Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Simply Complex Christmas.

"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know..." In January 1940 Irving Berlin revealed to the world the lyrics of a Christmas classic immortalised by 'the crooner' Bing Crosby. In theme with today's worldly concerns, perhaps Mr. Berlin was giving us a precursor to the dangers of global warming.
I'm not sure what it is about this time of the year but events in my life seem to be rather enhanced. Perhaps because it is this 'special' time of the year, I am more aware of them. For someone who has turned the reclusive state into an art form, I keep having predicaments that force me from any prolonged duvet contemplation. At Christmas I perceive them to be more pronounced.
I shall now present to you what life has been like for me during the last two weeks. Remember, this is a guy who prefers life nice and simple, not confusing and complex. A couple of weeks ago my very nice neighbour from below mentioned that he was getting some residue on his kitchen walls. He believed the source of the problem may be coming from the back of my washing machine. Okay fine. So just to be sure, a plumber from my Housing Association checked out the taps at the back of my washing machine. Sure enough, there was a minor drip. Slight tightening of the hose and problem solved.
Two days later, on the Saturday, I turned on the washing machine and went off to the shops. Upon my return, I went into my kitchen and waded through the carpet. To my horror, my kitchen was now flooded out. What the hell has happened? Where the hell is my canoe? What must my neighbour's kitchen be like?
I proceeded to look under my sink and immediately noticed the cause of my oceanic adventure. When the plumber had moved my machine away from the wall, he had also removed the drainage pipe. So water from the machine had gone directly onto the floor. What had started out as a simple plumbing job, two days before, was now a complete disaster.
Then came the predictable panicky knock on my door. To his credit, my neighbour was very calm. He realised that this comedy of errors was not my fault. For the next week, there was a flurry of activity as workers went in and out below. Their kitchen walls had to be redone and the electrics rewired. I felt absolutely terrible about what had transpired. Yet despite it all, my neighbours have been very good-natured about the whole sorry saga. I am most grateful for that. In fact, we can actually have a laugh about it as we discuss lifeboat drills.
Two days before Christmas, I got another frantic knock on my door. Oh no, what now, thought this guy who craves a simple life. (I must keep that negative speculation under control). It was my neighbour from just up the road. Here was this hysterical woman, a single mother with three children, about to have her electric meter run out. Of all the neighbours to approach, she always seems to come to me for help. Her boyfriend was busy getting drunk in Hanley and she didn't like to disturb him! What!? So off I went in my car, trying to get a top-up for her electric meter. I drove all over Leek, finally at the third shop I tried, I managed to get her card topped-up.
When I returned to her house, we tried the card and it did not work. The reason? Turns out that her meter was no longer working and needed to be replaced. So as I looked after her children, her Uncle came to the rescue and took them away to his house. At least I knew they would be safe and warm.
Now then, Christmas Eve, nothing else would happen to complicate my longed-for simple life? Oh how wrong I was. I had one last laundry to do before the 'special day'. I switched on the machine and, oh shit, nothing happened. " Great stuff, what now?" I thought. So I pulled my machine out from the wall three times (yes three times) to check the plumbing. I could see nothing wrong. So now I had visions of doing the laundry in the bathtub. Oh joy! (whoops..more negative speculation!) Out of sheer frustration, I pushed every flippin' button on the darn thing. Then it started! I then realised that somehow I had it set on timer delay. Silly me. So my panic subsided and I could now enjoy Christmas Eve.
"Tristan" I called. "The machine is now working. Would you please monitor the situation whilst I go off to the shops in my car?" I got into my car, went to start it and guess what? Yeah, that's right, my battery was flat. Oh fantastic! So off I strolled in the pouring rain to do my last bit of shopping.
There was a time when situations like this would have really got to me. Now I try to be positively philosophical. My life aint so bad. The events of the last couple of weeks have turned out okay. My neighbours have a nice new kitchen. The single Mother with three children is back in her house and the lights are working. My washing machine has cleaned our clothes. So all that is left is to get my 'midlife-chrisis, divorce mobile' started. (which reminds me. I need new furry dice for my rear-view mirror).
I hope this blog has not bored you silly. Upon reading it myself...yawn...zzzz...WAKE UP! Right then, where was I? Once again, I seemed to have experienced a simply complex Christmas.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Boxing Day Eve

When I reflect back on the past several Christmas Days, I remember the overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. Christmas Day was a sad reminder of just how ill I was. I would spend that special day with my son's Jack Russell, she was a bit of comfort in a very uncomfortable day.
I tried to find some solace by going for a long walk with the dog. All around me were people doing 'Christmassy' things. The excited little children with their brand new shiny bicycles. The friends and families gathered in their cosy homes celebrating the Festive Season. I observed this 'normality' and longed for the Christmas spirit to embrace me. Wandering aimlessly, nobody paid any notice of me, I was the 'invisible man'.
This year I have finally decided that enough is enough. I dreaded the thought of spending Christmas Day, strolling about, going back inside to an all-consuming quiet and discussing the meaning of life with the dog. As my positivity began to grow, I knew I had a choice. I would challenge my solitude, I would try to socialise. Maybe, just maybe, people would accept me and allow me into their lives.
What kept me going during Christmas Day was by trying to have a bit of a laugh about my situation. So Christmas Day became affectionately known as 'Boxing Day Eve'. Oh yeah and before you ask...December 24th is 'Boxing Day Eve, Eve'. So despite Boxing Day Eve being a time of sadness, I did manage to have a chuckle. Even during those times when dark thoughts tried to completely destroy my morale, I just knew that Christmas would eventually be a time of joy. I clung on to that thought, for I would perservere.
I think of all the sad and lonely people, who are only spectators, whilst those around them, rejoice in Christmas celebration. For these sad and lonely people crave social interaction. In this often, all-too-hectic, indifferent world, we can easily overlook the lost souls who need love and understanding. See the tears in their eyes and know that one moment of kindness can mean so very, very much.
I am fortunate, I am blessed. For one Christmas Day, I spent feeding and hopefully comforting the homeless of Stoke on Trent. I witnessed decent people, who through a series of spiralling circumstances, had been sleeping rough. I was truly touched by that experience. For despite my battle with mental illness, I could take comfort in the knowledge that I had a home to go back too. I focus on that Christmas, it has made me more determined to be grateful for what I have.
This 'Boxing Day Eve' will be different. Yes Christmas is tough because my family is so far away in Vancouver. However, I am so thankful, that through challenging my fears of society, I have met people who sincerely care. I respect them, they respect me, and perhaps, most importantly, I respect myself.
May you have a peaceful and positive Christmas.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Real Surreal?

It has been suggested that I attempt a surreal blog. So after going outside and recharging my battery hens, I thought, "heck let's give it a try!"
Upon going back inside, I realised I needed some inspiration. Quite obviously, I contacted Obi-Wan-Knobe on my Yodaphone. "Yo Obi! what's the secret to being surreal?" Obi replied: "The Force will be with you, always.." Based on his response, I knew that perhaps I should find inspiration through my own observations of the world around me.
I decided to go back outside, neatly avoiding the test pilots from the broom factory. Maybe when folks around here say "duck" they might be referring to those pesky pilots. Which witch is which? As I continued to stroll merrily along, I came upon the dreaded 'Race against time' also known as aliens who hate clocks. They said they would love to chat with me but they were somewhat rushed. Race against time indeed. Wait 'til I introduce them to the neighbourhood watch...or..heaven forbid!..the Time Lords..who?
I walked towards the centre of town. A dude strolled up to me and asked: "do you know where I can catch a bus?" Hmmm...now why the heck would he want to do that? Wouldn't catching a bus be a rather risky venture? Still, as the Americans say, 'whatever'. I directed him to the bus depot and wished him well.
Wandering further along I bumped into the androids with attitude. Yeah, that's right, bloody obnoxious androids. Who the hell are they to tell me in their droning, monotonous, electonically-enhanced, synthetic voices that we humans are obsolete? "Hey arrogant android! don't mess with me or I'll knock that microchip of your shoulder!"
So after another average day out in this small English town, I decided it was time to go back to my home. No inspirations for a surreal blog, just another uneventful day in this town that shares its name with a long green, leafy vegetable that is closely related to an onion and is the national emblem of Wales. Oh well, at least I knew I could go home and p**s off my teenage rebel-type son.
I got home and all was quiet. Teenage rebel was nowhere to be seen. Thus I decided to have some peaceful, relaxing , stress-free time.... Crash! "What the heck what that?" I rushed into my front room and noticed a huge hole in the ceiling. "Oh howdy neighbour, nice of you to drop in. I realise I must be careful what I say to you. So would you mind just moving off to the side while I deposit eggshells on my carpet?"
Before I go, exciting news. I've been offered a part in a local play. Easy work, great money. "What's the catch?" I asked. No catch, I was assured. They need someone to play the part of a motionless puppet..no strings attached.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

From Lions Gate to Golden Gate

The year was 1972, two weeks before Christmas. This would be my second trip to California in the space of six months. I just knew this would be another great adventure in my life.

In the early summer of '72 I had travelled from Vancouver to San Francisco on a Greyhound bus. Upon my arrival in that great northern California city, this wide-eyed eighteen year old prepared himself for a wonderful, multi-cultural experience. Here I was, in San Francisco! Wow!  It looked just like it did on television. Cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf, the winding roads, the very steep hills, and of course, Alcatraz.

I spent a few days in that great city, absorbing all the sights and sounds of the bustling community. Being of an exploring nature, I found myself back at the Greyhound bus depot. I purchased a ticket for Lake Tahoe, which is located on the California, Nevada border. It was there that I met a a very friendly California family. We got along so well, that I arranged to stay with them for Christmas. They lived in a small town near San Francisco named San Pablo. Ah yes, it would be Christmas in California. This brings me neatly back around to my opening paragraph.

So now it is nearly Christmas in the year 1972. My long journey south from Vancouver to San Francisco, a distance close to a thousand miles, was going to be an even greater adventure than my first trip. For this time, an even wider-eyed nineteen year old was going to drive there in his first car. Yes indeed, I headed off down Interstate 5 in my '64 Plymouth Valiant. Fingers crossed, my pride and joy would get me there safely.

Well, somehow, I did make it. Driving through some of America's great towns and cities. I travelled through Seattle, home of Bill Gates, home of Boeing, home of Jimi Hendrix, home of that legendary band 'Nirvana'. I moved on through the beautiful city of Portland Oregon. Soon I would be in California. Soon I would see my friends in San Pablo.

Over the next two weeks, I would have some of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was an action-packed time. I social-networked with loads of people. I had a fantastic time, heck I even went snow-skiing for the first time ever. Skiing was a rather strange concept. I mean it was like suddenly strapping on a pair of size 107 shoes on your feet. It took some getting use to. I recall being covered in snow, lying on the ground and staring up at the sky. I look back on that very special, very different Christmas with warm, fond memories. Yet one memory of that California Christmas has left me with a profound sense of caring for those not as fortunate as myself.

On Christmas Day, that wonderful family that I was staying with had a Christmas tradition that I will never forget. That morning we drove off to the grandmother's house. She lived in a city named Oakland, which is located across the bay from San Francisco. Her home was in an Oakland ghetto.

Yet despite my anxious perceptions of a ghetto and the stigma attached to such places, all I felt was warmth and kindness. This was a proud lady, living in a place she chose to stay in. This was a lady, whose fair skin was part of the minority in the neighbourhood. Somehow, it didn't matter.

I was introduced to her friends and neighbours. They were part of a community that knew all too well what being underprivileged meant. The adversity that they endured seemed to unite these folks in making their lives that little bit better. Seldom have I experienced such community spirit. I left that ghetto in Oakland, with inspired perceptions. Despite the trouble and strife that was so much a part of their world, they never gave up on being positive towards each other. That day, that special Christmas Day, I was honoured to be among such caring, genuine people.

So from the Lions Gate Bridge, in that great Canadian city of Vancouver, to the Golden Gate Bridge in SanFrancisco, I had travelled down the west coast of North America. Somehow, despite the frantic driving methods of the Californians, my 1964 Plymouth Valiant survived. As I reached the Canadian border and went through Customs, I knew my journey was almost over. It turned out to be a journey of self-discovery. I have been truly blessed with some wonderful memories. What a positive focus.

Friday, 16 November 2007

A 'Fan' of Mine

I remember that morning all too clearly. The alarm went off, I got out of bed, I collapsed in a heap on the floor. My mind and now my body could tolerate no more. The incessant workplace bullying, the drinking to numb it out, the consequential destruction of my marriage, had finally overwhelmed me. I succumbed to my own inevitable demise, the onslaught of so many negative factors reduced me to a quivering wreck.
I had tried so hard to ignore my own 'warning signs'. I was stronger than the physical, financial and the psychological workplace torment. Well, I thought I was. I mean, I needed the money? So for over eight years, I endured the relentless, outrageous impositions on my wellbeing. I would block out the sinister threats. Yet, somehow I knew, my increasing paranoia had a tangible, evil source.
So on that cold, dark morning, I knew that I was plunging into a new 'ocean'. I was becoming immersed in an 'ocean of madness'. Mental illness was beckoning me on into a place I thought I would never visit. Mental illness was an alien concept. Mental illness only happened to other people. Oh how wrong I was, oh how scared I was.
Somehow, I managed to crawl back into my bed, just strong enought to pull the duvet over my head. In that darkness I began to shiver, I trembled with panic. This man was withdrawing from life. This man was turning into a frightened little boy. This man was on the verge of becoming baby-like. I needed comfort, love and reassurance. Trapped in my bed, I somehow knew, this was not forthcoming.
I peeked out from under the duvet. On my bedside table was a heater fan. In my tormented, confused, panicky state, I decided the fan would be my source of comfort. I switched it on and listened to its 'whirring' sounds. I began to familiarise myself with the fluctuations of noise it produced. My fan created 'music', a 'symphony' for the tortured soul. Hour upon hour, day upon day, I lay in bed listening to the soothing sounds. During the ensuing month, this would be my focal point. That heater fan represented my own bizarre contact with some form of reality.
Over a month later, I managed to muster up enough strength to crawl out of bed to see a doctor. So now on medication for the first time in my life, I went back to the 'hell hole' that was attempting to destroy me. The bullying continued unabated. If anything the threats and the ridicule had intesified. Living in a small town, word gets around, the 'nutter' had returned. So now I was stigmatised, labelled by small people with small minds.
I could endure no more. I went back on 'the sick'. Three months later I was summons into a meeting with management. I was questioned by people who were fully aware of what had happened to me. For it beggars belief, that management were aware of the bullying and the corruption. They didn't want to get involved, my 'face didn't fit', so I was made redundant. I left that meeting almost a shattered man. The date was 24 May 1996, it was ex-wife's birthday.
I know my situation and the ramifications that occurred are far from unique. Workplace bullying has had an adverse mental affect on many people. It causes emotional 'ripples' that extend beyond the individual. Employers must recognise and address workplace harassment. They should look at the costs incurred because of their workers becoming ill. I believe the media have a moral obligation to highlight the sensitive issue of workplace bullying and the mental anguish that can result. Enough is enough.
Yes I survived. Deep within me was an inner-resolve. Yet the scars of those painful times run deep. It has been over eleven years since I have been in paid work. So from another angle, I may be perceived as a financial drain on the economy. I have been too scared to apply for paid work. Negative speculation invades my mind, what if the past repeats itself? So instead I have done lots of volunteer work involving people who may have been subjected to a negative environment. At least this empowers me and I hope that what I do has been of some help.
These days I use bravado. My bravado can be interpreted as relief, relief that, despite it all, I have survived. I am strong, I am positive, my right to a happy and peaceful life will never be violated again.
A 'fan' of mine used to be my best friend. I look back to that time and understand that a fan is fine but a real friend is a precious commodity.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Face the 'Fax'.

Hello there. The other day I was going to make a call but I couldn't even look at
the telephone...so I'll just have to 'face the fax'.

Oh no, here we go again, I'm doing another blog because I'm bored and I'm lonely. Yes indeed, my fingers being to 'dance' on the keyboard. I merrily type away, wondering what sort of sentences will be formulated. What the heck is going to transpire in this blog? I continue on, perhaps an inspiration will come to me? Perhaps not.
Now speaking of telephones, I bravely grabbed the receiver the other day and with trembling anticipation, I dialed 1471. I'll let you in on a little secret, please don't tell anyone. The 1471 computer-generated voice is my 'friend'. When I had nobody to talk to, I could rely on her to speak to me with her soothing tones. "You have no new calls..please hang up" she would say. So imagine my surprise, when the last time I rang her, my '1471 lady' said to me "You have no new calls...now p*** off and quit pestering me!" Hmmm..is she still my friend or what?
Ofcourse part of the above paragraph is somewhat fictitious. Okay, there have been times in my life, the phone would ring and I'd think, "what the hell was that noise?" Those days of complete isolation really hurt. I let my solitude get the better of me. All I envisioned was day upon monotonous day of wandering about the confines of my home, like some caged beast. I immersed myself in wave after relentless wave of negativity. I forgot about life and its ironies, I forgot how to laugh.
"Ring, ring!" "What the heck was that?" Whoops sorry. Now then, speaking of 'rings', imagine the guy who does the announcing at boxing matches was a friend of yours. He introduces you to a stranger. "In the blue corner, wearing ripped up jeans and a baggy old sweater...from Vancouver, Canada...the man from the 'land of the beaver'...hhhheeerrrr'sss.......... Kllaaahhaaanieee!!" Now how embarrasssing would that be?
Continuing in the theme of bells, hmmm...considering I didn't have anything in particular to blog about, I have come dangerously close to almost having an actual topic. Does the name 'Quasimodo' 'ring a bell'? Now then, one of the great mysteries in my life is the following. It seems that any time I go outside to do work in my massive garden, the phone rings. So I make a mad dash from the end of my garden, rush into my living room, only to have the phone stop ringing, as soon as I get to it. I wonder why this is? Does the person at the other end know I am about to grab the telephone? Do they reckon I need the exercise? Oh well, never mind eh!
So I'm gonna' end this blog with some 'I wonder why?' thoughts. I wonder why when I drain pasta out of a pot, one piece always sticks to the bottom. I wonder why when I vacuum, one bit of fluff always refuses to be sucked up. I wonder why when I brush the dog, very little hair is on the brush. Indeed, I wonder why, using my hands works better, as great big clumps of hair magically appear. I wonder why the dog always thinks the post is for her. What a silly Jack Russell. What do you think it is? Do you think someone, or some dog, has sent you a DVD of 'Lassie come Home'?
"Ring, ring!" That's strange, the phone is ringing and I'm not typing this from my garden. Well to heck with it, maybe it's the '1471 lady' calling to apologise. Maybe it's a 'junk call' trying to sell me double-glazing I don't need. No, ignore it Klahanie, I don't even want to look at the telephone..so I'll just have to 'face the fax.'.....

Monday, 29 October 2007

Making a Positive Choice

Greetings. Well here I go again. This is another attempt at sailing into the great social unknown. I have come close before, nearly entering a more mainstream social environment. Previous sojourns encountered stumbling blocks. Partly created by me, partly enhanced by a negative environment. I became so disillusioned with society, that I retreated to a self-imposed, hermit-like world. This time, I am determined to take that path that leads me through unchartered territory. I visualise a positive adventure, not another, 'why did I bother?' scenario.
My mental health issues distorted my ability to 'go with the flow'. I was always expecting a negative inevitable. Each time I ventured into social situations , I was overwhelmed with a sensation of being dismissed and undermined. My opinion, indeed, my right to even exist, felt like an ourtrage to humanity. How dare I talk to people?
Yet through all this mental inner-turmoil, I have had this flickering hope of a positive outcome. Now I see that my negative situations were directing me towards a positive choice. For my negativity revealed a positivity. It was there all along. I discovered a wonderful, powerful resilience growing within me. I would take advantage of this untapped resource.
In a way, I am convinced my mental health concerns are some sort of bizarre blessing. Ofcourse, I'm not saying we should have to endure such anguish. Yet the turbulent times have allowed me to discover some very positive traits. I do remain undaunted, I shall continue to challenge my lingering self-doubts. I have a choice. I choose to keep moving forward. No longer will I think: "hmmm..when one door closes...another one slams in your face."
So my social adventure goes through another barrier. This time I will not fade back into obscurity, for such loneliness is not a very nice place. I will be realistic, at times, social situations will not be ideal. There will be occasions my outrageous antics will be frowned upon.
Ironically this zany form of bravado draws attention to me. Which is pretty strange for a guy who is scared of social networking. I think I am trying to convince myself that I belong, that I am a part of something..anything. I hope people understand that this bravado is very sincere. All I'm trying to do is make folks happy. I love to see their smiling faces. Now it is about time I gave myself permission to have a happier, more fulfilling life. It is time for a sense of purpose.
So Klahanie is making a positive choice. "Hello..pleased to meet you..the great social unknown." Before me lies the pathway that takes me through unchartered territory. I stroll along it, comforted with the knowledge, that this time, I will not turn back.
I thank you for your time. Warm regards Klahanie.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Blogger's Block?

So what do we want to write about? I have been told about 'Blogstipation'. You just don't know what to blog about. So I continue typing... hoping that I will come up with some semblance of a blog.
Already I have established that I can randomly type out words...hoping that something will come of this. I think that I'm very close to actually having a topic. Not bad eh? For I'm now doing a blog about not being able to do a blog. This, ofcourse, now becomes a blog with an outside chance of almost making some sense.
Perhaps we could try using various writing styles. We could go into metaphor 'overdrive'. Such as this nauseating example: "My garden is an 'oasis' in my 'desert of despair'." Maybe we could attempt some humour? I have been asked: "Am I a 'dog' or 'cat' person?" I assume they mean what my preference is, rather than me being some strange mutation. My reply: " I'm definitely a 'dog' person. If your house catches on fire, your dog will warn you. Whilst the cat 'f***s off out the catflap!" (my apologies to you cat lovers).
So to heck with 'Blogger's Block'. I just had to get in front of my computer and type. Type anything... just keep typing until my latest bout of anxiety subsides. Use this as a positive distraction from those nagging self-doubts that still try to sabotage my right to be happy.
So you see, I think I can blog, even when I have nothing in particular to blog about. I like to mess about with various styles of writing. I enjoy doing surreal and disjointed postings. Equally, I take satisfaction in thinking, that maybe, just maybe, some of my blogs give folks a little bit of comfort.
I take great solace in being a part of this Mind Bloggling community. I almost have a sense of purpose. I am most grateful to all of you for showing me an abundance of kindness. Without this support, I'm not sure I would have dared 'impose' myself on society. For such was my confidence, or lack of, that I felt I was not worthy of any form of social networking. When you have been undermined and dismissed for so long, you can begin to think that such treatment is justified. Thanks to the good people who have recently come into my life, I realise those who had the audacity to mistreat me, were the ones with the problem.
If I hadn't made that first bold step out my front door; I firmly believe that I would still be a virtual recluse, staring at the four walls and crying myself to sleep. Sadly, there was a time in my life, that sleep was the only freedom that I knew.
I had no intention of doing a blog today. Yet somehow, even with no idea what would transpire, I think I have done a blog. So I thank you for your time and know you have the right to a positive life.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Occasional Furniture

Well hit me with a wet noodle. Wasn't really sure what to blog about. So then I got to thinking, why not just start typing about the first topic that came to mind? So perhaps the above photographs and the title may be some sort of a clue. Then again, I have been known to just type random observations that had absolutely nothing to do with anything in particular. So this maybe another disjointed blog. So let's see how this 'experiment' progresses.
I've been wanting to upgrade my furniture. I have repainted most of my home. All I need now is some furniture to 'compliment' the decorating. Ah, I can visualise it now. New table enters my home, looks at my walls and says: "nice paint job!" (sorry that was a tad surreal).
I have stated that most of my home is repainted. There is one notable exception. Yes indeed, the 'inner sanctum', also known as my son's room, is a definite 'no go area'. Maybe, oneday, I shall actually get an invite into his room. Then again, hmmm...maybe not.
So what sort of furniture am I contemplating? You may well ask. I know, perhaps I should get some occasional furniture. Occasional furniture? So I am thinking: "if it is occasional furniture, what the heck is it the rest of the time?"
I would also like to purchase a 'Grandfather Clock', sadly I have searched and searched and searched some more, all to no avail. I cannot find one that even remotely looks like my parent's Dads or any Grandfather for that matter.
Sometimes things get lost in translation. In Canada, I had a shag carpet. Little did I realise that 'shag' had a somewhat different connotation , in this 'green and pleasant land'. So, forgetting about the translation differences, I phoned up a carpet shop. "Can I get a shag there please?" I asked the lady on the other end of the phone. She replied, before she swiftly hung up: "We certainly do not provide that kind of service!" Click...Doh!
So now that I have 'furnished' you with another blog, I will now end it with a bunch of disjointed, silly thoughts. Evidently when somebody here calls me the 'dogs bollocks', that is actually a compliment. I have been told that a weasel goes 'pop'. That you can be 'bright eyed and bushy tailed'. That well meaning folks tell me 'here's mud in your eye'....huh?..no thanks. Some people 'don't give a monkeys' what!? I have been told to 'keep my pecker up' (I don't even wanna' know what that means). I'm supposedly 'daft as a brush'..(how do you know how daft a brush is?). Well, well, well, I can also be 'in bits', 'beside myself' and 'all over the place'.
Right...that's it then. Just answer me this please. Who the hell is 'Gordon Bennett'? My other watch is a digital..and that's not a 'WIND-UP'.......

Sunday, 30 September 2007

A Round Tuit

Greetings good people-

After my last blog, which ofcourse should not have been read for the following reasons. Nah...Stop it!
Life is about priorities. So many times I put my own issues, that needed to be addressed, firmly into the background of 'to do' lists. Heck, I wanted to be active, I wanted to be a part of something, something special. So I have started to achieve this. It has been most empowering to get involved with causes I feel passionate about. "Must not let anyone down" I thought. My physical symptoms would magically disappear tomorrow. Right?
Your car's engine is making strange noises, you suspect something is wrong. So to pretend their is no problem, you turn up the volume on the stereo. No more puzzling engine noises, situation solved? Or is the problem only going to get worse? Well now, I have finally realised that I must turn down my 'inner-stereo' and do something about my own 'engine problems'. It is time to get 'a round tuit'.
I have been to my G.P. on numerous occasions over the last couple of years. I was in physical pain every time I went to see him. Yet I neglected to mention my physical concerns. No, I preferred talking about my medication. Should I stay on it? Should I change it? Look Doc, see how well I am doing challenging my negative environment.
Well, enough is enough. The pain has not subsided, it is constant and I am kinda' scared. I have tried to concentrate on my activities but I can't think straight. These are vital times for 'Mind Bloggling' and I want to do my bit to help. Yet during the busy times lately, I have not been able to give this fine Organisation my total commitment. My concentration as a Coordinator at Changes meetings has also suffered and I hope that the good people who know me will understand.
The 'ghosts' of a self-inflicted past are starting to haunt me. I have not consumed alcohol for over nine years. However, some of the symptoms I experienced in hospital have resurfaced. Compounded with the vulnerable state of my physical being, other ailments have also started. I will stay calm, for I am optimistic. Now I'm getting 'a round tuit', I'm confident that there will be a positive way forward.
So if I seemed somewhat aloof, somewhat distant recently, I am very sorry. Please understand that I do care very much about others. I want to continue to be involved with these worthy causes. I just need to know what is happening to me and what can be done about it. So now I am going to the doctors, I will reveal the truth. At last, no more excuses, I am getting ' a round tuit'.
I hope, no matter what it is in your life, that you also, will get 'a round tuit'.
Warm wishes Klahanie.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Please Stop! Do Not Go Any Further.

You're not still here are you? Please do not read this blog for the following reasons. There will be absolutely nothing worth reading in this blog. This blog will continue onwards into a random collection of disjointed, totally unrelated series of silly observations. So now that I have not got your attention, I shall carry on typing.....typing, safe in the knowledge, that you have most likely stopped reading this blog.
Right then, lets continue. Nobody is reading this blog now. Right? Wait, who are you? Has curiosity got the better of you? Okay then, 'prick up your ears'. (now that sounds like a pretty painful proposition). I thought you were not going to read this blog. This blog has no value to mankind and will not make the world a better place.
I have been watching the highlights of the Women's Football World Cup. Large, enthusiastic crowds cheering on top-quality womens football. I have been most impressed by the high standard and superb skills. Although I am a bit gutted by the fact Canada got knocked out of the tournament by the Australians. I am puzzled that one football tradition has not caught on in the ladies game. At the end of a game in the World Cup, men exchange tops. So come on ladies, why aren't you doing the same?
Now here's a bizarre scenario. Can you imagine having that movie 'voice-over' man as a family member? Here's a typical morning in the house of 'voice-over' man. "Breakfast is ready dear" yells his loving but very bewildered wife. Cue voice-over man: "BREAKFAST...a new beginning. See the rebel sausages unite with the free-range eggs in their battle to destroy the evil force that lurks under the cereal bowl. Who will win this breakfast battle?" ("BREAKFAST BATTLE..coming to a theatre near you).
Some folks have said that I'm seem to be getting quite upset recently. "Why don't you take an 'Anger-Management' course?" they suggested. Say what? Now I reckon if I take one of those 'Anger-Management' courses, I would lose my job. I mean really, why would I want to 'anger management'?
If you are still reading this blog..and for the life of me..I don't know why you would. I warned you that it was going to be a random collection of disjointed, totally unrelated series of silly observations. (Please refer, that's if you are still here, to paragraph one, which you shouldn't have been reading either...you will notice that the preceding sentence has already been used).
I saw an advertisement in the newspaper. It was promoting something about a 'Reading Festival'. So I thought: "hey cool, that seems like a good idea, I'll go to that." So I headed off to the Reading Festival, which was, coincidently, in the town of the same name. Imagine my surprise, that upon my arrival, armed with a bunch of my favourite books....I saw before me, loads of people rolling about in mud and listening to that evil rock n' roll.
If you have been reading this blog. I did warn you , I have been wasting your time. Then again, you may have skipped the rest of the blog to get to this part. Either way, you could not resist checking out how this blog ends. Well it ends like this...please read the title of my blog...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

A Photographic Memory

Warm greetings. I have been sorting out some old photographs. Pictures that had been left to gather dust. It was finally time to arrange them into photo albums. Looking through the photographs dredged up many memories. As I looked at them, I experienced a wide variety of emotions. It was painful, yet, at the same time, it was cleansing.
Amongst the chaotic collection of past memories, I came upon a set of photographs that impacted me in a profound, deeply moving way. For before my eyes were pictures of my little boy. The last pictures of Tristan before his Mother took him away to start a new life. How was I going to react?
I looked at them with fondness, for bitterness at what had happened, would have been negative and emotionally exhausting. So, instead I reflected upon how much I have tried to be a good, loving Father. That caring for him over the last six years has helped give me a sense of being needed. I embraced the challenge of raising my son. Despite the fact that I am ill, I do remain undaunted. I shall continue to try and provide him with a warm, safe environment. I stay focused on seeing all that can be positive.
Those times when he was hardly in my life were painful. Christmas was emotional agony. What really hurt were the Christmas cards that my former spouse sent me. "Merry Christmas" from my ex-wife, her husband, their son and Tristan. The pain from receiving those yearly cards is difficult to describe. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. Christmas was a day of solitude, a day that was spent alone.
With my inner-strength, I have moved on from those desperate times. Yes, I felt undermined and dismissed , but I will never give up. I think of all the amusing situations that occur. Ofcourse I embarrass him. It's in the 'Father's Rulebook'. I demonstrate to his mates just what a 'cool' old dude I am? "Your Dad's well ace Tristan!" The response from my son, somewhat predictable, I suppose, is jovial outrage. I mean, really, can a Dad be cool!? (hey watch me dance!).
My 'little boy' is becoming a man. The role I play in his life is slowly changing, slowly evolving. Tristan has had his own personal trauma to contend with. The pain of seeing Mum and Dad no longer together. The sadness of knowing that the rest of his family network are so far away in Vancouver.
Yet he appears to be strong, to be resilient, he is a remarkable lad. Oh there are moments when his 'guard' comes down. When he is so overwhelmed by it all and the tears stream down his face. It is during those heart-wrenching moments that I truly sense his pain. This makes me more determined to demonstrate just how much I love him. I will always be there to give him support, encouragement and reassurance. I must stay strong.
So for the last two days, I have been walking about with those cherished photos. I look at them now and I smile. I think back to the time when they were taken. Fondly remembering that this was when he first started School. I recall how all the girls used to chase him around the playground. "Oh Tristan has such beautiful eyelashes" they would scream. He was embarrassed but those girls were right.
Now it is time to put those pictures into a photo album. My mind revisits those magical moments. A photographic memory, how wonderful. It inspires me to continue towards a more positive life. I do this for both of us. My son, I dedicate this blog to you.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Lost in Leek?

I live in Leek. That's right, I always wanted to live in a place named after an onion. So I'm living the dream.
Ah Leek, 'Queen of the Moorlands'. A fascinating place to live, where the locals still see me as a bit of a curiosity item. "Leek, greatest town in the world. What the hell are you doing living here?" I have been asked. What!? The scary thing is that the person who said that appeared to be serious. Hmmm...Life in a small English town.
The locals have asked me: "Ast ow right yung yuth?" Which I guess means: 'Are you alright young youth?' I suppose being nearer to 'bus pass age', I should consider such a statement a mighty fine compliment. Still it is rather a strange question. If you are young, than I would assume, that you are a youth. It's like calling me the equivalent, which I guess would be: 'Ast ow right ode elderly?' I think I've got that right?
I feel fortunate to live in Leek. Where I reside is a most pleasant, fairly quiet neighbourhood. Okay you get the occasional inconsiderate cow making a noise in the middle of the night. (Yeah, and sometimes the ones in the fields can be pretty noisy too!)
However I am blessed with having a very large, beautiful garden. Within a couple of minutes of my home, I can be out in the wonderful English countryside. That makes me a lucky dude. To be able to get out into nature, no matter the weather, fills me with positivity. I can wander off with my son's Jack Russell, in perfect solitude. Anxiety regarding going out my front door does not occur when I go for these strolls with the dog. I need to focus on that positive feeling when I am in social situations.
There have been times when I yearn to go back 'home' to Canada. I am so torn between two countries. Yet this is where my son was born. I do not want to distance myself from him. I am reminded of the consequences of my going to Canada as a little boy. For my Father, who lives in Leicester, has disowned me. I will always be here for my son. The choice of leaving England will come when the time is right for both of us. Perhaps that will never happen. Only time will tell.
So living in Leek, has been a very negative and very positive time for me. From the depths of despair when I was abandoned by my wife. To the powerful opportunity of getting a second chance to redeem myself with my son.
You see, Tristan was desperately unhappy living in his new family unit. He begged his Mother to let him live with Dad. This was not a contest, I just wanted Tristan to be happy. So my then 12 year old son moved into my home in Leek. I raised him on my own, doing the best I could. Support from others was non-existent. I am proud of what I did. I think I provided him with a 'normal' life whilst battling with my mental distress.
My son is now 18, yet he is still my 'little boy'. I was there for the miracle of his birth. Sadly, I missed his early years. That tore me apart but I have discovered a new resilience that keeps me moving forward. So many life-changing situations have occurred for the two of us in Leek. Living in Leek nearly destroyed me, yet, paradoxically, living in Leek has also given me the chance to move forward in a positive way.
Yes I am still an item of curiosity in Leek. I have some good-natured banter with the locals. We do indeed have some rather zany conversations. Actually, some of my chats with the 'Leekensians' make 'Monty Python' seem like serious drama. Typically though, someone will ask me, as I'm dressed to the hilt with Canadian advertising: "What part of the States are you from?" Huh!? I reply: "What part of Scotland are you from?" Knowing my luck, one day, somebody with an English accent will say: "Glasgow."
Lost in Leek? For too many years I was. Yet in this small English town, I have nearly found myself again. Whatever happens in the future in Leek, 'The Queen of the Moorlands', I know that permission to be positive has become a part of my thinking process. This fills me with contentment and a strange urge to stuff myself with onions.
I thank you for your time.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Duvet or Doorway?

Everyday I have to challenge myself. I battle with my 'inner-chatter'. Opposing forces in my mind. One force says: "go out and face the world", the other tells me to "hide under your duvet".
To open my door and face the world beyond, is in itself, a personal triumph. I know that there will be those that read this that wont understand. For those that do, they will know that my triumph is no exaggeration. I take a deep breath, determined to suppress my negative 'chatter'. Waves of anxiety nearly overwhelm me, I work through it. The negative 'screaming' becomes a background 'whisper'. I go out and the bravado begins.
I try to be sociable, I reach out my hand of friendship but I am scared, so very, very scared. I worry that my sincerity will be treated with suspicion. I worry that I have said the wrong thing. Renewed anxiety kicks in when I believe that my enthusiasm is interpreted as arrogance. My enthusiasm masks the 'bowl of jelly' sensation deep within me. So for the few hours I go out, I confront my social phobia.
When I finally get to know people, when they become familiar with me, sadly, I retreat back into my 'shell'. I 'fade away', drifting back to a self-imposed obscurity. Unfortunately, I start to think: "how dare you try to be friends with anybody. You are not worthy of friendship!" People will, once again, see me for that 'imposter' who is not as clever as he makes out. Oh how I challenge this. I must not let past negative, traumatic events dictate that I retreat to the safety of my duvet. I do want to repeat those times when I stayed in bed for days, too ill, too scared to even contemplate going outside.
So after another day of bravado. I go home, mentally exhausted but pleased, that for a few hours, I had the courage to be a part of society. I stare at the four walls and think how my life is so different within the confines of my home. This is my other world. A world where loneliness dominates. Yet it is also a place where I reflect upon my continued journey in maintaining positivity. I must not give up.
I do not want to fall 'overboard' again. In the past, when I fell off the ship, I was thrown an anchor. Somehow, I just know, that if I do fall overboard again, I will be thrown a lifejacket.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

A Message of Hope

Hello Planet Earth-

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Radio 5 Live for broadcasting a feature on our Mindbloggling community. Thank you Chris Vallance, Rhod Sharp and the 'Up All Night' team. To have been considered as part of your 'Pods and Blogs' show was an honour for us. You have helped promote the 'voice' of Mindbloggling. We are most grateful.
A heartfelt thank you to Tony (Blueshawk), for so eloquently describing to the radio listening audience, the ethos of Mindbloggling. Blueshawk had a vision. A vision of a blogging community that would challenge the stigma of mental health distress. He actively promotes the positive interaction between us. Tony, you have my utmost admiration.
Special thanks must also go to Leigh (Radioman). Radioman has added an extra dimension to our Mindbloggling community. His excellent 'Sanity Fair' podcast was highly informative and thought-provoking. So Leigh, well done, thank you for your notable contribution to our website.
A very warm thanks to the people at the 'heartbeat' of Mindbloggling. Thanks Emma, Nat, Amanda and 'Domenica'. Your support in making this increased awareness happen, is truly inspiring. Without your encouragement and reassurance, this chance to tell the world about us, may not have happened. I appreciate your kindness.
A big thank you to all of the good people involved in our empathetic ethos. Keep blogging to the world your valid thoughts. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be happy and live in peace. Those of you who have been undermined and ridiculed. Continue to use Mindbloggling as a platform to reinforce your self-worth. We do not need to be ashamed of who we are.
So thanks to Chris Vallance, who had enough faith in our noble project to deem it worthy of recognition. You have helped increase the awareness of Mindbloggling. Now we will seize the chance to reduce the stigma of mental health issues. We are all different, all equal. I am so thankful to be a part of this community. Undaunted, we dare to dream.
I thank you for your time. Warm wishes Klahanie.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

The Knight in Tarnished Armour

When I first met the lady that became my true love; Little did I realise what a painful, heartbreaking journey lay before us.
As the stories of her life began to unfold, the horror of her sad, desperate life touched me in ways that would define us both. For she was a young woman who had been subjected to severe sexual and emotional abuse. The trauma, the outrageous torment she had suffered, defied belief. I hoped that I could be her 'Knight in Shining Armour'. I was determined to rescue her from the cruel and unjust world she had endured. How dare anybody have the audacity to undermine and devalue her humanity. Her right to happiness and contentment became my obsession.
The years rolled by, we got married, we had a son. We tried to be happy, united in a common cause of not letting her past events dictate our lives. Sadly, the emotional scars of her childhood were all-consuming. The consequences meant that our marriage was virtually plutonic. I became too scared to touch her. Yet I loved her that much, I was willing to sacrifice a 'normal' relationship. I was resolute in her discovering inner-peace.
So immersed in her plight, I did not notice what was happening to me. Lingering deep within myself was a negative force that would begin to dominate my life. A series of events had started to take their toll on my mental health wellbeing. For not only was I consumed with the pain of my wife; I had also suffered many years of workplace bullying. Nagging self-doubts began to creep in. The 'inner-critic' took control. The relentless onslaught of my mental illness nearly destroyed my remaining shred of dignity.
My true love could not cope with the 'shadow' of the man who had once been her ally in challenging her emotional despair. She left me, she took our son, she divorced me. I was left to rot in a small English town. Yet, I do not blame her. For she doesn't understand. The lady I loved divorced herself from my mental illness. She does not know that my illness is only a small part of who I am.
I hope, that for a few magical moments, I was her Knight in shining armour. I look back on our past and reflect upon bittersweet memories. I am so sorry that my Princess never got the fairytale ending we both craved. It fills me with sorrow that I became 'The Knight in Tarnished Armour'.
However, I am determined to seek and embrace the power of love. I hope that she finds the peace and contentment in her new life that she so richly deserves.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Canoes and Contentment

Greetings Friends-
I have experienced some truly magical times in my life. Inspiring memories that resonate within me. Memories that keep me focused on the positivity that I sense and the positivity I try to share with others.
Many years ago, I discovered the peaceful satisfaction of exploring the lakes of British Columbia, in a canoe. I recall the harmony I felt with nature. Surrounded by awesome beauty, I was immersed with an overwhelming sensation of tranquility. In my solitude, yet not alone, I was at peace with the environment.
My senses were acutely aware of all the sights, sounds and feelings. The vision of the gentle, pristine waters of the lake, the wondrous backdrop of the snow-capped mountains. The reassuring sound as the water lapped against the paddle. The cool, refreshing breeze flowing across my face.
Canoeing was such an adventure. Paddling for miles and miles until I could paddle no more. Discovering a remote island on a remote lake and setting up camp for the night. Words cannot do justice to how I felt. It was getting dark, time to reflect on how great the day had been.
It was late May, yet earlier that day, nature had decided to create a most unseasonal snow storm. Late at night, sitting outside my tent, mesmerised by the glowing embers of the camp fire. I realised that, to me, life doesn't get any better than this.
The sky had cleared and a full moon shone on the lake. The light from the moon sparkled on the majestic snow-encrusted evergreens. That beautiful vista is captured so vividly in my mind.
Filled with such inner-peace, I retreated to the cosy confines of my tent. I lay there, snuggled up inside my sleeping bag. I listened to the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife. The haunting call of the loon, the distant (thank goodness) howl of the wolves. I drifted off to sleep. Never have I slept so well.
The next morning I portaged my canoe across the island. Portaging is carrying your canoe overland. Or as I look at it, walking around with a canoe on your head. Not the most flattering of headgear, but hey, I never had much fashion sense.
Lately I have been wanting to rekindle my love of canoes. Pollution-free, environmentally-friendly canoes. The preferred mode of transport of the 'First Nations' people of North America. I am only a short walk from Rudyard Lake, so I haven't got much of an excuse. I'm sure with all the terrible weather we've had lately; the rental of a canoe wil be no problem.
Canoes and contentment. I stay focused on healthy behaviour. How positive is that?
I thank you for your time.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

A Near-Life Experience

There I was, yet again, in another drunken stupor. Trying desperately to numb out a series of events that almost destroyed me. I tried to suppress the sheer panic I felt due to the relentless onslaught of my mental illness. Abandoned by people I loved, alcohol became a substitute for real love.
Oh the evil irony. Here I was, a desperate man in a desperate world, using and abusing alcohol. Yet, instead of relieving my distress, the drink nearly extinquished the fading remnants of my dignity. In my all-consuming state of loneliness and despair, I thought that alcohol would be my best friend. It had become my worst enemy.
The phone rang. It was my doctor and he sounded most concerned. My ex-wife had, in one last gesture of concern, voiced to him her fears about my condition. My doctor arranged to come over and check me out. Upon his arrival, it was obvious to him that I was very ill.
During the previous three weeks I had nothing to eat. Everyday for those three weeks, I drank three, two litre bottles of cider. My only 'nutrition' came from the cider. My life had lost its purpose. I decided that it was best that I should die. For here I was, a man trapped in a small English town. No friends and the only real Family I had here had started a new life.
The ambulance arrived and I was stretchered out. Severely bloated and severely jaundiced I was rushed to North Staffordshire Hospital. It was the 18th of June 1998. This would be my fourth alcohol-related trip to hospital. What was happening to me? I have never been so scared.
In that first week in hospital I nearly died. I faded in and out of consciousness. Never had I experienced such a state of surrealism. It was almost like I had become a part of everything around me. I felt like I was everywhere and nowhere. My whole being was on the verge of major changes.
At the end of the first week my ex-wife and my nine year old son Tristan came to visit me. They would be my only visitors. For they were going off to Vancouver with their new Family unit. It was time for my former spouse to introduce her new man and their son to her Family in Canada. The emotional pain I felt upon them going was raw and deep.
At the end of the first week I received one ray of hope that would sustain me for the duration of my hospital stay. My Mother, so far away in Vancouver, had been informed of my situation. She managed to get through to the ward's reception. I was placed in a wheelchair and I painfully made my way to reception. Barely able to speak, I received comfort and reassurance from my Mother. I discovered within me a new resolve. I was going to challenge my issues, for I realised, maybe just maybe, my life could have a meaning.
So for the next five weeks I lay in bed, knowing that I would have no visitors. All around me patients were surrounded by visitors. I heard the laughter, I witnessed the tears. Yet people did not seem to notice me. In a ward so full of humanity, I was so alone, so isolated. The tears streamed down my face. My tears went unnoticed.
Yet through all my isolation and loneliness I grasped a new positivity. I had time to think, time to evaluate my life. I began to realise that I am a well-meaning, sincere human being. I had been suffocated by a negative environment. It was time for me to understand that I could make my life better. So during those five weeks in hospital I searched for inspiration.
Inspiration came in the form of my dearest friend Rob. Rob had died two months earlier in Vancouver, he was only 44. I had been distraught over the fact I could not attend his funeral. I took some comfort in the knowledge that my words of respect for him were read in his eulogy.
Lying in my bed, I looked out the window and stared at the trees. Every leaf on every tree became the spirit of Rob. It was a awesome experience, for in my mind I heard Rob say: "Gary, it's not time for you yet. Buddy, you're gonna' make it."
Slowly, at times painfully, my life has improved. When I left hospital, I left as a new man. No longer shackled by the evil irony of my alcohol abuse. Understanding that my mental distress was only a small portion of who I am. I left with a great sense of relief. Now I would try to live my life with positive anticipation instead of negative speculation.
Yes, I had a near-death experience. Yet at the same time I had a 'near-life' experience. For I had not been near-life for all too long. Life was passing me by. I tired of being a spectator. Although, still baring the wounds of a sad and traumatic past. I shall continue, undaunted, to embrace a more positive life.
I have not had a drink since the 18th of June 1998. I neither want nor intend to have another drink. I am liberated. That is so powerful.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Mindbloggling--Thank You!

Warm greetings-
Over the weekend I had been thinking about submitting a tribute to 'mindbloggling' and how vital it is to me. Much to my delight, Purkul, who I respect greatly, beat me to the thought of putting up a tribute. Nice one Purkul. Your blog emphasises the importance this entire community has on us in our pursuit of positivity.
I am so grateful to be a part of the mindbloggling ethos. The interaction and the positive affirmations I have witnessed on our site make me more determined to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.
Mindbloggling has helped ease my fear of computers and the technology involved. I am a 'technophobe.' I must admit that I am still at the stage where I click on to an icon and expect the worse to happen. Click on an icon and my computer goes up in a puff of smoke! Well, thanks to the mindblogggling team, my fear of computers is slowly diminishing.
So a big thank you to all of you. To Emma and Nat, thanks for all your encouragement and support. The job that you do for mindbloggling demonstrates genuine kindness. Your sincerity has inspired me to continue to challenge my own negative environment. I shall not be overwhelmed.
Let's ensure that this community of empathy, transparency and positive possibilities grows stronger. Empowerment is powerful. So to everyone involved in Mindbloggling--Thank You!
Warm regards adanac67.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Social Networking

Greetings People-
Over the last few weeks my social networking has increased significantly. This has been a tremendous challenge. The increase in my social networking has also brought me into situations that triggered a lot of deep-rooted emotional pain. Pain that I had suppressed for all too long. I hope that confronting this emotional turmoil will give me the opportunity to move on with my life.
Sadly, I have reached one conclusion. That the 'closure' I seek from one emotional tragedy will never come to fruition. My questions will go unanswered. Why the lady that I loved so much will not answer the one question I so desperately seek an answer too: "Why did it have to end up this way?" I must try to understand that perhaps the trauma she has endured, from situations not caused by me, have made it difficult for her to close out a sad chapter in both our lives.
I know I should maintain my social networking. Yet I am very frightened. I have gone from being a virtual recluse, to someone who, once again, braves the outside world. This is not easy. For behind the bravado, deep within, is a scared and lonely child. I know to people who have met me, that I might appear to be an outgoing and enthusiastic person. This is indeed a part of me and it is genuine. However, the 'inner-critic' continues to sabotage my positive outlook. The self-doubts begin to creep in. "Do not get too involved with society" says my inner-critic. " You will be caught out and exposed as an incompetent fool."
I battle against these thoughts. I do not want to 'fade away' yet again. I have met some very caring, very sincere people. I must draw strength from them.
So I will continue in my own personal struggle to be happy. I look at the positives that I have accomplished recently. I drove from Leek to Hanley, in appalling conditions, to assistant co-ordinate a 'Changes' meeting. I could have made excuses not to go. I challenged my fears, I was determined to be there. I could have found reasons to justify not being involved with MAGMH at Sanity Fair. All the way down on the bus, I felt panicky. Yet, I confronted that sensation. I put my nagging self-doubts to the test. I know, from the series of events that I experienced at Sanity Fair, some humorous. some sad and thought-provoking, that I emerged stronger and more determined. I thank all the good people who helped make that happen.
I hope from this blog that it helps others realise that we can challenge whatever is hurting us. If I have struck a particular chord with you that aids in your pursuit of contentment. That is indeed an awesome energy. We have the right to be happy. We have the right to be heard. We can inspire and be inspired. Empathy is powerful, through this empathy, we shall turn negatives into positives.
I thank you for your time. Kind regards adanac67.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Springwatch Nightshift

Reality television has gone that one step further. Never mind all those ridiculous reality shows with their equally ridiculous contestants. Ladies, gentleman, boys and girls. B.B.C. 2 brings you reality television from some genuine stars, or should that be 'starlings.' Those nocturnal creatures that we see on screen, have more skill in their little talon than the publicity-seeking humans that crave unwarranted attention.
Indeed, the various wildlife on 'Springwatch Nightshift', give a whole new meaning to 'chick flick.' Just look at 'em. A regular 'who's who' of celebrity owls. Plus other 'boyds' (that's my best New York accent) such as blue tits, great tits (hmmm..leave it klahanie!), swallows, robins, wrens, thrushes and the dreaded buzzard.
Honourable mention must go to that shy, retiring creature, the badger. Pity the poor badger who has to keep apologising for their relatives the 'wannabee' weasels. Now, where oh where is the 'Famous Grouse?'
That's it..now I'm going to make like a bird and 'Flock' off!

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Space Cars

When I was a lad growing up in the 1960's; I was really excited about what the world of the future would be like. Based on televison shows and what I read...the 21st century was going to be awesome. So fully believing what had been visualised, way back in the 1960's...this is what I had anticipated.
I had expected to travel to work in my 'space car.' So where the heck are these space cars and other wonderful inventions predicted for the 21st century? What are we waiting for? I want my space car!
In 1940, Henry Ford assured the world that we would soon be manoeuvring about in machines that were a combination of aeroplane and automobile. So, here we are, 67 years later..and we're still waiting!
However to this lad of the 'Sixties', the biggest 'false hope' culprits were the makers of 'The Jetsons.' Okay, we had other contributors to these fabulous future predictions. Shows such as 'Thunderbirds' and 'Captain Scarlet.' And so far as..'Space 1999'...yeah right!
Yet, to me, 'The Jetsons,' were, by far, the biggest contributor to my expectations of the future. Zipping about in their bloody space cars. Living in some futuristic city, which must have had stunning views. Having some robot named 'Rosie' cater to the families' needs. I wonder what 'Astro', a real dog, (in the cartoon sense of real) thought about all the technology? Indeed, I wonder what he thought about electronic canine competition?
So where is my robot? Why are we still waiting to have our 'time-share flats' on the Moon? Why has nobody visited Mars yet? I read in a book from the late 1960's, that we would have a 'Man on Mars,' by the year 1977! So much for all of that then.
So I guess we'll have to wait for the 'predicted' visit by beings from another planet, to get the future back on track. If one of these 'little green dudes' comes up to me and says:"Take me to your leader." I will say: "Never mind that, little green dude, can you sort me out with a space car?"

Monday, 28 May 2007

Home For A Holiday

Warm greetings to you-
I would like to share with you some childhood memories. These memories emphasise the importance of my reunions with my family in Canada. My family in Canada are a vital link to my mental health wellbeing.
When I was eight years old, my Mother went to Vancouver to start a new life. In England, she had met a kind and decent Canadian gentleman. In Vancouver, a place so far away, my Mother prepared herself to start a new journey. She craved a fresh start and now she had that chance.
That left me in England. A little boy, very alone and very scared. For now it was just my Father and me. Oh, how I missed my Mother. I was happy for her but I was hysterical with grief. When would my Mum return? So I waited and I waited. I knew she must return.
During this time, my Father, who was intolerable, became even worse. It saddens me to say that I have no pleasant memories of my Dad. From a very early age, I realised that my Father, took great pleasure in publicly humiliating me. He never praised me, all he did was mock me. My Dad seized every opportunity to point out how stupid I was. He instilled in me an all-consuming sense of worthlessness. I believed him when he told me I was stupid. If my Dad thought I was an idiot, then in the mind of a scared little boy, it was true.
Eight months passed by. To a little boy, it might just well have been eight years. My mother was back from Vancouver. How I rejoiced. My Mother was home from that strange and distant land. What were her plans? Was she back to stay or was this the closing of a chapter in her life?
I recall what happened next with remarkable clarity. I was called into the living room of our flat in Blackheath. My Mother and my Father sat there looking very tense. This now nine year old child was about to make the biggest, life-altering decision of his life. A decision that has had repercussions and ramifications ever since.
I was given a choice. Did I want to stay in England with my Dad ? Or, did I want to move to Vancouver and live with my Mum and that thoroughly decent Canadian gentleman? Being a nine year old, I was thinking...'big cars..real mountains...an exciting adventure.' There was no doubt in my mind what I should do. 'Canada..here I come!'
So my new life began. This little boy with the funny English accent moved to Canada. I adapted well. I blended into the Canadian way of life with relative ease. Heck, I had a Canadian accent by the time I was ten. My life seemed fairly positive.
They were exciting times but I always wondered about my Dad. How was he coping? He knew where I lived, yet he never communicated. The years rolled by and thoughts of my Dad became a distant memory. He had been a terrible Father to me. Perhaps it was just as well that I blanked him from my mind.
Curiosity did get the better of me. Fourteen years later, in 1976, I returned to England. Even though my Dad had made no attempt to contact me; I went to find him. I managed to contact his Mother. In her flat in London, she phoned my Dad. She handed me the phone. Thirty one years later, the words he spoke still haunt me. "What do you want?" he said, "as far as I'm concerned you're a ghost!"
Several heart-wrenching situations occured after that phone call. Indeed, many of the sad complications in my life have a direct link to what happened when I was that scared, lonely little boy. Yet, even though I have been disowned by my Dad. Even though my son has never known him as a Grandfather; I have much to be grateful for.
For in Canada, I have a family that provides me with love and support. They know how tough it has been for me, trying to live the British 'dream', I so desired. That is why, even though I am desperately lonely, even though I feel so isolated. I take great comfort that I shall soon be seeing my family.
So to my Mother, whose is a kind and generous soul. To my Stepfather, who has been more of a Dad to me than my own. To my two Brothers, who I don't know well enough. Thanks for all your encouragement and reassurance.
Thank you my friends, I leave you with the hope of a brighter, more positive future for us all. I am going Home for a holiday.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Going Anywhere Nice?

Greetings good people-
If they can land a man on the 'Nevada Desert,' (Moon-landing conspiracies anyone?), then I reckon you will read beyond the first sentence.
How many times have you told someone that you were going on vacation and they responded: "Going anywhere nice?" Going anywhere nice!? Certainly not. Why go on the holiday of a lifetime, when you could, for instance, tour all the landfills in Britain?
In fairness, I have visited the landfill site in Leek. The views from there are actually very pretty. Off in the distance, you can see the 'Roaches.' When somebody first told me to check out the 'Roaches', imagine my confusion when I was told that they were 1657 feet tall! Man, I've seem some big 'Roaches' in my time..but heck..I wouldn't want a critter that size chasing me. Also ,who is this 'Winking Man?' Next you'll be telling me that 'Wallabies' have been sighted near the 'Roaches.' Yeah right! It's the flippin' 'Roaches' in the Staffordshire Moorlands not 'bloody' 'Ayers Rock' or 'Uluru.'
I knew this was going to be a bit of a strange blog..seemed to have gone off-track, just a tad. Oh yeah... landfills! When I visited the Leek Tip last week, I got to thinking. Seagulls, all around me, great squawking seagulls. "Why are you here seagulls?" I thought. "You are 'Sea'gulls not 'Tip'gulls." What is their reasoning?
Let's look at the seagull's options. Option 1- Hang around some filthy dump and scrap for disgusting morsels. Option 2- Go to some beautiful, tranquil beach and catch fresh fish from the ocean. Hmmm..very strange.
So to end this totally disjointed blog...I leave you with this. Does it take twice as long to wash double-glazed windows? Why can't I get free cash from a 'Free Cash' machine? And finally..."Are you 'Going Anywhere Nice'?"

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Not So Neighbourly

Greetings Friends-
When I moved into my flat I saw it as a great opportunity to start moving on with my life. The chance to rebuild my shattered world. I had been abandoned and forced to sell the family home. Over four years later, with my life savings almost gone, the house was sold. The home that the women I loved had left me to rot in. The home that surrounded me with sad, tragic, painful memories. Constant reminders of my wife and child, constant reminders of the pain we all endured. Left, on my own, no wife, no Tristan, no friends and a family so far, far away. All I had was the relentless torment of my all-consuming madness. This mere shadow of a man, barely able to function, gathered up his remaining dignity and prepared to start again.
With great enthusiasm and positive anticipation, I moved into my new home. At first, I was oblivious to the negative environment that surrounded me. Oh, the clues were there. I should have sensed that things were not right when I had to access the adjacent property, just to move in. The communal pathway to my flat was hidden under an unsightly, overgrown mess. Undaunted, I proceeded to clear the pathway. I wanted to be a good neighbour and thought the people below me would appreciate my efforts.
How wrong I was. After clearing the pathway for a third time in a year, I finally approached the neighbours below. I asked them to kindly start living up to their responsibilities. That's when the torrent of abuse started. "You live your life...will live our's!" I was told. Then the door was slammed in my face.
So now a year into my new life, I had a closer look around. The garden (if you could call it that) below me was strewn with rubbish, broken glass, vodka bottles, dead birds and a headless rat! Enough was enough. Despite battling with an ongoing deep depression, I knew I must take action. Action to make it a better place for my son, myself and the neighbourhood in general.
I contacted my Housing Association, the local Council plus Environmental Health. I battled with bureaucracy. Month after month of inaction followed. My complaints and concerns were ignored. I was one man battling with the system and battling with my mental illness.
While the situation below continued unabated, I turned my attention to the neighbours next door. Unbelievably, they were as anti-social as the people below me. Constant fighting, constant drinking and continuous disruption to our lives. Their children were often out of school and would run wild through my garden. Their dog, which was severely mistreated, caused us great concern. I contacted the R.S.P.C.A. They did nothing to stop the cruelty! The father who had been out drink-driving, yet again, demolished the rear end of my car. This meant I had to take legal action against him because he tried to get away with it. The tension was unbearable but I continued in my fight to make this a better neighbourhood.
Then, finally there was one other set of anti-social neighbours in the adjacent building. They too fought and screamed. It was quite common to see the 'lady' of the house chasing her boyfriend down the street with a kitchen knife! Yet strangley enough, I tried to become friends with these people. I looked after their kids for free. I drove their children to school for free. I helped them out on several occasions. All I got in return was disrespect and indifference. It was time for me to take further action. I could not tolerate this deplorable situation any longer. My own self-respect became stronger as I persevered.
At last, my determination was starting to be recognised. A five year battle to make this neighbourhood a safe, peaceful place began to happen. Some of my decent neighbours finally noticed our plight. They rallied around and the authorities finally paid heed to the nightmare my son and myself had been subjected too. The neighbours next door were evicted, the neighbours in the adjacent building were rehoused. The people below did a 'runner', abandoning the property and leaving their cats to become strays.
So I had one last battle with bureaucracy. I had to prove that the property below was vacant. Well not exactly vacant. Their five stray cats would run wild through the flat below me. Trying to sleep at night, I felt like I was caught up in some 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon. Anyway, two court cases later, the people below, were at last evicted. The cats were removed.
Through this harrowing experience, I have discovered great contentment. I am now blessed with wonderful neighbours. We are a happy community that work together. To have perservered whilst challenging my mental illness inspires me onward to even brighter possibilities.
My friends, we can turn negatives into positives. We have the right to be happy and live in peace. I did all this for my son, my neighbourhood and for myself. I am most grateful to be a part of the 'mindbloggling' experience. Dare to dream and be inspired.
I thank you for your time. Warm wishes adanac67.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Pizza With Your Fingers?

Greetings Friends-
After my last blog, I thought I would get back to having a bit of light-hearted fun. Even though I have more 'baggage' than the backlog at Heathrow Airport; I really prefer having a bit of banter. I leave some very painful life stories for another time. So let the festivities commence.
When I moved back to England, I was most surprised to be informed that I had become two months older. This was most confusing to a guy who was still working out, that in Britain, we drive on the opposite side of the road. I thought that Britain was eight time zones ahead of Vancouver. So what's with with this 'two months' situation? Had I actually gone back a whopping two months in time zones? So what happened? Had I entered the 'Twilight Zone?'
The confusion started when somebody asked me some personal details. "Date of birth?" I was asked. I replied July 5th 1953. The lady wrote down on the form 05/07/53. What's going on here? I thought. Well, excuse me, I wasn't born on May 7th. Heck, at my age, you want to be feeling younger, not two months older! Then I found out that we reverse the dates here.
So now I shall tell you about October 9th (sorry! 9th October, 1988) My former spouse had gone into labour and was on the verge of giving birth to our son Tristan. I looked anxiously at my watch. Could she hold out for a few hours more? There were moments when I thought she was ready to give birth. Hang on dear, I thought. What's a few more hours of agony? The hours ticked by and then it became the 10th of October. Imagine my relief when Tristan was born on 10/10/88! No confusion, no worrying about dates being reversed. How considerate of my former spouse!
When I first moved back to England, I recall going to a pizza restaurant. Upon looking around I noticed that the other customers were eating their pizza with a knife and fork. So I'm thinking, people, it's already sliced, grab a slice with your fingers and shovel it into your mouth. Well, that's what most uncivilised North Americans do. Still, different country, different customs.
Undaunted, I thought to heck with it. I bravely grabbed a slice of pizza and lifted it towards my mouth. No knife, no fork, none of that for this dude. The other customers gasped. Responsible adults covered their children's eyes. Look at that guy over there eating pizza with his fingers! Oh I'm such a rebel!
So I ask you this, good people. Do you eat pizza with your fingers? Or do you eat them separately?
Kind regards adanac67 ( a guy who wants to know: When I read on a bottle of juice:'Dilute to Taste.' Does that mean if I don't dilute it, I can't taste it?)

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

'Tag'...You're Out?

Tags, labels, stigma. 'Tag', you're out. There are those that I love and have loved that have the audacity to undermine my fragile mental state.
For ten years I have challenged an overwhelming negative environment. I have confronted this environment whilst battling with my own mental illness. Sadly, my input, my advice, has been dismissed. For I am a man who is ill and had a serious drink problem. Those that should have worked with me; worked against me.
The consequences of ignoring my input have been devastating. With my sensitivity, I seem to be suffering the end results with a profound sense of helplessness. I have sacrificed my life for the love of my son. Paradoxically, I am a good father and a bad father. I have overcompensated. I would show the world that I could create a warm and safe environment for my son. It felt like nobody cared.
I am a single father. It has not been easy trying to raise my son and being a virtual recluse. I almost shut myself off from society. I was a victim of the negative 'hype' that told me I was not worthy of imposing myself on the outside world. When enough people put you down, you start to believe that their actions are justified. I grow weary of being hurt. I am a simple man with a complicated life.
Last September, my son started an apprenticeship job. I was so pleased for him, I was so proud of him. Unfortunately, due to the location of his work, he has relied on me to get him to and from his job. That meant me driving 40 miles a day. I continued to put my own life on hold. I wanted him to get an opportunity to get a start in life. I sacrificed my life so he could pass his driving test and then purchase his own car.
When he goes to his mother's on the weekends, anything that occurs there is out of my control. So imagine my surprise when he came back on a Sunday afternoon and announced he had purchased a car. This is a lad who had not even passed his test. I had told him that it was best that he wait until after he passed his test to purchase a car. He is 18 and I know what temptation can be like at that age. I was extremely concerned.
My concerns continued to grow when I discovered that my former spouse and her husband had knowingly allowed him to drive his car on his own. My son, no driving license, no insurance, driving his car around the Staffordshire Moorlands. What were they thinking? My concerns fell upon deaf ears. They were indifferent to me, that pathetic excuse of a man.
Two weeks ago, my son returned on a Sunday afternoon looking very distraught. I asked him what was wrong? He wouldn't answer. Then I asked him, fearing the worst, had he crashed his car? The answer was affirmative and I felt my world collapsing even further. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt.
On that Sunday afternoon, my son had gone off, yet again, for another illegal drive. He lost control of his car and crashed into a farmer's wall. He panicked and ran away. One of the farmer's friends caught up with him. My son was driven back to the farmer's house and the police were called. His car was demolished. So there he was, no car, no driving license, no insurance and in serious trouble. We now await his court case.
I won't go into all the details of the aftermath of this terrible situation. They are very painful. What I will tell you is that the dismissive attitude towards me still prevails. The people who I warned of the potential consequences of such actions are still indifferent to my concerns.
Yet, through all of this, I still pursue the positive possibilities that present themselves to me. I still desperately try to network with the kind and decent people who are becoming part of my life. I resolutely battle the negative environment that attempts to thwart my spirit and my humanity.
I shall perservere. I stand proud in the knowledge that I have done the best I can. My morals, my self-esteem are well and truly intact. However, I know I can't do this on my own anymore. I am painfully lonely and I write this with tears in my eyes.
In my heart, I feel comfort in knowing that my family, so far away in Canada, give me the love and support I yearn. I reach out for the gifts of hope that the good people on here offer me. I celebrate these gifts, for they are priceless.
So 'Tag' you're out. No, never. Those that would pass judgement on me because I am ill; do not understand that my illness is only a small part of whom I am. Stigma? You know where they can stick that.
I thank you for your time. Warm regards, klahanie.