Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Thursday, January 29, 2004

And then they go and spoil it all like doing something stupid like bombing you.

On the bright side, the world seems to be getting on alright in my absence. Except Greg Dyke.

I'm really pissed off about the Hutton Report. It's like when you're in school, and a friend of yours takes on the really hard, sadistic bully kid and ends up needing stitches and getting suspended.

It's bizarre watching it on the BBC. The liberal broadsheets sprung to the BBC's defence with cries of Whitewash. Of course, the scary Nazi Tabloids were virtually dancing in the street and handing out sweets, but they would have done no matter what. The BBC just rolled right over.

None of it makes any sense. Hutton just glossed over all the difficult questions for the government. But you could spend all day picking holes in it. The fact is, this week will just serve as justification for all the bad stuff this government seems to enjoy doing, and will just make it more smug and messianic than ever.

Tuition fees? We won.

Missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Hutton vindicated us.

Leading the country to war under false pretences? See above.

Of course, he didn't. What he did was to reach the questionable conclusion that the government wasn't to blame for David Kelly's death. He'll undoubtedly come into some criticism for describing a man who killed himself as unstable, but clearly that's a distraction.

What I still want to know is this: If the government didn't exaggerate the claim that Saddam had WMD ready to use within 45 minutes- why didn't he? Where the hell are they? Did we go to war because Saddam had "weapons of mass destruction", not because Saddam was an evil tyrant (because really, that's never stopped us from supporting someone). If that's the case, where are they? And Saddam didn't have them, where did we get that idea from? And most of all, were we right all along in saying this war was morally and legally unjustified?

And most of all, even if we were, does it matter? Is the government going to just do whatever the hell it likes, no matter how illegal or wrong its actions are shown to be. Will this just be another issue we shove under the carpet, like the small matter of Bush stealing the election.

And what are they going to do next?

This is wrong. Labour has done so much good stuff for this country. See title.

The morning after...

Well, Sister put it well, when she explained everything in one simple phrase "You had a shit day".

On the other hand....

On the way to the doctors it started to rain. And then snow. And then it sort of flumped. By the time I got to the surgery I began to resemble Frosty the Snowman. So I stood outside, and shook the snow out of my clothes as best I could. My Doctor assured me Sassy Nurse (and Glinty 2 weeks earlier, to give her her credit) were exactly right. What I'd hoped was some higher spiritual vibration was actually an ear infection. And all that standing around in the cold made it worse.

But it actually worked out quite well. Had I not left work early, I would have been leaving work at the height of the snowstorm, and given that a light shower is considered a perfectly good reason for Arriva to cancel *everything*, the odds are that I would have been snowed in. As it happens, I ended up at Mum's, as I called around to find my entire family, counselling group and colleagues were stuck. So I just raided Mum's drinks cabinet and read the paper.

Of course, I'm still worried about going back to work. Manager would be forgiven for thinking that my illness is somehow related to being in trouble yesterday, and I suspect that had I not been told off and been feeling miserable to begin with, I would have ignored that weird dizzy business and got on with work. But then I'm clearly a lot worse today, and had I stayed I would have been in that snowstorm, not got a decent dose of antibiotics, and would be well on my way to being ill for ages.

But I'm finding yesterday hard to justify. It was just one of those days where stuff goes wrong, and in turn you make every bad decision you can do. I can explain it all away though; I was having a shit day.

And on the bright side, at least I'm not Greg Dyke.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Days like this really piss me off though- i've been working hard lately, and facing loads of shit with as well as i can, and it still manages to bite me in the butt. Days like this i wonder why i bother.

On top of that, Sassy Nurse confirmed that i really should get my ears looked at. Obviously being at a bus stop for an hour in freezing weather didn't help, but this weird spinning feeling i've had got a lot worse today. She suggested a course of antibiotics- i'm adding to that some rest and staying out of the cold for a few days. Time to face facts, it's been a shit day, i'm cold and feel ill- i have a date with the sofa.

I hate getting in trouble for things that aren't my fault. Problem is, although i'm at a loss to explain how i get into work on time on the many occasions the bus just fails to turn up, manager's right to say, as he did this morning, that my timekeeping is unacceptable. Short of walking into work, i'm running out of ways to solve it. Which sucks- it sounds so pathetic to say it's not my fault. It's definitely been one of those days, put it that way.

I seem to be trying to slide all the way into Borehamwood. However dangerous that may be, it still seems faster than waiting for the bus. The long awaited snowfall has finally arrived, and Watford lies under a thin white blanket. I'm willing to bet even Borehamwood looks quite pretty,

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Brother's out at a burns night this evening, which leaves me to sit quietly and contemplate delia's haggis recipe. 'Wash stomach out carefully and remove membranes. Finely chop heart and kidneys. Turn stomach inside out.' the question is, whose stomach? Makes me think i'm on to something with this vegetarianism business.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Passed a crowd of sullen teenage ratboys yesterday, deep in conversation. I only heard one line, 'yeah, i guess we could get a car each.' i suppose even nights of mindless criminal activity require a little planning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

...as for the image of me helping others. Of course, it is possible to want to heal others. And yourself.

Northern nurse told me that about 2% of people who start counselling training actually qualify. The rest are oftenlooking to heal themselves. With that statement in mind, this evening made a lot more sense. But i'm torn on this question- true, no one's perfect, and counselling training makes you acutely aware of your own issues. But can you really be fully aware of your intentions in taking a course like this? Perhaps the image of me as counsellor appealed to me as much for my own balance and wisdom...

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

20/20 hindsight

As I'm in front of a screen, I've been doing my weekly thing of tidying up all the messy old mobile posts. It's a strange thing, you may have noticed, but my mobile always likes to capatalise pronouns- They, We, You. There always seems to be something vaguely theological about all that; like people who habitually throw in a He three times a sentence.

Yesterday's posts are an important study in pride, overconfidence and plain daftness, if you ask me. It's always asking for trouble when I get *too* full of myself, particularly when I can combine that with an absent-minded obsessiveness. It was destined to go wrong, and as you can see it did, thankfully only in a minor way.

But in a way, we all end up at Bletchley Station at least once in our lives.

Monday, January 19, 2004

11 o'clock, and i can almost see my front door. Only i could end up going home via leicester square and bedfordshire. Like i say, an important lesson.

It's daft i know but i can't seem to sit still, even though There's nowhere to go. There's really not a huge amount out here in bletchley: no food, very little shelter, a couple of ratgirls. And a sign that tells me I'll be heading back towards Watford in 15 minutes. I envy the people in the caledonian sleeper. They look so warm.

Well, just coming up to leighton buzzard. I suppose There's a lesson in all this.

...and so on. You can obsess too much about these things. I asked the ticket inspector. He thought about this for a while and said 'We're not stopping at Watford. It's non stop to leighton buzzard!' now i actually do have something to worry about...

...'hi. I need a single from the edge of zone 6 to Watford'. 'it needs to be a return, as you've got a travelcard'. 'but i'm not coming back'. 'it doesn't matter. That's 2.90 please'. 'but that has to be wrong, because the single from harrow is 1.80'

It's a fairly minor complaint tonight- but i have this irrational desire to actually buy a train ticket that covers my journey. For example, it can't cope with a return journey that ends up somewhere else. Today i travelled, as i often do, from Borehamwood (zone 6) to zone 1, and home to Watford (not in a zone). I explained the situation when i started, and got sold a travelcard that clearly wouldn't cover Watford. So i'd have to buy an extension from euston. This is where it all goes wrong...

The great thing about working with health professionals is you can get a decent answer to any medical query, no matter how strange. For example, Geezer assures me that Paint Drinkin' Pete would probably die instantly. I had wondered.

Yes! Sandwiches restored to their rightful place by the door in tesco. Doafw and crank letters: the winning combination!

Well, You'll have to check this, but that could be the most profound thought ever posted to a weblog from the back of a minicab in hertfordshire. Philosophy is painful though- my thumbs are starting to swell.


Midway through a very philosophical chat with an old friend on friday night, i had a strange thought on the subject of god. Hear me out please.

It occurred to me that intolerant religious people tend to justify their beliefs with an appeal to god's nature. Ditto i'd say i was quite tolerant, and like to believe in a nice, forgiving new testament god. I wouldn't use that as the justification for my actions- i was liberal before i believed in a liberal god.

A lot of people do though, and there's nothing in itself wrong with saying something like 'the lord tells us to forgive, so we do'. I just wonder if We're looking at it the wrong way around- maybe we're all projecting onto god.

After all, we generally believe in a god as a perfect version of ourselves, so i probably believe in a version of what i think i would be like if perfect: tolerant wise and forgiving. I don't believe in god as a perfect version of Billy Graham.

A tenner says Billy Graham does though.

Without a computer to hand, i'm really missing being able to sit down with a coffee and really pour out into this Blog. Regular readers will know the aim of this site was to let me release anything that was on my mind into a controlled environment, for the sake of posterity if not for the sake of the people around me. No computer. Too many thoughts. Keys on phone too small.

After having spent the whole week running around, i'm quite pleased to say i've done very little this weekend. Over 48 hours i've spent 24 asleep, i've caught up with some old mates and had some much needed reiki. So i'm pleased. Monday? Bring it on!

Saturday, January 17, 2004

I'm suprised to realise that i've been really busy over the past few days. I like times like this, when everything seems to happen at once. Especially cool that i've had the flat to myself, hence a morning of playing guitar and reading books. And watching dvds involving spaceships. But more about that later.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Do unto others...

oo, horrible bit of kharma today.

My phone rang, and I answered it and said my team's name. I heard a woman's voice.
"Hi, my names _____ and I work at _____. I'm having difficulty getting into my email account."
My phone number is quite similar to the IT department, and I really should have told her. Instead I said this.
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." Drawn out pause.
"What it is, I changed my password, and I can't remember it now."
"Yeah, a similar thing happened to me yesterday." Even longer pause.
"Is there some way you could reset it?"
"I couldn't. No."
"you'd have to call the IT Department for that..."

And as if to prove my point, later on Glinty played an evil trick. I stood up, and the room tilted. So, as she was only on the other side of the screen, I asked her help.
"Glinty- is it me, or is the room swaying?"
"How do you mean?"
"I think I've got an ear infection. Sort of feel a bit dizzy. "
She looked at me as if I'd stepped off a spaceship. And after a few unsettling minutes I realised she was swaying slightly from side to side. And then I disappeared behind the screen with a "Flump!"

That'll teach me.

During my Solstice ceremony, the theme moved on to dark places. My one was my old room over at Mum's- it's full of old nik naks of what seems like someone else's life, and lots of stupid little things with emotional resonance. Scraps of paper I scribbled on when revising for my GCSE mocks, the old wardrobe which Dad marked our heights on for 20+ years. I haven't been there for a while, and it's been pretty much sitting gathering dust and absorbing darkness since I left it.

At the time I said this was the dark place I wanted to go and visit, and blow away those ole cobwebs. Take what I wanted, and clear out the rest, so that it can be used for something else. It turns out Mum has had the same idea, and through Brother's reports on his visits, as we speak it's being broken into very small bits.

There's a school of thought, which I've so far managed to cling to, which says that all the objects in that room, if I haven't used or thought about them for years, are useless and I wouldn't even notice if they all disappeared. I've been keeping my distance, because I want that room to cease to exist, but I can't really bear to watch it all. So I've been staying away and letting it happen.

The thing is, the objects in that room aren't useless. I think in some ways I liked it being almost a museum. Bruce Chatwin told a story about a man who travelled the world, never staying one place more than a few weeks, and for the whole of his life refused to put down what we'd call roots. But he had a box, with just a couple of items in it that he kept in a safe deposit box in London, and had to come back and visit once a year. For him that was coming back to his roots.

Much as I like to imagine I'm a free spirit, I suppose I have to admit I have roots. And the fact that I don't use the objects any more doesn't mean they don't or won't have a use for me in future, or provide some much needed grounding.

There's no avoiding this. I have to go back and sort them out.

Cold cold night (part 2)

For a third day in a row, I'm drawn to central London.

It's cold and I've been at work all day, but no matter what happens I seem to end up getting on that train. Tuesday I was helping a mate out- she's applying for a journalism job, and I thought I'd use what's left of my journalistic knowledge to help her out.

Wednesday was counselling, and today another mate's got a crisis, so off I go again. And I've already made plans for the weekend involving a certain amount of wandering.

I thought this was a bad thing- I was looking forward to sitting at home, watching ER and chilling out. Until I realised that's not what I wanted at all. It turns out I actually seem to enjoy scurrying around the streets of London until the middle of the night.

Weird. But each to their own.

The Manager

Dear Sir,

I have noticed that a recent reorganisation of your store has moved the sandwich section, clearly recognisable as the most busy section of the shop, to a new position where even less room is available than before, resulting in shoppers having to jostle for position and offering a great reduction in the available choice. It does, however, give an unusual prominence to custard doughnuts.

I’m at a loss to explain this change. My best theories are that it is a misguided attempt to provide better customer service, or yet another expression of your thinly veiled hatred of the scum that pass through your store.

Whilst I will not question the validity of your feelings, I would like to request humbly that you restrict your seething hatred of your customers to decisions that do not directly inconvenience me. For example, you may wish to resume playing Christmas music, or decreeing in future that the festive season begins even earlier.

Yours, as ever,

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Computer's still broken. With our flat offline, my hitrate is certain to fall through the floor. I'm fairly sure most of these hits are Brother checking to see if i've insulted him yet. Only his computer fixing skills- his computer breaking skills i can't fault.

Made it! I didn't think it was possible when i was sheltering under a tree at 7am, but today went well. Got in early, worked hard but not too hard, did a mate a favour and learnt a lot from my counselling lesson. I did forget that ccg has a boyfriend, but apart from that, in a prosaic frame, i couldn't have asked for more. I like days when i can say that.

Lots of Blogging tonight, even if my tendons do hurt. I don'l want to sleep, as that would make tomorrow happen, and it's such a long day i don't think i'm ready to face it yet. But the longer i wait the more difficult it will be. There's just one more thing to do though, which is to send a message to Music Man- get well soon!

Like i say, i'm looking forward to seeing cute Christian girl, even if i am worried i may have ruined her life. Some years back, after countless pointless arguments with religious people i realised that if i went round inflicting my own beliefs on people who were happy with their own i was no better than the missionaries. There was really no need to destroy other peoples'- surely tolerance is a major liberal value.

But i had a lapse on the way home from my last counselling lesson, whilst explaining why i was so down on christmas: 'it's an enforced joy- scrooge lets us attack people who choose not to be happy at christmas. And he was born in june anyway. Cute Christian Girl frowned. 'no he wasn't- where did you hear that?' i talked about solstice and comets, not realising my mistake. And that sound i could hear was her entire belief system heading towards collapse.

Christians who believe jesus was born on december 25th are most vulnerable to having their belief systems collapse. I should know this- i was a very literal christian until about 10 years ago. With me it was christmas- once i'd realised that was a lie, i wondered what else was, and before i knew it i believed in nothing. It took me a decade to climb out of that spiritual well, and i'm not so full of myself now that i'd want to push someone else down there

I haven't done this in a while, but There's pasta and sandwiches in the fridge, which can only mean one thing. Yep, it's back to college tomorrow. We had 6 weeks off for christmas- nearly as long as we've spent on the course. That's been enough time to reflect on the course, assimilate all we've learnt, and almost forget it's happened. So i'm glad to be going back- i've missed my counselling classes almost as much as i've missed my counselling classes. Especially Cute Christian Girl, but That's another post

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Had a bit of an asperger relapse today. There was an office move going on whilst i was in a meeting, and i came out to do a perfect rain man impression. 'table's definitely in the wrong place. Definitely belongs over there. Uh oh.' and then i heard a voice behind me. 'i can keep an eye on you from here'. Yes, Manager has moved and now sits right behind me! And i kept on doing comedy double takes. Things should definitely get interesting. Uh oh.

Sassy Nurse kept me awake last night. No, nothing like that- it was her rabbits. She's got two, and yesterday whilst i was on the phone, glamourous colleague asked her about a cut on her arm. I half listened, keen to be distracted from a difficult phone call. 'it's my rabbit' she said, 'she's really sexually frustrated. She keeps on biting me and mounting the other one. And that one's her sister.' Naturally i put my caller on hold and creased up.

Something was bugging me about Sassy Nurse's rabbits- but being unfamiliar with bunny sex i couldn't quite put my finger on it. Until the early hours of the morning when i sat up in bed and texted the only person who would understand-Northern Nurse. The question is this- why would even a frustrated girl bunny be trying to mount another one? Surely females never get to do the mounting? I'm still waiting for a darwinian answer.

Disaster! Brother's attempt to improve his computer went horribly wrong last night. Dust, sparks, horrible grinding noises. Blogging is now restricted to my phone until he sorts the almighty mess out or- as i'm guessing- throws it all in a corner and gets a new laptop on tick. Until then, i can come a little closer to text related RSI.

Oh no! Brother's had a disaster. His attempt to overhaul his computer resulted in a worrying buzzing sound when he switched it on, followed by silence. It's now a net free house, and blogging is now restricted to the mobile. It's like stepping back in time...

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Hollyholly day

we need a holiday.

Me and brother are going to book a few days off and take one of those holiday things- on the not unreasonable basis that I haven't had a holiday in 2 years.

Brother's thinking of the Gower penninsula, or maybe the North Downs, both of which could be cool. Camping, hiking and stuff.

I've got something more like this in mind.

He's got vertigo. And we're skint.

As part of this autistic streak, I seem to have formalised my system of how to manage my finances. It's colour coded.

Red (Shit week). Spend as much money and sleep in. Loads.
Yellow (bit tired). Make sandwiches. Drink expensive coffees.
Green (energetic). Hyperdisciplined. Allowed to spend £1 a day- no skiving off work.

Damn- I must be bored!

He now calls me Raymond...

I'm having a bit of an austic day...

I've spent several hours this weekend looking for a book. Conversations with staff in the bookshop went like this:
"Looking for a book."
"You've come to the right place mate. What's it called?"
"It doesn't have a name."
"Well who's it by?"
"it's not by anyone."
"Well I don't think I can help you. What does it look like."
"It's black. Definitely black. Bigger than A4 size."
"oh, you mean note books. Over there mate."

Of course, if I'd started with that it wouldn't have been a problem. Basically, I need a big black outsize A4 book I can stick all my guitar music in that will fit in the pocket of my guitar case- but not have all ragged bits of paper sticking out. But I've only been able to describe what it isn't, which isn't much help.

Brother said to me
"You remember that hotel that fell in the sea?"
I replied "The Holbeck Hall Hotel?"
"Yeah. ?. How did you remember that?"
But I had my attention diverted. I was fiddling with the coins on the desk.
"Definitely wrong. Coins facing the wrong way up."

A few of my social workers went through phases like this. Usually they don't last long.


Saturday, January 10, 2004

some much needed perspective

Watching the more sober coverage of the Soham trial, I discovered that a reporter who had interviewed Ian Huntley and became very suspicious of him had the same name and a strange resemblance to a girl I went to school with.

I just checked out Friends Reunited, and it's definitely the same one.

There I go complaining about my job, but I've never had to interview murderers or be involved in a case that depressing, thank God. What a thing to have to cope with so (relatively) early on in a career. From what I remembr of her, she's a very strong person, and I had a sneaking feeling she was going to do great things with her life. She's already helped bring a murderer to justice.

Christ. I hope she's alright.

There may be trouble ahead...

I'm starting to believe in signs.

When I met up with Angella earlier on in the week, she had a song in her head. She usually does, and I tend to take note of which song it is, because it tends to have some significant to the coming week. I was worried though, because this time it was "face the music", one line in particular:
"..there may be trouble ahead..."
Of course, you don't have to be psychic to know that the week after Christmas is a bad time to be in social services.

I'm just not too happy with the way I've handled certain situations- despite my warnings to myself, I do have an image in my head of what I'd like to be like and how I'd handle situations, and weeks like this the gap between that and reality seems pretty big. I surprised myself by getting affected by work things- but looking back on it I'd more worried if I hadn't been upset by the whole thing. There's been some pretty heavy shit going on lately.

I don't have to be invulnerable- it's only really when you slip into denial of these things you really have a problem. So this weekend I'm spoiling myself and chilling out as much as possible.

I think it's a sign when I feel the need to sleep in until 1pm, but I feel better for it. I just need to eat pasta, play the guitar and read books for a day. And call some sympathetic friends.

Friday, January 09, 2004

I've been working very hard today. In fact, work this week has been difficult and emotionally draining. And That's why i just saw a shop in Kenton called 'Time Travel and Tours'. That can't have just happened. Maybe i should take some time off, or have a nice lie down. There is not a shop in Kenton called Time Travel. It did not happen...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

What's the difference between Denham and Harefield

One left turn.

At a guess I'd say if I did have an ear thing, I could blame my walk on Sunday. But it was so nice I can't feel bad about it.

I seem to have set a course south down the Grand Union Canal. Having already walked the Watford to Rickmansworth stretch, I decided on Sunday to carry on to Denham. That part of the canal is so beautiful, the only remaining industrial use seems like an intrusion. At the end of Rickmansworth Aquadrome, I found myself checking out places I could moor my boat. There's one amazing spot, at the end of a bumpy field the canal gently turns through a small valley. There's not a building in sight, except for the one at the corner, which is an ancient ruined warehouse. The roof and upper floors are beyond derelict- all that's left not is just a single horizontal beam, standing five storeys high above the canal. There's a few boats, even quite a big one, but everything is just dwarfed by the building. I'd just love to live somewhere with that kind of drama. There's a humourous touch too- someone's hung a giant stuffed toy monkey from the top corner.

Further on there's a former mill, being turned into exclusive housing. But the mooring remains quite inclusive, and there is an access road and an amazing view.

Two miles on is the largest sewerage filtration plant in the home counties. The view is still pleasant, but less enjoyable when viewed through a tightly tied headscarf.

Finally I left the canal at the Carp Pub, and had lunch and wrote some more of my story. And then I took the wrong turn, missed Denham, ended up three miles down the road in the wrong direction, etc. And by some amazing chance got a bus home.

Rocking all over Watford

I'm sitting at my desk with a strange feeling of rocking rapidly back and forward, and trying to work out why.

This is the desk I was sitting at when I became the UK's only casualty of the West Midlands earthquake. I was perched right on the edge of the chair, and when the room suddenly moved half and inch to the right, I fell off and bruised my elbow.

Northern Nurse was telling me all about the significance of rocking back and forward- a lot of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities do this. We all find it very comforting to be rocked, which is exactly why we do it to babies to help them sleep. But years ago people found it alarming if a person started doing that, warranting heavier medication and institutionalisation, even though all it is is a way of calming yourself when fazed by events outside of your control. And so I can't help but wonder if this sensation I'm getting at the minute is some sort of echo of this; a subconcious attempt to calm and comfort myself at the end of a long day. And even though I'm slightly disorientated, I actually do find it comforting.

It's either that or I'm getting an ear infection. Come to think of it, it is January.

Saturday, January 03, 2004


I got a letter yesterday addressed to Presenttense AMInstP. OK, so that's not my real name, but I forgot that I was still an "Associate Member" of the Institute of Physics. It's a special kind of membership, aimed entirely at people who have failed high level physics courses.

Of course, full members get to use the fantastic initials after their names of MInstP, and graduate members (ie people who didn't fail) can put the initials GradInstP after their names. The terrifying thing is that out of the people who were on the same course as me are probably signing their names "_ MSc, ARCS, GradInstP."

It's not the catchiest set of initials, and I can't help but wonder if that means MIOP was already taken. The writer was "pleased to invite" me to renew my membership for the reasonable sum of just £19 a year. But I was feeling a little impulsive (ok, drunk) at the time. So I just crossed out AMInstP, scrawled "No thanks" across the letter, and returned it in the prepaid envelope.

I wonder if I'll hear from them again. Until I actually qualify as something, then I'm just plain old me. Suits me.

Friday, January 02, 2004

And, as if to prove it

I'm writing again.

Only 600 words to begin with, but it's the first I've written since the summer.

It's based on a few things. That weird feeling of alienation I get when walking through Watford High Street on a Saturday. The haunting beauty of the Hertfordshire Countryside and the way it contrasts, badly, with the inherent ugliness of 90% of the county's towns. That recurring dream that I'm hunting rabbits in the forest. The overwhelming urge I get to jump off my bus on the way into Borehamwood and go run into the forest.

Oh, and the friend of a friend who went feral.

I think the last six months have been good for my writing, but I should probably reserve judgement until I've finished this story. I never really felt that alive when writing, and midway through a promising story the whole thing felt artificial, so I never finished it. Maybe next I'll try and rewrite Year Zero, my story about fanatical meditation in a way that actually seems genuine. But one step at a time please.

I haven't got a name for this one yet, but it's about a man who feels alienated from city life and his own masculinity, and perhaps perversely seeks to return to his hunter-gatherer roots. I like to think all of us sometimes feel the call of the wild, and at least start to consider the deal humans made when they joined up with civilisation, and as well as concentrating on the things we gained through this, at least give some thought to what we give up. It wasn't a lack of intelligence that kept us in the wild for 97% of our existence. Something about the idea of providing for ourselves and living as a part of, rather than above, nature still appeals to us today. And let's face it, we really didn't evolve to sit in offices all day.

So on a whim, the man in my story just says "fuck it" and runs into the forest. I don't think he really needs to have the intention of staying there- it's enough for him to answer the call and not think about the future. By day 2 he's fashioning a rudimentary spear from a branch (I tried this on New Year's Eve, it's not that tricky), and within a week he's picking off cattle and tanning their hides for leather.

I'm just torn when it comes to the ending. Do I want it to be about not being able to go back? I'm thinking of him going into the town to "forage" and just being seen as a tramp, and as people often do, just looking straight through him. Or do I want him to understand what we're doing in civilisation, despite its faults, and die from an easily preventable infection? I'm not necessarily comfortable with this idea, as I've been really enthusiastic about the need to return to nature theme, and this just negates the message that we also left something behind when we left the forests.

The annoyingly pragmatic ending is that if you went feral, sooner or later you'd end up being put somewhere safe. Someone would secure your property so you could resume your old life, in a way, and after a few sightings of a wild man roaming the woods of Hertfordshire and skinning cattle, the police would soon take a walk in the woods. Besides, you can't craft a rudimentary shelter from saplings without planning permission and a logging licence. But I don't like this ending either- it suggests that we're trapped in civilisation now, and there is no way out, which isn't what I'm trying to say.

I'm going to take a long walk tomorrow and think about this. Through a forest.

This all relates, I hope, to an incident a few weeks back, when Manager gave me a lift back to the office. It was like twenty questions, except more like forty. So I answered them. Big mistake.

A week later, I needed a lift again, so I asked Manager. "I'm not driving you again, you'll just start talking crazy."
"I'm not crazy, I was just answering your questions."
He stared at me.
"Look" I pleaded, "if you take a can of coke, shake it up, wait, shake it up again, and then open it."
"It explodes all over you."
"Right. And do you blame yourself or the can?"
"I blame the can. Every time."

Maybe in other jobs people just try harder to hide it.

Manager's opinion of me as high as ever

Blondie: "So what makes you say you've got that thing?"
Me: "You mean Aspergers? Reading up on the literature, I can relate to a lot of it."
Blondie: "You're always doing that. You're such a hyperchondriac."
Me: "Plus my manager keeps on telling me I have it."
Other Secretary: "No, he's spoken to us about that. He just says you're mental."

Rabid, pig-ignorant and staggeringly ill-informed...

...are all words that we bandy about far too frequently, without really taking time to consider their true meaning. So I feel that it's appropriate, in a time that's all about renewing old ties, to catch up with our old friend Roy Stockdill, columnist for the Watford Observer and the man who puts the "pig" back into "pig-ignorant".

"A letter writer, commenting on my remarks about a Watford Afro-Caribbean group;s battle with Watford Council, accused me of spending far too many column lines on the topic. Funny thing, but his letter contained around three times as many words as my original piece..."

Now, regular readers of Watford's newspaper should hear the distant sound of alarm bells ringing here. It's word association really "Roy, race, row"

"...The words pot, kettle and black might be appropriate."

And the alarm bells stop ringing, as the clanger just fell out.

"moreover, her seems to have missed the point, which was that ethnic minorities shouldn't whine about there being nothing in Watford for them when they have all the facilities enjoyed by the rest of us at their disposal.

Being a Yorkshireman, I could regard myself as an ethnic minority."

It carries on in this vein for a few more paragraphs, clangers falling all around, but before we cross the lines of "ranting" and "reasonable use" let's try hard to write a considered response. No, too much.

It's hard to know what to say to this one. Roy, you've done it again.