Changing With the Leaves

October 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

It’s a new season for me. I’ve decided that I’m reaching the point in my life where I am an adult. A human that is no longer just a morbid collection of childhood hurts, teen angst and treasured disappointments languishing in the dusty trophy cabinet where badness lives.

After so many years of being puppeteered by fear, guilt and a need to change myself, I’m now a collapsed pile of limbs and costume, relieved and resting.

That need to change. I was always trying to improve myself, based on my own bizarre list of personal standards. Not improve; CHANGE. Erase what was there and replace it with something better.

And now I’m not. The work I do now is acceptance. I like who I am. I can put time and effort into buffing up the good ’til it glows, and I can sandpaper the not-so-good to a smoother finish if I fancy a spot of DIY. But I’m not a problem to be overcome. I’m a maze, a puzzle; the whole point of my life – any life, I think – is the adventure of exploration as one figures out the next turn.

I guess this means therapy works. It’s been tricky and not always nice, and it’s taken a lot of mind-bending. A lot of shouldering open stuck doors in the cobwebbed old library I keep upstairs.

There’s books in there I could burn, but I won’t. I’ve sorted them, bundled them – then put them aside. I’ll keep them like old text books from school; they’re how I got here and they taught me everything I know, but I’m not going to build the next 40 years on them.

A big stack of obsolete books. Theories disproved, authors forgotten and covers faded to grey.

Going to Get My Head Shrunk

August 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

Though the NHS has really done a very nice job of keeping me alive and relatively sane, it couldn’t give me any kind of counselling beyond internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. As I’ve said before, I find CBT very easy to game – a nasty drive of mine – and therefore nearly useless.

Tonight, I begin with the Christians. My session is at a 1917 tuberculosis sanatorium set up by The Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liège, for God’s sake. Oh, I’ll have to try to curb that. In my assessment hour, I crossed myself for effect (a prop I often pull out of the box) and was asked not one minute later if I belonged to a local church.

Not going to let that put me off though. A shrink is a shrink is a shrink. I don’t think they’re allowed to let their personal leanings influence their dealings with me.

But I’m afraid. I was so affected by just my assessment that I backed my car into a brick wall. Gently, mind, but I was dead shaken. I don’t have the same guy this time, which I’m glad about because, although he was perfectly nice, I found him unsettling. He did that silent staring thing. I didn’t find it easy to be honest with him.

I’m worried about that bit. There’s literally no human on this planet apart from your therapist that you’re expected to tell the absolute minutest detail of your ugly, twisted life. He’s supposed to not care if what you share is criminal, selfish, jealous, hateful, shaming or frightening. I can only liken it to when you have to wee outside and your body’s like, “Um, no? This is not what we do. I ain’t weeing here, love.” How does one go about letting go?

Phil reckons this analysis I’ve been doing is exactly what’s wrong with me. But that’s another part of my worry: what if there’s not enough wrong with me?

I don’t know how they’re supposed to fix me when I’m fine. I am fine. I’m medicated, aren’t I? Sure, I have nervous habits but generally, I’m happy. So – what are they going to fix?

The Stones

August 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

Human-manipulated stones have always held a huge fascination for me.

The Moai placed on Easter Island by the Rapa Nui. The immense pyramids constructed by ancient engineers. The mysteriously out-of-place bluestones of Stonehenge.

I finally got a look at Stonehenge yesterday. It’s a site I’ve been hungrily learning about for most of my life, seizing on every new theory and watching new digs for truth.

I don’t know what I expected. To be moved? Hard to feel moved when people are waving selfie sticks and catching Pokemon. We didn’t pay the £18.50 to get on a shuttle bus and be driven up to the stones, where you walk in a circle around a little fence and take photos or play on your phone.

We walked a couple of miles across the fields, through the wide, flat land where the National Trust is trying to return agricultural earth to its grassland origins. Stonehenge comes into focus slowly that way. You can barely see the humans crawling over it.

If you don’t pay, you stay back behind the fence – a better view. On the inside, you can’t touch the stones – though I wouldn’t – anyway and your view is obscured by the other people, your thoughts shattered by the other people.

There was a general lack of respect and gravity. For me, Stonehenge is a kind of church. It’s a centre of one of my biggest interests and it also represents the only type of religion I have: thankfulness for the land, I guess.

Away from the crowd, I could appreciate the stones as an interesting piece of history. But I didn’t get my cathedral feeling. Perhaps if I’d been alone, or if I could have got closer. It’s a sad thing. But hey, other people want to experience it too. I just don’t know how many needed to. Do I mean deserved to?

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Humans carefully avoided

On a brighter note, the stone circle at Avebury was amazing. It’s huge, entwined with an entire village, and it rises gently up and down terraced banks. Although it has had a lot of reconstruction (like Stonehenge), it escaped total destruction due to some bad human luck and good historical luck.

As is usual, Christianity led people in the vicinity to see the stones as evil because they didn’t conform to anything they understood from the bible. The villagers attempted to remove the stones but in the early 1300s, when they began toppling them and burying them where they fell, a man was crushed (his body staying under the immense stone until its excavation in the 1930s) and then the Black Death arrived, keeping everyone nicely occupied for some time.

Folklore and superstition can be a wonderful thing deep in the country, so the stones were largely allowed to sit quietly until the blessed age of the antiquarian (destructive in his own well-meaning way) came along some 300 years later, and outsiders began to take some interest in the circle.

But Christianity struck again. Puritan nonsense and agricultural land-clearing in the 17th century brought even more defilement to the stones (you can still see the incongruously straight cuts from the method used – heating and rapidly cooling the stone to weaken it before doing some good old smashy smashy). The work of antiquarian William Stukeley and money of politician/archaeologist Sir John Lubbock prevented the final sarsens from disappearing but the site was incredibly damaged. Archaeologists have done their bests though, and as many stones were buried whole where they fell, rather than carted off for building materials, they now stand in the best approximation we have for the site.

Walking among the stones under low, grey clouds was a much more moving experience than seeing Stonehenge. I felt closer to the people who constructed it and I felt closer to the land. I’m sad it was that way around but not surprised. The rain kept most humans away.

The Thrill of the Vote

June 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

I know very well that our democracy is flawed. I know it. I know we mainly cling to the illusion of choice and voice. I know.

But still, every time I vote, I feel this charge of electricity, alive. It’s the one time I think we stop to consider the other people in this country; what they believe and hope for.

I walked through the rain this morning with my voting card in my hand, getting slowly soggy, and felt scared but powerful. Tremulously anxious about what will happen but full of the certainty that I was doing what I could.

I’m not informed enough to be able to say I know what I’ve chosen is right. I’m not confident enough that I’ll be celebrating or mourning tomorrow. I don’t think there’s a winner in this game. We’re all losers and we’ve all embarrassed ourselves.

I hope that in this illusion of choice, the outcome is one that says we’re not unwelcoming, not ungrateful, not unintelligent. The EU isn’t perfect but belonging says we are part of something, together. I want the world to see that we choose them, not just us.

Well Gosh

June 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

I been well busy. I been well, well busy mate.

Between filming, posting, planning, arguing, scrambling, scribbling, learning, panicking and thinking REALLY HARD, it’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve had no time for freelance, no time for blogging, no time for anything really. My grasp on reality and capacity for everyday common sense have been severely depleted.

But the sun is out! The sun is out and I’m wearing sandals like a Greek baby-goddess might buy and I started a D&AD course today about storytelling and it’s Game of Thrones and cauliflower cheese tonight.

I don’t have much else to say, for all the stuff that’s been happening. My grandma turned 93 and I got drunk in the spikiest boots that ever were. I bought five of the same sundress and allowed my best friend to convince me I should have a gym membership. You know, just stuff.

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Some Work I’m Proud Of

May 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

One of my favourite things I’ve ever done has launched and I’m so proud. It’s had a really good reaction so far and it feels so good to just get it out there after so much fiddling about.

The campaign is about how parents can support their kids on the way to being safe drivers. It’s not just about paying for lessons and insurance; parents need to be thinking about how their own behaviour in the car influences their children at a young age, as well as helping out with finding the right driving instructor and doing private practice. That sounds arduous but not quite as arduous as months of visiting your child in hospital after they’ve had a terrible car crash.

There’s four more parts to come so the work is FAR from over but I’m excited to have so much great content to play with. You can read about what we’re doing on the ingenie blog and the first video from the campaign is right here:

The world of marketing can feel like a very hollow place when you get out into the woods and think about the fact that you’re just a talking animal. But getting to work on campaigns like this, that could really make a difference to young people’s futures, makes it way less bizarre.

A Slip

May 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

Been worrying about some things and it’s made me have a bit of a derma backslide. Nails are bitten to fuck too. It makes me angry at myself and it also makes me angry at the situation that’s caused it.

But hey – I am in control of what happens to me. If I am unhappy, only I can bring about a change. I just told a bunch of new copywriters that they have to fight for what they want – but I wasn’t doing it myself. Whether I get the results I’d like or not, I would rather try than live with myself in quiet disappointment.

I have my first bloody zumba class tonight. Can’t complain about putting on weight and not do anything about it, can I? I also have an assessment for counselling soon.

MOVES! Making them!

Let it never be said I didn’t hustle.

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