Bye

 

IMG_2766Okay. This is it. The last post. NO fanfare, or lowering of a flag outside a marble building full of people far more important than I could ever be. This is the final post on my – let me check… – yes, four year blog.

It’s been a mixed bag and a weird few years. The most bizarre in my life.

I started writing this blog anonymously at first. I used to link the odd post to my facebook account, but I only ever had around forty virtual ‘friends’ and most of those I hadn’t seen for over twenty years. Even fewer ever read the posts anyhow. It was safe. Largely I was free to write whatever I wanted and to share the bare minimum worth sharing with people who knew/know me.

At first, I tried to remember events in my working life – prison/drug services/boxing – and just write about them with a sense of honesty, but then I entered Therapy for my long-term diagnosis of Borderline Personality disorder. I didn’t expect Therapy to have much of an impact. I was wrong. The blog moved from recollection to the bizarre as I negotiated the process of dealing with the events I experienced while growing up, and into my early adult life. I underestimated the whole thing, to be honest. I felt like a great fat blimp, being blown up beyond maximum pressure, drifting in the air waiting for some twat with an air rifle. I guess you could say the blog was a way of releasing that pressure a little. It was there when I wanted it and access was always on my terms. If I didn’t want to write, I didn’t. No commitment needed. No Editor to please. I wasn’t trying to grow a brand, sell anything, or garner attention. I didn’t want love, or approval. It just was.

And now Therapy is over. I feel different. I don’t want to become my diagnosis. I don’t believe I am the same person who started this thing. Big stuff. I’ve moved on and I feel truly happy for the first time since I can remember. It’s a dramatic shift in the narrative, but I think I’ve earned it. And I believe it’s here to stay.

I’ve been surprised at the feedback on some of the personal things I’ve written – recently especially. Some people have been brilliant, others have been ignorant and judgemental. That’s life. That’s the modern world. Some people take, others give. Some are capable of empathy, others can only wrap themselves tightly in their own circumstances.

Okay. This is it. Good luck to all: the good/bad/indifferent among you. If my blog taught me anything, it’s that an abuse-damaged child grew into a 44yr old man who finally found inner happiness and a sense of peace and hope. Who wants more than that? Not me.

Benjamin

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The Nerve to suggest

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Russia stockpiles chemical weapons. Boris Johnson tells us this is true but those of us with the ability to see the micro-muscle movements even in a face as bloated with wealth as his could read the braille. The real essence of the message was not that every major country (and some minor ones too) own at least a phial or two of nerve agent, but that he was caught out for being paid £160,000 by a Russian for a game of tennis. Soak that one in for a moment. That fat oaf received (on behalf of the Conservative party) £160,000 from the wife of one of Putin’s ex-Ministers, ostensibly so she could watch him sweat like a trained dancing hog in an Alabama summer circus spectacular. According to reports, the same woman also paid £30,000 at the same charity event for a ‘Guided Tour by the current UK Defence Secretary around Churchill’s war rooms, followed by a Gala Dinner’ hosted by the same.

Rich pickings for the Charities these days, and the Conservative party. Not every charity worker is raping prostitutes in disaster zones, just like most politicians aren’t lining their own pockets or preparing to when the hammer drops and retirement looms. There is much good work still to do. And if that tennis game provided a key networking environment with a well-connected member of Putin’s inner circle then we were all, as British voters, truly blessed.

Boris levelled his dead black piggy eyes at the interviewer (Andrew Marr) and I leaned forward on the sofa. Was he the best we had to offer – the sum total of all we are worth when our country is dealing with the rest of the World? He spoke again but I couldn’t hear above the rushing noise in my head as if something, some grain of truth and goodness passed down from the cosmos, was trying to escape and laser beam out of my eyes and down the Sky satellite network, right up through the dirty cables laying on the floor in the studio and out of any one of the four or five cameras within striking distance of Boris. I turned off the television. It was safer for all of us. Even the cosmos can get angry, and none of us would refuse a ringside seat in the VIP section when that show comes to town. Be there, or ….err….fry in your own atomic juices.

Porton Down is the UK’s chemical research laboratory facility. They don’t deal in lasers there, or paranoid fantasies about burning the face from politicians, but they love death and the juices it creates all the same. They store death in little glass tubes and research ways to make it more sophisticated and, ultimately, simply better at killing people for less reason than Oppenheimer had when he worked on Fat Boy. I know little more than you do about Porton Down, so here’s what the UK MP, and Chair of the UK Government Defence Committee – Bruce George – said in 1999 about the facility:

“I would not say that the Defence Committee is micro-managing either DERA or Porton Down. We visit it, but, with eleven members of Parliament and five staff covering a labyrinthine department like the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, it would be quite erroneous of me and misleading for me to say that we know everything that’s going on in Porton Down. It’s too big for us to know, and secondly, there are many things happening there that I’m not even certain Ministers are fully aware of, let alone Parliamentarians.” 

How does that feel? We’re talking about a military complex with the capability to kill anyone, in probably any numbers conceivable, in the World. This could happen by design, or accident. You choose your poison, if you’ll pardon the pun. And nobody who represents ‘The People’ knows really what it does or to what extent. If you told an American hillbilly the above they’d laugh and point you to Area 51 and a scar on their ass. Only, Porton Down and its contents aren’t as funny as being probed up the anus by Mork. As that poor ex-Russian Colonel (sent to the UK as part of a Spy-swap deal with Russia years ago) and his daughter found out last week.

The Russian Ambassador to the UK appeared on the same show as Boris this morning and he reminded us all that the Colonel and his daughter were administered the almost fatal dose of nerve agent – codename: ‘Novichok’, but it might as well have been ‘Rasputin’, or ‘The Russians Done It, Mister’ – barely eight miles from………yep, you guessed it……Porton Down. Why? Who? Add the rest of the four ‘W’s’ yourself. There are no good answers the likes of you or I will ever receive. Not if you don’t want to be choking on the fluid seeping into your heart quietly five minutes after sipping at a cup of coffee you had…..

Love. A little goes a long way. Always. Just like a nerve agent.

The Diamond Business

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“Black diamond.”

The thing was massive, she said. I saw the ring it was set in as I walked through the train carriage. The misty jewel with gaudy gold was sitting on small weighing scales – chrome with an electric display and buttons providing measurements in ways only the pickiest and meanest drug dealer would care for. She was grey – grey hair, grey face – talking loudly into a phone on the lurching Matlock train, repeating the words over and over again: “It’s massive.”

Her partner – same sallow bloodless skin – wore a dirty baseball cap. He kept picking the ring from the scales and eyeing it through a jeweler’s eyepiece which looked like it’d come out of a Christmas cracker. If the pair of them had been in the diamond business long they hid it well, or had been so unsuccessful that a last desperate lead had taken them out to here on a half hunch. The two carriage train clanked, cold, grabbing at the treeless scenery and clawing towards the city. The ring was passed back and forwards and the volume of her voice rose and rose. “Huge find!”

I watched her hawkish features sneer with the kind of rapture only a treasure hunter can feel when they’ve duped some poor local hick out of an inheritance. True passion and pleasure. The sweet taste of the steal. Nose bent over and cutting across her thin lips like a razorback. Eyes moving laser-fast from the diamond to him, to the other passengers.

I googled ‘Black Diamond’ on my phone, wondering if the value of one could make the couple a street robbery risk, if not by me then someone else within earshot. I expected a long list of pirate treasures, crowns, and stories about sweating men in African slave mines. I was wrong. The first page of results were for pornography. Sweat, but not much in the way of riches; not by the look of the women and men on the screen anyhow. Fake sex. Fake love. Low returns on something polished up to look like it was worth the appearance at first glance.

I left the train at Derby and missed my connection by two seconds; shouted at by a platform guard to ‘Get away from the tracks at once!’ I cursed the UK train network and stood back watching laughing faces pull away towards Sheffield. Windy platform. Cold. Standing and standing, unsure if I’d make it on time, but certain the sandwich I was eating wasn’t worth the £3 I’d paid for it. I was going to see my Woman. Knowledge is power. I was rich indeed.

 

Fine Print

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Someone told me that you should just write. Doesn’t matter what it’s about – choose the first thing that comes into your head. I followed that advice for years. Even sitting doing paid gigs for magazines/websites and PR companies. Mostly the advice proved to be good. Only one Editor refused to print something I’d written without ‘Major fucking changes to the way you are blowing smoke up the ass of the W.B.C.’

Today I’m finding it difficult. Really difficult. Worse than psychotic episode brain-freeze. Or gibberish. Shit, I liked the gibberish. Reading the ravings of someone deep into a paranoid belief the neighbours are all police officers makes for fun reflection when the dust has settled. I’ve written high, low, hallucinating, starving, puking, hungover, and when it’s been so cold that the olive oil in my kitchen has frozen. But not today. There is no coherent thought I can drag along on the back of. Well, there’s one, but it’s so consuming that I feel like I’m being eaten from the inside out.

My Psychologist and I argued on the phone about how I deal with this. She’s worried. Kept asking me about my propensity to self harm. Wanting to assess the level of danger. I could hear her typing things down carefully as I spoke. ‘No……honestly, for fuck’s sake, I’m safe.’ One answer like that is usually enough, but she must have asked me four or five times over twenty minutes. Same answer, same typing. Same thought, over and over and over. Same face, same smile, same laughter.

Music on now. Loud. Someone told me it’s all about grounding yourself in times like these. I guess it works, mostly. Maybe a quick prayer will help?

Okay, God, you fucking owe me. Let’s not argue about that, eh. We both know it. I’ve borne enough bullshit and hurt to last me from here until you high-five my hand warmly as I ride through those big gates on a Raleigh Chopper. Time for that re-birth you’re always banging on about in those pamphlets that come through my letterbox infrequently. Forget the gibberish about dinosaurs and homosexuals. That stuff isn’t important. You’ve lost your way a bit concentrating on things that don’t matter. Give me one fucking chance to feel good.

There. I told you this thing would be incoherent. But at least whatever being is tending the eternal campfire up there now has the fine print in black and white. Spiritual proof, if you will. Maybe you can write your way to anything if you let it just flow?

Woe

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The chairs scraped on the tiled floor in the little back room in the big Georgian house. There was a blackboard on the wall chalked with Greek, sometimes Latin, other times French verbs. We always had about half an hour in there before we went into the main teaching room. This was a time to say hi to the other students (about eight of us) and practice the shit on the black board. The technique must have worked because there I was, ten years old, able to conjugate French and Latin verbs. The Greek was fucking impossible.

The place was for gifted kids. Man…..

-I can’t concentrate. I couldn’t back then, and I can’t today. There’s a recirculating thought zipping back around when I thought I’d given it the slip. Even a simple memory and a few minutes sitting typing is impossible. What the fuck is happening to me?!

I’m trying to avoid feelings of woe. Yes, I guess that’s the main issue today. But I’m not the only one.

The rain flooded out a big festival near here last night. Girls with smeared glittery faces turned up at the supermarket shivering and trying to reconcile that they’d gone past the point where festival mud had stopped being chic and funny. The headline band had cancelled their show. Up on the bleak hills of the festival site, open to the elements, 20,000 people are shivering in brown goo this morning. And no amount of ketamine will dry your clothes. Rumours of water being turned off in the showers, cars too deep in the mud to move by tractor, and roaming gangs destroying tents. Fear is apparent in the Twitter posts of desperate teenagers. No chance of walking home from that remote hillside. God, the nearest train station is 6 miles away down a road with no pavements, used by speeding articulated lorries from the quarry. No escape. They are all trapped like tadpoles in a jam jar.

I can’t think straight. There is not single chance I can write anything coherent today. I’m thinking of airplanes, sunny beaches, electricity, the solid thwack of a metaphysical arrow. Woe.

Staying Alive

Image result for stayin alive barry gibb

At 3am you get the sense you’ve been here before; light crawling up the hillside, the grey porridge of the end of night, too early to move, too late to go to sleep. Early July, 3am, is a time to sit on the edge of a bed and draw the curtain and create the notion of hope in the forming daylight. You might sit like that for a while, pausing to throw yourself back onto the bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder, and think, and try to let all those thoughts drift up and out of the open window with any prayers you might have silently mouthed. And I did.

Where thoughts like that go is anyone’s guess. I could almost see them reaching out from inside and forming long golden lines like cosmic silk, floating up into the morning. Almost. Perhaps some God somewhere gathers them in and weaves a better future if you can only provide enough? A vast omnipotent being, taking in my hopes and dreams and slowly piecing the threads together until it hands them back to me fully formed into a gold jacket. Maybe that’s what happened to Barry Gibb? He had the right contacts up there, a direct line. Priority customer. Maybe I’m still in the queue, further down the list? Or they boogied all their bonhomie away on that one sacred item of clothing? NO energy left to complete my order.

And that’s it today. The birds need feeding, the grass needs mowing, and I still have to write some more stuff in order to feel alive. Standard day on earth. Basic human events. Totally under control. So why is my heart beating faster than it should? My thoughts aren’t still. They get only so far then return to the same point over and over, like a looping disco track. I just don’t have the right clothes.

 

Passionate debate

She was wearing stockings. I could see the tops of them as she crossed her legs up high, drunk. The short dress was skewed from a bad rearrangement following a trip to the toilet. Across her shoulders a small fur stole hung off one side and exposed a black bra strap. Her hair was messy curly and looked like it’d had recently seen the ruffles of an overzealous lover.

He sat the other side of the small pub table and spoke loudly, gesturing his hands like he’d watched too many politicians and was trying really hard to expand his power base purely by hand signals. He was winning. The small party around him listened to his slurred words. She ran a stiletto up and down his leg as her husband watched out of the corner of his eyes from another table.

“We are in control of the country now. Let’s just get the immigrants sorted out and we’ve done it all,” he boomed. She swooned a little under the weight of the booze and the prospect of a fuck with a sense of purpose, from someone who was going places. Her hand moved under the table towards his groin.

Next to them at this post-meeting Conservative pub crawl, four older members watched the foulness in front of them and nodded approval. The immigrants needed stopping. They would lower the tone of the whole fabric of British society if they were given half a chance. Where would family values be when people were having sex in the streets and homes were being invaded by heroin-addicted squatters? Thankfully, they thought, all that was a long way away right now. What we had here was the cream of the crop, spilling gin and tonics and cheap lager on the scrubbed tables of a backwater pub high on a hill – non-white patron count = nil. This was the future.

Her husband finally had enough of watching his wife fondling the local Conservative Party council candidate. He stood up, told her she was a whore, stumbled out of the pub and rapped on the window outside. “You fucking bitch,” he yelled at her, then zigzagged off into the night.

Much was decided locally that evening, including my solemn oath to never enter politics.

Dichotomy #1

There’s a famous quote I say to myself a lot: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” There. Got it?

I guess in simple terms this is a mantra for myself to explain how I react in any given situation and is the blueprint for my default setting. I explained this to my Psychologist but she disagreed. Her take was that I wasn’t a ‘beast’. Hooray for cheerleading, eh. There’s nothing she won’t try and dig me out of if she thinks it’ll help me. But the exchange [Break – Phonecall, just now while typing. It was my old, soon to be returned to work after having a baby, Clinical Psychologist. Was great to hear her voice. She’s having me back on her caseload] did get me to thinking about the effects of my behaviour on others.

Here’s a post I read the other day – https://slaygirlsociety.com/2017/02/14/i-asked-my-boyfriend-what-he-thinks-of-my-mental-illness-for-valentines-day/  I thought it was brave to ask your loved one to pick at the scab over the biggest wound you have.

Unbelievably I do have a girlfriend, but I can’t bring myself to ask her to explain to me how my appalling behaviour affects her. It’s unfair for starters because I hide most of it – the cutting and punching, etc – but I guess I just don’t want to know what someone I love really thinks about me. The truth often hurts, in my experience.

I don’t know where I’m going with this now. The phonecall threw me. If there’s anything to learn reading this it’s that you should never be afraid to put your trust in someone you feel worthy enough to hold. Life, and love, are as simple as that. Ha! Talk about dishing out advice I can’t even follow myself. The fucking, skin-splitting horror of revealing the true me is just too awful to contemplate. Focus on the good, Ben. That’s the key here. Ignore the shitstorm underneath, if you can keep it hidden this far then the signs are good that trend will continue. Hopefully forever.

No, that’s unfair. Bring it back on theme for the love of god…. I am not all the terrible things that creep around corners in my brain when I’m looking the other way. There is good in all of this, along with the bad, and there is hope it can permanently change. After all, that’s why I’m in therapy.  In Chicago a hundred years ago they reversed the flow of an entire river. No-one cares now where it used to go.

The quote at the top is a reflection of who I am in my ill state but it’s not a pervasive story of my entire life right now. Sure, I feel the pain of being alive a lot, but I’m also loving and caring and take real joy in being with the person I love; the dichotomy of life, and I didn’t even need Valentines day to prompt me to say it. That, like so much I have done, was yesterday.

A Borderline Christmas

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I meant to write about the things I shouldn’t have done in my life. It was going to be a tortuous and sometimes violent list, including such lowlights as: heroin, getting married, and attacking a guy at the front of a Steven Malkmus gig. Not a lot of laughs there, but then, reading my blog must be like self-harming in a way. Speaking of which…. nah…probably best not to go down that line because I went back to the razor blade recently. Plus I’m on my own for the rest of the day and night and I’ve got access to a lot of booze and pills. Bad idea all round. Time to change the tone of this thing.

Soon enough it’s going to be Christmas.

Will that do?

I’m guessing it won’t. I have bad memories of Christmases stretching back into the 1970s. Sometimes it feels like they weren’t even the earliest ones either; I got to live this crap well before I got born this time. Cursed, I guess. Stuck with it.

“What would life be like without this?” a Psychologist once wrote on some paper and gave to me. It was the last time I saw her before she gave up being a Psychologist and went travelling. Ironic, predictive, and telling I suppose. At the time I thought that scrap of paper – pinned up in my house – was a tiny key to a big lock. It might even cancel out the reincarnation curse if I could find the answer. I haven’t worked it out yet, but I might.

Instead of what I have done, maybe it’s all about what I haven’t? I mean, I’ve worked with serial killers, addicts (been one, too), counselled rape victims with their bruises shining out at me, seen the dying, and the dead, seen violence you probably won’t ever get to see (if you’re lucky), and I’ve been involved in all of the horror of a life with BPD and too many lonely nights. These things aren’t helpful. They’ll never be helpful to anybody at any point. My partner says I’ve been in the dark too much. I think she’s right. It’s no eureka moment, but you get the idea. And so do I.

No, today is all about the love of a good woman, the little tree she got me – it’s the only Christmas decoration in my house – and the hope drawing in from tomorrow. Yes?

 

Bus Stop – Love

rural 1950s bus stop

I’d walked all morning in the humid air on the stupid chance of a job that never came to anything. Afterwards I had stopped to pick up some shopping at the grocery store near the corner of Aubry and Main. It was early afternoon and it was getting hotter.

I passed her as I walked to the bus stop with my bags. She was walking quickly towards me; appeared frantic. Her make-up was running slightly in the heat and her long black hair was clumping up where the sweat ran. She was wearing a little dress. She looked at me as she came past.

I went and sat at the bus stop. The bus was late. “Hi.”

She was standing near me. “Does the bus to Jackson leave from here any time soon?”

I said I didn’t know for sure, but I thought she’d just missed it. She told me her car had broken down. She had such amazing, big, dark, beautiful eyes. She kept glancing sideways at me with them as she tapped on her bag. Her lips were so full. I’d never wanted to kiss any lips more than hers. She was perfect, completely. Her short dress kept blowing up in the breeze and she had to keep one hand on it to stop it going all the way, but she hitched it higher and higher, making sure I saw every time. She continued looking at me with those eyes. God….this was an August Angel.

She told me she didn’t need any help with the car. I asked her if she was going all the way to Jackson but she said she was only travelling on about an hour to meet a friend. She asked where I lived.

She moved closer and sat down. I knew she wanted to move closer. I wanted her to. I wanted to hold her. Just touch her. She kept giving me these looks, smiles, looking me up and down, gaze resting on the tattoos on my arm. I saw her breath getting heavier – my, my, look at his gorgeous arms, I want him. She was delicately pale. Her dark hair made her skin look like wet silk. We talked a little, nervously, both of us trying to fill the gaps in the air and wanting to cross that two feet of chasm on the bench

My bus turned up. I wished her luck with her car. I didn’t know where she lived, her name, nothing. I got on the bus and took a seat at the window. She stepped on and asked the driver something, turning to look at me. I thought she might throw it all away and get on with me, take a ride and a chance on what her instincts were telling her, but she got off again and went and stood back in the dust. The Earth didn’t want to this to go any further. I knew it’d blow enough dust to smother the both of us if I left the bus and stood with her.

I wondered – since this kind of thing never happened to me – if I should wave. Or had I read the whole thing wrong? Was I just a creep? The bus pulled away. I looked over at the stop. She was standing there looking at me, head coyly down, smiling; blew me a small kiss. I smiled back. I loved her.