Life on Mars?

Imagine, if you will, an infinite blackness. A pitch dark blanket, stretching on and on and on, no beginning, no end. 

It is not an empty void, however. The blanket is peppered with bright, shiny lights. Brilliant little pin pricks burst through the dark, as if someone has taken a needle to a black piece of paper and shone a torch from behind.

The tiny holes of brightness turn out to be a variety of things. Some are enormous burning balls of energy, not only emitting light, but incredible heat as well. Stars.

Others revolve around these stars. Huge lumps of ice, unimaginable gas giants, and the occasional sphere of rock.

Upon one of these rocks, there is life. Apparently, it’s intelligent. But I suppose that’s all relative. Because it’s us, and only us. Out of all these billions of tiny little pin pricks, in the vast emptiness of space, we, for now, remain the only sign of life.

And we’re a planet of tiny little pricks.

So, here we are, alone amid a myriad of stars. The only planet with life. We are unique. We are special. But we are so, so fucking stupid.

Instead of savouring the fact that we are alone in the universe, we seem to resent each other. It’s one planet, with seven billion inhabitants. Each of us from one place. Planet Earth. Despite what Theresa May likes to think, a citizen of the world is something to be cherished, rather than chastised.

But somewhere down the line, humans became tribal. They drew imaginary lines on the ground, and invisible walls were built. Earth became divided, and was never the same again. 

Instead of of celebrating being the only intelligent life in the entire universe, we now jostle for position and authority. We posture and poke our noses in other people’s business. 

We also seem to hold an odd sense of superiority over those who weren’t born within our invisible walls. For some unknown reason, completely lost on myself, an enormous amount of people hold the life of someone born in their own country over someone who wasn’t. Just because of a simple accident of birth, these people think that outsiders are inferior to themselves. 

They think they shouldn’t be here. They don’t want them to come here. They say we’re full (we’re nowhere near it). They stoke up hatred. They think they’ll steal our culture (just what that is, completely eludes me). They imagine they’ll overpower our religions and instill their own. They claim they will sexually assault our wives and our daughters. They want you to believe that someone from outside our country is an enemy. They try to make think we should take care of our own, despite not raising a damn fist to fight for anyone or any cause in their entire life. 

They are misinformed. They are liars. And they are wrong.

It is deeply worrying just how resentful this country has become towards other creeds, cultures and individuals. The right-wing media must take the blame for fanning the flames and stirring up spite, with front page after front page of lies, damn lies and false statistics. 

Brexit has opened up this Pandora’s box of shit. These horrible individuals now feel that their racist views are legitimised. The media continue with their crusade of hate. God knows how we got here. And as the story goes, now that all the shit is out, all we’re left with is hope.

It’s either that, or putting our money on decent, intelligent life on Mars.

Earth appears to be doomed, book me a ticket to The Red Planet.

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Paradise Lost

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February 2017. Supreme Leader May sits upon her slithery throne, surveying the scene below her webbed feet. Steam rises from the millions of sticky, glistening eggs, freshly laid by her that morning, ready to be incubated and nurtured, waiting to hatch.

May, who revealed herself as an alien lizard overlord during the 2016 Conservative Leadership challenge, finishes feasting on the last of this morning’s batch of orphaned children’s souls. Satisfied, she throws back her scaly, fearsome head and lets out a terrifying, triumphant bellow.
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In the days that followed her revelation, May devoured any Tory who got in her way, systematically removing them with streams of incredible fire, or tearing them to pieces with her terrible, multiple claws.

Apart from one.

Gove.

The former leadership candidate was spared. But not for positive reasons. Not in any way. May singled out Gove for special treatment after observing his hideous treachery and brutal backstabbing.
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Gove’s ‘reward’ was to be psychologically tortured to breaking point, until he no longer resembled the man he once was. Now enslaved, Gove was May’s bitch. He kept the eggs moist and sticky the only way he knew how.

May enjoyed torturing Gove. He was her plaything, a toy, his entire existence now devoted to her service and his own humiliation. Once he was no longer needed, May would cut off his famous cock and send it to Sarah Vine.

Not all Tories perished. King of the Buffoons and blond bawbag, Boris Johnson escaped. Once, he was successful. Now he lived on a pig farm.

After Brexit, Boris couldn’t understand that when he kept shitting in his own bed, nobody would turn up to clean it.

Eventually, he became so accustomed to rolling in his own faeces, he joined his animal kind. He even has company at the farm…

David Cameron.
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The former PM eluded the chaos long before it started. After losing the spoiled brat, wee privileged prick, Bullingdon Club gamble-the-whole-fucking-countries-future game with Johnson, DC returned to his first love.

Pig fucking.

Now, he lies beside his favourite. A plump, pink beauty. He gazes lovingly towards her and applies more lipstick carefully around her mouth.

At the same time, Labour died.

Simply because 172 MPs thought they knew better than half a million party members, a grand old institution is no more.

“WE WANT POWER” became the bloodthirsty cry, although none of them were capable of doing any better than Jeremy Corbyn, leader at the time.

The MPs wanted a return to Labour values, which were currently being delivered by Corbyn. They also wanted their party back, which Corbyn was also doing at the time. And finally, they demanded an electable leader, not one who had been returned for over 30 years as an MP and comprehensively won a four-way leadership contest by over 60%.

Labour MPs had borrowed Michael Gove’s long knife to stab Jeremy Corbyn in the back, but in the end, they were all shit scared to actually finish the job.

Instead, they reactivated Tony Blair.

Blair was a malfunctioning war droid, built in a top secret project by the UK to seek and destroy enemies in future conflict.

However, there were many, many wires loose, and the Death Machine 2000 (to give him its proper name) escaped the secure facility. The authorities were unable to stop it. Blair smoothly blended into society, rising to power in 1997.
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Death Machine 2000 loved war. At every turn and at every opportunity, it invaded countries, fabricating truths and sexing up documents to justify his cause.

Eventually, Blair was deactivated by another top secret droid, The Clunking Fist 900.

Going by the name Gordon Brown, it was able to infiltrate and destroy Blair’s war datachip. Ironically, due to Death Machine 2000’s confusion, it now believed it could solve conflict.

But, in reality, it did absolutely fuck all, making billions of pounds for itself instead.

And now it’s back.

The Labour MPs somehow forgot how bloodthirsty Blair was. Tom Watson, Deputy Leader, located the war datachip and reinstalled it.

Chaos.

Blair is on the rampage. Refusing to work with anyone, he invades village after village, town after town, destroying everything in its path. It has been reported that every now and then, Death Machine 2000 is heard to mutter “Bush, Bush, Bush” over and over, as if it is searching for something.

Despite him being obviously awful, some people think a return to Blairism is the way forward.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon ponders her tactics. The only sound politician left, and the only hope we have, finds her hands frustratingly tied.
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Sturgeon is holed up in Scotland’s secret bunker (just off the B940 in Fife) with just a handful of able companions. Most of the SNP has collapsed.

The majority, led by Pete Wishart, now solely devote themselves to arguing with people online. Actually believing that everything they did was amazing, and that anyone who disagreed was a traitor to Scotland, they now sit upon inflated opinions of their own self importance, faces buried into electronic devices, tutting, spluttering, gnashing and snarling at anyone who dares talk Scotland down.

Nobody is allowed to challenge their opinion. Everyone else is an idiot. They are right, of course they are, and you hate Scotland. With grotesquely enlarged thumbs from typing, they’ve lost all sense of reality. They are now useless. Sturgeon, sensible and of sound mind, despairs.

A select, sane and rational band, remain. With Scotland’s people ready to go it alone and be a nation again, Sturgeon knows she’ll need to use all of her power.

But fighting the alien lizard overlord won’t be easy. Nor will dousing the flames left behind by Blair or the mess Labour have left.

The world needs sanity, leadership and stability. The people deserve that much. We can only hope.

It isn’t too much to ask, is it?

This is a low

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I have mental health problems. But don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you. I’m not even going to hurt you. I won’t hit you or throw something at you. Hell, it’s pretty damn unlikely that I’ll even shout abuse at you. Well, maybe if I really dislike you I will. I don’t own a gun, so I’m not going to shoot you. I’m anti-gun so we can scrub filling you full of holes off the list. My meds ensure that I’m bloody shattered all the time so that rules out hacking you to pieces with an axe. It would be far too heavy. I’d just be dragging it along the ground, sparks flying everywhere while you outrun me. I suppose this rules out any form of frenzied chainsaw attack. I wouldn’t be able to get it started. Can you imagine? There I would be, hockey mask on face, laughing manically and shouting some corny line like “It’s time for you to LOG OUT!”. You would be terrified. That was until I pulled on the cord, over and over until I resembled a feeble Mr Burns all dressed up for Hallowe’en. Ah, Hallowe’en. More on this later.

But first, let’s deal with the front page of today’s Sun. “1,200 KILLED BY MENTAL PATIENTS” it screamed.

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“WHAT THE HELL??” I screamed. It’s as if the staff of The Sun had a meeting and all decided that there just isn’t enough stigma attached to mental health. Not only are you socially unacceptable, you’re now psychotic killer, too. I don’t really want to discuss the contents of the article. I feel numb because of it. Here we are in late 2013 and still, society continues to vilify, bully and stigmatise those who suffer from mental health issues. Now, we’ve all heard the statistics. One in four of us will suffer from some form of mental illness in our lives. So, if 25% of the population have it, why are there so few who speak openly about it? Well, because of idiotic front pages like today, that’s why?

I’ve been writing about my own battles with depression for some time now. I have no problem letting anyone know about this. But society has deemed us who suffer as outcasts. How the hell can anyone ask to get help if they’re made to feel like a fraud for having an illness?

The mental health charity SAMH released an appalling statistic recently. 40% of employers wouldn’t hire someone with a mental health problem. You want me to let that sink in for a while? Okay, long enough. Now join me in the slow hand clap. With the ongoing fight about discrimination over ageism in the workplace front and centre, it seem we dropped the ball regarding mental health. Again. As a society, we’re making an awful bad habit of that.

It doesn’t help when the biggest of companies brazenly mock mental health problems with their Hallowe’en costumes. Yep, good old Tesco and Asda. Both were guilty of selling items that were offensive. Let’s try something, then. Let’s change the illness. How about this? –

HALLOWE’EN COSTUME! DRESS UP AS CANCER PATIENT! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look like you have cancer? Then wonder no longer with this fab Hallowe’en costume from Asco Supermarket! The costume comes with a hospital gown, a “bald” cap (for that “just had chemo” look), some yellow face paint to look sick, and a portable stand with a drip feed (easily attached with velcro). Only £19.99!

This would never happen, would it? It would be completely awful. Why then, was it okay for Tesco and Asda to sell costumes mocking the mentally ill?

We’re still stuck with the same old attitudes. To have a mental illness is to be a loony. A violent, unpredictable character capable of harm and brutal acts. Well, the truth is quite the opposite. Those who suffer a mental condition are far more likely to come to harm themselves rather than commit a vicious act. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good, ill-researched opinion, eh?

There were some who called this a knee-jerk reaction. Where was our sense of humour? It’s only a costume. How can it be offensive when it’s funny? Oh aye, that’s right. I often recall the times I utterly pissed myself laughing at how depressed I was. My belly ached as I tried to force the suicidal thoughts from my tortured mind. My sides split as I took the razor blade across my arms. Sometimes I was giggling so hard, I couldn’t clean up the blood.

This wasn’t just a error of judgement. These costumes must have been seen, then sanctioned by, umpteen supposedly intelligent people in management on several occasions. Quite how they got so far is a mystery. The costumes and the management, I mean.

We’re in the middle of Scottish Mental Health Week. This Thursday, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Charities, organisations and activists will be holding events and activities to raise awareness and hopefully gain new supporters for this important cause.

We have to change as people. We have to smash the stigma that has been associated for far too long with mental health. We need to speak out about our experiences and encourage those that are suffering to seek help. We need to make mental health a socially acceptable illness to have. And when we do, those awful statistics will fall. And when they do, it’s a sure-fire bet that it’s the last we’ll see of these awful costumes and hideous front pages we’ve seen in recent times.

Half the world away

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Just how do big companies decide on their Christmas adverts?

It was that time of year again. The memo had been sent round. Everyone grumbled about it, but were completely powerless to prevent the shambles.

It was Christmas advert time.

Every big company engaged in warfare at this time of year. Peace and goodwill, eh? Who could come up with the most sickly, sentimental dross for 2015? Whatever happened to simple Christmas adverts? You know, the ones where you show off your product in the hope that someone may buy it for Christmas.

Now it was just silly. Everyone knew it, but like complete twats, they fell for it every time. Every employee at the company knew this too.

The staff were ordered to assemble at 2pm in the Old White Man Decision Making Room. As each one filtered in and took a chair, they felt a slight unease. This situation, you see, was getting worse every year.

“Hurry up, hurry up, siddown, siddown,” barked the most senior Old White Man.

The executive decision makers were all men. White men. It had been that way forever. They had a reputation for intolerance, impatience and more recently, being out of touch.

Mr Senior Old White Man stood up and addressed the room. An immediate hush descended.

“So,” he began, “what do we have this year?”

There was an initial pause. Silence. Someone coughed. Then every pair of eyes turned towards one, obviously nervous individual. He gulped comically then slowly shuffled to his feet.

“It’s this, Sir,” he croaked, gently raising a smooth, shiny black box.

“WHAT IN THE BLUE UTTER FUCK IS THIS, YOU JIBBERING FUCKSTICK?”

“It.. it.. it’s really rather g-g-good,” stuttered Reluctant Employee. “You see, this is the Insipidator Ultramax 9000,” he continued. “It turns any song into acoustic melancholic pish.”

“Well kiss my arse and call me Susan!” bellowed Mr Senior Old White Man. “You mean all you do is put a cassette tape into this thing and it automatically produces one of those awful Christmas advert songs? This is TERRIFIC news!”

Reluctant Employee relaxed somewhat. He had pleased the fearsome boss. Feeling confident, he continued his presentation.

“Yes, that’s exactly it – well, sort of,” he chirped. Mr Senior Old White Man’s frown took him down a peg. “You don’t put a tape in. Not even a CD. You can just pair it with your device.”

Mr Senior Old White Man made a face as if Reluctant Employee had just showed him the video of ‘2 girls 1 cup’. He knew he was getting old and technology terrified him.

“Just.. just get on with it,” he muttered, making a turning motion with his left hand.

Reluctant Employee nodded and set the wheels in motion. He sat the Insipidator Ultramax 9000 on a table and pressed a hidden button on the side. A blue light pulsed gently, indicating it was ready. He produced a phone from his pocket and frowned while he slid and swooshed his fingers over the screen for a bit. Eventually he nodded to himself.

“This will be a perfect example,” he announced.

The older folk in the room winced as Rage Against the Machine blared from the phone.

SOME OF THOSE THAT WORK FORCES ARE THE SAME THAT BURN CROSSES

“NOW I’M GOING TO PUT IT INTO THE INSIPIDATOR,” yelled Reluctant Employee. Mr Senior Old White Man was glad.

The young man swished his fingers across the screen towards the new machine. The blue light flashed faster, whirred and make robotic clicking noises.

Then the whole room gasped.

The song was now unrecognisable. Instead of Tom Morello’s beastly, funk-rock guitar, it was replaced by gentle folk fingerpicking on an acoustic. Zack de la Rocha’s unique vocals were no longer there. In their place, what sounded like a quirky 23 year-old self-proclaimed ‘feisty’ girl with a stupid, made-up name with stripey tights, blue hair and a shit jumper was softly singing away. It sounded like every other singer trying to make it in the music business who think their style is idiosyncratic but is actually fucking shite.

Fukyew ah wunt do wut yoo yah tell me
Fukyew ah wunt do wut yoo yah tell me
Fukyew ah wunt do wut yoo yah tell me
Muthafuckaaaaa…

The girl’s put-on wee London accent was almost unbearable. It was a winner.

“My God….”

Mr Senior Old White man was almost lost for words.

“This is …. MAGNIFICENT!” Everyone burst into spontaneous applause. Reluctant Employee sat down, cradling the Insipidator. He breathed a sigh of relief. His work was done and it was a success.

The man in charge rise to his feet again and gestured for silence, both hands in front of him like a puppet feeling in the dark.

“Well, that was a triumph. Now, what’s the idea for our advert this year? Who’s got the pitch?”

A girl gingerly raised her hand like she was at school and needed a pish. The older men nudged each other and guffawed.

“I bet it’s all periods and pyjamas!”

“Ha! Will it be kitchenware this year?”

“Imagine a woman doing this!”

While the men in charge joked with each other, Ginger Girl stood up, smoothed her skirt and cleared her throat.

“We have two possible scenarios. They’re both topical and we feel they tap into the pulse of the nation.”

“Okay then, sweetheart. Go ahead.”

Ginger Girl shuddered. Four years at Uni to be patronised like this simply because she had a fanny. When would it end?

She composed herself and began the presentation.

“Well, last year one of the big supermarkets used the absolute horror of the worst conflict in human history. Millions of people died in unimaginable ways but they still felt it was appropriate to use the war as a way to boost Christmas sales. So, we felt war was the answer. And where’s the most topical war? That’s right, Syria.”

There was murmuring in the room. Nodding. Agreement. Solidarity from the co-workers. Mr Senior Old White Man remained stoic. Ginger Girl continued.

“Picture the scene: it’s a snowy and icy day. A young boy runs out into his garden and frolics in the snow. He builds a snowman. He’s having fun. Then! Cut to Syria. A malnourished girl is also in the snow. She doesn’t have a snowsuit. She isn’t having fun. In fact, she’s mourning her parents who were evaporated in a chemical attack. Then! Splitscreen. Two children, both in the snow. Two different stories. One happy, one sad. Polar opposites, if you will. But now comes the killer part. Each child, on splitscreen, receives a gift, clearly branded from our store. They both open it, look up and smile to the camera. The whole thing is soundtracked by Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ put through the Insipidator. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Shall I say it again?”

Ginger Girl finished. She had practiced that last bit over and over for the past week. She hoped it had done the trick.

Somewhere at the side of a room, a new young lad whispered to his colleagues.

“Do we even HAVE a store in Damascus?”

The colleagues glared and indicated he should shush.

The Old White Men leaned into each other and murmured. There were gestures and raised voices. Eventually, without emotion, Mr Senior Old White Man asked to hear idea number two.

Ginger Girl felt deflated. She composed herself and slipped into professional mode. A deep breath and here we go.

“Okay. Idea number two. What’s the most topical issue in the country just now?”

Before anyone had the chance to answer, Ginger Girl continued.

“That’s right, mental health.” She paused for effect again. More murmuring.

“The screen goes from black into bright, misty white. A woman is perched on the edge of a high bridge. It is clear she wishes to end her life. We’ve put Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ through the Insipidator. The idiosyncratic girl has nailed it. It’s perfect. There are flashbacks to happy times. The woman almost smiles. But! She remembers why she wants to jump. The camera pans to her feet, shuffling closer to the edge. Is she going to do it? No! A sexy, rugged man walks past. Sees what’s happening. Uses his charm to talk her down. It works! The last shot is him draping one of our winter coats over her shoulders. We could put that up by 400%. Think of the sales!”

Ginger Girl was aware she was breathing heavily. It was done. Damn drawing that short straw, having to pitch these ideas. She fixed her gaze towards the management. What were they thinking?

The management exchanged sideways glances. They all nodded in agreement. Mr Senior White Man stood up.

“Yeeeessss….. these are, erm, wonderful ideas. But we’ve came up with a better plan. We want Don Draper.”

People in the room gasped. It was audacious. My God, of course! He would make EVERYTHING better!

“But Don Draper hasn’t been found for 45 years!”

“He was last seen at a hippy retreat in California!”

“Even if we find him, he’s nearly 90! What’s he got to offer?”

Mr Senior White Man dismissed everyone’s concerns with a wave of the hand.

“We’ll find him. And when we do, he’ll give us the best goddamn Christmas advert there’s ever been. Now, go! Go and find him. Dismissed.”

“But Don Draper isn’t even real,” said a voice from the back. “He’s just a character in a television show. This is crazy.”

Mr Senior Old White Man heard the comment but didn’t acknowledged her concerns.

“Bloody women,” he thought.

Fixing a hole: Part II

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Pain. Our eternal, brutal nemesis. Pain can come in all shapes and sizes and vary from physical to mental. A short, sharp pain can make us wince and yell out in despair. But what of constant pain? An all-consuming, unforgiving complete bastard that refuses to yield, often wrecking lives. It can alter moods, strain relationships and cause other kinds of pain. When rid of it, the relief is overwhelming. But what happens when it returns? And what if it’s worse?

A few years ago, I wrote a piece about pain. I was suffering, dear God I was suffering, and I expressed how I was feeling in this blog. The twist to this simple plot is that my pain existed in my pants. I had a sore arse, you see. In fact, I had a tear up there. A fissure, to give it its proper title.

So I wrote some words down explaining my fears of what it may be, my nonsensical tardiness in visiting the doctors, and just how ridiculous attitudes towards private parts problems are. In the end, I expressed how delighted I was to end the ordeal and have reduced my pain to almost nowt.

Except, it’s back, and this time it means business. And just like The Godfather: Part II or The Empire Strikes Back or Aliens, the sequel was a far superior affair.

I considered going into more detail about it, but to be honest, it won’t tax your brain too greatly to imagine the experience. I’ll spare you the more, how shall I say, dirtier details.

Like last time, it started with pain. And it grew and it grew and it grew. This time however, the problem was on the outside, not the inside. A quick check revealed some swelling. Eventually the agony became unbearable. And, just like before, I took too long to make a doctor’s appointment. By the Friday I could hardly stand, and on the Saturday I genuinely couldn’t.

A trip to the doctor revealed I had an abscess. A course of antibiotics was swiftly prescribed along with some rest. Problem was, I was off on holiday the next week. Legoland, London, Harry Potter and friends in Cumbria awaited. This was all planned months ago, and two little children, as well as Karen and I, would be very disappointed if we didn’t go.

It turned out I was well enough to travel, but during the holiday I developed more complications. This is the part that I’ll spare you, but as you read on you’ll figure it out. We all had a fantastic holiday, and on my return I went back to see the doctor for a check up.

Oh dear. The doctor wasn’t happy with the progress and I was swiftly sent to the hospital.

After a wee while I was led to a room where I was assessed by a surgeon and two junior doctors. I am now an expert at dropping my trousers for medical professionals to gape at my arse. It doesn’t faze me anymore, no matter how many folk are there. However, this lovely lady pinched and poked and pushed around at my sore bits, announcing each prod with an “ooh” or an “ahh”.

“We’re just waiting on some gel,” she flatly said after a brief pause.

Things You Don’t Want to Hear #742.

The gel arrived

“Does anyone have torch?” she requested.

Just what the fuck were they going to do?

The junior doctor arrived at my arse with his mobile phone, light blaring and all, and pointed  it crackwards.

It’s unclear whether this doctor actually filmed this episode and uploaded it, but I don’t want to check as I’m pretty sure a search for ‘chubby hairy man anal finger insert’ is inappropriate in anyone’s language.

The surgeon proceeded to then fist me (or that’s certainly what it felt like anyway), assuring me this was necessary to give me an internal exam to check for damage. Well, I definitely did now. It felt like she had a feel at my tonsils, too.

“You have fistula,” it was announced.

A WHIT?

“A fistula. It’s a channel from your bowel to outside your anus.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA. YOUR ANUS. LIKE THE PLANET.

“The abscess bore a hole and went through the weak point where your internal tear was.”

*HORRIFIED FACE*

“This is why you’ve been in so much pain and have been ‘leaking’. I’ll fix it tomorrow. You’ll require surgery.”

And that was that. A relief. A genuine relief to be told that there actually is something wrong with you. To be told you’re not making it up, or exaggerating or attention seeking. It’s a weight off your shoulders.

So, I had a fistula. Hands up if you’ve ever heard of that? Me neither. However, I would like to warmly congratulate the person who named an extra hole in the arse a FIST-ula. Well played, well played indeed. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, there are no conditions named rimula or felchula.

This was the first time I had ever been a patient in a hospital. Sure, I had visited many people on many occasions but never actually been admitted myself. I would like to take the time now to say just how fucking wonderful the NHS is. Not only did I receive an operation the very next day, every single member of staff I came across was wonderful, especially the nurses. Absolute gems, the lot of them.

The staff nurses, auxiliaries, porters, cleaners, anaesthetists (thank you spellcheck), surgeons and doctors were just bloody brilliant. I felt overwhelmed at the service I received. Thank you to each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart, and the heart of my bottom.

A special shout out to the nurse who woke me out of my sleep after my op who had to put up with my awful patter and my constant attempts to pull my dressing out my arse.

“There’s something between my cheeks, the surgeon won’t know where to operate.”

“It’s okay, Scott, you’ve had your op.”

“Oh. Wow, I haven’t felt this out my face since I watched Faithless at T in the Park!”

“Uh-hu.”

“Why is everything yellow?”

“It’s just the lights.”

“Oh. When’s my operation again?”

“Time to take you back to the ward for a sleep.”

“I like sleepi…… zzzzzzz”

Yup, God bless the NHS. And if these bastards in government even consider dismantling it, then I’ll be first in line to fight them.

So, I’m now halfway through my fortnight’s recovery. Apparently that’s it fixed and I’ll never have any more trouble again.

WILD CELEBRATION.

So, as I write this I’m doped up to the eyeballs in painkillers. As you can imagine, it’s not a nice area to get sliced up. However, because I’m writing this in a codeine haze, I’m wondering if it’ll make any sense. Y’know, like the bit in Wolf of Wall Street when Leo DiCaprio thinks he’s driven his Lamborghini safely home wasted on quaaludes, except when he looks at it later it’s a total wreck.

I might think I’ve written a long but eloquent blog but when I read it next week it’ll just be:

Fgufftsdjcjboggucihogifhfijpgydydtfuoghdrsugiho
ycydyfuggugijiftxrestguhoji igufydufugugihihihih
f gugugi gigigihih tgojpkphicts dysdjgjg gigigihihfh jkfdh tcihiftstwrsfuu8t7gucydtchgihi hdhko0 dgihiufugdtsr
dyfugyddy hi hi igigu 6jx ihifstetd kpp9u8hug  d6dh
cjkydsg03b

7r6eydufugihirfuohihufuohigiohovufygu6yuehigug
dydgufydygihihutfuhohudeeqrwyfugihihigfuhonj
utwtfujopjoh7gufyetdfuvubih8fhihugufseatfu hoheg25l



While the main subject of this piece is about pain and suffering, the object of it isn’t to gain sympathy. Not in the slightest. I don’t understand people who take their pain or illness and use it to harvest attention. In fact, while in hospital, Karen and I joked we should check in on Facebook then not reply to anyone.

OMG ARE YOU OK

WHAT’S UP

U OK HUN

HOPE U R BETTER SOON

I don’t get why folk do that. Like when people update their status to announce they have a migraine. STARING AT A BRIGHT GLOWING SCREEN WILL MAKE IT WORSE, YOU UTTER FUCKNUT.

It’s pushed into second place by people who think we care about their exercise. Yay, you did 25 burpees and lifted a kettlebell 20 metres in a muddy park. I ate Monster Munch and drank wine, who’s the fucking champion here?

Nope, this isn’t about sympathy. It’s about awareness. Yes, you may have a problem ‘down there’, but it’s nothing to be shy about. There’s no difference between a sore shoulder and a sore arsehole. They both need fixed. Just because one lives in your pants, it doesn’t make it taboo, and it most certainly won’t fix itself.

We all have private parts. We all need them. We all use them. We all play with them from time to time. But we won’t talk about them.

Well, I just did. It’s easy. Speak up to loved ones or get it seen to. The consequences can be devastating. Don’t suffer in silence, especially us men. We’re 20% less likely to visit a doctor. Fucking idiots. You honestly think the worst thing a doctor will see that day is your big hairy arse? Na, no chance. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Nobody will laugh. It really could save your life.

Don’t be a dick, visit the doc.

Running to stand still

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+++WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS TRIGGERS+++

I was 19 when I ran away from home. Well, I say ran away but to be fair, I had just come home from a 15 hour drinking session in the Cross Keys and my folks weren’t happy. Who knew that disappearing for an entire evening, night and morning would cause so much concern? Remember, this was in the days before mobile phones, so we drove our poor parents demented while going out and becoming so drunk that our livers begged for mercy.

When I eventually stumbled in the door, my frazzled mother proceeded to lay it on thick. She had had no sleep, she was worried sick, thought I was dead, blah blah blah etc. I believe there may have been violence. I wasn’t happy about this treatment. I had just spent a glorious few hours at an epic lock-in filled with vodka, music, dancing and topless cross-country (that particular story is for another time). I felt I could no longer live in a house with such selfish attitudes. So I legged it.

“NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME!” I yelled, before slamming the door. Unsure of where to head, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the McIntyre’s spiritual home in Eaglesham. Linn Cottage is situated near the top of the Orry, a wooded area slap-bang in the middle of the village. My Grandpa was born there in 1920, and I’ve always vowed one day that we shall return to our castle and claim what is truly mine (I’m not sure my wife, Karen agrees with me, however). I slumped down beside a tree and fell into an alcohol-induced coma.

“Erm… good morning?” wavered an elderly voice. I stirred, opened my eyes, and hadn’t an absolute fucking clue where I was. Two old ladies looked down on me. I peered back through the sunlight.

“Oh hello,” I rasped. My mouth felt like someone had shoved a sheet of 240 grade sandpaper in it.

“Are you okay, dear?” one asked.

“Yeah great. Never better,” I lied. As I slowly came to, I realised that they had on their Sunday best. Returning from church, I concluded.

“Have you hurt yourself?” asked the other.

“No, I’m just BLEEEEUUURRRGGHHH….”.

The two women recoiled in horror as I projectile vomited and just missed decorating their lovely shoes a new coat of green and with teeny bits of carrot.

“I’d best be on my way,” I groaned, before meandering home to apologise to a now livid mum.

+++TRIGGER WARNING+++

It’s not quite clear what I was thinking that bleary Sunday morning. But it just made sense. I was leaving home, completely ridiculously, and nobody was going to stop me. Looking back now, it’s laughable, a good tale to tell and proof of what a complete numpty I was back then. But at the time? It was the right thing to do.

Just like the few occasions I took a razor blade to my arms and cut them to ribbons.

It made sense. I knew it was wrong then and I know it was wrong now. But take myself back to those dark times, perched on the end of the bed, sliding that sharp, clean edge across my forearms? It needed to happen. That was my calling and that’s what I’ll do. It felt good. A nip of pain, the flow of blood.

And then the guilt.

Man, I hated myself. As soon as I gained control of my senses, I was utterly appalled at my actions and the devastation that I’d created. I would rush to clean up my tattered arms, run them under a cold tap to numb the pain and dab them dry. I would never cut deep you see. I could always stem the flow. That way, I could wear a long-sleeve top and everyone would be non-the-wiser. It’s a bit calculated and chilling, I know.

And then I would cry myself to sleep, hating every fibre of my own being for giving in to the demons again and having to hide myself away until the scars healed. I have one, permanent wound from this time. It’s as if I left myself a wee reminder, a warning if you wish, to never go there again.

There’s a case for saying that I did these things simply to become more depressed. If you’re reading this and you’ve never suffered (well ain’t you the lucky one), you may struggle with this concept. Why would you want to become more depressed? To the outsider, this is nonsense. Illogical and improbable, nobody wants to become more ill, surely the aim is to recover and live your life normally?

Wrong.

Here’s the problem: we become too used to being depressed. We’ve been this way for a while and it’s just how we behave. It’s our default setting. This is what we are and what we’ve become. The thought of change becomes unbearable, getting better is unthinkable and a normal life is unobtainable. People offer assistance but you don’t trust them. They’re putting your best interests at heart but you fail to see this and scurry away into the shadows, like an insect sensing danger.

Visions fill your head, thoughts wander in and out your mind, whispers filter their way to your ears, prodding, probing, suggesting, hating. An offer to help comes your way but you can’t trust it. You’re stuck and you don’t want to budge. You envisage yourself being dragged, kicking and screaming into the light, hands tearing at you, scratching, wounding, hurting.

You don’t want help. You need depression. You’re addicted. It’s your comfort, your security blanket.

But it is also tiring. Ask anyone who has a mental illness and they’ll tell you how much it takes out of you. On bad days, you can’t move. Other days a trip to the shops can flatten you. To carry this burden around takes it out of you. Add in a crushing lack of desire and man, are you fucked or what?

But again, to those who haven’t ever felt like this, it’s hard to convey just how dominating it can be – to actually understand what it’s like to suffer from crippling exhaustion. To be completely dominated by an invisible illness that insists you sit down, shut up and take what you deserve while dancing a merry jig upon your tortured soul. To have that large, jagged security blanket of yours casually draped over you when you least expect it, which acts as a shroud, lying heavy on top of you, smothering and preventing any form of joy leaking out of this battered body you have.

You’re aware of it, sometimes you fight it, but what you realise is that battling with this unseen condition only makes you even more exhausted. You’re stuck, and there’s no way out.

Except that ain’t true, is it? Either you or someone you know has beaten this damn thing and is getting on with rebuilding their shattered lives. I know I have. I’ve had my therapy, I’m off my meds and I’m improving each and every day. It may be inch by inch rather than mile by mile, but at least it’s forward, isn’t it?

This has been no ordinary or easy process. People have been hurt by my actions or what I’ve said. The occasional item has been damaged. There’s a few years of my life I’d like to edit. Rewind, delete, forget, move on. But I can’t and maybe just like the little scar on my arm, these memories can be used as an incentive to move forward, regroup and focus on the long term plan.

Survival.

However, I don’t suppose we’re ever really cured. This hellish nightmare looms over us at all times, waiting for that tiny glimpse of an opportunity to envelop us with its hate, it’s restrictions and it’s deception. The threat will always be there. Hell, I’m nowhere near perfect yet. I’ve still got miles to go. But the end goal is much closer than before. And the road gets smoother and more comfortable to travel on at this side.

So while I may have the odd relapse – the occasional day where everything is a problem and nothing makes sense – I know that I’m through the worst. With love, care, effort and a whole heap of time, I actually feel, well, fucking normal again. I know that I am lucky and I am aware that so many of you perhaps can never see the way out. But you can and you will. Words are easy to write but actions take bravery. Be bold.
Ask, talk, do whatever it takes.

It’ll be the best thing you ever do.

If I can, you can.

And I’ll help.

Consequences

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I’ve had depression now for the best part of 15 years. In that time, I’ve managed to do my job to the best of my abilities. Some might say I’m rather good at it. I work with nitric acid, cyanide and a multitude of sharp and dangerous tools that could not only harm myself, but those around me.

I drive every day. I have never deliberately crashed my car into anyone else. A lot of people reading this have been in my car on a regular basis, including my close family, especially my kids. Nobody has ever said they wouldn’t get in the car with me because I suffer from mental illness.

The author Matt Haig made a wonderful point last night:

” Mental health is an everyone issue. We are all on a scale. Pilots could all have heart attacks. Should we ban people with hearts?”

How true. Depression is an illness. People who suffer from a multitude of illnesses are responsible for millions of people each and every day. Should we prevent all of those who have an illness from working? Or is just those with depression we’re all afraid of? Because if it is, with one in four of us having a mental illness, our country ain’t gonna get very far.

But please don’t take this as an endorsement for horror. What happened in the Alps is an unspeakable tragedy, an unthinkable and appalling situation that has left a multitude of families bereft of loved ones and bereaved beyond belief.

I will not, and never will, pass judgement until all the facts are known. I will not leap to conclusions, speculate on the unknown or inflict stigma upon those who simply don’t deserve it.

My problem is with the media. The ones who continue to stigmatise those with mental illness with their continual knee-jerk reactions to a situation that was dominated by depression. You can’t simply put everyone in a box. Every case is different and each of us suffer in our own, unique way. Most of us have trouble fighting sleep, never mind anyone else.

When a high profile incident involving depression is ongoing, you simply can’t assume that each of us is a danger to society, or that we should be taken away in a loonie wagon to a padded cell for our own and everyone else’s safety. It just can’t work like that.

Isolated tragedies will unfortunately always happen. We’ll never be able to prevent them. But if we stop the stigma, blame and oversimplification of complex illnesses and scenarios, then maybe we can make it easier for people to ask for help, rather than commit dreadful atrocities with devastating consequences.

We owe it to ourselves, our families or those who are maybe potential victims. Let’s start dealing with it in the right way rather than pushing people further into the darkness.

It’s bleak enough in there already.