Tuesday, February 15, 2022


Middle-Classed Builders

Compared to the average TV production person, in practical terms I was MacGyver. However, on a building site with all those beastly rough working-class types, I was another middle-class herbert. I had to learn how to do the practical stuff. It took me a long time as I had put off doing it for years. It didn't come as naturally to me as it did to my friend Will or other people I know. I'd also created a 'thing' about fixing stones  - that I was the artisan banker mason, diligently applying templates and working the stone to spec with mallet and chisel. It was someone else's job to fit it all together on site, using grinders and lime mortar and stainless steel fixings. It's not what I did.

By the end of my career I was more than happy to do either, but it's funny that I'd created a bugbear by some irrational avoidance behaviour. Why do we do this?

Wrestling with the past

Some people call it the Chimp brain - the antediluvian part of the brain that tells us we're not good enough. Thankfully my Chimp brain has been kept silent by a very ancient and important piece of wisdom I keep on my desk. 
Important piece of ancient wisdom

But the last few days have been tough. My brain makes constant connections to things from my past. If something doesn't go the way I'd like it to, or it can even be caused seemingly from nothing, my brain goes into overdrive. Connections are made and quickly cascade  - one bad experience when I wasn't good enough in my distant past to another. Once it starts it's very difficult to stop. Suddenly I'm back in 1987 or 1998 or 2006 in a classroom, office, bar, street, wherever. I feel all the emotion as though it's actually happening in this instant. I thought I had it under control but it's come to the surface again. 

It's easy to see these things, whether they're addictions or depressive states, as entities. We give them names. Churchill had his Black Dog of depression. Other people have their demons. This is mine. 

I only ever remind myself of the past where I wasn't good enough or my behaviour let me down. I don't have a great opinion of myself. It's a shame as, of late, I was doing really well. I feel I've relapsed.

I need to be kinder to my old self. Who is ever the finished article? We are all learning to be better people. 

D&G (D&D for dyslexics)

As you know, I'm quite keen on Dungeons and Dragons. I've been DMing the Monday session (sometimes Tim takes over) for the best part of 2 years, all via Zoom. 

I was feeling really rubbish yesterday. I couldn't concentrate at all. Read one page and then just put it down. None of it had gone in, but I decided to relax as I told myself I knew it well enough and that there were really just 4 phases of play:

  1. Escape the lair intact having done the reconnaissance 
  2. Return to Saltmarsh and give the information to Eliander and the war party
  3. Repel the Sahuagin attack on the town
  4. Lead the assault on the Sahuagin lair.
It worked brilliantly. A huge assault with a variety of humans and humanoids - some aquatic - and the job is nearly done. This was the table by the end of the evening.
A D&G session
One thing I haven't done well recently is following the sequence of play. This is a very pertinent thing for my type of dementia. It's easy to get lost in it all when it's happening around you. But last night I did really well until almost the last phase of play, where I missed one player's turn, but it was quickly picked up on and it was fine.

It's such a tonic for me to Dungeon Master  - particularly this group of players - as everyone wants to keep the story rolling, and the group is small enough to work at its most efficient. Anything larger than 5 players and Dungeon Mastering becomes a cat-herding exercise.

I woke up feeling energised and brighter than I have of late. At last! This is pretty much the case after most DMing sessions. Perhaps I should break down the core parts of the game which I'm benefiting from and concentrate on those.

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