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Superstars and Comfortable Men

11 min read

This is a story about a life philosophy...

Maunu Kea

Here I am stood taking photographs at the summit of the highest mountain in the Hawaiian Islands - an altitude of 13,796 feet above sea level. Sea level is where I started that morning. Any mountain above 12,000 feet will affect susceptible people with dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness and could even present a life-threatening situation for somebody with pre-existing heart or breathing problems. So, dangerous, but not that dangerous. Nobody gets a pulmonary oedema up here, in this cold thin air, but very few can thrive in this oxygen-depleted environment.

There are ostensibly two ways to get up a mountain: you can walk, or you can use some kind of mechanised assistance (e.g. helicopter, cable car or even drive if somebody has made a road to the summit). I used to scoff at the idea of taking 'the easy way out'. I used to think that using cable cars and funicular railways in the Alps was cheating... you hadn't really conquered the mountain at all. However, after my first summer season in Chamonix valley, I realised there's no point nitpicking over a pile of rocks: most climbers who attempt the North face of The Eiger will use the railway to the summit, which stops halfway to let anybody out who wants to tackle its vertical wall of death. Tourists watch as men and women laden with ropes and other equipment, venture out of a hole that was made to clear the railway tunnel of snow. Are they less brave? Many have lost their lives attempting this 'easy' route up the mountain.

Summit marker

There you are, see. 13,796 feet. You can see this elevation post in the bottom left hand corner of the previous photo. But how did I get up there, more importantly?

In 2008 through to 2011, I was bootstrapping. That is to say, I was building profitable business(es) using my own money and with very little outside help. Then, I got out of my depth and I phoned a friend. I begged him to come on board with my latest venture, which promised to have the most growth potential of anything I'd done before, plus it had an overlap - in the education space - with some of my friend's expertise.

My friend told me he was a mentor on a technology accelerator program, affiliated to TechStars, which was based in Cambridge and was taking place that coming summer. I have to admit, I'd never heard of Y-Combinator, SeedCamp, 500-Startups, TechStars or any of the other myriad accelerators that were springing up. The idea was simple though: take a bunch of promising teams, incubate them and connect them with the best minds in the world of tech, have a demo day and help them to raise angel investment or venture capital (VC).

I was enthused and given a new direction. There was hope and relief that I might no longer suffer the isolation and loneliness of being 'the boss'. I really wanted to be part of this ecosystem.

I applied for TechStars Boulder, in Colorado, USA, as well as the TechStars affiliate program that my friend was going to be a mentor on, in Cambridge, UK. My company was shortlisted for Boulder, so I flew out to Denver, drove to Boulder and met with David Cohen - one of the co-founders of TechStars. My company just missed the cut for Boulder, but was offered a place on the Cambridge program, which I accepted. On demo day, Brad Feld - the other founder of TechStars - watched my pitch and I got to meet him. I was rubbing shoulders with people who had achieved, or were about to achieve, greatness.

For example: you know that robot that's in the new Star Wars movies? The one that's a ball that rolls around and makes bleeping noises a bit like R2-D2? BB-8, it's called. Anyway, the toy version of that is based on the Sphero, and Sphero were one of the teams to go through the TechStars program. I got to meet those guys in Boulder. Now they have one of the best selling children's toys, thanks to a Star Wars brand licensing deal, which was undoubtably in part due to the TechStars program... that's how it works.


Once the TechStars program was done, I had two role models to choose between. Both had pregnant girlfriends, but they had very different aspirations and priorities.

David, co-founder of my business, was intent on making life comfortable for him and his family. He'd made a big sacrifice, living away from home while we were doing the accelerator program. He'd made a risky commitment, ploughing money into a company that - at that time - didn't really have any protectable intellectual property or reliable and significant income stream. Although I talked him into the idea of taking our company BIG and getting half a million pounds worth of investment to allow us to grow, I think he really wanted to take things a lot slower and more carefully, and more importantly, get back home to his pregnant girlfriend.

Jakub, who I had been sharing a house with for months along with his co-founder Jan, seemed to be fixated on Silicon Valley and being a BIG success. I hope he wouldn't be angry with me for spilling the beans that he really regretted coming to Cambridge, UK, when their company could easily have gotten onto one of the Silicon Valley based accelerators, which is where, ultimately, he wanted to end up. Jakub had been obsessed by the trials and tribulations of Apple Corporation, and was 100% a Mac man, not a PC. Whether or not he wanted/wants to follow in the footsteps of Steve Jobs... one only need to look at his professionally taken photograph for his online profile: holding his chin in just the same way as the man who resurrected the struggling Apple Corp, and built it to be the world's biggest company, by market capitalisation.

Schopenhauer thought that the best thing in life would be to not be born at all, and the second best thing was simply to keep suffering to a minimum. Nietzsche realised that without suffering, how can we really experience elation? If you take the helicopter to the top of the mountain, you don't get the same feeling of achievement and success as you do if you walk up there. Nietzsche said that the world needs people like Steve Jobs, who was a millionaire by the age of 23, in 1978, and was worth $19 billion at the time of his death. Nietsche talks about supermen (übermensch) and the last men. Nietsche reviled these "last men" as he called them: men who were comfortable and content with mediocrity; men who would look at the stars and blink, in his words, rather than strive to achieve the very maximum they could in life - becoming superstars themselves.

I'm now in an uncomfortable in-between place. I neither achieved the übermensch nor the life of comfortable mediocrity.

Did I give up, because I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that lay ahead? Did I simply make mistakes, in choosing business partners who weren't as ambitious as me; as gung-ho, committed and fearless? Was the lack of support I received from my now ex-wife, my undoing?

Or, am I - as Nietzsche feared - one of the last men. The ones who are prepared to slave along in miserable existence because I'm not brave enough; bold enough to reach for the stars; to follow in the footsteps of those who've reached the top.

I'm torn, because I believe in socialist & humanist values: I believe in wealth redistribution, state monopolies, free education, free healthcare, free housing and a whole host of other things that would see me labelled as "Marxist", "Stalinist", "Leninist", "Maoist" or some other -ist, meant in the pejorative. Sometimes, I do wonder if people would work as hard, if they didn't want big mansions, swimming pools, helicopters, private jets, superyachts and all the other trimmings of exorbitant wealth. However, I know enough successful people to know that they just wanted to see a dream realised; a goal achieved: they didn't know how to stop working so hard, and they couldn't if they tried.

Strangely, although I've been shown the way and my eyes have been opened to the possibility of achieving great wealth in my lifetime, I've been left with nothing but depression. I'm depressed because I can see that hard work is required in life, whichever path you choose, but I'm also depressed because I opened the Pandora's Box of yachts and supercars and other prized possessions of those who followed their difficult task to completion: they reached the summit of the mountain.

I used to play a psychological trick when climbing mountains, which is to imagine every summit that you see is a false one, and that behind it will be an even higher summit, so your anticipation of your reward never turns into disappointment, which could lead you to giving up and turning back.

Another psychological trick I played in life, was never to dream and aspire to own things that were well out of reach. I bought a house, a yacht, a speedboat and a fast car... but these were all modest items that I was able to save up my wages and purchase. I never dreamt of owning a mansion or a brand-new Ferrari, for example, although the latter was achievable if that was my one dream in life, which it wasn't. I played a psychological trick, of forcing myself to be modest with my aspirations and rein in my ambitions, and to make incremental improvements rather than shoot for the top prize.

Mountain track

Now, I take short-cuts. I cheat. I know how high I can get, but I don't want to make the effort again. It hurt too much to be on the express elevator to the top, and to start to dream about all the wonderful things I could do with that wealth, only to crash to earth and be devastated. I'd like to be comfortable, but even that hurts, because it still requires effort as well as denying that I'd really like to own a nice big yacht, a supercar and a big house.

Do I begrudge my friends their success? Of course not, but it doesn't inspire me. Maybe it does inspire others, but when I look around, most people are fighting to just hang onto what little they've got. Would I tax my friend heavily because I'm a failure and I want to grab a piece of the wealth he created? Would I expect him to be humble and give credit to the society that helped him get to the top, even though we shouldn't try to drag everybody down to an equal level - equally mediocre and comfortable, according to Nietzsche? Yes, in a way I do still stand by my politics: I prefer flat structures to pyramids. I like it when everyone gets rich because of co-operation in society, rather than just a tiny handful who get rich at the expense of everybody else. We must remember that we're playing a zero-sum game - for every billionaire, there are millions of starving mouths and people without clean drinking water.

My friend was 9 years old when communism ended in his home country. He has been deeply affected. I'm not sure what makes me so certain that wealth should be redistributed, and the vulnerable protected, but I'm certainly going to tip-toe around the subject when I see my friend Jakub tomorrow, which will be the first time I will have had to offer face-to-face congratulations on him reaching the summit: he's rich now, by most ordinary people's standards, but I will attest that he build that wealth, with his team: it wasn't gifted to him by inheritance; it wasn't stolen or conned; it wasn't embezzled. He earned it and he deserves congratulating.

I'm still torn up about that question though: is it better to have 7 billion contented, comfortable people, or 100 or so obscenely wealthy ones, and half the world in desperate poverty.

In fact, no, scratch that. I go for comfortable. I go for "the last men" even if Nietzsche so hated them. Fuck him, that pompous German twat.




Feedback Loop

9 min read

This is a story about reality checks...


When you're amplifying a signal - for example, a microphone connected to a public address loudspeaker - then you have to be careful that you don't get the microphone too close to the speakers, or else you will get horrible feedback.

My blog is read by friends who've known me for years & years, but I very rarely meet up with them. Sometimes I get an email or a Facebook message, and it's jaw-dropping that they understand me and what I've been going through so well. The usual trite platitudes (e.g. "why don't you try getting more exercise?") are certainly applicable to anybody and it does show that you care, but it's a wonderful experience when I communicate with friends and they've got all this background info on me.

Regarding my blog, only very rarely will anybody ever present an alternative opinion, or challenge me. I think I have a fairly persuasive manner of putting a point across, and I write with a great deal of certainty; forcefulness. It must be somewhat intimidating: the idea of potentially entering into debate with me.

A strange thing starts to happen when you think about things in isolation too much. Because I work with boolean algebra for a living, I start to think of everything as binary: there's a right answer and a wrong answer. I can use a lot of deductive reasoning to arrive at a set of beliefs that evolved purely from logic - a priori - as opposed to being shaped by experiences, discussions and human relationships. I labour the same points, over and over again, becoming ever more certain in my convictions and better and better at defending my position; entrenched in my stance.

It's quite satisfying to present your thesis quod erat demonstrandum.

Weirdly, if nobody calls you out on anything, then you assume that you must have made a valid unassailable point. When somebody does call you out on something, then things get a bit more fun, because you have to decide whether to dig into your trenches and defend, or whether to concede the validity of an alternative viewpoint that had not been considered.

I used to have a certain attitude that could be surmised as follows:

"Fuck you. You're wrong"

Once you have constructed a fairly infallible piece of logical reasoning, being told "no, I disagree" is the most frustrating thing in the world. You can't just disagree with something. It's point/counterpoint. You need to make your own reasoned counterargument. Contradiction is just stupidity. It's very frustrating to deal with people who don't even realise that they're complete idiots.

I deal with idiots for a job: they're called computers. If I tell a computer to jump off a cliff, it will do it. Computers just follow my instructions to the letter. Computers follow my logic with 100% precision. Being a computer programmer quickly teaches you how to logically reason things, leaving few loopholes. If you leave loopholes, these are called 'bugs'. Bugs will cause rockets to explode, trains to derail or aeroplanes to crash.

And so, a computer programmer arrives in the real world, and they're experts at spotting cognitive dissonance. "Fucking immigrants, coming over here, taking our jobs"... but, but, but you're an immigrant, stutters the programmer, incredulous that somebody could be so stupid as to not see the flaw in what they're saying.

Anyway, I'm not even part of the debate. I'm watching from the sidelines, writing my manifesto; proselytising my theology; broadcasting my dogma. Nobody is questioning the validity of anything I'm saying. Nobody is challenging my assumptions. Nobody has yet said "you're wrong, and this is why...".

Even to say the word manifesto sends a shiver down my spine. I fear that I might have gone mad. There are so many vilified people and policies, linked to a manifesto. In Britain we are not particularly terrified of communism. Being called "red", "Marxist" or "Trot" is not even pejorative, to me. However, if you were to point out that Anders Breivik also wrote a manifesto, and so did Hitler, then I start to feel a little defensive.

But, how the hell are you supposed to develop a political ideology, if you don't write it down? If you can't express a set of values and ideals for the betterment of humanity, then what? Am I only allowed to select from a menu of just a few mainstream choices? Of course, this is what party politics wants. The idea is that we should vote for party, not policy. If we voted for policies that we wanted as citizens, we'd be getting dangerously close to having a democracy.

If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it.

I worry like crazy about how isolated and weird I'm getting, honing my ideas and developing my system of values, without very often discussing what I'm thinking over a pint of beer, with a good friend in the pub. Obviously, one must be mindful that Mein Kampf was conceived while Hitler was in hospital, and started when he was incarcerated. It's mad to speak this aloud, but I'm always asking myself: "am I more like Hitler or Jesus".

Christian values are actually pretty cool. Forget the ten commandments, because, I mean, rape isn't even on there. Graven images: no frigging way! Rape: no problem.

Jesus Christ was an awesome dude. He basically founded the Occupy Wall Street movement when he turned over the tables of the money lenders in Herod's Temple. Does that make him an anti-semite though? Could that have been a hate crime, given that it was an attack on Jewish businessmen, in a holy Jewish temple. Certainly a controversy worth pondering.

Then you get to thinking that Jesus Christ, The Prophet Mohammed and Adolf Hitler, all thought that earning interest should be abolished. Hitler was a socialist, as was Stalin, but then so was Tony Blair and he started an illegal war that ended up killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. It's all so damn confusing.

To my mind, if you have a political system that's successful for the vast majority of people, the educated bourgeois can go to hell. To hell with your freedom of speech. To hell with your attempts to pervert government to better serve your own needs, at the expense of the majority. Go buy yourself a desert island if you want to run things in your own selfish interests.

Eventually, I arrive at the decision that it might be better to just write a utopian novel that merely disguises my manifesto. It should be no surprise that I've extensively read Orwell and Huxley. However, the dystopian novels seem to have become instruction manuals for our governments. Perhaps novels are powerfully influential, in all the wrong ways.

I love the Roman idea of the forum. The Internet discussion forum is a wonderful invention. The online communities are a lovely place to inhabit.

My writing and debating skils - or lack thereof - were honed in the arena of the online discussion forum. In a way, I did a lot of growing up, by reading, writing, trolling, debating and very often being shot down in flames.

Now, I have brought those writing skills, and the skill of making a reasoned argument expressed in a succinct and persuasive manner, to bear in the world of blogging.

I deliberately chose a non-Wordpress platform, because I wasn't looking for yet another blog and to connect with yet more bloggers. All the bloody comments sections are filled with other bloggers, link building back to their own blogs. It's such a ridiculous echo-chamber of people all clamouring for readers. How can you compose your thoughts and reach conclusions, when embryonic ideas are critiquéd so immediately?

I could have started to write on Medium, and I'm thrilled that my friend whose startup powers this blog, is now working for them. It might sound like intellectual snobbery, but there is a higher standard of writing and comments on Medium, than anywhere else on the 'Net right now.

But really, the biggest win for my blog has been to inform a bunch of my old friends from my discussion forum days, what the hell happened to me when I "went off the rails". It's been an opportunity to defend myself against malicious rumours. It's been an opportunity for me to ward off the shame and sense of failure, for things that happened.

Finally, the nicest thing happened the other day: I met up with a friend at the pub, and he reassured me that I'm still the same person who he knew, all those years ago, before the whole horrid mess in the middle. It's an immense relief to know your personality hasn't changed, your brain hasn't been damaged and the person that friends once knew, still lives and breathes and hasn't been replaced by some demonic creature.

Life is pretty hard without feedback, but equally, it's been useful to write at length without the debate that so ground me down and made me unwell before. It's a horrible thing, to be so misunderstood, and to feel like the people who are supposed to care about you are working against you. It's so hard to argue with multiple people at once. It's so hard to defend yourself against a mob.

Publishing is super powerful. Publishing is like a megaphone, to shout down the bullies.

However, the occasional reality check has very high value.




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.




Male Competition

3 min read

This is a story about the jungle...

Christmas Chez Ryland

What you have to understand about being a human male, is that the competition never really went away. We are all still fighting to be able to fuck the hottest females.

I was searching to find an image of me with swollen muscles. God knows why I would have swollen muscles. Perhaps because of the harsh physical demands of survival. But instead I find a comparative photo. This photo compares my friend Posh Will with myself, in the clutches of self-destruction mode. I probably haven't had a decent meal in several weeks, in this photo, taken around Christmas day 2013. What does this image tell us?

My friend Posh Will is obviously credited with pulling me from the rubble of my botched attempt to relocate to the beach and live the dream.

At the wedding of Posh Will and Space Girl, there was the concept of the "conversion project". Both Posh Will and I were particularly keen on the idea of finding girls who were enamoured with kitesurfing and outdoor pursuits. While I chased girls who were already engaged in extreme sports, Posh Will sought a life partner who held the right temperament to be able to cope with the rigours of being wedded to an adrenalin junkie. His strategy clearly paid off, for he is now happily married, while I am a shattered remnant of the man I used to be.

The friendly rivalry between two old friends persists. I used to joke about our hourly rate. While Posh Will used to work all the hours that God sent, I have always been an expert in dodging responsibility. Despite the eye-watering salary that PW commands, it doesn't actually look that great when you work out how hard he has to work, compared with my hourly rate of pay.

However, now that PW and I work within a few hundred metres of each other, PW's work schedule has become a lot more reasonable. While my own working week looks particularly lax, it's clear that PW has won. I turn up, keep my office chair warm, but PW is doing similar hours to me and getting far more job satisfaction that I am.

I've lost. On every level.

I love PW and his lovely wife. They took me into their home and nurtured me back to health. They opened the door of possibility for me and recovery. I'm not actually in direct competition with PW. I love him to bits, even if he won't return my calls.

So, male competition is utter bullshit. It will destroy friendships and make you insecure and unhappy with your partner. Fuck male competition We don't need it. Yes, it might make you and your girlfriend horny that you might have beaten somebody in your game of squash, but remember the zero-sum game.

For every winner there must be a loser.




Gold Rush

5 min read

This is a story about getting rich or dying trying...

Irish Gold

People come to London seeking their fortune. I went to Ireland seeking my salvation. In a way, I kinda found it.

My life had fallen apart. I had lost a lucrative contract with Barclays through no fault of my own (the guy who terminated my contract was then sacked because of his stupid decision) as well as breaking up with my girlfriend, being evicted from my apartment in Swiss Cottage (again, through no fault of my own) and had once again found myself homeless and unemployed. Many friends took sides during my breakup, and I ended up suddenly alone.

It was January, in the depths of a depressing British winter. No job, no money, no friends, no girlfriend, no nothing. I was fucked.

A friend who I met in the summer, when I first became homeless, had returned to the emerald isle. He had generously made an open offer that I could go and stay with him and his family if I ever needed it, and oh boy did I need it. I was suicidally depressed and a big danger to myself. Camden council had been supremely unhelpful to a resident who they owed a legal duty of care, but they didn't give a shit whether I lived or died.

I guess a lot of unimaginative runaways go to London, and a huge proportion of them will end up in Camden Town. Camden is cool, undoubtably. Camden is full of wide-eyed young people, tourists, and huge amounts of recreational drugs, casual sex and music venues. It's a great place to spend a summer on a shoestring, smoking strong cannabis and chatting up girls.

I had made a couple of similarly Peter Pan-esque pals in Camden, in their mid thirties and working dead-end jobs on low pay, forced into living in hostels and dreadful squat-like houses with several people sleeping in every room. For me, it was a hugely novel experience, having been a wealthy IT consultant working in banking since I took my first big money contract at the age of 20, for Lloyds TSB in Canary Wharf. After 17 or so years of fabulous wealth, slumming it for a summer was almost fun.

My girlfriend at the time was a waitress at an Italian restaurant. Despite having a degree in economics from the University of Bologna, she had rejected the rat race in favour of a minimum wage job and getting ridiculously stoned every day. She was fun and easy going, just so long as all you wanted to do was sit around while she chain-smoked joints, and have great sex of course.

I wouldn't say I outgrew my circle of friends, because I loved them dearly, but the stresses and demands of my contract at Barclays were not really compatible with the lifestyle of casual labour and the pursuit of recreational drugs. At some point, the worlds were going to collide.

My girlfriend and most of my friends felt that I had arrogantly snubbed them, but in fact I was desperately dependent on our social circle for my wellbeing and happiness. When things all fell apart, I did too. I was devastated by the collapse of my social life, as well as losing the structure and routine of my employment.

I ran away to Ireland, and my friend picked me up from Cork airport and took me back to the little village of Killavullen, that he and his family call home. Nestled in the hillside above the village, looking over the valley below and just at the edge of a vast forest, my friend's family home is a peaceful idyll that is completely unlike the rat race of London.

The timing was not ideal, and I arrived in the middle of various challenges facing the family, but they welcomed me and treated me with incredible warmth, kindness, care, despite the crises that they were dealing with. It's not my place to be indiscreet about the family matters that I became aware of, but suffice to say the last thing they needed was some sick burnt out heartbroken citydweller suddenly thrust into the mix.

My state of mind collapsed still further, as it became clear that there would be no reconciliation with my former friends: I was a pariah. There was nothing for me back in London, except a certain collapse in my will to live. My friend's family insisted that I should stay with them until I felt fit and well enough to return home. I missed my return flight and didn't book another.

I tried to go along with the flow of family and village life, getting to know the people that my friend grew up with, and his family.

My friend and I went panning for gold - I had bought him a kit while in England and had brought it over to Ireland for him - as well as climbing to the top of the 'mountain' that he lived on. We drove around the vast forest that covered the hillside, and explored the neighbouring villages, as well as nearby Cork city centre. Although I had visited Ireland twice before, I had missed the point about stopping to smell the shamrocks. I'm always in the mode of rush, rush, rush.

We travelled to the huge cliffs at Old Head, and I stood there on the edge, having had a haircut, a shave, a bunch of hot meals and having slept in a warm comfortable bed in a welcoming family home for some time. Instead of wanting to jump off the edge of the cliff, I was actually happy to be alive.




Hero Worship

5 min read

This is a story about admiration...

Black Box

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, we're told. I'm sure it's also a way to make somebody feel self conscious as hell, and maybe even feel great pressure to live up to expectations. People looking to you for inspiration, guidance and direction in their lives: it's a lot of responsibility. Thankfully I don't have that problem, being a complete loser.

While I haven't lifted a life plan straight out of any of my friends' lives, I've certainly borrowed parts of their life that I admire. The easiest thing to do is try and clone something of their digital persona. If they write a blog, you write a blog. If they tweet, you tweet. You read what they read, and try to understand where they're coming from when they make certain intellectual and emotional points: you try and empathise.

If you spend a bunch of time with a person, at school, at work, online, you start to get a sense of who they are, superficially. If you're a relatively sponge-like character like I am, you soak up mannerisms, certain phrases and even accents and colloquialisms. In a way, if you speak like a person, you start to think like them.

Well that got real creepy real quick, didn't it?

I was supposed to be writing a blog post to reassure some of my friends that they're not responsible for me. I was supposed to be writing to say that I'm sorry if it was all a bit too personal, when I alluded to how important your influence has been in helping me discover some of the pieces that make up my personality. However, it's all come out a bit like: I wanna be like you.

If you don't have any role models, how are you supposed to figure out what you want to be and who you want to be? I think you can admire somebody and want to be like certain aspects of their personality and do things like they do, but you're still very much yourself.

When I think about the things that an admired friend has done, built, written, I don't think "I've got to do that too". Instead I think about what was good and interesting and useful and inspiring about what they did, and I try to emulate their passion and industriousness, by reverse-engineering what I imagine to be the process that led them to arrive at their achievements.

Friends who are musically talented have not led me to learning the piano or the guitar. Instead I've looked at their passion for music and tried to understand how the pursuit of music became a passion, and not a skill simply to be acquired through practice and repetition. Sure, you can become good at something purely by imitating somebody. You can learn to play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix, including imitations of all his mistakes, but do you really feel the way that Hendrix felt when you play, or are you merely miming the actions?

There's no point in turning yourself into a best-guess clone of somebody, just because you like and admire them. There's no happiness or salvation to be found in learning to look and act like somebody, unless you wanted to be a professional impersonator. Instead, if you think somebody looks passionate and fulfilled by something, you've gotta understand the dynamic that's driving that.

Life can also throw some weird curveballs. Like, I didn't get the whole social networking thing. When I heard an old schoolfriend was developing a social networking platform, I was like "what's the point?". Then I got into kitesurfing, and through kitesurfing I got into discussion forums, and discussion forums are mostly built on phpBB, which is a social networking platform. Social networking inadvertently changed my life for the better, but if I'd tried to involve myself in the world that my friend was passionate about it, I would have been lost until I saw the value through my own experiences.

Now, when somebody tells me their social business model is like an existing business model, but social, I'm like "so you have a comments section and people can click a button to tweet your shit, right?" and they're like, no, it's also a community, and I'm like "so you have a popup that asks you to fill in your email address so you can spam them?" and they're like, yeah, pretty much that.

Through the clouds of the bullshitters who don't really get it. Through all the swarms of "me too" idiots who are trying to hit all the buzzwords, it's passion and a depth of experience and knowledge that really shines through. I can be cynical as hell with my friends, but I know that I simply don't get the things that they're passionate about, until I do, and then I neatly slot them into my worldview.

It might look like I'm patchwork quilt of stolen ideas, borrowed personality traits and copycat behaviours, but I still make everything my own because I too have grown to see the value in the things that my friends have opened my eyes to.

I apologise if the hero worship is an unwanted pressure, or makes you feel uncomfortable. I'm sorry about where our worlds collide and I might directly or indirectly make reference to your influence on me and the stuff I'm doing. For sure I'm doing a bunch of figuring out who the hell I am and what makes me tick, and that's meant revisiting everything since childhood. It might be a bit cringeworthy, but maybe I'll get somewhere.

Anyway, I hope I don't make you feel too self conscious, and I hope that your involvement in my story has not been unwanted.





The Mum's Network

9 min read

This is a story about being in touch with your feminine side...

Me with butterflies

When I was a pre-pubescent boy, I read a book by Judy Blume about girls getting their period and having their first kiss with a boy. Before you boil over into a fit of inexplicable anger (as women are prone to do because they're completely ruled by their emotions) I'm not actually saying I know what it's like to menstruate, have boobs and to carry a baby inside me for 9 months and deliver it into the world through my vagina.

My education and upbringing was pretty heavy on the whole sex-ed thing. My sister was born when I was 10 years old, and so I clearly remember her birth and my Mum's pregnancy. My teacher at school was pregnant when we were being shown childbirth videos, and the schools in Oxford are actually pretty progressive. We were taught about the reproductive cycle in the first year that I went to middle school, when I was 9 years old.

Of course, I will never have the first-hand experience of having my cervix dilated by the large head of my child, to the point that it tears, and other painful sounding childbirth related stuff. I know that I would get yelled at with hormonal illogical female rage, if I was to suggest that other stuff that's happened to me has been painful. The muscle on the front of my calf was sliced in half, severing 4 tendons. The hospital in Oxford kept me for 3 days to re-stabilise my kidneys - no painkillers - and then sent me back home to London for the operation 2 days later. My whole journey on the train and across the capital was done without crutches or pain relief. My bandages were soaked with blood. I'm sure those 5 days where my calf had a muscle that was sliced in two down to the bone would give me no capacity to imagine having my vagina ripped to bits by a baby though.

I genuinely don't want to insult mothers. You're right, I'll never know what it's like to have a bad back from carrying round all that weight of a baby bulge for 9 months. I'll never know what it's like to have my internal organs being squished by the life growing inside me. I'll never know what it's like to be woken up by my unborn child kicking. I'll never know.

If you think I'm being flippant or sarcastic, I'm sorry, but I'm actually being genuine. I've often given consideration to the things I'll never know.

What man hasn't given consideration to how much fun they might have, if they got to swap bodies with a woman for the day. Of course, we'd like to play with our tits, but we're also fascinated to know what it feels like for a girl. There's a <blush> slightly kinky element. What does it feel like to be penetrated? Are multiple orgasms as good as they sound? Errr... did I just say that? Moving swiftly on.

Yeah, it's pretty shameful to admit this stuff, but I've made it my mission to vicariously experience what I can of the feminine. I don't think I'm one of those men who thinks that they're a woman who got born into a guy's body. I've just made it a goal in life to empathise. Empathise with everybody. Including the opposite sex.

When I was a teenager I read female erotic fiction. I tried to get into the mind of what women want. I tried to learn how to be a generous lover, so that I could please my girlfriends. I put a lot of effort into my 'research' and I have to say, I got a big kick out of it. However, I read an article recently where the author - a woman - was actually offended by how much of an ego boost guys get by knowing they've moved the Earth for their lover. Well, guess what? That's been added to the long list of considerations too.

So am I painting this picture of me as some sort of perfect guy? No. Don't be ridiculous. What I'm saying is that I'm an information gatherer, and I was born as a sensitive little soul who takes in a lot of what people say, how they feel and whatever I can divine from the media I have consumed. I guess I figured out from an early age that I wasn't going to learn everything I needed to know from pornographic magazines and videos.

It's laughable isn't it, to say that I empathise with women, mothers. and it's actually not true, I don't. I try to, but of course I fail on so many levels. You can't possibly know how much you don't know. Dunning-Kruger effect. Blah blah blah!

But, if you can have a tomboy, can you not also have a tamgirl?

I remember when a friend was talking about her hen do. I enthusiastically gushed "OMG! When is it?" without thinking that I would not actually be invited. I just kinda assumed that I would be. It was a strange situation, because she was a "one of the lads" kind of girl, and I'm a "comfortable with my sexuality" type of guy, so the gender exclusion of the event didn't even register with me.

So, why have I taken a wordplay of Mumsnet, turning it into something that's supposed to sound like The Social Network? Well, because I'm jealous. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

My same friend who I mentioned regarding the hen do was at one time (I'm not sure if she still is) an active contributor on the Mumsnet forum. I actually met her on a forum to do with kitesurfing, many years before. We were both active forum contributors. In fact, I think we competed for the top spot, quite often.

Another friend, a wonderful geek girl whom I very much enjoy the pleasure of the company of, is also another active Mom social networker, who I think also frequents the pages of Mumsnet.

The blogosphere is heavily colonised by mommybloggers, looking for some kind of activity to connect with the world in a way that fits with the demands of family life. Family members eagerly devour every last detail of life of the youngest members of the clan, and will scour the pages of every social media source in order to gather any updates and juicy pictures of the cute little kids as they grow up. Blogging about your family life is a natural extension of that.

However, I imagine that having kids can be a fairly bleak and isolating existence at times. Just as being single can leave you left out from all those couples events - who's going to invite sad Dave to dinner on his own? That'd be weird! - so the stressed out mom who's had to spend all day with fractious children is going to be overlooked by friends who don't want their peaceful child-free existence shattered by the arrival of mountains of childrearing equipment and tantrum-prone toddlers disturbing the peace.

Yes, unless you have a good baby circle of other moms who have kids of a similar age, it's kinda hard for anybody to relate to the particular struggles that you're immediately facing, whether that be teething and nappy rash, or the defiant "NO!" phase as the loveable darlings assert their own personalities. Which of your friends understands that they need to remove all the sharp, swallowable and fragile ornaments from the low surfaces? That bowl of potpourri looks terribly decorative on the coffee table, but to a parent of a young child, that's just a choking hazard. The worlds are going to collide.

And so, sleep-deprived moms get isolated, as social lepers because they're no longer footloose and fancy free. Not only must the children travel with mom, but also the changing mat, clean nappies, wet wipes, sterilising equipment, bibs, blankets, toys, teething rings, potties, spare clothes, medicines, high chairs, carrycots, pushchairs and every other bit of parenting paraphernalia to keep the tiny tots clean, comfortable, fed and watered, in the hope that they'll smile and giggle, not cry.

I have no idea if an Internet forum can provide some of the camaraderie that is necessary to make things seem a little less desperate, when Junior just won't go to sleep and he's driving you nuts with that noisy toy that grandma bought for him. I have no idea if getting together online, as moms who've been through it all too - they know all the shit that you're going through - in some way makes getting through the day a little easier.

I know that I miss my time being a top contributor on a forum. I know that I miss those familiar nicknames. I know that I miss the purpose and routine that it gave my life, trying to read absolutely everything, and make comments in the most active threads. I miss those virtual friends, who actually turned out not to be virtual at all. Some of the best friends I have, I made through forums. Some of the best experiences of my life, were when a bunch of us nerdy Internet dwellers met up, in the evening for drinks, for weekend trips away, or for adventures around the world.

The gender-blind part of me thinks that I should sign up for Mumsnet and join in the discussion and debate, but something tells me that might not go down too well.

There is a considerable hole in my life, without an online community to belong to.




Peer to Peer

5 min read

This is a story about helping each other...

Me kitesurfing

How does one go about putting Humpty Dumpty back together again? The idea of some patriarchal figure - e.g. a king - has largely failed. Instead, we see that complex psycho-social problems are better solved by a community that is filled with mutual support and respect.

In order to get me to the point I am at today, it's taken a social worker. But not a social worker who was employed to help me, but instead a loveable Kiwi who was sleeping on my couch, who took it upon himself to think about my welfare.

It's taken a psychologist. Not a psychologist who I pay to sit on the couch of, while I pour my little heart out, but actually my beloved flatmate, who listened to me while I brain dumped in the small hours of the morning, or coaxed me out of whichever corner I was backed into, suffering almost PTSD-like symptoms.

It's taken a bunch of fellow people with mental-health problems, who "get it". They know that a "positive mental attitude" is just utter bullshit, and you can't just snap out of a severe depression or whatever ails you, when you already know that what you think and feel is irrational, and you would really rather not be feeling the way that you do, if it was a simple choice.

It's taken a bunch of addicts. Not necessarily needle-wielding junkies in the throes of active addiction, but people who aren't so holier-than-thou that they don't admit to their own fallibilities and judge you, lest they acknowledge the demons within themselves. Non-judgemental support is essential, for any way forward.

It's taken all my friends, from all corners of the globe. You might not think that a simple 'like' on social media would mean much, but the implied support has been my lifeblood. To say that I've been attention seeking is plain wrong. Everybody needs to feel that they have people that like them, support them, wish them well.

It would be massively premature to declare things a done deal. I need to make it through a winter somehow, without incident. Current thinking is simply to take off for the Southern Hemisphere for a while... follow the sun.

The plan has always been the same, since I decided to cut and run from my ex wife and Bournemouth: get back into IT contracting for the banks, go kitesurfing. Obviously, you also need a place to live and be on top of your finances. Obviously, you still need the occasional bit of midweek socialising to get you through to the weekend.

Am I some Goldilocks type character, who demands that everything is "just right"? No. I don't think that's true at all.

I accept that there is going to be loneliness, boredom, stress. I accept that things are going to take time. I accept that things are going to go wrong. I accept that it's highly improbable that everything will be going OK all at the same time. However, my basic life formula is pretty simple: work & play.

I tried to take direct action in somebody's life - Frank - when I returned to London. That was a relatively short burst of time & effort, and I can't tell you precisely how things worked out there, although I did see Frank about 18 months later and he was doing really well.

To round off my own story in a satisfactory way, I need to show that things are sustainable, I need to show that I'm not just mooching off people in order to continue on a reckless and irresponsible path through life. I need to close things out neatly: with integrity.

I know people are rooting for me, and it's nice to say that presently, I have a great place to live, a well paid job, and I'm getting back into the hobby I'm passionate about. I'm also increasingly getting back in contact with long-lost friends, as well as hopefully improving the tone of my communication: from bitter and negative, to philosophical, positive & hopeful.

My friend who drove me to the coast today, and has consistently been a pillar of support for me this year, always reminds me that recovery is nonlinear. I know that bad days and setbacks will follow an amazing day at the beach. Monday morning will be miserable, and life has a fully stocked arsenal of slings & arrows... but things seem a little bit better when your skin is salty from the sea and glowing from the sun and the wind.

It's oh-so clichéd, but that Beatles lyric seems apt:

I get by with a little help from my friends 

If it doesn't seem like I've acknowledged your help & support here, I apologise. Every little message, text, email, comment... it all adds up. I do appreciate it. I do appreciate, respect and love every one of my peers. Thank you.




War and Peace

6 min read

This is a story about the last word...

Spam can

Is this a time for levity? Should we go back to our normal everyday lives, as if nothing important is happening in the world, apart from funny videos of cats and the banality of our everyday existence?

What is Facebook for? Is it a soapbox for those without a voice in the corridors of power? Is it somewhere to spam your friends, with your thoughts, ideas and political agenda?

I have no idea what the answers are to these questions, so I look to people that I like and respect, and try to imitate their behaviour. I have a friend who is a vociferous Conservative party member, who shares many opinions on Facebook, so this encourages me to set myself up, in opposition somewhat. I have another friend who is an admirable humanist and eloquent writer on the topic of social injustices, who keeps me informed of many things that are unpleasant in the world, and how compassionate individuals are seeking to drive back those evil forces. This encourages me to share messages of hope and support in this cause.

You don't have to read my blog, and you probably don't. You've seen it pop up on your Facebook wall enough times, and been confronted with somewhat of a wall of words, or some kind of shame-spiral and deeply personal things that should perhaps never be shared.

Just ignore it. It will probably go away. Just one blog post a day is pretty easy to ignore.

But what about when it becomes a raging torrent of social media sharing? What about when your Facebook wall or Twitter feed is filled with a person with a bad case of verbal diarrhea? Time to unfriend them? Time to unfollow them?

The reason why I won't shut up at the moment is summed up neatly by this famous quote:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

The far-right have been encouraged to go on the rampage, and I can't see what's going to curtail the rise and rise of racism. What will cause the bigotry, xenophobia and outright fascism, to be stopped in its tracks?

I was going to spend the evening watching light entertainment television shows, or perhaps a couple of films, but I have been provoked into breaking my one-a-day blog post rule, by the fact that a couple of people I like and respect think that their work is done. They voted, made their protest, and now it's time to crack open the champagne.

In actual fact, whatever the political outcomes, I really don't give a shit whether I have a British flavour of democracy or a European flavour... I just don't want racists to think that it's OK to abuse people in the street.

I don't want people laminating little cards and shoving them through the letter boxes of Eastern European people, telling them they're "vermin".

I don't want racists on a bus telling anybody with a darker skin tone, or speaking in a foreign language, that they are not welcome here in the UK.

I don't want people shouting racial abuse in the street.

Perhaps these things would have occurred, whichever way the vote went, but my intuition tells me that it somehow seems more acceptable in society to be racist, when you feel like you're in the majority.

Does it seem like I'm being a patronising patriarchal London effeminate City banker-boy ponce to you, if I remind you that immigrant bashing propaganda was how the Nazis swept to power. Of course, it seems like I'm an over-earnest teenager, in making such an obvious observation, but somebody's got to call it out, haven't they?

You can't just say "I'm bored of hearing about your anti-racist sentiment now. I want to see a dancing cat on stilts playing a piano. HA HA HA!". You were either part of the group that ushered in this dark era of mistrusting Johnny Foreigner and bashing the darkies, or you were part of the group who said "hey! let's be inclusive and tolerant!".

I really couldn't give two hoots about which group of elitists rule my life with an iron fist, if we're going to be overrun with skinhead neo-nazis and suffer the resurrection of fascism in Europe.

Does it not concern you more that we need to shut down detestable entities like the BNP, UKIP, France's Front National etc. etc. as a priority?

There is no victory to celebrate in the 'majority' vote. There is no "the people have spoken and it's time to move on" when huge numbers of those people are FUCKING RACISTS. Priority #1 for the country has to be shutting down the far-right, not shutting each other up so we can all go and live in la-la land where we all have milk and honey because we're politically governed slightly differently.

Don't you get it? There is no "move on, let's be positive" when groups of disaffected people are out looking for a mosque to torch, or a person with different skin colour to them to abuse.

Will I shut the hell up? Will I fuck, when the ugly face of fascism is showing itself again.

There's perhaps an important lesson to be learned about whether people like myself - the London Guardian reader - have helped or hindered, but I certainly predicted this result and its consequences, and I certainly understand all the concerns of the underclass.

Will I stop spamming my Facebook friends? Yes, I'll probably retreat into blog-land, where I can write at length without taking up a disproportionate amount of space on a wall that should be filled with grinning infants, prowling pussycats and raucous nights out.

What will you say though, to your grandkids, when they ask you what you did after the UK voted to leave the EU?




A 45 Second Read

1 min read

This is a story about short attention spans...


What can you really say in 125 words or less? What can you say with 140 characters or less? They say that creativity loves constraints, but aren't we actually kowtowing to short attention spans? Aren't we just admitting that nobody sits down and reads anymore, for any length of time?

I've had a bad bout of verbal diarrhoea, but now I'm going to try and tighten my sphincter. I was planning on stopping spamming my friends Facebook news feeds, but actually, I've decided to try and make things more bitesize. I've decided to spoon-feed people, and see if I can regain my audience.

Starting out by insulting people's intelligence is not a great idea, but I like a challenge. Push people away and then see if I can entice them back... that's the goal.

Stick with me. I promise it gets better from this point onwards.