Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Notes from deep inside the bunker #1


 I arrived in Castle Cary on Monday. The train was only 5 carriages with none of the usual electronic signs indicating the seats were booked, which they were. What ensued was chaos. 3 rather nice but dim pensioners were sat where I was supposed to be. Once the booking notices came live in the carriage I tried explaining the situation to them but they were either doing their best impressions of Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army or as I strongly suspected, they were the genuine article.

Average commuter to Hungerford
Despite my sunflower lanyard on display, I ended up moving 3 times over the course of the journey as others with a booked seat took their places. I thought they were too old to move so let them off, but I still think they were cxxts.

Lots of good-natured Glastonbury festival goers too - these are the people who will be working in the catering tents, hospitality, and all the other stalls. 

Played our session zero for the new Monday D&D game DM’d by Sa. Short but sweet. Must work on my character’s backstory.


Insane dreams. Nothing to eat in the house. Not many people around Wells who I know. Stormy weather. Hot. 

I went out to buy food, as all Dad has in the fridge is a gallon (I kid you not) of skimmed milk, cheese, yoghurts, and tomatoes. I come back with quality bread, salad, free-range ham and sockeye salmon; enough to keep us going for a couple of days.

Mum is not well. She slept this afternoon. Mum like myself, never sleeps during the day. But in the last few years we both can. It’s commensurate with dementia. I did The Times quiz with her. She got a couple right, but the rest despite my heavy hinting, were beyond her capabilities.

I spent almost the whole day reading - The Times and some gaming books.

I went to Nerys’s in the evening. Ben came down and joined in with us for a bit but he is 14 so comms are predominantly offline till further notice. Tomos the puppy is mad, in a good way. I wish I was a dog.

I drank 4 cans of Clwb Tropica to Nerys’s one gin and tonic.


More insane dreams. This one was about a remote holiday destination in the North of Scotland. When we got there we found it was impossible to return. Other groups were there - all of us in the same large house. They hadn’t aged at all and were wearing contemporary clothing, but listened to music of a bygone age - waving a Tremeloes album at each other excitedly, as though it had just come out for the first time. There were other parts to the building where the ghost of a little girl ran about an abandoned theatre like a zephyr. It was all mental, but better than most films I’ve seen in years.

I’ll have to start rating my dreams. I mean this one was easily 9/10.

I had a decent bit of toast and lovely coffee, then went to town. I didn’t leave the house yesterday and it was very bright outside. I wore sunglasses and kept my noise-cancelling headphones on as it was market day. I felt overloaded - bombarded - with noise and visual information. 

I wanted to sit down and have a drink. I went to a cafe I’d previously written a bad review for. The same passive/aggressive person I’d witnessed serving was still there: so much for the effectiveness of my 2* review.

I walked out (there is never any impetus for speed in this part of Somerset except when driving through country lanes) and went to The Crown and sat outside with a refreshing pint of orange juice and lemonade. Admittedly I have even less patience than ever with my condition.

Trina (manager) came outside to say hello and we exchanged pleasantries. That was nice.

I walked home via the moat and Tor Woods and came back for lunch. I clearly don’t want to spend much time walking around Wells which is the opposite of the last time I was here. I also want to be on my own and find having conversations with my parents difficult.

Funnily enough I was overdue a trough in my condition and this is it, though oddly my typing of this has been rather effortless. Funny in the bar chart of traits and abilities what goes down at any given time.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

What now then?

Why this blog is rubbish

I read the other day that most good art is created by flawed individuals who may be in a bad place. Some examples would be Larkin, Picasso, Caravaggio, Liszt.

And there is that current conversation of separation between art and artist: do we take down the Eric Gill because he sexually abused his daughters? If yes, do we take down the Caravaggios because he was a murderer? The difference is surely how long ago these things happened. If the 20th century it's more pertinent. If it happened now immediate expulsion. The 16th century? Doesn't matter!

I do find it genuinely easier to write when I'm in a bad place. My ideas just flow out of me, like thought-diarrhoea. And I'm as fucked-up as Philip Larkin, but I just don't get angry any more.

This post has taken days to get going.

The thing is I'm trying - and often succeeding -  to live in the moment and notice beauty and warmth and pleasure. All the easier while I have no capacity for planning (or indeed facing the future) anymore.

I have so much time I can use what grey matter I have left to take on big ideas and watch and listen to footage of the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Werner Herzog. 

I've always like the company of intelligent people.

What was I saying again?


I'm fat again. It's sugar. Sugar in biscuits, sweets, beer. I look bloody awful, and my jeans have never been tighter, and yes, I do wash them at 30', so it is me.

I've felt really indulgent recently, and the new Lidl is amazing for biscuits and being me I want to sample all of them. 

I tend to drink alcohol on Tuesday evenings and at the end of a D&D session on a Sunday - having drunk zero-alcohol beer up until then, to keep my struggling brain as functional as possible.

I need to be more disciplined. I yo-yo these days.

Favourite Dinner party guests

Mars Bars are the most popular confectionary. The reason is they are sweet, and not much else. And the textures are easy on the gob. Is it the best chocolate? Of course not; I wouldn't even describe it as chocolate. 

But it's the most popular. 

I use this particular metaphor to remind people that popular doesn't mean best. It often means least offensive.

People who I would love to have met, who may not have got on so well at a dinner party would certainly offend a lot of people.

Frank Zappa - highly difficult music, very intellectual guy who interspersed his music with offensive words and lyrics. The man who put the sneer into rock and roll. Huge output of music from large orchestral pieces to self-indulgent guitar solos, with incredible songs using multiple key changes, meters and improvisations. Check out the band he had in the early 70s with George Duke and Ruth Underwood

Werner Herzog - auteur director and actor. Made feature films and documentaries, usually of individuals trying to achieve something in a world that is alien and hostile to them. Aguire Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man. He is fascinating to listen to, and the stories of the making of his films are as fascinating as the films themselves. 

Andy Kaufman -  a performance artist masquerading as a stand-up comedian. The joke is on you. And if you don't get the joke, at least Andy is laughing. Also Elvis's favourite Elvis Presley impersonator.

And why do I admire them? Because they're mavericks. They followed their vision without any compromise or tangents. I realise they're very Marmite (adj). But mavericks tend to be. 

You may hate them, and that's okay.

By the way, I am the antithesis of a maverick. 

My Current Addictions

So much news going on and so much of it terrifying. I've found CNN is the best one in the States: Fox is rabid, MSNBC horribly smug.  Thank goodness for Sky and BBC and C4 in the UK. And left and right criticise them.

My list of top news stories is as follows:

Trump. This is huge. America split down the middle. And I fear this could end in a civil war, the implications of which would be profound for America but also the rest of the world.

Ukraine: Belarus is about to install Russian nukes and Medvedev is threatening to sever the info cables under the sea that connect us to each other. This could be the start of Cold War 2. But is Putin desperate enough to actually go ahead? We (collectively) in the West certainly didn't trust the USSR back in the day (some of us didn't trust America either) and I see no reason to trust Russia/Iran/ChinaNorth Korea now.

Starvation in North Korea. This is a country that can't grow enough food to feed its 26 million inhabitants and there is a starvation there that echoes the starvation in the 1990s. Compounding this is the fact that the leadership is spending money it could feed its citizens with on its nuclear development program, and has stopped importing food from China. In fact over the last 3 years it's closed its borders and expelled foreign citizens to the extent we only know what's going on there from the few people brave enough and canny enough to have communications with the outside.

B Johnson is dominating the front pages in the UK but this story is a footnote. If you haven't already realised that to him the truth is an irrelevance then you should probably get some therapy. 



I always hated this time of year as it's exam weather - the most brutal time to be indoors for days swatting away. Seeing as I never could get down to any effective form of revision, and would always get sidetracked, I have always hated exams as the stress I endured was awful.

The Executioner.
This is all a pathetic attempt to try and make a pun about swatting as now I'm running round the house looking for flies (for some reason we get a lot of them here) with this bad-boy (pictured). And it's addictive.

However, this farcical attempt at a joke is not working and probably was never going to.

Sorry. I'll go now.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Yes, we're ALL Neurodivergent now

 What's your diagnosis?

Many of us have got a diagnosis these days. Lots of adults are being diagnosed rightly or wrongly with ADHD. There are lots of people on the autistic spectrum too. It seems to be getting larger. It's almost galactic in its proportions these days.

It's easy to dismiss all these things now as the latest hook to hang your coat on, as though we're all automatons devoid of free-will and and our neurological make-up is to blame for any discrepancies in our behaviour and societal misdeeds. 

Our behaviour is usually a mixture of nature and nurture, though we still have the fight or flight from our reptilian brain, there to keep us alive in extreme circumstances.

And while it's easy to mock the trendy new penchant for diagnoses later on in life, it doesn't half give you some relief. What I mean is, it can go someway to explain why you are who you are.

Disclaimer: I'm not a trans person. I've always been happy in my body and never for one moment doubted I was a male. However, I do exhibit a lot of classically non-masculine behaviours. Masking is one of them.

As a child I felt very awkward socially. What I said wouldn't go down well with the other kids - I was a follower not a leader. I was a cry-baby, and the following of others became outright copying.

A kid came to the school and I really wanted to be his friend. He seemed so confident and life was just easy for him - I thought. I don't know how he put up with me to be honest. I would have been a bit freaked out. The only things I didn't copy in the end were his taste in music (all that Goth crap!) and I couldn't get my hair to do what his did.

There were other kids I tried to be like too. But I wasn't tough or working-class or good at sport. So I didn't fit in with them either. 

I just wanted to draw things and play with Lego and play Dungeons and Dragons.

Why did I never fit in to one 'friendship group' as they call them now? To be honest I never saw the need for social cliques and I didn't really understand them, but I knew I ought to be in one. I would look at them and think - well, I like these people, and she's nice from that group - he's a nice person in that group, but you have to choose a group or you're an outsider. If you do choose a group you then like 3 of the people but the other 3 are arseholes and you just have to put up with them. 6 to one and all that.

So when I went to art school I reinvented myself with long hair (which I'd I'd always wanted) and trying to be cool, which tbh I wasn't very good at. I guess I was a late bloomer so when I was older (out of school) I was a lot more popular with the girls, which was nice. But it was all a bit of an act.

You're probably asking what does all this bollocks have to do with neurodiversity? Here's a list of my worst traits.

  • Easily-distracted: can't concentrate on 70% of lessons, can't even start to revise, loathe exam times, can't read a book, 
  • Lack of concentration: silly mistakes, lack of focus, 
  • Copying others, behaviour, dress-sense, style,
  • Oversharing, inappropriate information, too much information, wrong time, wrong place, faux-pas
  • Inappropriate behaviour, saying the wrong thing, being outrageous, being obnoxious
  • Oversensitive cry-baby, stress-monkey, worrisome, sleep-deprived, self-loathing
  • Insensitive -smart-ass, gob-shite, harsh, hurtful

That's me. Now I'm not trained in any of this and I haven't had any diagnosis other than that of FTD, but I share a lot of the above traits with people with ADHD and those on the Autistic-Spectrum and seemingly always have done since I was little.

And while I may or may not have ADHD or be on the spectrum, at least by analysing myself and identifying the above, the elephant in the room is there for me to see it. Now I know its there I can train myself to be in the moment and identify when it is operating and either stop it or work around it. It's actually really handy for the person, not as an excuse as though to say "Yes, sorry I was being an arsehole - it's my neurodiversity" rather like the drunk would blame the bottle, but to acknowledge the signs and signifiers of behaviours and either mitigate for them or withdraw myself from a situation.

It's actually really pleasing to have this - it makes life easier and it makes liking myself a lot easier too. I'm kind and sweet-natured most of the time. I'm perceptive, a relatively original thinker and I am a very good judge of character. I'm an oddball and many of my friends are oddballs and characters. I'll help anyone who's a friend. I'm generous with my time and money. I'm all right in other words.

It's all right being a weirdo, oddball, nerd. In fact it's actually rather good.

The End of Dungeon Mastering

I've been running 2 campaigns for months and months. In fact, my Monday online group has been in the same campaign for over 2 years. But both are ending pretty much in the next couple of weeks, and I will be a player once more.

I'm a little worried that my brain will atrophy quicker now I will be sitting back letting someone else do all the hard work DMing, with all the planning, research and writing involved.

I have 2 new characters I want to use: a gnome wizard called Bibble Babble, and a Gloomstalker Ranger/Assassin for the longer in-person Sunday campaign.
Not to be confused with Babble Bibble!

I can't wait.

I will be back to DM though. It's been really good and I think I am a better Dungeon Master than I was before. You never stop learning, despite the fact you may have a leak in the knowledge banks...