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Nov
13

Should Writers Really Know How To Do Grammar and Spelling and Stuff?

Not Too RightIt has been brought to my attention, on more than one occasion, that, when it comes to my blog, I am a little bit lazy. Not only do I hardly ever update it, but, when I do, my posts are invariably full of errors. The excuse that I tell myself for this is “hey, I’m spontaneous! Creativity can’t flourish when bound by rules and restrictions such as spelling and grammar!’ And I wholeheartedly stand by this, but…

As a published author, is it not my responsibility to showcase the English language as it ought to be written? After all, whenever I see someone else who clearly knows nothing about their profession (i.e. an education minister with no experience in education, or a minister for culture with only a history in finance), then I am up in arms, and asking “how can this happen?!” And if I’m reading a magazine article that’s full of errors, it drives me INSANE!

Yes, it would appear that I am a big fat hypocrite.

But, on the other hand, (here I come, gallantly racing to my own defence), nobody’s perfect, right? I mean, it’s only a blog, not a professional publication that goes through proof-readers and copy editors. It’s just me, as I am, laid bare, and in real life. And, even though we should all strive to be the best we can possibly be, if we all thought that every single thing we did had to be 100% perfect, would any of us even bother, or would we be too afraid to try?

Maybe the world needs incompetent professionals in order to inspire others who might otherwise be scared off by the sheer brilliance of the top dogs? I mean, if it weren’t for taxi drivers all over the world, I never would have thought it possible to ever pass my driving test! And if it weren’t for politicians, the morally corrupt might think there was only a career for them in scams, fraud, and theft! And if it wasn’t for lawyers…

OK, maybe I should stop before I paint myself into a rather ugly corner here. The question is (or questions are- Is it inspirational to see other’s shortcomings, or is it merely unprofessional, and irresponsible? Or does it not really make much difference either way – it’s only a blog?

Aug
20

Clarity on Depression

Wow. That last post was seen by quite a lot of people. I don’t know how many because I purposely avoid figures and statistics as I find stuff like that stifles my struggling creativity, but it was enough to crash the servers of my blog providers.

(If you haven’t read my last post you can see it here, because this one won’t make much sense without it).

Of course, I’m glad that so many people read it, as the message of that post was something I wanted as many people as possible to understand. Unfortunately, no doubt due to my ineptitude as a writer, many, many people appeared NOT to understand that message. I received a lot of angry, hate-filled messages arguing other subjects inspired by the text – Is suicide a choice? Can we compare Depression to Cancer? Do I know what the f**k I’m talking about? Etc. And, of all of these angry messages, none of them were discussing what the post was actually about.

In my defence, my blog isn’t usually a hive of activity, and I really only expected a handful of people to read it, so it was really just a quick note that I wrote between my usual daily tasks. Nonetheless, I feel, for once and for all, I really ought to spell out, plainly and clearly, exactly what I was trying to say. So here it is – my opinion:

Depression is a widely misunderstood illness that it is not suffered by choice.  

It’s quite simple.

The sheer number of contradictory comments I found on my blog, Facebook and Twitter, from people with conflicting opinions on Depression, stand as proof that the illness is widely misunderstood. Even those who have or do suffer from it can’t seem to agree!

And the idea that people suffer Depression by choice, or as a result of their own refusal to try to cheer up, is surely a no-brainer. It’s an illness – how can you choose an illness? But this is where the real divide seems to lie. This is where opinions really clash. And this is where the real problem in general lack of understanding Depression really arises.

It seems that any of us who have ever suffered Depression, or have ever known anyone with Depression, or known someone who took their own life as a result of depression, automatically become experts on the subject. We are not. I am not. How can one person ever claim to understand what is going on inside the brain of another? I have had a headache once, but that does not qualify me to claim to know what it feels like to die from head trauma. Our minds are all different and unique to us, and since Depression is an illness that affects our minds, we can assume that each and every case of Depression is different and unique too.

Another clashing point seems to be as to whether you can choose to get better from Depression. If this were possible there would be no such thing as Depression. It’s as simple as that. You can choose to fight depression, and I personally cannot imagine a single living human being with Depression that is not fighting it every single day of their lives. But, as I mentioned in my previous post, so few people seem to understand that just because Depression affects the mind, that doesn’t mean the sufferer is able to change their mind about whether to have depression or not. Some therapies can help train the mind into ignoring some of the effects of Depression, but that is a million miles away from someone having the ability to wake up one morning and say “Ah, screw it, I can’t be bothered having Depression any more,” and being miraculously cured (though I’m sureWord Cloud Depression I’ll get some messages about cases where this exact thing happened!)

Depression is an illness that effects the mind, just as heart disease is an illness that effects the heart, but you don’t expect a mere “change of heart” to cure that disease do you?

I know people who quite clearly have Depression but refuse to seek help because they are emb arrassed or ashamed or simply don’t want to accept that something might be “wrong” with them. I know people who have been diagnosed with Depression, yet still believe that it is their fault that they feel this way. And I have witnessed a young lady, who believed she was suffering from Depression, approach her own mum for advice, who, at the time, also suffered Depression, only to be told “Don’t be so stupid! What have you got to be depressed about?” This, to me, is so wrong, and is proof that we, the general public, need a far better understanding of what Depression is.

We need to understand that it is not someone’s fault if they suffer Depression. We need to understand that suffering Depression is not the same as feeling depressed. We need to understand that you don’t necessarily have to have something to be depressed about to suffer Depression. And we need to understand that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about in suffering Depression. And this last point is where I will unapologetically compare Depression to Cancer, Heart Disease, Appendicitis or any other illness under the sun that isn’t a result of having sex with animals – there is nothing, NOTHING to be ashamed about. And it is this shame, which is a result of our lack of understanding, which is stopping people from speaking out about their Depression, which only leaves more room for people to fill that void with comments fuelled by ignorance and short-sightedness.

So, to all of you who don’t only have negative, hurtful aspersions to share – Start talking about Depression. End the stigma. Start educating the ignorant. And, in the words of Johnny Mercer, “Accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative.”

Aug
12

Robin Williams Did Not Die From Suicide

Robin Williams didn’t die form suicide. I only just heard the sad, sad news of Robin Williams’s death. My wife sent me a message to tell me he had died, and, when I asked her what he died from, she told me something that nobody in the news seems to be talking about.

When people die from cancer, their cause of death can be various horrible things – seizure, stroke, pneumonia – and when someone dies after battling cancer, and people ask “How did they die?”, you never hear anyone say “pulmonary embolism”, the answer is always “cancer”. A Pulmonary Embolism can be the final cause of death with some cancers, but when a friend of mine died from cancer, he died from cancer. That was it. And when I asked my wife what Robin Williams died from, she, very wisely, replied “Depression”.

The word “suicide” gives many people the impression that “it was his own decision,” or “he chose to die, whereas most people with cancer fight to live.” And, because Depression is still such a misunderstood condition, you can hardly blame people for not really understanding. Just a quick search on Twitter will show how many people have little sympathy for those who commit suicide…

But, just as a Pulmonary Embolism is a fatal symptom of cancer, suicide is a fatal symptom of Depression. Depression is an illness, not a choice of lifestyle. You can’t just “cheer up” with depression, just as you can’t choose not to have cancer. When someone commits suicide as a result of Depression, they die from Depression – an illness that kills millions each year. It is hard to know exactly how many people actually die from Depression each year because the figures and statistics only seem to show how many people die from “suicide” each year (and you don’t necessarily have to suffer Depression to commit suicide, it’s usually just implied).  But considering that one person commits suicide every 14 minutes in the US alone, we clearly need to do more to battle this illness, and the stigmas that continue to surround it. Perhaps Depression might lose some its “it was his own fault” stigma, if we start focussing on the illness, rather than the symptom. Robin Williams didn’t die from suicide. He died from Depression*. It wasn’t his choice to suffer that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please note that, at this point in time, the cause of Robin Williams’s death is officially a “suspected suicide” and no official cause of death has been published yet.

Jun
21

The Mundane and Uneventful Life of Me

Before you begin, as much as you may doubt what you are reading, please believe me when I say that absolutely every single word of this is 100% true.*

I have to admit, just minutes after I’d written the post before this one, I kind of regretted it. I mean, what was I thinking? “I will be writing about my own real life… so I will attempt to live a more interesting, eventful, and entertaining life”. Am I insane???!!! I couldn’t live an entertaining life if you wrapped me in cellophane, painted me pink, glued live rabbits to my back, and dropped me into the middle of a maximum security prison (I haven’t got a clue what all of these things might add up to, but they seem like they should result in something mildly interesting). My life is as eventful as a three-nippled turnip at a stamp-collectors convention (again, haven’t got a clue what any of that means, but it sounds pretty dull). Or so I thought…

Last week I took the family down to see my parents, and, whilst there, we took a day trip to action packed, centre of all excitement Stratford-Upon-Avon (home of the Royal Shakespeare Company). As I waited in line to take the kids on a fifteen minute ride in a row-boat down the River Avon, I overheard an elderly Canadian couple discussing how peas taste different in England, and it was slowly becoming extremely obvious that something outrageously fun was about to happen. And then an short old lady turned around to talk to me, and the excitement-ometer went from crazy to absolutely frickin’ insanoOo!

“I’m ever so sorry to trouble you, and please feel absolutely free to decline, but I don’t suppose you would be so kind as to row my boat for me, would you?” said the lady who looked uncannily like Judi Dench, sounded very much like Judi Dench, and bloody well WAS Dame Judi Nobbing Dench! (That isn’t her real middle name, just incase you were wondering).

Yes, the queen of British film royalty was stood directly in front of me, looking straight at me, and speaking words towards my face! Once I’d overcome the initial shock I very nervously and eagerly agreed to row her boat for her (not a euphemism), dumped the kids with my wife, climbed into the row boat with the wobbly clumsiness of a seasoned rowing maestro, then watched, very un-gallantly, as someone else helped her into the boat.

“Away we go!” she giggled once she was seated comfortably, and I compliantly began to waggle the oars in the water.

“Don’t worry, I have done this before, but it always takes me a while to get the hang of it,” I assured her. I waited for a reassuring reply, or possibly a mocking reply, or ANY kind of reply, but, when I looked up, I saw that she was already lost in a world of her own.

She said absolutely nothing for the next three or four minutes, and just stared, misty-eyed, at the rippling water, seemingly oblivious to the fact that my rowing was getting worse, not better. When she did finally speak I got the impression that a wibbly-wobbly boat ride on the splashy-sploshy waters of the River Avon may not have been a very good idea, as she was actually a little bit tipsy.

“This might not have been a terribly good idea,” she said. “You see, I’m actually a little bit tipsy right now.”

She went on to explain that she had been out to a party the night before, and was yet to return home. I guessed that she may have been a little bit more than slightly tipsy when she used words and phrases like “out on the lash”, “completely shit-faced”, and “twatted a hamster in the face with a cotton bud.” I’d love to embellish on these details, but I’m sorry to say that I didn’t have a clue what the hell she was babbling on about.

I noticed that she was turning slightly green, and began making barely perceptible vomit convulsions in her chest, so I did my inept best at turning the boat around, to take her back to the bit where you take the boats back to, but that was when she lurched forwards, yanked the oar from my right hand, then began bashing the hell out of a semi-submerged Tesco carrier bag that was drifting past us.

“Piss off!” She yelled at it. “Go on! Get bent, you arrogant, prima donna! I’ll give you what for if you ever show your face around here again, you prissy little bald twat!”

Then she sat back down, and a look of realisation came over her. First she looked shocked, then she looked embarrassed, and then she threw her head back and laughed so loud she practically screamed. And she continued to laugh like this until I too began to laugh. And she continued to laugh like this until I stopped laughing and wondered if she was alright. And she continued to laugh like this until it really began to freak me out. And then she took a breath, leant forwards and said ‘I thought it was Patrick Stewart!’ And that got her laughing all over again. And then, when the insane laughing was finally over, she leant forwards, clutched my oar-less hand and said, ‘one word of advice for the future, my dear, never drink absynthe before you’re due to perform Shakespeare.’
‘Are you performing today?’ I asked.
‘Yes, yes, but not until one o’clock,’ she replied, for some reason adopting an Irish accent.
‘Erm…’ I said, pulling my phone out so I could just check how many minutes were left until one o’clock (which I know was not many). And then she snatched the phone from my hand and tossed it into the water.
‘Feck!’ she yelled at me, still in an Irish accent. ‘Feck you and yeh fecken enternet, trying to get me on your YouTube or some fecken shite!’

By this point I was not very amused, and my moment of being stars truck was officially over, so I clenched my jaw, bit my tongue, and paddled (with one oar) as fast as I could, back to the riverside. It took about three minutes,
and, for every one of those three minutes, she continued to shout swear words and other phrases, like “wanky apple farts!” and “wobbly chair-legs!” at myself and on-lookers, still in an Irish accent. She also produced handfuls of drinking straws from her handbag, which appeared to have been stolen from McDonalds, then tore the ends of the paper wrappers off, stuck the exposed parts of the straws into her nostrils (sometimes two at a time), then attempted to launch the paper wrappers off the ends of the straws, towards the gathering on-lookers, using nothing but nostril air. Only one wrapper actually made it beyond the perimeter of the boat, and on two occasions she actually performed complete nasal evacuations into the water. I could not believe that this was the same woman who played the Queen in Shakespeare In Love.

When it came time for her to get out of the boat she suddenly began to act perfectly normally again. She thanked the boat guy who helped her back onto dry land, she thanked me in a very genuine and courteous manner, and then apologised for drowning my phone, and promised to compensate me for it. And then she turned around and walked away.

I do not know if she was genuinely drunk, or if she was doing this for a joke, or maybe as part of some hidden camera TV prank show (if it was, then I know for a fact that they need my consent before they can air it on TV, and I saw nobody hanging around with a consent form and a pen) but it was, without any shadow of a doubt, the most bizarre and interesting nine minutes of my life.

PS. I went online that evening, to look for reviews of her performance at the RSC, wondering if she remained at the same level of insanity whilst on stage, and I discovered that she isn’t even in any plays there!

PPS. I haven’t got a clue how she intends to compensate me for my phone, but I’m hoping she will read this blog post and try to get in touch with me.

I’m not sure how I will ever top this.

*that part isn’t entirely true.

May
23

I’m Back…

For those of you who regularly follow this blog… what is wrong with you? I haven’t posted on here in over a year! Please seek medical attention immediately.

The reason I haven’t kept this blog up to date is because of some reasons. However, this is something I intend to change, and the way I plan to go about it is to refer to my first book, in two ways:

1. I am going to write it in the same way that I wrote my first book – as if nobody is ever going to read it (this is not too difficult for me to imagine), which will include lots of typos, bad grammar, bad spelling, and general bad badness. The major difference will be that I will be writing about my own real life, instead of a fictional character.

2. I am going to follow in the footsteps of my title character – nobody wants to read about my boring life as it is, so I will attempt to live a more interesting, eventful, and entertaining life, more for my own benefit than anyone elses.

This will all begin as soon as I feel brave enough. I don’t know when that will be, or how often this will be updated, but, since you are not reading this, that doesn’t really matter.

See you soon! xx

Apr
21

Holiday

I’ve recently been on holiday. It was one of those caravan sites with a big swimming pool, evening entertainment (provided by people who failed to make it into the auditions for Britain’s Got Talent), and where, as part of the package deal, you get tiny people hidden in one of the caravan cupboards.
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I had never been on one of these holidays before and have to admit that I wasn’t too sure what I’d make of the whole ‘tiny people in your caravan cupboards’ thing. It turns out that our tiny people proved to be a fountain of knowledge, having the answers for all those ‘first day of holiday’ questions we had, and also being helpful guides to the local amenities and sights. Unfortunately, despite all of their knowledge and wisdom, the only thing they ever bothered to share with us was how to get to the swimming pool.
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And on those rare occasions that they didn’t lead us to the pool, I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were only taking us to places that THEY wanted to go.
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(And that ride wasn’t even going round. Which was pretty freaking weird!)

Yes, the novelty of having these “amusing” little people in our caravan was short-lived. It soon became all too apparent that they were only in this for personal gain. Things soon went from bad to worse.

They drank our wine.
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They hogged the TV.

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And they had the most aggressively messed-up interpretation of ‘photo bombing’ I have ever come across!

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In short, this became more of a holiday for THEM than it was for US, and I have written to the holiday village head office to demand a full refund.

The lesson to be learned is this – DON’T get sucked in by the clever sales jargon. It’s all one big scam. If you tick the box alongside the option “I would like the added tiny people for an extra cost of £48″, tiny people is what you get.
For life!

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Haven’t been able to get rid of them ever since.

Mar
12

{a little glimpse} #4

{a little glimpse} – a single sketch, photograph or work in progress.

Inspired by Cupcakesforclara

Mar
09

#JackSamsoniteQuote #osmuw

“Was my man to leave? In the heat of battle? No, he did not leave. He fought with bravery and gallant-ly… ness.”

From ‘One Seriously Messed-Up Week-End…’ available now in all good bookshops (and some crap ones too) and also in e-book-selling places.

Mar
08

#JackSamsoniteQuote #osmuw

“Crap.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. CRAAAAAAP!”

From ‘One Seriously Messed-Up Week-End…’ OUT NOW (how could you possibly resist???)

Mar
07

#JackSamsoniteQuote #osmuw

“Just when I thought I was ready to back away from the whole situation, an entire bare bottom revealed itself from behind the wall.”

From ‘One Seriously Messed-Up Week-End…’ published TOMORROW!

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