Monday, Monday

My hairdresser and I have formed a relationship away from work. It means that she feels comfortable to share little titbits of data with me: one that was a particular surprise is that she had trouble with depth perception. That means, if someone was to hit a tennis ball at her from distance, she’d be unable to judge where it landed. I’ve tried to imagine what this must be like to have to cope with mentally, and suspect it is a bit stressful.

Occasionally, when online, people will share memes that make me realise a) just how young they must be and b) just how old I am. It’s not a problem insofar as gauging how far into the past or future other people are related to me. I like to not judge at all, if I can help it, rather assess each person met on merit. It is up to them to show me who they are.

Grasping how people operate online however can be a little more difficult.

There have always been people who think that ‘online’ is the real danger, ever since Usenet allowed people to communicate without external regulation. There will always be outliers, and despite what Malcolm Gladwell might want to tell you their success is often defined by not being the person who is easy to profile, quantify or indeed locate.

Ironically, in these days when enemies are in plain sight and have no need to hide, highlighting those pedalling the low level dopamine hits to the masses is very easy. You don’t need to see either in front or behind to grasp the dangers: one could argue it is why government won’t regulate institutions it knows have at least some nominal value to them in keeping control.

The bigger enemy to freedom right now, ironically, is information.

My family love to mock my paranoia over tracking: yesterday, the world will know I did a virtual bike ride in my shed and then a real life one down the Thames Estuary. In the latter case, it will be obvious I navigated a portion of sea wall that has been ‘nominally’ closed due to being unsafe. There were no laws broken, but there’s enough private property in that area that had I strayed into it, Strava would have recorded it.

The ignorance most people hold over exactly what they wear and how it tracks them remains eye-wateringly painful. Seasoned protestors know how to disappear, which is why facial recognition software has become as big a topic of discussion as it undoubtedly is. The irony of having to wear masks in a place such as shopping centres where retailers employ such devices to prevent theft will not have passed many people by.

How far you can see entirely depends on what you’re capable of focussing on at any one time.

The longer COVID goes on (and no, Boris, this won’t be over in time for your no-Deal Brexit) the easier it is to see those people who are adapting, and those who face extinction. The latter won’t go quietly, or without a lot of noise and mess. Letting them go would be a lot easier if influencers stop pointing and laughing at the death throes.

Real cancel culture ought to mean silence: you just stop talking about people, ignore their desperate pleas to be relevant, and then watch them tank off their metaphorical cliffs without any more need for propulsion. That’s my plan going forward: lift up the voices that I feel matter, amplify the people who deserve to be heard. Seeing everything is sometimes disadvantageous, but not right now.

Accurate depth perception has become a part of my arsenal.

Do I Wanna Know?

I waa cycling when the alert went out that Boris had recorded a message. There was a bit of speculation beforehand: he’ll shut down London, maybe give the police more powers  to sort out people flouting the advice. Locking down the entire country was a shock. It still is. You know I said I wouldn’t talk about the C-Word any more? After this blog, honestly not gonna do it again.

At least everybody is in the same boat now. I hope you all brought snacks.


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When history recalls this period in human existence, these days will probably be granted scant attention. Reference may well be made to how learning to deal with contagion was never really considered on a global scale before, despite it having taken place previously. What will matter undoubtedly is what happens afterwards: how life changes when dust settles, as governments are forced to concede that priorities have shifted.

I’d like to think that it will be the virtual world which will emerge from this as the real winner. There’s been talk in certain circles of how the Internet has been wasted as a true communication resource, this is something that will now be pulled front and centre. Many people won’t be thinking further than tomorrow right now, but for those of you with spare mental capacity, this is absolutely the moment when new paths will be defined.

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History will remember the foolish as a warning: you were told to stay in and not spread a virus that may not totally physically decimate a population, but has altered its mental outlook forever. The brave however will prosper. They will endure, and hopefully when the time comes can possess momentum to allow humanity to evolve a little wiser and more capable.

Don’t be the person who said ‘I told you so.’ Be the one who asks ‘How can I help?’

Reality Bites

This isn’t what Britain has become. This is what it has always been. After a decade where the ordinary, hardworking people of the country were punished by a select few spending money that didn’t exist (and in many cases still doesn’t) they are the ones who have suffered. Their community centres, libraries and public spaces have been sold off and shut down, whilst the super rich just get wealthier.

Brexit, like it or not, has become realistic change. It represents ‘better’ in a place where everything else is so dire and horrendous it’s easier to just stop thinking. After years of watching a bunch of people argue over the best way to do something nobody really knew how to accomplish in the first place, the country devolved responsibility to the charlatans. This way, in five years, they’ll know EXACTLY who is to blame.

Those of us who have sat in a left wing echo chamber for the last month or so are beginning to grasp that change for us is so far out of reach that nobody currently is capable of achieving it. No political party exists for us to vote for who embodies the radicalism that is undoubtedly required to save humanity, because that is the situation we find ourselves within.

A teenage girl has made everyone look foolish, and rightly so.

She’s not just the person of the year, but a benchmark for the next ten.

Watching sensible, rational people thrash about on social media over the last 48 hours, trying to find someone to blame, is a waste of everybody’s time. We’re to blame. Nobody thinks like us, or provides for us the answers required. It isn’t because they’re an anti semite, or xenophobic, or anti Islam. It’s not because they’re pro Christian or anti Gay. All of those things existed before all this happened. None of them explain failure.

What they do is highlight difference, diversity, a celebration of the world around us that has singularly failed to grasp that we are not everyone else. The assumption, arrogant that it is, that just because you know someone’s a lying cunt means everybody else must see the same. It makes you… well, a stupid cunt. Trying to then blame someone or something else for that failure of comprehension achieves nothing long term.

What will help, right now, is not devolving responsibility, but looking for who needs help.

An American friend of mine has started using the phrase ‘look for the helpers’ and although some might consider channeling Mr Rogers largely inappropriate under these circumstances, there’s a ring of truth to it. Maybe this is the moment you realise all this bad shit’s been happening a lot longer than ten years before getting off your arse to do something about it.

It can be as simple as when you’re shopping to buy half a dozen items to stick in the food bank basket at the supermarket. Dispose of litter responsibly. Stop using outdated racist language. Become more tolerant. There’s no way you can reverse the events of Thursday throwing bile and vitriol at the people you think fucked it up for everybody else. This will not work. What WILL work is if all of us start thinking more and reacting less.

Of course, you shouldn’t have to do it. Of course everything is broken and yes, it’s horrible, but you will not fix anything if your mindset assumes it is damaged beyond repair. All those superhero movies you watch that tell you HOPE IS WHAT MAKES US HUMAN are not just mindless entertainment. Listen. Learn. Adapt, and survive. Maybe, along the way, you can inspire others to do the same.

There’s an irony too, that a speech which was given by a man who now makes me feel physically unwell, is in fact what needs to happen. I need to get over my issues and find better ways to help others and my planet. I don’t need to spend weeks sitting, looking at social media, dissecting the truths that existed long before Thursday happened. This country is fucked nine ways to Christmas: Brexit was not catalyst, but consequence.

Populism is a concept that now underpins so much of modern politics, which this country has singularly failed to adapt to on the political left. The political right, however, is very good at doing just that… and it really doesn’t matter anymore whether they’re lying or not, if their leader’s an unqualified buffoon. This country has altered, as have so many others to the idea that ‘better’ does not mean either ideal or best.

As long as nothing actually changes that much, it’ll be fine. Of course, with Brexit, that is not necessarily going to take place. As long as the rich stay rich, who cares? Survival of the fittest will no longer depend on genetics or intelligence, but how much cash you earn. The problem, of course, as certain high profile rich blokes have discovered, is that having cash doesn’t make you attractive. 

There’s some dystopian futures at play here my writing brain does not wish to entertain.

If you’re still thrashing about on Monday looking for other people to criticise, it’s time to move on. You get this weekend to be angry, then begin the process of grieving. For those who did this when we voted Remain and were rudely awoken from our stupor to the real reality of the UK’s endemic failures, that’s already happened. We’re already mobilising, and could do with you as additional help.

Everybody, everywhere, needs to #Resist and push for actual, meaningful change.

Baba O’Riley

I did not want to get out of bed this morning. Yesterday was a tough one for eating discipline, plus exercise. For the first time I can remember, there was a scrabble to find a snack before my scheduled class: I was light-headed. It would have been a struggle to do 55 minutes without it. As it transpired, by the end of the class, there was not a part of me that did not hurt.

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The killer, undoubtedly, was being pushed out of comfort zones: having to pick different weights for the strength portions of the workout, being asked to run on a 10% incline (I didn’t, walking was enough to kill both hips) and to spend approximately half the time lying on my back, exercising chest and core… there’s enough of an understanding now about these graphs to grasp that 75% effort from that is a massive bonus.

This however is not an exercise post. Today is about happiness, and how it feels to be out in the fields, watching the rest of the world around you throwing their toys out of ridiculously decorated prams, arguing about petty insignificances in their lives that somehow end up being so much more important than they need to be. There’s a lot of that going on in my corner of existence too. People forget what really matters.

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I thought it would get harder as age advanced to separate what’s worthwhile and isn’t… except, it is getting easier. It’s really easy to be stupid, to act on your own desires ahead of common sense and considered reason. That’s what has caused so much trouble for me over the years, allowing obsessions to overtake reality. That’s what’s happening around me now, on Social media… people who should know better, losing their grip on reality.

Having dragged myself out of bed, to do the day despite feeling like body was broadsided by a truck, all of this boils down to choice. Nobody is making me eat this cleanly except… well, me, and it would have been easy to not attend last night’s exercise class. 18 people were booked, only 12 showed. All these decisions are based on the realisation that even on shitty days when everything hurts, this path is worth walking regardless.

Back it comes to principles and ethics, every time, that innate sense that whatever happens, more than at any point before humanity requires a moral compass that is unshakeable. It’s why attacks on free speech matter just as much as those using fake news to try and sway the unsuspecting. This isn’t just innocence or ignorance that needs to be addressed either: smart people are being stupid. We should not facilitate this.

That means, on any given day, making sure I don’t retweet the people being stupid but simply comment on them. It demands I look for voices of reason and objectivity, because from them comes the means by which we can be set free of our own restrictive and often damaging thinking. To reinvent ourselves in the modern world is an absolute requirement: it needs to take place, often on a daily basis.

True happiness does not manifest without considerable personal effort.

Begin Again

Religion has an awful lot to answer for: wars, plagues of frogs, beards… the list is endless. At it’s core however we, as humans, should grasp its true significance. This is a system of control. All religions present rules for living a good life, suggest means by which this should take place. Most religions reassure that it’s okay, death is just a transitional state when the reality is a lot more bleak and frankly frightening for most. Religion, simply put, was a requirement as man developed free will and curiosity. It was the means by which people could be dictated to, whilst selfishly playing on basic fears.

The reality for billions of other people however is that religion is an essential, brilliant part of their existence. It allows them peace and focus to become better individuals. Faith provides vital communities that care and clothe, support and understand: nurturing development, granting vital peace to those at the end of their existences. Religion provides means by which existence is both understood and continued, and it is the love within hearts and minds that can bring so much good and happiness to bear.

Both these opinions are equally valid.

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Religion is the first place where, I now grasp, the true value of compromise was learnt. My first direct experience with the devout was not pleasant. However, it taught a lesson that only now after nearly thirty five years has registered as the norm. Allow other people to believe what they wish, and respect that right. Nothing else really matters in the world right now than being able to exist with each other in a manner that will then allow us all to work on the more pressing issues facing the environment.

Except, of course, other people’s priorities are different.

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After a life-changing event on Friday, a lot of priorities have been shifted. Over the next few weeks, as these alterations become more apparent, there will undoubtedly be some changes. That includes making reasoning more flexible. It is becoming apparent that a lot of basic knowledge on interacting with people has never really been properly grasped during my lifetime: this is a very good opportunity to start working out where the holes are.

Every day is a school day, remember.

You Wear It Well

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


It’s been a tough 24 hours. I’ve been forced to think about a lot of things that really weren’t wanted, but that’s often how this journey goes. There’s not a choice as to what you can ignore or run away from. It becomes a testament to internal strength built and your own ability to cope. It is a salutatory reminder of today’s pretty accompanying graphic.

DAY 3:
You remain the arbiter of destiny’s final course.

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On my Social media friends list are those who happily follow others who have verbally abused me. These people have accused me of being disruptive and argumentative, that my views are contrary to what is required not only in their spaces, but in life generally. The way I think and present myself is part of the Internet’s overall problem, which is a point that probably bears reinforcing at this juncture. Being the contrary opinion to anyone with prominence is your #1 best way to start a fight anywhere.

Except, that doesn’t happen any more.

There are, I’ll grant you, moments when the validity of calling out those people who others believe to be decent and honest seems like a great idea… then comes the reminder that everybody does stupid shit. Lots of us fail to learn from our mistakes. It is, amazingly, a big enough world  to be able to just put distance between me and the abusers and move on. There are those who’d argue this isn’t the answer, but on reflection there’s a bigger issue to address, that is often overlooked.

You won’t be friends with everybody, however much you try.

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Bad stuff happens to everybody. How much bad stuff ultimately depends on not only an individual’s perception, but the amount of time you’re prepared to remain in a toxic relationship. There are, of course, many ways you can be held against your will and if that is the case, it’s already time to get out. The trickiest issue with online relationships are the boundaries: what might seem an incredibly simple solution (just stop messaging them) to one person becomes an impossible task for somebody else, and here is the lesson to learn.

I watched a lot of people in the last 24 hours lament other people’s reactions: calling them exaggerations, not understanding why some people will become as angry as they do. Then there is the counter: why haven’t you spoken up previously? If it matters that much, why aren’t you doing more about it? All of these words show that those involved don’t truly grasp the issues at play. They need to stop making the same mistakes. As my abuser above points out: silence is not agreement.

Silence is the mistake we must all stop making.

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I was targeted by a number of anonymous Twitter accounts in 2016 and, on reflection, there’s a good chance it was the same person behind them all. The email a popular blogger wrote me as a response for a request about his actions is printed out and kept as a permanent reminder: stop making the same mistakes these people do. I can’t reasonably expect to expose and champion every time someone fucked up on line, because everybody is human. What is more realistic is to focus on the stuff I’m capable of changing.

The key to growth and development isn’t being stuck with the same mindset from birth to grave. It is, and always will be, a process of evolution and adaptation. Other people may not change, but without this process of reinvention there would be no point in my mind to existing at all. So, it is time to learn from this week’s events, to suggest others could learn a lot by doing the same, and to carry on forward.

That way, not stuck here.

Sharp Dressed Man

I promise there will not be too much going on about The New Project this week, but as it all kicks off tomorrow, this seems like the correct moment to explain just how fucking important Arguto is. This is the means by which anything is possible and acceptable as a writer. Sure, there could be an extension of self in any one of the three existing places that are provisioned for writing, but all of them come with a measure of immovable baggage. This place is new, fresh: the most pristine of clean slates. Here can be written the part of me that’s been hidden for decades.

This is where I will finally be free.

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I expect the first steps to be tentative and cautious, but already ideas are germinating that will, in time, become brilliant blooms. Laying down a month of ambient vibes across the other platforms is a means by which brain relaxes into the grooves, and begins to run a better course. The plan, long-term, is to use a number of pre-planned projects as a basis for experience-based writing. This will begin with the ten days in August put aside for the road trip to Rome, ambition finally realised after several decades.

After that, there are plans to use London as a springboard but to also explore the place that is called home. Potentially there’s an infinite supply of source material at my disposal, what is required is the planning and organisation to pull everything together. Crucially, there will be physical evidence of all of this as a paper-based version of the online narrative is produced initially for free, but in time with the possibility of charging people to cover printing fees.

There, I said it.

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I’m grateful to those already preparing to make this journey because it is reassuring to know you are not alone. Rest assured, its already a roaring success without a word being written.

Freedom gives a sense of confidence I’ve never found anywhere else in my life.

Goodbye

The day you first learn to walk, there is no expectation. It is a natural and normal part of your development from child to adult. You decide the right moment, and then it is no longer an issue. I’ve never broken a bone in my life (touch wood) but have had a period where I could not walk unaided. The day you know the crutch is no longer required should not become the be-all and end-all of the dependence, but that is only if you realise that you relied on the support.

Finally, the stage has been reached where it matters that what I write is seen as mine, and mine alone.

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This has been a long, strange journey, but now it is time to stop using a video game to sell me. I no longer wish to use this method as promotion either; finally, there is sufficient confidence to build a brand on my own work and not criticising someone else’s. It’s a crutch that was for a long time an indispensable part of my daily life; now I’ve returned to just enjoying it for what it is. In fact, once I’ve written this I’ll spend an hour sorting out characters and be maintaining an interest.

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Only one person thought they’d try and ruin my day yesterday. Before there have been several. This, in itself, is an important step forward too. I realise just how toxic and frustrating the Intenet can choose to be on any given day, but taking control into my own hands have an important advantage: I make the rules. That means, starting in April, I’ll be promoting myself via Twitter for three months as a means by which to judge whether the platform has any use to me. It’s a risky (and quite expensive) gamble but without trying, I will never know.

This is unexplored territory, and quite exciting as a result.

Hard Rain

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As a rule, admitting a bad day in public is frowned upon by most. Once upon a time I’d be forced to keep quiet if this happened, but fortunately those days have now passed. The only thing preventing me from expressing an issue now are the words needed to do so. You’d think that a writer could describe distress quite eloquently, but that’s not the case here. Trying to depict raw emotion, frankly, has been an almost impossible task. At least it was, until yesterday.

That was when ability finally caught up with desire.

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After two days of frankly awful mental capacity (which at least in part is related to menopausal hormonal chaos) I have woken up feeling close to human. In fairness it began last night, allowing an awful lot of progress on work that’s been irking me. The speed at which things improved was very much dictated by my ability to explain where the problems lay, and then how they should be dealt with. I’ll admit I didn’t get all the resolution I’d wanted, but there was enough to allow all the negative emotions a space to flow away. Mostly, yesterday was a massive success for development as a poet. Trying to describe real feelings, transcribing that from brain to page, has created an ability that simply did not exist a year ago.

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I’m still reeling from that revelation: it has taken half a century for me to be able to adequately describe what’s the matter with me. So many of my problems in early life could have been solved, or simply have just not happened, if I’d found the means to do this sooner. To all you lucky people who can precisely focus on such things, I have nothing but admiration: it is going to take a while to do this consistently, but now I can I think there’s going to be a depth to my fiction work that didn’t exist previously. I’m already considering my September short story as a massive departure from my first two, ‘easy’ stabs at the format. The only way you get better is by practice, after all.

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This revelation also led to me scheduling a day every week just to write, and by that I don’t mean worry about blogging. In fact, starting this Thursday I’ll get up and not even look at a blog post across all of my sites. If I’m a smart woman I’ll also not stare at Twitter either. In fact that might be the better thing to do: schedule everything on Thursday and then walk away. I already have the gaming component of my time pre-planned for the week, so there is absolutely no reason the writing portion can’t go the same way.

What’s the worst that could happen?