Archive for November, 2012

Eclipsed by the Murk

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Our the budding writer continues on her journey, and though she hath faced adversity in her flee from Lord Bureaucracy, and had to ally herself with the lazy and meaningless Baron Twitter, the path ahead is becoming more clear and more easily trod. The band of merry travellers who accompany her on her journey have lightened her load, and their occasional shouts of ‘G’won my son!’ have propelled her when the track became treacherous. Even iPad, her trusty tool, is becoming easier to wield, which can be seen by all as it now doth sport sticky fingerprints, and these make her feel somewhat bilious and induce regular, unconscious finger-sniffing.

And yet, as she walks, she can feel a shadow encroaching, and though she turns quickly to face this dark force, she can see it not. She feels its presence at night when she sleeps, it awakens her and taunts her with its blackness, filling her head with death and destruction. She catches glimpses of it in her periphery as she walks, and it makes her quicken her step. She can feel it when she eats, squeezing her stomach as though it were a lemon, which, although not a pleasant feeling, does help her lose a few pounds around the waist, which is no bad thing.

Although she attempts to turn away from this tenebrous phenomenon, she knows its source, for she hath felt it before and she knows what brings it. For this gloomy suspension is Stress, sent by the abhorrent Lord Bureaucracy to impede her quest, and with it comes the breath of those that drink Special Brew and the stench of those that washeth not their putrid feet for they are without a home, which have been dragged from the land from which Stress came, where amphetamine is ingested like bread and at once the houses are cleaned. And though she tries to escape Stress’ odour and out-run its oppression, the smog surrounds her, and it ages her and gives her spots and bags under her eyes, and she increasingly struggles to resist the temptation of the many public inns that are scattered enticingly along her way and the luscious golden elixir contained within. And the macabre mist begins to engulf her and cripple her, and she struggles to find the strength to battle against her internal desires to stab and slice all those that present even the slightest challenge to her on her journey and say things like “Just chill ouuuuuuuut”. And all of her ration and her tolerance is gone.

And yet, even as she suffocates, and writhes on the path awaiting Stress’ final crushing blow, through the foul fog a group appear; within them a medic, who has long known of her plight and advised whence afore Stress enveloped her; and her father, loyal and true, who picks her up, dusts her down and sticks a much-needed beer in her hand. And then, through the ashen haze, she hears the sound of horses hooves, and on a three-legged steed arrives a union rep, who, though late and almost impossible to contact by phone, knows Stress well and is adept at challenging those who send it. And she gives our heroine the Mask of Advocacy, and wraps her in the Blanket of Legal Terminology, and pledges to protect the aspiring author from the evils that Lord Bureaucracy may send.

And wrapped in her blanket, and softened by the ale, the traveller may sleep, and dream of what lays ahead, and in sleeping she becomes refreshed and rejuvenated, and no longer does she look like a decrepit ascetic with herpes, but awakes fresh-faced and ready to face whatever tribulations may lie ahead.

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Help! I think I’m turning into Margaret Thatcher!

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Writing ‘I heart NHS’ left me pondering on why the wonderful, socialist systems of which our country can be so proud are nowadays so readily and shamelessly exploited, and questioning my own political standpoint. While I consider myself a big old soft romantic leftie to the core, my journeys into human nature have singed me and turned purity of belief, naivity of youth, and blissful idealist indulgence, into pragmatic cynicism.

There is no part of me that feels the welfare state is a bad idea – I am glad to contribute to keeping those unable to work in a decent of standing of living. But then, in the words of someone wise, the welfare state was meant to be a trampoline but has become a net – and I scare myself sometimes these days when I sympathise with the Daily Mail, or nod when I hear Cameron speaking of welfare reforms. I mean, really scare myself.

It is an internal clash I face daily as a drugs worker. No, dear client, you are not unfit for work because you are taking methadone, lots of people hold down jobs whilst on medication. Yes, dear client, you will almost certainly be less depressed and feel better about yourself if you get off your arse and do something constructive with your time to evoke a sense of satisfaction and purpose. No, dear client, the benefits you choose to live off are probably not yours morally, even if you are entitled to them legally. Yes, dear client, you might start sleeping at night without Valium if you do something with your body and brain other than watching Jeremy Kyle.

Once, as I attempted to convince a client that losing his disability benefits might be a blessing in disguise, an opportunity to be grasped, a chance to evolve and progress, I was asked, “What mug would go to work when he can get paid to stay at home?”. I managed to hold myself back from flying-kicking him across the consultation room (I’m a professional, you know), or from screaming my true feelings of “One with a sense of morality / work ethic / conscience / anything other than HIMSELF, you egocentric sponger!”, or from leaping over the desk, ragging off his Nikes and touch-screen mobile phone (why do you think it was so cheap – because it’s STOLEN!), shoving them up my jumper, and running out, howling “They’re mine! I paid for them with my taxes!”. Like I said, I’m a professional – I just reduced his methadone by 10mls and booked him in for some unnecessary and painful capillary blood tests.

It’s a poignant question though. The father of the welfare state, William Beveridge, would have answered that it was each person’s aspirations “to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family”. I suggest he somewhat over-estimated a significant proportion of the present British public’s aspirations. Possibly a few days in my job, working with the third-generation unemployed, would have made him question his basic premise.

Back in his day, though, the working class sat cross-legged on the floor of the social stratosphere. Nowadays, although standards of living are higher for everyone and we all have chairs to sit on, I suppose the working class are the middle classes in that they are the ones who go to work, and an under-class has developed of people who are out of work. (I was tempted to put ‘an under-class of people who don’t want to work’ but freaked myself out that the Daily Mail within was starting to ooze out – but, in all honesty, many of the jobs that have been created locally are currently filled by Polish people because the local, English-speaking unemployed for whom they were created do not want them.) It could be labelled ‘dependency culture’, but ‘dependency’ for me conjures up images of vulnerability and need, which are the people who the welfare state should exist for – for me, it’s more an entitlement culture, represented by the right to choose not to work.

So, I find myself over-worked, though not under-paid, feeling down-trodden, and somewhat resentful (and jealous?) of the people who do get paid to sit at home all day, make a few extra quid from selling bent cigarettes (and therefore by-passing paying tax which would otherwise contribute towards their and their customers’ impending heart failure / lung cancer treatment), laughing at mugs like me running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to reduce their health inequities – which, largely, they create, and I / we / definitely not they, pay for. So, the question I ask myself, and put to you, oh readers who have pledged to be honest and true – am I a bigot?! Are my frustrations with the current systems justified and rational – or will I soon find myself agreeing with headlines that fail to differentiate between refugees and illegal immigrants facilitating sex trafficking? Will I next find my hand, on Election Day, quivering with pent-up anger and resentment, unconsciously drawn towards the box marked ‘BNP’? And if so, what next – all drug users are scum? All Muslims are suicide bombers? Premiership footballers are rightly the role models of future generations? Tits on Page 3 and Babestation are examples of equality in employment and, as such, good for women? I just don’t know anymore, readers, I am so confused and feel so compromised, having already strayed so far from my pure, true, clean socialist belief system and resenting the unemployed!

The fear encroaches…

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

We rejoin our heroine on her quest from the land of No Hope and Stress to find peace of mind and satisfaction, and she is pleased, for she is enjoying the mission more than she could e’er have hoped, and though she still faces the adversities of social media and the potholes of complex software, she takes much joy in the sense of purpose this journey provides.

Now the woman turns around, and back along the path she sees a group of people walking behind her. Some of these people she recognises as friends; other she hath ne’ev before set eyes upon. And she feels at once supported by this lowly rabble, for though they lack basic hygiene and smell a bit, they are kind enough to listen to her words and encourage her to continue on her quest, and she takes great comfort and joy in their comments, and in regularly viewing her stats page, and all this feeds her desire to go on, for she cannot believe that sending out a few emails and Facebook messages could create such a wonderous response. And she looks back at the crowd that have gathered, many of whom are wise and carry vast experience of the world, and she is gladdened and gratified by their commendation.

But she also feels the weight of their gaze, for many of them hath knowledge that far outstrips her own, and carry with them linguistic elegance and letters after their names, and she is at once petrified that she will fall and expose her clumsiness and stupidity to those that walk behind her. For she is but a drugs worker, a public servant, and while her experience of depression, deprivation and wound botulism is great, ne’ev before hath she trod the literary path, and she knows not what is expected of her, and it has been many miles since she left her Comfort Zone, and she is scared.

And the traveller fears she will tread the wrong path and take the kindly clan down a road which may not fulfil their needs, their desires, their own quests for knowledge, and she is filled with angst that the track she chooses to follow may become unclear and dull, and that she may fritter away the support which these followers offer or, worse still, she may take them on a path on which they lose the will to live and die of boredom.

But then she has a word with herself and realises that she is being that a dimwitted narcissist, a despicable ignoramus, an unworthy cretin, for these people are not a burden but a joyous blessing, a gift sent to help her, to kick her if she slows, to redirect her if she wanders, and she asks the crowd always to be honest and provide genuine feedback, harsh though it may be, to keep her on the path which she needs to be on. For these are her clients now, since she hath traded the needle for the pen, the script for the script, and when she thinks of those she left behind and how they hung from her so she ne’er before was able to progress, and told her daily how she failed them despite her best efforts (for she hath not a magic wand, and could not turn water into methadone, nor loaves into pregablin), and she compares them with this vibrant cluster who now stand behind her, she is glad for the choices she has made, and she wants not only to take these people with her on her quest, but also to serve them and give them everything their hearts desire.

Maurice the Feline (or MCat to his mates)

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

First there was J-Lo, then there was R-Pat, then SuBo (strange that Pete Doherty hasn’t jumped on the celebrity name abbreviation band-wagon..) – so when I overheard someone talking about MCat, I asked, “Is he on X-Factor or TOWIE?”.

Just kidding, of course. I’d heard about MCat, or mephedrone, before it was made illegal, referred to as a ‘legal high’. The term, legal high, is as misleading as it is out-dated, as not only does it point out the degree to which drug production now rapidly out-strips drug policy both in speed and guile, but is also value-laden with implications that ‘legal’ is synonymous with ‘safe’ – which of course, it is not. The Government just aren’t as fast or as clever as teenagers with laptops or the Chinese.

Referrals first started coming in for young adults taking mephedrone at parties – dropping out of college or work, refusing to leave the house, hearing voices, self-confidence obliterated. Now these were the tip of iceberg, we knew, as is generally the case with those who become so desperate that they consider presenting to a drugs service asking for help, and we knew that for every one referred, there were probably a hundred more using the substance without requiring assistance. But then a local teenager died, schools started to confiscate white powder from thirteen-year-olds caught taking it in school toilets, and presentations to GPs of worried parents with nervous-looking teenagers increased.

And then, oh god, the adult heavy-end drug-using population got hold of it. Now many of these are people who would pick up a tablet they had found on the floor of a public toilet and take it without knowing what it was. Some of them carry their prescribed meds out of the pharmacy, where they are supervised ingesting their dose of controlled medication by the pharmacist, in their black-toothed, gum-diseased mouths (no it’s not the methadone that makes your teeth rot, just BRUSH YOUR TEETH), and then spit it into the mouth of a waiting compatriot, either directly or via a used Coke can, for a couple of quid. So imagine the frenzy when a new drug, five times cheaper than heroin, scarily stronger than amphetamine, and more abundant than skunk weed, arrives in town. Remember the crystal meth epidemic the media howled about that never came (but that obliterated areas of America, Australia and New Zealand) – well I don’t want to scare-monger, but from where I’m standing, MCat looks like the UK’s crystal meth.

To call the white powder or crystalline substance being snorted, swallowed and injected ‘mephedrone’, ‘meow meow’ or ‘MCat’ is a dangerous generalisation – people in fact have no idea what it is that they are taking. Any term can only be used as an umbrella, and describes a white substance with stimulant effects which shows up on our current urine tests as amphetamine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), or neither. The truth is, no-one actually knows what they are putting into their bloodstream, and presentations and self-reports of experiences and side-effects vary wildly. When the UK Government picked up on the new drug and mephedrone was made illegal, the Chinese, who originally manufactured and distributed the drug in its initial form, got immediately wise to the change in UK legislation and the associated problems with importing the drug, and so changed the chemical composition slightly to get round this slight hitch in their marketing strategy. So our Government made the whole family of drugs, cathinones, illegal. There was, however, one rather huge problem – the Police had no way of testing for this new group of substances, and so amounts of white powder, once seized, even when accompanied with a confession of possession of mephedrone, were at times released, along with a somewhat sheepish drug dealer. (I’m pleased to report that drug testing facilities for MCat and associated substances have now been developed and laboratories are working with the Police to detect the drug.)

Imagine then being a drugs worker – as well as the client group’s ever-growing sense of rights without responsibility, the public sector cuts and all the associated inter-service bitching, and the lazy public-sector piss-takers sneering at you for being a mug for trying to make a difference – and an already difficult job starts to look somewhat less appetising. Then envisage that your drab, depressed, wet-lettuce clients (miserable and demotivating but at least manageable and consistent) start presenting wide-eyed, two stone lighter, covered in lumps, abscesses and what looks like chemical burns appearing from the inside out, and with a paranoid and aggressive approach to their social interactions. And you are trying to work with these people around a substance that you (and the rest of the field) know almost nothing about, can’t test for, and have no resources or points of reference to address for support or an evidence-base. One of your usually calm and polite clients smashes up his workshop with a hammer and then threatens to punch you; another genuinely nice guy with an alcohol problem and penchant for diazepam holds his mother at knife-point; the waiting room goes from looking like a queue outside a crematorium to an 80s football terrace.

I was around for the crack explosion, and I remember when all the heroin dealers started giving away a £10 rock with a bag of heroin to market their new product. Crack – scary stuff. But to be a crackhead – not a part-time, recreational user sharing a rock on payday, but a full-blown sell-your-arse type crackhead – you needed a serious income stream, and one that was rarely available outside of city centres with a sex-working industry. MCat – well that’s going for £10 a gram, less in some cases, and anecdotal reports indicate that people buy a fat bag and then are generous with how they share it around – a poor man’s cocaine, if you will, exchanging crisp £20 notes and smearless mirrors with grotty fivers and 1ml insulin syringes, and silicone implants with dodgy tattoos. So users can’t tell you how much they have used because they haven’t paid for it, they struggle to avoid it because it gets shoved underneath their noses every time they walk through a door, and they aren’t even sure what they’re taking because one bag will be euphoric while another bag will be prang. And what do drug users do when they haven’t slept for five days, they are ready for passing out because their stomachs are like walnuts, and they start seeing things and believing that everyone is trying to kill them? Take the world’s best antipsychotic – heroin. Ah the new wave is here my friends, get ready for it…

Hence, again, the summary of this entry is – I’ve had enough, I need a new job.

The quest begins…

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The path from drugs worker to writer is ne’er direct, being a path largely untrodden, with only a vague and over-grown trail remaining from the aspirations of naive youth – and, to make matters worse, the path is peppered with potentially fatal trials and pitfalls.

These adversities, set to further demoralise the budding writer on her quest for freedom from the evil clenches of Lord Beaurocracy, do not take the form of trip wires and bear traps – no, because this is a metaphor. The trials of which I speak are in fact those created by man in the hope of smoothing out our paths and joining them together – iPads, software compatibility and social networking.

‘Write’ she thinks, and write she does, and the language doth flow, and with no time she hath eight chapters of her novel completed. But then along comes another traveller – she is not old but is wise, and she tells the public servant that these days, writers need a ‘platform’. ‘What is this platform of which you speak?’ asks the public servant, for her journey has just started and her knowledge is small. ‘Blogging, Twitter and Facebook’ replies the other traveller, she on a journey from teaching to writing (www.suearmenante.co.uk), and she kindly shows the public servant her path to help her along the way.

Now our heroine lacks confidence, but she is brave, and so she follows the advice of the other traveller and sets up a blog (here readeth thee that blog) to broadcast her skills to the world, should anyone care to listen. The road to the blog is hard, she hath ne’er before trod such a path, and to add to her adversities she has an acute case of conjunctivitis and so is blind to the way of the blog (don’t worry, still a metaphor). To aid her journey, she has been given a tool that goeth by the name of iPad, and hence she uses iPad to show her the way. But iPad is not compatible with blogging, and the servant is unable to tag her blogs using her new tool, and has to ringeth a man in Ireland from tech support to find out how to bypass this trap that blocks her way, fearlessly entering her personal details into iPad to enable a download of the WordPress App for iPad.

But before our traveller has time to compose herself, she is faced with Baron Twitter. For many years, she has shunned the advances of Baron Twitter, believing him to be a pointless being, popular with minor celebrities and those desperate to be so themselves, but now she needs the Baron’s help, and she wields iPad and tries to think of a username and password. This is hard task indeed, having had to set up an imposing number of accounts over the last week to find the platform of which her fellow traveller spoke, but this task is especially fraught with difficulty as the rest of the land are already familiar with Baron Twitter, and so available usernames are few and far between.

Now the public servant is tired, she does not know if she has the strength to go on. All the other travellers she has met along the way seem to have gathered so much more knowledge than she, and she is severely discouraged by her inability to master software used by Wayne Rooney and Kerry Katona. She looks back to where her journey began, and in the distance she sees people, grey and thin, reeking of necrosis and limping as a result of deep vein thromboses from femoral injecting – and she knows, without doubt, that she must go on, for ne’er again can she face child protection conferences, or sacrifice her talents to writing pre-sentence reports. And so she faces Baron Twitter, and she takes his hand, and she lets him call her whatever he wants (@servant_public), but in her mind she knows that to her, he will always be Baron McTwatter, and she smiles.

I heart NHS

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

After reading http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/ I realise I should make something clear, and explicitly express my adoration for the NHS. It may not be fast, it may not be flawless, but the notion of free health care for all still swells my British heart. Seeing the work firsthand that goes into reducing health inequities is genuinely awe-inspiring, and although it may have gone a bit diabetic in its old age, it still does a cracking job of training, recruiting and retaining some of the most committed individuals our communities have to offer. I’m not implying it’s altruism – I know others may disagree but I think most of us are paid quite reasonably since public sector pay increases under Labour – but I’m going to hazard a guess there’s a higher concentration of generally decent and morally sound people working for the NHS than in, say, the banking sector or estate agencies.

Unfortunately, the employment rights and decent pay do also attract and subsequently retain some entirely soulless arseholes. There are loads of them, and whether they seem to end up in management positions as a result of their Machiavellian pursuit for an easy life or the rolls of red tape that protect them and enable them to weave their way up the ladder, there are some seriously lazy people working in the NHS and there is nothing, it seems, that anyone can do about it. Luckily there are just enough self-sacrificing grafters to keep the boat afloat, but their workloads are even greater because of the shameless free-loaders that drink lattes and ‘work from home’ without ever really producing anything in return for their public pay-packet. And if they ever do get formally challenged, they can just go off sick and wait for the whole thing to blow over, sitting at home drinking lattes and getting paid for it, just like the old days.

It’s a frighteningly delicate balance, it seems, between worker rights and worker piss-taking-opportunities. Much as with the reduction of health inequities for drug users, as per my first post, the NHS can be a victim of its own success and tip the balance slightly too far. As with so many of my favourite things about this country, systems which are free for all become a free-for-all, and probably my least favourite thing about human nature is that there is always someone eager to find a generous system to exploit.

All said, I’ve fulfilled a life ambition in working for the old boy, and whilst emotionally I cannot serve him much longer, I am sure in years to come, when he is dead, I will think of my time with him with tenderness and pride.

Postscript

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I would just like to add, for those who may find my short blog sweeping or judgemental – I do not see drug users as a homogenous group, neither do I see the drug before the person. I will hold my hand up and admit that yes, I am jaded, and yes, I am sick of hearing the same reasons and excuses for not changing behaviours – but please understand, the people who choose not to define themselves by their drug use, those who make effort and take opportunity when it comes, they are the people that disappear into the ether of ‘normal society’, never again to require service provision or blame other people for their misfortune. They are the people who give me job satisfaction, they are not the people that make up my bread and butter. So if I offend, I am sorry, but I only speak from my own perspective and experience.

Public servant craves freedom

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

So, my first attempt at a blog, where to start..

We all come to crossroads in our lives as part of the privileged world of choices we exist in, and yes, I fully accept that choosing one’s career path is a luxury which the majority of the world’s population do not enjoy, and so I don’t want to get too whimsical or self-pitying here. However, it has to be said, my choice of career was one which left my school teachers and lecturers scratching their heads and asking ‘why?’ and telling me ‘there isn’t much money in it, you know’, both of which, at the time, as a fresh-faced, political, optimistic young woman, meant nothing to me. I thought I could change the world – not the whole world, but the individual worlds of people who were struggling, which is all one ever really wants as a psychologist. Maybe it was a desire to make a difference, maybe it was the result of teenage years spent unwittingly wrangling with low mood, maybe it was the values of a socialist, fierce but compassionate mother, maybe, as a boyfriend put it, my need to take on a caring role was a form of self-validation, or maybe it was just middle-class guilt. Whatever the reason, I launched myself into drugs work like a dwarfed Wonder Woman out of a cannon. And I loved it.

Back then, drug users were a genuinely socially excluded group. They didn’t access healthcare because doctor’s surgeries wouldn’t accept them as patients, and if they did make it through the door, they would cope with health complications rather than go back to be treated like sub-humans. Only people with an address could register with health centres, and people presenting with a bedraggled or unkempt appearance were considered unfit to be seated in waiting rooms with ‘normal’ patients. Women especially did not present asking for help or treatment because the party line was that drug users were not fit to be parents, the substance use instead of the parenting was assessed, the failings instead of the need recorded, and so people struggled on alone, quietly, rather than put themselves up to be judged, criticised, and risk losing their families.

It was a great job, back then, being a drugs worker. You had battles with GPs about the definition of the word ‘healthcare’, you compiled evidence-based arguments to challenge psychiatry’s refusal to treat drug-users, quoting research about the co-morbidity of substance use and mental health issues, you waved the flag of the vulnerable and battered down doors until people listened to the plight (or just got sick of hearing you banging on) and agreed to let you in. It was hard, but god was it rewarding, and the clients were just grateful that for once someone was listening to them and was on their side.

Flash forward eleven years… A Labour Government has been in place, social equality has been a priority, times have been affluent, public sector wages are brought into line with the private sector, and drug users have been given recognition as a vulnerable group – no longer perceived as waster layabouts, some have addressed their issues and gone on to successful careers, breaking down prejudices and presuppositions about substance users, while the others are acknowledged as probably having had experienced childhood abuse and have therefore developed poor coping strategies, needing intensive rehabilitation if they are to address their issues, and so are sympathetically cradled by the system.

But hang on, there’s a global recession, funds are being cut, and the luxurious ten years of the Drug Strategy seem long behind us. So now drugs services start pitching themselves against each other for funding, long-existing relationships become strained, GPs start to wonder if it’s really worth having this type of patient in their surgeries if the money is drying up..

But worst, by far the worst, change to the landscape of the role of a drugs worker comes from the client group themselves, the very people you went into this role to help. They too have had a few comfortable years – now not only able to access healthcare, training opportunities, support with parenting, housing and finances, but with an ever-growing, burning sense of entitlement. They’ve had their legal aid, they know their rights, they’ve learned to exploit every loophole in every system, and they are used to being fast-tracked to the front of every queue because they are IN NEED. And they see ME, their drugs worker, their advocate, their bodyguard against inequity, as their root to a happy life, their guarantee that never again will they be poor, homeless, badly-treated or in need.

Now the twenty year old me might have been willing to attempt to fulfil that impossible role – but by now I have faced my own fair share of adversity, been on my arse a few times as we all are as humans, and learned to pick myself up, dust myself down, and get on with what needs to be done. And so regular attempts at emotional black-mail to the cry of ‘if you don’t get me some benzos so I can sleep / sort out my rent arrears so I don’t get evicted / tell Social Services I’ve stopped using so I don’t lose my kids / have me a new prescription at the pharmacy by 12 with an increase to my methadone dose, it’s YOUR fault I’m going to use’ wore thin and, frankly, I started to find the lack of personal responsibility and dependence of the State tedious, irritating and, at times, downright infuriating.

And so here I am, stuck in a miserable, unrewarding, emotionally-exhausting job, wondering where the last eleven years have gone, unsure if I have the skills to transfer to another profession which, likely as not, will also be subject to cut-backs and job losses, and really much preferring the idea of disappearing up a mountain alone, never again to address humankind. You don’t see the best in life, working as a drugs worker, and I don’t want to keep seeing the world like the big pile of shit I have been for so many years. I used to be an optimist, for god’s sake! Now it seems I am unshockable, unscarable, and have the emotional range of Oscar the Grouch.

The English language was always my first love, sadly neglected over the years of personal austerity, and life events and puzzles started taking me back to it during periods of lone reflection. And I thought to myself – I’ve paid my dues, I’ve done my time, and I’ve got enough material to start writing now and never stop.. And so here begineth the attempted transformation from drugs worker to writer…

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