Thursday, 6 September 2018

Where I am now


I thought I should post a quick update, just to say what's going on with me.

One good thing is that I'm working, or at least working in an office with other people (gasp), and getting things done. It's just temp work but it's nicer than trying to scratch a freelance living. I don't want to go too far into this but... it's actually quite nice to have more people around, and they're actually not too... well they're nice. My mental health difficulties seem to be under control.. or at least if they're not that they're behaving and not kicking up a huge fuss.

And again, that's nice.

Other than that, my PhD Proposal is progressing but I'm back to reading and wrangling as I try to put stuff into order and hope that I can get somewhere. I'm sending Streets of Rage out to Agents to see if I can go via the traditional publishing route, and trying to finish the various short stories I have to finish (as well as cranking up the gears to write new stuff specifically for anthologies... I confess I'm not sure how much point there is in just writing random short stories anymore, but the ones I'm working on are in part my attempts to write 'proof of concept' pieces for my PhD).

Something seems to have changed in me, perhaps thanks to getting some well meaning 'boots up the bum' from various people I know both online and in real life. Eve and I are separating/divorcing and it's only this month that I've started to venture out, trying to make a new life for myself rather than cogitating the old one. Perhaps I started doing that a while ago, going out to find new people to play roleplaying games with (I seem to have stumbled into maybe running a game of Vampire: Dark Ages using the 20th Anniversary rules and am ecstatic that at least one player really enjoyed it - to the extent of emailing me to say so afterwards) and now I'm exploring my, well... other stuff that's interested me for a long, long, time and which I never really got much chance to do anything about. And I'm enjoying it and though it's daunting, I find that it's fulfilling so far, and I'm hopefully finding places I fit.

Which for a boy who's always worried that he doesn't do that (fit, I mean), is extremely nice.

So, yeah, hopefully things are going okay and they're helping me grow and change and become a better, more rounded person.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Suicide Awareness Month

September is Suicide Awareness Month in the UK, spreading out about World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th September (….
In 2015 6,639 people committed suicide in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Most of them were men between the ages of 21 and 49. 75% of the people who successfully took their lives were male, while 25% were women. This isn't to say that more men than women attempted to take their lives, but the methods men use tend to be far more extreme and, sadly, are far more likely to succeed. It's important that we don't confuse the number of successes (and it feels horrific to describe them that way) with the number of attempts In fact, the numbers of women making attempts while the male rate has largely remained the same. That being said, it's still true that half of all male deaths in the UK under the age of 49 are the result of suicide. 50%. That's a truly sobering figure.
One person in fifteen will make a suicide attempt at some point in their lives.
If you feel suicidal please seek help, and please think twice about whether your life is as bad as your brain tells you.
If you know someone who might commit suicide please give them the time and patience they need. Please be kind to them and cut them some slack. Don't say to 'man up' or 'pull yourself together' because you don't know what's going on inside them.
Life gets hard for everyone, it costs nothing to show compassion to those of us who are struggling.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Hobbes: In Memorium

Colleagues, Alumni, and Students, Members of the Public

It is with great sadness that Grimalkin University reports the passing of Professor Hobbes, the Dean of the School of Mischief (formerly the Department of Dastardliness), published scholar and expert on many areas in his field as well as others. He passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon after a long period of illness and a troubling loss of appetite. While staff at Grimalkin did their best to care for him, by Sunday it was clearly too late.
Hobbes joined the university in 2005 as a Doctoral Researcher specialising in his twin areas of study, charm and cajoling as a form of human control. His catademic career spanned over a decade and he was a much loved member of the faculty, adored by students, staff, and visiting academics alike. He was always curious, keen to add to and spread the sum of feline knowledge by visiting other schools and institutions, indeed he often needed no more invitation than an open door. Much note was made of his Christmas Study Break one year, when he became stuck inside a friendly neighbour’s shed, and he was keen to undertake field trips at the start of his tenure, following humans to observe their behaviour and take notes. This sometimes worried his support staff, who  feared the worst, but thankfully he always returned safe and sound, keen to spread stories of his adventures.

The same kindness was not extended to members of his team, at least once he took a dim view of their decision to spend time away from home, because they had neglected their duties. His attitude towards ‘staff’ was one of overly familiar love (research assistants report that no body part was safe from his curiousity) and this attitude spurred him to write his famous research paper ‘toes the new fingers’ as well as other pieces of research.

His defining characteristic was his charm, which colleagues always spoke of highly, along with his friendly, playful attitude that never took in the idea that he might not be loved and accepted. A devoted shoulder rider with a love for tall people, a refusal to allow him ride along on what he saw as his natural perch was met with confusion. In a similar fashion he viewed board games as a natural place to sit down and frequently made it plain that other forms of entertainment were not to be considered valid because they didn't involve him. Even typing up his research was a challenge because he, having moved onto his next project, would want to conduct fresh research. His friendliness was legendary, as was his even pawed nature, and he was a demanding, loving, person to all he met. A natural extrovert, he was more than keen to introduce himself to his research team when they met, insisting that they give fusses and allow him to swap between their shoulders for a long time.

Among other cats he was gregarious, and his curiousity tended to get him into trouble. Even his patented ‘sumo leap’ move for his favourite sport, wrestling, failed to win him friends in the cat community. Sadly, when he did find a wrestling buddy it was shortlived and soon, he had to return to insisting that staff provided that service. Unfortunately when Dr Dita von Minx, head of the Deportment School with a side line in Playing only when Unobserved, joined the university it didn’t lead to peace and harmony, but to a ten year guerrilla conflict centred on where she was trying to sleep. As the senior catademic, Professor Hobbes was quite sure of his right to do this, insisting that she liked it.

His work appeared in many journals, supplementing his enviable publishing record.

He will be much missed by all who knew him, and by many who did not.

Grimalkin University

I feel I should explain why I wrote the above and to say something personal about Hobbes’ death. When we got him, he was a lively, playful cat, keen on ambushes and on catching hands and feet. As a joke I said that he was studying for a PhD in Dastardly Studies and he continued to live up to that for a long time. When I started working with actual academics I realised he’d been studying for that Doctorate for a long time and updated the joke, making him a Professor. About the same time I made up an academic career for our other cat (who was more burlesque artist than scholar but never mind), and it all sort of stuck.

Hobbes was an amazing cat, a proficient hunter, an adventurer, and a gregarious fellow (at least by cat standards). He adored fuss and cuddles, purring whenever he was picked up as well as whenever he played. He  liked long naps on laps in the winter and his weight was always a comfort. It was even better when he curled up on my chest. He had the most amazing spike up his nose and I adored rubbing his chest (which he always seemed to enjoy too). I was always a naughty human and liked to stroke his tummy which definitely was a ‘bad human’ move, but I persisted because I loved him and I don’t think he really minded.

He was my cat, my best friend, and I feel as if he was a part of my heart and soul (assuming I have one). I will always miss him.

Farewell my friend, I wish you hadn't died and I hope, if there's such a thing as a soul, you'll wait for me on the other side and we'll go rolling through the afterlife together having fun. Please look after Dita and please never forget your loving humans. xxx

Sunday, 29 July 2018

In Bits

I'm going to preface this by saying I hope I'm wrong, and that this is all very premature and proves to be a stupid man being stupid and worried.

With that out of the way, I'm scared that Hobbes is dying. He's been off his food for a week and a bit, willing to drink milk but not interested in his biscuits. He's even off cheese which is a really scary thing, which as meant we haven't been able to give him his pills (in part because Eve's not been helping or been forgetting he has to have them). He's skeleton covered in fur, today and barely able to walk.

I thought it was the heat and that he just didn't want to eat because he was so tired, but now the weather's broken and he's still not eating and doesn't seem that interested in drinking either. I asked about taking him to the vet and even tried to arrange it - only to find that I couldn't get a taxi for some reason (trying to book one, the people on the other phone didn't seem to understand me).So it ended up being abortive, and for the first time in my life I wish I could drive so I could have just taken him with no worries or questions asked. I feel like I've let my best, in some ways my only, friend down.

He seemed okay though, he could still jump up onto the sofa bed I'm sleeping on, still had his purr. Today those things are gone.

So, on my birthday I'm in fucking bits. I can't stop crying. He's not just a cat, he's family, my best friend, the only thing in my life that doesn't treat me like some sort of freak or tell me I'm wrong on a consistent basis. I was hoping to take him with me when I left Birmingham, to have a wee flat where we could just curl up together and now I don't think that's going to happen. I feel guilty and angry, and sad all at the same time.   For a long, long time, he's been the only good thing in my life, through shit with friends, a relationship that just didn't fucking work unless I was basically doing as I was told, through jobs that made me want to kill myself, through all me fears and doubts and feelings of alienation.

It just feels like if he dies, I'll have nothing left. That's so fucking selfish of me I know but

Please, please Hobbes, don't die. . Please.

Friday, 27 July 2018


Before I start this, I should say that it's very much me 'emoting' and may come across as middle age man shouts and screams about how shit stuff is.

I'm a freak.

I have been all my life, even when I was a kid.

I don't fit in, don't matter, and don't follow the herd (in part because well what's the point if you don't fit in and don't matter?). In some ways I really like that, like the way it makes me feel independent and strong in myself because I'm not dependent on others or sucking up the same media as everyone else. In others, well, it's less good. I'm tired of having my feelings dismissed as childish or being told that I'm wrong all the time because I see things differently to everyone else (especially when they don't seem to have thought or authenticity to their points of view). I'm tired of feeling like I can't be myself, or work the way that suits me in jobs and to be honest I'm getting to the point where I start to wonder if it's worth continuing with this living business if I have to conform to a way of life that feels fundamentally unsuitable.

Let me stress, I have no plans to commit suicide or hurt myself it's just a feeling that a life where you're forced to be disloyal to yourself and your instincts is no life at all.

I feel it started in childhood, and remember throwing tantrums and being unreasonable, never able to explain why or what was actually wrong. I remember feeling as if I was tolerated but misunderstood because I couldn't explain things. I never liked sport, even as a kid, and remember having my head pulled out of a rugby scrum by a teacher only to be told to 'put your head in properly, you girl', while at the same time my father decided that calling me names would 'toughen me up' (apparently). At the same time, I had 'friends' who even asked my sister 'does anyone actually like him?' on one occasion when they had been invited over for my birthday - which was celebrated early in the summer because it would have been too inconvenient to actually do anything around my real birthday at the end of July.

I grew quieter, more solitary, less trusting. Because why would I trust when I was obviously unacceptable? I had people I knew, sure. People to talk to, but nobody who was a friend.I didn't have those until I went to university and most of my teenage years were spent on my own, reading and losing myself in imaginary worlds. I studied Politics and that worked for me because it felt like a good set of theory and because it was interesting. Away from home I could make friends, cutting my past away like a rotten piece of ham, or something else undesirable. True, I wasn't much of a one for going out and getting drunk (I hate being drunk and I hate being around drunk people), but I made friends and that was wonderful because for the first time I felt like I had people who cared about me and who weren't going to put me down at the first instance, or make me uncomfortable. Even then I found that in later years, I wasn't entirely acceptable to people, but I had enough of a support network to keep me going.

Part of my disconnection is the feeling that I don't belong in the 'male' gender. I mean, I like history, politics and such and I suppose they're sort of male, but if you take the stuff that men seem to bond over most of the time, I'm not interested in any of them. I feel as if I live in a no man's land where I'm neither fish nor fowl and if I'm honest the older I get the less I want to have to do with humanity with it's stupidity, it's generalisations, it's self justifying rationalisations (and I'm not immune to those, I know that, but I'm tired of it all and wish there was more time for art, for dreams, for people to express themselves honestly but without making a fucking production out of it all).

It feels as if the world is just concerned with making profit and the only thing that matters to most people is money and conformity. I don't care much for either, and would be happy if I could live as I wish without being a slave to Mammon.

There's a cartoon on the 'net about 'be yourself, no not like that', and that's how I've felt pretty much everyday of my life.

The problem is that I can't not be myself, I can't compartmentalise, can't shut things off because they're not appropriate at 'moment x' and it sucks, but it's how I'm made.

What I hate is the way I feel I get pushed into roles I can't cope with and don't want to do, because 'oh you have to' - usually by people who fit into the world perfectly well and who never have to think about how things happen outside their bubble (and who usually don't have an artistic bone in their bodies, I  say as an aside). I don't see why I have to be like them, because of their lack of vision, the same as I don't see why I have to keep up with the fucking Jones' because someone who's making money out of it insists that it's must see or amazing... I mean, fuck off, I'll judge for myself.

Using Myers Briggs, which may be nothing more than mumbo jumbo but feels right to me, I'm an INFP and it seems this sort of feeling is pretty common for my 'type' and we often have to resort to writing to try and explain things. As we lead with Introverted Feeling it's hard for us to make ourselves understood at the best of time because everything is so subjective. Also, we're idealistic (something I have in spades) and so the 'real world' annoys me because it seldom lives up to my expectations. By which I don't mean nature or any of the other bits that actually make up the world but the 'reality' humans have constructed. This often seems like a shared hallucination to me, reinforced by authority figures and generally designed to keep other human beings under control.

As I get older I find I'm more willing to embrace my introversion and desire for solitude, especially as so many of the things I see people getting all excited by just seem like repeats, the same old things repackaged and resold. That bothers me a lot of the time, both the way that I react and the thing I'm reacting to. But then, if I like something popular it seems to be by accident and most of the stuff I like is outside the mainstream (and to be honest, I do like that - even though it's probably a perverse feeling of self righteousness or some such rubbish).

but, more and more I want to walk away, to just leave this world behind and live alone. Fuck everything.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Monday Mosh Pit (Encore)

Yeah, I forgot... So it's Monday Mosh Pit time again.

No link or anything, just a bunch of metal and rock songs I like, on  a theme. Last time it was... werewolves, right? So, let's go with magic this time.

Starting light...

Ladyhawke: Magic

Queen: A Kind of Magic

Siouxsie and the Banshees: Spellbound

Metallica: Enter Sandman

Just four today, sorry. :P

Monday, 2 July 2018

Monday Mosh Pit

Okay, yes I missed doing song stuff again... In truth the computer didn't get switched on all weekend and that's why. Plus, I'm feeling a little down about the world at the moment, having read some stuff about climate change and politics which makes things difficult. One of my values is that the world is important and that one of the responsibilities of a citizen is to be aware of what's going on (which has problems in the form of over exposure to 'truth' - though of course truth is subjective - and also brings up the issue of echo chambers and how we escape them), but the way the news is presented and the way things seem to be in our late Capitalist society leaves me wondering if there's any point in trying to stay kept up to date or if it's a case of 'too little too late, now you get to watch as 80% of the human race gets wiped out by climate change'.

Plus, I've been reading/writing stuff for Werewolf: the Apocalypse and that's probably not helping as it essentially presents a very pessimistic vision of the world (which I love but at the same time may not be the best thing for me). 

So today's music comes to you from that special place.

New Model Army: I Love the World

Fields of the Nephilim: Chord of Souls

Lacuna Coil: Angel's Punishment

My Chemical Romance: Sing

The Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen

Manic Street Preachers: Repeat UK

Explicit, just to warn you.