Slings and arrows

The last few days have been troubling for me. There are various events that I could point to, various people who, wittingly or not, have added to the sea of troubles against which I must choose to set myself against or drown, a peasant of infinite space. But I shall not. Point, that is. I was told from an early age that it was rude to do so, even though this virtual world invites if not actively encourages it. I have been pointed at, and I have been traduced in forums where I could, had I wished to, retort in like manner. I chose not to, and still do so, I expect that any right-thinking person will recognise the signs of a partial account and dismiss these from their view. Likewise, when bile of any sort is spewed. Those who cannot see past the darkly sparkly bits? Well, I care not for them nor their opinions.
But the troubles which beset me are wider and deeper than the bleatings of a few. One of the things about PD that I sometimes forget was pointed out to me by my neurologist yesterday. While discussing the gradual decline in motor function, and the increasing vulnerability to physical injury to which I find myself prone, the topic of mood came up. He noted that while the obvious symptoms were physical, the gradually worsening gait, the loss of fine motor control, the gentle introduction of what will be my tremor, and all the rest of it, it must be remembered that PD is a neurological disorder. It is your brain fucking up. The soup of chemicals sloshing around the gray matter is changing, adjusting, and certain chemicals, namely dopamine, are becoming more and more rare. This leads to more than simply physical symptoms.
Reader, I’m depressed.
Not terribly, but enough to know that it’s more than simply feeling a little glum. I struggle to motivate myself to do most anything: even getting out of bed is becoming a little bit of a chore. I can barely place one creative word in the wake of another.
Now, PD is not something which lends itself to bouts of cheery optimism. After all, you see and feel your body crumble day by day. You walk up the road and you are convinced that everyone looking at you wonders why you’re drunk so early in the morning. You look forward not to a happy, healthy future, but one in which your physical self is gradually ground down, your personality squashed.
You become your illness. Not just to others, but to yourself.
It’s not simply that PD is a depressing thing to have, but that it can lead to depression itself, and a depression which sits, fat and heavy, upon your chest. Almost as if you’re being pressed … an old technique for proving testimony. If you insisted on sticking by your story when your ribs were cracking, then it seemed reasonable to think that you were being honest.
I see many things which weigh upon me. People with academic jobs with no publications. People who know how to sell themselves. People who play a role so perfectly. People who seem to hold cards I do not. People who paint me the villain when villain I am not.
These are the things which flatten, which allow the claws to get into my flesh, to hold me to the floor while the world seems to pile its weight upon me. I will not retract, so on the piling goes, and deeper the claws pierce.

If the disease can lead to bouts of depression, then the drugs themselves have their own problems. I am on Mirapexin, or pramipexole, a dopamine agonist. It is designed to stimulate the cells whose job it is to produce dopamine, the neural transmitter, to produce more. These are the cells in the basal ganglia which are dying. It’s like whipping a dying donkey. It works for a while. This drug has some weird and wonderful side-effects. I used to hallucinate regularly, especially with regards rushing, scuttling things in my peripheral vision, and mislabelling normal phenomena – seeing a spider scuttle to and fro instead of the shadow of the bathroom light cord.

Another side-effect, and here it’s drug and disease colluding in a ludicrous way, is that I combine obessive compulsive behaviour with an inability to focus. I get lost in the internet, and yet produce nothing. There are other problems with the drug which again combine with the disease to create situations which lead to nothing but trouble.

These problems, and the behaviour to which they led, are contributory factors to the troubles with which I find myself beset. The troubles which feed my depression. It is a vicious, internal circle.

I am ill. This is not an excuse, but a factor which needs to be taken into account.

I need help. And I think I’m ready for it now.


The better part …

Discretion …

Is in the eye of the beholder. Not so long ago, I was interviewing a band, and the eminence gris, who led practically every answer, every conversation, and seemed to get a little frisky when he wasn’t in control (and to be fair, the whole thing was fundamentally his show, and a good one at that …) launched into more than one diatribe. The first was against screens.

I think screens are a big problem, generally … there are too many screens in life, I spent 30 years as a film composer, looking at screens all day and then when the computers came in round about 84/85 so i’m looking at that and I went right through that whole thing and by the time I got to the end of it, film composing, I would hardly look at the screen, and I would hardly look at the computer. Or encourage anybody else to do it. Don’t look at the things; listen. Because that’s how you find out.

Now, as I sit in the pub tip-tapping away, I think he’s got a point. But it’s not screens per se, but ‘screens’, that is, those screens which make decisions. Except they don’t. They react to a set of parameters. And these parameters hardly ever relate to real life. They are merely what’s nost convenient for companies to work with. Take our current broadband hell. They transferred on October 18th. Since then, nothing. Except ‘6 days’, which is what they’ve said three times. We have no internet. I can’t do what I’m meant to be doing. It’s costing me a fortune in beer, and life has been shortened as a result.

And all because no individual can make a decision. ‘I’ve given you the most compensation we’re allowed to offer’. That’s £20. Piss poor effort, children. Customer service means serving the customer, not bleating and saying this can’t be done, that can’t be done. I was under the impression that this was the 21st century. Perhaps not.

Someone fucks up at a restaurant – like when I was recently asked whether everything was fine with the meal. ‘Not really’, came the answer. ‘Oh’, she smiled, failing to understand. ‘Do you need me to call you a taxi?’

No idea of what to do other than repeat what’s on the card.

I recently reviewed a pub for one of those companies. The pub failed to hit half of the vital things. You know, upselling, all that crap. The review was quite poor … in relation to the criteria set by the company. But the very things they failed to do made it, for me, a more ‘real’ place. Staffed by people, not order cards.

He carried on later:

I think that’s just a general point, on a larger scale, the systematic decimation of apprenticeships, has been the ruination of this country, because that is actually how you learn. You sat there, a grumpy man did his job you’d then tentatively reach for something and he’d go ‘don’t do that because this’ll happen, that’ll happen, this’ll happen, don’t do it’. You learnt. Systems, which is what everything’s based on now, don’t work. All systems teach pople is how to work with systems. The systems themselves are mostly flawed as is the financial system which is why we’re all in the shit – if you make systems king, you’re fucked. If you make people, and what they know, what their hands know, what you actually know, not what’s in a magazine or something but what you actually know … you stick with that you won’t go far wrong.

Dammit, he was a bit of a pain, but he was on the money. The system culture infantalises people. It stops them from making decisions, so they become incapable of making decisions. Then when a real option comes along, well … they’re fucked.

This financial crisis is all down to the impression that if an economy isn’t growing by more than it grew before, it is in fact going backwards. This is dumb.

The internet was designed to enhance communication and lighten the workload. What it’s done is force us to find new ways to take up time. New ways to avoid actually doing stuff.

Anyway. Time I uploaded this …