All Work and No Play!

Well I’ve hammered in the overtime over the last few weeks and have left myself a tad shattered. Yesterday was the worst I guess, 2-10 on Friday, followed by a swift pint and then 6-1 Saturday. There’s not much left of me at all now! It seems I’ll be likely out of a job come August as there’s going to be a 50% reduction in staff which, given there’s only 83 in our depo means I’m reasonably certain I’ll be one to go as I’m the last one in. Not looking forward to the whole drag of finding and starting something new again.

I’m tired mentally too though it seems. Someone decided to mail me that my old best mate is still in contact with my ex wife, and asserted that she’s trying to lure him over there using my old DVDs as bait. I dismissed it as someone with a wooden spoon but it’s dwelt more on my mind than it should do. It’s well over 3 years since I spoke to either so it’s irked me that the brain is letting it slop around my head. Until then I barely gave the ex a thought save for Facebook throwing up memories here and there (and lest we forget, there’s only half the amount as she deleted all of hers) and frankly I’d not care if she were alive or dead but I’ve shared most of my life with my mate and I know he’s vulnerable at the moment.

It’s funny. I stood up at work in a big ole meeting and placed myself in the firing line by attempting to speak that which others might be too scared to say, or unable to articulate, and was thanked for it by about 13 people. I know it left me looking like “Al’s the bad guy” or “Al’s making waves” etc etc, but it was the right thing to do. It’s a theme that’s followed me for years. I do what I think is the right thing to do and suffer the consequences afterwards. I left the UK to do the Jack’s dad thing only to be left with nothing afterwards. I moved to Holland to do the relationship thing… and then left because it was going to cost me my life if I stayed because there was no support for my spiralling into despair there. It was the right thing to do, even though it left me with nothing, and cost me all that I’d put my life into. The lack of understanding of this cost me my mate too. You don’t have to “get” why I needed to leave, you just have to understand that I did and accept it because… you know me and know it’s not something I’d just do on a whim. Hells teeth I survived 9 years there nearly and while it wasn’t all bad, all I need to do is scroll through the “on this days” and various blog entries over the years to see the constant struggle I had to cope there mentally.

I guess a best mate and a wife are who you trust to have an eye out for that. Your mental health, An investment of years surely earns it? But the wife never noticed as I cried daily, sometimes even with my head in her lap, and then later.. my mate sat and told me about how good I’d had it over there after i’d left her. And there’s the thing. From the outside no one even registered that there was an issue. No one looked deeper than the nice shiny surface. Even Esther I suspect! But they should have.

There’s an absolute abundance of memes etc telling stories of how “invisible illnesses are stigmatised because you can’t physically see symptoms” and there’s just as many about mental health issues and how there’s no shame in saying there’s a problem. As the Therapy? song says… “It’s ok not to be ok .. when you’re living through this” and damn was I not ok over there. It wasn’t an illness though. It was a constant mental assault, eating at me. I’d fought for something that the other partner wouldn’t fight for. I’d given all of me while she.. she did nothing. I fed and nourished her and supported her mentally… but I needed that back up too. “You wanted me to be your anchor … but I never realised that meant I had to drown”. And man.. I came so close to drowning. Depression so very nearly had me beaten. But it never progressed to the illness part. I still had the facility to choose to change my environment and thus I won, even if the consequence was the loss of both of those I’d spent such time on. “It’s time wasted on your rose which makes it important,” Ain’t that the truth!

But, I’ve survived. Even prospered. 2 new countries and capital cities. All my bills paid. Hell I’ve even a credit card! But that absence of something I’d had for years makes things that should barely create a noise… they echo now within the void which now exists there. I wonder if it’s a wound that won’t heal?

It seems mental health is not unlike physical. For the most part now I’m fine. But every now and again I ache, be it in the cold wind, or the gust of words that spark reactions. I’ve looked into the void and the void has looked into me. We’ve reached an impasse I suspect.

This is not a piece written in anger. It’s not a blame thing either. It’s just a cathartic release into text of what’s been cooking in my head over the last few days. Written for me. My audience these days is limited anyway. But for now I’m done. The football won’t watch itself! I’ll leave you.. and me.. with this… because it’s such a good tune.

It’s ok not to be ok!


 Well, I went to the Wolves v Arsenal game!


It didn’t go well! 3-1 is not how I envisaged it going at all! However, it was fun, and it was nice to be at a game again, albeit alone. I was impressed at the stadium atmosphere…not so much by the performance lol




Laundrette musings

Sat pondering the concept of Truth and while in the laundrette.. I’ve seen people saying “tell your truth” a lot in various places recently and that bothers me. Is truth genuinely subjective? Is it a matter of perspective? Surely it’s an absolute? Truth just IS! I guess there are times when it’s contextual on circumstance, like in the illustration…but as a generalisation.. it just is.

People are strange things though. Given the chance they’ll attribute all manner of things to an absolute, but this can be often due to differing understands of the language used. I run into examples daily. I’ll often say “You look good/well” in the course of a conversation to people as an observation, and be surprised by a “thank you”. It wasn’t a compliment. It was a statement of an observable fact.. within a contextual circumstance backed by empirical evidence. There was no need for gratitude. I didn’t gift you something. Too often you can utter the words “You look good”, and what’s actually heard is “I find you attractive”, when in fact these are completely different entities. Those two guys from 2cellos look good, but I’m not remotely attracted to them!

There was a similar instance in a conversation about IQ in the pub. I mentioned mine and it was perceived as something I was bragging about. I wasn’t. It’s just a statement of fact. Of Truth. A numerical statistic gained through testing But it seems it’s all too easy to to superimpose other elements of emotional content to something which is in fact just a stand alone acknowledgement of an absolute. Is that the human urge to romanticise everything, be it positively or negatively? Is it a micro/macro-cosm of humans as a whole striving for understanding of our own existence to the point that we’ve created Gods to justify our own being? To search for meaning/essence in something which has none? And subsequently superimpose our own upon it when inevitably failing to find something which isn’t there.

I love the illustration that I’ve picked to go with my musings. Not just because I’m a 69 fan (the yin yang imagery isn’t lost on me either) (ha you thought I was being filthy!) but because while it does show how perspectives can alter something, it also paints the picture of the average human simply not considering anything other than their first impression. We don’t stand back, and take stock of other angles. We react to an initial stimuli, but that’s often due to a reaction which has been given to us, rather than a learned knowledge. Much like a phobia, it’s often a non-cognative response, irrational, and not based on what’s actually there, hence why cognitive dissonance will elicit and evoke such volatile emotional reactions. Underneath, you’re aware of your own self doubt. But that challenges your own identity, your own ability to make choices based on your own reasoning.

Truth goes through three stages : First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. The insertion of “Your” preceding “truth” will always bother me. It feels like there’s something wrong with the language. Truth is instinctively binary to me. Can you even have a nonlinear Truth? I’m not sure. Schrodinger’s Truth is an entertaining example of a binary output, but then Occam’s Razor if applied to scenarios doesn’t rule out the possiblity of zebra.. it just says a horse is more likely…but again that’s contextual and location dependant.

Perhaps we need new words. In an increasingly non-binary world maybe truth doesn’t even exist anymore. Existentialism on a Tuesday morning! Scary stuff. Still, at least my work shirt is washed and dried!

How Quickly a Year Goes.

So.. it’ll be a year on the 7th since I landed in my current abode. A year, living alone, for the first time probably in my life. I’ve always shared a place, be it with housemates or lovers, so this has actually been pretty damn strange. But.. my bills are paid, my job appears secure, I’ve not frozen or starved, and I’ve even managed 2 new countries and… I’ve seen Clawfinger live finally!!


Yep… I managed to get to London! Chuffed? You betcha. 

So, what else has cooked? Xmas came and went. Actually Christmas Dinner was done really well. The people in the local have adopted me it seems and so I was invited for grub there. It was seriously good, but better than that was the atmosphere. A good 15 people plonked down and I commented to the landlady that there was absolutely no-one staring at their phone. Everyone was chatting and being social and generally enjoying the company.

IMG_0482 (2)

And… that’s the angle.. I don’t have a belly haha! It really was a genuinely good time. Oh.. and yes.. I lost all the hair. That happened in November. Funnily enough I ate again at the same venue only last week..  Burns night Haggis. And.. it was done.. with boiled, not mashed veg. Specially. Now that properly touched me. I’d finished work (2-10) and was collared and plonked down! “Eat this, Wiseman!” And I did! Burns night has always had a special place in my world. Seems it’s continuing along the same lines! 

So, what now? I don’t know! I’m still single. All dalliances have currently been extinguished and while there are people who certainly spark my interest … as of yet there’s nothing happening. But.. who knows what’s round the next corner. Perhaps someone will woo me for valentines day!! There are …. always… possibilities! 

And on that note.. live long and prosper!

Therapy? interview

So, I got my first shot at an interview for UberRock and who should it be but the the very band I know most about besides Deep Purple. Chuffed as mintballs I was, and so it was out with Word, and my thinking cap on. The results of it can be found here and I have to say I’m quite pleased as Andy Cairns actually properly seemed to engage with the questions. There’s a couple of daft ones but they were still genuine questions which I was curious to hear the answers to. Kakistocracy and Crutch are such good songs.

Other than that, all’s well with the world I guess. Latvia and Lithuania were fun. Flights were easy, and generally it’s all peaceful in my world. It’s bills’r’us time but hey ho. It continues to get me back established in the system and gives me history in the UK, something I’ve not had since 2007! 

Time flies

So, it’s been 6 months since I properly landed back in Wolves in a place of my own rather than in hotels and sofas etc.. and I’ve barely added anything of substance. Time for a proper update!

I managed to capture a job in true to form Wiseman style. One interview, one job. It’s how it’s almost always been. Again it’s banal work and sadly 5 days rather than the Amazon 4 which I’d grown accustomed to and quite enjoyed but it pays a little better and keeps me out of the pub thus saving me money. Entertainingly after the interview they emailed and rang me to tell me that, on this occasion, I was unsuccessful! So, I hit the Giffard the next day to grab their wifi and whip out an album review for UberRock and a beer, only to receive a call saying I had in fact got the job and could I start at 2pm today! Already on pint 2 I said “Nope… but I can do tomorrow if that’s helpful?” to which they agreed to call me back to confirm. 12pm the next day arrived… still no call so I called them and was told “Yes, you’re due in today!”. A week later, a mix up with my rate of pay and ANOTHER letter telling me I’d been unsuccessful in my application and finally things smoothed out!

The dingey flat is still dingey, and I still completely lack any form of cooking facility but I do still have a fridge and now have plates (not just a plate!) and a couple of mugs and probably more importantly a fridge. Everyone who promised me things when I moved in simply never came through, and so I basically survived until I got paid from the first month which was fortunately a 5 Friday month so threw me enough cash to sort the essentials!  So.. ham and cheese butties abound and the local chippy/Chinese/Indians swallow more of my money than they probably should but at least I have somewhere to keep milk etc cool! The one concession to personalising the place is, I was offered a chance to review a website’s product, so converted a picture of a wood pigeon I took while in Lichfield into an aluminium styled wall picture which I have to say is rather beautiful. I miss having proper camera equipment but every now and again I land lucky with the Medion and something sits still long enough to allow me the 10 attempts I need to get it right!


So, as the 3rd year anniversary of the divorce looms I’ve decided to treat myself. These last 3 years have been hard. I’ve survived stupid amounts of stress, from the change of environment, being single again, the crazy actions of some people I trusted, work related insanity at Amazon, homelessness and to all intents and purposes, destitution, and I’ve come through the other side. I’ve survived. There’s a line from the new (and soon to be reviewed by yours truly) Therapy album Cleave that says “Success is Survival” and boy is that accurate these days. But, at least for a month, I have managed to put away enough cash to be able to get away from it all for a few days. Nothing major but, 5 days up in Latvia in Riga and a trip to Vilnius in Lithuania while there is all set up and paid for! The flights with be the first since my one way flight back home from Amsterdam and the first one coincides with the confirmation of the divorce in Leiden. It wasn’t planned like that, just serendipity or a fortuitous accident caused it to be that way. 2 new countries, 2 new capitals, some time away from Wolves and just a little nod to myself that I am deserving of more than just surviving. 

So, life is better than it was. There’s some stability, both fiscally and jobwise. 6 months ago it could’ve gone very differently. But it didn’t, and here I am. With Giffgaff now doing 20gig allowances on their sim and allowing tethering, I can even catch up on the odd Gotham episode too. And more importantly, I can stream this new Therapy? album which is what I should be doing so for now.. it’s signing off time!

boutros boutros ghali!

Facebook post worth saving

There’s lots being posted about mental health at the moment. I think it’s important to point out that, quite a few psychological issues are often something which you don’t develop yourself as such, but you get given to you.

The abuse I received from my parents, both physical and emotional, certainly has shaped how I interact with the world. I recall being severely beaten by my father for not tying my shoelaces “correctly” and being so scared to venture downstairs to the toilet as a kid that I’d pee under the carpet, rather than get a thrashing. And.. my bed time was still 7.30pm at 15 on school nights!

Weighing in at 5 stone aged 14 and still bedwetting like the sprinkler system on a football field, finding my father unconscious and dying from an overdose, and watching my insane religious mother ritually burn all family photos after her divorce because “her children were all abominations in the eyes of The Lord”, all take their toll. You learn to trust no-one, and isolation becomes a privilege because it’s safe.

And therein lies a danger. Isolation can be a killer. A predisposition for depression can be simply given to you by the environment you existed in, and once the chemical imbalance is there within the brain’s structure, that dark pathway is just waiting to be traversed.

For myself, I was and still am lucky. I came to grips with what was happening and understood that blame wasn’t something I needed to assume for my parents’ behaviour. I poured myself into reading and loved my music and took strength from both. I’m the same now. Some of you who read this will know me as the guy at the noisy end of the bar in my local rock pub, where I rarely engage with people but instead lose myself for a while in the music. It’s a safer version of isolation where I can belong by association rather than interaction. A shared passion.

Others however do not have such an outlet, and so I ask you : Look out for these people. Offer them an ear. It might cost you 10 minutes, an hour, or a lifetime of interactions, but it might also save a life. Perhaps suggest to them an activity you can do together. I chose for years to write a blog and at it’s been massively cathartic. It doesn’t make pretty reading at times and to and outsider there are most certainly places with said blog where all they’ll see is vitriol, but for me I can testify wholeheartedly that it helped me enormously.

I’ll drop here a link to one of the delightful issues my parents lumbered me with. It tells the story of mealtimes at The Wiseman’s… and its long lasting impact on my world.

If you’ve read to the bottom of here though… you’ve probably read enough of my piffle already haha

tongue tied and beaten



Well, this is a turn up for the books. Or rather articles. Seems I’m at least writing a little bit again. I, sometime in the distant past, send off an enquiry as to if I could write a few reviews etc of cds and concerts etc and then promptly forgot about it completely. Then, at 1am I get pinged by the editor. Here’s a starter for 10! Review Sevendust. All I see is War. 

It’s actually pretty damn good (the album not the review). We (the entity formerly known as “wife” constituting the other member) had the chance to see them in Vegas many many moons ago but chose Drowningpool and Flyleaf instead. While I stand by that as a decent decision at the time, I’d be quite happy to go see these lot now. Anyway, if you fancy having a shufti at my musings you can find the article here via Uber Rock! 

Other than that, I guess I’m alive. Life ticks over as normal. No joy finding work which is frankly nuts. 44, fit, healthy, smart, and 2 years of Amazon experience behind me since returning to the UK should be enough to demonstrate that I’m prepared to do what’s needed but.. there’s not much I can do. With only my old Samsung Wave for internet access, and only a 6 month contract on the flat I’m in, it’s actually starting to look a little bleak again. Something needs to manifest quickly, but having applied for nigh on 200 jobs in 90 days… and getting ziltch in return, it’s all a bit soul destroying. Living on £5 a day seems to be beyond the concept of most which is as it should be because it’s simply not doable. Still… it’s clearing the puppyfat from the belly. Positives. The rosacea didn’t help, pretty much rendering me unemployable for anything which I might have been a public face for anyone, but, it’s eased again now.