Problems

Image result for peace

A day of mixed problems of varying seriousness and effect.

Firstly, my 85yr old neighbour is living in a perpetual state of stress because someone’s bin got vandalised yesterday. It took ten minutes to calm her down. I stood in the howling wind and rain in a pair of shorts and t shirt outside her door as she took her time telling me the fine print details. By the time I’d told her to go back inside and ring me if she was worried, I was soaked to the skin. I just know this isn’t over. I am completely at her mercy right now. There is no reasoning with someone that old. The only solution is to hide and ignore her shouting over the gate for me. Which, of course, I will never do..

Later this morning I got a text from my GP asking me to ring the surgery. It took all of five seconds for me to realise they are trying to kick me off of my codeine prescription. The dosage is poxy – 15mg four times a day – but it’s enough in these days of opiate paranoia to become a blip on a doctors radar. I’ve nursed that prescription for years. And I always only ever use half the prescribed dose, meaning the time between repeat prescriptions goes a long way to proving my ability to maintain a sense of restraint and control over the codeine. This doesn’t seem to have got me very far. A week on Friday I’ll know for sure, when I’m deep into an argument in a doctors room with some poor sap who knows me less than you do. I’m not knocking their obligations to a patient with codeine, diazepam, and pregabalin prescriptions – it’s just common sense – but justifying the codeine is going to be tough. Truth is, it’s genuinely needed, but this won’t go far in the cold light of the surgery on Friday. Ever tried to prove pain? It’s tough. There is another little withdrawal looming on the horizon. And freshly opiate-free synapses hurt. Trust me.

The General Election is tomorrow. I won’t be doing my usual drunk/medicated vigil in front of the tv screen into the early hours, shouting at the screen and pledging my allegiance to Satan if only he’d suck back the souls he rented to the Conservative Party candidates. It’s an exercise i recommend, especially if your neighbours can hear you at 4am on your tenth Red Bull and vodka, wired up to the political mainline like an electricity sub-station. People who hear that kind of behaviour never want to engage you in conversation about politics ever again. But I’m driving for four hours at 9am on the next morning so I’ll just go to bed and grind my teeth until the savage dawn awakens the next chapter of Austerity, Cuts, and Right Wing death squads. What the fucking hell have we become? It’ll be a fast and dangerous drive because my mood will be terrible. There is no chance that Labour will win. Anyone living in hope is delusional. People in the UK are either rich, hideous, and scared, or poor and too apathetic to rise up and care about how many times they get kicked in the balls. And the latest terror attacks have rubber-stamped Theresa’s victory. The majority want someone punished and they want it done with excessive force. Doesn’t matter who, just as long as they aren’t White and we don’t get to see them putting out the flames on their children’s backs. Jeremy Corbyn is too empathetic for this country of revenge-hungry beasts. We are at War. And Jeremy admits he wouldn’t press the button. It’s just common sense, and I applaud him for it, but the average voter doesn’t want to hear about taking backwards steps; about being weak; the chance for peace. They want blood and for someone to guarantee they can live their life on Facebook without giving a thought to anyone else other than clicking ‘Like’ on a random acquaintance’s holiday photos. X-Factor, Dance-Off, Bake-Off, Fuck-Off TV, rammed down semi-alcoholic throats at the end of long boring weeks in a dead end job, hating everyone. It’s the British way.

Jeremy will lose. Maybe not by a crushing defeat, but by enough for him to walk away into history as the man who should have proved the UK had some sense of hope for the future, if only enough of us had had the guts and the brains to stand up for peace.

Problems, eh. You’ve got yours and I’ve got mine. Right now it’s time to put Kurt Vile on the stereo and try to calm down. Maybe smoke a joint. Let it all pass. I mean, these are dangerous times. Someone like me doesn’t need to add their own foul twist on an already evil brew. By Friday morning we’ll all know just how fucked that brew can get us, and the hangover is going to take an eon to shift. Maybe it’ll never leave us.

Guide dogs for the disenchanted

Prison dogs are divided into two types, for two specific jobs: the sniffer dog and the attack dog. There is no problem mistaking the difference. The sniffer dog is medium sized, energetic, and non-threatening, and the attack dog is large, mean, and leaves you with no sense of safety….at all. Then there is the greatest difference: one dog’s work is open for all to see, the other’s is taking place in the atomic nuances of the unseen and the undetectable (by humans, anyway). But the thing is, unless you’ve forgotten, all dogs have sharp teeth no matter what the type.

A dog is not just a dog until you get past the facade and down to brass tacks. When all is said and done, when threatened, all dogs will bite. Same goes for most entities, species, forms of sentient life, even Donald Trump, but especially voters.

I read this morning that his approval rating polls are the lowest of any President at any time, with the exception of Nixon on the day of his resignation following the Watergate scandal. That means he is thought worse of than that bungling fool Bush Jr, the stuffed owl of Ronald Reagan, and that fellatio-addict, Clinton. Take a moment, like Monica’s dress, to let that sink in.

And these ratings are before Trump goes about his ridiculous plans. This is the very best he will ever rate. The thin-skinned Trump won’t take this knowledge easily. It won’t sit well with him. He doesn’t even drink, so I guess the only outlet for the eventual frustration is going to be sexually assaulting women, or blowing something up at the end of a deep push on a button a long, long, way from the resulting hot blast. He didn’t really want to be President, and we are all going to rue that small and simple truth before this game is through. He is being carried by a misguided arrogance and a sense of warped pride that he saw the thing to the end, despite not even really being serious when he first put his name forward on the back of flagging tv ratings for his piss-poor ‘Apprentice’ show. What started out as a simple PR stunt turned into a monster that Trump couldn’t, in the end, override. He simply had to see it through or forever doom himself to self-imposed loser and failure status in his own mind. It was out of his hands from the day long ago when his brain told itself that money and power were the only symbols of success.

When Trump’s ego starts to rage and make petulant decisions that negatively affect the Bible belt of the USA, Trump voters will accept that they have been duped. They’ll also realise that they are stupid. And nobody likes to feel stupid. The next logical step is always anger. Genuine mass anger is a sight to behold, and we’ll see it soon enough.

But what do I know? I’m just a guy with a mental health problem who is sometimes let down by his own mind. In that regard I suppose you could say I’m a mirror image of Trump. The main difference between us, though, is that I’ve always had the ability to know a dog when I see one.

Curse ye no more…

Trump is sworn in tomorrow. It’s one of those moments in time that will be a) important in terms of world history and, b) a pinpoint of cosmic terror that I’m glad I’m not in tear gas range of. Nobody likes to be caught up in a riot, much the same as they don’t enjoy being in the way of a combine harvester. One side always wins. I’ve only ever been in one true riot – prison – and I was on the winning side. Didn’t mean I felt any better about the whole experience. Being a winner in a riot made me feel sick, like the time I watched four Police officers kick the shit out of some poor sap in a Holding Cell. It was all begging and screaming and the dull whacks of polished boots on restrained ribs; an unfair fight completely devoid of righteous motivation, or care of the consequences. I can still hear his sobs right now over the music I’m listening to. I was angry about the truth that day, but there is no truer lesson in winning and losing than losing your house and job on the back of getting sacked for being right…which happened eventually.

Trump is here. He’s in my world, my planet, on the street I live in, and in my home. He pervades the blue sky like a puke-coloured gas. He walks tomorrow into the most important job in the World and he is no more qualified than you to do it. It’s really happening, but some people will try to stop it right to the last. Make no mistake, there will be more people on the streets tomorrow than there were when Bush Jr’s motorcade had to accelerate along Pennsylvania Avenue, for the first time in modern presidential history, to avoid the baying mob waiting for him to step out and try and shake a hand. No, Bush was saved by the fact his Daddy had been President, and a former head of the CIA, and was so deeply connected with the corporate world that Bush Jr would always find powerful friends in any country except North Korea. Bush Jr was plucked away on inauguration day by a completely loyal Secret Service squad who accepted their place in the scheme of things. They understood the power of connections. Trump has connections, but they are transient and not linked to the true cabal of people who really run the show. He doesn’t have friends in the CIA, FBI, or NSA, and the FSB only keep tabs on him out of morbid curiosity rather than protection. He is alone at the head of the table of weirdos he’s assembled around him like he’s casting for a remake of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

The local cops like a good fight no matter who’s giving the orders, but there are so many people wanting blood this time on every side that their focus may well be lost in the melee. Who hits whom, and why, may be a confusing mystery when the smoke goes up. And, in a just world, Trump will be at ground zero, right in the thick of it. But… as always “In the Kingdom of swine, the one-eyed pig is king.” It’s the default life setting. He will escape physical harm to lament on Twitter, drunk in the early hours, sitting on his solid gold toilet and trying to turn the whole shit-fest into something the stupid will swallow no matter what their sense of smell is telling them.

Yes, tomorrow there will be disorder. I am sure of it. His rabid hillbilly supporters, ravaged by cheap whiskey and right wing reports of phony rapes and killings perpetrated by Muslims, Mexicans, non-whites, non-Christians, will have their jaws firmly set against any funny business during the show. They will be on the look out for anyone to grind under their cowboy boots, and there will be plenty. The rest of the USA is unhappy. They can smell the friendly fire and they want to make it all stop before they end up raising kids in a bomb shelter in Nebraska. They are prepared to fight to stop a narcissistic sociopathic, racist, misogynistic, sexual predator from waltzing down that red carpet like Fred Astaire in front of his bizarre Munster family. Make no mistake.

If you are in Washington tomorrow, lock your doors. Lock them for some false sense of protection in the riot but, more importantly, lock them from Trump and all he is yet to do.

There will be many cracked heads, sore throats, burned protest banners, and sprinklings of blood tomorrow, but it is just the start. Of all that has gone wrong in my lifetime, the worst is still down the road, but it’s coming up fast for everyone. A riot can’t stop a crazed pig, it only makes him run for longer, and take greater risks.

Take cover. Dig that bunker while you still have skin on your back.

Demons in the dark.. Election special

 

Just up the road from my house is a place called Demon Wood. An elderly neighbour told me that its name comes from an incident two hundred years ago when a miner was trapped in a small lead mine in the wood after part of the mine collapsed. He stayed down there in the complete dark for seven days, licking water from the rock. He also started hallucinating. He saw demons and evil pictures of monstrous events. When they eventually rescued him he couldn’t be reasoned with. He’d lost an important part of his mind down in the earth.

That miner, legend goes, took the best part of a month to stop gibbering and running away from those Demons whenever night fell. He was a broken man with no future in the lead mining business. He had seen another view of the world.

The local community took pity on him, and they also gave the name Demon Wood to the site of the lead mine. Today I can still see the small mound that marks the top of the shaft down to the Demons in the deep. I walk past it maybe three times a week. I’ve never seen any evil up there. But this morning, things are different. Evil is everywhere.

I watched the Presidential election results come in first thing. The images provoked the same sort of feelings I remember having when I watched the second plane hit the twin towers some fifteen years ago. There was nothing but disbelief in what I was witnessing. I shook my head slowly from side to side like it might rock something malfunctioning back into place. It hasn’t. It won’t ever, I guess. This morning, despite the codeine and pregabalin, the story of the miner came back to me in the rainy first light. He had had a total loss of any capability to filter what was real and what was just a hideous hallucination – a complex process of brain death, subjugation to sensory deprivation, loss of faith in everything in front of his eyes – and now only the evil remained. And that’s the overwhelming feeling right now: only the evil remains. This is all just so terrible that it can’t be real.

The truths are many, and they matter right now on this sofa. Coupled with the lies, they feed the hive-mind and they whip up the cosmos in ways we’ll never truly work out until it’s too late. If Aliens weren’t interested in our World yesterday, then….listen… You can hear the sound of Flying Saucers being cranked into gear right now. And when they get here I’ll be the first in the queue to get a lift. Shit, I’d even take a bit of laser-beaming or probing on the way just get out.

I always had faith in humans to do the right thing, to light the right torches and shine in the most needed dark places. Carry each other. Help. We are living in times now where that sentiment is dead for the foreseeable future in the places that really matter – The minds of too many people. We are each others enemy. We cannot be trusted to look after the world. Brexit/POTUS/Tory victories/Right Wing power growth/terrorism/religious intolerance/selfishness/money-accumulation/whipping the poor, just go to prove to me that the roof has collapsed on Planet Earth. I can’t make sense of any of it.

The miner sat in the dark and watched the demonic horror overwhelm him. He was powerless. Today, I am he.

Trump and Me

“Donald Trump is a fool.” Is that the right term? I thought about that question a lot last night when I was an hour into a good-natured argument with someone about the limits of excusable ‘stigma-shielded’ behaviour.

Is Donald ill? I don’t know the answer. I have pretty major suspicions, but I can’t be sure enough to bet heavily on an outcome of any psychiatric tests. That’s the crux of the thing: he really could just be a racist, misogynistic, ignorant, fool. But what if he was mentally ill?

I don’t know about you, but I am mentally ill – that’s what people with lots of letters after their names tell me. Doesn’t matter who it is, their gender, or what country they grew up in, the result is always the same after I answer their questions. In fact, they don’t even have to overtly ask me anything, so it goes. A few minutes talking to me and it’s apparently obvious to people well trained in these matters. But I don’t know the things they do. I didn’t even know I was screwed until they opened my eyes to the overdoses, the drugs, the cutting, and the punching, the anger, the hallucinations and hopelessness. And don’t forget the perpetual emptiness. They didn’t even have to dig into my past. When they eventually got around to that rotten barrel it was rubber-stamped so hard that I woke up three weeks later. I was so stupid for not realising it all. Man, I could have run for Office if the net hadn’t dropped…

But back to Donald. For arguments sake, let’s give him a personality disorder diagnosis of, say, Anti-Social and Narcissistic personality disorder. Ok with you? Let’s imagine – stay with me – that it’s a nailed on diagnosis. The man is ill. He looks to get help this week. How does that make you feel about all the hurtful shit that’s come out of his mouth over the past eighteen months? Better? Worse? I mean, after all, he’d be ill….yeah?

When I look back at my life (I’m old, but not in a wise, elder-of-the-tribe way), I can easily remember some of the awful and hateful things I’ve said when I’ve been really ill. I’ve threatened strangers in the street with violence for tiny reasons that made perfect sense at the time, I’ve said the most atrocious things to people I’ve known well. I have punched men who didn’t deserve it. I was untrustworthy in my beliefs and my view of life when even slightly psychotic – still am. From the outside, to the unknowing, I was/am a monster. But I’ve got that diagnosis to frame it all; hang it all from (no pun intended). Plus, I’m in treatment. Donald isn’t.

Officially Trump isn’t ill, so I guess we must treat him accordingly. He’s running for the Presidency of the United States of America. He’s condemning Muslims, Women, Mexicans, the Poor, and anyone who is from a demographic he perceives as weak. He’s a predator.

Trump is out there in the world, undiagnosed, free, on the cusp of putting one of his tiny hands on the Armageddon button. And millions of people (right this second the polls suggest 42% of Americans are intending to vote for him) support his version of the future. They forgive the bile that’s been spewing out of that tiny orange mouth. My supporters can be counted on one hand. Genuinely. I’ve deserved it. I’m officially unwell. There are pieces of paper in large files which will tell you just that. But it’s completely fair. I got caught. Trust me, it wins you no friends.

It’s the oldest rule going – crazy is ok, until you really are crazy. Crazy is as crazy does. It’s defined not so much by the behaviour, but by the reasons behind it. To diagnose is to confine all errant talk and action to simply…’mentally ill’. I guess that’s the real root of stigma: diagnose and be damned. It’s why Trump still has support. He’s dodged the silver bullet, and the white coats. He is free to spout his crap until his eyes roll back in his head like a shark’s while he’s chewing off Miss America’s left breast. It doesn’t matter if he’s the most dangerous man since Ted Bundy. It’ll all be brushed under an expensive carpet anyway. Until you’re caught, you’re free, right? Especially true for the poor. It is very hard to get a psychiatric diagnosis to stick on someone getting out of a private jet they bought themselves.

Trump and me? – One of us is aiming high, with hope. The other is Travis Bickle.