Blogs Archive

0

MY DIABETES STORY

I found out I had Type 1 Diabetes on the 15th of January 2009. This is my story.

I am a Type 1 Diabetic. This is my story:

For a long time I had this odd sensation inside: I didn’t feel at one with myself, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. There were many possible contributing factors: private, personal, mental, physical, and professional. 

I guess it all came to a head in October 2008. We (the family) lost someone very special that month; it was a loss that cut me very deeply, more than I was prepared to acknowledge at the time.

The months after the funeral – leading up to Christmas – was a numb procession, and I attributed my dark, unpremeditated mood swings and the feeling of cold resentment and disdain towards the world to the unremitting grief that I was enduring. I had not been eating well; I connected the drastic weight loss to grief.

I was learning to drive and would have been taking my test in January. I was blaming the shifts for my lapses in concentration when driving, and the driving for my indolence during shifts – feelings of lethargy are habitual for any shift worker. My bouts of insomnia were, I believed, answerable to the relentless shift patterns as well. 

I was aware that my eyesight had gotten blurry and I was getting frequent headaches – I stare at over 200 CCTV screens for a living, who wouldn’t get a sore head and square eyes from doing that?

The air in workplace can be quite dry; it is common to get thirsty. It was only until I was drowning myself with pint after pint of water, thirst un-quenched, that I realised something was wrong. My voice had lowered over the space of weeks; gruff growls and phlegmatic rumbles, as if gargling wall tacs. 

My throat was inflaming and I was experiencing persistent pains, like barbed wire had encumbered my tonsils. Again, there was a probable explanation: several of my colleagues had succumbed to a lingering flu bug and had simply spread the love to me.

It was during the 2008 Christmas period that I rapidly deteriorated. I was feeling tired, incensed, and confused. My family (of nurses) thought that I had, ‘come down with something’ (weren’t they right). I had no interest in Christmas at all – or anything else in life. During the dull festive period I was happiest when retreating to work or having driving lessons; where I could find focus on the job at hand. I was clearly not myself.

For weeks I had been snapping at my girlfriend and arguing with colleagues for no reason; generally behaving like a prepubescent teenager, realising my actions through the punishment of hindsight. I can be a miserable bastard anyway, but these moods were darker; out-of-the-blue. I had also been enduring the same headache for over a month. Something wasn’t right.

My 30th birthday celebration consisted of me, my girlfriend, and a mutual friend meeting up for a meal and drinks in Cardiff – I didn’t crave for much else in the way if social interaction. By 7 o’clock I had abandoned tequila and was drinking tea. By 8 o’clock I was ready for pipe and slippers. Anyone who knows me with testify that I am always among the last revellers to fall. And I still had that damn headache.

It took two weeks to get an appointment with the doctor. I was getting worse by the day. Finally, after enduring an eight hour night shift, I arrived at the local surgery. Following an examination I was abruptly admitted to hospital.

My keytone levels were dangerously high and I had registered one mother-and-father of a blood glucose reading: 30 mmol – A nurse shouting ‘Bloody hell!’ is always the first hint that something is amiss.

Tired and confused, I contacted the relevant family members for a lift to hospital and started to pack my overnight bag. I didn’t have a clue what diabetes was; I was hoping that they could have it sorted in a few weeks. 

Ignorance would not be bliss. The wait at the hospital was over 3 hours. By this point I had been awake for over 24 hours, and was feeling it in every part of my forlorn, fragile body.

Finally, I was allocated a bed to not sleep in. Various pricks, prods, pokes, and consultations; pretty student doctors telling me to piss in ugly jars. It was getting too much. I started getting quite worried when they attached some sort of heart monitor. All that talk of kidney and liver functions was quite unsettling, too. 

Hospital curtains are not soundproof, but medical staff must be genetically altered to believe they are. I was trying very hard not to get salty with the staff; they helped me achieve that by simply ignoring me. I just wanted to go home, close my eyes, and sleep.

Men are funny creatures: On the bed of reckoning; tired, panicked, fatigued, and sedated; connected to drips, and whatever else was sticking in and out me, and I still had time to eye-up the nurses. Pepé Le Pew lives in my libido! Eventually, some smartly dressed doctors approached me. My initial thoughts at the time were ‘Don’t look at me all fucking jolly and smiling!’ But they did. 

While looking at me all fucking jolly and smiling they told me that I have Type 1 Diabetes. I would have to inject insulin for the rest of my finite existence. A new full time job; without pay or leave entitlements. No promotion prospects and the daily potential threat of termination – of the terminal kind.

It’s surreal to think back to that life-defining moment. While the specialists were telling me the most important, life-changing news, I was formulating a cheesy James Bond sketch in my head: 

A rather attractive nurse approaches me and says, ‘please lift up your t-shirt so I can examine you.’ Mere seconds later, I’m sat up in bed wearing nothing but a dazzling white towel robe, pouring two glasses of champagne. A single red rose peers over the deck of a silver ice bucket. ‘Would you care for some caviar?’ I ask, lifting a seductive eyebrow, ‘An hors d’œuvre, perhaps?’

The sleep deprivation and denial had settled in; sheer disbelief and refusal to face the reality: that diabetes is for life. Always. For ever. Longer than a little while. No cure. A bit of a pickle to say the least, old chum.  

I was discharged the same night and was instructed to return the following morning to learn to inject myself and test my levels. This was followed by a consultation with the dietitian who would convert me to fruit, veg and other alien foods. 

I strongly recollect having best night’s sleep that I can ever remember having. I woke up feeling new, sharp and focused; no longer high. Had I not been myself for so long that I had forgotten what ‘being myself’ felt like?

Answers were coming ten-to-the-dozen: I had been suffering with high sugars for a long time. Whenever I consumed a hearty lunch my eyes would feel like they wanted to spin around like the slots in a fruit machine. I would feel especially tired after eating rice, pasta, and potatoes.

During the weeks leading up to my diagnosis I was quenching my thirst with orange juice and tea with the usual two sugars – sugars! I was eating healthy: rice, pasta, and potatoes – carbohydrates! I was beginning to think that I was lactose intolerant because I always felt sleepy after eating cereals and things with cheese, like pizza – pizza and cereal are high in carbohydrate! 

I took to injecting quite quickly; my survival instinct had kicked in at this point – subconsciously absorbing this new information. The lecture from the dietitian didn’t sink in, however. Irony is me contracting a disease that involves maths: I’m one of the 5-in-4 people who has problems with fractions! 

I was given a semesters worth of books to study; addressing cheerful subjects like blindness, neuropathy, ketoacidosis, heart-kidney-liver failure, amputation, hypers and hypos. “Erectile dysfunction? What the bloody fuck?” 

The specialist had written down how much I was to inject myself with, but I didn’t have a clue how much to eat – and I was too dumbfounded to ask. I was still drifting in a haze of denial; yet to be blindsided by the brutal realisation. But it wouldn’t be long before that freight train rolled in.

Later that evening I was sobbing over a lonely breast of chicken and a heap of steamed broccoli. It was as if every bereavement and breakup I had endured in my life had reunited and was dragging my guts across a bed of hot coals; littered with shards of glass, ghost chilies, and Lego. 

I felt like I had been betrayed by myself. And I failed my fucking driving test. After reading the study notes of my condition, silly things started running through my mind – the desperation phase: 

I began looking for miracle cures on the internet; kidney and pancreas transplants. I didn’t ask for diabetes to enter my life; this disease that would always there when I woke up and the last thing on my mind before Morpheus lured me to outlandish realms.

By design I am a fighter; I take the blows that life hits me with and bounce back stronger. I am a control freak; living my life the way I want to. Over the years I have come back stronger and found positives: I passed by driving test and I worked out my carbohydrate-to-insulin ratio.  

I attended a diabetes course where I proved to myself that I was doing everything right; I have become friends with other diabetics and learned from their experiences.

I am at a point where I no longer feel restricted by my diabetes; I just have to think about things a little more; plan ahead. I make more time to observe and learn about the world around me; to live the dream and enjoy the smaller, more pleasant things on this pale blue dot!

‘Would you care for some caviar..?’

0

IT’S JUST A HOBBY

This is for all the gifted hobbyists out there who choose to keep it behind closed doors.

This little piece is dedicated to anybody regarded by their family or friends as ‘talented’ or ‘naturally gifted’, and are encouraged, nagged, or just plain forced into making something out of that talent despite possessing no desire to use that gift for financial or professional gains. This is for those who’s gifts are ‘just a hobby’.

There are some people who feel that anybody with an ounce of talent should peruse that talent to the highest accolade. That capable actors should work towards treading the boards on Broadway or appearing in prime time TV show on the goggle-box. Singers should work their arses off to get noticed by Warner Music; fast runners should aim to proudly represent their flag every four years. The same types of people often say things like, “Be all that you can be”, and “If he was any good, he wouldn’t be performing at weddings”, “She can’t be that much of a journalist, she’s been writing for the Valleys Weekly for the last twelve years”.

The lingering opinion among these opinionists that if someone does not use their talents to aim for the top, then all the classes, training, lessons and micro-managing were all a waste of time and money – it was all for nothing. They call it ‘wasted talent’. I call it ‘bullshit’. There is no such thing as a ‘wasted talent’, a ‘waste of time’, or a ‘waste of money’, because some people convert their ‘wasted talents’ into things called hobbies; a strange little concept that involves people doing things they are exceptionally talented at to please only themselves.

You see, friends, no talent is wasted if the participant finds something rewarding out of the application of that talent, regardless of how small or insignificant it is. Rewards are subjective and depend on the individual. To a particular individual, performing in front of a crowd of one or delivering a wedding speech can be just as rewarding or horrifying as performing to a packed Stadium. Even alone, you can easily lose yourself in the moment when singing sweet lullabies to a shampoo bottle – you can still get something rewarding out of it. It’s all about the personal journey; not everybody wants to be heard or seen – not everyone wants to be the cream.

Not everybody gives a fuck about status or career, either. Not everybody wants their talents to be bastardised, criticized, scrutinised or compromised by ungrateful, opinionated fucktards. In my life I have known gifted individuals with superb singing voices, acting skills, gripping short stories, eclectic guitar styles, crazy dance moves and lightening kicks like Bruce Lee; individuals who are happy doing their thing in private. I’m totally down with that attitude.

Somewhere there is a Marketing Executive with a flare for poetry, a Surgeon who is handy with a piano, a Babysitter who paints magisterial Valley landscapes on an effervescent canvas, a retired Steelworker who makes good use of the carpentry set he was given as a leaving present from his fellow wage-slaves. A poem for a lover’s eyes only – words as moving as anything in the history of paper or parchment.

I like the idea that all around this blue pearl drop there are everyday people that do extraordinary things for no one but themselves. A planetary-wide abundance of creative awesomeness all around us; few people will never see how awesome some of it is. I also love the idea that the same creative potential of these individuals is in every single one of us. We all have the power to do something magnificent. And there the humbling riches lay.

0

THE SIMPLE ACT OF CARING

Caring is one of the most magnificent things you will ever do. Live it, own it; cherish it.

Caring is one of the most magnificent things you will ever do, whether in public or in private; briefly or indefinitely. Live it, own it; cherish it. It is a privilege to care and a reward to be cared for, it costs nothing and is worth everything. Caring is a personal adventure that will shape you…

There is nothing greater than when souls connect in inexplicable ways, sharing the good times and the bad – the laughter and the tears. Your life will be enriched with good memories of the friends and loved ones who have played a part in your journey through life; people have, and will, mould and shape you with their influences. They will inspire you to shine.

There’s more than enough room, so don’t come in to conflict with yourself when you find yourself caring for more than one person at a time – emotions have no rules or restrictions; they are yours to do with as you please. Do with them as you please! There are billions of human souls on this world, and each has the potential to stir you and improve your life in different ways. Welcome and celebrate each and every one.

You can’t measure love with a spirit-level and you won’t always be sure how the other person feels – not until we can all read each other’s thoughts, anyway. You were taught to disguise your true feelings from the time when you were a child; when told, ‘don’t give me that look’ or ‘don’t look so miserable’ – right up to the civility that you have to display in certain awkward situations; to people that you can’t stand the sight of. Think about how well you can pull it off – there are better actors than you in the world. But risk is part of the game of life.

Everybody walks to a different beat and it is natural that peoples’ feelings will be different to yours. You will be disliked by someone, someday – yes, even someone as adorable as you! Don’t resent that person if they don’t feel the same way about you as you do about them – there is, was, and always will be a 50/50 chance of someone liking or hating you; it is that clear-cut – it is the natural order of things. It’s none of your business what someone thinks about you, hard as it is to accept. You may one day be put in the position of someone claiming to care for you when you feel nothing for them. Be gentle with them, but remember that you didn’t choose for them to care – it is theirs to endure, just as it will be yours when the time comes.

Find no place for jealousy in your life, but if you have to be jealous, hide it well! Direct envy in a positive way towards the ones you hold dear. Never stop learning about them, earning their trust, and gaining their respect. Be proud of their achievements and celebrate their success; you are witnessing landmarks in a persons life, be grateful for that gift. Never rest on your own laurels; you are only as good as your last encounter, so don’t ever assume that you can pick things up where they left off – sometimes you may even have to start all over again.

The hardest thing to do is to say goodbye; whether in person, or apart. You will not always understand why it has to be goodbye. A time will come when you are the one who chooses to walk away; there will be times when you can’t face to walk away. There will be times when it is too late to say goodbye. Every goodbye will be different and scripted scenarios will always play out in your head – confused and clouded thoughts of how things might have been so different; what you didn’t do – what you never said. The hardest word you will ever have to say is ‘goodbye’; the hardest word you will ever hear is ‘goodbye’.

You will get hurt! It will happen without warning; and it’s called ‘hurt’ for a reason. It has to be felt and cannot be explained – you will certainly know it when it hits you. Let it take you when it comes; flood your lap with tears, rock yourself to sleep, play melancholic tunes, or drown yourself with booze; endure it and understand it because it will stay with you for a long time – and life will always ensure that there is more where that came from. Keep hold of the good memories, even if it makes you angry or hurt; they were a part of the days of your life; you are something because of them.

In my life I have been charmed and disarmed, deflated and dejected, accepted and rejected. I have won some and I have lost some; I have pulled some in and I have pushed some away. I have had to say goodbye and I have not had the chance to say goodbye. I have a life full of fond memories and stories to tell; encounters that have taken me to heaven and hell. I tell you all of this because I have cared. I tell you all of this because I have been there. I tell you all of this because I have nothing to regret. I would tell you more, but I haven’t finished learning, yet…

0

MY SELF-UNIVERSE

Despite its apparent sense of humour, the universe is a cold and foreboding place. It does not recognise care, cruelty, […]

Despite its apparent sense of humour, the universe is a cold and foreboding place. It does not recognise care, cruelty, love, pain, and empathy. It is neither the enemy nor the ally; it simply ‘is’. Primitive civilisations over the ages have tried to compensate for this cold, sobering fact by fabricating ludicrous belief systems called religions, centred around all-knowing, all-seeing, fantasy beings called Gods.

Like children who filled their boredom and loneliness with imaginary friends – created to be all they want them to be – so did these certifiable nutters create creators of everything, as an explanation for everything; available 24/7 as a conduit for credit and blame. All the positive things are because we are all ‘Being blessed’ (not to be mistaken for being ‘Brian Blessed’) and all the shit that happens is because ‘The Creator‘ (not to be mistaken for the creator V’ger was seeking in ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’) work ‘in mysterious ways’.

Not in my universe!

I cannot influence or control the universe – wars will happen, governments will fuck up, the wrong people will die, the banks will never learn, tax-cattle will get State Stockholm Syndrome – but I can influence some of what happens in my self-universe. My self-universe is made up of unique perceptions, sensations, thoughts, and emotions that are experienced from my own unique perspective – a private self-universe with spiralling galaxies of loves, hates, empathies, prejudices, sentimentalities, vices, voyeurisms, taboos, guilty pleasures, and hidden pains.

No one will ever be able to cross the barrier into my self-universe. No person will ever experience their self-universe in the exact same way I experience mine – even when other self-universes converge in the same physical space, as they tend to do from time-to-time, the way they perceive their self-universial reality (the way they feel when they hear a great tune, watch a sunrise, taste a drink, hear a joke) is totally subjective; unique to them, and them alone.

Compared to physical reality (I was going to say ‘the one that came from a big bang’, but then didn’t we all, if you know what I mean), a self-universe is a harmonious place to live in because there are many ways to control and influence it. I play by my own rules. In my own self-universe, for instance, I decide what is serious, relevant, satire, or a freak-show. I decide the important headlines, the greatest hits, and the latest trends. I decide who’s fuckable and who’s forgettable; I decide the truths and the lies; the laughs and the cries.

Sadly, though, most self-universes are conditioned to be unaware of such potential for self-universal determination. Instead, they are led to believe they are beholden to the perceptions of other self-universes –  confused and conditioned to live by  a set of collective fabrications that have been given form and false meaning in the physical realm; non entities without physical form, not even at a molecular level. They drift along, living someone else’s dream, playing by someone else’s rules, playing out someone else’s act; with firewalls erected in their own self-universes, blurring any perception of what is real.

Not in my universe!

With contradiction being a given in most self-universal circumstances, the most exciting thing about my self-universe is that most of the time I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen next.  Also, unlike the physical universe, my self-universe is self-aware and recognises, and is capable of, care, affection, pain, loss, joy, jealousy, sadness, guilt, anger, and gargantuan acts of magnificence.   What is more awesome about a self-universe is the power to create any fictional reality where the laws of science don’t apply.

If you explore your self-universe deep enough, you’ll realise that while there are immutable laws in the physical realm (physics and shit prevents you from flying or walking through walls), a great deal of what is supposedly ‘real’ is fabricated anyway – you can’t touch ‘the law’, or punch patriotism in the face; tax doesn’t have a molecular structure, Governments, borders, even countries, don’t really exist. There is no such thing as a forest; you cant touch a forest – you can touch individual trees, though. You dig?

By exploring the self-universe, you can learn a great deal about the physical universe and allow the two to coexist in perfect harmony. It’s not always perfect in my self-universe and it does not hold all the answers (sometimes it even causes a few problems), but nobody in my self-universe pulls the strings or works in mysterious ways; there is no God to turn to when it all goes FUBAR; no higher being to be loved, obeyed, feared and worshipped. No one is the King of my self-universe. No one, that is, except me!

0

A QUICK HELLO

I thought I'd check in before I start posting the material that I'm giving a final spit and polish to...

Hello, friends – and accidental url clickers – I hope you are well.

Over this last few years I have been enjoying a quiet life in the Valleys, away from the white city noise that distorts an corrupts the thought channels,  and pressing on with the journey of self discovery I embarked on after my diabetes diagnoses in 2009 – when I realised that much of my mind had been MIA since the death of a good friend in 2001. I’ve always been a bit of a hermit, and am most at home with little company a few healthy vices to get lost in. 

Among continued self-educating in philosophy and sciencey stuff, I’ve been continuing to feed my technology addiction through unnecessary gadget purchases (some would say) and exploring the new and exiting world of Linux (some might not say). Occasionally I shoot aliens on Xbox. 

This website thingy is a casual hobby of mine, but it’s not just my writing that features here. This site has allowed me to productively apply other hobbies: writing, poetry, photography, web design, graphic design, and compiling themed musical playlists. It has been my creative canvas; encouraging me to look at the world around me and draw from it.

The inspiration to write was unexpected. What started as a list of random observations and opinions of the world grew into something bigger. I felt it would have been a waste not to have found out where these ideas took me.  50 blog posts later, I’m quite happy with he way it’s been going. I’m no Hemingway or JK Whatsherface, , but that’s okay. Fuck them. When I eventually find out why I write, I’ll be sure to write something about it.

It’s on my own terms. I do not possess the desire to impress or achieve anything beyond what I am presenting here – no plans to pitch or pander to needs of editors, to meet deadlines, to keep to ‘x’ amount words. 

I’ve previously mixed work and hobbies as a video editor, and having to creatively roll over, to do what others want, is a stifling road I won’t take again.

0

ARMPIT POETRY

An assortment of bad poetry I pulled out of my armpit.

In fine Vogon tradition, here is an assortment of some of really bad poetry I have pulled out of my armpit over the years. I will not be held responsible for feelings of nausea or out-of-body experiences you may personally experience; though high proof alcohol and a cocktail of narcotics will take the edge off what you are about to read. May the made-up gods have mercy on your eyes.

NO CHANCE

You have the perfect face; complexion and stare
You’re in full possession of your eyebrow hair
Curved, inked and pierced in all the right parts
A head-to-toe natural; not like most crazy tarts

You live on the edge; a hot smoking gun
The loudest bang since the big one
But you don’t have a clue who Carl Sagan is
You can’t answer questions in a Star Trek quiz

You don’t know a constellation, besides the plough
You can’t name what’s roving on Mars, right now.
Your favorite TV shows are ‘Twilight’ and ‘Glee’
This is why you don’t have a keeper in me!

A SUBTLE HINT (TO CHOCOLATE BOYS)

‘Spewing out your clichés from the “How Not To Do It” bible
Loafers and tacky tailored suit; you’re your own biggest idle
That charmless-cocky-arrogant and self indulgent smile
Doesn’t do you any favours; in fact it makes you look quite vile

Your bony, flapping arms conducting gestures where you stand
Look as clumsy as a mallard that’s coming in to land
I don’t like your silly hairstyle or that Charlie Chaplin strut
I’ve seen less tan and try-hard bling on a clapped-out village slut

I don’t want you in my sights, to smell your boozy breath, okay?
I don’t date fucking chocolate-boys, so get the fuck away!’

There was obviously a reason she wouldn’t give a second thought
With that, I took the subtle hint – it must be ’cause I’m short!

SOBERING THOUGHTS

 The problem with being drunk is that you never will forget
The perfect, priceless laughter; the cringes of regret
What starts as slurring dialogue becomes a sloppy, verbal mess
Of mixed up words and phrases; to total strangers, things confessed
Blurry flashbacks teasing; tit-bits from the night before
The thing you’re still unsure of is how you made it through the door
I what? To who? With who? Where to? Where, when and goodness why?
The flashbacks hitting hard and fast: “Good God, please let me die!”
“Never again!” a common phrase, but of course you always do
You’ll meet that stranger once again; the one you told, “I love you”

TONE DEAF DENIAL

Long ago I could sing, but now I’m not so sure
I’m a cross between Bono and that bloke from The Cure
I can’t hit the high notes or the bits in the middle
I’m like a frustrated busker with one string on his fiddle
But after a tipple it all starts to change
I’m a tenor and a baritone; I have a limitless range
With the voice of an angel; stray dogs howl with glee
Is it the PA that’s deafening?
No… sadly it’s me!

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

I’d seduced a brunette at a nightclub in Barry,
Slender and strong with a voice from the valley.
Chatting and laughing we were bonding just fine,
So I suggestively whispered, “shall we go back to mine?”
We lay there in darkness and embraced for while,
I was horny and eager, to go the full mile.
Frustrated and frisky I headed down south,
When something moist and warm found its way in my mouth.
This bouncy brunette I’d got off with in Barry,
Wasn’t female at all but a tranny named Gary!

0

ROCK HARD TIMES

A musical “Fuck you” to the collectivist coalition that is ‘Nick, Dave and the Bad Seats’

Presenting a musical “Fuck you” to the collectivist coalition that is ‘Nick, Dave and the Bad Seats’ -- a playlist of ‘politically’ relevant songs that sums up the current world we live in, the clueless band of elitist cunt-flaps we suffer under, and the mess they so incompetently created; a masterclass in fuck-tardery

This is for the red, blue, purple and yellow quagmire of sewer-ridden criminals and morally corrupt rat-bags, running this small island through the ground and straight to the scorching core of perdition’s rancid smelling anus. May they all die horribly, and a little bit worse, and burn in perpetual damnation for all eternity, and a wee bit longer.

TRACK LIST:

N.A.T.O. (Global Cops) — Poor Righteous Teachers — Instrumental

Uprising -- Muse — “Another promise, another seed / Another, packaged lie to keep us trapped in greed”

Money And Corruption -- The Kinks — “I visualise a day when people will be free / And we’ll be living in a new society / No class distinction, no slums or poverty”

Wat About Di Workin’ Class? -- Linton Kwesi Johnson — “Insurrection is the order of the day / Is a lot of people cryin’ out for change nowadays”

Young Gifted And Skint -- New Model Army —“Can’t pay the rent-man a single thing, don’t let the man from the Gas Board in”

Cash Machine -- Hard-Fi — “No no, this can’t be right / I live an honest life / It seems like sometimes / You don’t cross the line / You don’t get by…”

Unemployed In Summertime -- Emiliana Torrini — “Unemployed in summertime / I’ve only just turned 21”

Obedient Workers (Feat. George Carlin) – Reks — “They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking”

History Repeating -- Shirley Bassey — “There is fashion, there is fad /Some is good, some is bad /And the joke is rather sad / That it’s all just a little bit of history repeating”

I Blame The Government -- Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine — “Under achievers taken by the receivers / Robbery with violence with torture and silence”

Rock Hard Times -- Eels — “As if i cared ’bout the little minds / In the little heads of the herd”

Fuck Police Brutality -- Anti-Flag — “But the cops can do no wrong / They can kill, they can rape, they can do what they want”

Mr. Prime Minister -- Ms. Dynamite — “And did you stop and listen before you started dishing / Our tax for ammunition to kill innocent children”

We Want Your Soul (Feat. Bill Hicks) -- Free*land — “No thinkers, no teachers, no facts, no freaks /no skaters, no tweekers, no truth, no sleep”

Blood Money -- Cliff Lin — Instrumental

Brainwashed -- The Kinks — “You look like a real human being / But you don’t have a mind of your own / Yeah you can walk, you can breathe You can work, you can stitch you can sew / But you’re brainwashed”

Anarchy In The UK -- Sex Pistols — “Your future dream is a shopping scheme”

Killing In The Name -- Rage Against The Machine — “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”

Running The World -- Jarvis Cocker —It’s the ideal way to order the world / “Fuck the morals, does it make any money?”

Ghost Town -- The Specials — “Why must the youth fight against themselves? / Government leaving the youth on the shelf”

Socialist Serenade -- Manic Street Preachers — “Change your name to new / Forget the fucking Labour”

Party Political -- Full Scale — “I can’t help but think, drink, smell the stink / hopefully some pen and ink will bring us all back from the brink”

No Matter Who You Vote For The Government Always Gets In -- The Bonzo Dog Band — “Posters in suburbia, experts on TV / Don’t let them disturb-i-ya / They’re just the powers that be”

The Times They Are A-Changin’ -- Bob Dylan — “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land / Don’t criticize what you can’t understand”

Integral -- Pet Shop Boys — “Everyone has their own number in the system that we operate under / We’re moving to a situation where your lives exist as information”

Some browser plugins like ‘AdBlock’ and ‘Ghostery’, viewing the mobile version of this site, or gazing through a trans-dimensional portal might result in the (above) embedded Spotify playlist not appearing as intended, or completely invisible to the human eye.  Click here to open in your Spotify app.

0

AN XMAS TALE

A short story about the meaning of the Stolen Pagan Festival; when it had one.

It was Christmas 1940, WWII: my young Great Grandmother, Mavis, and her sisters, Gwyneth and Poppy, wanted to find something special for their mother. With the War in full swing and rationing in place there was little to be found or afforded.

The three sisters were walking through the town of Ebbw Vale one day when they came across a large, red apple in the window of the general store – such items were considered luxuries for the poorer families in those war torn days.

The siblings pooled together what was left of their ration allowances, which was just enough to afford the tempting apple. My Gran would always recall the joy on her mother’s face on that Christmas day, when they presented to her a rosy red apple. After Christmas dinner, she sliced the apple into four pieces and shared it with her daughters to reward them for their love and kindness.

During modern times when families horde the shops like gannets; purchasing the latest fashions and gadgets – price no object, nor failure an option – it is warming to think of times when the thought really did count; when the true spirit of Christmas was as much about giving as it was receiving. Where kind words and the pleasure of warm company was the most priceless gift of all.

Perhaps we all need to take a trip back in order to move forward.

0

MY PETS LESS ORDINARY

During my youth in Guyana, I became acquainted with some unusual wildlife. This is their story.

Everywhere in Guyana were creatures great and small; it was quite common to have small frogs torpedoing out of the water taps, not to mention lizards crawling up the walls, bats appearing at the windows and cockroaches scuttling across the floor. Once we even had a large snake curl up in a washing basket in the middle of our basement floor.

At night, bathing under the light of the driveway, would sit a vast collective of bloated, repulsive toads – called ‘Crapo‘ in the Creole tongue – that would puff up to twice their size; looking twice as ugly as I approached them. I would often get stung by Marabunta wasps (that bloody hurt like hell), attacked by troops of red ants, and bitten by mosquitoes on a white meat diet.

To my unpleasant surprise, even the caterpillars stung me when I accidentally trod on them. At least the birds liked me and would sing my name; the bird-song of the Kiskadee sounded like they were saying ‘Christopher’, so that’s what we called them – Christophers.

I was six years old and would earn eggs, milk, and meat for us by mucking out at the farm next door; herding and milking the cows and goats, along with feeding the chickens and ducks. At the farm I was considered a moving target for a bullish bull and a source of great amusement for a particularly sadistic turkey that would chase me up the nearest tree.

We acquired an unusual collection of pets of our own during our lives in Guyana: from a nameless tortoise that managed to escape, a temperamental macaw with a spoon fetish named Miguel – that also briefly escaped – an adopted sibling in the form of a howler monkey named Floyd, and an injured fox – that also escaped and ate next door’s chickens – and even – though not quite pets in the literal sense, a baby alligator and two manatees. Let’s get the latter two cleared up first:

The adult manatee had strayed from the sea and found its way far up the Abari River where she gave birth to a calf. My father – a student in zoology and marine biology – and his team were alerted by some local fishermen who had built an enclosure for them, providing protection from the piranhas and alligators.

The mother had a large scar on her back from where she had been attacked by something hungry, or cut by an out-board engine propeller – how the manatee got this far up the river was an incredible feat in itself. I was fortunate enough to paddle with the manatees and have since developed a great affection for this enigmatic and docile endangered species. The manatees were given a safe home at the Guyana Zoo in the capital city of Georgetown where we would visit them from time to time.

The new-born alligator was my father’s office pet and lived in a large water tank next to his desk. I’ll never forget the day that he turned up with it at the Dutch club; carrying the creature in his arms, its jaw taped up and my father looking sheepishly at my mother as if about to say “Can we keep him, pleeeese?”

Equally memorable is the sharp and assertive ‘NO!’ that thundered from my mother, shooting him down with her trademark stare. “But it’ll only be for a few weeks.” My mother’s reply was not fit for a young lad, a sheepish husband, or the infant ears of an unwanted alligator – and definitely not suitable for reading today. Only two alligators ever entered our house: one was a stuffed one, the other was ran over by a neighbor and cooked in a curry.

I thought that the fox was a dog at first (Well, it is in a way but you know what I mean). I remember being at a house across the road with two locals who had just cut the head off a duck (as you do); the beak of its detached head was still yapping on the ground while the mallard was running around the yard like a headless, erm, chicken, until it ran out of blood. In the distance I could see some natives approaching the front veranda of our house, presenting what looked like a small dog.

“Cool, we’ve got a dog!” I thought, and sprinted over to greet our new pet. What I came face to face with was not a cute dog with a waggly tail, more like a snarling beast. And my… what big teeth it had. My mother still tells of the way in which I approached the back door and, as cool as a cucumber, said, “I thought I’d come in the back way because there’s and angry looking fox lying in the way of the front door, what’s for tea?.”

The fox had been caught in a trap and had an injured paw; it had also been tied in a barbed wire collar that was still sunk deeply into its neck. The natives who found the battered fox had heard stories that my father was some sort of Doctor Doolittle and they left the fox for him to nurse back to health. It lived in a cage in the basement for several weeks until it escaped – eating my chicks and ducklings as a parting gift, also taking most of next door’s chickens while en route to god knows where. That’s gratitude for you.

My father returned home from the jungle with a surprise pet one day, in the form of a blue and gold macaw that he and some conservationists had rescued from poachers. We named him Miguel; he would eventually return back to Wales with us. The reason for the tropical rainforest being in such dire straits is down to the amount of perches Miguel went through.

Every day there would be a dissatisfied squawk and Miguel would be found clinging on to the side of the cage, feathers sticking up in protest. He was a little ‘temperamental’; the only way to get near him was by wearing my Sootyglove-puppet that he had grown quite an attachment to – more so than humans. Miguel’s few pleasures in life were bananas, sugar cane, my flesh, and being stroked on the head with a teaspoon – but only by the hand of Sooty, of course.

Miguel managed to get himself stuck up a tree one day (seriously!). His wings had been clipped but, as we found out, he was still able to make a break for it; he glided over to the nearest tree across the road. There he remained – standing out like a giraffe on a glacier, and probably feeling a little silly – as my father – probably feeling equally silly because he was wearing a Sooty glove-puppet and holding a spoon.

He climbed the tree – assisted by Paul the farmer – and got Miguel down safely before he glided away into the waiting mouth of something big. A little more wing clipping would make certain that Miguel would remain within the confines of the house.

Our reason for me and my parents being in Guyana in the first place was because my father was studying a Masters Degree in Zoology and Marine Biology; in the 80’s work experience was real work experience. My father would often venture deep into the jungle – sometimes I would go with him – as part of a team of local conservationists.

On one particular outing the team had heard gunshots nearby. Some poachers had fired upon, and hit a female howler monkey; she was left for dead and her new-born baby exposed and alone. The new-born was adopted by my father – who named him Floyd – and would become a valuable member of the King family.

Floyd was amazingly childlike and would play, sunbathe, and throw tantrums that upstaged even me. He would sit on my mother’s shoulder while she was out and about at the Sunday food markets; during the evenings he would sit on my father’s shoulder when he was playing dominoes, his long prehensile tail cuddling his neck.

He liked Pringles, peach juice, sugar cane and Edam cheese – and the little git was always running off with my Star Wars figures. When he needed feeding, attention, or comforting he would latch on to my mother, and when he got told off by my mother he approached my father; when he fancied amusement he would piss and shit in my bed. Miguel the macaw didn’t like Floyd and would make him dance every time he climbed on top of the bird cage.

Howler monkeys are the only South American monkey not to be kept as pets, due to their surly disposition. We would eventually have had to part with Floyd as he grew into a one meter tall adult. Sadly, he didn’t get the chance to grow into adulthood at all.

I was at a lesson with my private tutor when my father appeared in the doorway; his shoulders were slouched and he didn’t speak. He stood there for several minutes, just gazing into space before walking away. I wouldn’t find out until I got home from tuition that Floyd had broken free of his leash and had chased my father down the driveway.

My father always slipped through the back door before Floyd would notice he had gone, but Floyd had wised up to that. While giving chase to the Land Rover Floyd he latched on to the wheel and was crushed to death it as it rolled over him. He would be the last family pet that we would adopt in Guyana.

My only pet was a tortoise. I can’t recollect its name but I do recall that it was old, scratched and only had one eye. I would carry it everywhere I went; when it wasn’t under my arm it would follow me on foot. One day it mysteriously disappeared (yes, my tortoise ran away) and I especially recall the day that I got reunited with it – I will never forget that.

It was the very last day of my life in Guyana. I was saying goodbye to friends when something caught my eye; something walking down the driveway very slowly – it was old, scratched, and only had one eye. I swear to this day  that it was my old pet tortoise who had come to say farewell.

Whenever I tell this story I can’t help laughing to myself at how absurd it all sounds. It doesn’t surprise me when people think that I’m taking the piss and are inclined to ask “How much of that was true?” – I know that I would if someone was telling me something equally far-fetched.

This is actually my life that I’m writing about. The life of a valleys boy who was lifted from the snow covered hills of South Wales to the lush, green tropics of Guyana. For a six year old boy, it was a magical life far from ordinary. For a thirty year old adult, it is a privileged past that grows ever more distant, surreal, and unbelievable.

Here is a short clip from Guyana 1987, featuring me, my mother, Floyd the Howler Monkey, and Miguel the Macaw: