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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

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How to Become Irreverent

14 min read

This is a story about the values you raise your children with...

Church window

It seems like I have had the sentimental attachment most of us feel towards everything we revere in society systematically thrashed out of me. If you pick one thing that summons feelings of safety, security, comfort, respect for authority and faith in the divine/spiritual, then I will tell you how exactly how I came to question everything: every institution, everything sacred, every tradition, every profession, people who are normally considered beyond reproach and ultimately even existence and its purpose.

Starting with my birth, I'm literally a bastard. I was born outside of wedlock. My parents never married and always planned to remain unmarried, such that I took my mother's surname instead of my father's. Ironically, my mother had once been married, and I have the surname of her ex-husband instead of her maiden name. Confused? Imagine trying to explain that to your fellow pre-schoolers when you're 3 years old. I didn't really understand it at the time, but I understood that I was different; unusual.

My schools would often address letters intended for my parents to Mr & Mrs Grant, and my father would always tell me that I was the only Mr Grant in the house and therefore the letter was addressed to me. My mother would tell me that she was no longer Mrs Grant and she was Ms Grant. "Why not Miss?" I would ask, and she would explain that she had been married, and Miss was only used by women who hadn't been married. If anybody telephoned the house and asked to speak to Mr Grant, my father would hand the receiver to me and say "it's for you", which it never was, of course.

I understood that there was divorce and some of my school-friends were raised by a single parent, or a step-parent. My peers would often ask if my father was my step-father, to which I would reply "no". Nobody could understand how I came to have a different surname from my biological father, or entertain the notion that I could have been given my mother's surname, not my father's.

At some point, a fairly clear question formed in my mind: "why aren't my parents married?". 

The reasons why people get married had become quite clear in my mind, for the very simple reason that I had endured years and years of people's reactions that suggested that not getting married was very atypical behaviour. Nobody wants to feel unusual; freakish. Nobody likes to feel odd.

When I posed my question - "why aren't you married?" - to my parents, they replied with their own question: "why should we get married?". I had a pretty easy answer for them, as I've explained: because that's what everybody else does. "Do you want to be like everybody else?" my parents asked. "Yes" I replied.

[I just burst into uncontrollable sobbing. If it wasn't what you experienced, I don't think you can begin to understand what it's like to spend your entire childhood as the freakish weirdo; the odd one out... the one who's different from everybody else]

Having covered marriage there is a natural segue into the topic of religion, and the origins of my atheism.

For a number of formative and important childhood years I lived in an attractive terraced house in an area called Jericho, on one of the most desirable roads in central Oxford. These houses are the most expensive in the world, far exceeding real estate prices in London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, in terms of their affordability. However, these £1.5 million houses were bought by the first wave of gentrifiers, when academics and young professionals with families started to move into slummy areas because they couldn't afford family homes in the more desirable parts of the city.

When your immediate neighbours include an MP, a barrister, a heart surgeon, a City banker and a number of promenant Oxford dons and professors, their children were raised in an environment which was knowledge-rich and encouraged the exploration afforded by a curious rational mind; critical thinking. Nobody went to church. My friends, whose father was a consultant at Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital, went to Quaker "friends meetings" occasionally, but my peer group - the sons and daughters of the intellectual elite - had little place for God and church in their lives.

We should rewind a little bit, back to the village our family lived in before we moved to central Oxford. If one were to imagine the most quintessentially English picturesque Cotswolds village, with the manor house, the village green, the workers' cottages, the post office and village shop, the village pub, the village school, one should not forget the church and its graveyard. The church's presence and influence is not to be underestimated. My religious indoctrination began as soon as I started school, with the vicar regularly present. Village social events are very often church-linked, like harvest festival, and of course everybody who grew up in such an idyllic village wants to get married in that particular church, have their children baptised there and be buried in that graveyard.

Essentially, the church's opportunity to exploit a child's vulnerable immature mind were scuppered by my father. For everything that the church had a comforting but incorrect explanation for, my dad cited a lack of evidence and instilled in me the skepticism which gradually became integral to my developing personality: "show me the evidence".

When we moved to the centre of a city whose university is globally recognised for its academic excellence, I never encountered another simple-minded fool who had been persuaded to believe in Gods and other aspects of religion, which are so obviously irreconcilable with the pursuit of knowledge. Religion encourages ignorance but I had been raised to question everything and remain skeptical until I had seen convincing proof. "What are atoms made of?" I remember asking one of my friends who lived on my street. "Quarks" he replied. We were perhaps only 5 or 6 years old - the product of a childhood immersed in academic culture, as opposed to the sentimental and traditional.

The disturbing and unpleasant consequences of an irreverent life can impose themselves on a child at a worryingly young age. I've already been uncontrollably sobbing about just one thing - the tradition and sanctity of the institution of marriage - and I haven't even mentioned how a child deals with the concept of mortality and threat of death without the comfort of religion.

A US Air Force pilot who drank at the village pub which my parents later bought and now live in, drunkenly boasted about the ability of the United States to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. I was definitely no older than 4 years old. With my friend with whom I had discussed subatomic particles, we talked about the temperatures which could be reached near ground zero of a fission or fusion nuclear bomb, and how the radiated 'heat' (electromagnetic radiation) had instantly vaporised human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with only their shadows left behind, permanently etched into the walls of buildings.

If you believe you live in a Godless world with no afterlife you naturally want to know what everything's made of if God didn't make it; you want to know why it's here. How did it get here? Why is it here? You start to pick everything to pieces by iteratively asking what each thing is made of: humans are made of cells, and cells are made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms, and atoms are made of quarks and leptons... and you can in fact keep asking the question. There's good proof that the electron is not a fundamental particle, as had originally been thought.

When your schoolmates are smart-arse little shits, because their parents are brilliant academics, teachers and school loses its awe and authority. If you're being taught science that's almost 100 years old, and sometimes even 200+ years old, the whole exercise is nothing more than a box-ticking exercise to be endured.

The other thing to consider is that my parents used illegal drugs on a daily basis, and had strong views about the legitimacy and usefulness of the law, certainly in the instances that suited their own addictions. As with many drug users, they were very paranoid. They viewed the police as corrupt and not to be trusted - the enemy. My father's criminal conviction for drugs not only poisoned his views on the police, but also made him very anti-American, as he believed he would never be allowed to enter the country due to his criminal record.

[I'm crying again]

It was only because of first-hand dealings with the police that my viewpoint changed from skepticism due to lack of evidence: the police had never caused me any harm, and in fact I had never had any dealings with the police at all for most of my adult life. You might be surprised to learn I adore and respect the police. My accumulated experience of police encounters has consistently shown that they are some of the most kind, patient, empathetic, forgiving, reasonable people, who have always gone out of their way to bend the rules and simply help as opposed to ever enforcing the letter of the law.

One shouldn't mistake my respect for the men and women of the police force for reverence. I would never for a minute expect that a 999 call is somehow going to be the answer to my prayers. I don't feel safer or more secure, knowing that I can call for police assistance. I wouldn't feel any more comfortable in a stressful situation if there was a police officer present. Of the very many police men and women who I have had first-hand dealings with, they have always treated me very fairly and kindly, and it's quite clear that they deal on a daily basis with a huge number of very vulnerable and damaged people, which they do so with incredible compassion - they are the living embodiment of humanity not deities who should be worshipped and revered.

[More crying]

So if I don't revere priests, vicars, teachers, headmistresses, marriage, religion, military superpowers, soldiers, the police, the law and my own parents, what else is there left for me to lack reverence for?

Cumulatively, I've spent almost 6 months having my life saved in hospital - often in high dependency and intensive treatment unit (ITU) wards. Shouldn't I revere doctors; surgeons?

I think that if there was one thing that would make almost anybody feel more secure and happy in a stressful situation, it would be knowing that there's a doctor present. It's such a clichéd question: "is there a doctor here?".

To explain my irreverence for doctors, we merely need to explore the reasons why I have ever had to deal with one, and the outcomes of those interactions.

Having been lucky enough to escape congenital abnormality, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out what I want from a doctor and why. You don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body has been dealing with pathogens since the species first came into existence. You hardly have to be brain of Britain to figure out whether you're dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection, and furthermore, which is likely to be treatable. In actual fact, I've never been to my doctor for antibiotics: every infection has always cleared up on its own. Fungal and parasitic infections can be dealt with without a doctor obviously: head lice shampoo is available in every pharmacy, without a prescription, for example.

At the age of 28 I went to my doctor wanting treatment for depression, but I knew which specific medications I was prepared to try and which medications I didn't want because the side effects were not acceptable. Having my choices limited only to SSRIs provided firm evidence that doctors were an obstacle to be overcome, not a panacea.

When we think about the first time I was hospitalised, do you think I didn't know that I was going to end up there and what the problems were going to be? Do you think it was an accident that I ended up in hospital?

Again, you don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body needs water, salt, glucose, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and myriad trace elements, or else the bodily functions haven't got the fuel, carrier fluid and raw materiels they need. You don't need to be a doctor to know that human body temperature needs to be homeostatic as much as possible - much like every other measurable thing in the human body - and any extreme variation too high or too low is going to have dire consequences.

When you are making choices in full knowledge of the likely consequences, medicine ceases to be lifesaving magic, and instead it becomes another simple case of what do you want and why?

One must consider the very last time I was hospitalised to truly understand my irreverence.

Not only had I quite carefully pre-planned my suicide attempt, when I arrived at hospital against my will, I gave very clear instructions: do not put activated charcoal into my stomach, do not perform gastric lavage, do not intubate, do not provide life support and most importantly of all, do not resuscitate. "Do you know what's going to happen?" the A&E doctor asked. "Yes. I'm going to die of a combination of organ failure and serotonin syndrome, with a lot of seizures" I replied. "Do you think you'll be unconscious? Do you think it'll be painless?" the doctor asked. "No. I expect that it will take a long time to die and I'll be conscious and in a lot of pain for most of it" I replied. Then I started having seizures.

Doctors see a lot of people who are scared and they don't understand what's happening to them. They're desperate for somebody who seems to know what they're doing and what they're talking about; doctors are an authority figure. I have no doubt that for feckless simpletons and those who lack access to medicine, the arrival of a doctor or a priest/shamen/witch-doctor is incredibly soothing and comforting. If you don't know what you want and why, your reverence is misplaced, but it may still ease your passage from life to death.

When shit goes bad, who are you going to turn to? If you have to pick your team of people to survive on a remote island, who are you going to pick and why?

Why revere anyone? Why kiss anyone's arse and tell them they're great because they did the study and training that you could've done if you wanted to. You could have passed those exams. You could have gained those qualifications. You could have followed that path if you wanted to. If you wanted it bad enough, you could put on that uniform; you could get that job title; you could prefix or suffix your name with the bit that tells the world just exactly why everyone should drop to their knees and worship you.

Nothing's sacred to me. I could do your job if I wanted to.

I'm not smarter than anybody. I'm not better than anybody. That's the whole point: I'm lucky enough to not have anything that's holding me back; limiting my potential.

I really don't recommend telling your kids they can follow their dreams and be anything they want to be. I really don't recommend telling your kids to question everything, and understand everything about how the universe works, to the point where they reach the very bleeding edge of scientific research. I really don't recommend raising your kids to challenge the status quo and resist the urge to fit in with wider society and their peers.

Take it from me: there's a mind-destroying kind of cold uncaring "nothing matters" bad feeling that comes from being too rational; too much of a free-thinker. Take my word for it: understanding the absurdity of existence will destroy your mental health.

You should probably experiment with hard drugs. That's probably way less likely to fuck up your life than going down the rabbit-hole of picking everything to pieces and trying to reason from first principles and pure logic.

 

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Reliving Trauma

5 min read

This is a story about having one foot in the past...

Bournemouth Pier

I don't want to go back to Bournemouth. I have lots of friends there and many happy memories, but there's too much trauma. Bournemouth's a beautiful place and it's possible to have a wonderful seaside lifestyle there, but my ex-wife lives there... it's hers now. Too much bad stuff happened in Bournemouth. That relationship was too abusive - it's caused me so much trauma.

I don't want to go back to the North Oxford village where I briefly lived as a little boy. It was traumatic when we left, because my parents were constantly moving - I went to 8 different schools. The drug addiction, the alcoholism, the general disregard for settled, secure, nice, normal family life... it was all too disruptive and traumatic. I don't want to be anywhere near those toxic abusive people - my parents. It's a massive insult that they eventually moved back to the village where I first went to primary school. It's a massive insult. Why did I have to go through the trauma of losing so many friends, moving around so much and having my childhood destroyed? I guess that's what drug addicts and alcoholics do to their children. F**king selfish c**ts.

I don't want to go back to London, because I've tried for too long to make it work and the capital city has chewed me up and spat me out. It's hard damn work trying to make it in London, because so many wide-eyed dreamers head to the capital city thinking that they're going to make their fortune. London's a good place to go to get away from trauma, because it's full of runaways, waifs and strays. London's a good place to heal.

It might look like I'm unnecessarily re-living painful memories on the pages of this blog, but this is therapy. This blog is a good listener. This blog is nonjudgemental. Here's where I'm finally able to tell my side of the story, without the lies and bullshit from the perpetrators of abuse, violence, neglect and all the other awful things. Yes, bitterness drives me to tell the story in a way that's somewhat lopsided occasionally - nobody is completely evil - but we've heard quite enough from the bullies. Those who are strong are quick to stomp on the weak; to silence the defenceless and vulnerable. Here's where the bullied kid finally gets to speak up and condemn those whose hands he suffered at. Here's where justice is done. This is my day in court.

It would be good if I could forgive and forget, but part of forgiveness is about acceptance. I can't accept things and just forget about all the trauma until the tale is told. There are some who'd like me dead, to shut me up. There are some who'd like it if I took my secrets to the grave - that'd be mighty convenient for them. Hence, that's why I write so much. Here it all is in black and white - the ugly truth. If I die tomorrow, it doesn't matter because at least I finally got to tell my side of the story. If I die tomorrow, at least the truth is out there.

There's always a danger I could ruminate on the injustices of the past and get stuck in a rut. Certainly, when things aren't going well and there's no hope of any improvement in my life, I'm prone to bouts of bitterness about my suffering at the hands of some key people in my life: my parents, my ex-wife.

It's quite a cliché for a man my age to be filled with bitterness. It's quite a cliché to complain about my lot in life. I'm the living embodiment of a cliché.

I should be embarrassed and that embarrassment should cow me into silence. I should be silenced by social pressures: "your parents did the best they could". No. No they did not. My parents tried their best to obtain and take drugs. They tried their best to get drunk. Fuck them. I don't hold sway with the "their heart was in the right place" bullshit. I'm sorry, but there's no excuses for ruining childhoods because you were too off your head on drink and drugs to notice what the fuck you were doing to your kids. No excuses.

I don't know quite where this is coming from. I think it's probably a result of the exhausting journey I've been on, and the fact that I'm still not safe and secure... I'm still having to work as hard as I can to try and get myself into a decent position, where I'm safe from homelessness; destitution; death. I'm still in a deep hole, digging my way out.

While my life still has considerable present-day struggles, I think I'll always be reminded of the reasons why I ended up here - I'm forced to re-live past trauma.

 

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Mother's Day

5 min read

This is a story about thankless tasks...

White rose

If you wanted a companion animal, you should've gotten a dog. If you wanted unconditional love from your dependent, you should've gotten a dog. If you expected to get more out than you put in, you should've gotten a dog.

Children are not dogs. Children can't be trained to be obedient creatures that adore their owners. Children don't owe their parents anything. Respect is earned. Trust is earned. If you want to be loved, love. The arrow of responsibility is clear - parents are responsible for their children, but not vice-versa. Parents make a selfish decision to bring children into existence, without their permission. Existence is agonising. Unless you can give your children the opportunity to do anything they want and fulfil their potential, what the fuck are you doing creating more mouths to feed on this overcrowded planet? To inflict the agony of existence onto an innocent child is a sin. To bring kids into the world when you care more about your studies, your career, your sex life, your drugs, your alcohol, your cigarettes.... what the actual fuck?

I'm an antinatalist. "There's never a right time to have children" - you're damn straight there isn't. Take a look around. Poverty and suffering is rife and living standards are declining. The reason why you were in two minds about getting an abortion is because you know that you should have done. You should have used birth control. Children aren't accidents. We're not primative beasts. We know where babies come from and how to prevent pregnancy. We know how to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Children know when they're unwanted. Children are receptive little sponges, who pick up on all those subtle hints that they've somehow made life more stressful and unpleasant. Children didn't ask to be born.

"What if my child becomes the next Mozart or Einstein?" some mothers might ask. There's a presumption that by choosing not to have children, we might be depriving society of potential geniuses. The truth is that 99.99999% of children will be useless fucktards, tormented by the agony of existence and a total waste of oxygen. The truth is that it's a very flimsy excuse for inflicting existence onto an innocent child, to argue that it's a contribution to society.

There are very good data to suggest that abortions have been hugely beneficial for society. When birth control and abortions became more commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s we saw a huge fall in crime rates 15 or 20 years later. We know that lower birth rates lead to more advanced civilisations. If you consider yourself to be educated and intelligent, you should make the smart choice and not have children, because it's immoral to eject these unfortunate creatures from your vagina into the present harsh reality. The world is a shitty place and it's getting shittier by the day. It would be better not to exist.

If you want a companion animal, get a dog.

Even getting a dog is pretty cruel. Dogs are hungry all the time, bored, and we cut their balls off and cut out their ovaries. Dogs are enslaved for our enjoyment, sitting at home all day in their crates (i.e. cages) waiting for us to return home, patiently waiting for a bit of attention. The life of a child is worse, because a human has greater intellect. A human can better perceive their own suffering. Existence is agony.

If you've got kids, fine, whatever. You did your thing. Whatever. Don't expect me to fucking congratulate on doing what every ancestor of yours did, back to the time when life first sprung into existence. Don't expect a fucking medal for acting just like every other stupid beast that ever existed. There are no medals for acting like slime mould or an amoeba. There are no medals for procreation - it was inevitable that you were going to spread, like bacteria or a parasite; it was inevitable that you were going to act like lichen or moss, or any other kind of fucking brainless organism. No medal.

Being a mother is a thankless task because no thanks are owed. There's no debt. There's nothing to be thankful for. You didn't do anything, except that which every ancestor of yours did back to the first replicating organism that ever existed. No thanks for simply being are owed.

It's harsh, but it's true. I have no reverence for mothers, fathers, parents or any other replicating individual. There's nothing special. There's nothing to be celebrated. There's nothing, except what is demonstrably inevitable given the universal laws of physics and evolutionary biology. I'm sure dads are pretty chuffed that they managed to get somebody pregnant and they've passed on their genes to some unfortunate offspring, but don't ask the children to be grateful. Existence is agony. Existence is a curse.

This is super bitter and aggressive, but this is the fact of the matter. Existence is a curse. No thanks are due. If you had a shred of morality, you wouldn't inflict existence on the innocent. If you had a shred of moral decency, you wouldn't perpetuate the suffering.

Yes, children bring joy. Yes, children have moments of happiness. The point is though, do they owe you any thanks? Are children inheriting a world they're going to be able to have a nice life in? Perhaps there would be thanks due if living standards were improving, but they aren't. All that awaits is a life of indentured servitude. All that awaits is climate change, economic collapse, housing crises, pensions crises, debt crises and all the other problems that have been stored up for the younger generations; the childless.

It's immoral to just hope for the best, when the evidence is quite clear - the world's a fucked up miserable place. Thanks for nothing.

 

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Rigged Game

10 min read

This is a story about value...

Cash

You think this is money, don't you? You think this paper with numbers written on it has some value, don't you? You want more of it. You think that you can earn it by working, don't you? You hoard it. You protect it. You think it's money.

This is not money.

It's a rounding error.

Did you hear about that programmer who worked for a bank, who took all the little bits of money that just disappeared and collected them all? When a bank pays 1% interest on your savings and you've got £1.50 in your account, what happens to the half a penny that you're owed? It just disappears, of course. It's a rounding error.

Banks deal with quadrillions of dollars every year. A quadrillion is a thousand trillion, which is a million billion, or a thousand million million. You can write a quadrillion like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000. It doesn't mean very much, but put it this way... a quadrillion dollars divided up between every man, woman and child on the planet, works out to be about $143,000. Do you have $143,000?

All of the cash in existence - the banknotes and coins - adds up to about $7 trillion. $7 trillion is 0.7% of a quadrillion dollars. Imagine that. While banks are dealing with quadrillions, all of the banknotes and coins in circulation in the whole world add up to less than 1% of all the 'money'. Can you see now how worthless and ridiculous those banknotes in your purse or wallet are?

I imagine you played some board games when you were a kid, and one of the ways that you could see who was 'winning' was to see who had the most fake banknotes. The board game Monopoly famously has brightly coloured banknotes of different denominations. Perhaps you played Monopoly as a child, and this introduced you to the idea that the better players of a game would accrue more banknotes, and therefore win the game. Life's a bit different.

Unlike Monopoly, when we start life, we all start with different amounts of money. Whether you start life in a desperately poor family, in a desperately poor part of the world, or whether you're born into a fabulously wealthy family in a super rich country, is not something which we can influence ourselves. However, we have a reasonable idea what kind of life any prospective offspring might be born into, before we choose to get pregnant and deliver any babies into the world.

"I haven't got any money but I really want to inflict misery on unborn infants" I hear you cry. Have you thought about just saying "fuck it" and having children anyway? Have you thought about pursuing your own selfish wants in the face of overwhelming evidence that you're a fucking idiot?

"But I want children because it'll make me feel good. It's mainly about me, you see. Fuck the fact the child's going to be miserable"

Yes, yes. You and slime mold both want to reproduce. Very good. Anyway, moving swiftly onwards.

"No. Wait. What about the fact that I could give birth to the next Einstein or Mozart?"

You really are a prize idiot, aren't you? Let's examine the Monopoly game again.

In Monopoly, all the players are given the same amount of money at the start of the game, and all the players are subject to the same rules throughout the game.

"Yes, so a player with more skill will beat a less skilful player. I'm going to give birth to a genius whose brilliance will conquer the day and they'll be elevated from poverty because they're so amazing"

Oh dear.

See what you've failed to understand is that life is not like Monopoly. The players in life sit down with different amounts of money, and those who have vast amounts of money use it to bribe and bully their way through the game. Speeding fine? No worries, just bribe somebody off. Sent to jail? No worries, just bribe your way out. Run out of money and can't afford to buy that property you just landed on? Never going to happen. In fact, some people have so much money that they can sit down at the playing table with weighted dice that roll sixes every time, and exemption from any rule that's not in their favour. Are the rich really playing the same game at all? Let's look at education, as an example.

We might imagine that with standardised testing, the rich and the poor are playing the same game, and the 'brightest' children are achieving their grades on merit. You'd be wrong.

If you think that preparatory schools, private tutoring and private schools are merely unlocking the hidden talent of a child, you're delusional. If exam grades are an intelligence quotient to measure the intellectual ability of a person, then why would vast sums of money be spent on education by the wealthy? Why is there a perfect correlation between the amount of money poured into a child's education, and their highest academic achievement? If you really believed you were having your kid because you thought they could be the next Einstein, you wouldn't have tried to queer the pitch, would you? You wouldn't have tried to rig the game.

The cash in your pocket bears as much relation to the hard work you've done, as your exam grades relate to your intellect. Those who are richer and have superior qualifications are simply better at cheating.

They tell us: don't have a childhood, because it's important to get good grades and don't have an adulthood, because it's important to work hard and save money. These are two of the most ridiculous follies of our modern times. The problem started when your parents selfishly decided to launch you into a life with no prospects.

"But my little darlings can be anything they want to be. They can follow their dreams"

No they fucking can't. Unless, of course, their dream is to work in a shitty office punching made-up numbers into a spreadsheet, in order to give all their wages to an unscrupulous landlord and sink deeper into debt, having already stressed themselves out to the point of nervous breakdown and run up huge amounts of debt just to obtain the worthless diploma that allowed your little darling to get their bullshit job in the first place. Unless your little darlings dream of having no financial or housing security, living on a polluted dying planet, contemplating their own mortality, the absurdity of existence and the immorality of perpetuating the cycle of misery, then no... no they can't follow their fucking dreams.

We might say that we could re-adjust our values so that money isn't important, but I'm pretty sure that most of us still want a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. You have to pay to play, and I'm afraid that art, poetry, music, acting and suchlike just won't allow for any following of dreams, while being able to pay rent and buy food.

The only ones amongst us who stand a chance of winning the game, are those who start with an unfair advantage. For anybody who cares to examine the mythology of the "man who started with nothing" and built themselves a business empire, or whatever trite bullshit you care to trot out as some kind of response to the bleak prospects, you'll find that those stories are utter horse-shit. Nobody gets anywhere without somebody underwriting their risk. Nobody gets anywhere without investment.

We only need to look at the lottery to understand that people's psychology is flawed. It might be you. It could be you. But, in all probability it's not going to be. Yes, people have won the lottery. What the fuck does that prove? Yes, somebody, somewhere at some time or other won the lottery. SO FUCKING WHAT? THAT'S NO FUCKING REASON TO HAVE KIDS. Just because a handful of people win the lottery every year, that doesn't mean that the system of wealth distribution isn't broken.

So, what about all this wealth distribution malarkey then?

Well, I imagine you think that hard work pays off, don't you? If you work hard, then you'll get money. No. No not at all.

If ever there was a case of inverse correlation, then it would be with wealth distribution versus hard work in a capitalist society. Those who already have wealth will accrue more, without a single day's work. Vastly more. Think about all the ways to earn money without labour: money lending, loan sharking, gambling, investment, interest, capital gain, rent, extortion, receipt of bribes, pimping, human trafficking, war, robbery, fraud and slavery. If you think you don't profit from those things, ask yourself what part you played in the building of your house and the growing of your food. Even if you built your house, the chances are that the slates on your roof were quarried in China. Where did the bricks come from? The cement? The plasterboard?

As you sit at home counting your money and thinking of yourself as virtuous for saving a few pennies here and there, one should be mindful that this is insanity. The money bears no relation to any supposed talent, intellect or hard work that you've put into life. Those banknotes are not a useful way of keeping 'score' to see if you're 'winning' because the game is rigged. How can you usefully use your pocket change as any kind of measure of wealth that's stored away, when it's quite meaningless. Is there any scarcity? No. The mint can simply print more money, and they do.

It might be easy to scoff at this essay, given your irrational attachment to received wisdom. There's also a certain smugness when you feel like you're winning the game, but you're not - get things in perspective. It might seem like I have little respect for money, and the difficulty with which people obtain and keep it, but in fact the opposite is true. I feel very sorry for those who toil and stress over money, when the very largest sums are obtained without effort for a tranche of society who have never known poverty. To criticise me for being disrespectful towards money is ridiculous, when wealth bears so little relation to anybody's efforts or the wisdom of their choices.

This is, perhaps, one of the most provocative topics that I could write upon, dealing both with the sad truth that wealth does not flow to those who deserve it, and the unpleasant but patently obvious fact that it's immoral to have children when unable to provide a good future for them; prospects. It's immoral to have children when we live on an overcrowded planet; it's immoral to have children when we can't look after the ones we've got. Are you no different from slime mold?

For the avoidance of any doubt, my tirade is directed at no one in particular. My attack is on existence and its absurdity, capitalism, banking and the unfairness of life. If you've felt something, then that might be your conscience, not a personal attack, I promise.

 

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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.

 

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Made it this Far Didn't I?

5 min read

This is a story about yesterday's weather...

Food bank

Past performance is not indicative of future results. In the long run, we're all dead.

Do you know what actuarial tables are? I'm going to tell you even if you do. Actuarial tables tell you the probability that you're going to die, based on your age. Life insurance salesmen know that provided their average premiums received exceed their average payouts - which can be calculated from actuarial tables - then they will most likely make a profit. You would be foolish to not purchase insurance, because if you're unlucky enough to suffer death or other catastrophic loss, the risk you have indemnified your family or yourself against is a tiny fraction of the premiums you've paid. However, there comes an inflection point - the coefficient - where the premiums are the same or worse than simply putting that money aside each month, as your own insurance against the loss of something of unimportance, like your mobile phone.

The pension age of the United Kingdom was enacted into law in 1908, to be paid from your 70th birthday onwards. Only 25% of people would reach pensionable age in 1908, and those who lived to collect their old age pension would only live for 9 more years, on average. The pension was means tested, so it was not paid to anybody who could have been reasonably expected to support themselves. Most people born in the first decade of the 20th century lived through two world wars, further altering the demographics of the time.

Contrast that with today, where life expectancies have rocketed, but yet the baby boom generation have wrecked the planet with gas guzzling cars, atmospheric nuclear testing, irresponsible parenthood in the age of the contraceptive pill - plus high quality condoms & sex education - and an attitude that has generally mortgaged their grandchildren. Now, the insufferable hippies of the 60s and 70s are sitting on huge piles of assets - property that far exceeds their needs - while there is a housing crisis, refugee crisis, and the prospects for young people are diabolical. "Don't borrow any money or be profligate" these absolute c**ts chide, whilst having enjoyed limitless energy, well paid jobs for life, cheap housing, free university education and the expectation that they would retire on a full state pension at the age of 60 for a woman, and 65 for a man.

This is a repeating theme for me - I've often aired my views on the dreadful lack of respect that is shown to hard-working young people, by the older generation who had it all and then still asked for more. Today, this older generation tries to snatch unearned and undeserved money from a finite pot of wealth they didn't help to create.

I've lived in a little bubble, having been a sharp enough cookie to see which way the wind was blowing. I was raised with no respect from my parents or acknowledgement of my efforts in the face of the same adversities that we all face. So, I took myself off to wherever would pay me the most money, doing whatever I was best at, despite the personal hardships I incurred for supporting myself independently.

Wandering around Waitrose supermarket in the relatively newly-created private estate of Canary Wharf - where any undesirables are asked to leave by pretend policemen - one might argue that I'm some sort of investment banking spoiled rich kid who has no conception of the Real World Out There (not actually a place).

While depositing unused canned and dried foods into the local food bank collection point, a friend - who I also fucked in the dark while high on drugs (she has asked me to acknowledge this publicly for some reason) - rummaged through the items that your average Canary Wharf banker had donated. These included household essentials such as cashew nut butter.

There seems to be an orderly queue of people forming, who would like to claim individual credit for my existence. If we were to apply the strictest and simplest possible attribution of accreditation, my parents could claim 17 years and I could claim 20 years. If we take into account the undeniable fact that state institutions raised me from Monday to Friday, for at least 30 hours a week, from the age of 4, years old then we can see that my parents' claim is vastly diminished. I'm the reason I'm still alive; not anybody else.

"I suppose they should've let you starve then" you sneer.

Actually, I'd have preferred to not be born at all. To starve is to suffer. Why create life if only to make it suffer? It's immoral.

My parents clamour for adulation for achieving their detestable petit bourgeois rentier class aspirations of amassing a property portfolio that has negatively contributed to the fact that my sister - ten years younger than me - cannot afford the security of owning her own property. Notable is the hypocrisy that my parents will not lend my sister the deposit to buy a house, even though their parents gifted them the cash to buy their own first home. Now this bunch of self-congratulating smug old shits have arrived in a position of demographic dominance. These coffin-dodging c**ts outnumber the productive members out our society, and will continue to do so, like an infestation of fleas or other parasites, sucking the life blood out of a tiny kitten.

If you really thought about it, you'd fucking kill yourself. I certainly consider suicide every day.

 

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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.

 

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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?

Wrong.

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?

Yes.

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?"

Never.

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?

No.

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.

 

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Dumbing Down

9 min read

This is a story about spoon feeding...

Cartoon Stick Men

There are a number of writing guides that suggest cutting out unnecessary words, shortening sentences and generally dumbing down what you write to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I personally think that would be an insult to the intelligence of anybody who takes the time to read my writing.

The academic equivalent of willy-waving is to try and pepper your text with obscure vocabulary and other curios. At best, you're going to impress some sneering pretentious elites. At worst you're going to write impenetrable text that's virtually unreadable without a dictionary. Somewhere in-between the best and the worst, you're going to trip yourself up and have those who are highly educated chortling at your clumsy use of language, while everybody else just thinks you're a stuck-up twat.

I write in a conversational manner, very much in the voice of my internal monologue. You, as the reader, must hear the stream of my thoughts, as a facsimile in your head as you read my words.

With editing, I could produce more concise text. With some rewriting, I could represent ideas and concepts, experiences and stories, in a much more concise manner. I could write to convey things with much more simplicity. But then, wouldn't you just be reading yet another yawnfest of Internet banality?

To try to be original is impossible: we are all just a product of our experiences. Monkey see, monkey do. However, to be authentic merely takes bravery... or is it stupidity?

I'm not writing a Wikipedia article. I'm not writing a self-help guide. I'm not writing a scientific paper.

This is a secret diary that has been made public. This is my psyche, laid bare so that my distress, confusion, isolation and the hideous complexity of the circumstances that I find myself in, are not obscured from view. I'm genuinely concerned for my safety, and without my detailed account of who I am, I might die completely misunderstood.

Don't we all fear that we might die misunderstood? Well... it's more complex than that.

If you have kids, you fear that you're not going to get to see them grow up. The fact of the matter is that you're unlikely to outlive your kids, but you've set yourself some unspoken milestones:

  • "As long as I get to watch them grow up to the age of 18, I'll be happy"
  • "As long as I get to watch them graduate from university, I'll be happy"
  • "As long as I get to watch them get married, I'll be happy"
  • "As long as I get to meet my grandkids, I'll be happy"

Perhaps you're concerned about how elderly your parents are getting, and you want to be around to look after them. Perhaps you're loved by your brothers and sisters, and your nieces and nephews. You're aware that you'd leave a hole in your family's life if you were gone.

Things are a bit different for me.

This is what my mum said to me, when I asked her why she never travelled the 45 minutes on the train to come and see me when I was in hospital:

"The police will tell us when you're dead and we can come and identify your body at the morgue if we have to"

I think it's pretty clear that my parents have faulty genes that need to die off. I can understand that you might not want to spend £5,000 on an operation to save the life of your pet hamster. However, I would spend thousands if my cat or my dog got sick. I would spend every penny I had, to save my child. My parents didn't think I was worth the £20 for the train fare from Oxford to London, and the 45 minutes of their time.

If you want to understand how or why I arrived at the notion that my family would not only be better off without me, but they actually actively want me dead then you only have to study that one example.

Whether you like it or not, you are responsible for your children's lives. Your children didn't ask to be born. Your children are not supposed to be grateful to be alive. You're supposed to be grateful if you have healthy children.

It's a risky decision to have a child: they might be born with birth defects, they might be disabled. Your child might be suffering and in pain. Instead of adopting one of the many children who don't have a family, instead you decided to create an extra mouth to feed on the overcrowded planet, and take a chance that your shitty genes might leave them with terrible quality of life. Instead of considering what you could give the child, you thought about what you could take in terms of feeling satisfied that you have procreated.

Being brought up to feel apologetic that you even exist is an awful thing. Being told you're a bad kid because you didn't pop out of the womb ready to serve your parents like some subservient sycophantic butler is an awful thing.

"I taught you how to use a spoon"

Don't make me fucking laugh. If you don't feed your kid you're a negligent parent. What do you want, a fucking medal for taking the bare minimum responsibility for the life that you chose to bring into existence? If my parents didn't teach me to eat using a spoon, I would have eaten with my hands, or somebody with more of a nurturing instinct would have taught me to eat using cutlery, or I would have died earlier and suffered less.

Yes, I've reached the point now where I'm basically saying "what's the fucking point?".

What is the point, really? Surely, it's a fucking gift to rear a child and be pleased you actually took some fucking responsibility. There can only be shame in neglecting your responsibilities. There are no medals and ticker-tape parades for parents, because you wanted to fuck, you wanted to experience the miracle of life, you wanted it... your kids didn't. Remember that: nobody asked to be born.

If your kids are miserable and want to die, you have failed miserably as a parent. Victim blaming is no use to sidestep the responsibility. On the day of judgement, can you say hand on heart that you acted in your child's best interests, given your decision to create that child in the first place?

We are not fucking fish! We don't just spew out eggs and sperm into the ocean in the hope that some of our spawn reaches adulthood. What the fuck happened to your brain? What the fuck happened to your education? My parents both had the benefit of free university places. My parents both think they're oh-so smart. It's not like you can hide behind the defence of saying you're just a dumb animal.

I'm smarter than an animal. I'm smarter than my genes.

I know that my genes program me to want to procreate, but I can choose not to. In fact, on the evidence of the behaviour of my parents, passing on their genes would be the most irresponsible thing I could possibly do. Clearly this line of genes needs to die out, because I detest parents who don't take responsibility for their choices, their children.

My parents are too stupid to even read, as it turns out. I suckered them in with some honeyed words, to get them hooked reading this blog, and then I dialled up the honesty. They could not have cut & run any faster. Like Usain Bolt, they sprinted for the hills. The truth is hard to deal with when the only way you can look yourself in the mirror and sleep at night is by pretending your son is already dead.

It's a bit strange to write and write and write like this, labouring a point, but until they die from old age, smoking and drug/alcohol abuse related illness, I feel there needs to be this constant reinforcement of the consequences of their mistreatment of me.

Instead of thinking "my friends would miss me" I think "what if my parents attempt to corrupt the truth after I die". In a way, I'm staying alive to defend my memory, but when the truth is fully told I can finally collapse with exhaustion and rest in peace.

Sure, my parents spoon fed me. I wish they hadn't. If you're not going to go the distance, what's the fucking point? Why even start? It's fucking cruel, to bring someone into the world who didn't ask for it, and then to fuck them over. If I'm here just to pass on your genes, guess what? I'm not going to.

Why am I seething with such anger about something in the past? Well, it's in the context of how much of my life I felt secure, happy, loved (not much). It's in the context of how suicidal I feel (very). It's in the context of how things will look, when I'm gone.

The most loved I ever felt was when a lovely family in Ireland took me in. That just ain't right... what the fuck is wrong with my parents? Is it because they're drug addicts and alcoholics? I doubt it's the drugs or the alcohol because I'm very loving and nurturing, so I must conclude that there must be genes in me that haven't yet been expressed. I fear that I may be a terrible father, if I had kids, even if I was a loving caring husband, and I cared for my pets more than I even cared for myself.

Oh well, maybe it'll all be over soon and I can leave the final analysis to somebody else.

 

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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.

 

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