The Bicycle Thieves.
I’ve not posted anything remotely “depressive” for a long time.
As I mentioned some time ago, I decided to move any reflections upon my state of mind/mental health, away directly, from Facebook and Twitter.
If people want to read an outpouring, that’s canny, they can click on the link, if not, it’s not in anybody’s face and Facebook, hopefully, remains a bright, shiny, life-affirming, lovely place.
As it should be, and we can click on videos of cats doing ridiculous things and overall, it’s an enriching experience that makes us smile.
Innermost thoughts, generally, are not welcome there I think. I’ve not posted asking for debate, challenge, sympathy, I merely have occasionally felt like sharing with friends and people who give a toss, what’s actually going on in my life. It’s called “Social Networking” for some reason…..
Regular readers will know that over the last few months I’ve not been at work, signed off with anxiety and depression.
It has been a dark, horrible time in my life. To be blunt, I’ve been “unwell”.
And it took a long time to acknowledge that and actually do something about it. That takes courage, according to my counsellor (always self effacing and with humour, you work it out).
Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, sometimes it has felt as though the walls of MY reality, everything I care about, have slowly been eroded and I’ve got absolutely nothing left - one by one, the things I like and “do”, the gym, cooking, music, reading, being able to function in a stable professional manner, have evaporated….. and I didn’t even see them go.
The NHS is a fine and bloody remarkable thing, which it has been my privilege to work within since 1991.
What could anyone actually wish for more, than to go to work and try and make the lives of others better?
Somedays one questions what actual value one’s work brings, but the bottom line is that I have worked and WILL work, bloody hard to ensure that I try and make a difference.
We should never, EVER let it slide from Bevan’s vision.
(And yes, Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, I’m looking at you lot, that use it as a somewhat cliched “political football”, a betrayed, rather sad looking football at the moment - kind of like the Brazil V Germany match ball…..)
For once in my life, I am a “customer”.
The NHS/Social Care have been absolutely, utterly brilliant. Maybe a little insider knowledge helps, but ultimately, I feel as though I am well on the road to recovery.
The positive days FAR outweigh the negative ones - I have not been in the very darkest of places for a long time, I am improving. I AM getting better.
Normal service will be resumed, but there’s no magic wand that somebody waves, with a spell along the lines of “crappy negative thoughts, be gone” - YOU have to do something.
I have got off my arse.
I have found again, the things I love, thanks to the help of my most dear friends.
I have fundamentally changed the immediate environment of my house - which is a long term, ongoing project. Rome was not, sadly, built in a day….. nor can it be procured at IQueer,
Whilst they would hate me to say it, Craig, Nick, Patrick, Stains etc, have been the most positive of influences.
Were it not for Craig, I’d not have dug my bike out, spent money getting it repaired, and have been out on brilliant local “adventures” (as he likes to term them) and generally, started thinking about myself (as opposed to everybody else).
I’ve been cycling daily, genuinely loving it, been working hard, VERY hard at the gym - and once again, when I stand naked in the mirror and jump up and down (female friends, look away now) slightly less bounces up and down, which is pleasing.
This is only over a short period of time - blimey, do I actually now have “muscle memory”?!?!
I can see my pecs, traps, shoulders, triceps and bloody large thighs again and I kind of like that.
I feel good and I feel positive.
Exercise, clearly, the endorphins, have a lot to answer for in terms of my overall mood.
I have began to eat sensibly again, goodness me, I’ve even started thinking about what to cook for tea again!
Which must make a nice change for Nick, who has spent the last 6 months throwing plates of food in front of me, just so he knows I actually eat something…
And then today, having been to the gym, slapped about some plates doing legs and arms, finally reached what I would consider an acceptable level of weight for squats again, I left the gym and…..
Someone has stolen my bike.
Yup, I know in the overall scheme of things it’s just “stuff” and “things” - but somebody, in between 12:15 and 13:15, on Friday 11th July 2014, decided to help themselves to my bike, whilst it was locked outside Splash in Stockton, in full view of the reception desk and the dual CCTV cameras.
And it’s made me really, really sad.
I know people live in desperate times, wherein something that may be able to add value to their lives, which is free and easily accessible, is easy prey.
I know it’s not personal, I know it’s not a “hate crime” - “let’s steal the queer-gay-bum-stuffing-arse-bandit’s bike” - but it still feels really sad to me.
My bike had become a wee bit symbolic to me - my mode of transport, how I get from A to B, part of my recovery, part of me feeling better about myself and rising out of the mire that has sullied this last couple of months - and someone decided to just help themselves to it.
Fortuitously, I was able to email the investigating officer a picture of the bike (eventually, thanks O2, sort out the 3G reception in Stockton, or let’s go mad?! Let’s have 4G) and it has been circulated via the central database.
Cleveland Police were utterly wonderful, and are currently scouring CCTV across the town etc etc.
I just want my bike back.
In all the years I’ve owned it, I’ve never, EVER, seen an identical machine like it in this locality. Picture attached.
Believe me, I’m watching every single bike I pass on the way home today, on foot, and I will get this thing back.
"Specialized - Hardrock"
Black, Red and White.
3 x 8 gears
White handlebar grips
White detailing on seat
LED front and back lights.
If you see it, please feel free to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88FC7_xPpaY&feature=kp - Uraken the cyclist in the face. With my blessing.
But seriously, if you DO see it, let me know?
Direct action WILL be taken. By large men, if necessary. ;-)
“Shit List 2014” - Towards a tidier mind and a happier life
Ever since I returned to this address, I have attempted to reclaim the space around me by replacing “our” fixtures and fittings (when I say “our”, I refer to those pieces of furniture and “things” that I purchased with my former Civil Partner) with my own, via the medium of the liberal scattering of “stuff” around the place, replacing furniture and putting up Pop Culture referential materials as a means of distraction from the mess they hide.
It’s not enough, in terms of clarity and of stamping my identity on the environment that, if truth be told, I have paid for exclusively (and handsomely and to my own ongoing financial disadvantage) since 2010.
The space I live in at the moment, and that I am lucky enough to share with one of the finest human being’s it has ever been my pleasure to call a “friend”, is not to my taste or liking. I’m merely “existing” here. I want to make it better - for both my own mental health and wellbeing and for Nick, because ultimately, he lives here too and it’s a shared space.
“The time has come, for me to Lipsync, for my life” - metaphorically speaking.
The time for change and transition, of non-avoidance and of accepting ownership, is now.
More-so than ever.
The current cluttered environment is not me. At the flat that I lived in from 2009 - 2012, I was minimalist, “iFlat” central - hence the white fixtures and fittings. Where did this clutter come from?
I feel like I’m living in a museum sometimes - the old books and CD’s, DVD’s etc? There isn’t anything that I can’t download or play immediately, should I wish to. I can’t remember the last time that I physically picked out a disk, of any sort, to play.
Books are a different matter - there are some I return to time and time again (Sholokov - And Quiet Flows The Don, poetry books, musical biographies and “coffee table tomes”), cookbooks need to live in the kitchen, however am I really going to re-read some of these titles again? No, so that’s why they have all been bagged up and are going to charity.
Had I still my beautiful, impeccable collection of vinyl - that tragically, two days after my Dad’s funeral was destroyed due to a flash flood in my Mam’s garage (I was mid move and my vinyl was sitting on the garage floor having been relocated from Nottingham) - it would be a different matter entirely, but ultimately, it’s just “stuff and things”. It’s all just “stuff and things”. I don’t need them.
I don’t need to display any items of cultural snobbery to authenticate my identity. I know who I am, my friends know who I am. I don’t need walls of books and music to validate myself.
My “luxury”, if you like, is my iMac - it contains my music, my photos, my memories, my films, my television programmes. It’s backed up, ruthlessly. So even if that died, I wouldn’t be at a loss.
This is a period of transition - I did it once before when I moved in here and, through the help and support from my friends (well, Nick and his Ebay account mostly), managed to tick them off, one by one. It’s time to do it again.
I’m realising that I have been a hoarder, all of of my life - whether it be sets of books, box sets of favourite television programmes, complete sets of Star Wars figures, you name it, I’ve obsessed about it.
And ultimately, it’s all irrelevant and dis empowering. My living space has (since departing Teesside in 1989, returning from Nottingham in 2003, moving in here, moving out of here, moving back in again) become a “museum of memories” that have been boxed and moved and unboxed, time and time again.
Its time to put some things away for good.
Whilst I search for clarity in a metaphorical sense, I’m seeking it also in terms of my physical environment.
What does anyone actually “need”, apart from the ability to take in one’s next breath?