The process is exhausting …

We all start with a blank page

It’s done.

My first book is out on Amazon and, to be honest, I’m both excited and exhausted by it all.

It’s fantastic that I will have something in print with my name on it and it’s exhausting to think of the hours writing, editing, editing some more, formatting and designing, just to get a little book up on a site.

It’s been a frustrating process. The fact that Amazon programmes are designed for Pc and Mac only, just amazes me. Chromebooks have been endlessly promoted and yet each and every programme they want you to use and no doubt makes your life easier aren’t available to use. And that just makes the process harder than it already is when you’re stressed and want things to run smoothly.

It didn’t format quite how I wanted it to. Despite my best, and hours of effort, I couldn’t quite get the pages to go where I wanted them to. That’s entirely the fault of Chapter One, which had a mind of its own and starts in the middle of the page rather than at the top. I tried everything but it either made it worse or it simply didn’t change.

I don’t expect sales. I think it’s good but not great and that’s why it’s important I get the second book sorted and looking better than the first. If someone read it and enjoyed it I would be delighted and it would probably be the greatest moment of my life, just to sell a copy to someone I didn’t know; to have a genuine sale because the premise intrigued someone enough to actually buy it. I will live in hope.

But now it’s done there’s no rest for the wicked and I have to press on regardless and work through book two, editing, rewriting, checking, formatting, sorting a cover out and then… after that…

So many other stories to tell. So many other books written. so many more to write, edit, check, double check, scream at, yell at and throw myself at a keyboard in frustration at.

It’s going to be a wild ride. Strap yourself in.

I hate writing!

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I hate writing!.

Yes, the guy who does a lot of writing, hates writing.

I have my reasons…which I now have to write about!.

To begin with, and despite what people think, I am not a good writer. I can write in my head and it sounds wonderful but let me loose near a blank page and I fill that page with absolute mush and garbage. Just anything. Just rubbish that’s full of poorly executed paragraphs and sentences that dearly wish to be somewhere else. And don’t get me started on grammar and spelling.

I find it frustrating. I know what I should be saying but it’s not what comes out.

I think dictation might be easier. Just talking and watching the words appear on the screen but then I worry that I wouldn’t feel that I was actually creating by doing that as it reduces the effort of writing; the clacking on the keyboard or the imprint of pen upon the page. I’d feel as though I wasn’t torturing myself enough and that it just wasn’t me.

I so want to write something memorable. I think I can but then I read stuff that’s been published and realised I don’t stand a chance of getting a traditional publisher. I find that what I write isn’t ‘traditional’ or the ‘usual’ and have a hard time finding a place for mine amongst the many thousands of titles that are published every year. I find myself intimidated by the brilliance of other writers and then also occasionally depressed when I see something that I feel isn’t half as good as mine but which has been picked up because it’s on trend and fits the accepted norm for a fantasy novel or a children’s book.

Publishers want sales and agents want books that will sell. Mine wouldn’t, or might not, or isn’t worth the risk and yet the idea is, I think, really good and interesting. But then the doubts creep in and I think it’s rubbish and wonder why I am wasting so much time on it when I could be doing other things. Other things that arent writing; aren’t bad writing.

So yes, I hate writing. It’s just another thing I’m not good at and it’s added to a very, very, very long list.

Perhaps it’s best if I never publish anything.

A New Dawn

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So it’s almost done.

Within a few weeks, a month or two, I will no longer be employed but thrust once more into the unfamiliar and the scary without a clue as to what I am doing or where I am going. I’m not terrified but just, what’s a good word, despondent.

I didn’t expect to go back to my job. I didn’t expect my employer to be that flexible and knowing that they would have had to change so significantly and to such a degree that was almost impossible to expect, I can’t be too upset about the fact they didn’t try.

I think we were both stymied by the Occupational Health report. It gave us no options to work with and although I like things in black and white as they suit my personality this is perhaps the one occasion in which I would have liked some shades of grey; something to give us the opportunity for dialogue.

The difficulty with asking closed questions is that you get closed answers and that’s what happened. Presented with only two options I chose the negative ones and felt there was no room to move; to say what I really wanted to say; to explain.

So now we are here.

Something unexpected. Something I didn’t see coming. Something that I need to take advice on, legal advice, serious stuff.

And once that’s done then it’s the future and whatever that holds or even means. At 56 it’s not something that I look forward to with enthusiasm simply because I don’t know what to do next or how to do it. It’s scary stuff staring again at 56 when you don’t actually have any skills to rely on and everything you thought you were good at seems to have counted for nothing. And when you suffer with mental health issues and depression that don’t exactly make prospective employers want you.

The future is here and the future is scary.

Pension companies need walloping!

I don’t know if it’s the pandemic but it seems every company I deal with is still using it as an excuse not to do things.

We have fewer staff they say, neglecting to be honest about the fact that their staff are working from home. Or shirking at home. Or lurking at home. But if they’re at home and working then why can’t simple administrative tasks get done.

Why can’t they send me the information I require?. Why can’t they email it to me?. They have my email address and we are corresponding by email but no, they insist it will be sent via snail mail. And then I wait six weeks for something I need today, only to find it never actually arrives.

Then they say they’ve sent it. And something does arrive, ten days later. And then it’s not what you need. And do you start again and get the same silence. They even ignored my complaint about them despite promising to respond within five working days. Or shirking, or lurking days.

On four occasions I have provided them with my death benefit nominee!. On four occasions, and yet where a name should be in my statement I see just a blank space because according to them they don’t know who it is. Four times! By letter, email and by witnessed form. I have even asked them and they have confirmed her name but then the statement arrives and she’s mysteriously vanished again.

The service is shockingly bad. No wonder the reviews are so awful these days. Customer service is not for the customer and can barely be called a service!. It just seems to be a dereliction of duty; an abandonment of the cause.

And we are the ones that suffer. It’s simply not good enough and heads should roll, but of course they won’t because the pandemic has become the great excuse, the reason why standards have slipped and service has deteriorated.

And that’s great isn’t it?.


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The old man stopped and smiled at me,

His skin was mottled brown,

He leaned upon a walking stick,

He thrust into the ground,

His clothes were smeared with sweat and toil,

His sandals they were worn,

A man of few possessions,

Offered me an ear of corn.

The path was long and narrow,

Cross the top of dusty hills,

Low mist hung in the valley,

And the morning was so still,

He gauged of me a traveller,

Abroad in foreign lands,

We shared no common language,

Instead we took our hands,

Mine so white and fragile,

His coarse, with broken nails,

Mine spoke of western luxury,

And his of harsh travails.

Wordlessly we ate a while,

Of water we partook,

Clear and sweet and beautiful,

From a nearby brook,

Then with a smile and slightest bow,

A hand upon his heart,

He gathered all his meagre wares,

And turned then to depart,

And as he walked away from me,

A whisper touched my ear,

Twas though he stood right next to me,

I heard the voice so clear,

‘No words you need to share your time,

No words to share your food,

To drink in silent company,

Do nothing that is rude,

The sharing of the moment,

Means more than any words,

Respect and generosity,

Amongst lifes great absurds,

I wish you well, oh traveller,

May you find your way,

And perhaps our paths will cross again,

Break bread again that day’.

Organising my blog

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After coming to realise that not a single on eof my 431 blog posts had been categorised I have now set about the Herculean task of doing so.

It’s a work in progress but one I will work on until I am happy with it. I apologise in advance if it takes a bit of time as it does get very tedious trying to sort them all out. My own fault entirely for not being more on the ball from the outset.

Anyway, we now have several distinct categories.

LIFE IN GENERAL – can be anything from mental health stuff, a bit of politics, a bit of religion, perhaps some sport but mainly just stuff about life and how I feel about things that I experience.

AUTISM – here I talk about the community on Twitter, my diagnosis, how things affect me because I am Autistic and therefore theres some crossover between life in general and work as well, also mental health struggles.

WORK – a lot of ranting lol. Problems at work, career choices; that sort of thing.

ENTERTAINMENT – my favourite books, films, tv etc. I really should have more posts in this section. Something to work on perhaps.

TRAVEL – posts about my travels to places as diverse as India and Iran. Flying, preparing to travel, booking things- basically anything thats travel related.

POETRY – I was surprised at how much I had written. A lot of it is dark and reflects my mental health at the time of writing but there are one or two more humorous pieces in there somewhere.

WRITING – usually apologising for not blogging enough. Some reflections on the writing process itself.

So thats it so far. I am working on adding tags to make things easier to find and doing that bit by bit.

I hope people find that helpful.

Johnny and Amber

When Johnny wins his case, as I am 99.9% certain he will, Amber will be vilified and subjected to a level of abuse that’s rarely seen. It’s already happening with the keyboard warriors who foam at the mouth every time she opens hers and have become experts in reading body language and how to tell if someone is telling lies.

I have read a huge amount of posts which have bordered on the truly vile and shocking. Posts from rational people, I’m sure, who cannot bear to believe that Darling Johnny ever did anything wrong. They leap to his defence and use every word they can think of to tell Amber exactly what they think of her. And then they add a few more just in case she doesn’t get the message.

I’m not saying she hasn’t lied. I’m not saying she hasn’t embellished or imagined or created incidents. But I think their therapist had it right when very early on he said that it was a ‘mutually abusive’ relationship. Amber has a temper. Johnny drinks too much and takes drugs. She takes drugs. It’s a volatile mixture and a relationship in which both sides could and should have behaved better.

Johnny is far more popular. That’s why he will win. He is better known. That’s why he will win. This isn’t a case where truth will because I suggest the truth is hidden beneath layers of lies, false memories and the damage that drugs and alcohol do to a person in altering their reality. Does Johnny honestly recall what he did in every drink or drug fuelled binge?. I very much doubt it.

And for all Ambers lies and embellishments, what about Johnny and his ‘act’ in the witness box?. The nods, the winks, the smirks; the look at me, I’m famous and you love me; all what I would expect from an actor and in the same way I find Ambers tears cloying and false I get the impression that they are both acting and that parts of their evidence are very carefully ‘stage managed’ .

Only they know the truth of their relationship. That’s if they can actually remember it through the layers of substance abuse that both seem to have dabbled in.

I don’t side with either. I’d rather they went on with their lives and were happy together or apart without the necessity to air very dirty laundry in public.

But that’s just me. All I would say is that when Johnny wins, just remember that nothing good will come out of this. A rich person will get richer and a reputation will be damaged, perhaps irreparably. If the jury have any sense then whoever wins should just get a single cent but it’s America so that won’t happen.

I wish it hadn’t happened at all.

The aching heart


The sun is out. It’s a strange thing really, at least for me. I love to see it and feel it on my skin yet it always invokes a pain, an aching in my heart for places where the sun shines longer and hotter and more frequently than it does in my corner of England.

I look at travel brochures and it is a painful exercise. So much temptation that is now more expensive than say, two or three years ago. A bit like house prices and food prices, the hikes have become noticeable and my wallet and credit card protest at the prospect of paying out so much.

I’m conscious of age as well and increasing infirmity. No, I’m not on my last legs just yet but Fibromyalgia is a frustrating companion with a kind of its own and some days it absolutely refuses to get out of bed or put the washing in so I have to accept there might be limitations on how much activity I can partake in.

I just miss it all. I miss the planning; counting the days, reviewing the hotels, researching places of interest, sorting out visas and money and car parking. Yes even the mundane stuff. I find it soothing and relaxing and these days I think that’s required more than ever.

Standing in the sun transports me back to the heady days. To Wadi Rum where I burned, to the Pyramids where I explored in narrow tunnels, to the bright lights of India and the vast empty deserts of Iran.

My heart aches.

I need to travel again. I do. And soon.

Treeing up the wrong bark!

It costs more if you want colour!.

Today I am inching closer to some sort of resolution concerning my work. I say that more in hope than expectation but by tomorrow evening I will have fulfilled my side of the bargain and taken the requisite advice from the pensions experts.

Then it will be down to work to decide on if they want to release me or what other options are available to me. They haven’t offered any thus far and I get the feeling that they are just waiting so they can let me go. There has been ample opportunity to reach out to me but they’ve not availed themselves of those opportunities and that’s fine, it’s their choice and I don’t know how I would feel if they did reach out, not now.

So, what comes next?

I’ve been asking myself that and basically struggling to come up with sensible answers. Apparently winning the lottery is not sensible.

There’s benefits to sort but then there’s also a question of employment or self-employment. If the former, what’s suitable for a 56 year old Autistic guy with ADHD?..if self-employed then what’s suitable for a 56 etc etc etc.

I’d love to write full time. But that needs to produce results and I need beta readers and editors and proof readers of which I have none. Or rather I have one but she’s very busy. And then there’s photography, something I’d love to be good at but am pretty useless at. Any good picture I take is very much luck over judgement.

Then there’s YouTube. My partner thinks I should start a channel reading my poetry or talking about Autism. Or there advocacy of some kind. Or this, or that, or something else. If I knew what I was actually good at then this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

But let’s get work sorted out first and then; then I’m open to suggestions.

So if anyone has any, please feel free. You’ll find me somewhere in the trees, daydreaming about what I could have been. Or still might be.

South India 17 : Reflections

Up with the lark this morning. We stretch and groan as we drag ourselves off the coach for one final bit of sightseeing before the long drive to Bangalore.

We are in the land of Tipu Sultan, a name I recall from childhood due to a musical box in the shape of a man being eaten by a tiger? Or did I imagine that?. More to the point, why would I imagine it?.


We are enjoying the delights of his Summer palace which is set in beautifully kept gardens, profuse with flowers and shrubs. It’s a pretty idyllic place to have a gentle stroll and the fact we have arrived at opening time has deprived us of the hordes. There are advantages to rising early!.

Dead end

We pass by the place where the sultans body was found after he was killed defending Sriringaptna Fort. There was such celebration at the news when it reached Great Britain, that a public holiday was announced. I don’t seem to recall a ‘Tipu’ day being part of our calendar these days.

The town is pleasant enough with its huge temple and decorated horses that seem to linger for no apparent reason other than to be seen..which is reason enough I suppose.


The town perused, we are soon on the road again and heading to Bangalore. There is one brief and bizarre stop when we have to pass through a police checkpoint and pay an admin charge we cannot pay due to not having the correct denomination notes. Therefore two of us have to go and speak with the police to persuade them that we tourists have countries to fly home to and would really appreciate being allowed to leave.

Bangalore banking

Bangalore is a riot of noise and colour. There are long queues at the banks and the pavements are death traps that threaten to snap your ankles. We get ripped off in a shop but it matters not as the shopkeeper happily accepts those notes we have been unable to exchange and we are well rid of them.

One final dash to the airport which is magical in its timing as dusk descends and the city is bathed in a pale orange glow and then it’s another flight, another long flight to home and all that we are left with once more are memories of a fabulous journey in an amazing country.

Let’s do it again sometime, eh?.