Jul 082019

Write a thousands words every day I read this morning. Write a thousand words and then you’re free to do anything else today. A mantra, a way of working given to me by a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, he can’t be wrong can he? So here we go… A thousand words!

Do you need to have suffered from depression to help cure depression?

Do you need to have suffered from depression to help cure depression? Can we openly talk about depression when Royals, football greats and film stars are telling us to? Two very different questions but closely tied, at least in my head.

Whenever I start with a new counsellor or therapist I like to ask them the question, “have you yourself ever suffered from depression?” Invariably the answer is no. The one ‘therapist’ that answered yes took it as a invite to spend the next five sessions unloading her life on me rather than the other way round, She disappeared on the sixth session having left Cornwall to move back to London to seek help and respite from her own black dog. I genuinely hope she got the help she needed. Without doubt she certainly needed as much help as I did.

But why would I even question my therapists? Surely they are trained, qualified and experienced in the alleviating of depression and it’s related conditions? You don’t have to have had cancer to cure cancer. You don’t have to have had Ebola to help cure Ebola. Why should depression be any different? It is though, massively. One word differentiates cancer and depression. Empathy.

Empathy isn’t the same as a good bedside manner and doesn’t translate well. An oncologist works primarily with proven statistics, science and an almost mathematical formula. Cancer requires an objective diagnosis. Where it is, what cells are being attacked, in what way. Once diagnosed maybe a second diagnosis is sought and by this time the cells and bloods have passed through many different departments all specialised in their one field, be it cells, blood, colons, brains, lungs. Eventually the oncologist adds up all the diagnosis’s from each specialist department and comes up with an answer. A brain tumour, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, colonic cancer, you get the gist no?

Proven tests, on scientifically known parts of the anatomy that have been dissected and put back together millions of times and tested upon with various operations, drugs, chemicals, poisons and dangerous radioactive substances in a 98% (Testicular Cancer) to 1% (Pancreatic Cancer) chance of surviving a particular cancer for ten years1. It’s science. Like an apple falling from a tree proving that gravity works, science often works with proven facts to come up with proven statistical likelihoods that a given disease is actually that disease and that that disease can be cured or possibly cured by this set or other of cures. Of course, not all cancers or diseases are curable and some such as AIDS, the common Cold and Ebola only have certain success rates or means to lessen the effects and prolong a useful longevity until the inevitable happens, the disease weakens the body too much and death occurs.

It’s all objective: If A + B are present with the exception of C then the result is D. Much the same, as far as we understand it gravity is ‘proven’ thus:

So if cancer is objective in that you don’t need to have experienced it to cure or diagnose it and there is a formula to diagnosing it and curing it. What really matters relative to the question of experiencing it to work with it is that as humans we are ‘normally’ empathetic and good doctors generally have a good bedside manner when dealing with what could become a fatal illness. As long as you have empathy you don’t need to have experienced it to help cure it.

But depression and mental health are almost subjective. There are many formulas of diagnosis, often at odds with one another depending on what branch of diagnosis you favour. Be it Freudian, Jung, Rorschach, Klein, Adler, Chodorow, Reich and on and on. There is no formula, there is no definitive diagnosis or method of diagnosis there is only the American DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) or it’s UK counterpart ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Edition) and then the particular field of psychoanalysis a particular doctor studied. The result (in my opinion) is an unholy fucked up mess. With this many fields of psychoanalysis and boxes to be checked be it in either the DSM-5 or the IDC-10 how can anything be considered objective especially when many of the great psychoanalysts that are studied contradict one another?

To diagnose a mental health problem one first sees ones Doctor who then refers you to a ‘specialist’ mental health team who generally give you an hour of diagnosis with a Doctor who may have studied any number of psychoanalytical techniques who is trying to tick particular boxes in the DSM-5 or ICD-10. (Both of which are basically a list of check boxes where a certain score of a certain number of mental health disorders equal a particular diagnosis).

In the many one hour sessions I’ve had I’ve been diagnosed as a psychopath (most recently), narcissistic (within the past three years), suffering from PTSD, clinically (or chronically) depressed, suffering from Asperger, existing somewhere else on the Autistic scale (but high functioning), suffering trauma from past abuses, suicidal ideation, self harming, anxiety, Tramadol dependancy, antisocial personality disorder, difficulty relating to others feelings or needs… It goes on. When so many ‘professionals’ give so many different diagnosis’s is the term subjective not more accurate than objective?

With physical illnesses like cancer empathy or good bedside manner come almost automatically whether from the attending Doctor or visiting friend or relative. With mental health illnesses the opposite is nearly always true with people comparing themselves to you, feeling uncomfortable talking about or to you, or by comparing a bout of sadness they once had with your depression and thereby belittling it. Unless you’ve ‘had’ a depressive illness or are on the Autistic spectrum you don’t have a yardstick by which to measure the severity of impact on the sufferer and most people resort to platitudes to ‘help’ you cope.

“Just choose to be happy” is one of the most common I hear and see around me. A particular shoe brand has just run an advertising campaign using it “Just choose?” If any of you reading this have been or are sufferers of mental health problems would you say ‘choice’ is an issue? Would we ‘choose’ to want to die? Would we ‘choose’ to avoid doing the things we love and seeing the people that might make us feel slightly more positive? Would we ‘choose’ to avoid all forms of positive thought and would we ’choose’ to have a complete lack of hope and motivation? What we have is an invisible illness that people don’t understand and don’t want to talk about. A platitude suffices as a cure-all and be done with comment.

Would you say to a lower limb amputee ‘just walk it off’? Would you say to someone (as I once did) to a sufferer of Anorexia “Just get up tomorrow and have a bacon sandwich”? Of course not. Why then is it okay to tell a sufferer of chronic depression to “choose to be happy tomorrow”? “Go for a walk and Enjoy the beauty of nature”, “take the dog out more”, “man-up” (as one Doctor said to me. I was subsequently banned from his surgery for dragging him across hiss desk and threatening to staple his head to it). “Man-up”! I’ve heard some seriously awful platitudes during my bouts of depression but that honestly rates as the worst.

The people that understand mental health issues best are the people that have suffered from them. The people that understand physical illnesses (not the mental state they might cause) are scientists. Scientists are people with proven cures for physical illnesses. Psychologists are people trained in a very open playing field in a branch of many twigs dealing with the emotional and physical impact that an impaired mind for whatever reason isn’t working properly. I defy any of you reading this that haven’t suffered from some kind of mental illness to describe depression accurately.

Us sufferers of mental health problems might be just as disabled as a man with only one leg or lung. But. Are we included in the disabled Olympics? Is there an Olympics for mental health sufferers? For fucks sake, with our lack of motivation would we even turn up anyway? Can you imagine how long a mental health marathon might take? What, with a lack of motivation, breaks for crying our eyes out, a lack of training through lack of motivation, it’d be a marathon where every finisher should be considered a gold medal winner. Swimming races where competitors didn’t try and drown themselves would be amazing. All survivors to be gold medal winners. Discus. shot-putt and javelin where non competitors weren’t standing within reach of flying projectiles would be considered successful. Just imagine… White water kayaking where the competitors didn’t deliberately capsize and drown. I could go on as I’m amusing myself but you get the idea. WHY aren’t mental health sufferers included in the disabled Olympics?

Why is it that only amputees get to climb Everest for charity? Can you imagine the effect that completing a task like that might have on someone with mental health problems? The challenge and motivation needed would almost prove that anything is possible. Even to see the Earth from it’s highest point would have a life changing impact on most people. Like all astronauts say that seeing the earth from space changed them forever. All of them positively. Why do only the physically disabled get these chances and are reported on by the media? What is it about mental health disabilities that make people SO uncomfortable that we’re not even considered disabled enough to run in the disabled Olympics or climb to the highest point on the Earth for charity?

I know of a current cancer sufferer with pneumonia and septicemia who will probably lose at least two toes. That’s if the pneumonia doesn’t kill him first. I don’t need either cancer, pneumonia, septicemia or the amputation of two toes to empathise with his situation. I’ve known him for most of my life, he’s a close friend of my dad’s, I’ve worked with him. I feel genuine sorrow for his situation and for seeing a man with such a joy for life to be cut down so cruelly. I feel genuine compassion for his family. If he dies I want to be at his funeral to pay my respects. When he dies, people will celebrate his life. People go and sit by his bedside and hold his hand.

No-one, NO-ONE, tells him whilst he’s lying in his hospital bed to man-up! If by a miracle he survives the cancer, goes into remission and walks normally with the loss of two toes he could be one of the poster-boys for one of the cancer charities who might get him running marathons and climbing mountains. Everyone will applaud his efforts.

A whole team of specialists and millions of pounds of NHS funds are being given over to saving this one mans life. And rightly so. He’s got a family that love him, daughters that will miss the fuck out of him if he dies, friends like my Dad who will have lost both a good friend and bird-watching partner, people that like just chatting to him down the pub. People that have worked for him that respect and like him. He’s paid his taxes, why doesn’t he deserve the chance to be saved and to live? Of course he does.

And people look at me strangely when I say that I’d rather lose a leg than suffer from mental health issues?

Apart from my Dad who has gone way over and above his parental responsibility and I doubt I’d even be here writing this without him. You know who supports me at the moment? My support worker from the housing association that comes around to make sure I’m still alive and that I pay my fines and bills once every three weeks or so. My lack of responsibility and motivation make bills and licenses obsolete obligations to me. I desperately HATE obligation! The TV license can go fuck itself. Hard!

The Waterview Centre won’t have me as part of their group therapy sessions due to my psychopathy not being compatible with group therapy. Interesting to note that in their last review (of three) they picked up on one aspect, one part of my coping mechanism that only lasted a year and had nothing to do with people disagreeing with me or arguing with me in a group related environment. The one aspect that could even remotely be called psychopathic.

Subjectivity at it’s best.

Oddly for a psychopath I have a massive amount of empathy. (So I’m often told.) And I’m very spiritually aware. (So I’m often told.) Perhaps I’m a unique psychopath that actually suffers from PTSD from some of the suffering I’ve caused over the years and the people I’ve failed to stop from dying. While part of me might be sociopathically active (my own diagnosis) as a coping method much the same as self-harm or shoplifting, I’m pretty sure I feel too much guilt about too many certain things to be a psychopath.

The local mental health team diagnose me with something new every time I’m re-referred to them and so I never get to jump through the same hoops more than once.

Why is mental health not funded like cancer research is? Why am I not in a bed to stop me from killing myself, safe, being looked after by a team of mental health specialists trying to make me a useful part of society again instead of someone waiting for a particular incident to make me decide whether I live or die by my own hand? Where are my friends willing me on, wanting me to survive? Sitting by my bed each day… I’m not even comparing myself to my Dad’s friend. His worth is far more than mine but both his cancer and my depression could prove fatal. Where’s the empathy from my own Doctors? In fact, where even are my Doctors? I don’t even know if my Doctor knows what empathy is or perhaps she just doesn’t like me. I get that a lot.

Why does my housing association care more about me than the medical profession and why has my support worker got more warmth than any Doctor I’ve seen since my return from Cornwall?

Do you need to have suffered from mental health issues to help people recover from mental health illnesses? The profession of psychology and psychiatry would obviously prove against it but what do you think now having read this?

And. I still haven’t answered whether we can openly talk about depression have I? Or have I?

Do you fancy commenting below? Do you fancy actually calling up a friend that you know suffers from mental health problems and talking shit over? Don’t just text them. Call them and chat for an hour or so. Turn up at their door as a surprise.

I bet you don’t!

1. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/survival/common-cancers-compared

Jan 302019

Imagine being impotent. The desire for sex, to reproduce is a primal, distinctly human urge, it’s almost an urge too strong to be ignored. It’s survival of the fittest, most virile. The youngest most nubile female meets the hunter that provides for the village. If one can’t have sex one masturbates to relieve the urge to reproduce. If one can’t have sex for psychological or physiological regions one takes viagra or inflate one’s phallus with air.

For a working artist, a vocational artist, an artist that wants and needs to live by producing art and makes sense of the world around himself through art, art is as equally important as air, water food and sex, Maslow’s first rung on the hierarchy of needs. The physiological rung, the very base of a humans needs. As important as air or excretion.

I am that artist, that impotent, hungry, asphyxiating, thirsty and constipated artist. My soul is hurting and the art within me is tearing at my insides, competing with my depression to see which can be the most painful. But lack of motivation due to the depression stops me writing or being an artist and not having the means to write or create art feeds the depression. It’s a feedback loop that tears audibly through my head and hurts. Hurts so much that a lot of the time I just sleep it away. Even now. After being asleep literally ALL day, I am hurting inside, physically, even as I write/finish this note.

I decided at the beginning of the year I had a choice. Stay in London to finish what I came back to do or go back to Cornwall and forget ambition and just be okay with the sea, a dog, maybe a few friends and live out my years forgetting I had dreams of seeing the world, creating more controversy, fulfilling certain bucket list goals.

I’m staying put. In West London. Things are hard, very hard. But I’ve been to gigs, made an effort to talk to people but it’s still not enough. Being an artist/writer is a day job. It isn’t part time jolly’s at the Dublin Castle. It’s hard work and effort that pay off. And I struggle to find the strength. There’s nothing more I can add… That is all.

Aug 182014

I think I’ve come up with doable and realistically achievable Fifty Five by Fifty Five list. From publishing it today I have 6 years, 10 months, 8 days or 2504 days. The list isn’t in any order, but, I know there’s a method to the madness.

During 2020 the world basically shut down due to a Worldwide pandemic of the Coronavirus Covid-19. From Jan to March we watched as the virus took hold and from March to current, the 1st of September we have been confined to our houses for three months and all business including shops, travel and restaurants shut down. As of now we all have to wear masks in enclosed public places: Shops, Museums, Gyms etc. and we all have to stay 2 metres apart in public from people we don’t live with. Theatre and gigging still haven’t been given leave by the government to resume and heading into Winter we have been told to expect a second spike in deaths. To date Worldwide there have been 848,000 deaths and 25.3 million cases. Given how various countries like China and Russia have actively misquoted their deaths and ‘third world’ countries don’t have the infrastructure to accurately tack their deaths the likely amount of deaths is well over a million.

Given this, and praying the world returns to normal in 2021 it’s only fair I give myself another year. Certainly apart from physically being unable to do anything like travel or attend public events Lockdown, in which we were all housebound for three months has negatively impacted on my mental health.

Given how much of a fuck-up 2020 has been I’ll think of and add another task but we’ll have to call this list 56 by 56 from now on.

In bold, the task is in progress.

Struck-through, I’ve completed the task.

#1.      Give up Smoking. (As of March 2020 started smoking again during Lockdown). 2020 – Give up Smoking.

#2.      Eat alone in three different restaurants c/w starter, drink and main. A Chinese, a posh restaurant and a bistro. Not rushed!

#3.      Take a date for a progressive meal out; starter, main and dessert in different restaurants.

#4.      Get Forty Years a Punk finished and published. Get the secondary projects underway.

#5.      Get the damn Gofundme live!

#6.      Travel to each of the Continents; Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica.

#7.      Swim in at least 15 London Lido’s. (Parliament Hill Lido, The Oasis, Charlton Lido, Tooting Bec Lido, Brockwell Lido, Hampstead Mixed, Hampstead Mens, London Fields Lido, The Serpentine Lido, Charlton Lido, Finchley Lido Leisure Centre, Hillingdon Outdoor Pool, Hampton Pool, Park Road Pools, Pools on the Park Richmond, Ruislip Lido) + (London Aquatics Centre, Porchester Centre, Saltdean Lido, one of the Trafalgar Square Fountains,) 

#8.      Visit all three highest points in the UK. Scotland, Wales and England.

#9.      Climb Black Willy, kayak around Kynance Cove, wild swim at Golitha Falls and one, two, three other spots in Cornwall.

#10.    Get PR represented in London

#11.    Kayak on Hyde Park and and one of the Trafalgar Sq fountains.

#12.    Wild Swim at least 10 places in Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog

#13.    Learn another language.

#14.    Experiment with a voluntary role in a workplace for a week or two.

#15.    Reach at least 3* in White Water Kayaking.

#16.    See a Puffin in the wild.

#17.    Sing live on stage with an established Punk band. At least one complete song. (2019 – Jan, have a Yamaha FG30 acoustic guitar and learning!)

#18.    Get the 1Dx, 16-35 f/2.8L II, 24-70 f/2.8L II, 85mm f/1.2L II, Studio Lights x’s 4, Backgrounds. Sony α6400, FE 55 f1.8, E 20 f2.8

#19.    Take a train somewhere interesting maybe foreign.

#20.    Go to a music festival complete with camping or Bed and Breakfast.

#21.    Take a cookery course

#22.    Finish two 365 photo projects. One on iPhone and one on DSLR.

#23.    Go for a picnic somewhere random or incredibly scenic.

#24.    Try a bunch (10) of new and possibly repulsive food (Chicken feet, sheep eyes, head cheese, squirrel).

#25.    Go to 10 networking events in a year.

#26.    Read at least 12 books in a year.

(2016 – Jan – The Prince Lestat [Anne Rice], Feb – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music,Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. [Viv Albertine], Mar – Japan’s Sex Trade [Peter Constantine], Apr – Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome [John Hellers] Fail!)

(2017 – Fail!)

(2018 – Rotten No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish [John Lydon], Fragile Things [Neil Gaiman], Art Sex Music [Cosey Fanni Tutti])

(2019 – Jan – Mud Sharks [Dave Barbarossa], Feb – Dec – 17 x Manga; Sundome 1-4, Happy Sugar Life 1-3, Food Wars 1-7, Yokai Girls 1-3 & 7 ‘Light Novels’; Goblin Slayer 1, Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon 1, Re:Zero 1-5, Kizomonogatari – [Nisioisin], Bakemonogatari 1-2 – [Nisioisin]. Win!)

#27     Go to at least one music gig a month for a year.  

(2016 – The Damned 40th Anniversary at the RAH & Guest List, Killing Joke, The Members, Spizzenergi, Spizzology, Penetration, Pixies, Buzzcocks, The Tuts, LOCK, The Duel, Dead Men Walking, Department S, Ed Tudor Pole, Adam and the Ants, Healthy Junkies, Church of Eon, The Featherz, Taurus Trakker, Starsha Lee, Hazel O’Connor, Stiff Little Fingers, Fields of The Nephilim, Babymetal, Shonen Knife, Brian James and The Dickies.) 

(2017 – The Tuts, Spizzenergi, The Rezillos, Healthy Junkies, The Stranglers, The Ruts, Charlie Harper acoustic, The Duel, Möthballs, Italia 90, Screaming Dead, Future Daughters)

(2018 – TRZ (The Tara Rez Band), Das Flüff, Rubella Ballet, Witchdoktors, The Weird Things, Shonen Knife, Toyah, Spizzenergi, Spizzology, Theatre of Hate, The Vibrators, Starsha Lee, Flesh Tetris, Segs (Ruts DC) acoustic, Dave Barbarossa (Bow Wow Wow) solo)

(2019 – Ruts DC & The Professionals [Shepherd’s Bush], Definitely a lot more but trying to remember in 2020 is nigh on impossible. It’s around this time that my Mental Health started to really impact on gigs and I’d often book and pay for them weeks/months in advance but be unable to go on the day.)

(2020 – Covid 19 stopped all gigs from March onwards. I did have tickets for the Japanese punk girl band Otoboke Beaver for February but (;_;) Mental Health.)

#28.    Do at least one random act of kindness per week for a year.

#29.    Take a photo of 26 people with names starting from A-Z.

#30.    Write a will. (2018 – Unfortunately as part of a suicide note) 

#31.    Inspire 5 people to do a similar list – 101/1001 or 33/33 etc.

#32.    Redesign/revamp my website. (May 2018 – Trying to find the right models, 2019 bought new domain; Elgin Avenue Photography to better reflect new business leaving the sex etc to neolestat. As of Jan 2019 still looking for the right models and have to code new site. 2020 Covid stopped play.)

#33.    At least triple my Twitter or Instagram followers each year. 2016, 2017, 2018 (Instagram: @neolestat (606 followers)), 2019 (?), 2020 

#34.    Write for my blog at least twice a month.

#35.    Drive to Spain or Portugal camping along the way. Stay for two weeks at destination.

#36.    Buy an original piece of Art.

#37.    When I have the finances and the freedom, live for three days like Luke Rhinehart’s ‘Diceman’ and see where I end up.

#38.    Spend a week without the computer, TV or Facebook. Can only use my phone to make and receive calls.

#39.    Spend a week detoxing and then eat vegetarian for the rest of the month.

#40.    Give up extra sugar, sweets and chocolate for a month. (2018 – April? Fail!), (2019 – )

#41.    Complete all the numbered Final Fantasy games in order obviously missing out 11 and 14 as they are MMO’s.

#42.    Every year, at the beginning of January, donate to charity (clothing, books etc. rather than money). 2016-1717-18, 18-19, 19-20 (Fail), 20-21

#43.    For each of the 7 years plant a different tree somewhere.

#44.    Clear all my debts and live credit free for three months.

#45.    Attend a foreign festival – Maybe the Kanamara Matsuri, The Japanese festival of the steel phallus in Kawasaki.

#46.    Get my tattooed heart covered up and get at least the two tats I want on each of my calves and the two I want inside both forearms (Keys and Music). At least one tattoo done traditionally with bamboo needles.

#47.    John O’Groats to Land’s End with friends, no time limit, camping along the way.

#48.    Visit The Museu Picasso, in Barcelona, Spain.

#49.    Get published in a ‘national’ publication at least once each year. 2016 – Fail! 2017 – Fail! 2018 – Fail! 2019 – Fail! 2020 – ?

#50.    Stencil graffiti my face onto at least 10 well known London streets and photograph the results as proof.

#51.    Stay awake for 24 hours on a ‘date’ and watch the sunrise with said date.

#52.    Find my ‘Happy Place’.

#53.    Watch 52 documentaries in a year thereby (hopefully) increasing my knowledge and inspiring me.

#54.    Do the London to Brighton bike ride. (2019 – Fail!)

#55.    Kayak around Ramsey Island in Pembrokeshire. Get to the Blue Lagoon and tombstone.

Feb 072012


Muffins (Hipstamatic for iPhone)

200g Plain (not self raising) Flour
150g Caster Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Salt (I use sea-salt)
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

85ml of Milk
80ml of Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg

150g of mixed fruit (Raisins, Sultanas, Mixed Peel, Cranberries, Blueberries – Whatever). I personally use a similar mix to that which is used for Fruit Cakes or Christmas Cakes.

Alternatively for texture 130g of mixed fruit and 20g of chopped almonds. This option’s a doozy!

Sometimes I substitute 40g of the flour for finely chopped hazelnuts.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (the top four items). Doesn’t have to be fancy mixing, I use a wooden spoon, but make sure everything is mixed well.

In a jug, beat the milk, oil and egg until everything is combined well. Sometimes I add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.

Using the wooden spoon mix the liquid stuffs into the dry stuffs to make a batter. Don’t overdo the mixing… You’re not looking to blitz everything into extra smooth paste, just make sure everything is mixed well. If you scoop some up with the spoon it should drip off a bit like that ‘slime’ shit that was popular in the 80s. You definitely don’t want the batter runny like a liquid.

At this point, sometimes I add a couple of tablespoons of honey or golden syrup. Experiment!

Fold the dry fruit into the batter. Again, fold, not mix with a mixer.

Spoon the mix into large muffin cases. I find that 1 heaped tablespoon and 1 heaped teaspoon is ample per case. This recipe should fill about 8 cases.

I put the cases in a metal tray that’s made for small tarts/muffins. I guess there’s enough spaces in my tray for 15 cakes so I use 2 trays as to not crowd the muffins. I space them apart and use this tray to keep the muffin cases stable and roundish.

Bake for 20 mins in that preheated oven you preheated. Check if the muffins are done… A wooden cocktail stick pushed into the middle of a muffin should come out clean with no gooey stuff left on it.

Leave muffins to cool on a wire cake cooling rack or similar. Make a cup of tea and enjoy a neo-muffin afternoony snack. Yummy!

Dec 062011

What do you call a Professional Photographer without a camera? I was going to start this missive with a sentence containing the phrase ‘ex-photographer’ but somehow that didn’t work for me. Ex-photographer implies (to me at least) that I no longer ‘wish’ to be a photographer. That I am never going to take another picture or ever pick up a camera again.

Truth is; I am a Professional Photographer without the means to take a photograph. To push that truth a little further; I am also an artist without the means of creating art.

Times are hard the world over. Switch on the TV and one is bombarded with adverts asking you to help impoverished children in Africa, people the world over without food or clean water, mistreated animals and today I saw an advert asking me to help the victims of child marriages.

In the Western World it is almost impossible for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder although house prices are at an all time low. Gold prices have been as high as they’ve ever been yet the common-person does not have the money to invest, rather, judging by the amount of adverts, people are being actually being urged to sell their gold (to survive). The rich get richer! Inflation rises. The cost of food and fuels rise almost daily and now, because of the recent flooding in Thailand, hard-drive prices are set to soar, thus driving up the price of computing again.

Those same times that are hard globally are also being hard locally; having said that I’m a Professional Photographer without a camera it makes perfect sense that I’m incapable of earning a living as a photographer.

In fact, since moving to Cornwall, whether because of my terrible marketing skills, a run of bad luck or my refusal to work as anything other than a portrait photographer I have only had one paid gig. Even that was sold at a fraction of the price that my last London job cost the client.

I am a photographer without a camera because living in Cornwall, as I do, as many others do, requires a circus full of skills; One has to constantly juggle money and possessions. It is a fine balancing act to keep ones head above water, one is constantly trying to escape from poverty, one has to tame ones debtors and one constantly hides behind the tears of a clown.

The constant juggling of finances is the hardest. Rent, food, water, electricity, heating, pet bills, travel, broadband connection, cell phone, TV license, addictions and quality of life: Rent, because luckily I live in a hovel, is covered. As to the rest? The water board have taken me to court. Luckily, they are the one service that can’t disconnect you. Food is juggled with electricity is juggled with heating is juggled with the broadband etc. It is ALWAYS food vs. pet bills, pet bills vs. electricity, electricity vs. travel, travel vs. cell phone, cell phone vs. addictions or addictions vs. quality of life. There is NEVER enough money to go around. There is NEVER a time when all of ones needs (according to Maslow) are covered entirely and comfortably.

Hence the fact I’m a photographer without a camera. To survive. To SURVIVE, I’ve had to sell it.

Since I came to Cornwall I’ve lost virtually everything; My physical health has deteriorated, my mental health has deteriorated. My mother has stopped talking to me, she will continue this to her death bed as her own mother did to her, my relationship with my father is strained and all my sundry family with the exception of my daughter and sister refuse to have anything to do with me.

I have lost my girlfriend of six years (along with my laptop and cordless drill) to another man and at least sixty percent of my friends are no longer friends.

To survive Cornwall I have sold: My £600+ ($960) mountain bike, my canoe, my Xbox 360 and games, my DVD collection, excess current generation video games I would like to have kept but no longer played, my entire collection of retro consoles and games dating from the eighties to the current generation (some of which will be forever irreplaceable), the gold chain I got for my twenty-first birthday, my car, a collection of rare Japanese toys and dolls, a hand forged Samurai sword, a Canon GL2 professional video camera, two pairs of Elinchrom Style RX 600 strobes and assorted diffusers, softboxes, umbrellas, dishes and reflectors, radio triggers for the strobes, my Canon 1Ds Mark II, a Canon Speedlite 430EX, a Canon Speedlite 580EX, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM lens, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, a Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L USM lens, a Canon EF 2x II Extender, various professional Hoya filters, all of the studio backdrop equipment, a Manfrotto monopod, a Manfrotto tripod, a Leica D-Lux 4 plus accessories and the Nikon S3100 I replaced the Leica with (although not for monetary gain but because it was utterly rubbish!)

I’m sure there’s more but you get the idea?

I have considered suicide but I have a responsibility to those few that still love me and my dog. I have considered suicide but I think I’m such a fuck-up that I’d mess it up and end up as a cabbage in a hospital bed. I have considered suicide but tomorrow might be a better day.

I live in hope that tomorrow is a better day! But tomorrow never comes as we all know. There is only today. There is only today and only I have the ability to make today better.

But most days I can’t, most days I’m not strong enough.

That’s not to say I won’t, I want to, but I lack the means to make today better at the moment. A good day today means I got up, I shaved and showered, I brushed my teeth and I got dressed. That’s on a good day. A very good day meant I probably fed myself and washed up, maybe did a little cleaning, maybe took the dog for a walk. An extremely good day maybe saw me thinking about the future a little, maybe I got out to town where the people are and maybe I called up a friend for a chat.

Past that, I struggle.

That’s not to say there isn’t a plan. I’m not totally done in, just done in enough to not be able to pick myself up and dust myself down alone.

I can’t help but think about the past and the future; this just weighs me down and makes the present crap. There is so much baggage in my past and try as I might I just can’t let it go. A lot of the past put me exactly where I am now. I analyse and over-analyse. I know I can’t change it but I can’t seem to forget it either. It’s a painful circle.

The future also seems more important than the present and perhaps I’m making a mistake there too; Without some kind of success in life  I won’t be covered for retirement, I’ll never amass a decent state pension at this late stage and I’m not getting younger day-by-day. Each year I seem to feel my age more acutely than the last.

I’ll never realise my dreams through regular employment; they’re modest dreams by anyone’s standard but probably beyond the means of say, a civil servant in this financial climate. Especially a civil servant that’s never left a regularly paid job by his own volition; I realised the other day that I’ve either been sacked or been asked to resign from every job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot!

I realise also that I lack having someone to love. As crass as it might seem, success means you get the pick of better women. Financial stability is probably the modern version of having the biggest club and the best furs from back in the caveman days. Very few women love a failure! The cavemen failures were the ones the mammoths trampled and the sabre-toothed tigers ate. Today’s failures are the financially and emotionally challenged.

This year has been terrible! I’m not going to live another year like this! I’m not! Either I make it next year or it’s that trip to Thailand I always spoke of… I can’t do this any more. I just can’t.

This year was worse than last which was worse than the one before that which was looking to be a pretty good year until the October.

2008 was the year it started to come together and also the year when it started to fall apart and it hasn’t got better. Two thousand and fucking eight! Just when all the hard work began to pay off the situation changed, I made a knee-jerk reaction and it was downhill all the way from there. Here and there I managed to grab a rocky outcrop or a tired old shrub on my descent but the rocks never held and the shrubs uprooted. In mountaineering parlance I need to find an old piton or cam wedged tight into the slope to belay (I probably shouldn’t mix nautical and mountaineering metaphors but it works…) my fall and give me half a chance to climb back up again.

Somehow, between now and March 2012 I need to find a minimum of £8000 ($12500). Yes, eight thousand pound to get myself back on track. I have no idea how! That’s just for the camera, a lens and a flash. I’d actually like £14400 for equipment and another £3000 to buy me some time in London but £8000 would be a start! With £8K I can start to take photos again and stop being whatever a photographer without a camera is called.

Donations gratefully accepted… Email me for my PayPal account details and you’ll have my eternal gratitude and a mention in my first biography. If it’s a good enough idea for Katie Price it’s good enough for me!