Road Runner


If only all roads were this deserted

To shake the malaise that has hung like a storm cloud over my mountainously weird mind of late I was to be away for a couple of nights over the weekend, staying first in Northamptonshire with Adam and then in Wiltshire with Darren and Vicky. I was also hoping to cram in a flying visit for a cuppa and catch up with my son at Oxford en route from my first destination and my second.

In the end I was so exhausted by the driving and the late night backgammon of my lovely time with Adam that when I reached Oxford I realised I ought to listen to my hurting body, head for home and take giant painkillers. An hour or so of conversation and rest with my boy was rejuvenating but only in the sense of readying me to get back behind the wheel.

So my feelings are mixed about the weekend. I’m sad not to have spent some more time with the Sweeneys as we’ve only recently met up again after some years and I know there are so many more discussions to be had and more laughter to share. But I’m uplifted by what I have managed to achieve.

Driving is a curse as well as a blessing. My world is far larger than it was eighteen months ago before I got the car but journeys of more than an hour absolutely fuck my muscles up. Plus I have to deal with those growing numbers of wankers on the roads who seem to believe that nothing bad can happen to them despite how dangerously or idiotically they drive.

On the journey up there was a four or five mile stretch of the M4 that was slowed down so badly that it took an hour to traverse. Once the bottleneck was finally over I saw the reason – a burnt out car crushed into concertina proportions by another vehicle or vehicles presumably already removed. I also saw an air ambulance taking off from the site of the crash where seven police cars still sat. Sobering stuff that made the delay totally acceptable yet within another mile or two other drivers around me, people who had surely also seen what I’d just seen, were weaving in and out of lanes without indicating, overtaking on the inside, and acting like immortals with utter disdain for the mortality of others.

We have a suitable British word for such people: they’re cunts.

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Damn, Damn, Damn, Damocles

Damocles-WestallPC20080120-8842A-ETherapy. Double-edged sword. Not that it’s anything like a sword really. Unless it is cutting the patient’s head off with a sword therapy. Which isn’t too popular these days. But, you know, metaphor.

I was unable to attend last week’s session because I wasn’t well so the first proper, try to make headway of things and begin the work session was yesterday. And it was tough, saddening and heavy. Realising we are stuck or broken or fucked or whatever is an important part of therapy, one which often means we are indeed ready to move forward with the help of the therapy. But it is also a stark reminder that we are stuck or broken or fucked up.

No, that’s not tautology. Most humans with stuck or broken or fucked up parts of the psyche find effective strategies for self-management and getting on with everyday life despite those issues. Not necessarily healthy strategies some of the time but ones which mean we can still function reasonably well within a wider community. Getting back down to basics and recognising just why we have put such strategies into place to begin with feels like undermining their effectiveness and rendering ourselves vulnerable.

Obviously if the structure of a thing is broken then that thing may need to be partially or even wholly deconstructed before it can be repaired and strengthened. Which is fine if you’re mending pots, more worrisome when you’re hoping to mend yourself. Anyone got a sword?

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So What?

IMG_2640This is a low. Poor, falling rapidly. And no amount of the shipping forecast advising me to go dogging in a Humber Sceptre will make a difference. Nothing is making a difference. Sunshine hits my skin as I am on my way to an appointment. So what? How very clever of sunshine to penetrate this planet’s fragile atmosphere and yet not totally irradiate everything in its path. I’ll be dead one day and sunshine will continue to do what it’s doing right now so it’s not as if it cares about me.

Birdsong fills the sky as flying creatures announce their spring presence across my neighbourhood. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. You’re not big or clever. You’re simply shouting “My tree, mine!” and extolling your virtues when it comes to fucking just like drunken students pouring out of a nightclub on a wave of puke and hormones.

People I don’t know smile at me. What the hell are they after? Fucking rude bastards, not even stopping to consider whether I like smiles or not. Some of us are allergic to smiling you know, you could have killed me.

Look, give me caffeine or give me death. There are currently no ports in between. I drink coffee, I mope, I just about think up reasons to continue breathing. All very familiar. I think I’ll take up fascism, it’s the new fad.

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IMG_2637It is time, I feel, to return to basics, to remind myself the midst of challenging times of things I am grateful for in my life. If it enables me to lift from the darker hues of recent days so much the better but it’s more a need to remind myself that even in dark days some light filters through.

I am grateful that today’s scan at the hospital pretty much ruled out the possibility of me having testicular cancer. That’s a big deal.

I am grateful for those who care about my wellbeing, who are there for me, who engage in digital and physical forms of letting me know they care and am not alone.

I am always grateful for the music that runs through my veins. Without it the last month would have been far harder to negotiate. I’ve been stuck at home more than I like and have at least managed to work on some tunes and let music carry me out of time and space in that way I fell in love with so long ago.

I am grateful for bananas. For lots of foods, in fact, but bananas matter a fair deal lately – serotonin, you know.

I’m grateful for my car, without which some of the therapeutic and medical appointments I’ve had recently would have been more stressful to get to.

I’m grateful that I don’t find my own company as repellent as I seemed to when I was a young man, that I can now spend so much time on my own – even though it’s not through choice – without chewing at the walls.

I am grateful for sleep, when it comes. It can be elusive but when I get some it makes the world sound nicer.

I’m grateful for words. Neat invention.

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Body Slam

IMG_2630There are times when the issues with my physical health distressingly resembles a set-up of tumbling dominoes: a flare-up leads to the usual struggles with breathing and ridding myself of yet another chest infection which leads to much coughing and strain on the diaphragm which leads to muscles being pulled which leads to serious levels of pain which leads to a tendency to breathe even more shallowly because deeper breaths hurt those pulled muscles which leads to less effective clearance of infection and so on and so on.

And this time around it hasn’t been the intercostal muscles, those which work the diaphragm itself, which have been damaged, it’s been stomach muscles (try coughing without your abdomen being involved, in fact try breathing without using your abdomen) which were seriously torn up last week and have somehow also led to similarly debilitating pain in my leg and hip the last couple of days. I can out weight on the leg but spasms of pain mean I’m constantly uncertain if it will give way in me. Luckily it has not yet done so but I’ve not tested it out any further than from bedroom to kitchen.

The final domino is my mental health. Sometimes I don’t leave my apartment for a day or two by choice, I hope myself up with coffee and food and work on recording music or doing bits of writing. Or, if I’m less inspired, I just read or watch crap in Netflix. But to be kept inside by unreliable limbs and by the more long term impact of this flare-up is depressing. Well, to be accurate, it is initially something which makes me quite anxious but inevitably anxiety is too hectic a state of mind to maintain for overly long so depression sweeps over me like a calming blanket that is in reality infested with smallpox and fleas.

Yes, I did hope you thought of how terribly the Europeans treated Native American people when I wrote the word ‘smallpox’ in relation to ‘blanket’. It has nothing to do with the overall tone of this depressing post but at leas proves I am capable of thinking about more than my own self-interested shit for a second or two.

There are things I want to do in life, things I want to change. These flare-ups make me less convinced I have the strength or wherewithal to bring about the changes I now deem necessary to my overall wellbeing. Which is why I’m currently having therapy to try to find more positives even in these darker days. Guess what, I was unable to get to therapy today because of my stupid body failing me. What was that I said yesterday about being kicked in the cock? Even the universe is at it now.

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IMG_2628Yesterday’s SleepFest (c) has been followed by a more awake but hardly less sedate day. The good news is that the pains in my stomach have virtually receded. Or transferred themselves to elsewhere, more like as my left leg is experiencing the exact same levels of ouch and argh as the stomach has been. I’m assuming that my body twisted itself into stupid shapes trying to cope with the stomach stuff and that somehow led to me pulling leg muscles. Or some fucker sneaked into my apartment during the night and tried to kick me in the cock but missed.

I’m not exceptionally happy at present. There are, of course, great things in my life for which I am grateful and which prevent me plunging into despair, but I’m going through the motions of life. What I want for my life and what appears possible are strangers to one another. I’ve no idea if I can make them better acquainted. Despite all the obstacles in my life I retain a degree of hope for the future but that hope is currently being seriously tested

It is better not to want anything, the better to increase one’s likelihood of feeling satisfied. I do not measure wealth in monetary terms but acknowledge I live in a capitalist world which would rather kick people like me in the cock. It’s virtually impossible to want for nothing in life: food is imperative, shelter is necessary. Beyond that things are desires rather than needs and of course I experience desire I simply know my desires would not be satisfied by cold hard cash. Money is a means to an end, I’m interested in the end and, even more so, in the journey from beginning to end.

I’m making little sense. Blame pain killers and a gammy leg. Or blame the system, man. Yeah, blame those fuckers.

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An Instance of Transformation

IMG_2623It’s exhausting hanging out at the hospital waiting for doctors to manhandle your nether regions. I know it is because on waking at a normal time this morning I turned over for a little more sleep and didn’t regain consciousness again until four o’clock in the afternoon. Fortunately the country I live in is having May Bank Holiday today so I didn’t miss anything.

Obviously I did miss the chance to dance around a Maypole and to sneak off into the undergrowth with fair maidens in celebration of Beltane, but I wasn’t going to do either of those things anyway. My lungs make any form of dancing tricky (a source of great sadness to someone for whom dancing is sometimes the only way of expression wordless emotion) and fair maidens have written sworn affidavits declaring me too old and vulgar looking for them to want to cop off with.

There is a curious disjointed feeling that comes with having slept throughout the day, as though reality has folded in at the edges and everything you experience before returning to bed is made of cloth and weirdness. Maybe I spiked my own dribble in my sleep? Maybe life is just a dream? Maybe I am a butterfly copying down the notes Zhuangzi is making on rice paper in order to impress the lady butterflies down at the Flying Insect nightclub?

Maybe it’s just as well nobody reads this crap.

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