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The world's longest suicide note.

I write about life with bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

All opinions are my own.


Wilful Children

8 min read

This is a story about the generation who want to die...

Bad Kid

So you mean to say that I've inherited a dying body on a dying planet, over-populated by dying coffin-dodgers who are squatting in all the big houses and hoarding all the money? So you mean to say that all those times I didn't get to eat jelly and ice-cream; all those times when I had to stop playing with my toys and go to bed even though I wasn't tired; all those times I couldn't see my friends because I was being dragged around the place by grown-ups... you mean there's no payoff for all of that?

What's so infantile about acting like a spoiled child? What can we learn from children?

It strikes me that even though we went to school and ate our vegetables and had lots of tears and tantrums as children, everything went to Hell in a handcart anyway. When the survivors of the nuclear apocalypse crawl out from under the rubble, aren't they going to wish that their kids weren't raised by strangers in institutions? Aren't you going to wish that you didn't act more childishly when we're all going to die anyway?

How precisely has all of our discipline and self-denial benefitted us? Half the planet lives in dire poverty; those in the middle live in conflict zones, afflicted by war and refugee crises; the top couple of per cent have wealth, technology and education, which they use to write angst-filled books, share suicide memes and otherwise complain about the agony of existence.

Even tiny tots get given homework. Exhausted looking parents complete after-school projects for their kids, the night before the deadline. Extracurricular activities demand every spare second of time - every waking hour of the day is seen as an educational opportunity.

Pinching our noses and shovelling in disgusting-tasting food, because it's good for us, is something that we have become habituated into doing as adults. What can children tell us about the madness afflicting the planet? Why do I want to be healthy and live a long miserable life?

"Are you smarter than a five-year-old?" is the title of a gameshow. A chess grandmaster is not smart per se - they are probably a thoroughly impractical person if they've dedicated so much of their life to playing a board game. Better chess players are simply better at spotting patterns they've seen before, as opposed to brute-force reasoning - to become good at chess requires a lot of experience. To be an adult is simply to have gained more experience of how to play the game of life - I often think that children are the smarter ones.

Stood in the supermarket today, I wondered why I didn't just take a doughnut off the shelf and eat it; I wondered why I didn't lie on the floor and kick and scream that I wanted something until it was brought to me; I wondered why I was walking when I could be carried or wheeled around in a trolley or pushchair; I wondered, in fact, why I would adhere to any of society's expectations at all - none of us are getting out of this alive, so why shouldn't we put down our tools and just run around like a bunch of kids?

Of course, when we get cold and hungry, we're immensely grateful to have a fire and some food, but those things don't require me to sit in a classroom, lecture theatre or an office. I don't need to wear a suit and take a crowded commuter train to put food on the table and keep my house warm - the work of the service industries is not farming, fishing, producing energy or building homes. I wonder if our advanced society should feel as smug as it does, given the vast numbers of us who are stressed, anxious and depressed. When our bright, energetic and enthusiastic young people are faced with such grim prospects, have we led them astray?

For those "I'm alright, Jack" few, who are content to mortgage their grandchildren for the sake of their desire to be idle in opulent luxury, they will mock socialist movements as immature and naïve. Conceited media commentators deride supporters of the Labour party & left-wing as being mainly students and bleeding-heart liberals.

Literature is littered with examples of the youth being to blame for everything. Parents are afraid of their own children. It seems acceptable to laugh at the angst-ridden teenagers, as if us adults have got things all figured out. It seems OK that millennials won't get to buy a house and have a job that pays enough for them to raise a family, because they've got smartphones and social media - as if that's some kind of fair trade.

I find myself somewhat sandwiched in-between a generation who feel entitled to do nothing, as their reward for fucking up the whole world, and a generation who get no reward for giving up their childhood, despite eating their vegetables and doing their homework. Why?

For every 'good' reason I can come up with for why it's better to act in an adult way, I have to admit that I can fully empathise with the childish stance. Furthermore I can see that inside even the most po-faced and responsible adult, there's still a part of them that would like to have a big tantrum and not do any of their chores. Under the veneer of maturity, we are still children. It struck me that the only difference between me and a child is that I look like a grown-up, and my play-acting has gotten a lot better - I can keep a straight face.

If we're not careful, then childish ideas will take hold. The us-versus-them mentality that has brought Donald Trump to power and threatens the unity of Europe, is lifted straight from the playground. If we wish to be po-faced about the behaviour of children, shouldn't we discipline ourselves first? What kind of world have we created for our children to inherit, that makes us so damn smart and justifies feeling so smug with ourselves?

Personally, I'm turning to children to remind me not to be so dazzled by the brilliance of my own mind. Whatever I've read; whatever I've learned - it's clearly becoming less & less relevant in the modern world. There were 4.3 billion people crawling around like ants on the planet, when I was born, and now there are 7.6 billion humans alive today. In a little over a decade, there will be twice as many people competing for the same scarce resources, than when I started my life. What relevance do attitudes of the 1970s - when I was conceived - have in the 2020s and beyond? What could I possibly tell a young person about the world, when it's changed so much in my lifetime?

The old strategy of studying at school, working hard and complying with the rules of the game, seems deeply flawed when we're telling people that no matter how hard they work they won't get a job, get a house and be able to afford the things that seem like a human right: to be able to raise a family of our own. Are we supposed to be happy that at the end of it all, we will be living with our parents, like overgrown adult-sized children? Why not just remain infantile and childish for life?

Although I can see that to spawn my own progeny might change my attitude, I also see that I might begin to impose my own "I know best" attitude onto my children, which perpetuates the cycle. While I do occasionally cringe when I look at myself, talking like an angst-ridden adolescent, I would prefer to be accused of immaturity than associate myself with the sneering po-faced group who got us into this mess - those who refuse to accept that society and civilisation is crumbling all around us; refuse to acknowledge the untold human misery.

To critique parents has become rather boring, so instead, I write this essay in support of anybody who wants to have a tantrum, eat crisps & chocolate instead of vegetables, bunk off school/work and otherwise run around having fun instead of living a life of intolerable suffering.




On Loneliness

1 min read

This is a story about the odd one out...

Pink flower

I'm trapped in a prison of my own mind. My internal monologue chatters away incessantly. When social norms don't constrain me, I talk to myself. Sometimes my brain tells me to do stupid stuff, like kiss a male work colleague who's talking to me in the middle of a busy office - the most inappropriate thing that my subconscious can imagine. Often times, agonisingly cringeworthy memories pop into my head, that are so awful that I wince and whisper "fuck!" under my breath.




Being a Grown-Up

6 min read

This is a story about inevitabilities...

Essential consumables

If you stay alive long enough, sooner or later you're going to have to fend for yourself. You might have been lucky enough to have fallen in love with your childhood sweetheart and gotten married young. Perhaps your partner took the baton of domestic duties from your childhood primary caregiver, in a kind of relay race that has insulated you from household drudgery. Perhaps you were born into a wealthy family with a maid and a cook and a cleaner and a nanny... so the items above are as alien to you as anything that was tossed out of a passing flying saucer and into your hands.

In all likelihood, most people in the UK will have the misfortune of having to purchase and use a variety of products that are not glamorous or fashionable, but are essential for the functioning of a clean and hygienic home. The products pictured all belong to a family of consumables that will need to be used until the day you die, to clean up after yourself.

To say I lived a sheltered and cosseted existence as a child is untrue and unkind. However, I learned how to change the filter and engine oil of a car before I learned the importance of defrosting a freezer and cleaning a fridge at reasonably regular intervals. I'm not sure if I've ever cleaned any windows or dusted any cobwebs in my entire life, but I'd probably mowed more acres of lawn and collected a mountain of grass cuttings and leaves bigger - at the family home - than almost any boy in the United Kingdom.

I'm no working-class hero but I'm no pampered and spoiled brat either. I defy all simplistic attempts to classify me with a label of convenience. Even the word "manic" is something that I have taken ownership of - therefore it's me who uses the word ironically, mocking people's prejudices, as opposed to it being a pejorative that could be used against me.

You might believe that nature is 'in-balance' and that the 'top dog' or alpha males will have the best genes, but you'd be wrong. I'm sorry ladies, but if you decided to cash in your chips early with that popular and attractive boy when you were young, you've played a losing strategy. Like chess grandmasters, the most intelligent animals wait for the opposition to make a mistake and have planned several moves ahead, so that when the orgy of juvenile copulation is completed, those geeky boys who didn't get any attention in their teens are able to cherry pick the very sweetest, juiciest and most succulent fruit. Revenge is sweet, if you don't turn bitter.

"But he was so hunky and so good at sports" I hear you wail, neck-deep in housework and childrearing duties.

"But she was so sexy and good at blowjobs" I hear you grumble through gritted teeth as you sit in traffic, collecting your offspring from after-school activities before ferrying them to their next engagement like an unpaid taxi driver.

If your other half is male, does he have a beer gut, hairy ears, man-boobs and think that foreplay is rolling you over and shoving it in dry? If your other half is female, does she have saggy tits, a vagina ruined by the brats you spawned to replace yourself, and bingo wings?

Do you think pornography, prostitutes and rent boys are used predominantly by single people? You need your head examined if you do.

One of my most beloved science teachers - Mr Laithwaite - was reduced to tears when his wife gave birth, because of some emotions that were beyond his describing. These were definitely not tears of sadness though, but neither were they clearly tears of joy. A puppy is not just for Christmas, and a child is not just an inconvenient consequence of 30 seconds of copulation, which can merely be suffocated in a plastic bag and tossed into a canal.

Do you think I don't feel anything when I see a little kid hug their mummy or daddy? Do you think I don't desperately want to have a dog that licks my face and wags its tail in sheer delight when it sees me? Do you think I don't miss my cat, and my eyes don't prick with tears when I think about him?

Men don't have a menopause and erection medications have extended my 'use-by' date. My scrotum will continue to be full of sperm until I die, and if I froze some sperm today then I could virtually guarantee that I would be able to complete a vanity project - the raising of a chid who inherited half my genetic material, instead of adopting a malnourished child with no access to healthcare, or at least a child whose prospects would otherwise be fairly dire without adoptive parents.

"Fuck you, you sanctimonious prick!" I hear you vociferously snarl.

I adopted a kitten and raised him to adulthood even though this clearly made no sense - to bond with an animal that has 38 chromosomes when I have 46 - and I was so concerned with giving this pet the best possible life, that I fed him every day, even when I was skipping a week of meals myself. I care so much about the wellbeing of my cat, that I have only ever made him move house once in his entire life, which was unavoidable due to the actions of my ex-wife - she forced an innocent animal to suffer the upheaval of divorce [my cat, not me... but I suffered too].

They say that for men, moving house and divorce are the two most stressful things that can happen to you in your life. Anybody who's seen my two hand-drawn maps will know that I'm no stranger to moving house, and that a succession of house moves started before I was even 1 year old, and continued regularly at the whimsical behest of my parents, throughout my childhood... despite my childhood one might say.

Thus, we arrive at the present day. Fucked up childhoods create fucked up kids. Quelle surprise!

All I can say is, that when I left home before the age of 18, it was a great relief. Even though I have had to cook, mop floors, hoover carpets, make beds, wash, dry and iron my clothes - it has felt like a privilege, not a chore.

Also, I've used contraception, which has been available since well before the day I was conceived. There's no fucking excuses for any 'accidental' or 'unplanned' pregnancies - we're not baboons or amoeba, reproducing without sentient intellect.




Bad Boy

4 min read

This is a story about being naughty...

Fluffy doggo

If you're thinking about what you're going to get me for Christmas, I'd like a tame raccoon or squirrel. But, I know that I've been a bad boy, so I've been crossed off Santa's list. There's a black mark against my name.

How do you know a 'wrong un' when you meet one? How do you know a lost cause? How do you know that somebody's got an evil streak?

I once begged the police to punish me. I was convinced that I was a bad man and I should be locked up. The police have cautioned me four times, but never brought a prosecution. The police deal with bad people every day, don't they? Cops & robbers; cowboys & indians; goodies & baddies; right & wrong; innocent & guilty. If anybody knows what a bad lad looks like, it'd be them, wouldn't it?

But what about all my victims?

Obviously I've shoplifted, pick-pocketed, mugged, defrauded, burgled, assaulted, vandalised, robbed and generally gone on a crime spree, leaving a trail of misery in my wake.

Except I haven't.

Maybe it's a question of morality. Morality is absolute, not relative, isn't it? If a billionaire steals an apple that was the only food that a whole starving family had to eat, that's exactly the same crime as the father of the starving family, stealing an apple from a billionaire who owns all the orchards. Theft is immoral, always. All crimes are equally bad.

Presumably, if there are gods and they smite the wicked, anything shit that's happening to me is all part of some divine comeuppance for my evil deeds?

However, the evidence doesn't show that. Despite being a desperately bad boy, who's misbehaved like crazy, it seems to have done little to destroy my health, wealth and prospects. I certainly don't want to take my good fortune for granted. I'm well aware how close to disaster I've been and I know how much assistance I've received from some lovely people. But... doesn't the conventional wisdom say that I should be disowned, excluded and thrown onto the bonfire of human bodies that we make with anybody who strays from the righteous path?

Lock up your daughters!

In fact, you're probably better off keeping your daughters away from the kiddie-fiddling priests who claim to be moral authorities and pillars of our society. Your children can't 'catch' my mental illness. I'm not an active promoter of dangerously deadly deeds. I don't leave cyanide-soaked baby rusks lying around, and drop HIV-infected hypodermic syringe needles all over the place.

Is there something intrinsically attractive about a bad boy?

Why would anybody want to get close to somebody with flaws? Why would you be drawn to somebody who's sad, vulnerable, lonely, sick?

We know that kittens and puppies instil protective instincts in us, so why shouldn't the same be true of a homme fatale? If I wasn't rescued when I was on my knees, I'd be dead. If all the 'best' boys are taken, then what's the next best choice? Do you go for one of the second-rate options, or do you find a broken one and fix him up?

It's said that men find a woman they love, and they hope they'll never change, but they do. Women find a man they love and they hope they do change, but they don't.

Wouldn't it be good if you could find a bad boy and turn him into a model boyfriend; a perfect partner?

"You knew what I was like when you married me" said I, never.

I tried so hard to re-shape who I was - to bend and twist my personality - to please my ex-wife, but it was the wrong thing to do. I tried to please my parents; to impress them. Waste of fucking time.

'Good' and 'bad' are labels that other people want to attach. Behaviour is amoral, because it's driven by circumstances, environment, upbringing, instinct, natural urges and evolved biases. We have strong views about things that other people should or shouldn't be doing, but we want freedom for ourselves. Our moral code is defined by our own unique moral compass.

So, if you think your kids are being naughty this Christmas: the question is not "how can I control this naughty child and make them do what I want?" but instead you should ask yourself "what is driving their behaviour and what do they want?"

For my part, I've decided I'm going to drink lots of Tizer, bite people, scream, pull the ornaments off the Christmas tree, refuse to sit at the table, repeatedly say "I want sweeties" while crying lots and not let anybody else play with the toys.




Who Do You Think You Are?

12 min read

This is a story about family...

Llethr melyn farmhouse

I was born in Aberystwyth, Wales. This is the first house I lived in. We moved around lots when I was growing up - I went to 8 different schools - so I don't really know where to call home. For me, home is where I make it: I have a grab bag in my apartment in London, with a tent and a sleeping bag. I'll survive, but there isn't a family home I would visit ever again. Homelessness is the only option.

I was wondering to myself earlier whether I'm a misanthrope or not. I certainly dislike the stress of rush hour travel and battling crowds. You must wonder why I live and work in London, where it's so densely populated, but I find that it has amazing people, food, culture and lots of jobs for my skills and experience. I live by the river and it's actually pretty quiet down on the Isle of Dogs, as is the Square Mile, where I often get contracts.

I've decided that I don't hate people, but a lot of people seem to hate me. Changing schools so much is disruptive to a child's life. Instead of learning how to make friends and become popular, there's little point if you're going to get yanked out of some place you're happy with and dumped somewhere else. It's fairly obvious that the more disrupted a child's environment, the more they will retreat inwards, in search of some stability and consistency.

Bullying was a big feature of my childhood. It was a daily feature of life until I went to college. It's easy to make a child into a bullying victim: just give them something that marks them out as different. Take a look at the way all the children in school are dressed and make sure you dress your kid differently: turn-ups on their trousers, a jumper when all the other kids are wearing blazers, Clarks shoes when all the other kids are wearing Doc Martens. If they're a girl, dress them like a boy and vice-versa. If they're a boy, make them ride a pink bicycle with ribbons on it. Et cetera, et cetera.

My parents' only hobby was drug taking. In their imagination, there were fucking unicorns and rainbows everywhere and everything they said was profound and important. In their minds they were hard working and intelligent. In reality, they were sat around in a dirty house, dribbling like morons and unable to say a single syllable that was understandable. Their brains were intoxicated by drugs and alcohol and they were antisocial: preferring to spend as much time as possible alone indoors with their drugs.

I'm not sure if my parents are misanthropes, but they sure as shit don't have any friends. They have each other and they seem to think that they're the two smartest people on the planet and everybody else is thick as pig shit. When I feign snobbery and arrogance, it's easy because I just imitate my parents. They used to talk about friends and colleagues behind their back. I would get in trouble if I ever let slip a "mum says..." which taught me about two-faced hateful nasty people.

It's kind of fun to gossip behind people's backs, but having been the victim of social exclusion, bullying and also witnessed the nasty nature of horrible people who say mean things about people behind closed doors, I now try to stop myself. I'm not getting up on my high horse and saying I'm morally superior: I just mean to say that I have strong feelings about it, as it's affected my life. It's almost as if I was the one who suffered for my parents' desire to be hostile to everyone.

Evil Child

There I am. It's fairly obvious from those murderous eyes that I'm pure evil and had been plotting to do all sorts of dastardly deeds, while I was a sperm and an egg.

"My girlfriend" is how my dad referred to my mum. He made me call him and my mum by their first names. I wasn't allowed to call them "Mum" and "Dad". There was open hostility towards me, as if I had planned to ruin their drug binge and screw up their easy carefree life; as if my birth was some pre-meditated malicious atrocity. That's a pretty freaky thing to accuse a small child of.

What else do I know about myself?

Well, I was lonely. I was so desperate for secure, loyal friendships, that I would get very overexcited when I got to spend time with friends. I was super intense and hyper: I had to pack in all the friendship I could, when the opportunity presented itself. Sleep was always of secondary concern to maximising the time available, so it was exhausting seeing me for the short intense bursts that my parents permitted.

A number of my childhood 'friends' were the children of people my parents deemed good enough to hang out with occasionally, because they liked to take drugs. My parents made all objective judgements of people based on whether they liked drugs or not, rather than on personality or intellect. My dad rather styled himself on a man known literally as Mister Mean, who charged his wife and young children rent to live in 'his' house. What a cunt.

The biggest event in my life was the birth of my sister, when I was 10 years old. Parents are supposed to be outnumbered. Children are supposed to grow up with brothers and sisters. It's fucking abusive to have lonely isolated miserable children. Guess what? Children like playing together. Children like being children with other children.

It occurred to me that we spend so much of our time and energy trying to get children to act like adults, which is disingenuous and bound to lead to frustration and misery all round. If you want adult company, go make friends with people your own age. Kids need to be kids, which means play and socialising with their peers. Punishing a child for being childish is abusive.

Yeah, I'm banding round the term 'abuse' quite freely and easily. I'm sorry if there's a very specific context in which you find that English word acceptable, but it has a definition that you're at liberty to look up in the dictionary if you need to. I'm calling things abusive, because they've had life-altering negative effects on me and caused prolonged periods of abject misery. If you've fucked up your child's chances to form meaningful, secure happy relationships and partake in society as a well-rounded individual, you've really fucking abused a kid, OK?

This is turning into a bit of a "poor me, poor me" whinefest, but it's the background of the who am I type stuff I've been thinking about. I know it's horribly egocentric, but tell me, which pill do I take to just forget about this stuff and move on?

"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man" -- Aristotle

Finding myself unable to get along with my peers and finding my parents to be disappointed that I wasn't born as a grown adult independently wealthy Victorian butler, I eventually found that friends' parents and some teachers were very nice to me. Having been raised to act with 'maturity' many adults found my good manners and strong communication skills to be charming. While I could do nothing right at home, I found that the adult world was mainly about kissing arse and saying intelligent sounding things at the right time. Naturally, my peers saw me as aloof and arrogant, which I guess I was.

It's easy to see how I got a head start in life: because I was lonely and isolated. I played on computers when others were playing with their brothers, sisters and friends. When I went to my first job interview, I wasn't intimidated because I felt more comfortable in the adult world than I did with children. When it came to making a good impression at work, people judged me on the fake image of maturity that I projected. In short: I seemed more grown-up than I was.

We're all a little insecure, but I desperately wanted loyal friends and a loving girlfriend. That lifelong damage that you do to a kid when you fuck up their childhood, means that they feel unloved, they don't know how to make friends, missed out on childhood sweethearts and feel distant from their peers. That shit carries over into adult life. Where's the confidence, the gregariousness, the outgoing nature? Where are you going to get that stuff, if all you know is bullying, isolation and disruption to your life that destroys every friendship you've ever cherished?

Every time I've been clingy, intense or a little too full-on... that's coming from that hole that was left in adolescence, where most people are swigging cider in the park and having fumbling trysts in the bushes.

But, I've also been affected by drugs. I'm not afraid of drugs. I don't have a healthy fear and respect of drugs, unlike people who've never been exposed to them. I'm in the situation of having in-depth knowledge of drug taking, but I'm surrounded by educated middle-class professionals who know nothing about drugs (except that if you inject a marijuana you will immediately murder a grandmother to steal her money).

It's crazy to think that the spotty, nerdy unpopular awkward geek who was bullied as fuck, took amphetamines and lost his virginity at the age of 15. Is it crazy? Well, a lot of people think drug taking is cool. It's seen by some simple-minded fools as an act of rebellion. Idiots see themselves as being part of a counter-culture movement, when they make themselves dumb and apathetic, spending their money on a trillion dollar commercial industry, never actually doing anything revolutionary or productive because they're sitting around indoors dribbling and babbling incoherently.

Small Child with Cannabis

Doesn't it seem only natural that with insecurity and isolation, I would follow in the footsteps of my parents? It sounds like I'm blaming my parents for my addiction, but I'm not (directly). The debate about free will and our ability to make choices, is a complex one. 

"Boring! We've heard all this!"

Yes, but I'm retelling. I've been through Hell and I'm trying to understand everything myself. Through my writing, I'm coming to terms with a mind-boggling amount of experiences that I have to slot into place, in order to make sense of the world and where I fit within it. Life is not black & white; good & bad. I can't simplify things to the point of simply saying I'm a "bad kid" like my parents seemed to decide from very early on. Blaming myself for everything has gotten me nowhere.

No apology or even discussion was forthcoming from my parents, so it's up to me to figure everything out and make the correct judgements based on the evidence and rational investigation of the facts. Yes, it's nice and easy to jump on any one particular thing that seems to be the 'smoking gun' pointing to the fact that I must be an evil little shit sent from Hell to terrorise the world, but there comes a time when that story really doesn't stack up.

I've been wondering why I do a lot of looking back. I have very little control over the future. My future is bound up in the hands of decision makers, who will either give me a role that I'm qualified and experienced to do, in order to get the cash that's needed in this bullshit capitalist society. Otherwise, my life will be ripped to pieces by the vultures that prey on anybody who doesn't fit the mould.

Life's definitely a lot easier when you're not penniless, sick, homeless and addicted to drugs, but it's not as simple as that. What's your purpose? Who are you? What's your identity?

Being a vagrant is actually a fairly strong identity. There is something cool about being half-dead. There's something attractive about the hollow eyes, pale skin and skinny body of heroin chic isn't there? If you don't belong to a sports team; you weren't one of the popular ones at school; you aren't trying to get as many letters after your name as possible; you haven't conflated your professional and private identities... then who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing?

Drugs neatly encapsulate both identity and reward. Instead of getting small dopamine hits by bragging about your promotion at a dinner party, you can get a big dopamine hit by staying at home and taking drugs. Also, you feel that you 'belong' to a special club: you learn to identify other addicts and you feel a connection to them... a sense of belonging.

If you can roll a joint and you have weed, you'll have 'friends'. If you have enough money to buy cocaine, you'll have 'friends' and you'll want to share it because you're not an addict, right? Except you are.

I found - by accident - that drugs gave me the self-confidence that had been stolen from me by my parents. I was able to chat to girls. Pretty much most of the time that I had sex, it was on speed (amphetamine), mushrooms (psilocybin) or Ecstasy (MDMA).

Eventually, I discovered - through dangerous experimentation - a drug that was so powerful that it was a far superior substitute for my abusive ex. She was no longer needed. She was abusive, mean, selfish and unpleasant and I was very glad that the spell was broken, even though it cost me a period of addiction and a lot of money. I wasn't strong enough to leave her, without the drugs.

Now, I'm all cleaned up. I'm a good boy.

But, I'm left wondering about that whole purpose & identity thing.




A Serious Man

7 min read

This is a story about having fun...

Sand cock

If you need to prove that you're good at drinking and taking long holidays, university is an excellent choice. If you have wealthy middle-class parents, don't know what you want to do with the rest of your life except avoid working (you're right - work is boring and shit) then why not take a gap-yah or two and spend as long as you can in full-time education? Study now. Pay later.

Did you select your A-levels based on the degree course that you wanted to study? Did you make sure you have as many languages and extracurricular activities on your university application as possible? Did you make sure you've got some volunteering or Duke of Edinburgh award, or some other bollocks to make you look like more of a model student?

Next question: did you pick your degree based on the job you wanted at the end of your studies?

There are a limited number of professions that require undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications. To enter into law, medicine, accountancy, teaching, dentistry, veterinary surgery and a handful of other fields, you cannot legally practice without membership of a professional body, who usually mandate that you have followed a proscribed educational path.

In short: you only really need to go to university if a degree is absolutely necessary in order to get the job you want, right?


What about fun? What about staying with like-minded peers. While those who are not academically gifted (read: thick as pig shit) go on to have fulfilling lives in prison, on remand, on probation and tending their many illegitimate children, the brightest bunch will get into thousands of pounds of debt while having an extended infancy. Who wouldn't enjoy spending their student loan on beer and drugs?

Have I missed something?


While I fumbled my way through my career, hamstrung by the fact that I was 3 to 5 years younger than my peers on British Aerospace's graduate trainee program, I had missed out on living in a dog-shit untidy flat with a load of selfish arseholes, having some lovely girlfriends and making lifelong friends, while growing up amongst a peer group of likeminded individuals in ostensibly the same circumstances. My first few years after college fucking sucked. Yes, I had money, but I was fucking lonely and miserable.

After a couple of years I became fucked off with the ageism and went in search of a company that would give me a proper opportunity to prove myself. With another job as a stepping stone, I got into IT contracting by the age of 20. I was earning £34 an hour, plus VAT. It was a king's ransom and I started to use money to fill the hole that would ordinarily have been filled with tales of happy 'student days'.

By the time Y2K came around I was working at Harbour Exchange, on the backbone of the Internet. I was doing some software development for Lloyds TSB on their telephone exchange (PABX) software. My Docklands Light Railway journey to work each day took me past two enormous holes in the ground: the foundations of the HSBC and Citibank towers that flank 1 Canada Square: the UK's tallest building. Career-wise, I had won. I was earning 6-figures at the tender age of 21. Fuck you, graduates.

When did I ask myself "what do I really want to do with my life?" or "what do I enjoy doing?"


Who can afford to dream?

If you've got somebody underwriting your risk; if you've got a loving family; if you have wealth... sure, go ahead, dare to dream. If you haven't, you'd better be pragmatic. We saw what happened to me when I slipped. Was anybody there to catch me? No fucking way. I was homeless, destitute. Neither my family nor the state intervened. There's no safety net for me. Failure means failure. Complete and utter failure, destruction and destitution.

And so, I don't choose to do what I want, work where I want, consider what I want. I take the job that pays and I get on and I do it. I'm cynical and I moan about it, but what's the alternative? Flipping burgers for minimum wage? A shop doorway that smells of piss and sneering government employees begrudging me a pittance of a support allowance... not enough to escape poverty.

I'm almost incensed by people who suggest I should retrain, or at least choose work that I hate a little less. That's madness, for me. I just don't have anybody underwriting my risk. I'm already leveraged to the max: all-in, bollocks on the chopping block.

The annoying thing is that it works.

I fucking hate the whole stupid fucking industry that I'm mixed up in. I'm doing the same shit I was doing when I was 21. Wouldn't you be, if the rewards were the same for you? Think about what you could do with all that money. Imagine having a 5-figure paycheque every month.

But it's not like that.

I'm so fucking serious.

Take that 6-figure job, but get rid of your lifelong friends. Get rid of those memories of meeting people on freshers week. Get rid of those memories of student halls, the NUS bar, living away from home for the first time, your proper girlfriend/boyfriend who you were mad about. You can kiss those 3+ years you spent discovering your adult identity goodbye. You'll be financially rich, but you'll be miserable, lonely and insecure. You won't have that piece of your identity that says you belong to some club: the town or city where you studied, the campus, the finals, the dissertations... the grade, the diploma, the graduation.

Take those happy memories, and instead replace them with being at least 3 years younger than your closest peer, and having to work several times harder to overcome the impression that you're less experienced, less developed, less able. Of course, I was inexperienced: I was living away from home for the first time. When I threw up on a night out, it wasn't with other students who were doing the same, but with work colleagues. At university it was a fun rite of passage shared with others who had done exactly the same thing. I really don't advise doing it as part of your career, although it's a somewhat unavoidable part of life that has to be done at some point. In my defence, I was tricked into eating a Dorset Naga chilli pepper.

Moan, moan, moan.

Anyway, I got my gap-yah. I had my 3 years of living in appalling conditions and getting fucked up on a non-stop rollercoaster of sex, drugs and drink, with few responsibilities. I had long holidays. I got a stupendous education that I certainly won't forget in a hurry. Bizarrely, I did even get a certificate at one point. I kid you not.

"University of life" is rather synonymous with people who the elites rather like to sneer at, but consider this: there are a lot of smart people who don't get to go to university, because they don't have wealthy middle-class parents underwriting their risk. The point that I missed - and I regret - is that it's better if you stick with the herd. My peer group went to university and I didn't, and for that reason I became even more isolated and lonely. My parents successfully sabotaged my childhood by moving me all over the fucking country, but I made the final mistake by not seeing the value in fucking about for 3+ years with likeminded individuals, as far away from my c**tish parents as I could get.

I've come back to bitching and whining, full of bitterness and regret, but isn't it apt? Here I am, about to secure another contract doing the same old thing, the same old way. Sure, I can do it, but can I fondly reminisce about the journey that brought me to this point? Do I share the journey onwards with lifelong adulthood friends?


My life was fractured in my childhood. I'm on a different path from my peer group. Having fun and having friends is not for me: I've been told that from a very early age.




Never Allow Yourself to be Measured

12 min read

This is a story about conformity...

A grade

Why would you ever consent to being graded? Isn't that extremely degrading to have somebody sit in judgement over you and decide where you fit in the pecking order?

We don't have an education system. We are not educating our children.

Instead, we have a system that's designed to give us the best grades we can possibly afford, so that we will have better employment opportunities. Schools are businesses, and they need pupils to get funding, so they can pay all those lovely salaries. Teachers are judged on their students' exam results. Schools are chosen based on their exam results. Universities will offer places to those students with the best exam grades, but universities are money making machines, taking at least £27,000 for an undergraduate degree, from every student. Finally, employers will select prospective employees who have the best grades.

Imagine you gave up your childhood and a few of the prime years of your young adulthood, in order to get "A" grades and a first class degree from a top university. You worked your little socks off from the age of 5 to the age of 21. That's 16 years of hard labour. It wasn't an education. It was an exercise in grading. Your teachers didn't teach you. Instead, you were trained how to pass exams. The whole balance of incentives is such that only the grades matter. You just want the piece of paper at the end of it, so you don't have to take a shitty minimum wage zero hours contract McJob.

So, what happens when you graduate, take a graduate job, and then find what you're doing is utterly pointless bullshit?

What happens when those 16 lost years of your life mean that you're saddled with debt and working some drastically underpaid job that won't even buy you a house anyway?

In the US, every man woman and child has a debt of $60,000, even if they don't even have a bank account and never personally borrowed any money. In the UK the figure is circa £30,000. This is money the government borrowed on your behalf. Even if you're financially prudent, and you don't spend money until you've earned it, that's certainly not what your government is doing.

In order to stand a chance of getting a half decent job, you reckon you need to go to college/university. In the US the average student loan debt is $35,000. In the UK you have to spend £27,000 on tuition alone, for a 3 year degree course. Of course, the UK figure doesn't include the money you need to live on. You can borrow a further £32,000 in order to pay your rent, food, transport and other costs of living at university. Basically, you're going to spunk the best part of £60,000 getting your degree.

So, you've spent 16 years of your life, having no life - your nose has been stuck in those books and you've been doing all your homework - and you're £90,000 in debt. Imagine you met the love of your life at university, you both graduated and you'd like to have a couple of kids. That means your household is going to be £240,000 in debt, before you even take out a mortgage. That's £60,000 of government debt for your two kids, £60,000 of government debt for you and your other half, and £120,000 for your two university degrees. God damn! You'd better get a job and start paying that debt off, because you haven't worked a day in your life at this point, even though you're now 22 years old.

Because you worked so damn hard to pass your 11+ exam, your grammar school entrance exam, or private school entrance exam, your GCSEs, your A-levels, your university entrance exam, your final year exams, your dissertation... you're pretty heavily invested now, aren't you? You gave up playing outside in the sunshine with your friends so you could do extra Latin and calculus. You gave up swigging cider in the park and shagging in a bush, so that you could be at home poring over your books. You gave up being debt free, so you could now have a £60,000 student loan like a millstone around your neck.

Guess what? Even having a good degree from a good university isn't enough. You probably need to become a lawyer or an accountant to set yourself apart from the McJob fodder. Lawyers in the US run up student debts in excess of $100,000. Here in the UK, you're going to have to pay an extra 2 years of tuition and living expenses, before you can even get a job in a law firm. You're going to pay the the law school £21,000 in tuition fees, plus you'll need another £20,000 for rent and living expenses, while you study. So, your student debt is now £100,000 before you even enter one of the professions.

Even a graduate with first-class honours from Oxford or Cambridge is not a professional. Having read classics does not seem immediately useful, given the lack of living people who speak Latin or Ancient Greek. While you have clearly marked yourself out as 'clever' in a rather abstract sense, you're not obviously employable because of your education. It is merely your grades that make you attractive to prospective employers.

Is it even very clever, to spend so much of your parents money on a private or public school education, squander your childhood on homework and piano recitals, saddle yourself with the best part of £100k of student debt, and then have the prospect of doing legal or accountancy work to help billionaires avoid paying tax.

The more you invest the more exposed you are. You're not going to take some lowly entry-level job, because you've got a goddam degree dontcha know? You're not going to question how absolutely dreadful the work is that you're doing, and how appalling the salary is, because it's a graduate job apparently. The job spec said "must have 2:1 degree from respected institution" so therefore it must be a good job, right?

Yeah, at least you're not flipping burgers for a living.

But, can you buy a house?


You were conned. You studied hard for 16 long years. You stressed yourself to bits over every exam. Writing your dissertation was pure agony. You were so worried that you were going to fail. You could have failed at any moment. You could have failed to get into a good secondary school. You could have screwed up your GCSEs. You could have screwed up your A-levels. You could have screwed up your finals. You could have screwed up your dissertation.

You were so damn relieved on graduation day. Sure, it felt good to have your picture taken holding a scroll of parchment tied up with a red ribbon, wearing a black gown and a mortar board. Your mum has that picture of you up on the wall in the downstairs toilet. Every houseguest sees that photo of you, a fresh-faced 21 year old graduate, proudly clutching the bit of paper you worked hard for 16 years to get. They imagine that you must be terribly clever but little do they know that you're now working some dreadful office job, copying and pasting numbers in spreadsheets, like some kind of factory worker.

Maybe you were a bit smarter and you realised that everybody's got a damn degree these days. Perhaps you did a masters, a PGCE, went to law school, studied accountancy. Now you have a profession. You're a teacher, a lawyer, an accountant.

You studied the extra years. You did the training. You took the shitty entry-level salary. Now you're a qualified professional. You're a member of The Law Society, you're a chartered accountant, you've got Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Guess what? You still can't buy a fucking house.

My suggestion is this: if your parents have money, don't fucking work your bollocks off and study hard. Get your parents to buy you a house and give you some money. You don't need to work. The world does not need any more corporate lawyers.

If you don't come from a wealthy family, for God's sake don't waste the prime years of your life following the same path as all the other drones. There's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. School, university, graduate jobs... it's all just a miserable path that leads to debt and misplaced gratitude for a 'better' quality job, which is actually nothing of the sort.

I'm financially incentivised to stay doing what I'm doing, because I can buy a house and afford to have my family live in considerable comfort. My earning potential is a function of how able I am to say "fuck your shit" and go and get a better contract elsewhere, because I'm not driven by fear: fear that I have invested 16+ years of my life in a pointless piece of paper; fear that I have £60k to £100k of student debt that needs to be paid back; fear that I've been measured, graded, and that I know my place.

I don't know my place, because I never allowed myself to be graded. If somebody is turning me into a commodity, then I change my role. I'm very hard to pigeon hole. I'm very hard to label. I'll brand myself up as whatever I need to be in order to get the job, instead of harking back to my most recent academic or professional qualification. I have no qualms at saying "this bullshit job just ain't worth the pittance you pay" because I don't have this fetish for "graduate" or "professional" work.

In some narrow niche, you'll find that there's somebody who wants it worse than you. You'll find that somebody is prepared to study harder, longer, put more effort in. If you enter into the arms race, you'll find yourself competing in a completely unnecessary battle for something that's been created with artificial scarcity. Grades are not a precious rare metal dug out of the ground. There's a finite amount of gold on the planet, but there is no shortage of "A" grades or bullshit jobs.

The professional bodies are there to limit the numbers of people becoming lawyers, accountants, doctors, teachers and a whole host of other jobs that are better paid than flipping burgers. The only reason why those professions pay more than minimum wage is because artificial scarcity is created, by limiting the number of people who can qualify and practice those trades.

I never let my schooling interfere with my education. I taught myself how to program a computer, with the help of a couple of schoolfriends. I don't advise becoming a programmer today, because it's a crowded market, but there'll be something better that your kids can be doing instead of their damn homework. There's something you can be doing better than saving up money to help get your kids through university: buy them a damn car and a house, because they're never going to be able to afford things on their own, with the way things are going.

The education system was there to break our will and our sense of individuality, and prepare us for the workhouses. The education system is used for societal control. Your government wants obedient debt-laden citizens, who are grateful for a shitty made-up job. The plutocrats who rule your life want cheap labour, even though you think you've got a prestigious well-paid job. In actual fact, you know your place, and you have no social mobility at all.

We're moving beyond the era of the CV with your exam grades and other qualifications on there. The idea of sifting and sorting everybody, like grains of sand, ending up with the very finest particles graded right up to the grittier stuff... this is a flawed model.

Take your average super indebted grad today. Could they rewire a house? Could they fix the plumbing? Can they cook a fine meal? Could they organise an event? Can they lead people? Can they mend a car? Can they dress a wound? What are they like on a mountain? What are they like out at sea? What are they like in a crisis?

We're churning out people who are only good for one thing: regurgitating established facts and ideas. Parroting answers they've learned but don't understand. Passing exams.

Our kids these days don't pass exams because they've reasoned the answers from their knowledge and experience. Our kids these days don't make theoretical deductions. We have an exam passing machine that teaches our children how to pass tests, as opposed to educating them.

Everything's going to hell in a handcart because original ideas and critical thinking have no place in our education system or the world of bullshit jobs. We spend at least 16 years brainwashing our 'best and brightest' to be exam passers, box tickers, compliant little drones who all think and act the same way. The homogeny of bland corporate wage-slaves, churned out by the cookie-cutter 'education' system is frightening.

When sufficient numbers of people realise that they've been conned into giving away their youth, in return for a soul-destroying desk job that's mind-numbingly boring, but yet they can't buy a house, there's going to be rioting that far exceeds the disruption we saw in 2011, when it was the disadvantaged youths who took to the streets to protest their lack of opportunities and general contempt that is held for the underclass.

Debt will not prop things up forever. Without a wirtschaftswunder - debt forgiveness - the capitalists will destroy everything by demanding their pound of flesh. Empires always fall when debts are not forgiven and the proletariat are crushed by the weight of the idle elites who live in decadent luxury, while ordinary people struggle.

Teach your kids practical things. Let them play. Don't make them do their homework. Don't force them to practice an instrument "because it will look good on their university application". A new world is coming, and moulding kids in the shape of every other underpaid, underemployed corporate drone is not going to do them any favours.




Useful Things My Friends Said To Me

11 min read

This is a story about quotations...

Thames panorama

I live a fairly isolated existence. Work, sleep & eat. None of my friends live very nearby, and I'm in a strange part of London that you'd probably only visit if you were working in Canary Wharf.

Of course, I'm not short of ideas for what I could do with my leisure time - if I had any - in order to get a bit of a social life going again. If I had the time and the money, I could be having plenty of fun. It's just that it's hard to do that when I'm so drained from working a full time job that's utter bullshit. Most of the time I can't even handle speaking to people on the telephone. I just want to be left alone to compose my thoughts and try to unwind, in the few waking hours where I'm not trapped at my desk.

On a Wednesday night, I go to the pub with a friend. We have 3 pints of weak continental lager and put the world to rights, sitting in the beer garden. It's lovely.

Every so often, a friend will chat to me on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. That is also nice. I stayed up chatting until 3am on Friday night / Saturday morning.

From these chats, I often take away lovely things that were said, to treasure.

A psychiatrist once said to me "we can only play the cards that we are dealt" and when I was struggling with accusations that I was weak and that I was making up mental health problems, attention seeking and all kinds of horrible blame and stuff being thrown at me, it was a lovely nonjudgemental thing to hear.

Having been labelled as some kind of devil child by my parents, or subjected to relentless abuse by my ex-wife, it's been such a relief to have some kinder points of view at long last.

"Anybody who has a second kid after a 10 year gap is just looking for a free babysitter"

I love my sister to bits, but I could never understand why we couldn't be siblings. Why did I have to be so mature? Why was I - a child - chided for being childish? So fucking ridiculous.

My friend who pointed out how ridiculous it is to have such a big age gap between kids, also pointed out that it's healthy to have your kids play together, keep each other company. It's really boring and lonely playing on your own while your parents are getting drunk and taking drugs. Sure, I can entertain myself. Sure, I have a good imagination. Sure, I can sit down and work on a project in total isolation from all social stimulation. However, those first 10 years of my life shaped me into somebody who assumes that I never get to keep any friends, because my parents kept yanking me out of school to go traipsing all over the fucking place. Parents, I assumed, were just people who sat around lazily - off their fucking heads - and never wanted to play with me.

I ingratiated myself with other families, and spent far more time immersed in their family life than my non-existant own. I knew that something was inherently wrong at home. I could see the differences in our home lives. I could see how things were supposed to be: brothers and sisters playing together, being kids, but I was always just a visitor in those lives.

There's a lot of important social development that goes on in the first 7 years of a child's life. It's hardly like I'm selfish and never learned how to share or play nice with others, but I certainly don't feel any security in relationships. I'm completely mistrustful of all friendships. I assume that everything is just transitory, fleeting, superficial.

"[Your parents] have to protect their own self image. No way will they say [they] fucked up.

[Your mother] will occasionally drunkenly exclaim "oh it's all my fault!"

But it's attention seeking and the response sought is "of course it isn't".

They just get so entrenched in their own self serving view of what happened"

It's exhausting, being expected to prop up your parents bullshit view of the world. I wondered why I would feel so drained from a visit to see my parents, or a phonecall, and it's because they've not been working to raise a healthy happy child. They've been working to try and cover up and bury their guilt for being drugged up alkie fuckups.

I've been expected to work so hard on keeping up appearances. It's bullshit. It's ground me down. I've had enough. Hence this blog, and the full disclosure of the bullshit I've put up with.

It is remarkable how many people have gotten in contact to say their mothers are/were functional alcoholics too. It's remarkable how many parents there are out there who think they're some kind of aristocracy who get to palm their kids off on the hired help, and then swan off doing their high society bullshit. Except that they don't have any hired help so in fact the kids simply get palmed off on the state schools and other families that are more loving and welcoming.

Sure, you could accuse me of being a manchild. An overgrown baby.

I refuse to just bottle this shit up. Sure, it might be a case of arrested development. It might be a case of a bunch of stuff that supposedly I could just get over. How? How am I supposed to move forward?

I got to today, and to some outward appearances it looks like I've got my shit together, but clearly all that happened is that I did grow up, man the fuck up, put a brave face on stuff and generally just get on with it. However, it doesn't seem to have taken away the need to actually feel loved and cherished for a little bit. Maybe this is a bit spoiled princessy, I don't know. I'm just trying to purge these feelings and get to a point where I want to go on living.

It was super nice when a lovely family in Ireland took me in for some desperately needed shelter from the disintegration of my life. Just being in a loving family home - even if it wasn't my own - has kept me going.

Actually, thinking about it recently, I thought how much it would upset that lovely Irish family, to know that they helped me and that I ended up taking my own life anyway. Even if it was only a few weeks that I spent in their home, I'm still acutely aware that they deserve better than any implied ingratitude for their help.

But, I'm still missing enough regular social contact. What I get is great, and I'm super grateful to those friends who drop by, suggest meeting up, email me and contact me on messenger. It does keep me limping along.

My hope is, that as I start to get on top of the debts I ran up just staying alive, I will loosen the purse strings and start to take a risk in thinking about some work that might be more rewarding. There's no way that I can dare to dream at the moment, because I simply have to knuckle down and put money in the bank, even though it's soul-destroying and I hate it.

To reach November sounds like no time at all, but I think that only takes me to zero. It'll be the depths of winter. Perhaps my work contract won't be renewed. I'll have 11 months left on a 12 month rent contract, with my flatmate already 4 months in rent arrears and not having paid any bills for as long as I can remember. It's quite a lot of pressure.

I'm setting myself these little goals and breaking up the blocks of time. It was friends who encouraged me to take some time off here and there, but it prolongs the suffering.

It's easy to dream up a million different things I might do when I reach breakeven, but it feels so far away, even if it isn't when you're happily just chugging through your healthy fulfilling and stimulating life.

I'm loathe to upset the apple cart. There are a couple of bridges that are worth leaving unburnt. I'm probably not even in debt enough to declare bankruptcy at the moment, but it doesn't take long for the circling vultures to put you in the shit again. You have to run just to stand still. I just can't stand the bullshit of the rat race. I just can't stand the relentless pressure to pay money just to be alive, breathing.

I'm trying to string together all the sporadic social contact I have, and use all the little messages of support, to limp myself along.

At some point, I can imagine that I will look back and laugh, while also cringing with embarrassment, about just how much I've moaned and complained. In retrospect, the pain and discomfort will be quickly forgotten, and I'll wonder why I was making such a big fuss. Either that, or I won't actually make it.

It has been a long time that I've been dealing with depression. It has been a long time that I've been dealing with suicidal thoughts. I'm grateful when my friends give me a reality check, but also, I do have to still go home at some point and face facts. It's great to talk about this or that amazing venture, but the fact is that bills still have to be paid, debts have to be serviced, people still want their pound of flesh.

It must be hard on my friends, because I have good physical health, skills that are in demand, no dependents and plenty of other advantages in life. I'm quite pleased that only a very small handful of my friends have trotted out the old adages of "be grateful you have a job" etc. etc.

I get quite a lot of "chin up" and "look on the bright side" which is OK because I know people mean well when they say it, and it's a common mistake to make. It's not even a mistake, because it does show that people care, which is nice and helpful.

Probably the most fruitful discussions I'm having at the moment have been around how it's OK to be upset about things. We try so hard to put a brave face on things and pretend that everything's OK, that we perhaps don't even admit to ourselves how close we are to snapping. "A right to be angry" is something I never explored before.

There's just all this societal pressure to be grateful. But that whole gratitude argument breaks down when your life becomes sheer depressed misery. What am I supposed to be grateful for, if life is miserable? Am I supposed to want more misery? Am I supposed to be excited to have another 30 or 40 years of misery to look forward to?

It's easy to extrapolate from my position, today, trapped into a horrible corner. But, what's the alternative? The 'dream' job that will lead me to financial problems and bankruptcy because I can't afford the cost of living and I can't repay my debts? Quitting the rat race, that will lead me to social exclusion and being spat on in the street by people who think I'm a worthless bum? A life on benefits where I'm despised by ignorant mean selfish shits, who tell me to "get a job" and think I'm a scrounger?

It's actually pretty hard and pretty scary, thinking about starting over again when you're not in the first flush of youth. It's pretty challenging, rebuilding your social life and getting the people around you again that give you enough love and support to make your life liveable again.

I know I need to try harder to reconnect with friends. I need to travel to see people. I need to put myself out there. I need to invite myself into people's lives.

Perhaps things will be different once I've broken through the psychological barrier of this work/debt problem that I'm suffering at the moment.




2 Maps: No Fixed Abode

3 min read

This is a story about being homeless...

Map of my childhood

This first map shows everywhere I lived, as I was dragged around all over the place by my fucking parents. The stupid cunts then decided to move back to the village where I briefly first went to school. I went to 8 different schools. What a shower of shits. I cried and cried that we were leaving the sweet little village in the Cotswolds where my parents now live again. What a pointless waste of time & money, as well as being totally destructive of a stable and happy childhood.

Homeless in London map

This second map shows the 25+ places that I have attempted to make my home. From number 5 to number 25, this was all a consequence of my parents reneging on an insistent demand that they should be involved in 'helping' me, only to find that they then didn't honour their promise at all when I was in a vulnerable and precarious position. A stitch in time saves nine, as they say. Cunts.

I now live on the Isle of Dogs and my home is very nice. I'm reasonably settled and stable, but I am quite far away from any friends, and there isn't really much on the 'island'. I would much rather live in North London, where most of my friends are, and there is more going on that I'd be interested in getting involved in.

However, having had such a horrific time the past few years, I'm happy to just have some stability in where I'm living. Can you imagine how exhausting it is, moving between all those different places with all your worldly possessions? It's only because I had good training with the Dorset Expeditionary Society that I have been able to just about cope. I'd call it an adventure, but it's been more like a nightmare.

Anyway, perhaps this snapshot gives you some appreciation for the shit that people are going through in their private lives. We are quick to condemn people as not making smart life choices, or being deserving of the consequences of some decision they supposedly took with free will. The reality is that one small thing can create absolute chaos in somebody's life, and destroy them.

Much like the butterfly that flapped its wings in Japan, causing a hurricane in America, seemingly small insignificant things can have a big impact on the stability of a person's life. That's why it's important to keep your promises and honour your commitments. That's why it's important to act with integrity. That's why it's important to treat your kids with decency and respect, and not just be a drug addict drunkard waste of fucking space, fucking up their life in pursuit of your high.

As you can tell, I'm thoroughly exhausted by all the stress, and fucked off by the suggestion that it was in any way my free will that took my on this torturous path through life. Survival and stability is all I ask for.




The War on Childhood

10 min read

This is a story about how to fuck up a kid...

Statue holding hoop

I love the symbolism of this image. What it means to me is this: we have to jump through hoops, like some kind of trained circus animal.

What made you decide that you could give your kids a brilliant life? What made you decide that creating new life on an overcrowded planet was a great idea?

Was it the fact that climate change is an undisputed problem, and your children will inherit a drowning world?

Was it the fact that neoliberal capitalism has given us a cruel ruling elite who have enslaved most of humanity in menial jobs, and left the rest to starve?

Was it that a small handful of oligarchs, monarchs and plutocrats control all the world's wealth, and the chances of being elevated from poverty are the same as being hit by an asteroid, twice, on the way to collect your lottery winnings?

Was it that the social structure of the tribe, the clan and the extended family has now all-but ended, as we are forced to roam the entire planet in search of a golden opportunity that does not exist, and we are forced to content ourselves with social media, text message and video-chat interactions, that are in place of actual face-to-face human relationships with our nearest and dearest?

It won't be long before our babies are whisked away from us at birth, and we can do nothing but follow their progress on a Twitter page, as they forge their way through an educational system designed to produce compliant drones, who have no hope but to join the enslaved masses in some soul-crushingly dreadful job. And the reason why we never get to see our children? So we can continue to pursue our unfulfilling jobs for as many hours as we can possibly work before collapsing with exhaustion.

I have this little fantasy about being a dad. In my fantasy, me and some imagined partner are woken up early in the morning by our two children. One child is a toddler, and the other is slightly older but still a preschooler. The kids clamber into bed and we all spend the morning watching cartoons together. Then we all get up and dressed and eat pancakes together around the kitchen table.

Then, I also have this imagined version of reality.

I wake up before the kids, get showered and dressed although I'm desperately tired. I then have a stressful commute through traffic and endless crowds of people. I arrive at a job that I hate, because it's boring and stressful, underpaid and my bosses have nothing but contempt for me and the capitalist scum who run all the corporations have no gratitude or respect for the workers who toil to line their pockets. I get to look at a photograph of my children on my desk, but this is merely a form of emotional bribery. Without the picture of my kids on my desk, I would question what the hell I was even doing, and just quit the awful job.

In my imagined version of reality, I work extra late to try and impress the bosses and get a precious promotion that may allow the basic essentials of life to be bought without constant financial struggle to make ends meet. Every time the car breaks down or some home improvements are needed, it always costs more than any savings that have been put away as contingency for these eventualities. A debt spiral has been happening because of having to use short-term borrowing to simply meet the cost of living. Then more debt was incurred servicing the first debt. This wasn't money that was spent on frivolities, but on such things as fixing broken plumbing and essential child-rearing equipment like cribs and pushchairs.

My imagination tells me that, in reality, I would then struggle home late through yet another stressful commute, only to find that the kids are already in bed. My partner is exhausted from the demands of working a part time job that brings in marginally more money than the cost of the childcare that we must pay for so that she can have her very badly paid job. Juggling work and childcare arrangements, she must travel twice as far as a normal commute, in order to pick up and drop off the kids at their daycare facilities. The household budget is super tight, and extremely diligent use of discount coupons, shopper loyalty schemes and knowing the cheapest supermarket to obtain our groceries for each product, is the only way that a few extra pounds can be found to balance the books.

Exhausted and stressed - in this imaginary reality - we collapse into bed. The pressure that me and my imaginary partner are under means that we are arguing all the time, so we aren't having sex or any kind of physical intimacy anymore. We are just two exhausted scared and anxious people, trying to survive and hide the desperation of the situation from the children.

The children - I imagine - are browbeaten into believing that they have one shot at getting good school grades and not fucking up their lives. Me and my imaginary partner tell our kids how important it is that they study hard and try their best, so that they can go to university and get a great job. We repeatedly tell our kids that life is a struggle, and the world is a mean place, and that they should stop laughing and playing, and knuckle down and do some damn homework.

Grow up! Concentrate! This is important! Pay attention! You have no idea what the real world's like! We rebuke our little kids. We are desperately anxious that our children should not suffer the same fate that we endure. Endless arguments over schoolwork and bad grades. Endless stress about whether or not our kids are thriving in the rigid educational system. Every bit of spare time we have goes into educational activities. We can't just make a fort out of cushions... we have to turn it into a history lesson, or a lesson about the physics of why buildings don't fall down. Everything is twisted into an opportunity to try and cram a bit more knowledge into our little kids' craniums.

Your kid drives themselves nuts with the pressure and expectation placed upon them. Kids are sensitive to their parents anxiety. Kids are like sponges, and they're getting the message loud & clear about how important it is that they apply themselves and try their hardest. Some kids will respond, and will allow themselves to have their personality dissected, sifted and sorted. Some kids will quietly allow themselves to be judged and graded by complete strangers who couldn't give two fucks about who they are as an individual.

Then, finally, it's time for the big wide world that we've promised our children is the whole reason why they can't have a childhood. The whole reason why we didn't let our kids play in the dirt, or spend time with their friends, was so that they could have their noses in books, writing essays or taking mock examinations. Now, it's time for your kids to spread their wings and be whatever they want to be.

Use your imagination! Follow your dreams! Find your passion! We tell our precious children.

What we really mean is: go get a sensible job for a reputable corporation, shovelling shit for the capitalists.

Childhood was jettisoned in favour of academic achievements. We told our kids they couldn't be friends with some of the other children, because they were too stupid and a bad influence. We told our kids they couldn't laugh, play and have the simple joys of their childhood, because there was too much at stake. Our kids' precious future was on the line. It was life or death.

And now, your kids have the same shitty job that doesn't pay the bills and is inadequate to support a family. Your kids busted their balls to get their grades, go to university, follow their dreams. Guess what? There aren't any jobs for historians or philosophers. There aren't any jobs where you need to speak dead languages like Latin or Ancient Greek. There aren't any jobs for artists.

Your kids are going to have to get a job keeping score for the capitalists, while they wait for the planet to become totally uninhabitable. It's a football game with 21 referees and 2 goalkeepers. It's a rowing race with 20 coxswains and 2 rowers. Over 80% of the 'economy' is made up by service sector bullshit.

This is it? This is what you you wanted to give your kids? This is the life that you thought your children would be so happy to live? Did you think about this stuff? You did think about this stuff, didn't you? No? Why didn't you think about this stuff?

"Everything will be alright in the end"

No. It probably won't be.

Things probably won't be alright in the end, because everybody has that attitude. Through collective wilful stupidity, and a desire to ignore the evidence in front of our eyes, we spawn yet more children in the hope that one of the little fuckers is smart enough to solve the world's problems. It's like setting alight to the basement of your house, in the hope that it will put out a fire in the roof.

Don't get me wrong; I love kids. I think kids are cute and I love the way that they make me feel happy when I look after them. I definitely feel very fulfilled as an animal, when I'm playing make-believe daddy, and imagining that I might have kids of my own. There's definitely something biologically right about reproducing one's genes. However, ethically it would seem to be the wrong thing to do.

You know, you made your choice, and I like you and your kids. But collectively it's fucking insane.

I would say that the only way to redeem yourself now would be to pull your kids out of school. Go and live near your parents, uncles and aunties. Form a little village of your relatives. Let your kids play and be children. Teach your kids about the grave responsibility that faces them, but don't fucking bullshit them. Stop selling this lie that hard work and a lost childhood will somehow pave the way for a happy adulthood.

Just look at the goddam stats. Soaring rates of mental illness and suicide. Almost everybody hates their fucking job and doesn't get to spend enough time with their families. Almost everybody is stressed as fuck about money, job insecurity and the uncertainty over whether they will be able to provide housing, food, clothing and everything else they need for them and their children. It's fucking awful.

But, you know what? There are more of us than the goddam capitalists who want to maintain the status quo. Sure there are police and the army, who are there to make sure that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. However, the system only continues to function while we all collectively help to prop it up. Are you happy? Is this what you want for your children? Is this it?

Is this it?