All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


2 Comments

Four…Five…FIRE!

 

The 15 Day Blog Challenge continues with:
Day Four: What’s your favourite childhood memory?

I’m not sure if “favourite” is the right word for this childhood incident, but it’s certainly one of the more memorable of those care-free days of parental embarrassment! It originally appeared on ‘The Voice of Our Song‘; a blog I plan to write again soon.

fire isolated over black background

A few years ago my father attempted to play a practical joke on his uncle. Although the exact details escape me, this practical joke consisted of my father setting up a fake email account in which to respond as a member of the local council in relation to a query my Uncle had asked.

After days of perfecting the email my father sent it and awaited for the inevitable hilarity to ensue.

In all his efforts to write the finest email, my father failed to take into account he needed to put a false name as the ‘owner’ of the email account, instead writing his real name, so when my Uncle received it he knew instantly it was a joke as my father’s name was emblazoned on the screen.

Unfortunately for me, not all of my father’s japes have proved so unsuccessful.

The place, Portlethen.

The year, 1989.

Being the astute boy that I was, by 10am on this Sunday morning I had completed all my weekend homework assignments, deep cleaned my bedroom, mopped the bathroom and kitchen, weeded the vegetable patch and vacuumed the cat.

Now, after a calming bath, I was changing for my next array of chores. Slipping my bathrobe off I deodorized, talced and set about dressing in my usual attire; khaki pants, aged shirt, leather jacket and fedora – what can I say, I was going through an Indiana Jones phase, what ten-year old boy doesn’t?

As I stood in my birthday suit about there was a sudden, deafening, high-pitched beep. I recognized it immediately from the moment, two months earlier, when I had set fire to the couch.

“Four!” I yelped, before correcting myself. “Five!” And with scant regard to the birthday suit I was wearing I bolted out my door screaming the far more apt “FIRE!”

Pounding on my brother’s door to ensure he escaped unsinghed I checked the upstairs rooms before legging down the stairs and rolling 80s action movie style into the downstairs corridor. Suspecting the fire was coming from the kitchen I made sure the downstairs rooms were clear before bolting outside to the prearranged evacuation point.

Skidding onto the damp grass I soon realized no-one else had gathered to watch our house go down in flames so I leaped to the logical conclusion they were inside; possibly unconscious and suffocating.

Breaking into the garage I collected the fire extinguisher and ran indoors, firing a cloud of fire destroying propellant before me.

As the haze cleared all that was revealed were my brother and sister smiling inanely in the kitchen doorway whilst my father perched on a step-ladder beneath the smoke detector he had set off, laughing so hard he threatened to tip himself off the rungs. My mother meanwhile, was upstairs, refusing to partake in such a cruel and humiliating practical joke.

Placing the fire extinguisher gently onto the floor I collected myself and, without a word, marched my nudity back to my room.

Previous installments in the Challenge:
Day One | Day Two | Day Three


27 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is:

To kick this off, grab your phone and head out the door. That’s right — get on your feet and go outside to explore — and document — where you live. I want to see your neighborhood: The path you take for your daily morning run. Your local coffee shop or dive bar. The nearby alley of street and community art. A shot of the intersection that perfectly captures the bustle of your own corner of town. Or a serene landscape view of your village.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I live in abject poverty so it’s hard for me to afford food, let alone swanky mobile phones with cameras. Therefore, for this week’s challenge, I’m sharing my neighbourhood of old; the town where young Addy used to rampage around the streets being all cheeky, happy and a wee bit naughty.

This is Portlethen…and don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, few people ever have! ;)

Portlethen

My old street; My old house; The ‘no ball games’ sign we used to completely ignore; The town hall (and site of my first school disco); My old primary school; The church I once won a competition painting a picture of…inspirational, isn’t it! :p

“When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood”
~ Sam Ewing ~

Other interpretations of the theme

Weekly Photo Challenge: Neighbourhood
(lucidgypsy.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood
(jidhu.wordpress.com)
Phoneography Challenge: My Neighbourhood – View From My Front Door
(shakespearesgal2.wordpress.com)
Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood
(thirdeyemom.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighborhood
(beijingcityphoto.wordpress.com)
Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood
(dropsofink.com)
Phoneography Challenge: Where’s the Wi-fi?
(retirenicaragua.wordpress.com)
Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood
(angelinem.wordpress.com)

 


4 Comments

Sunday Stealing: Growing Up

Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser, who has now passed the baton to Mr Lance (who writes the blog Solitary Haze). Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes.

This week, we continue the epic 100 Question meme that began last week :)

15. How would you describe your childhood in general?

Until my teenage years I would use the rather boring term ‘normal’ to describe my childhood.

16. What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is of walking to the local library in Treharris all by my lonesome. I always remember it being approximately 5 or 6 miles from my house but according to my parents it was closer to 100 metres and my parents stood in the doorway watching my every step. But still, my earliest memory is of walking to the library! Quite chuffed with that :)

17. How much schooling have you had?

Everything up to and including A-Level, and then a year-long college course in Television, Photography and Sound Production. I have had opportunities to do more tertiary education (including a uni course and a CAE course that would have been a pathway into Uni and beyond) but they failed due to my own mistakes and my inability to see what cunning plan my abuser was about to unleash.

18. Did you enjoy school?

I enjoyed the learning, the girls in netball skirts  and the writing – but I didn’t enjoying the bullying and the social anxiety.

19. Stop and count, Since you were born until today; how many homes have you lived in?

Approximately 80, when you include my ‘homes’ whilst sleeping rough.

Leeds | Treharris (x2) | Portlethen (x2) | Caldicot | Inverness | Mull | Inverness (again, x3) | Elwood | Fairfield | Fitzroy | Melbourne | Caldicot | Inverness (again, x2) | Melbourne (again, x3) | Kings Domain | Preston [BH] | Frankston [BH] | Brunswick [BH] | East Preston [BH] | Reservoir [BH] |  Glenroy [BH] | Tent | Here | and approximately 50 random places in different parks, suburbs and towns whilst sleeping rough.

Note – [BH means Boarding House, Tent means a tent, not an obscurely named suburb or town, Here means where I am now]

20. While growing up, did you have any role models?

Indiana Jones.

Also; Matilda, Lloyd Dobler, a teacher at school, Roald Dahl and my dad.

21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?

I got on well with other members of my family, until my sister’s mental illness developed, and then things got difficult.

Indiana Jones comic books

22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Happy. But also a writer…and Indiana Jones.

23. What were your favorite activities 3 years ago?

Three years ago I was living in a park in Melbourne so my activities revolved around: finding somewhere safe to sleep, trying to retain mental stability (and failing spectacularly), queuing at the soup van for food poisoned sausage rolls and wondering what I’d done to deserve this existence of pain and misery.

But if you factor this out, my favourite activities have been the same for nearly fifteen years: writing, reading, movies, trivia nights, hanging out with friends, adventuring (still trying to be Indiana Jones), sex, kimnyking, and constantly challenging myself to become a better version of myself.

24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?

Shyness. Creativity. Compassion. Determination. Strength. Naughtiness.

25. As a child, were you popular?

Depends on your definition of popular.

Was I the muscular jock that all the cheerleaders wanted to get with…no, definitely not.

Was I the popular object of derision, insult, bullying and abuse…most certainly!

26. When and with whom was your first kiss?

My first kiss was when I was twenty-two (yeah, I know…it’s all part of the perils of being socially anxious!)

Whilst studying at Inverness College I decided to visit the island of Berneray (in the Outer Hebrides) for a quiet, uneventful New Year. On my first night there a woman named Louise appeared out of the darkness and I was immediately enchanted by her hypnotic eyes, heart-warming smile and excellent posterior.

After a fair amount of flirting throughout the first twenty-four hours we found a drinking game stashed away on the hostel bookshelf and began playing. Somewhat tipsy we took a break and I went outside for a cigarette (at the time I was smoking cherry menthol rolling tobacco with liquorice papers) and she stood there staring at me with a cheeky grin on her face.

“Could I kiss you?” She said, awaiting a response.

Nervous to the extreme – but desperately wanting to lock lips  – I nodded yes and she took a few steps closer, tossed the cigarette to the ground and threw herself upon me as if suddenly possessed by a voracious kissing demon. After a few uncertain moments she pulled back and looked at me, completely aware my entire body was shaking uncontrollably.

“You’re shaking,” She whispered, rubbing my arms.

“Sorry, it’s…I…well…I’ve never…kissed anyone…before,”

She smiled sweetly and started kissing me again, much more slowly, not caring one bit that I was doing my best vibrator impersonation.

27. Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.

There are numerous and many. I spoke of my sister’s mental illness and how it affected me here; I spoke of my social anxiety and how it affected my development and education here; I spoke of my self-harm here; in fact I am acutely aware of how childhood and teenage events have led me into this life of isolation and poverty.

28. What’s next?

Frack knows. But whatever it is, it better be more enjoyable than the ‘life’ I’ve been living for the last five and a half years!

English: The Machair towards West beach, Isle ...

The Machair, Isle of Berneray, Outer Hebrides. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


3 Comments

Saturday 9: The End of the Innocence

Saturday 9 is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Crazy Sam Winters (she added the crazy, not me!).

Every Saturday there will be nine questions – sometimes they will be around a common theme, other times completely random – to be answered however we like.

Apologies for being later than usual. I decided to try to spend a little time outside today in an effort to combat my anxiety. After treating myself to a Subway Egg and Cheese breakfast sub (50% off with a coupon) I visited a charity shop and found a cracking deal of four books for $1 (Jane Eyre, Chine Miéville’s The Scar, the superb fantasy Mythago Wood and an 800 page collection of short stories from Tolstoy, Hemingway, Joyce, Capote and dozens more!).

However, I was then scolded by an old woman in a bookstore for daring to comment that the version of Pink’s Blow Me (One More Kiss) that was playing on the radio made absolutely no sense with the naughty words edited out. Apparently there are far too many swear words being used in today’s society and I should have my mouth washed out with soap for contributing to it. Which I thought a little severe because I didn’t actually swear!

So I promptly returned home where I’ve been berating Subway for ending my ‘no vomit’ run ever since; omelettes in a sandwich are brilliant, as long as they’re cooked properly!

Anyhoos, hope you enjoy my answers for this week :)

1) “The End of the Innocence” is one of Crazy Sam’s favorite songs. Do you like it? Loathe it? Or is it before your time?

In all honesty I have never heard this song before so I have no opinion of it either way.

2) Obviously Don Henley was a smoker back in the 1980s. Do you smoke? Are you a former smoker? Or did you never start?

Although I’m loathe to admit it, I am a smoker.

I started in 1999 as a means to control self-harm and ‘want to die’ cravings and have smoked ever since. Throughout that time there have been long periods where I was a non-smoker. After giving up at the end of 2006 it was only the loss of my life and mind that drove me back to cigarettes. Which – when you consider some people become alcoholics, heroin addicts, criminals, violent offenders or suicide statistics following a breakdown – wasn’t all that big a deal.But that didn’t stop the anti-smoking brigade from making me feel like a piece of shit for failing to quit (again!)

Like I didn’t have enough on my plate at the time!

These days – homelessness, mental health, social isolation – what else am I supposed to do with my time? Even psychiatrists and counselors have informed me without cigarettes I would be dead. So please keep any anti-smoking rhetoric to a minimum; yes, they’re unhealthy; yes, they’re bad for me; yes, they will kill me one day…why do you think I smoke?

3) Childhood is generally considered an innocent time. In what town did you spend yours?

I’ve tended to separate my childhood into three distinct periods:

My kindergarten years were spent in a Welsh valley mining town called Treharris. My only memories of this town are: my granddad living a short walk up the road, a library that was (at the time) the center of my universe, an evil teacher who refused to let me visit the bathroom and a gigantic Tolkein-esque spider that made his move only when I was naked; once on the toilet, once in the bath.

My primary school years were spent in a town on the east coast of Scotland called Portlethen, a hop/skip/jump from Aberdeen. I have far too many memories of this town to list here but I did loved that place and have returned on several occasions to relive old times.

My secondary school years were spent in a town near the Welsh/English border called Caldicot. I prefer not to think about this insidious place whose only positives are: it’s castle (once used in the show Robin of Sherwood) and from the train station you could catch a train direct to Birmingham New Street, and from there change trains headed to Edinburgh and the glories of Scotland.

4) Do you abide by “innocent until proven guilty?” Or did you come to your own, pre-trial conclusions about famous defendants like Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson?

Given I was once accused of  committing a major crime that I DID NOT COMMIT, I am firmly in the innocent until proven guilty camp.

5) Is there an old TV show whose cast you’d like to see reunite?

There are two:

Pushing Daisies – an absolute masterpiece that was criminally cancelled way too soon.
Wonderfalls – another absolute masterpiece that was criminally cancelled way too soon.

In all honesty I’m not a fan of shows returning after a long break as they generally lose the magic they once had (yes, Only Fools and Horses, I still haven’t forgiven you!) So no matter how much I’d love to see the Frasier crew (or the Spaced crew, or the Black Books crew) come back together again I am praying that they never do.

However, if there is not a Chuck movie within the next few years it will be a missed opportunity of biblical proportions!

6) Do you know how to ride a horse?

Yes, I know how to ride a horse. But here are three examples of what happens when I do:

Age 8: Okay, it was a donkey (which is like a horse only smaller and better looking…yay, Eeyore!) Whilst out for a ride I stubbornly refused to inform the donkey ride person that my saddle wasn’t affixed properly, even when it (and I) began to slide slowly around the donkey’s torso until, perpendicular to the earth, I fell off; much to amusement of everyone watching!

Age 27: Whilst I was suffering from glandular fever my ever compassionate girlfriend decided she wanted to go horse riding. Cue half an hour of excruciating pain (imagine a nine-inch knife repeatedly plunging into your abdomen for thirty minutes) and near passing out.

Why did I go horse riding?

a) If I didn’t, I knew her abusive tantrum would have been ten times more painful than the pain of horse riding whilst suffering from glandular fever.
b) She was my girlfriend and I loved her. I wanted her to be happy.

(Unfortunately I forgot to take into account her penchant for finding whatever reason she could for an abusive tantrum so you can take (a) off the cards considering three hours later she launched into an abusive tantrum because I wasn’t initiating intimate emotional conversation as we walked the five kilometres back to a bus during which she genuinely asked me ‘why her happiness was not important to me’. Sigh.)

Age 29: Okay, it was a camel (which is like a horse, only with a hump or two). During a camel ride with my girlfriend in the Northern Territory the movement of the camel affected my IBS and brought on explosive diarrhea, then, my glasses fell off and were stepped on by my camel, then, when the instructor came to collect them from the ground he made sure they were completely broken by accidentally standing on them.

Fun times!

7) You’re ordering ice cream. Cup or cone?

Cone, always a cone, because:

a) You can’t eat a cup (unless you like the taste of moulded plastic)
b) You can bite the end off the cone and suck the ice-cream through it.
c) You can eat the ice-cream and then use the cone for (un)amusing parrot impersonations.

8) Do you believe a gentleman should help a lady with her coat?

Note: in my answer I will be using the word woman or plural thereof because the term ‘lady’ irks me. Sorry, I just don’t like it.

One of my favourite characters (and idols) is Lloyd Dobler. If you don’t know Lloyd Dobler, you’re missing out. If you do know Lloyd Dobler, you already love him. In one scene he kicks some glass out-of-the-path of his girlfriend because he’s being a gentleman, and that’s what gentlemen do.

I like holding a door open for a woman. I like offering a woman to leave the elevator first. I like pulling a chair out for a woman at the restaurant. I’m not doing it to check out her ass, because I feel superior or because I don’t think she can do it for herself.

I’m doing it because I want to, because I’m being polite, because I’m a gentleman and because I like putting other people first.

So yes, I would always help a woman with her coat. I would hold doors open for her, kick glass out the way, put jackets over muddy puddles, buy her random presents for no reason other than I love her and many other things men aren’t supposed to do in fear of being slapped, have wine poured over them or be called a sexist pig for doing so.

9) Which search engine do you use most often?

Google.

On a related note, I made a strange excited gargling sound yesterday when – for the first time ever – someone found my blog using Bing.


1 Comment

5 Pictures of me when I was little…

This is either a dog, a hippo or a 1980s Doctor Who enemy!

I know it looks like I just stuffed my cat’s head through a piece of cardboard, but I didn’t. Honest.

In 2012, this is called “inappropriate touching”

The beginning of my torrid love affair with jug licking

In 2012, this would be called ‘cruel and unusual punishment’

Tomorrow: 4 Places I would like to go…


Leave a comment

My Sister and Me – Childhood; the most beautiful of all life’s seasons

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more,”
~ Jane Austen ~

Kathryn is a writer. She is a philosopher, an academic and witticist. She is a woman with a voracious appetite for literature, who dines on Shakespeare and Pynchon with a side salad of Homer before washing it down with a refreshing glass of Bronte.

Kathryn is an actress. She is an artist, an activist and a raconteur. She is a woman with an eidetic memory; who can recall grammatical mistakes from fifteen years past, quote passages from Dante and recite King Lear in perfect rhythm.

If you asked her who said: “A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others”, or what book began with: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day”, she could tell you before your heart had the chance to beat.

If you asked her who said: “Everyone’s getting spanked but me,” she would tell you with a smirk on her face, a grin that would only get wider if you asked her what started with the line: “There’s moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you’re gonna be.”

Kathryn is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known.

She is homeless.

She is mentally ill.

She is a stranger.

And I’ve wanted to write about her since first beginning this blog in October 2007, but the words would never come. If I didn’t love Kathryn as much as I do perhaps it would be easier to write about her; of her achievements, of her life, of everything that makes her who she is. But I do love her, more than words can describe, for big brothers always love their little sisters, no matter what.

These are some of the hardest words I’ve ever had to write; this is the story of my sister and me.

1. The most beautiful of all life’s seasons

“Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?”
Louis de Bernières ~

When I was but an innocent child I saw it my duty as a big brother to educate my sister in the ways of the world. Whilst having a bath one cool summer’s evening I pointed at my sister and informed her that she shouldn’t worry, when she got older she would grow a penis too. Given I was four and oblivious to the field of anatomical studies I didn’t use the word penis, just the word ‘it’, and she nodded at me with a slight smile that seemed to say ‘you’re a blithering idiot’ before throwing a rubber duck at my head.

As first memories of your sister go this has it all; embarrassment, sibling love, humiliation, rubber ducks and a rather random anecdote that will bring head shakes to those who hear it. At the time we were just carefree, innocent children, unaware of the demons that existed in the world. We spent our days sitting around watching Saturday morning cartoons, playing in the park, throwing mud at each other and generally making our parent’s life as miserable as possible. We were kids; it was our job to be as mischievous and naughty as we could.

If we wanted to dig up the garden looking for buried treasure, we would, and if I wanted to cover my sister in worms to make her squeal while we searched, then I did. Just as she would throw mashed potato at me for no reason other than she felt like it. We were siblings, teasing goes with the territory.

But no matter how much I teased her, I was always there to protect her. Whether that was accompanying her to school because she was afraid of Moss Monsters or receiving lines in detention for hitting someone who dared insult her. She was my little sister; I would have done anything for her.

We were vacationing together, my sister and I. For the life of me I don’t remember why my parents and elder-brother weren’t with us, but for a week we hung out with our Nan and cousin. On one occasion we visited Chessington Zoo (in the days before it became the World of Adventures) where upon arrival our Nan became ecstatic about seeing a robin in a tree. With all the elephants, bears, penguins, giraffes and hippopotami that resided beyond the entrance our cousin cracked us up by saying “We haven’t come all this way to see a robin.”

Whilst later that same week my sister chose a book she wanted as our bedtime story. A rather cliché story of children enjoying a day on the beach became a confusing, David Lynch-esque nightmare when our Nan failed to grasp the concept of the ‘Choose your own adventure’ format. Instead of allowing us to choose the fate of these two children, our Nan simply read the book cover to cover and upon finishing declared to us that it was the worst book she’d ever read as it was complete nonsense.

This is how my sister and I were when we were children; normal. One minute concocting grand schemes of world domination involving buckets of tadpoles and our pet cat; the next having our said plans foiled by mum’s slipper. One day we were re-enacting heartfelt scenes of sibling love we’d seen in Neighbours; the next we were creating scenes of such domestic hostility they wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in that Antipodean soap opera. Kathryn would give me advice on how best to play my role as the Ugly sister; I would help her with her times-tables; she reciprocated with my grammar (something she always had a better grasp on) so I would offer assistance with her history (something she always had a better grasp on as well!)

In those halcyon days we were just Addy and Kathryn; brother and sister. But all that changed around the time of my sister’s ninth birthday, when she was cast in a school play and had to wear a leotard as part of her costume. Three years later, at the age of twelve, Kathryn was admitted into a psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder.

She was still my little sister, the girl I’d played with, laughed with and planned world domination with.

But I was no longer her brother, I was contagious.

To be continued…
Wednesday 19 September:
  My Sister and Me (Part 2)
Friday 21 September: My Sister and Me (Part 3)