Monday, May 11, 2009

Destroy Everything you Touch

The other day, I found myself doing something I haven't done since April 1997. I was cursing at the BBC news about an MP fucking up and this time I realised that the MP was a member of the (so-called) Labour Party and I felt slightly soiled...

The current scandals besetting the parliament is in many ways no worse than all the shit that the Conservatives had back in the early 1990s; the problem is we've all changed, because of this current political party, so therefore we can't take it when we see barefaced hypocrisy.

I had initially intended a huge long rant about the state of politics and how its time for some altruism to replace the dogma and rhetoric. I was going to say that we shouldn't be voting for any of the main parties in the Euro elections - vote Green! And I was going to suggest that perhaps now was a time for political parties to be thinking about recruiting NORMAL people; housewives, workers, dads and younger people. I don't actually give a wet fart that these people aren't politically trained; if they have common sense and can see a load of bollocks and call it that, then they can be trained on the job. There's a damn sight more integrity in your average Joe than there is in 95% of the cunts that run this country.

Oh and I'm never voting Labour again, at least until they become the Labour Party again.

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As much as I hate to admit it, I am probably going to be officially disabled by the end of 2009. I've even filled out the form for my Blue Parking Permit, but I've yet to pluck up the guts to send it off. I am due to have an MRI scan on my back and left shoulder on the 27th and the consultant actually said you could see that one of my shoulders was considerably... wrong. I have to admit, I watched Bad Day at Black Rock the other day (classic film) and Spencer Tracey wandered around with his left arm strapped against his side, to give the illusion of him only having one arm, and I thought, 'Jesus, I look like that when I walk". My left arm doesn't do an awful lot, it can change a gear, but struggles with the handbrake; I can hang things from my hand but I can't barely lift anything; I bloody struggle with a full mug of tea!

There is an upside to this enormous pain; it's made me forget just how grumbly and constant the pain in my lower back is.

It just fucks me off that I'm actually watching myself fall to bits - I always hoped that I'd be a dribbling incoherent wreck when that happened...

What do you mean..?

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Short recommendation:

Amplifier - rock band, grungy, psychedelic and quite excellent. Check out their eponymous album - it really is a corker!

****

I see lots of things in my job that I find stressful and upsetting (the same applied to my old job, you know the one, but in a completely different way) and this Friday just gone was no exception. It was a harrowing day that started with an intense physio session and continued into a family breakdown. Then I had a runaway and then over an hour in the local nick making statements, finally another young lad I work with has been the victim of intimidation and aggravated burglary; he was in a mess and justifiably terrified of even stepping outside his front door...

Even giving the statement to the old bill, I felt helpless, like everything that happened on that day was designed to make me nothing more than a spectator in a Mike Leigh styled human drama.

I got home, knackered, pissed off and wanting to be left on my own. My work ethos of never taking it home with me got blown out of the window and last night I sat here and just thought.

****

Death continues to haunt me this year. 2009 has been a dreadful year for deaths and its not even half way. The woman responsible for me being in the business I'm in now, committed suicide 10 days ago. She threw herself under a train...

Back in the dark days after CI, I struggled to make any money at all. I was producing Borderline, but doing little else and gradually we were sinking into debt (again). In February 2002, we bumped into Ian and Sarah Bates outside of a local shop and they asked us how things were going. The wife launched into one about me not having worked much in the last 6 months and how we were on the verge of destitution. Sarah, who I had known for nearly 20 years and had been the partner of one of my best friends, turned to me and said, "You should go and work for Ian, I think you'd make a great support worker." Her husband was the Chief exec of the Northampton YMCA (strange but true, he wasn't a Christian, he was a Pagan, but made it far more successful than any bloody Christian managed, but that's another story).
"You have got to be kidding? I wouldn't work with those scumbags." I was shocked and appalled and figured if nothing else calling them scumbags would put the very PC Ian off. But instead the two of them made a case for why I'd be good working with kids. The wife, sensing some kind of victory, joined in and I reluctantly agreed to go and check the place out, do a two-hour voluntary shift, to see what I thought.

On my late Mother's birthday, I walked into St Matthew's YMCA - a homeless hostel - and thought I was going to be sick. It was awful; it was grubby, it smelled of unpleasant food and it had some really horrid spotty oiks running around like kids injected with aspartame. I was ushered into the staff room, met the manager and her assistant and the two workers I would shadow for a couple of hours. They took me around the hostel and introduced me to some of the residents, eventually I was challenged to a game of Scrabble by one of them and went into the lounge to play. I chatted to a lot of the residents, helped cook lunch and before I knew it I had been there for SEVEN hours. I started at 12 and was supposed to be home by 2.15.

Rose, the manager, had phoned Ian at 5pm and told him that I was fantastic, the kids loved me and when could she hire me. She also stayed there until I finished at 7 - after cooking the residents evening meal (which they all thought was awesome!) - and told me that she wanted to give me a job if I wanted it. She didn't need an answer from me, I had a beaming smile on my face and had enjoyed myself immensely. Three days later, I was on an induction course and, two days after that, on the wife's birthday, I was offered a job at the YMCA.

If Sarah hadn't suggested it, it would never have happened and I have no idea what my life would have been like now. I can't imagine I would have come here of my own volition. During my first two years at the YMCA, Sarah proved to be really useful person for peer supervision; she was a counsellor herself and she put me right on some things and helped me deal with lots of deep-rooted prejudices and judgemental issues I'd developed after years of working for Skizz.

And now she's dead. 45. A lovely woman who would do anything for you; but equally could be almost impossible to live with at times. Sarah was a political animal, so far left wing she'd be on the running track at the old Wembley, but she was also deeply troubled and suffered from severe depression, normally as a result of getting too immersed in one cause or another. She was the kind of person you had to have on your side if you wanted someone to drive it along, to motivate the unmotivated and to campaign tirelessly for your cause. I just wish the last 12 months of her life hadn't been so turbulent, she might still be here...

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Heck, who knows, I might have something positive to write about next time...

I'm also in the process of doing another of my now occasional columns for the Comics Village (www.comicsvillage.com), so look out for that, from what I'm told it's still one of the highlights, however long it is between instalments!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Oink oink cough splutter die

Imagine this: swine flu mutates and becomes a global mega-pandemic killing off 95% of the population of the world - ala Captain Trips from The Stand - except because there isn't really a god, so there won't be one last battle between good and evil for the fate of the world. The 5% who survive are likely to be those who have had influenza vaccinations, giving them more protection against the rampaging virus than Joe Average will have.

The 5% who survive will be over 60 years of age, or suffer from bronchial conditions such as asthma - which means that I'd survive - who get NHS flu jabs as a matter of course every autumn.

What a fantastic premise, eh? The world gets left to a bunch of ageing cripples and sickly 40 somethings. Can you imagine it? The future of humanity in the hands of crumblies and the future of mankind in the loins of people with chronic respiratory problems.

One would think that these survivors would be heading for their nearest hospitals - not for treatment as all the doctors will be dead, but to set up residence in the only places that can keep them alive for a few more years. One has to hope that of the septuagenarian survivors there will be electricians, plumbers, engineers and go-to-it individuals who can keep the power going, at least until they can teach the asthmatics how to do it.

Of course, having already been turned into a seedless Jaffa, I wouldn't be much good to the future of civilisation, so they could always make me President. Of course, if they bestowed this honour on me the first thing I'd do is get anyone able to do medical research to develop more flu vaccines, because by the next winter, if another flu bug surfaces, our merry band of ancient survivors will all get killed off by that.

If that works, I'd ban all the oldies from growing flowers, they damn well need to grow more veg. I'd target the frailest most timid old woman to become keepers of the abattoir and encourage vegetarianism among my followers. I'd also send squads of survivors to all the chemists in the vicinity and get them to hide all the purple rinses - we don't need distractions in this post-apocalyptic world.

Naturally, this wouldn't happen because all of the suits in Whitehall will have had flu vaccinations already, so as well as OAPs and people with breathing problems, the world will be over run with politicians, their wives, families, mistresses, boyfriends, housekeepers and psychiatrists. So, my first job would be to train these geriatrics into a crack murder squad to hunt out these people and kill them, while kidnapping their child-bearing women for lives of servitude to my hordes of lecherous old bastards. But, this will all be done for the safety and future of mankind.

I might have swine flu, I have flu symptoms and I'm craving a bacon sandwich...