Why do rainbows look sad?

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Zippy and George

Despite life in general being pretty good, depression is always just around the corner, waiting to piss on my bonfire. No matter how well things can seem on the outside, those suffering from anxiety and depression are always expecting bad news in the post. We know it’s coming, even if it isn’t. A rainbow is a beautiful thing, but it still looks like a sad face. Such is life.

On the flip side, there are of course situations which look worse than they are. I’m not a pessimist. I realise that being an optimist or a pessimist makes no difference to the outcome, but the optimist has a better time leading up to it. So despite suffering chronic (as in, life-affecting) depression, I do tend to look on the bright side. But the dark dog is always skulking in the woods somewhere: One of many ways I describe the perpetual anxiety I have. It’s subjective, it’s as unique as the individual, and others would describe it all differently. We’d all describe it as “a bit shit” but I try as a writer to convey more than that generalisation (true though it is).

Of course, it’s always nice and life-affirming, when something which initially doesn’t look good, turns out to be okay: A bit like someone offering a plate of Russian Roulette sandwiches, where all look the same, but some are filled with Nutella and others with shit. That’s kind of what happened this week, when a lady I know from the council knocked on my door. She’s a very nice lady and part of the team who housed me at my studio when I became vulnerable. My landlord is that rare angel who works with the local authority to offer homes to benefits tenants. As I’ve said before, my studio as a flat is pretty “unusual”, being very small (a bedsit with a separate small kitchen) and with an off-suite toilet and shower room (for my exclusive use). But as an office, it’s feckin’ ace. And seeing as my work is also my life, that’s how come this small living space / cool workspace became known as Le Studio Chez Moi: It fits me and vice versa. The point is, it’s not the kind of place which private renters will be falling over themselves to occupy, even though it’s in a quiet location in a peaceful village. So my landlord rents out the lower end of their portfolio to people like me, who are grateful of somewhere to live. Something I’ve always lacked though, through many years of renting, is a sense of permanence. This is not to be confused with a sense of entitlement, which is something I lack. But for my own personal well being, a permanent home has always been my wish.

When I moved to the studio 15 months ago, I was put on a one year tenancy agreement and the council raised a bond to cover my deposit. At the time, I was told that my landlord may grant a longer tenancy at the end of a first year, depending on how that year went. I’m a good tenant and the first year was without incident. So when that lady from the council turned up at my door, brandishing a manilla C5 window envelope with my name and address peering out, my heart sank (what was I saying about being an optimist or a pessimist?). As it turned out, my deposit bond has been renewed and I’ve been granted a rolling tenancy: It’s the nearest I will ever get to having a permanent home. Council tenancies for life are a thing of the past, but what I have now is the nearest modern equivalent. So that envelope, that potential shit sandwich, turned out to be one filled with chocolate spread, which was nice.

I’ve said before that I don’t want to politicise this blog, and that’s still true. But beliefs are part of what makes the person, so I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m a Labour voter. My day-to-day observations on politics and everything else in the world are on my public Facebook timeline, but I will say a little about recent political events:

I voted Labour and I’m pleased that at least the Tories didn’t get an overall majority. The next few weeks will see more disruption, with coalitions and co-operatives formed. It’s all too complicated to call at the moment but in modernising politics, coalitions will play a part. I don’t see Labour forming a coalition (although I think they should with the Liberal Democrats) but Nicola Sturgeon has said that the SNP will work with any progressive parliamentary party. Progressive is what politics is finally becoming, and that’s a good thing.

Even unilaterally, Labour have a voice in parliament now, which will throw a spanner in the works of Kim-Jong May. The Imperial Dictator called the general election egotistically. She assumed (wrongly) that she would win a landslide majority, giving her the green light to steamroller through her hard Brexit, unchallenged. Under this “no plan” of hers, she was seeking to make the UK an annexe of Trump’s US, with cheap labour (no minimum wage), which could be exploited by employers who’d get tax breaks for investing in UK PLC. Either that, or she called the general election because she was shit scared of Brexit. Both have been equally divisive. Whatever happens next, in the short term at least, I predict increased civil unrest, as the far-right get more marginalised. And May has shot herself in the foot, just like her predecessor.

Social media is a minefield in times like these, with fake news spread by the ignorant. Some of the levels of ignorance I’ve seen have been frankly mind-boggling. I’m talking about those who thought Brexit meant “Immigrants out!” and “Muslims out!”: Fascists, who are probably low-earners and who should naturally vote Labour, but who vote Tory because they think Kim-Jong May will goose step all “Immigrants” out of the country, like some pied piper of the apocolypse. It’s hilarious that most of these people wouldn’t even be allowed entry into some “Pure Aryan race”, when one of the prerequisites for such a twisted fantasy would surely be a high level of intelligence. These are the people who wake up in the morning, see a couple of milk bottles on the doorstep and wonder how they got there. Now there’s a pint I’d like to spill.

So, two weeks ago on Facebook, I predicted a hung parliament. Just over a week ago on this blog, I noted that I sensed an uprising and a lifting of the veil: I stand by that and I’ll watch what happens next with great interest.

Away from political punditry, my next novel is almost complete. In terms of publishing, that means I’m about half way through the whole process. Cyrus Song itself is 90% complete: I wrote the ending a long time ago, and the narrative is now approaching that finale. If I pull off the two “Easter Eggs” I’m planning with the word and page counts, there’s about 10,000 words to go. And that’s a book, written. In first draft. At the end of this month, the manuscript goes out to beta readers, all of whom have signed non-disclosure agreements. I’m hoping I’ll get their feedback by the end of July and in the interim, I’ll be poring over my own copy of the manuscript and tidying it up for the second draft. Then there’s editing and checking spelling, punctuation, grammar, tenses, perspectives, continuity etc. After that, the actual book can be compiled and indexed, then there’s acknowledgements, references and a load of other stuff to write before it’s finally ready for publishing. Barring events which even the finest heirophants couldn’t predict, Christmas is probably now at the far end of my publication window. At the moment, I’m aiming for October. 

So it’s all good. But up above the streets and houses, a rainbow still looks like a sad face.

The Sodastream of consciousness

THE WRITER’S LIFE

mixtape1

I write a lot, I read a lot and I think far too much. I watch TV and movies, and I think some more. Pretty much every blog entry I write for clients as a freelancer gives me an idea for a story. I have piles of media, a lot of which I’ll probably never get to. I have short stories and books planned, but most won’t see the light of day in my lifetime. I have a lot of stories inside me and many won’t be told.

I also have a new fridge freezer. I’ve not had one for the last three years, through a lack of space and money born of a transient life. Now that I have the financial means but with little space, I’ve got a mini unit, clearly designed with the caravan and studio-dweller in mind. It’s a neat little thing: The size of a standard fridge and it’s black with chrome door handles. It looks like a short and stocky Darth Vader; How he might look in Minecraft. It’s opened up all sorts of refreshment ideas to have on hand in The Studio, where I live and write. It’s stocked with snacks, chilled coffee and fizzy drinks.

On any given day, Darth Vader dispenses refreshment like I do opinion: spewed forth for grateful recipients of propoganda. There’s a certain irony to being a contemporary left-wing thinker, having my drinks served by a reduced right-wing terrorist. But then, I live in the once United Kingdom; a divided nation, under the rule of a stealth dictator in the form of Theresa Hitler.

The problem most of the far right have, is the same as other fanatics: They’re passionate about being “right” and get frustrated with themselves when their limited intelligence and vocabulary can’t convert others to their cause. They’re all sadomasochists.

So they retreat and devise mechanisms by which the opposition is silenced and the gullible follow like sheep who read The Sun newspaper. I wouldn’t wipe my left-wing arse with that pulp fiction.

A lot of me goes into a story: Experience, beliefs, persuasions and deviances. Fiction takes a long time to write, if you’re any good. Sometimes I just type away on the laptop, not knowing where the writing will go. Occasionally, I’ll write a really good story. Usually though, it’s just stream-of-consciousness stuff. Like when I was writing a blog entry for a client today about actors. I wrote the article, submitted it and invoiced the client. Afterwards, I thought more about the word, “Actor”.

The evolution of “Actor” into a non-gender specific term is a recent phenomenon and one for the good. Even though the term “Actress” fell out of the general vernacular only recently, in liberal circles at least, the word is practically archaic. Is it now time to consider other gender specific words, or will our recent evolution continue and simply take care of it?

Might “heroine” go the way of actress, so that both males and females are all heroes? Is the modern move towards de-sexualization sufficient alone to do away with historical masculine associations with words once used only in a male context? How do male and female groups feel about all of this? Perhaps if we can move away from our sexual insecurities, it might be easier to evolve into a more generic, non-specific societal mindset quite seamlessly.

If the same ideal might then be applied to greater causes of conflict and discrimination (race and religion mainly), we arguably have fewer things to define us; We all become the same. But we are all the same: We are human. Remove all secularization and we all think the same. Only then do we have the chance to discover what really defines us: Our individuality.

Economic and historical scholars will agree that history repeats and that economies follow historical cycles. Right now, we could be headed for a period of unrest, rebellion and conflict, at home and in the world around us. After the storm, comes calm and it could just be that eventually, we realise in the midst of the calm that there’s another way.

So that’s yet another story for yet another day. And if I never get to write it, at least I’ve planted a seed.

I write a lot, read a lot and think far too much. Most people get a cold drink from the fridge. Mine comes from my in-house Minecraft Darth Vader.