Stuck in the Middle with You

The dentistry is done, but I am mentally fried. Stress does different things to people, for me there’s this rapid inability to be capable of anything except middle-distance staring and comfort eating. Right now both are largely under control, but a lot is left of the day to work with. Praise the Deities for more PopChips Corn Chips, is all I’m saying.

This afternoon I’ll attempt to get to grips with the next part of my Free Marketing Course Journey. Before that I need to write thank you letters to the three ladies that I worked with yesterday who were all unbelievably kind, and who are all light years ahead of me in terms of achievement and personal progress. Instead of letting Imposter Syndrome consume me, I’m going to try and get constructive results from what I have.

If I get through today intact, I will be happy.

The Crying Game

The thing is, it IS all men. All this shit has been normalized to a point where this is the future that everybody Normal [TM] wants, where you know exactly what a woman is so if you flirt with you won’t get traumatized when you discover that maybe they aren’t what you thought they were. Forget their trauma, that’s irrelevant. This is all about you.

The Vengeful Left are out to get you all, Richard Littlejon says so. Except, in the end, all they want is change, and all the Benevolent Right wants is for nothing in their lives to change at all. There’s a problem with that, of course. The planet’s on fire, and nobody’s made anything for a while, and everything is a bit of a mess so, like it or not, Change is Inevitable.

This has been coming for a while. It’s not going away. It is time to pick your side, and dig in for the fight ahead because, like it or not, that is where we are. I know which side I’m on, and it’s time you did too, because there will be no prisoners here. That’s the point. One side isn’t interested in a fair and balanced view. One side isn’t bothered about anything other than themselves, their money and their position of power, or they wouldn’t have been siphoning off your IP’s on the quiet to track your viewing history.

All those people who thought we needed a good war? One’s on the way.

This time, it will be your rights and freedoms that could vanish without a trace.

Ah, that terrible left wing bias that even the Labour Party’s now trying to distance itself from because it feels there’s no other way to get in power otherwise.

What a time to be alive, eh?

The Gift

I was appropriated yesterday, and am still working my brain around the coup. I wondered if that was the right word to describe the action, on reflection, but if we start with the kids’ dictionary today:

My disappointment, because that’s what it is, lies around other people wanting to make sure their own arses are covered. I understand how all this stuff works: politics is easy to see at distance than it ever is close up. How it is now dealt with is less clear, but I’m reasonably confident the Universe will already be organising suitable redemption.

Hang on, is this you trusting to fate? Kids, we all know that fate and destiny are constructs, just like lots of other environmental factors have nothing to do with the reality people find themselves within. In the midst of chaos, everybody’s looking for an angle, a spiel… a grift. The Grift is very strong right now, for lots of people.

A lot of manipulation occurs online (and with intellectual property) that really shouldn’t happen at all: the Internet’s always been a pretty fertile ground for cons. Some people’s long games are incredibly successful, after all. If all that matters is saving face with someone else, how far will you go to bury someone else to save yourself…? I know how far some already do.

Today’s blog post therefore is understanding I’m playing a different, more ethical long game. Never grifting, zero appropriation. I leave that to other people, and understanding the landscape in which I find myself is quite important. Therefore, today is all about just doing what matters first for myself, and putting everything else to one side.

Life comes at you fast. Reacting quickly is a skill I need to practice.

Life is a Minestrone

Don’t worry, you didn’t wander in to the Gaming Blog by mistake. Quietly, and without fuss a while back, I shut it down. It really should have metaphorically burnt it to the ground too, but that’s a bit too drama queen for current tastes. Needless to say, this is Wordsworth. She has a lovely one bedroomed house with a basement on an island with some other people.

They’re not really her friends, if truth be told. She’s not really sure what they are right now, but they talk and exchange gifts and that’s fine because she can fish as much as she wants here and nobody gets cross at her. There’re gardens to tend and flowers to water and bugs to keep in check, and all of this is a lovely distraction from the real world on fire outside.

However, it’s not a life any more. This is just a game.

I spent time yesterday advocating to someone in a senior position inside a major organization that they are not doing enough for people who play games online. There’s a lot of other stuff we all know is patently wrong with the virtual world, but as this is the bit I personally have the most experience with, I’d like to start here.

There’s no real idea if this will come to anything, but I had to try. That’s the deal now: if there is any conceivable way of affording change, it needs to be pushed for. Interestingly, I now have an academic example of how Twitter operates in relation to mental health on a personal basis. I need to go take screenshots of the incident this morning.

People need to grasp how this medium makes people work.

We all have apocryphal Internet stories: the ones which you can prove as true are the incidents we need to start recording better. I must, for instance, go back and see if it is possible to find the DM logs of the woman I kept talking after she’d had a gun waved at her. There’s confidence I can recall time and date, now all I need is the evidence.

As someone with memory issues related to trauma it is becoming vitally important to record this stuff for posterity and so it can be accessed if required. It goes without saying right now that there are some conversations that ought to be screenshotted regardless. There are those in the world who will be quite keen to make history vanish, not realising that the Internet NEVER forgets.

Not only that, its timing remains impeccable when reminding you.

No Heaven

For the last couple of years I’ve entered the flagship poetry competition that is run by the flagship poetry organisation in England. The stuff I wrote was, at time of entry, absolutely my best work. Since then and now, a phenomenal amount has changed, both personally and professionally. Looking at what I submitted, and holding it up against what won? I was never in with a chance.

I find it incredibly difficult to find any affinity with poems that are, in essence, descriptive passages. That’s prose: it’s not lyrical, or exciting, or indeed affecting. Poetry, for me at least, needs a reason to exist beyond simply painting a picture. There should be depth, hidden corners, surprises waiting to emerge after multiple readings. If it’s an effort to even get through a poem once? Nope.

This is a problem, and I am wondering if there’s any point in trying to solve it.


There’s also a lot of personal trauma over the entire objective versus subjective voice that seems to hold a lot of these poems together. Being angry, apparently, doesn’t make for good poems. Look at stuff at distance, holding it with gloves instead of letting the whole thing get you mucky, seems like not giving your subject matter the airing it deserves or often forcibly demands.

However, this time around it doesn’t help that the winning poem’s subject matter is something I know quite a bit about, and carry a measure of personal experience of within. This poem is not for me. However many times I read it, it will never be for me. In fact, the more times I try to read it and understand why it won, the more upset it makes me. It is a red rag, elegantly embroidered with middle class sensibilities.

This will never be the poetry I want to write.


Therefore, when entries open for this year, should I even bother for validation? I could, it occurs to me, simply take everything that won this year, perm all the best structural features from each and then create a dream framework on which I hang my words… but really, what would be the point? One of my best skills has always been mimicry, but who cares if you’re not being honest to yourself?

This is my scheduled reminder, for what it is worth, that a poem written because the subject matter made me happy is being published this year. I will be anthologised.  That was work that mattered, and still does. This year, therefore, the middle finger goes up to the Cool Kids Club, and so what if they get offended. Life, as we are all now learning, is far too short for anything except allowing your soul the space needed to expand.

Make happiness matter more than critical appreciation.

Lonely This Christmas

I get incredibly lonely, quite a lot. I feel very lonely in unfamiliar spaces, yet seldom get the feeling exercising solo in the Gym. In fact, people and me plus exercise is often an equation for discomfort and irritation. It all boils down to the level of comfort, plus the addition (or not) of unfamiliar people who may trigger anxiety. So, why would I willingly sit on an adult ‘Buddy Bench’ and be the friend to ‘play’ with?

A lot of it has to do with understanding what loneliness and anxiety can do to myself, and knowing this… why wouldn’t I want to be the person who helps you as another lonely playground user feel better? It would be a pleasure, and the enjoyment gained just by having a chat, or maybe a quick round or two of Tag while we’re at it would tire us both out quite nicely.

The truth however is that, as adults, it isn’t just being buddies that matters.


Too often, I’ve started that process via Social media and the results… okay, let’s be brutally honest. I’ve now lost count (that is, it is more than ten) of the men who have attempted to initiate intimate relationships via online conversation using Twitter. Just Twitter, this doesn’t count email or Discord or proprietary gaming message apps. Then there are the stalkers, and the nutters who got upset when I stopped talking to them and so spent months (in at least one case) creating sock accounts to abuse me.

All I am interested in is friendship. Honestly. I’ve been happily married for over thirty years. I don’t want to have an online fling, or engage in soft-core role play. There is no interest in ANYTHING except friendship but even that has pitfalls. ‘Oh, I thought we were mates and then you unfollowed me’ is becoming a broken record as I remove those from my feed who have been selfish or racist, sexist or simply fucking dumb yet don’t even realise it has happened. This is the disadvantage, of course, on already sitting on a large number of other people’s Buddy Benches. 


Conversations are copied into my timeline if other people I follow are on joint friends’ lists, and what often happens is that the reality of other people’s shortcomings becomes apparent almost by accident. A lot of time and effort is then expended on working out whether it is worth pursuing these conversations in public. In most cases, effort isn’t worth grief that results. Also, it can get quite perilous if you’re talking about someone else and someone you’d not considered might get upset sees themselves in the analogy you’ve posted, and immediately starts up their own, unrelated drama.

Nope, it’s not worth it.

What happens now is I pick and choose other people on benches to approach. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. If I feel comfortable enough, maybe one day it will okay to sit alone, but I suspect the chances of finding someone as a long-term friend will be quite small.

Maybe I might get lucky.

We Used to Be Friends

This is going to be quite hard to write, but it needs to be said.

I seem to outlast the people I care about. Right now, there are two lovely female friends who look after me, check on my welfare and health, and listen when things get tough. Without them, my life would be beyond miserable. There is my husband, of course, who remains my best friend by some way. After that, things get a bit murky and indistinct, because… well, I dunno, to be honest. 

A lot of the people I care passionately about have simply vanished.


There’s effort, of course: trying to remember birthdays and Christmas, recalling the times when you were there because they needed someone, but ultimately they’ve gone. This year, of the dozens of lovely birthday greetings received, the most notably absent were those from those people I wished would remember, but never do. They did once upon a time, yet those moments are now history. Then it hit me.

I’ve moved on.

You have no obligation to anyone else unless it suits you. Finding real friends (especially male ones) is a particularly fraught exercise anyway right now, because of the obvious minefield of possibility that having someone you feel comfortable with presents. The thing is, male friends are what I yearn for the most. You can’t just conjure up trust and belief at a distance either. Asking for friendship is great, but only if the other person grasps what that really means.

I miss that a great deal indeed.

The truth of course is that this is the reason why it never works. All you single guys want to sleep with me, and when it becomes apparent that isn’t going to happen, all bets are off. The married ones can’t be friends with me because their wives will assume we’re having an affair. I’d love to not be some time in the last Century when it comes to all of this shit but it appears other people dictate those rules and not me.

It doesn’t help of course that the previous paragraph is bollocks, yet the same things happen over and over again. ‘You can talk to me about anything’ becomes convenient on their terms and not yours. If you give the ‘no, I really do just want to be mates’ speech a phenomenal number of blokes simply lose interest. I know this because of the last dozen or so male friendships I’ve attempted to instigate, every single one conforms to Billy Crystal’s assertion. 

Maybe it is time to stop looking and accept what I’m asking for doesn’t exist.

Last Train to Transcentral


Today is certainly not the first to involve literary disappointment. By 5pm I will be sad, but that maudlin state undoubtedly will be short lived. That’s the problem when you enter contests and someone else wins. However much I could sit the night before and imagine myself as successful, the harsh reality of modern publishing is that inevitably you have to do an awful lot of work for little to no return. For all the sweat and angst  expended, there are thousands of people doing the same. If gambling has taught me anything, it is that odds are not worth knowing, because they won’t ever help in the end. What you need, like it or not, is the patience of a saint and the ability to keep bashing your head against a wall until you die.

I’ve also discovered it helps if you’re rich too: the poem I submitted yesterday (for a contest I’ll hear the results of in December) politely asked for an entry fee before I could enter. The next mentorship I’m considering asks the same for each poem submitted, up to a maximum of six. In this case it’s a sure fire means of raising cash to pay for the mentoring, but I can’t help but feel that somewhere, something is not right. I haven’t really investigated the world of novel submission yet, but even the thought of this currently is enough to give me the vapours. Now I’m serious and capable of a finished manuscript, it will be 2018’s task to get that bandwagon finally rolling.


Of course, all of this is simply sauce for a metaphorical goose. I don’t need to expound on the health benefits of writing and that the significance of doing so is continuing to outweigh the desire for critical acknowledgement, but these bills won’t pay themselves. So, whilst I write blogs and essays, poems and fiction need to start pulling their weight considerably more than is currently the case. Throwing work at contests and mentorship chances could end up driving a lesser woman to madness is all I ever get as feedback is silence: ‘no correspondence will be entered into’ is the equivalent of a door slammed unceremoniously in your face, multiple times.

Yet, I know only too well that to be successful, that failure is essential. You must learn from every poem, grasp the significance of each unsuccessful attempt, and hope exasperation can be kept to a minimum. The belief must be that if you are truly good enough, eventually, someone will notice. However, would I be more attractive as a writer  if I paid to submit six poems to my mentorship scheme as opposed to, say, only three? Do I have to ensure I hit a specific word count for a story to show I ‘understand my genre’ or can I just write from sheer love of the task? A lot is expected from authors in the modern world. Knowing how to social media successfully is probably quite a way down that list.


What is becoming apparent, at least from behind the screens I now inhabit, is that failure is relative. I’m never lost for things to do of late. There’s never a day where I ponder what there is to be done. Boredom has become utterly non-existent. As I sat yesterday afternoon between two guys at the Gym, both of whom were using lighter weights than I was, it became apparent that success isn’t just relative but increasingly subjective. I can’t confidently handle a mountain bike, yet doing upright rows with 16kg weights is second nature. Everybody has to start somewhere. Not stressing about outcome allows process to become habit, and fear to no longer hamstring your progress.

Yesterday’s poem was possibly the most personal thing I have ever written, and by doing so an important mental block has shifted. I am no longer afraid of allowing genuine, unfettered emotion a release through my work. This ultimately will never be anything other than a Good Thing [TM] and knowing this means that in the next few weeks, nothing and nobody is safe in terms of subject matter.

I am ready to deal with disappointment, however it decides to manifest.



The Internet is a great place, we all know this. However, like any massive playground where mob rule will undoubtedly apply if you screw up, there is NEVER a guarantee that people will play nicely, follow rules or indeed do what you want them to. That means that, if you’re trying to exploit any section within that playground, you need to do your homework REALLY carefully. Twitter’s been making new strides into ‘selling’ their marketplace this year, after disappointing previous attempts to find consistent ways of making money from the platform. Their latest adventure, on paper, looked like it might have some merit.


For most ‘normal’ users, bots are annoying and frustrating things in your timeline, but now they’ve being used to ‘sell’ products through the wonders of interactivity. The concept’s sound enough: create a personal enough experience and people will engage with your campaign, and might end up buying the product as a result. What’s far more likely however, is that people will find a way to exploit your bot and make the company (and your lack of thought plus understanding of the marketplace) appear enormously stupid. This is exactly what happened to a multinational last week. On reflection, they really should have seen the issue coming.


Sabotage is not the right word here, NetImperative. I really doubt this was individuals approaching a promotion with the agenda of conscious destruction. Walkers allowed people to upload photographs, assuming people would only want to use their own image as a ‘selfie.’ There were no checks and balances that pictures being provided were suitable. Using images of convicted criminals is what will happen when people grasp you didn’t think through the consequences as a company, and the Internet decides to show up your stupidity.


I find it increasingly frustrating how the Internet is portrayed as the enemy by people who don’t grasp the first clue about how it works. Politicians assuming that this is where extremism happens don’t grasp that terrorism isn’t just undertaken by one easily identifiable group of individuals. If all you see is isolated, unrelated problems having single solutions, that the only way to fight to be right is to defeat those that are wrong… it is like the arguments I have with my kids. They don’t do subtle: I either told them to do it or I didn’t, asking them to consider subtlety is largely lost. However, on platforms such as the Internet, reality is no longer about one thing at a time. If you can’t multi-task, or consider that some people will be doing four or five things simultaneously whilst at the same time looking for ways to exploit your lack of foresight? You’re going to get burnt, just like Walkers.


Ironically, talking to friends on Twitter, we saw this coming. Maybe there is money to be made in the future being a Freelance Provocatrix, driving my three wheeled tricycle from company to organisation, warning them of the dangers of not thinking your marketing strategy through online. However well you think you know the Internet?

They’ll always have the capacity to surprise you.