Monthly Archives: May 2015

Still not immune

lonely_shinjiSometimes I wonder whether I’ve been making any progress at all over the past couple of years, and last week… well, let’s just say I have something to ponder.  However, it’s worth noting that it’s not so much a vicious cycle as a triangle…

Okay, here goes my latest bout of self-analysis which might just give someone out there in TV Land a way out of a similar cycle: it started the week before, when I felt a lot of hope on the Tuesday because I was convinced I was going to meet a girl at, or after, my usual yoga class.  When this failed to occur, however, I actually managed to get stupidly depressed on the Wednesday, brooding on my loneliness and isolating myself from my work colleagues, right up until I ate lunch, whereupon I felt remarkably better (and then faced off against that belligerent douchebag on the Northern Line that I mentioned before).  I had another, dating-focused yoga class on the Friday, and thought I’d met someone that night, but she never responded to my text message and so became another “girl to forget about” over the long weekend.

Ah yes, the bank holiday weekend: perhaps proof that throwing away old stuff won’t magically improve my life, as I finally took my old posters to the dump (I now have more interesting canvas art on my walls instead… and a lot of Post-It Notes to help with my Server 2008 studies!).  After all, on the Sunday night I noticed a Facebook update, which otherwise I might have missed, stating that my old Michigan roommate is now engaged.  Not unlike the situation I had in late 2012, I couldn’t avoid brooding on the fact that I’m not even getting dates regularly, and it’s still 1998 since I had anything significant happen on that (ahem) score.

Thus it was that Bank Holiday Monday was a miserable experience for me, even though “best mate” drove us to the Castle to climb.  However, it might be as simple as me not having had a proper breakfast before setting off.  My mother’s had me eating a combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruit and live yoghurt for breakfast for some time now, and it’s stood me in good stead; a single banana, however, didn’t stay my hunger, and I had a lousy time, despite doing my favourite activity with my best friend.  However, once again I felt more cheerful once I’d eaten, though malnutrition seemed to result in me being unable to concentrate on a vegetarian cook book, and so I went with something easy for dinner.

beavbuttsickI was still feeling off-colour on the Tuesday, and so didn’t go to yoga, but I wonder if this was the very first stages of… the cold I’ve now managed to come down with.  This came to pass on Wednesday, a day mirroring the previous Wednesday in that I felt more sad and broody after eating lunch, and ended with me crying alone in my room and wishing my life was completely different.  That helped me feel better, but the damage was done, and although I’ve managed to eat reasonably well and keep my spirits up since then, my respiratory health has gone in the other direction (though at least the sore throat part is over with).

It’s worth noting that something strangely similar happened when I was in America two years ago, as I had my share of girl troubles on that trip around the western states as well.  I’d been having a good time for the first couple of days, but it was when we camped on the Colorado River near Lake Havasu that I found out the girl I was interested in had a boyfriend back in Denmark (or so I was told by another girl from another European country, who I was also into); I ended up brooding, and also not eating enough for dinner (thanks to the vegetarian choice involving broccoli), and couldn’t even get to sleep because I foolishly tried to do so when everyone else wanted to stay up drinking and chatting!

Fortunately the next couple of days (including the Grand Canyon) were fine, but it all happened again when I tried, a second time, to score in Las Vegas, on the party bus; although everyone was pleased to see me come out of my shell and partially strip (hey, my personal trainer was having an effect even in those early months!), somehow I thought I’d blown any chance of happiness in my life and so went back to my motel room, alone, to brood; the next day I hardly had anything to eat, until the tour guide spoke to me and said no-one had complained about my behaviour, whereupon I found myself able to reintegrate myself with the group and feel happy again.

Alas, the damage was done: a couple of days later, when we’d been camping in Bishop, I started coming down with a cold, apparently due to getting a sore throat from snoring (or hanging a wet towel over my tent, as we’d been to hot springs the night before).  This made it hard to keep up with the others at Yosemite, and indeed stopped me going out at night in San Francisco…

(And when I finally managed to drag myself out on the last night to Hermosa Beach, well, I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested, or at least slapped… but let’s not talk about that!)

Thus, on two occasions two years apart, I’ve been left with the thought that malnutrition, depression/anxiety and physical illness are all inextricably linked.  But is it simply that not eating properly makes me depressed and also prone to catching cold, or is depression an early symptom of a virus (both in 2013 and now, I’ve felt better emotionally as I’ve felt worse physically), or does depression make me prone to illness and also suppress my appetite?  Remember my depressing post in 2013, when I noted that eating too much protein seemed to cause depression, but depression also stopped me eating properly… is there a simple answer?

All I know is, I’m going to make damn sure I eat properly, especially my morning meal — I remember how badly I felt for a long time living on Caledonian Road, when sometimes my breakfast would be a bottle of chocolate milk I’d bought while walking to work, and I’ve been nice and stable lately, so it’d be a shame to waste it.  This, of course, excludes the three-month period roughly corresponding to November 2014 to January 2015, in which I felt sick, anxious and helpless, and I think that started with me not eating or sleeping properly during my time at that horrible job.

It was the anxiety and feelings of helplessness that led to me getting myself fired, as I didn’t conceal my intention to move on well enough from my boss’s boss — and while getting fired from that job meant I was at least eligible for benefits (which wouldn’t have been the case if I’d quit of my own accord), I don’t want to go through that experience ever again.  And if simply making sure I eat right is all I need to ensure I don’t get miserable again, I’ll do my best.

It’s worth noting, however, that my spirit rose considerably on Wednesday evening, when, for the third time this year, I was asked out by someone who had seen my profile online… no, wash your minds out, I said my spirit rose!  I’ve probably jinxed it just by mentioning it here, but I have to continue feeling hope, otherwise I’m already dead.  Put it this way: if my date this week doesn’t work out, I’ll use the nuclear option next weekend: I’ll post here about what kind of woman I want to meet!

Unless I get arrested because the above construes a threat to commit an act terrorism, of course…

Fear is the wind beneath my wings

hinotoriHi guys: sorry I don’t write much these days, but even though I’ve got things I want to say, I somehow never seem to find the enthusiasm to set them down, or else I start and then stop.  Fear of losing readership that compelled me to get on with writing this blog entry, and that’s appropriate because it’s fear as a driving force for positive change that I want to talk about tonight.

Oh, I could talk about how fear of other people using my cookware and cutlery for meat-based things prompts me to do my washing-up as soon as I’ve finished cooking, or how the thought that the bins haven’t been put out makes me leap out of bed on Friday mornings when I hear the first set of bin men outside (whether they’re emptying the grey or the blue bin is irrelevant, as they both need emptying), or how fear of going back into the terrible unemployment market means I’m trying my best to make myself useful at work (at least I’m finally arranging my Server 2008 exam, though it looks like I won’t be scheduled until July, which at least gives me yet more time to study, yay).  All these things are indeed true, but they’re not why I’m writing this.

First of all, I had an encounter this week which made me think that I’m more confident than before: when trying to get onto the northbound Northern Line platform at King’s Cross, apparently I pushed a woman (I don’t remember doing so but it must have happened because no-one ever tells lies), and the first thing I knew was a bloke claiming to be her significant other in my face telling me off for this heinous crime, and vowing to push me on my posterior (not his exact choice of term).  However, I just stood there glaring at him, not reacting at all, and it actually felt a bit like he was somehow “bouncing off” me, getting close and then backing away again!

Truth be told, I’d had a miserable day over girls (yes, sadly it still happens to me), and wasn’t in the mood to be bullied; in any case I was too afraid to say anything to him, but once I pushed him out the way (so yeah, I did push someone, sorry!) and walked down the platform, I felt annoyed that he wasn’t coming after me so I could think up some choice words (e.g. “you’re welcome”, since he clearly wanted the excuse to give out to someone and I’d fulfilled his desire).  I think I was afraid to back down in front of a thug, or had frozen in fear, but the effect was that he effectively backed down and didn’t strike me at all!

Mind you, that wasn’t as strange as the following day, when I got a bus to the Castle to see my personal trainer, and a couple of stops before I got off, someone came right to the back of the bus, past a number of empty aisle seats, and expected me to move my bag so he could sit next to me.  I hate being trapped in window seats by blokes, and in this situation I invariably get up and leave — but I must have gotten up with some confidence, as he actually flinched and took a step back!  Thus I turned my fear and loathing of male contact into a form of aggression.

(Obligatory Gwar reference: I was listening to Lust in Space, which may have helped me feel a bit more aggressive than usual…)

And personal training is another area where fear drives me forward: it’s not solely an attempt to hunkify myself so that girls will like me (although I’d say on that score it’s more that I want the one girl who finally gives me a chance to be pleasantly surprised when I take my shirt off).  Rather, it’s the thought that if I have to go into my next decade still single, I want to be more like Pierce Brosnan (who was in his forties when he started playing Bond) and not turn into one of those out-of-shape disgusting blobs I see buying beer at Tesco, still dressing in jeans and leather jackets despite having wrinkles like old men.

Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t have a go at blokes who haven’t done me any harm, and who are in all probability suffering from singularity just like me (assuming they’re not actually married and just let themselves go), but I am becoming increasingly intolerant of them, and it’s the fear of becoming like them that makes me want to keep fit and practice better personal hygiene.  I’ve been lucky to keep my hair so far (I’d rather go grey than bald, because dye is less obvious than a rug), but I don’t want to look in the mirror one morning and see one of those miserable, depressed specimens looking back — it’s bad enough having to look at them on the Tube, or at yoga!

And it’s at my near-weekly yoga classes where I’ve really noticed my confidence rising: it’s one kind of fear overcoming another kind of fear.  Much as I plucked up the courage to kiss that girl in 1998 because I was more afraid not to kiss her, I’m so grossed out at having to do partner exercises with sweaty middle-aged blokes (sometimes with more hair on their shoulders than their heads) that I’ll go right up to women in the class and grab their attention when it comes time to buddy-up.  It’s not even a sexual thing, as I’ll happily partner with a woman I don’t fancy and be perfectly happy.  Hell, when it comes down to it, I’ll even partner with a young bloke (especially if it’s one of the friends I’ve made in these classes) — at least that way I have some kind of control over the situation.

(It could be fear that if I do end up partnering with an older man and show less than total enthusiasm for physical contact with him, he might have a massive go at me in front of the class and reveal to everyone that I’m not the nice guy I’ve always pretended to be…)

What I’ve described above may not be the best or most positive way of living, but it’s better than giving into anxiety, or suppressing it with drugs.  If I can continue to turn my fear into confidence — sharpening the stones life pelts me with into arrowheads — perhaps I can one day go up to a girl I’ve never met before and chat her up, balancing fear of rejection against fear of dying alone.  Yeah, I’ve got another blog entry planned about what kind of woman I’m looking for, and I might have it done within two weeks of this one as well… maybe I should remind myself of how terrified I am of not writing in this blog?

Four (or five) more years?

The people have spoken.  The b*st*rds.
–Failed California senatorial candidate Dick Tuck*, 1966

chaplin_tgd

This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Conservative party taking right-wing control of this country. Why? Because it’s Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”, that’s why!

I’m not so bothered that the Conservatives won an overall majority in Thursday’s election; that was always a risk, and they now have the opportunity to do something almost impossible: impress me by making this a better country, for everyone and not just the elite.  This will not be achieved by punishing poor people for being poor (e.g. having a spare bedroom but not the opportunity to move to a smaller property), and rewarding rich people for being rich with tax breaks.

No, I’m sure the newly-elected Conservatives won’t screw over the real people of this country in favour of their business cronies, and that I wasn’t simply incredibly lucky not to be sanctioned when I was on unemployment and housing benefit, but that the cases of people getting sanctioned for being 5 minutes late to a meeting, or not being able to get out of their wheelchair to walk up some stairs, are a tiny minority of exceptions, and the vast majority of people on benefits are only there temporarily and are treated fairly and with dignity.

I’m sure I was quite mistaken in thinking they really do want to convert this country into the world of 1984, with the vast majority too poor to do anything other than scrabble in the dirt to survive (food banks don’t exist, do they?), no petty Human Rights Act to protect everyone’s freedom of thought, and everyone under observation even if they’ve done nothing wrong (you know, guilt and innocence being a matter of timing, and all that).  The Lib Dems were the bad ones in the coalition, of course, and weren’t holding the Tories back from doing fascist things in this country — perish the thought!

No, what really pees me off is the fact that Mike Freer held onto his seat here in Finchley & Golders Green: we had a chance to get rid of the architect of the botched One Barnet privatisation, and we let it slip.  And while it’s uncertain whether his friend Brian Coleman is back with the local Tory association or not, he seems to have a highly offensive successor, according to the Barnet Eye… do these people even regard anyone else as human?  Apparently they gave away the Sweets Way estate in Hendon to private developers (to replace social housing with expensive flats), so they didn’t even make any money for the borough!

(One imagines, however, that they were not personally unrewarded for their generosity…)

It occurs to me that I’ll be in my forties when the next election takes place (whether I’m 41-going-on-42 or 42-going-on-43 depends on how brave the Tories are in 2019), which suddenly doesn’t seem like such an impossibly long time in the future any more, even if I’ve been through a lot of personal changes since the last election in 2010.  I really want to fix my life by the next election, by getting a proper permanent job, by being able to afford a mortgage on a place out in Surrey, and by finding a wife (or at least amassing a harem), all to ensure I don’t end up living with my mother in Worthing all over again.

Actually, I feel like I’ve got less than four (or possibly five) years to do this in: I want to sort everything out by the time I have a 4 at the start of my age.  I don’t want to let my mother down, but more than that, I don’t want to let myself down, and as it’s clear that our society writes people off above a certain age, I’ve got to hurry up about it.  However, I won’t plot suicide on my 40th birthday if I haven’t fixed everything, similar to what I did on that day I tediously refer to as “Twelve-Twelve“: I’ll write more about this later, but suffice it to say that I won’t change for the sake of changing, settle for a job, home or girlfriend that makes me miserable, or give up the things I enjoy out of some sense of obligation to suffer.

I’m sure nothing the Conservatives do over the next few years will hinder me in my aim to make something of my life, get a decent job and buy a nice home, and indeed will help me every step of the way… otherwise they’d be a bunch of liars only out to line their own pockets at the expense of the peasantry, and we’d never elect people like that to govern our country, would we?

Oh, wait: Conservatives pledge to scrap Human Rights Act.

And: Conservatives pledge to introduce Snooper’s Charter.

We’re doomed, Mr. Mainwaring…

— — — — —

(* All right, uh huh huh huh, but his name’s nowhere near as funny as Dick Pound: with apparently no sense of irony, he wrote this book — and presumably approved the cover as well.  Uh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh etc…)

Why I’ll never vote Conservative in Barnet

notaOnly a few days before a general election here in the UK, and it looks like the real winner will be “none of the above”, as disaffection with disinterested politicians is at an all-time high, and “we’re all in it together” seems to mean they’re all in it together, along with their cronies in big business and the banking sector, and we peasants/proles can starve and/or freeze for all they care.

I’m not going to suggest to any of you which political party you should vote for (except for the obligatory “not UKIP”), but I am going to explain why the Conservatives (Tories) here in Barnet are such a toxic party for anyone who is not a Russian oligarch buying a mansion.  In particular, I’m going to be trash-talking my local Tory candidate here in Finchley & Golders Green, Mike Freer, a man so venomous that even his local party seems to have turned its back on him…

(Okay, apart from a canvasser who came to my door — though he was very understanding when I said I wouldn’t vote for Freer if he was the only candidate!)

Oh, but where to begin with how the Tories have screwed up here?  The usual place is One Barnet, the project of mass-privatisation of council services here in Barnet, which they did their best to conceal from us, culminating in a legal challenge from locals that was shut down on the basis that it wasn’t “in time”, despite the court not being able to agree when exactly the people of Barnet had been informed of it.  However, it seems our elected Conservative councillors weren’t the driving force behind it anyway, and that it was the unelected council officers who were pushing this agenda.  Which means that, at best, our councillors are ineffectual.

As far as the money goes, well, the amount we, the taxpayers of Barnet, are paying Capita and Comensura (who provide agency staff, replacing in-house staff who were made redundant) under One Barnet keeps going up and up, despite the fact that we were told it’d save us money.  When, and whose money?  We have only limited information, as they’re hiding behind commercial confidentiality to avoid revealing too much via Freedom of Information.  There was even a £16m payment for investment in IT that Capita was supposed to front itself, but which the council paid to them, and then lied about, saying it was money they’d brought forward.  All this can be read in the blog of a fellow Barnet resident, Mr Reasonable, who has been keeping tabs on everything as an “armchair auditor”.

The worst thing, however, is what they did to adult social services: Your Choice Barnet, where the “choice” appears to be between “suck it up”, “move away” and “die”.  Making a profit from social care for the vulnerable is pretty unethical at the best of times, but this company couldn’t even get that right, and needed a million-pound bail-out after ONE YEAR.  The attitude among Tory supporters here is that old ladies wanting hot food at consistent times is some kind of “gold-plated service” (rather than an essential part of a daily routine, especially for people with dementia), and that under austerity they should just put up with getting food whenever the overworked and underpaid staff (i.e. the people who actually do the work) are able to turn up, even if it means lunch arrives cold at 4pm.  If they don’t like it, well, they can always leave Barnet, can’t they?  It’s not the council’s fault if these people couldn’t be bothered to be rich and pay for private care in their declining years, like Maggie Thatcher (whose constituency was of course Finchley)… is it?

And yes, social cleansing is their real aim: a young Tory councillor here in Barnet actually stated that he wants to see a latter-day “Highland Clearance”, with all the socially-undesireable people, i.e. anyone on benefits, including the elderly, disabled, jobless and anyone who needs council housing, driven out of the borough.  This has merged with their campaign to sell off any land they can to private developers (including museums and libraries, which of course only poor people use), and culminated in the closure of council estates such as Sweets Way and the forced eviction of the people living there, many with nowhere to go, so that expensive flats can be built instead.  Oh, they claim they did their best to find these people new homes, but somehow places to live in Birmingham and Coventry don’t count for people with local jobs, and their children in local schools.

(Mind you, when one remembers what the metaphor “being sent to Coventry” means to posh people…)

There’s also privatised parking enforcement in Barnet, which seems to ignore the stated aim of parking enforcement — that of maximising compliance and minimising traffic disruption, using fines as a punitive measure — and instead seeks to maximise income through a combination of jobsworthing and outright tricking people into parking wrongly.  They even said it’s not the job of traffic wardens to advise drivers on where they can park legally, which at best leaves the operatives open to accusations of entrapment, and at worst leaves the operatives open to use entrapment, in order to gain money from fines (as the council still seems to consider parking tickets a revenue stream that needs to be preserved).

Another Barnet blogger, Mr. Mustard, frequently cites examples of dodgy parking tickets, and advises readers on how to challenge them successfully where they were unfairly applied (e.g. due to signage being insufficient or confusing).  He also highlighted how Barnet massively ramped up the charge for residents’ parking permits; fortunately they were defeated in court, which is why my drummer housemate (who seldom uses his car) pays £40 annually instead of £100.  The council themselves admitted to this being pure revenue raising, but felt it was allowed on a technicality as they’d put the money into road maintenance (though leader Richard Cornelius did admit it had been “charmlessly” done, which was big of him).

But let’s get to the nub of my gist: Mike Freer, my local MP and the Tory candidate.  This is a man who thinks he’d be better at representing the Jewish community because he isn’t Jewish and thus doesn’t have a “vested interest”, like his Labour opponent Sarah Sackman.  It’s a ludicrous claim, because the one good thing he’s ever done as an MP is to speak out in favour of gay marriage, i.e. on behalf a community of which he is a part, so why is potential bias okay in his case but not hers?  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he also thinks Sackman is “bandwagoning” because she stands up for public libraries, disabled services and children’s nurseries here.  Does he believe that only a political opportunist would oppose cutting services for the vulnerable, in an effort to curry favour and win votes?  What does that say about him?

bwian_coleman

A member of the local Conservative association — or “Tory ass” for short

Perhaps this is why the Barnet Conservatives aren’t using social media much in the run-up to this election: they know they’ll just make things worse.  Oh, except for one Tory, who you may remember me slagging off a couple of years ago… yes, unfortunately Brian Coleman is back in town, and boasting on Twitter about how he’s a member of the local Conservative association here in Finchley, despite the fact that they were supposed to have booted him out (albeit grudgingly, and only on the orders of the central Conservatives) back in 2013 when he was convicted of attacking a nice lady who runs a café in North Finchley.

However, Barnet blog The Barnet Eye has been unable to get a clear answer from the local Tories: initially denying he’d been let back in, they now seem to think his name had “accidentally” been left on their list, and that he’d thus been charged his 2015 membership fee (which they’ve publicly refunded) and sent his card.  Either this didn’t happen in 2014 (since they haven’t refunded two sets of fees), or it happened and no-one knew, and he’s thus remained a member this whole time, only finally being exposed now that he’s crowed about it on social media.  Which suggests he’s screwed himself by not being able to keep his big fat mouth keyboard-typing fingers shut.

As you may recall me saying before, this is the guy who decided that only people with smartphones could park on high streets in Finchley (by getting entirely rid of cash-based parking meters), and then set SO15 (yes, anti-terror police) on the aforementioned nice café owner when she omitted one small detail from a poster she’d made criticising him.  He attacked her when she photographed him parking illegally outside her café, in other words violating the intentions of his own position in the council (one law for them, and all that), and insisted he was innocent until the last minute before his trial, whereupon he changed his plea.

(Oh, and did I mention he’s a personal friend of Mike Freer?  I’m sure that’s got nothing to do with anything, I just thought I’d throw it in here, you know, for completeness…)

All the above explains why I would not cast my vote for the Tories here in Barnet even if they were the only party,  or had a burly thug follow me into the voting booth, a la Tower Hamlets, to make sure I voted the “right” way.  The trouble is, who do I vote for instead?  I recall how badly Labour managed things up to 2010, especially under Gordon “Let’s sell our gold reserves at the lowest possible price” Brown, but what other choice do I have?

I want “anyone but the Tories” here in Barnet, but what chance do the Greens have?  I still want to support them (since they’re pretty much the only political party who wants to expose the secretive and sinister TTIP treaty, which will enable corporations to sue governments if they don’t make “enough” profit), but here in Barnet, would that be a vote wasted?

I’m just glad I don’t live in Bexley, or I’d be arrested just for writing this blog post!