Self-abuse

Fear not, this post will not contain graphic images, or even descriptive passages, of me following in the (presumably rather sticky) footsteps of Onan.  Any reference to the bashing of the holders of a See will be limited to argument on purely theological grounds.

No, the self-abuse to which I will refer can, perhaps, be explained by reference to Edna St Vincent Millay’s splendid (and short) poem: My Candle Burns at Both Ends:

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light!

This does rather describe the way in which I appear to have chosen to run my life, careless of my body’s wax.  The excessive burning of my personal candle seems to have accelerated in the last few years, but the tendency was always there: especially when on holiday.  Indeed, in some ways I seem to have switched to permanent-holiday-mode in my life.  I can see elements of this metaphorical persoanl auto-da-fé in the differing genetic inheritance from both of my parents, the combination of the two making for a potent mix.

The urge to fill my life with incident and moment, some of it really quite physically and or mentally demanding, is really rather strong and I (mostly) get away with such foolishness with very few ill-effects.  This is despite, I think rather than a cause of, the chronic insomnia which has been my regular companion since my late twenties: easily making it one of my longest maintained relationships!

However, from time-to-time my mind does continue to write extravagant cheques long after my body’s ability to cash them has expired.  If this is coupled with a lack of sleep (not uncommon) and should the black dog also happen to have returned from fetching that stick that I had hurled from me in an attempt to keep it occupied, then I find it harder to maintain the social ‘construct’ which passes for my personality.  So that the reader does not concern themselves unduly, I should be clear that I do not suffer from depression (nor particularly enjoy it) but am sometimes less naturally ‘up’ than at others and a I am naturally a worrier (perhaps also a warrior, but this has not really been put to a proper test) .

Mostly, I get to deal with these situation where my mind heavily overdraws on its account with my body ‘off-stage’  However, last night my body did decide to forcibly remind me that I was not, in fact, a superhuman of infinite resources but was an all-too-finite middle-aged man while in public.  This reminder was issued quite early in the thoroughly enjoyable, Halloween-themed – and very busy – folk and acoustic session at the Steam Town Brewco.  Frank(enstein)ly, I have only myself to blame for this situation as I have been sleeping badly, was rather busy at work and did contrive to fit in two hour-long – and rather strenuous – hand-balancing sessions before going out for the night.  I think we might also blame a combination of clock change and the accompanying cold grey days and dark evenings for a slight drop in my normal unnatural ebullience.

Anyway, to maintain my monstrous leitmotif, it became necessary to make an early bolt for the door.  Just as well, as I barely managed to maintain consciousness on the short train ride home from Eastleigh before collapsing at home onto my ancient mattress.  However, this did disrupt my plans to mash a monster, a tune and the assembled ears at Steam Town at a single stroke (don’t you just love a chance to use zeugma!).  The world will have to wait to see whether I would have been a graveyard smash and whether the denizens of Eastleigh were ready for my pelvic thrust, or would have been driven insane (an increased risk given the increased hip mobility arising from all this hand balancing)…  Some clues may be gleaned from the unfortunates gathered in the Dog House on Monday night and who experienced a trial run (with the emphasis on the ‘trial’).

What I did discover, when my batteries are deep in the red zone, and my ego-depletion is at its maximum, is that I revert to a previous (presumably more primal) personality.  A version of me that I had assumed long dead appears to be used as a battery saver: the psychological equivalent of minimising screen brightness, shutting down non-essential apps and only allowing emergency calls.  This reduced operating mode (which used to be my only mode for social interaction in a crowd) is as a wall-flower alien observer preparing a report on the planet’s dominant lifeform, while suffering from an odd form of hiraeth for its long forgotten home (oh yes, even as an alien I’m keeping those Welsh roots!).

Still, a night with at least some sleep has restored me to more normal function and early 20s me is safely back in his bottle and I shall shortly be heading off into social media purdah.  This has nothing to do with the election or last night, but because I am visiting my parents’ house and will not be returning until the morrow.  For my whole adult life, they have chosen to both live, and holiday, in locations where any mobile phone signal is a distant dream.  This is coupled with my dad having his wifi secured more tightly than anything the used by the NSA: I can only wonder what he is getting up to on-line that requires this degree of electronic prophylaxis…

I had always assumed the lack of access to the marvel of wireless communication was the result of a conscious choice by my parents.  However, earlier this week I started to wonder if my dad just naturally jams a certain portion of the EM spectrum: he is, after all, the common factor in the wide range of afflicted locations.  I may be able to put this theory to the test later today…

Should I stay, or should I go…

Now, this is going to be a very different sort of post to the usual nonsense that appears on GofaDM.  It will be unusually serious and some of the protagonists will be readily identifiable – so it may not stay “up” for very long (like me, GofaDM is no longer in the first flush of youth, or even of middle-age).

It is “on brand” in that it is about me (obvs) and an attempt to use a blog post to work an idea through: though usually the destination is something that can only very loosely be defined as a conclusion (but is more normally a weak, over-worked pun).

In three weeks time, I should be on the island of Lundy with a bunch of friends.  It is a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years – though have discovered that it lies rather further to the west than I had imagined –  and my accommodation is already paid for.  I’m sure that I will have an amazing time if I go and am only slightly nervous that people who are used to seeing me in small doses will be trapped with me for a long weekend in a single building on a small island: however, I think we can be reasonable sure that I will not run amok with a blade (there are no certainties…).  As regular readers may have surmised, I seem to have developed some sort of fear of missing out and not going does feel like I may miss out on an important episode in the continuing drama of my life.  However, once I arrive on the island on Friday morning there is literally no way off until Monday morning.

Over the summer, both of my parents had fairly serious strokes  – in one case, the hospital had the R or DNR conversation with my sister – and have been rather regular visitors to their local hospitals ever since: finally getting some serious value for money from all their NI and tax contributions over the years.  I have no reason to believe that either are likely to have a serious or terminal incident in the weekend that I am planning to be away.  There is also very little that I can do if such an incident were to occur: let’s face it, I dropped biology in the third form and struggle to successfully apply a plaster to my own fingers.  However, it is not impossible that a window might exist, had I remained on the mainland UK, whereby I could make back it between the start of an incident and its terminal conclusion: possibly by use of an expensive taxi ride through the night.  This would clearly not be an option from Lundy: I am not that strong a swimmer…

I generally think of myself as a cold-hearted monster with the emotional maturity of a child.  I have managed to fake my way through adulthood by learning how to emulate (to a somewhat convincing degree) the appearance of the emotional functioning of a normal (albeit perhaps towards one edge of that distribution) human adult.  Nevertheless, I suspect that should I fail to be present to say goodbye purely because I’m off on an island having fun then there might be a degree of regret occasioned.  Life does not have an Undo function (though I am planning to re-spawn) and some errors are unrecoverable.

This is one of an annoying class of problems that also affect my working life in modelling: of electricity wholesale markets rather than sexy kecks (though for some reason, the vast majority of ads being shown to me by the Facebook algorithm at present are of sexy kecks: I’m not sure who it thinks I am or why it has decided this is an area of interest, perhaps it is trying to suggest a change of career?).  These are known as High Impact Low Probability (HILP) events and are a real pain to take into account: how high a cost should one incur to avoid something of very low (and generally impossible to accurately estimate) likelihood.  At work, the stakes are generally measured in (somebody else’s) money but, in the case at hand, we are playing with potential higher and much harder to measure stakes.  How robust am I emotionally?  Will my mild(?) psycho/socio-pathy protect me?

Lundy and my friends will continue to exist into future years, I fondly like to imagine: though in the world’s current politically febrile climate one can no longer take these things for granted.  Equally, my parents health is likely to remain uncertain and may continue to decline for many years yet.  Is it reasonable or even practical, given that I do have to leave the mainland UK for work, for me to remain within a taxi ride of an East Sussex hospital on an indefinite basis?   I am in life, generally, very risk averse which is probably impacting my thinking, possibly in an unhelpful way.

I have until Friday to decide or I shall experience a “no deal” option of my own, whereby the chance to go to Lundy will lapse.  I am currently vacillating wildly between the two options: last night I had decided absolutely and irrevocably that I would not go to Lundy.  Writing this post, I am sensing that my internal quorum has shifted significantly towards going.

To try and break this deadlock, I have fished Gerd Gigerenzer down from my bookshelf in the hope that he, or perhaps learning some more of the key statistically techniques to use when evaluating HILPs will provide the insight I need (I’m starting with the Blackett Review).  A decision will be made and time will tell how easy it is to live with…

Area SO51?

Today I bring you an unreported tale worthy of Fox Mulder, finally exposing a cover-up that goes all the way to the very highest echelons of government.

I refer not to the infamous Bitterne Triangle, a storied location where so many hopes and dreams are alleged to have disappeared.  I visited that area on Wednesday and can report that it is entirely free of unearthly happenings:  conk-heavy crooner Barry Manilow was wise to focus his musical memorial on another, more temperate triangle.  I’ll admit that one of my preferred (or most used) local chippies has vanished, but I believe this can be explained by commercial forces and does not require any recourse to the paranormal.

No, even the most ardent conspiracy theorist will have been lucky to have heard even the remotest of oriental whispers about the scandal I am planning to reveal.  I am only posting this in a public forum in the hope that it will deter shadowy forces from having me ‘disappeared’ following my shocking discovery.

Last night marked the start of the SHOCC ceilidh season, and I offered to give a friend a lift in my car from Bishopstoke – a modest hamlet, attested to in the Domesday Book –  to the Hilt in Hiltingbury.  The latter is much less exciting than its name might suggest, it’s basically a sports hall and is not connected to the Sword nor, indeed, to the Mailed Fist.

It was while making this apparently simple journey that I discovered the shocking truth that the Eastleight/Bishopstoke conurbation marks the site of an alien battlefield.   It quickly became clear that a powerful alien weapon, of a nature beyond the ken of current human science, had been deployed there.  The locals appear to be entirely unaware of the appalling damage wrought to local spacetime by this doomsday device – but the impact is all too obvious to the visitor from outside the blast zone.

As I drove from Bishopstoke to the Hilt, and again when I drove back, something of the order of 90% of the many turns that I was required to make, as I navigated the lanes of this part of Hampshire, were right turns.  As any competent geometer can tell you, this is not possible in anything that approximates to Euclidean 3-Space: unless travelling in some form of spiral.  While we have known, following the sterling work of one Albert Einstein, that we do not live in a Euclidean space, the curvature is quite modest at the scale of a few miles and in the relatively modest gravity well of the Earth.  The only way this excess of right turns could be accommodated is if the very fabric of spacetime has been fractured across this whole region by the detonation of some form of dimensional bomb.  Shards of unrelated space are now pressed together and my car was skipping across these boundaries: with the excess of right turns suggesting that the underlying spatial geometry is strongly chiral.  This opens up the intriguing possibility that we could identify the epicentre of the original blast…

While the primary impact appears to have been to create spatial distortion, there was some weaker evidence for an effect on local time.  On my own short journey, I did feel that time was skipping by small amounts – just a few tens of seconds or a minute or two here and there – but never quite enough to be sure of the effect: I will also admit that my instrumentation (the clock built into a Ford Fiesta) was not ideal for taking precision readings.  When, oh when, will the car manufacturers listen to my pleas and produce a car with a decent atomic clock (and, indeed, engine) to properly measure relativistic effects?  However, the political complexion of the local area does suggest that ideas from the past (including the distant past) may be leaking through into the present day.  I would not be wholly surprised to encounter a Megaloceros wandering the Bishopstoke Woods, living on a diet of leaves and discarded takeaways…

I suppose some readers my question my veracity as a source, though regular readers will be aware that GofaDM is a beacon of truth and journalistic integrity in these de-based times.  In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that my own body is currently a battlefield between a cold virus, that has been working its way through my friendship group, and the plucky T- and B-cells of my immune system.  The forces are evenly matched, with neither side yet able to achieve a decisive victory.  Vicious fighting is now occurring house-to-house (or cell-to-cell) and, at this moment, the good guys appear to be in the ascendant.  I think the virus may have been so shocked by my Terpsichorean grace on the dance floor that it has been forced into retreat.   However, I can assure you that this infection was not interfering with my critical faculties or perception.  The Bishopstoke spatial anomaly is real, sheeple!

While I know that many will will be tempted, I would caution readers against trying to visit the anomaly themselves.  I had the advantage of a local guide, but there were still times when I felt that we might become trapped forever in the liminal space between our universe and somewhere else.  If you insist on making the voyage, I might suggest setting up a base of operations at the Steam Town Brewery which lies at the edge of the abyss and fortify your spirits with a pint of their excellent Road Trip (as a stranger, they may try and sell you something calling itself Hop Party – but you will know better).  For the price of a carry-out (or two), you may even be able to procure the services of a local guide…

Those with access to Google may complain that Bishopstoke is in the SO50 postcode area and dispute the validity of the title to his post.  I would counter that this is merely further evidence to support my spatial disruption hypothesis and how deep the cover-up runs!

Boreas calling…

I have, as is not uncommon, been neglecting this blog of late.  Like a child with a new toy, I only have a modest surplus of time after we account for eating, sleeping, working, learning impractical skills and going to gigs.  I fear I’ve spent rather too much of this expanding the imperial scope of (N)YTMG: annexing new spaces both conceptual and geographical.  In some ways, this blog post is acting as displacement activity from the design of a postcard-format marketing tool/giveaway for my other baby.

This should just be a short entry into the canon, though I have thought that before at this stage in the creative process only to be proved horribly wrong before the end.

As the earth turns its northern face away from the sun, temperatures have started to fall and this morning, for the first time since the Spring, I have closed my windows – despite being at home.  Sadly, my reputation is not yet sufficiently fearsome to leave my windows open when away from home: the need to retain plausible deniability over the fate of those who have crossed me is slowing the process of instilling appropriate levels of terror in the wider public at the mere mention of my name.

Naturally, I have not done anything foolish – like turn on the heating (though I have popped on a cardigan) – but I do find myself still feeling rather chilly.  This is an unfamiliar sensation as I was fairly sure that most of my temperature sensing neurons were burned out years ago thanks to the fruitful conjunction of my mother’s advice and my own bloody-mindedness – as discussed in a very early post.

A few weeks ago, while with friends in the Guide Dog, the conversation took one of those Baroque turns that is all too common (well, it is when I’m there) – though unusually, given my presence, it did not descend into the gutter – and the idea of currying porridge arose.  I no longer recall why, though it seemed an excellent idea at the time and this week, I finally put this project into action.  To my normal porridge, made with a mix of almond milk and water, I added a healthy teaspoon of Madras Curry powder (a mere 5 and a bit years past its Best Before date) as I microwaved the oats.  The ancient curry powder had retained a surprising amount of potency, once again justifying my contempt for the concept of the Best Before Date.  I’ll admit I then muddled my curries by adding my traditional breakfast garnish of chopped nuts and sliced banana: creating something of the vibe of the Anglicised Korma (my cultural appropriation knows no bounds).  I can assure the sceptical reader that my transgressive culinary creation was absolutely delicious and allows the middle-aged chap to start the day with real zip.  I have repeated the process with higher doses of curry powder and, if anything, this improves the dish!

This morning, I reverted to my previous breakfast of uncurried porridge and it is possible that my body is experiencing withdrawal symptoms.  However, I am concerned that this feeling of cold is one of the Seven Signs of Ageing and that I will soon be running the heating through the summer, buying a tartan blanket to adorn my knees and forcing German toffees (with worrying hints of the far right) onto any young people who are foolish enough to visit me.

For now, I am comforting myself with the thought that my current obsession with hand-balancing is to blame.  This is moving along rather well – though I won’t be taking part in competitive b-boying for a few weeks yet – but it does seem to be having an unplanned effect on my body.  It appears to be re-distributing my substance somewhat, mostly upwards (within my torso at least, my head seems no fatter than usual), and, as I discovered earlier this week, also seems to have caused half a stone of former me to leave entirely.  I didn’t notice it leave, but I’m imaging a Great Escape style scenario with my bones’ meaty covering slowly tumbling from my trouser leg as I wander about.  I’m not sure I can really afford to lose this much of my already limited flesh but I’m having too much fun to stop.  I am currently trying to transition elegantly (or at least with slightly less of the vibe of a tower block, with poorly placed demolition charges, collapsing) from a head-stand into a Queda de Rins (QDR).

I am choosing to believe that this conversion of my fat into muscle (well, a chap can dream) and/or thin air has reduced my body’s insulation to abnormally low levels and this is the cause of my current chilling: after all, I barely have time to use Netflix….