topic as far as I’m concerned.

The opposing team include a right-wing lizard of a man, a drunk social worker, a tetchy support worker and her cattle farmer husband, a former head of a social services department, her stoner partner, an ‘I’m wacky’ old people’s services assessor, a registered mental health nurse – recently disciplined for punching a patient in a mental health unit, the hosts (nervous and highly strung teacher and insurance salesman), and my old friend – the only one I have left. He will provide the only sense and safety in the whole thing. I genuinely am ramping up with high anxiety right now. Those people are out to get me and I don’t have a hope in Hell. Judging on past experiences I’ll either take too many meds prior to getting there, or drink to much. I’m not popular sober, but whacked on tablets and/or booze makes the whole thing much, much worse. Anything could happen. At the very least I’ll be a huge embarrassment to my partner in front of all her friends. And they will ask her, in text messages afterwards, why she bothers with me. It’s a good question – and one I ask myself many times more than they do – but I can’t bear to think about it right now. Got to keep the anxiety on just one threat. One is enough today.

In three hours I could be walking home in the rain, covered in my own sweat and slime. Soaked and slithering away from what most other people enjoy; it’s just a party.

The Midnight Monster

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It had been a bad night again. Not down to the meds this time. I think I’d fallen asleep around 11pm, laptop still on next to the bed. The air was hot from a day in the heatwave. The stone house had retained the warmth and was releasing it slowly, cooking me. A dog barked, waking me up. I kicked the duvet off and lay there on my back, naked, the dog barking and barking out the back somewhere. The thing wasn’t happy, wherever it was. There was aggression in its voice.

Behind my house is just miles of countryside. Probably ten miles in a straight line from my back door to the nearest house in that direction. It’s quiet, and sometimes you can see the Milky Way up there, and those fools in the Space Station. Noise around here means you should be alert. Noise doesn’t herald anything of any good out here. You learn to take notice of sounds when the nights are usually deep silence.

From over the hill the sound of Sheep baaaaaa baaaaaa, bleating and concerned. I got up and looked out of the window expecting to see a flock of loose sheep behind my house, or the pack of Wolverines chasing them. Nothing. I scanned around but the place looked still. Getting back into bed, I grabbed my Mag-Light torch, and wondered if it was worth going downstairs to get my axe – kept by the back door in case of emergencies – but I reckoned I needed more evidence and reason before I introduced a large sharp steel blade to the night. I turned off the laptop and fell asleep.

3am – I was woken hideously from a dream about riding Bill Gates around a Horse Track. Something had let out a yell outside. The dog barked again, scared, yelping. Silence, then a terrifying scream, something so cutting and bizarre that I reached for the torch without thinking. No animal I’d ever heard could make a noise like that. There it was again. A high pitched, blood-curdling shriek that sounded like it ended in a laugh. I lay there, heart beating faster, waiting for it to yell again so I could judge how far it was from my home and, more importantly, my open windows.

I thought of Bigfoot. Shit, he’d be able to climb into my upstairs windows without much effort. I imagined myself being dragged outside like the Skyscraper scene from King Kong, naked, flailing weakly as I was carried off into the night. No point worrying, I told myself, things will take their course as they always do. I waited until it was starting to get light. Nothing. No more screams, no more barking. I sensed a change outside. Birds were starting to sing, the darkness ushered out by the promise of another fine day. I got up and drew back the curtains knowing whatever had been terrorising me had gone. I was right. A beautiful dawn, orange sky, green trees, dewy grass, monster-less. I had survived another attack. In calm, rational, early morning serenity I made my way downstairs chuckling to myself at how stupid I’d been. Light makes even the worst coward braver than he was when he couldn’t see what was coming. Was any of it even real? When you have a psychotic mental illness that question is one you ask yourself a lot. And you learn to appreciate how much of a target you are. There are many monsters out to get us, real or imagined. In the dark there is no difference between the two.

 

The bomb

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I’m not knocking anyone. But I know music doesn’t heal, and nowhere is safe.

Manchester was bombed again – the last one was the IRA explosion that destroyed a part of the city centre. As an aside, my father was once questioned about another IRA bombing back in the mid eighties. He didn’t do it, but had stayed at the hotel a couple of days before the attempt on Margret Thatcher’s life. Bombs are emotive – made in small workshops – plotted – planned – ingenious – terrorising – cowardly. They have targets but they don’t aim. Collateral damage is inevitable, whether a suicide vest, or a million dollar cruise missile. I guess that’s an important lesson to remember from the ‘War on Terror’. But we don’t think about it from any other side than from our own White, Western, lard-ass, perspective. NO cruise missiles will ever scream down onto my village. NO meeting or Think Tank will plot a multi-billion dollar attack where I walk/shop/eat. I am civilised, and I’m on the side of civilisation…. Right?

My niece is in Manchester right now. She was last night, too. She’s at a public school in the city. There is an outside chance she was at that concert last night, but I haven’t had a phonecall this morning, so I’m guessing she wasn’t. These things have a funny way of wanting to wrap you up in them, churn a piece of you into the chaotic fall-out, and in times like these it’s all too easy to start posting ‘Pray for Manchester’ on social media, or replacing your avatar with a British flag. Godawful jingoism always rears up in the face of a non-white terror. People in the UK this morning are using words like Justice, Revenge, and saying things like ‘Lets hit the bastards back……bomb Iraq.’ And – as of 9.17am GMT – 22 people are dead, blown to pieces at a child music concert. Caused by one man. No-one knows anything of the finer details – a reporter asked the head of the Manchester Police if he knew if nails were wrapped around the bomb. Hideous thing to ask, and I didn’t see the purpose until I watched another hour of circulating news on TV. It was all the same thing over and over: 22 dead, 59 injured, bomb, concert, running, people stampeding over each other, jumping from balconies, communities ‘coming together’. What else is there to say about an event that took place in less than a second and had been locked down within half an hour? Not much, just newscasters repeating titbits of information while looking serious and trying hard to conjure up something new to say while standing outside of a featureless hospital entrance.

IF you think about it, the questions are few and we all know the answers to them anyway. We know why/who, the important stuff. And now another 22 innocent people are dead. No amount of ‘Thoughts and prayers’ statements will change a single thing. Praying (ok, and oil money) got us into this in the first place. It won’t get us out.

RIP

Where were you when? Another dumb-ass question of the human condition. Ha! This can be used to explore any given fraction of time, anywhere, personalising any point in your take on History. I suppose it’s how we find our own longitude and latitude on the map of things.

I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated, when Neil Armstrong touched down in a Hollywood studio, or when Hitler gave himself a dose of the Final Solution. But…. I was alive during 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the Miner’s strike, the death of Kurt Cobain, and, now, the suicide of Chris Cornell. I watched the second plane hit the tower live on TV while at work in a Category A prison, and I lived in Yorkshire during the worst parts of Thatcher’s demolition of the Mining industry. These events aren’t things I was ever personally involved with, I don’t own them or their emotional output. SO why do I feel like some of them left a mark?

When I heard Chris Cornell had hung himself I froze. Why? Ok, so I always loved Soundgarden. I know that much. Cornell’s lyrics and voice resonated with me on many occasions. I took acid listening to Superunknown, sat stoned trying not to go too deep into Black Hole Sun. And I rocked out to Soundgarden’s wall of guitars and that screaming-cutting voice many, many, times. I have all their albums. I still listen to them from time to time. And when I do, I turn the volume up. I admired his creativity. And now he’s dead. Why did the news make me so sad?

I’ve come to the conclusion that his suicide hit home with me because I’ve been there. Unsuccessfully. I know the level of self-hatred and sadness it takes to push the button, or tie the noose. It’s so powerful and disturbing that it actually hurts physically to recall. I felt for Chris Cornell not because he was a sort of hero, but because I was him. He just got to see it through while I got lucky. I can’t sing, I’m unattractive, I can’t write music, but when I heard about his death, just for a moment, we were connected. We knew something the others didn’t, no matter how hard he tried to put it across in a song.

 

CPN

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The CPN cometh.

She cancelled yesterday because, she told me, the recent global hacking event scrambled their computer system and an ’emergency meeting, vital to safety,’ had been called. She had to attend. Beats listening to me bleating on like a 200lb half-dead sheep at shearing time. Hacking is the new graffiti. Painted in letters ten feet high all over the front of your house – “Infected – and he has secrets”

Which reminds me….. just turned on the anti-virus scan on my laptop. My writing/work laptop, not the battered bedroom one I use for soporific music and audiobooks at bedtime – the one I thought was broken, so kicked it twenty feet across my living room. It survived. It’s like a cockroach. Apart from kicking it against a stone wall, I’ve dropped it on a quarry tile floor, spilled beer on it, punched it, and mashed those keys so hard that sometimes I thought my fingers would end up electrocuted.  And the thing still works. Amazing.

This fancy new one I’m writing this on broke within the first month and had to be sent away for a new hard drive. It lacks the mental toughness to really be in here. Sometimes, so do I. But that’s not anything I can change. I have certain expectations from my laptops: I don’t have a dog to kick.

It’s been raining for three days non-stop. I’ve been drunk, and now I’ve groped for some diazepam to take the edge off the grey day and the visit of my CPN. She will notice my slowed down thinking and speech, but then I have a Psychiatric diagnosis assessed as ‘High’ and risk as ‘Moderate to High.’ I guess that’s a good enough reason to take meds. Therapeutically, you understand. Which leads me to think about the fact I have a new Psychiatrist – the third in a little over a year. And it’s a man. Bad news. Means plans are in place to accompany me to at least my first appointment with him. Terrible really, that I can’t be trusted, and can’t trust myself, in case he provokes or upsets me. What a let down.

And that’s that today. No weird news, no intention to self-harm, or crazy stories from the past, and no sign of Bigfoot. Just me at the same old desk staring out at the rain and watching for the gate to open and my CPN to knock gingerly at the back door. She’ll refuse a drink as always, give weird eye contact, read the riot act, then tell me how well I’m doing. It’s a hard way to make a living.

Late Win

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My house is old. People say it’s spooky, and the deranged say it’s haunted – especially the back bedroom with its stone mullions, dark furniture, and view out across the hillside to where the ghost impressions of lead mines are all lumpy and moon-like. Poetic, eh.

  • ah, I thought as much… As soon as I start typing about the dead, things were always bound to go weird. A magpie. Large. Blue/black feathers contrasting pure white. Big beak, large eye, barely four feet away on my window as I’m sitting here right now pounding these words on my Advent keyboard. I knew it. I was stupid to rile the dead.

But these things have been forced upon me.

My 85yr old neighbour says the person I bought the house from died in it. I knew someone had died because it was purchased through probate from the original owner’s sister. I just didn’t know the back bedroom was the place ‘Vicky’ took her final breaths in. My neighbour says she was visiting with her to provide comfort barely half an hour before the cancer won and she slipped away. She’d told her not to be scared, though Vicky said she felt overwhelming fear. “Where else would you choose to be and to die?” my neighbour had said to her. I don’t know if those words helped her. They wouldn’t have helped me.

In terms of how nice it is around here, I guess some people would choose it as a palliative environment. Maybe I will too some day. I’ve never given it much thought.

I never really think about Vicky either. But I got a letter addressed to her today. It looked important so I opened it. She’d won the Premium Bonds. She’s been dead for over six years.

I wondered what she’d have thought, what her reaction would have been? If she’d have leaped up and down or run straight to the pub and punched the first person she saw. People handle good news in different ways.

And now I’m thinking about Vicky – the woman I never met, but who spent her last moments upstairs in my house, in her house, with her sister and her friends, laying in bed and scared of dying. And I have a letter to write to the Premium Bond people to tell them the news. The money is not destined for the occupant of this little stone cottage. That was all something that maybe should have happened a long time ago, when the going was good and before liver cancer made an innocent woman die in terror. The cosmos – chance, fate, biological demise, the choosing of a set of random numbers in a computer – always seems to get its kicks. And that, my friends, is no bad lesson to learn.

 

Bitter Truth

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‘O England, you’re my home, you’re my heart’s heart, crashing thunder of love.’ – England my Home, The Levellers.

In the sunlight out there I can almost believe those words. Leaves are mostly out now on all the trees on the hillside, blue sky, sunshine hitting the front of the house behind me and cutting through the gloom. If it hadn’t been for the News this morning I could argue there’d be a sense of hope for the day. I can’t bring myself to type it all, but that filthy egomaniac – Trump – has fired the head of the FBI. I want to bang my hands on this desk then throw something through the window in front of me. But I won’t go on about Trump this morning. Counterproductive. Not helping anyone.

Nothing helps. I voted last week and look what happened there. The Tories whitewashed the whole thing with psychological fear soundbites, and the media sucked the whole thing in. Elections aren’t about doing the right thing, telling the people what you genuinely believe, they are about shoehorning people into power by any means you can. And we are stupid; too stupid to tell a good man from a bloated corpse wrapped around a corporate owned death machine. I voted Green party, for all the good it did me. A rabid dog has more chance of winning a seat around here than the Green party. And this rotten borough won’t change until people are choking on the air and fighting with each other for scraps of roadkill. But by then it’ll all be too late anyhow, eh. I’m pissing into a tornado and I’ll never get my hands on the Ruby Slippers. So why worry? Why make the thing harder for myself? Float along with the rest of the deluded trash. Give up.

But that’s all crazy and paranoid talk. Still, you vote Green and you almost rubber stamp your diagnosis here in the UK. Anti-war pro-social people who don’t like what we’re doing to the environment don’t get anything except their own quiet space in a local pub. And smirking glances. And few friends.

Doing what’s right means you lose.

Ok. Is that enough for us both to tolerate this morning? I think it is.

Surf

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Hello. Yes, I think that’s the right tone for the start of this thing. Hello. As you sit on the bus, on your sofa, on the toilet, walking in the street, bashing the steering wheel in a traffic jam home from a job you hate, whatever/wherever. Hello still stands. It might not be reciprocated – and I doubt it is – but it’s a free offer from me. Take it.

Medication taken today: Pregabalin (found a tablet down the side of the sofa – yeah, desperation), Codeine, Flupentixol, diazepam, ethyl alcohol.

Is that ok?

I doubt it. But it feels good. And, yes, I know that alcohol isn’t strictly a medication. ‘Self-medication’ they call it. Not gallons of the stuff, just a couple of cold beers while I’m typing and watching a guy spraying some noxious weedkiller on the hillside. He’s wearing a blue boiler suit. The chemicals must be a real doozy. Can’t get them on the skin or his curly hair’ll fall out and his testicles wither and shrivel up like walnuts. But no weeds, eh. It’s no wonder I haven’t seen a hedgehog for ten years.

But that’s all superfluous. The world is swinging now under my own chemical intervention. Bad synapses cut off at the pass by GABA-inducing, serotonin pumping, actions from the tiny tablets and swigs of Heineken. No weed in me, yet, hoho. I’m High. This old desk has never felt better. The little red keyboard – bought as an add-on because the laptop keyboard is shit – is soaking up the heavy finger stabs. Just a great slab of forgiving plastic meat.

This hubris in here won’t last. I’m not that high.The first rule of any real chemical user is you know this is the one great truth: things never last. For now, though, don’t begrudge a guy surfing on the warm wave of his own personal understanding of neuropharmacology. The beach is golden and inviting, and the water friendly and shark-free. It beats the sharp rocks, fins, teeth, and rusted steel of any other given day. Tomorrow I’ll know different, as always, but while the sun is out and the dopamine flowing I’ll take this ride until the offshore breeze ruins the wave sets.

 

The Drunk

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9pm Last Night – And so it came to pass. I was drunk in a village pub with a rich ex-Olympic Heavyweight Wrestler whom I’d never met before. His ears were two ravaged lumps of gristle and his nose had been broken a few times. He was heavy set, fierce looking, about 50yrs old. I’d made the mistake of talking to him at the bar. Now we were five hours into the drink and talking about what made Boxers tough. Why any of that mattered does, right now, remain a mystery. We talked and laughed loud, like you can when you know there isn’t a single guy in the place who would be crazy enough to interject.

At a table behind us, a guy who owned the local Mystical Crystal shop seemed different when I glanced at him over the top of a beer. I looked again. I hadn’t seen him for a month. His face. Fuck. From both corners of his mouth ran a downward line, making him look like an old ventriloquist’s dummy. His grey hair was the same, same black leather jacket. But his chin was gone. Removed. A big fluid-filled bulge the size of a grapefruit was gathered on one side of his neck underneath his left jaw. He sucked on a drink with difficulty, holding the glass in both hands and taking great care as his top lip drooped on down into the beer. Jesus. The poor fucker. I guessed it was cancer. I tried to picture him with his jaw back in place, but couldn’t.

I left late. Drunk. Made it up the hill with my missus, then into bed and spent the night in bad dreams cut with wake-ups to go and piss. In the morning my head felt like a thousand cacti were rolling around inside. I felt old, sad, and couldn’t stop thinking about the Crystal guy and his gone chin. He was feeling much worse than me this morning, I knew that much. I made toast, drank tea, tried to avoid the News on the TV, realised I’d run out of Pregabalin and wouldn’t be able to get more until Wednesday. Meaning the headache’ll just get worse until then. Another shitty little withdrawal to do because of my own incompetence. Problems. Problems. But not like Crystal guy. Nowhere near.

What can I learn from this? Anything? I’m not taking up MMA, or smoking, for sure, but is there any deeper point to any of last night? I guess I’m still too hungover to work it out and, man, my head is really starting to bang. There but for the grace of…something something? Is that the message? Don’t count your chickens? Don’t stare at recently disfigured cancer sufferers? Don’t engage in tough-out booze sessions with Wrestlers who talk wildly about the plans for their next birthday party – midgets serving drinks from silver trays, unlimited champagne, indoor pools, horror – and accept the invitation? O Lord, what foul things you showed me last night, and what lessons I can’t figure out today, or maybe ever. Give me guidance…….  No answer. No spiritual direction from anyone or anything. Next time the dumb thumb of fate grinds me into situations like this  I’m calling on the ghost of Bill Hicks. He’ll know what it all means.

Oh, and I’m giving up drinking – again.