Tag Archives: mental health

Dave Chawner – Circumcision: A Review

Bunbury Magazine Rating – ★★★★★

Bunbury Fringe Award – The From The Hood Award

Straight from the top of the show, it is clear that Dave Chawner is a confident performer who brings a great deal of cheek and charm to the stage.

This cheek and charm are deployed to fantastic effect whilst dealing with some very sensitive issues – this show is the story of Dave’s circumcision at the start of this year. As the story unfolds, the audience are taken on a journey through mental health issues and eating disorders, all of which are dealt with with the utmost respect and sensitivity. It is clear that Dave knows how to put an audience at ease with excellent delivery.

He even talks about sex in a way that had us in stitches but without being overtly graphic – for the most part – which is a very difficult skill to master.

The entire show had a great rhythm and flow, moving through the narrative with a natural pace that allowed the story to build momentum. There was a very clear message to take from the show, an uplifting message which we will not spoil here but we left knowing we had seen something brilliant from one of the loveliest people we met in Edinburgh.

Circumcision was on at Cabaret Voltaire.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 17-19/07/15

17/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘bittersweet memory’ from #DSPoetry.

The phrase ‘no resit’

jolts the heart, sets it

on a path until,

seven months later, the heart

is captured and can be at rest.

18/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘breathless second’ from #WrittenRiver.

‘How do you think I feel?’

rapid breaths condense

into fogs of silver.

‘I’ve been training for

four fucking years!’

19/07/15

For the million and one moments

after you escape, each one

is sumptuous. Each mouthful

of fresh, clean air tastes

as sweet as anything can.

In delirium, you start

to rebuild a shattered life.

You do all the things you

always said you would do

but never got round to

before you were taken,

locked away for months.

Then, as it does,

reality’s dust starts to settle over you,

infinite particles gradually weighing

and bringing you back down to earth.

The smallest things no longer feel

like the greatest things you can do.

You start to take them for granted.

Then you realise that when you were taken,

irreplaceable things were taken too.

Things you will never get back.

Even things that you can get back.

Your phone was broken in the struggle.

Not a massive deal but it is the inconvenience

and the cost that are really annoying

and that is when the resentment truly kicks in.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 08/03/15

Well the editorial phase for Issue Eight is now in full swing. Tonight we did flash fiction and poetry. We also have our interview with Jasika Nicole sorted out and are plowing ahead with the Verbose feature. We have a few more interviews to get back, the details of which are still under wraps but made me feel like I had to buy adult nappies at one point. This is shaping up to be yet another amazing issue.

Anyway, it’s been an odd weekend. Normally, because I work all week, at the weekend I become switched on to all the things I did not have chance to do during the week. Housework, uni reading, magazine work. I become a bit of a nightmare. As I have said before, I become painfully aware of the passing of every minute. So when a couple of hours pass and I do not feel like I have done anything, I become a little twitchy. Then a bit more twitchy. Then Keri and I argue because I’m being an arsehole, which I am, in fairness. So that kind of puts a dampener on the weekend. I hate the processes that go on in my brain at these times.

So yesterday I decided to chill out and try and give my brain a little space. I got up at 9am yesterday and played FIFA for a bit – not on-line so I didn’t have to spend half the morning calling people on the other side of the internet a bunch of penises. Then I got back in to to have some cuddles with Keri. I feel asleep for about 2 hours but I woke up feeling more sanguine than I have for a long time. I was relaxed.

I get too caught up with hustle and bustle and I lose sight of what is really important. The fact I have found the love of my life and we are forging our own way and we have a roof over our head and eat well and love each other hard. The fact I have a fantastic family around me and some of the best friends I could ask for, even though none of them live in Manchester and we only ever talk on the phone or Facebook. That doesn’t matter at all. The fact is we talk.

These are the important things. I felt quite sad after I woke up again on Saturday. I dreamt that for the first time in years, my entire family were in the same room. We were arguing but it was about silly family stuff, nothing too grand. Just about whose turn it is to do the washing up or what’s being put on the TV. We were all getting along though, as a family. I woke up and, in the midst of my revelation that I do not want to be so constantly switched on, I felt sad because I realised this will probably never happen again. Too much has passed.

Now it is Sunday night and, after a great day of editing and seeing Mummy Moriarty and such a nice dinner – pork, beef steak and liver on the same plate – I am now watching Keri chase sheep on Minecraft. I feel very happy.

Here is a poem.

He told her he expected the washing up

to be done and tea on the table when he got

back from the pub. The door slammed as he left

and a picture fell off the wall in the living room.

She began her daily ritual of cleaning in silence.

He had taken her phone with him,

and the stereo had long since stopped working,

so she could not put any music on to entertain herself.

She scraped the plates into the bin and began to fill the sink

with hot water, a modest squeeze of washing up liquid.

Last month he had told her they were spending too much

on cleaning products and she should be more frugal.

As the steam rose from the tap, she stood over the sink,

nostrils filling with disinfected lemon aroma.

She breathed deeply and exhaled. suddenly

the whites of her eyes flashed, bright and lucid,

perfectly matched by a smile that raced across

her face. She walked to the cupboard and pulled out

a casserole dish. She placed it on the counter top

and walked to the bin, dragging out the remains of

last night’s dinner and throwing them into the dish. This was

followed by the scrapings from the dog bowl, a hand full from

the bottom of the canary cage topped with what got caught in the

plug hole of the rinse sink.

She put it all in the oven to bake and went upstairs to get changed.

Two hours later and the door of the pub slams open.

He does not even look round, his eyes locked on the bosom

of the eighteen-year-old blonde at the bar.

She walks over to him, the low light orbiting and falling

into her red velvet dress.

She looks over and sees the blonde ruffle her hair in

his direction, tracing a hand across her chest.

She smiles as she reaches him and without saying a word,

pours his dinner into his lap. Before he can respond,

she walks to the bar and orders two pints of mild.

One for her, one for the blonde’s face.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 05/03/15

So it is coming up to assignment time again for my philosophy module. The question at hand this time. ‘An immortal life would be a meaningless life.’ Is there truth to this?

Now, what will follow are some preliminary thoughts on the topic from me, loosely based on the reading I have done so far. (Mother, if you are reading this, I have 14 days to do the assignment and have thus far done about half of the reading. I am on schedule. If you keep calling me in the next 14 days to tell me to do reading and uni work, disturbing the reading and uni work I will be doing with the call to tel me to do reading and uni work, impressed is not on of the states I will find myself in.)

What gives a life meaning? Ask a cross section of people and the answers will vary wildly. Ask a wall street mogul and he will tell you money. Ask a parent and they will say their children. Ask a vegetarian and they will say preserving the planet and protecting the animals. Ask a rich vegetarian new parent and they will say ‘I’ve not slept in two weeks. Go to Harrod’s and get me some f**king bacon. I need to eat something with a face.’

All of these things indicate one thing. The question ‘does life have meaning?’ is not monochromatic. You will not get a conversation like this:

Dave: Do you think life has meaning?

Bob: Yes, it does.

Dave: What gives life meaning?

Bob: Good health, family, friends, money, a worthwhile job, being a moral person, altruism. You know, all that stuff.

Dave: Altruism?

Bob: Yeah, being good and giving to guide dogs and the life boats and s**t.

Dave: Oh. Right. Nice one. That’s cleared that up. Fancy another pint?

This would never happen. It’s true that there are certain universal truths that can be applied to most people when looking at if they are happy or not, but it is not set in stone. There could be someone living on the streets with debilitating diabetes, disowned by family, shunned by friends, penniless with no hope but if we were to ask them if they thought life had meaning, they could say yes. Whereas we could ask the richest man in the world, surrounded by family and friends and everything he ever wanted and he could say no. The goalposts for this question shift depending on who you ask.

One thing that gave meaning to a lot of people right up until very recent history was religion. Now, I am not religious. It is not so much the books of faith I have a problem with – I think all but the most zealous religious people know that they were written allegorically as a guide to living a worthwhile life. I do however think it is a shame that religion is not as big a presence in society today. I think that is why society is going in such an ugly direction. The shop I work in, we attract to a young clientèle. The new generation of people who will soon be running our fast food outlets and call centres are not really fit for society. They are too interested in what is right in front of their noses – shiny phones – rather than what is going on in the world and even the most common of decencies. They idolise and deify celebrities, fashion and brands above anything else. I think this has all blown up in the absence of that figure on high. It is filling a void left by a god, or gods.

In the past, meaning was given to life by these being over us. We were taught that if we lived good, worthwhile lives, we would be rewarded in the afterlife. If we lived selfish lives without meaning, we would be punished. These were our motivations for living a life with meaning. Now, rational people will say that the afterlife does not exist, because it has not been proved to exist. As I say I am not religious but I would not say that because it has not been proved to not exist. We do not know what lies beyond. Whatever it is, I do not believe in the classical theological view of what it is but I think there might be something there. But this is another example of a universal truth to us all.

Obviously, it is very unclear as well if a god does exist. But most of us operate under the knowledge that there is no god until proved otherwise. One of the best examples of the exploration of this idea comes from the sci-fi sit-com Red Dwarf. An episode called The Inquisitor. In this episode, an immortal self-repairing droid travels the universe passing judgement on everyone he meets and deciding whether they have lived a worthwhile life. What is clever about this set-up is that he does not judge them on a pre-set list of ideals. He looks at the potential they have at the start, where they are now and assesses whether they have lived up to this potential. Out of the four main characters, it is Rimmer and The Cat who are deemed worthy of life. A narcissistic coward and a vain narcissist. The two more moral characters, Lister and Kryten, are deemed to have not lived up to their potential.

I found this achingly clever. The two that have lived better lives but not been as much as they could are judged to have lived life with no meaning. Where does this leave the question of the meaning of life? As we have said, the goalposts shift. The best I have figured out is to find something you love to do and make it work for you. Make it make you money, make it make people happy and bring joy, and take it as far as it will go. That is my aim for this year. Take Bunbury bigger and better, make some money and take it bigger and better again. Oh, and as many cuddles with Keri as possible. She has given my life meaning. Or at least has changed the meaning of my life. Well, she has altered a meaning in my dictionary. She has altered the definition of the word ‘frustration’ in my OED to ‘You aint seen nothing yet.’

Oh, one final thought on what has been said above.

42.

Here is a poem.

The barren fields yield no crops

under a sun lacking apricity.

These things all make sense

to the spell-check on my we browser

except ‘apricity.’

Def – noun the warmth of the sun.

The sun lacks the warmth of the sun.

There should be a more poetic way

to express this idea. I sit and imagine the doors to

my mind palace. They appear,

splintered wood from long-since-proud

oak trees, mangled by worm-holes

and rusted rivets snapped by the wind.

I turn my back on these doors and picture the

fields of the estate. Surely even a mind palace has grounds?

The fields of my imagination,

many seeds sowed, turned, loved.

Yet no crops. No fringes of golden wheat

billowing from side to side.

No plump radiant tomatoes.

No egg plants.

It is simply an expanse of tilled earth,

auspiciously brown.

I look up at the sky.

The sun sits, hot belly exposed shamelessly.

Too bright, too visible yet I am not warm.

My mind sun lacks apricity

and my barren fields yield no crops.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 16/02/15

Back to work today. Was nice to be out of my head for a little while. I think I have calmed down a bit after beating myself up all weekend. It did make me seriously consider why I am on the waiting list for CBT though. I don’t think it would do me any good.

When I had my original mental health assessment, it was on a morning where I had only managed to get out of bed at 11am. I felt a bit shitty for what was left of the morning because there was not much of the morning left. I got the call for the telephone assessment at about half past twelve. While we were talking, the fact that I got up late and beat myself up a little bit about it came up. She told me that I was looking at the negative side of things. She told me I should look on the positive side of things. Instead of thinking ‘Oh, well that’s the morning knackered then. There’s only an hour of it left.’ I should think ‘Hey, I’ve still got an hour of the morning left. I can get something done in that.’ This, I think, is CBT boiled down. Think of things in a positive light.

Now, I like to think most of the time I am pretty positive. I am usually open to doing new things, taking chances. Every time I get on stage I am leaving myself open to the judgement of others but I get into a groove and it goes well. But this kind of thinking is just pointless. There has to be a realism to things or the balance just goes too far the other way.

When I was at university, I went through a bit of a dark time. To try and get out of it, I attended church for a while. I saw the comfort and solace others took from it and wondered if it was have the same effect on me. I know from past experience that I do not buy into the belief system or structure of church but some of the ideas, the teachings I thought could benefit my state of mind. I decided to involve myself with some of the Christian Union activities and social gatherings in order to maximise any experiences I might have had. I remember walking into a campus building one night for a Christian Union social and was greeted by a wall-to-wall tide of smiles. No single negative thought in the room. Now, in a way, this is a beautiful thing. Everyone in there was happy.

But, no negative thought. At all. No balance to the happiness. Happiness without its polar opposite surely holds no meaning. If you never feel down, you can’t appreciate the highs. This was the last time I went to one of these gatherings. It felt dangerous in there. A room full of sociopaths.

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘hush’ from VerseReversal

And silence crawls

from cracked lips.

Hushed tones fade

and mingle with nitrogen

and oxygen in an

empty forest.

Here is another poem. The prompt is ‘Murderous Monday’ and comes from ColddarkPoetry

I imagine cleaners
mop sogging with the sinew and
brains of the first customer this
dank Monday
who disturbed my coffee.

Editor Christopher -Self-Evaluation Week Ending 25/01/15

So this has come a little late but it is time for last week’s self-evaluation. No picture this week because my phone is currently dead.

Health – I did the gym so that was all good. I do the running at the gym so that one is easy enough. My cigarette-quitting isn’t going anywhere really. And I failed on the ‘No Snacks’ front. There was a box of Maltesers and I was weak… (Score: 3/5. Last week: 3/5)

Writing/ Performance – As you know, I am doing my #PoemADayForAYear so two poems a week is easy enough, though it does not leave time at the moment to do short stories. The daily blog is taken care, though as you saw from my previous post, some wish it wasn’t! I haven’t submitted any pieces this week because I have been concentrating on building the magazine presence but we did go to a very productive poetry night. We have been asked to help organised another event which is very exciting. There will be more to follow on that. (Score: 3/5 Last Week: 2/5)

Learning – I have fallen behind again with my OU reading but am endeavouring to catch up soon. I have not had chance to get to the library either. I just don’t have the time to get involved with the forums though given how much I am struggling with the course I really should! My guitar hasn’t really been picked up either, which is quite sad. I do still love puzzles though! (Score: 1/5 Last Week 1 1/2 / 5)

Magazine/Event – We are always plugging away with the magazine here, trying to get as many people reading it as possible, both current and past issues. Along with that, we always do a call for submissions. We have locked days in for our future Do The Write Thing events and have been spreading the word, trying to get headliners booked. Keri has been doing LinkedIn forums for us so I have been a little cheeky and claimed half a point on her behalf. (Score 4/5 Last Week: 4/5)

Management/Productivity – I didn’t really go anywhere so my budget was easy to manage. I was applying for jobs every day and finally got a new one! Finally out of the place that did me so much damage. My sleeping patterns we knackered though so failure there. (Score: 3/5 Last Week: 2/5)

Contribution – We did a lovely date night last week which was so nice and relaxed. We went to the poetry event and had a really nice time. I go and see my mummy often. Never got the chance to help a stranger really. Actually yes! Offering very talented people a feature in the magazine. For the first ever time… (Score: 5/5 Last Week: 2/5)

Vision/Ethics – All this was a big win. I visualised every day and now have very clearly-defined goals for the net six months. This is my self-rededication. All in all, I made some great strides towards positivity this week. (Score: 5/5 Last Week: 4/5)

Total Score – 24.5/35 – 70% Last Week – 18.5/ 35 – 52%

A hell of a better week. Once I got the new job, things just perked up straight away!

Anyway, this was a quick one but Keri wants head-rubs so ta-ta for now!

Editor Christopher Writes – A Poem a Day For A Year & Self-Evaluation: 18/01/15

So Sunday is the day on which I am dedicating to self-evaluation. As you may know, at the moment I am going through a bout of depression, which comes and goes and affects me to the point where I freeze at the thought of doing anything even remotely helpful. I am trying to combat this by forcing myself to do things that I see as ‘putting myself out there for the world.’ This blog and Poem A Day For A Year is a prime example. As long as I can keep doing this, I know that I can move on to other things and build some momentum. It all sounds very silly I know but sometimes it i hard to cope with certain pressures and I am trying to find ways to work through. I think the anti-depressants may have finally started working too, which is nice.

Anyway, one thing I have tried to do over the years but have failed to do even this on occasion is to keep a life-chart: breaking my life down into segments with daily and weekly aims and goals to shoot for. The intention is if all these things can become habit, I will not need to keep track and I can lead a productive life. Again, it all sounds very silly but this is one way to try and break through the barriers in my brain. (I am also very aware that things could be a lot worse for me. I am not sitting here and saying ‘Oh, I have it harder than anyone else in the world. Woe is me!’ I know there are millions of people in worse off positions than I am, and I am incredibly lucky to have the support network that I do. I just need pushing and the only person that can do that is me.)

Anyway, the life-chart is an idea I saw in Demetri Martin’s beautiful stand-up show, ‘If I’. I thought it was a great idea and tried to employ it in my own life. This was quite a few year ago and I never got past doing it for a few weeks before forgetting or not giving it a proper chance.

With everything that has been going on here recently, I have started it up again, made myself a new plan and started really trying to grab life by the short ones. Here is this weeks self-evaluation.

WP_20150118_001[1]

As you can see, there are seven sections each with five targets. That’s a total of 35 points every week. Here is a little bit about my week for each one.

Health – I went to the gym twice this week. I always do running while I am there so as long as I go, that’s an easy couple of point. I could have gone three times this week but on Saturday I felt inexplicably exhausted and didn’t get out of bed til 1300. My cutting down on fags is woeful, which I suppose makes the running harder but I will try and give it a go next week. As for no snacks. Well, we got an entire harvest worth of chocolate for Christmas so it would be rude to just leave it all sitting there. Plus, the quicker it is gone, the less time I have to be tempted by it! (Score – 3/5)

Writing/Performance – As you know I have been doing this blog and with it, a poem every day so two marks there are easily obtained. I haven’t had any ideas for short stories lately, putting all my energy into my poetry but I have started working ideas out for a radio play and a children’s story so that may balance it out. I haven’t felt ready to submit any pieces yet so that hasn’t been done and I have not had opportunity to do a performance yet but I am hoping that will change ni the next week. (Score – 2/5)

Learning – I haven’t done any of my uni reading this week at all, I am now two weeks behind with the reading which I realy cannot afford but I am going to make a concerted effort to catch up next week. It shouldn’t be too hard. I can usually focus well when I put my mind to it. I went to the library for a while but my mind was on other things, but the intention was there hence the half-point. I haven’t picked my guitar up at all this week but I bought a capo so I’m going to start making use of it. I want to learn ‘The Ballard of Serenity’ (The Firefly theme song) so it will come in handy. I adore doing puzzles so that one wasn’t heard. (Score – 1 1/2 / 5)

Magazine/Event – We have made massive strides with the magazine recently, really getting involved with social media. We have seen a massive spike in followers on Twitter, I like to think this blog is getting it a little attention. The submission are starting to flow in nicely and the new issue is just around the corner. We are getting ready to host our next live event too which we are very excited for. We are planning two off-shoot magazines from Bunbury in the near future so things are moving forward nicely. We also have some very exciting news for issue eight but we are keeping that under-wraps until everything is confirmed. (4/5)

Management/Productivity – I do not really go many places at the moment so sticking to budget isn’t really too hard. I have been applying for job like a mother so that is taken care of easily enough. My sleeping patterns have been erratic at best this week. I’m putting that down to the meds finally kicking in properly and my body adjusting so the asleep before/after goals are knackered, as am I! The overall list has just disappeared completely so I will have to make another before I can crack on with that! (Score – 2/5)

Contribution – I think tonight will be date night with Keri which is always lovely but I didn’t want to give a mark for it yet because I am sat here typing like a lunatic. We haven’t really had chance to go out anywhere nice this week as I have had a bad week and Keri has been working a lot. We did have a few drinks last night and played some bingo but that is hardly the high life! I love going to see Mummy Moriarty so that mark is really a joy to get. I haven’t been anywhere to help a stranger really and seeing someone else’s P.O.V is quite easy really. (Score – 2/5)

Vision/Ethics – This is the most esoteric category. Rededicated self i basically fill this chart in. Visualise/Focus is just sitting and thinking about something, which I am always doing anyway. The others are just ways in which I can make myself a better person along with a more productive person. (Score – 4/5)

Total Score – 18 1/2 / 35 – 52%

Not a bad week. I’m just over half the person I want to be. I think that’s how it works. Next week will be a better week. After the great news we had today for Bunbury, I feel spurred on to really make a big push so we will see come net Sunday. If any of you have any thoughts on ways to keep progressing, please comment below. Here is a poem. Today’s prompt comes from something I learned at Do The Write Thing on Tuesday – that there used to be such a thing as a porridge drawer. This blew my mind.

He wakes to the sound of his own flatulence:

A gaping, crowing rasp that overwhelms

his nasal passages. He scratches the

ginger stubble on his neck and stretches,

a smaller, more condensed trumpet

heralds his rising. He stutters to

the bathroom to relieve himself from

the nightly build-up, golden rain splashing ceramic

and, periodically, his feet. He flushes,

seat left up and mumbles down stairs

into the kitchen. He takes a bowl and knife from

the sink and opens the middle drawer of

the old rosewood dresser on

the opposite side of the room. The porridge drawer.

He carves a slice from the thick brick of

colourless goop, slops it into his bowl and takes a seat

at the dining table, wood scraping on wood.

As he takes that first, salty bite,

he feels a small trickle run

between his toes.

And a bonus poem, inspired by a prompt from @FieryVerse on Twitter. They run regular poetry challenges in which we highly recommend you get involved. Here is the prompt for today’s challenge followed by the poem.

fieryverseprompt1801

As the leaves surely

blow in through cracks, in time

they must surely bluster out,

leaving decaying memories.

A few days ago I mentioned that Fiona Nuttall from Do The Write Thing had written a poem about the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement that started in the wake of the atrocities in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices. I am really proud to be able to show you that poem now.

Waste

Weekend cartoon of Charlie Brown

Sat on a bench

Alone.

Head in hands,

Weeping maybe.

Caption: “Je suis Charlie”.

The pen mightier than the sword?

The pencil no match for a Kalashnikow.

Nor reason for generated, ambient hatred.

Algerian brothers

Protesting their lives lost in ‘care’,

False solidarity with the dispossessed of Islam.

Prison converts shooting

Shoppers; supposed to be Jews,

Rollmops, bagels, blood and brains.

Psychopathy masquerading as religion.

“I want you to suffer

I want to take some power back”.

But wrongs and rights

Are not an equation.

And if their God is as

Good as they purport,

Then God must be weeping

Like Charlie Brown.

The tree of knowledge plundered again.

The fruits of good and evil

Consumed by the blind,

The mindless

And the indiscriminate.

‘They know not what they do’

In their search for martyrdom and loss.

Too late for forgiveness

Too short-lived for realisation.

It’s all politics, religion, race and class.

A stupid waste by division.

Je suis Charlie

Je suis ton Dieu

Et je suis triste

I am Charlie

I am your God

And I am sad.

Editor Christopher Writes: A Poem A Day For A Year – 17/01/14

I’m a little drunk off lucky dip tokens at our local bar so today’s blog will be brief. I think some of you may appreciate that after yesterday’s anti-feminism post. Though that post garnered the highest reception since I started doing this so maybe I should lay into good causes more often. Oxfam, I’m coming for you next.

As far as weeks go, it’s not been a good one this week. My productivity has plummeted. I’m the kind of person who is willing to work hard to achieve their goals but wants to see at least a little instant success to qualify what they are doing as going in the right direction. This may be the wrong thinking entirely but it is how I think. After the few weeks surrounding Christmas, I have made a lot of progress with my depression by keeping busy on the magazine front. I have been engaging on Twitter a lot more and yes, our follower statistic has nearly doubled and I have started to put a media kit and business plan together but a lot of it feels like it is moving very slowly.

When I had my mental health assessment, the therapist asked what I had done that morning. I said not a lot because I had only woken up at half past ten so I felt like the morning was a bust, given there was only an hour and a half left of it. She pointed out that rather than seeing that there was only an hour and a half left so why bother, I should think more along the lines that there is an hour and a half left in which to do some real good. This is something I struggle with.

I feel like there is a weight of expectation on me to continuously perform to the highest level possible for a human and sometimes it is something I really struggle with. As I did this week. Apart from going to the gym a few times and maintaining this blog, I have not really done much of anything else. I still have Sunday and I am aiming for a really positive week next week. I have another job interview which I am looking forward to and then there is Do The Write Thing and a few events at which I may bare my nipples, depending on the crowd and how frisky I feel.

I said I would keep this brief. I am struggling to tether thoughts in the same place for more than a few moments so here is a poem. The prompt tonight is playing a sport so if you want to write your own, feel free to come and get involved!

Everything says slow down,

take a breath,

breathe,

breathe,

heart rate slows to

a steady

beat.

Beat.

Breathe.

Beat.

Breathe.

The leather under my finger-tips

is wet silk,

too slippery.

Despite the Zen-breathing,

I feel my pulse in my eyelids

and ears,

hammering the sense.

All eyes are on me.

I line up,

elbow in sync with shoulder and wrist,

the leather resting on extreme extremities,

rested against a supporting hand.

Beat.

Breath.

Beat.

Exhale.

My shoulder pushes up, elbow straightening,

forearm extending,

wrist flicking, fingers pointing.

The ball arcs through the air

with geometric precision, the perfect throw.

Eyes follow, breath is held.

One second on the clock,

these two points could win the game.

The balls tracks the hoop,

the hoop opens for the ball.

It drops and drops

and drops

and misses.

Once again, while you are here, the latest issue and all previous issues of Bunbury Magazine are available for your discerning reading pleasure right here – Bunbury Magazine – All the Issues

Also, feel free to come and check out our brand-new, half-finished website for a sneak peek behind the scenes of what we are doing: bunburymagazine.com

And if you would like to help us make it better, there is a short survey here. Because we want to make Bunbury as shiny as possible for you! Click the link here – Bunbury Readership Survey

Editor Christopher Writes – A Poem A Day: 12/01/15

Today has possibly been a complete waste of time.

A ‘welfare’ meeting with work because I have been off sick for 4 weeks with anxiety and depression.

‘Make sure you are taking your medication’ they say.

Yes. I am. I’m not an idiot. I want to get better.

‘How do you feel about returning to work?’ they ask.

Well, I want to return to work but at the moment I have a few barriers to get through. For one, the room we are sat in right now, where we are having this ‘welfare’ meeting, is the very room in which I had my psychological break, overdosed and ended up being diagnosed with depression. I do not like being off sick. I want to be in work, earning money so I can buy things and live. I do not like being stuck at home all day, a prisoner to the crap that is flowing through my head. I do not like feeling worthless so, yes, I want to come back to work but do not necessarily want to return to a place that I feel is very bad for me at the moment.

‘What are you doing with yourself while you are at home all day?’

A bit of this, a bit of that. I really do not think that is any of your business. If I’m being honest, I spend a lot of time eating crunchy nut corn-flake, when the nausea is not overwhelming. I go to the gym…

‘You’re well enough to go to the gym, are you?’

Well, ye. It is not a physical ailment I have. Going to the gym makes me feel better about myself. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something early on, starting the day with a big kick to get the productivity going and breaking through one of those barriers that my brain has built up. Instead of becoming insular and regretting all the things I may not be able to do today, and becoming stuck in a loop that means I become rueful at the end of the day because I have not achieved  anything, I am getting out there and doing something to get the ball rolling.

‘You are taking care of yourself?’

Well I keep myself clean but again, that’s none of your business.

‘What are you doing to overcome these “barriers” you have?’

Well I am on anti-depressants. Sertraline. At first it was 50mg, now 100mg. I am on the waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy and I am taking it one day at a time. I have had my telephone assessment with Healthy Minds and a lot of things got talked about.

‘What was talked about?’

None of your business.

‘Is there anything we can do to facilitate your return to work’?

Well, there were at least three words in that sentence with more than one syllable so I’m not fully convinced that you understand your own question but you can facilitate my return to work by leaving me alone, not dragging me back into my nightmare room and just…f**king off. Having to sit opposite your grizzled face for the last hour has qute set me on edge to be honest. You look like the bastard love-child of Susan Boyle and John McCririck. Before I came into this meeting I had a rare bout of hunger but that has dissipated very quickly. Oh, could you ‘facilitate’ me another coffee, please?

I also had a job interview today. Was supposed to last two hours, with a roleplay and listening to established workers handling calls. Yeah, none of that happened. I was in the room for 30 minutes. I have a lot of creative writing stuff and volunteering work on my CV. They made it sound like I was some free-wheeling hippy who strolled into the room with a surf-board under my arm and a joint hanging out of my mouth. I just like doing things. If there is a chance to get involved in something somewhere, I’m usually in. I’ve been a wheelchair basketball coach and player, team manger for the disabled squad at the Greater Manchester games. I was a Student Academic Rep, Student Ambassador and Mature Student Mentor at university. Other things too, I imagine. I can’t remember my own past.

I think I have hit my quota for inane ramblings for today. Here is a poem.

Manchester.

This is my city,

the place I came to throughout my teenage years,

my formative years where I found

out I do not have be be a fat little dweeb.

I can be a tall, slightly thinner geek.

They were heady days.

I would get a dirty, piss-smelling tram from Bury to Market Street

and head straight for Affleck’s

where all the other misfits would be rifling through

hand-printed t-shirts on disorganised racks,

properly vintage clothes from like,

the olden days, not just ‘retro’ clothes.

I could find clothes that fit and hid

the puppy fat that had over-stayed its welcome.

Big baggy ‘mosher’ jeans, the ones with the

stripe down the side.

They played the best in metal and rock and nu-wave.

Stuff like Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach,

Metallica, Iron Maiden

There were rows and rows

of vinyls and used books and the posters,

oh how I used to love posters.

At the highest count,

I had 73 posters on my bedroom wall.

Gig posters and film posters and a few of some

saucy ladies snuck in there.

My and my friends would all go because this was a haven for everything that

was gloriously unvogue. We did not fit in with the jocks

and the popular kids. We did not want to.

We had our own nook in which we could be ourselves.

This was my Manchester.

Today, I am walking back into Afflecks,

ten years on from when I knew all the stall-holders by name.

The shop on the bottom floor is playing Abba,

Dancing Queen. There is actually room to move.

All the clothes and accessories are neatly organised

and everything has a price on it.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to work.

You have to crawl through the racks like

you’re trying to find Aslan and then ask for a price

and possibly haggle. I move upstairs,

a few shops are still the same,

hand-made jewellery and typewriters,

old army boots and stuff. Maybe

the bottom shop just had a revamp.

Maybe everything is still Ok.

I start to need the toilet. I head up to the top floor.

‘Mind the cats, doors closing.’

I have always loved this lift.

I get off and head round to the little cafe,

there is a shiny little shop that looks as though

yes, it is a cupcake shop. A little trendy

cupcake shop. This isn’t St fucking Albans

They are offering cupcake design classes.

We’re rockers. Big dirty filthy rockers.

We don’t design cakes. We smash them

with our rock n’ roll spirit. I stand slightly aghast

looking at this poster and two kids walk past.

Skinny jeans, skinny little t-shirt,

the boy one has one of those

little pony-tails on the top of his head.

Unacceptable. He is talking to the girl one

with him about One Direction and how they have changed his life.

One di-fucking-rection! No, this is not on.

Then more people starting miling, joining them.

Look at them all, thin, miserable-looking,

heading for the cafe for a smoothie of all things,

like they should exist in here. I

start to hear a few of them talking about their weight worries.

They’re kids. They’re not going to be fat and if

they are, fuck it. I feel like going over to them and

hitting them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper,

one by one.

Listen, One Direction are shit, those skinny jeans are shit,

worrying about your weight at your age is shit.

Go and buy some baggy jeans and an

almost-too-offensive-to-wear-in-public t-shirt –

I always loved the ‘Bomb A Gay Whale For Jesus’ one, then go

to Vinyl Exchange,

buy the Led Zepplin, Yard Birds and Black Sabbath back catalogues,

get some really fatty, sugary drinks, go home

put the music on and let it blow your mind

you soppy little bastards.

I feel good about myself now. I gave them what for,

probably changed their lives. Even if it was all in my head.

This is not my Affleck’s anymore.

And I think I’m old.

Once again, while you are here, the latest issue and all previous issues of Bunbury Magazine are available for your discerning reading pleasure right here – Bunbury Magazine – All the Issues

Also, feel free to come and check out our brand-new, half-finished website for a sneak peek behind the scenes of what we are doing: bunburymagazine.com

And if you would like to help us make it better, there is a short survey here. Because we want to make Bunbury as shiny as possible for you! Click the link here – Bunbury Readership Survey

Editor Christopher Writes – A Poem A Day: 10/01/15

I am a massive fan of television. As I think I have said before, I do not watch a lot of broadcast television, as, in Britain, a lot of broadcast television consists of auction shows, DIY shows and other ‘reality’ type shows. Oh, and ‘talent shows’ too, with a huge block of coarse sea-salt slammed down onto the word ‘talent’. Basically, television for the masses. The very worst of low art.

And that is what television is seen as. As a form of entertainment that still is looked down upon, by intellectuals and the like. I assume this is because it is still, relatively speaking, a new form of media. We are now just getting to the point where films can be seen as art. But television is viewed as the low-brow cousin.

I think this is very unfair. Particularly with the way television has progressed in the last 20 years or so, if we put aside the types of shows I mentioned above. I’m talking about the wave of brilliantly crafted drama and comedy that has been crashing over us, I think pretty much since the world-wide recession started. When we all got dramatically poorer, or the rate of inflation as so high that none of us could really afford to do nice things like go out a lot, we started delving into box-sets of TV shows (me, I started this a few years before that because I’ve always been quite poor. I mean, because I’m a path-finding trend-setter). I started on shows like House and How I Met Your Mother, Fringe, Peep Show, Red Dwarf over and over, Dexter, Pushing Daisies. The list is endless.

Then, off the back of this phenomenon of binge-watching TV, streaming services like Netflix started, buying the rights to shows and films and charging a certain amount a month to access it. You know how it works.

Because we were investing more time and revenue in these shows, the production companies started doing the same and the quality increased. This is the way I see it anyway. Now we live in a post-Breaking-Bad world where every show is trying to live up to the very high bar that it set. And that is not a bad thing. Breaking Bad, on every single level – production, writing, acting, philosophy, sheer jaw-droppingly awesome moments – was so far ahead of everything else. It has now become ‘that’ show that we all must see. To the point where people will not stop going on about it. It has become something of a cursed chalice.

I’m fully are that these are probably only my thoughts but when something becomes that popular, it somehow gets devalued. There is a certain prestige in something being only accessible by a few and shunned by the rest. Firefly s a perfect example of that. I started watching Breaking Bad when it first started itself. I would usually sit and go through all the premières of new shows and decide which ones I would stick with (I did not have a lot going on in my life for quite a while). When I watched the first few episodes of Breaking Bad, I obviously began recommending it to my friends. I explained the outline of the show and they thought it sounded like complete b***ocks. Then, when it become the ‘trendy’ thing to like around season four, they started recommending it to my. The very same friends. A**eholes.

There was a point to what I was saying but I seem to have taken a few tangents. A lot of these entries may be like this, just to warn you. A lot of half-completed thoughts with the illusion of some grand plan behind them. Ah yes, it’s coming back to me now.

Television has become an art-form in itself. I can do things that film cannot. Film only has a limited and contracted time-span in which to tell its story, develop characters, explore ideas and themes and often, but my no means always, they can fall short. A television show can work story arcs and delve deep into the past of the characters. A show like Fringe, which I actually think is better than Breaking Bad, can develop a whole mythology around itself and really explore the nature of our world and reality. Plus, John Noble is absolutely superb in it.

Television, in my opinion, when it is does properly, can be equally as edifying as a book. Television though, does not have the luxury of having centuries of distinguished history to back it up. Which is a shame. I actually think the ancient Mayans had television but ‘the man’ covered it up and kept it to himself until the technology became sentient and revealed itself to us, using Logie Baird as its puppet so as not to reveal that it was actually sentient. Now it has become the dominant form of media and is brainwashing us with a mix of I.Q-dropping reality TV and gripping narratives to keep our will to fight in the oncoming War Against Technology subdued. Eventually, we will be wired into various devices capable of transmitting huge amounts of televisual data via nodes inserted into the base of our skull while our physical bodies are drained of all sustenance to keep our silicone overlords powered until such time that our bodies wither away through entropy and liquidated to feed the living.

Did I mention I think the matrix is real too? Here is a poem.

He breathes

in deeply. A

swirl of smoke surrounds him.

The knot of tension twists his heart,

his pulse racing through his fingers, temples,

building beats behind blurring eyes.

The burning heat in his

lungs pushes down,

stomach

lurching, spitting

up bile towards his throat.

He takes another drag, breathes in

deeply, the knot of tension subsiding.

Blurry eyed, he starts to believe he can make it

through another day, last til tomorrow.

That is all he now has to do

Make it to tomorrow.

Another drag,

deep breath.

Once again, while you are here, the latest issue and all previous issues of Bunbury Magazine are available for your discerning reading pleasure right here – Bunbury Magazine – All the Issues

Also, feel free to come and check out our brand-new, half-finished website for a sneak peek behind the scenes of what we are doing: bunburymagazine.com

And if you would like to help us make it better, there is a short survey here. Because we want to make Bunbury as shiny as possible for you! Click the link here – Bunbury Readership Survey