Mar 202018
 

Part One – Feel

I was watching a news story where an amputee (one leg) used his disability to raise over a quarter of a million pounds for charity and go some way to finishing his Fifty-Two by Fifty-Two bucket list, which included such things as climbing Everest etc. And while I applaud the guy for his commitment, (he’s got so much commitment that he’s actually up for a nationally recognised reward), and his support of others like himself which he uses to help raise money for other amputees to get their own cool, well fitting legs so that they can too can also follow their dreams. And yet I sit here day after day, legally disabled and I’ve got no commitment. No commitment for anything at all.

I wondered why would the public get behind the afore mentioned amputee so much yet I can’t get five likes on a Facebook post about mental health and I can’t get more than three comments on a post asking my friends to sign a petition against Terry Richardson, an awful (read bad) photographer that shoots for magazines like Vogue yet uses his celebrity to sexually abuse models, and the media that uses his work (and supports the #metoo campaign) knows this yet hypocritically does or says nothing? And I also wondered does the above amputee’s amputation make him more disabled than I, and if so, why so?

They say that perception is 9/10ths of reality. I’ve said it before about photography: The worst photographer in the world can spend money to turn up to a gig with a quality DSLR, a few spare professional lenses, a fake Rolex on his wrist and a MacBook Pro and the client sees a professional photographer. I could (the pre depression/anxiety me), (not trying to big myself up, but rather trying to illustrate a point) probably turn up with an iPhone and take better composed and lit photos, make the customer feel more comfortable and give that customer an overall better and professional service than the bad photographer with all the gear.

So an amputee looks disabled whereas someone with mental health problems looks like you. (Unless so severely mentally disabled they’re ‘window-licking’ and riding the special bus) Generally though, a person with mental health problems looks like the person next to you on the tube, or the person opposite you at the bar. Being mentally disabled generally has no outward sign, no ‘look’, you don’t get a cool, Terminator style, carbon fibre leg. You certainly don’t get people saying about you; “he’s so brave, motivated, strong, admirable etc” and sure, I’ll back his attempt at Everest because of that cool leg.

As a ‘depressive’ even your best friends shun you eventually let alone workmates and the public. I can think of many friends lost to my depression. Even one that said she’d love me forever (platonically) and we’d always end writings together with the phrase ‘to the moon and back’ avoids me now. (Like the last friend that ‘loved me’). She disappeared from social media one day, from other friends of mine as well, she was well loved, but she had her demons too… Disappearing like she did, for so many years now, she might even have died, or maybe she moved from California to Sweden to be with the man she loved? No-one knew. Until recently. I found a live profile of hers on Instagram. It wasn’t there while I was logged in, but there it was updated two days before when I was logged out. Her photographical style was unmistakeable. The profile was from Sweden and I was blocked from it. Now I end things with ‘to the moon’. Nothing is going to come back from it. The only happy thing to take from the story is supposedly the move from Cali to Sweden happened and I pray that she found her happy place.

I’m happy to lose people to their own happiness. I’m sad when they just shun me because I’m toxic. I’d like to think she found her happy place.

I’ve said many times to my Dad that I’d rather have lost a leg than feel like I feel all day, every day.

Reading that, how does that make you feel about me? That I’d ‘honestly’ rather lose a leg than suffer acute depression and anxiety, Asperger, self-harm and be ‘actively suicidal’. (Actively suicidal: A medical term meaning to have a plan (method) with which to commit your suicide and you think about committing it more days than not.)

But me, I’m not trying to climb Everest, walk across the North Pole, cycle across America. I’m not asking for your money. I’m asking for your time and support so that I can write a book that tells my own story and maybe helps others in a similar situation. Sometimes I’m just asking you to sign a petition or react to a Facebook post.

The loss of a leg means coming to terms with many things: Home as a confined space; Maintenance of symmetry and dignity in social relations; Reconstitution of bodily confidence; Hope and willpower as driving forces; Establishment of a meaningful role in life; Dependence on care and rehabilitation initiatives.(1)

Depression, anxiety and Asperger combined lead to similar symptoms, similar but different. So let me tell you what depression means to me if you can be bothered to read on and how it affects my daily life. But it’s going to take some work from you to fully appreciate what I feel. To understand. Or, like signing a petition, is that too much to ask from you?

I need you to think back now, here and now, to the loss of that ‘one’ special person in your life, be it a lost love or beloved relative. I mean that really special one, the one that still hurts, the one you still miss. The person that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with or the relative you turned to when no-one else would listen or could help. In my case I have both, a girl I wanted to marry with all my heart and my Grandad, one of the last few ‘Gentlemen’, who’d suffered at the hands of the Japanese and still came back a respectful man who held down high positions at work, supported his family, doffed his hat at women in the street and to passing funereal processions and taught me chivalry amongst many other things on our early morning walks through Spanish fish markets and along Mallorcan streets during our many holidays together.

I fucking miss them both. The lost love, and my Grandad.

Think about your own similar losses and imagine them freshly minted. Remember how they left a numb feeling in the pit of your stomach that boiled and roiled, That even though numb was also too a physical pain. It physically hurt knowing you’d never share closeness with that missing person again. Take that pain now! Relive it, roll it around in your mouth, taste it. Feel it churning the pit of your stomach, let yourself well up with tears remembering again all the things that person meant to you but most of all feel that painful numbness in your stomach, feel it tightening your diaphragm and making it hard to breathe, making you gasp for breath Feel that pain once more and start the circle over again. ‘Know’ in your heart that life will never be good again, you’ll never feel happiness again, life has been as good as it will ever get and it only goes downhill from here. LIVE that pain.

Done it? Feeling it? Good!

‘That’ is what depression is. Forget ‘woe is me’ as you put the back of your hand to your forehead like a parody of a bad period drama and state “oh, I’m so depressed”. Depression feels exactly as I’ve just described, that gnawing pit of hell boiling in your stomach where the only light at the end of the tunnel is a train heading at high speed towards you and you ‘know’ with all certainty it will hit you as there isn’t enough room to the sides of the tunnel to escape it. And far from killing you, it’ll only leave you more disfigured, broken and disabled than you already are. Death is for the suicidally brave or the lucky and I’m far from that lucky. Depression is the absence of hope. A black sticky mire. Little wonder Churchill called it his ‘Black Dog’.

Even my close family and friends know that one day I might kill myself and not to blame themselves because they all did the best they could. Some, my Dad for example did all he could and more, has been the most surprising support of all. The least likely yet the most caring. He’s gone above and beyond what anyone could ask for yet still he knows that one day I might find life unbearable and take my own, end the pain in one extra large dose of Tramadol, Fentanyl and Morphine washed down by a bottle of ‘overproof’ rum. (My actively suicidal’ plan). Forget all that bull about suicides go to hell. I’m a Christian and believe and regularly ask forgiveness for some of the shitty things that cause my PTSD and anguish. That belief and asking for forgiveness is enough to get me into Heaven and its promised happiness. But. If I’m wrong and religion is just a man-made fantasy to give us hope then I’ll just sleep forever free from dreams and pain. Suicide is a win-win situation. I can’t go wrong with suicide and Pascal’s wager. I’m certainly brave and willing enough but Sid (my dog) needs me at the moment. I’m his friend and his Alpha. The number one in his life and he’s the only one that won’t understand my death. He’ll not grasp the concept of release and will only feel loss at my absence. How could I do that to my best friend when all that he’s ever given me is love and he’ll only feel the sense of loss that loss brings? I just can’t…

So if my day to day existence is one of that roiling pain at the very centre of my core, what does my head do? Where is my head at and how does it try to make sense of that pain and deal with living with it? Every day. Living with that pain not until I get over my lost relative or meet my next special someone but all day, every day for the past fourteen years. Fourteen years of that pain that I asked ‘you’ to remember and feel again but that is already subsiding in ‘you’ but never me, once more.

<edit>Actively suicidal: For the first time ever (20th January 2018), I’ve just finished writing my last will and testament and my suicide note? I’ve never felt depressed enough to write a suicide note, but now I am, and have.</edit>

Part Two – Me

I’m currently (at the time of writing this) letting a friend down, I owe her some photos. I’ve taken them but for the love of God I can’t post-process them no matter how much I want to. It’s easier to sleep all day every day or play video games. The last time I went out and did something positive was exactly a week ago. In the seven days since, I haven’t showered, washed, changed my clothes or shaved. I often sleep in my unchanged clothes in a bed that looks like a tar pit due to the fact a muddy unkempt dog sleeps in it too. I’m hating every advert for Christmas with a passion. I’m scared of everything. Even when I do go out I take a combat knife big enough to skin an elephant because of my anxiety. Yet inversely I’m actually scared of very little and certainly not scared of anyone that might try to hurt me or mine. The saying to never corner a wounded animal rings so true as I wrote that. Never antagonise a man with nothing to lose. What ‘have’ I got to lose if I stab a would be attacker in the head? What is prison to someone with suicidal tendencies? Prison is just another cage no different to my self imposed one. At least in prison they’ll control my diabetes rather than letting me slowly use it as a long and painful way to die by not having the commitment or willpower to control what I eat or drink, at all.

I steal when I’m out. Not from friends or people, never from friends or people, but from organisations, shops. from Oakley and Starbucks only. Only but always. Not because I need for anything but because the rush of adrenaline changes my mood for a short while and because it amuses me that I focus on just two brands, one of which is pointless. How many fucking Starbucks cups and beakers is too many? At least I like Oakley sunglasses.

I self harm, blatantly by cutting and inadvertently by my lack of care of myself. The cutting is never for sympathy, it’s often on show but I never bring attention to it, it’s just because my inner forearm is the easiest place to cut. People that know me pay no attention to it and know that I abhor platitudes and sympathy. I do it because like the adrenaline from theft it makes me feel different. Cutting and often a spray of aftershave or squeeze of lemon causes a bright flash of pain, the complete opposite of the numbness I feel all day every. Clean, bright, white, shiny pain that overrides the numb. The cutting is never uncontrolled, never done in anger. It is controlled and deliberate. Cross hatched to fit as many cuts as possible on my forearm and cross hatched to overlap and cause slightly deeper welts at the points where the cuts cross. Never too deep but never quite superficial either. Think of the depth as somewhere between a paper-cut and a slash. I’ve always got a blade sharp enough for control. Whether it’s the eponymous box cutter or a scalpel blade. Never cut with a blunt knife! Never cook with a blunt knife either. You’re more likely to hurt yourself with a blunt knife, amusingly enough.

I impulse buy, not because I need anything new but because knowing something new is coming through the door tomorrow is a short lived salve for my pain. The same endorphins released by gambling and serial dating are released by impulse buying. It’s an addictive, seemingly harmless way of self medicating but just as addictive as drink or smoking. And just as hard to give up. You could say that compulsive (let’s really call it what it is) buying is harmless where drink and cigarettes actually have a detrimental affect on your health. While that’s true, the money could certainly go to better uses. I could save it, I could use it to pay for dog walking and sitting, I could eat more healthily and I could certainly do with the space that buying shit all day takes up. You can only play so many games a year, I think if I never bought another game for the next year I would have enough games to see me through the next twenty years if I aimed to complete everything.

My garden is more often than not overgrown and my flat remains undecorated even after three years in London. When I say I don’t go out I mean I don’t go out. Not even into the garden. Not if I can help it. Both the front and back garden need attention. The front garden is a bone of contention as there are three people in this building and no-one cares what the front looks like seemingly apart from me. When I have brought it up with them, that from the steps down to my basement is my responsibility but the stairs upwards and the shared area would be theirs I am met with blank stares and outright refusals. How does that make me feel? I already struggle but to be ignored when all I want to do is improve the front for all of us is freakily annoying and makes me rebel and not do anything. Perhaps we all feel like me and we’re all tramps? A building full of mental health sufferers that refuse to tidy the front garden. One day we’ll be fighting our way through empty crisp packets and nine foot tall Buddleia trees. At least the butterflies will be happy!

The back garden is mine and mine alone to deal with. Even so, I find it so hard to go out there. It isn’t like my Cornwall garden where only one house overlooked me and the garden was big enough to find privacy if I wanted to. In London, at least a hundred windows (I counted) overlook my property and again, unlike Cornwall my garden is paved, doesn’t overlook the Percuil river and the sun is mostly blocked by trees of some description and the houses next to and behind me. In Summer it isn’t a garden for sun-lovers, it’s a garden for digging weeds from in between the paving stones. In fall it isn’t a pretty garden with an Acacia tree changing colour, it’s a nightmare of wet leaves and hidden Sid poop. Even the most diligent of gardeners would struggle with the amount of leaves that get deposited over my few square meters. I tried originally to have an area that would be similar to a mulching/recycling plot. It filled after the first winter and tree/rose pruning. Now, in my aim to look after the environment I have an area overflowing with leaves and branches. So much so that the bench I used as a boundary has now become part of the mulch and is slowly rotting away. It’ll make a great home for stag beetles eventually.

My sleep-hygiene is absolutely screwed, I sleep at odd hours (I’m editing this at 03.09am) or don’t sleep at all. At this very moment I am awake since 4 am and a Paloma Faith concert on BBC catch-up. I feel that I’ll have to go and give the garden a quick go over after writing this if I don’t go to bed (I didn’t). Yesterday I woke at 9.30 am when Lolita dropped her dogs off. I went back to sleep until 11.30 am, fed Sid and the girls, played some Destiny 2 on reset day, went back to bed at 4 pm. Woke at 7 pm to feed the dogs again, Lolita came and left by 10.30 pm and I fell asleep. As already stated I was awake again at 4 am, sore from being asleep on the wooden floor. This was a pretty average day. Some days I might sleep for a full 24 hours only waking when Sid feels like eating (I keep the backdoor open for him for toilet) or I might be awake for 24 hours. It seriously makes you tired even when you spend so much time asleep. It’s no lie that we need eight hours on average and at regular times. I feel like I live in a world of permanent jet-lag. I’m never quite sure what time it is apart from being guided by what’s on the TV. If I’m watching Jeremy Kyle it’s generally morning, if I’m watching Jeremy Kyle and there’s a guy in the bottom right signing for the deaf it’s between 12 am and 9.30 am. If someone is quizzing or selling their old shit at auction it’s some time during the afternoon. It’s no way to live a life.

My health lies in tatters. Eventually my hope of having a limb amputated will come true. The dietician I should be seeing refuses to see me until my mental health is sorted. In the mean time I live on a diet of chocolate, cake, processed scum with chips and beans and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Plus more coffee with a side order of tea. The diabetes were it human would be having a field day. Crisps, chips, battered fish, pizza, burgers, sausages, milk shakes, chocolate ice cream, nothing is off limits to the depressed and slobified diabetic. My blood sugar level reads like a darts score card (180!) but due to the 30 odd tablets I take a day my cholesterol level is apparently brilliant. The diabetes and the neuropathy are the main worries though. Neuropathy is dead nerves… The same thing as missing limb syndrome. Because the nerves are dead the brain gets confused and makes them hurt or something. The same as if they were actually missing. This pain is like burning pins and needles although parts of the limb actually don’t feel anything. Confused yet? To combat the burning pins and needles, so the pain doesn’t become a distraction and the only thing I concentrate on (it’s THAT painful at times) I take Tramadol by the bucket load. At least sixteen 50mg tablets a day. I’ve actually taken thirty-six 50mg tablets in a day just out of curiosity. As an experiment the results were inconclusive: I actually felt no different to normal. But. Even 16 a day must have some negative effect? Even the Dr. at the pain clinic this week said that sixteen would put a horse to sleep so must affect the way I move through life and think. I think she was saying that I’m the equivalent of always being on an opioid bender. As opium is a narcotic the likelihood is that my mood is completely suppressed. With the help of a rehab clinic she wants me off of the Tramadol or at least on a licensed dose; two to four tablets a day. Maybe it’ll make a difference especially if another pain killer with anti-depressant effects is doubled it might have positive results. I’ll have to wait and see.

My career lies in tatters due to my inability to commit to anything or complete anything. My book remains partly written, the photography for it mostly unphotographed. My portfolio remains old, I have few fresh ideas anymore and the ones I do have remain just that, ideas. I feel like the media, however respectful I am has made it hard to approach new models without seeming creepy. I do lack a few things, lights and back-drops for example that are beyond my means that would enable me to control light well enough to be seemingly little more than a man-with-camera. I thought about a go-fund me page but seriously, if I can’t get people to sign a petition how am I going to persuade people to give up £3000 or so? Especially when ‘friends’ have recently made a mockery of the GoFund me site (similar funding sites are available) and such by asking for leisure products and holidays from myself and mutual friends.

I’ve been on my own for about seven years now, not because I want to be but because I want a partner not a nursemaid or someone to heal me. I want to be an equal part of a relationship and not the lesser half. Even there I sabotage myself because truly, the girls I fancy are the same ones I’d photograph. Women of my own age I see as friends only, not as potential partners. Women in their mid 20’s to 30’s appeal to me far more. Perhaps I don’t want the same baggage as I come with or perhaps I need the same spontaneity that I come with. Perhaps I need a Tekken competitor as much as I need a bed-partner and travel/life companion?

Bear in mind please that these effects of my depression are only skimming the surface. If I were to write everything I feel I’d be writing a book. Wait… I am meant to be writing a book on this. But maybe, just maybe, if you read this far you’ll have a better understanding of me and what I say and do. Sure, I’m not politically correct but I don’t care for political correctness. It makes me feel icky. I’m respectful and polite in my own way, a way that was taught to me by my Grandad. What was good for the 40s and 50s when men were gentlemen is good enough for me today. I might make the odd off colour joke about a particular woman but never in bad taste or meant to offend. I might make racially/physically/religiously inappropriate comments, but again, never to offend and often because I believe we have become TOO politically correct and I’m never going to stop calling wusses gay. None of my gay friends are wusses and very very few of them are camp. They know that my use of gay isn’t so much an insult to homosexuals and lesbians rather it’s an insult to people that I believe are the caricature of camp gayness and as such get the gay moniker thrown in their direction. I’ll also never get why black people can use the word ‘Nigger’ but white people can’t or why freedom of speech only applies to those that generally lack it. Let Muslims tear down a Christian religion or burn the UK/US flag outside the US embassy but question whether Sharia law is relevant in Manchester and the thought police will be knocking at your door at four in the morning and ‘racist scum’ will be sprayed across what remains of that same kicked in door.

If I jump into the Thames or steal deck-chairs/sunglasses or use an inner tube to fire conkers at people on a river path you have to cut me a break. Sure, I’m probably in the wrong but I’m also probably having a ‘manic’ moment (meant psychologically) where my thoughts translate into actions I cannot control. I think, therefore I am. I think, therefore I say. At these times no offence is intended but I’m doing/saying the only thing I can even if you personally feel it’s wrong. Please cut me a break. It’s physical Tourettes. Cuntprickballsacks!

Part Three – Bleeding…

So there you have an Andy breakdown. I am FAR from perfect. I value each and every one of my friends and take people as I find them. I judge by my own standards. We all do. If you’re a woman and want to grow a beard or have hairy armpits, have hairy armpits (just don’t show me). If you’re a male plus size model I don’t give a toss. Be a male plus-size model (just don’t eat my cake). If you want a diet coke. Have a diet coke. I believe in freedom of speech. Even the Social Justice Warrior and the Bedroom Cyber-Bully should have free speech. But with a caveat: There was a description suggested this morning for internet etiquette that I loved: 1) Would you say what you’re saying online to the same person face-to-face? Pretty much ninety-nine times out of one hundred, if I say something negative online I’d rather be saying it to your face. 2) Is the article that you’re going to comment on clickbait designed to elicit a negative response? If yes, don’t click on it and deny the owner of the site the financial marketing/advertising revenue generated by your click. If enough people remember this the demographic of internet marketing will change. 3) Just think before you get involved in an online debate. We unfortunately live in a decade where people are offended or triggered by everything, even by being offended. People are thin-skinned and our overt political correctness has led to virtually any speech becoming un-pc in some way. If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing. This won’t apply to me as I’m Aspergic but not all of you will have this excuse. Try to be kind. Even to the spazzers like me.

I’m definitely not saying be sympathetic or patronising to me. Even last night my dog sitter asked me what makes me so special when we all have problems and are all dealing with our own demons. Nothing makes me special. My only failing is that I’ve been knocked down so many times that this time I’m finding it hard to get back up again. A friend once said that that was what she most admired about me; my ability to get back up and reinvent myself slightly after every knock-back. Only an idiot would try the same thing time and time again and expect a different result. No? Isn’t that the definition of a moron? Keep repeating exactly the same thing expecting a different result? While a true genius is someone that knows a little about everything not everything about something.

This time, after selling everything I hold dear after a business failure, the loss of all my syndication money after my blasphemous stint, a search for redemption and faith ending in a proposed exorcism, the loss of an important long-term relationship, the loss of four important friendships, the miss-reading of four potential (in my head only) relationships with girls I really (really) liked, a total relocation from one of the prettiest places ever to somewhere not pretty at all, (for work and bucket-list reasons that so far have failed) and chronic illness. I’m finding this one extremely hard to bounce back from. I’ve also lost the support of the people that would normally help me bounce as even the best of friends have limits. It fucking hurts. And as that hurt becomes deeper it becomes a depression. It’s more than a sadness; far deeper down that dark pit or despair and far less forgiving.

Since 2004 it’s taken it’s toll. It’s cost me jobs and businesses. I been precious about my work to the detriment of a business, I’ve nearly worked with Santa Cruz surf and skate, I would’ve been the first person in the UK to shoot advertising for them. I’ve worked with some great models, some became friends, some of those friends I’ve lost, I’ve dated some real stunning girls and lost them, I recently found I was shooting glamour before 1986 but didn’t become a photographer for real until about 20 years later. I’ve met a bunch of my punk heroes, most are amazing but John Lydon was a prick. Good or bad I’ve stopped bouncing back for a while. I cycle and swim for my health but think cycling is a waste of time; riding in circles with no purpose. And swimming will only benefit me (really benefit me) when I’m back home in Cornwall or can effectively do the front crawl again, (where did that ability go?) I don’t think London will ever feel like home again unfortunately but at least I recognise that now. Cornwall has become my spiritual home. I want to be back by the sea. I want to be able to take someone back home with me and start again. But only after I’ve been able to finish what I started here. In London.

I pray for my depressed friends to recover, those that I know of at least (Richard), I pray for my lost and nowhere to be found loved ones (Zana) and I pray for my friends that no longer want to be friends; (Gayle and Hollie but especially Kate). I often pray for them more than I pray for myself. I pray for those that have helped me along the way (Jo, Di, Ros and Pete). In fact, at one time of another I pray for all of you.

Pascal’s Wager again… What do any of you have to lose if I pray for us all? Bear with me please.

(1) Living with clipped wings—Patients’ experience of losing a leg: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797366/


Jun 142016
 

EA LogoOriginally written for: otakugamers.uk

Aaaand, first up to bat, opening the official presentations for E3 2016 were EA and Bethesda. EA opened and Bethesda gave a convincing second half. Please forgive me my personality flaws and read this with my tongue planted firmly in your cheek. I fail to write up things without my twisted personality shining through and if I offend you by not really liking a game please assume it’s intentional.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA came on with very little fanfare and a lot of applause and pretty much went straight into a composite video of EA’s development plan. When over, he explained how EA’s presentation was actually a Simulbroadcast with Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer in London with a bunch of hardcore EA fans at the Hammersmith Apollo. (If only I’d known… Five minutes down the road, I’m sure I could’ve blagged a seat!) Moore said his hellos and handed back to Wilson in LA. Wilson promised that the next hour would see future Star Wars titles, Mass Effect, Battlefield 1, FIFA, Madden NFL 17 and Titanfall 2.

He handed over to Vincent Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment for the Titanfall 2 reveal. The trailer, as always looked gorgeous. Personally, I never played the original Titanfall due to it’s lack of single player campaign. I know people say it had a loose story but that wasn’t enough to make me want to hand over my cash for what was/is effectively an arena based shooter with a twist and great graphics. I’m not that much of a competitive player and only just competent at arena competition shooters.

But. Titanfall 2, while being more of the same also builds on the first and adds a few important bits and bobs, like, a single player campaign with a real story. A boy (Jack Cooper) meets mech (BT7274 (BT for short)) and wins the day type story. The story mode plays offline so people in remotest Namibia if they have a generator can now play Titanfall. No more conspiracy theories that Titanfall was released with online only playability so that the camera could beam info about you straight to MI5 and the NSA if you were wearing a head cloth and playing with C4 and a bunch of wires and mobile phones. To be honest, the single player campaign sounds generic enough if you’ve played video games for more than three years but compelling enough at least to hand over my cash to see what all the Titanfall fuss is about; the mech’s pilot has died and this time round the mech and pilot form an emotional bond to easier work with one another. Enter stage left a ‘Rifleman’ who gets assigned the pilotless mech and together they learn to work with one another and probably save the world from some kind of global annihilation. There will be six new mechs, more player and mech customisation. But. The biggest and best reveal for me personally, was that this time around it isn’t Xbox One exclusive and us PS4 owners (and PC geeks) can play too. Yep, PS4 Titanfall! Expect a release date of October 28th 2016 to be pushed back! Sorry, expect this game to hit the shelves on October 28 this year. Trust me, I’m a Mech!

The end of the Titanfall 2 trailer segued perfectly? into the trailer for Madden NFL 17 for PS4 and Xbox One which at first glance seemed more of the same but glossier than last years with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This year is all about competition and EA have revamped their competitive play. I honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race and SSX Tricky and (B) Understood American Football. Moore went on to explain that at the heart of EA’s games was competition whether playing professional E-Sports or kicking back with your team in FIFA or Battlefield. To that end EA have revamped their online competitions and added 3 new ways to compete with yearly and weekly challenges across the board: Challenger, Premier and EA Major tiers.

Challenger more easily allows players to participate in, and host their own events. Premier are large scale events hosted by EA and partners from within and without of the gaming industry. Finally, EA Major are live, marquee, global events hosted by EA for the elite amongst the elite with a $50,000 cheque waiting for the winner. Infact, for the Madden NFL 17 championships there is a total of $1 Million in prize money across the competition. Moore hands over to Aaryn Flynn, the general manager of Bioware. Any guesses as to the next game my friends?

Mass Effect Andromeda. Due Early 2017, it’s aim is to sever the ties with the previous trilogy with you (as the alien) in the Andromeda Galaxy. Expect new species. new environments and new technologies as you set out to find a new home for Humanity. Powered by Bioware’s new Frostbite engine there’s no doubt it looks amazing. I know many people love the original trilogy but this time round I’m seriously considering boarding the Mass Effect ship and seeing for myself what all the fuss is about.

Back to Wilson who explains that ‘Play’ (I think EA wish they could trademark the word) is at the heart of EA’s mission statement. Now, with the introduction of ‘Play to Give’ EA hope to benefit the community too. Specifically five charities; the UN HeForShe initiative, the National Centre for Women and Information Technology, !Special Effect, Code.org and Code 2040. To this end there are five ‘charitable’ challenges set across the EA multiverse; Battlefield, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars Battlefront, FIFA 16 and Madden NFL 16. At the end of the challenges over a set time EA will donate $1 Million to their aforementioned charities.

Segue back again to Moore in London for some FIFA news. Moore introduces us eventually to Aaron McHardy, FIFA’s Producer. Oh, and more of the same but glossier than last year with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This time around, and as a first, there is a campaign mode. This time round I almost honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race 64 and 1080 snowboarding and (B) Understood Football. (There are actually girls that can explain the offside rule better than I EVER could). That said, FIFA is the most popular sports game on the planet.

You follow (play as) Alex Hunter from league to premier league football with four big transformations to the way the game plays. Better ‘dead ball’ control, a new attacking mode, active AI intelligence has been improved and new finishing moves have been added. I hate football with a passion and haven’t played a FIFA game since 1956 but utilising the Frostbite engine I have to admit it looks stunning. One day, all premier league footballers will have a chip implanted in their heads and we’ll be playing ‘as’ them through the beauty that is VR. Total immersion!

Patrick Söderlund, EVP of EA Studios then came on to introduce this years big EA Indie game: Fe. Like Unravelled last year, EA are committed to find smaller developers with a passion for creating games with heart, and with stories to be told, under the EA Originals brand. Cooly enough, all profits go back to the developers so they can continue to create amazing but smaller games we might otherwise miss. Fe looks spectacular, an indie game that a lot of love has gone into producing from Zoink software in Gothenburg.

Fe is set in a world without words. A celebration of nature and our desire to be at one with the world around us. It reminds us that everything is connected and that we live in a world held in delicate balance. You begin the story as a young cub that connects with every living thing, plant and animal, through song. Ultimately the aim is to unite with your family but on the way you meet (and hopefully defeat) The Silent Ones, the bad guys of our tale, (the multinational corporations hellbent on destroying the planet and its ecology in the real world.) The game and it’s audio are lush. With muted colours and audio, the developers set the stage but through discovery, you write the story. Your journey will be different from everyone else’s. I’m personally hugely tempted to try this one.

As Fe fades out a familiar John Williams soundtrack blares out and you half expect a procession of programmers to slide diagonally into the screen to a vanishing point in the distance; a long time ago, EA paid an extortionate amount of dollar to obtain very lucrative publishing rights to an ever expanding galaxy of games…

Jade Raymond, General Manager of Motive Studios appears on screen to seemingly talk for every developer that EA are in league with; Dice, Motive, Bioware, Respawn, Visceral and Capital Games amongst them. There sure are a lot of Star Wars games in development it seems but Jade wants to talk about three; Galaxy of Heroes, Old Republic and Battlefront. But in 2018 Visceral will bring us a new game set in the SW universe, with an all new story and all new characters. Respawn are producing an all new Action Adventure game.

Galaxy of Heroes are adding something for everyone, new characters, new locations, in fact, a way to bring everyone’s personal Star Wars fantasy’s to life (except for maybe that sick and twisted fuck in Boreham Wood who’s fantasy is watching Jabba bone a naked Leia before Luke comes to rescue her and Han.)

Next year will come a new completely instalment of Battlefront adding content that we the players have asked for and the worlds of ‘A Force Awakens’ and beyond.

Lastly but so not leastly; Battlefield 1. The Battlefield community has grown to 60 million players around the world and I’ve only played one of the games for about two and a half hours. Terrible I know but I just love the simplicity of Call of Duty.

As we know Battlefield 1 is set during World War 1. I don’t know if I’m even comfortable with this as it’s only a year or so since the last enlisted soldier to serve in the UK’s army died. WW1 was brutal and Dice want to represent that with knives, shovels and other non-weapons used as weapons in the trenches. By all means let us fight future wars and play the good guy during current wars but to glorify the most brutal war man has ever fought? Personally, I don’t know. But anyways, back to the game and forget my moralistic ramblings…

Battlefront 1 will be epic in scale, 64 player multiplayer, dynamic battles where no two battles will ever be the same, dynamic weather, new dynamic destruction to allow more things to be destroyed than ever before and you’ll be able to control the behemoths in game: The airships in the sky, the battleships at sea, tanks, bi-planes, howitzers and horses. All of course in the new Frostbite engine for maximum high definition carnage. Let’s hope Dice have found a way to tell a story about war that teaches us of the horrors involved. In much the same way as ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ by Ubisoft Montpellier did with approximately a millionth of the budget.

That was EA. Enjoy!


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.

In bold, the task is in progress.

Struck-through, I’ve completed the task.

#1.      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

#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.

#18.    Get the Canon 1Ds MkIII, 1Dx or 5D, 16-35 f/2.8L III, 24-70 f/2.8L II, 85mm f/1.2L II, Studio Lights x’s 4, Backgrounds.

#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])

#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, Tauru 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)

#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)

#33.    At least triple my Twitter or Instagram followers each year. 2016, 2017, 2018

#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?)

#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). 2016-17. 17-18

#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 – ?

#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.

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


Mar 232013
 

So many things are going on in my head right now. I’ve been reading teh interwebs for two days straight and I’m feeling like my dislike for people in general is justified. Of course, ‘teh interwebs’ (sic) is where the trolls live so I’m probably being unjust if I base the whole of humanity on a few, but still.

What made me write this post is a thread I read on an IMDb forum regarding the film ‘Monsters’ [2010] written and directed by Gareth Edwards and shot for around $15,000. It’s an awesome movie considering the low budget.

Filmed on a Sony EX3 with a Nikon 50 MM Lens the director used natural light almost exclusively except for a couple of tiny LED lights for when it was pitch black. The effects were done in Adobe CS4 and the editing in Premiere. The majority of filming was shot with just a sound guy, the director and the 2 main leads. Most of the extras were locals and a lot of the scenes and locations were shot opportunistically.

Awesome! But by fuck were the trolls out to get this one on the forums.

I replied recently to another thread on another site I use to people who were criticising a short animation. Most of them were not criticising the story or the characters, they were criticising the actual cinematography and the techniques used. This was on a gaming site.

My comment was simply; “if you can do better go out and do it. If not, have respect for the man that did. If you actually have the skill to do a better job and think that the film maker could have done things better or improve on his technique, send the director an email and offer to help him.”

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. I know I welcomed it as a photographer. If someone obviously had more talent than me I learnt from them if I could and listened to what they had to say. I ignored the ‘I could do that’ trolls. If they could, they would’ve and I would be copying them

The two things that got to me on the ‘Monsters’ forum were 1) the thread criticising the lead male for portraying a professional photographer badly and 2) criticising him (the photojournalist) for going with the girl (that he didn’t know) in the first place (into territory infected by the ‘Monsters’ of the title).

Amongst the many reasons Scoot McNairy was criticised for playing a photojournalist badly was that in one of the last scenes he just stands and watches the monsters rather than shooting them (with his camera). That led me to thinking about the incident I was involved with only two days past. And. Bear in mind I ‘am’ (or was) a professional photographer.

20 March 2013. I was on the King Harry Ferry (a chain ferry) crossing the river Fal when I watched a car roll off of the concrete slipway, onto the riverbank and stop with it’s front wheels in the water. I was on the opposite side of the Fal. The driver, an elderly male had apparently (I was later to learn) stepped out of his car to take a photo and either didn’t apply the handbrake properly or the handbrake failed. As of writing there hasn’t been any more information.

The driver and one other male seemed to dither about by the car, one of them wandered back across the slipway to a moored and beached dinghy with an outboard before sauntering back. Neither male looked overtly worried in so much as they weren’t about to get their feet wet. As we (the people on the ferry) watched, the car began to slide into the water. The driver looked panicked and the skipper of the ferry was already on the radio and the phone to the emergency services. A manager from the ferry company had got into a small boat and was making his way across the river towards the scene of the accident.

A disabled woman was trapped in the car! With two dogs. As it slipped under the water.

When the ferry was about thirty feet from where the car had probably settled underwater I was begging the guy in the boat above the car to throw me a rope so that I could dive down and see what I could do for the woman in the car. He refused and refused. I begged. His reasoning was that the water was too deep, 25/30 feet at that point, and that the visibility was nil and that the river was tidal. I knew it would be too dangerous without some kind of safety line myself and was feeling awful and frantic that I wanted to help but wasn’t being allowed to.

When it was obvious that the ferry could dock and cause no more difficulties to the car it pulled onto the slipway and having the only four wheel drive with a tow bar (I drive a Land Rover) I figured that if a rope could be hooked onto the car I might be able to tow it out of the river. The guy on the small boat was desperately trying to hook the car, which he couldn’t see, and was only approximately sure of it’s location, with his anchor. If he could manage it, I could try to tow it.

Two inshore lifeboats arrived. Neither having a diver they agreed that trying to hook the car with an anchor and me towing it was probably the best idea available at that time.

Two offshore lifeboats and a helicopter arrived but still no diver. The best shot was a local mussel ‘free’ diver named Matt Vernon, (a fucking hero!) he spent ages in just a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins diving down in the nil visibility, and near freezing water trying his best to get some kind of line on the car. At one point he did and the line was tied to my car by the coastguard on the shore and I was instructed where to drive and how slow. I moved perhaps 15/20 feet before the car got stuck (I was later told) on the ferry chain and my clutch began to burn out.

The rope was then tied to the winch of a fire engine and at that point it couldn’t tow the car out of the water either.

This was perhaps three quarters of an hour after the car had gone into the water with the woman.

This is a précis of the whole story. There had also been an off duty policeman directing traffic, a community police officer trying to co-ordinate things on shore. The ferry standing offshore with two ambulances and a fire engine. A fire engine on the submerged cars side of the water with two coastguard trucks, four police cars and an ambulance.

Including the emergency services on the opposite side of the river, on the river and in the air there were eighteen vehicles. Not one of them had a trained and equipped diver.

Cornwall has the most coastline of any UK county and this local region, Carrick, is one of it’s most coastal with tourism and fishing both playing a major role. The nearest major town; Falmouth (along with the Carrick Roads area where the river Fal and river Percuil meet) has the third deepest natural harbour in the world.

EIGHTEEN emergency vehicles, at a coastal emergency, and not one diver.

Again, this is a précis. I struggle to think about that afternoon and have prayed for the man that lost his wife and dogs. For the woman that died and for the dogs and for all that were involved and that might be feeling a little raw for their involvement.

As a man, I hope I did everything I could to help. I beat myself up for not getting into the water and forcing the issue of the ferry guy giving me a rope but I know he did the right thing by refusing; while I was giving a statement to the police the officer said that the only thing more galling than losing someone to an incident like this (and he’d never, in ten years been to an incident like this) was losing two people when the person that tried to help ended up dying too. It’s a sobering thought.

As a photographer. As the only photographer on the incident side of the river. I actually considered being able to get photos that no other journalist would be able to get and wondered the financial value of said photos…

Ultimately, I decided against it. As a photographer I decided against it. This wasn’t a tsunami or 9/11 where the disaster was worldwide news. This was a local, personal tragedy and as such my role was to help and not to document a media event that would not have world wide ramifications and photography would not be part of it’s history.

Thinking about the forum comment that sparked this blog post, unless you’re there, unless you’re a photographer you have no idea how you’re going to react to a situation or whether you feel the need to document it. By saying that ‘not taking photos’ is a bad representation of a photojournalist the troll has no idea. I was there and I didn’t take photos. To not take photos shows humanity in some situations and an actors job is to be as naturally human as possible.

Troll… You have been pwned!

As for item #2. Why did the photojournalist decide to go cross country (across a monster infected area) with a girl that he’d just met?

I’d like to think that all things being equal. In that situation, I might make that decision too. Like Luke Rhinehart. The ‘Diceman’, sometimes you have to throw the dice and take a risk. Even if the dice are metaphorical, sometimes you have to roll them and do something unexpected. As the events of the 20th have shown, life is too often, too short. We have no idea when ours will run out and one has to make the most of each moment. One minute you can be admiring the scenery and within ten minutes either yourself or your family and pets can be dead.

Dead is forever. This moment, this life is fleeting. Even your allotted eighty or so years, seen in perspective, in time, is but an eye-blink. What percentage is your allotted life, of time that has gone before, since the beginning of time until the end of time with the implosion of the universe? It is an infinitesimally small amount of time. That’s all you have, all you will ever have and you don’t even know how long that time is.

Live! Live in the moment. Live for today. Take risks, take calculated gambles and live. Experience life. Enjoy life and if you don’t, find a way to. Find someone to share it with. Take a risk and talk to the girl you feel you’ll have no chance with because the chances are she feels just as insecure as you do. Take that walk in the countryside. Stop and smell the flowers. Play with your kids and pets. Take a holiday. Spend some money recklessly, swim in the ocean, hike cross country. Talk to a stranger. Look out to sea and smell the salt. Tell your folks you love them, eat ice-cream in the winter, try sushi for the first time. Just fucking enjoy and experience life because it is too fucking short not to.

Why did the journalist go cross-country with a girl he’d just met (but probably fancied)? Because he could!


Jan 112013
 

The opening passage from what is currently chapter ten of my upcoming book. At the moment in ‘first draft’ stage and un-edited…

I read a passage in Jon Richardson’s book It’s Not Me, It’s You:

I could quite happily get through a 40-year marriage without ever suspecting that my partner went to the toilet at all…”

I totally know where Jon was coming from. Totally. I’m all for sick and inappropriate jokes. Niggers, Pakis, the Welsh. All are fair game. Necrophillia, Peadophillia and the Welsh shagging sheep can be pretty funny in the right circles at the right time, but toilet talk? I just don’t. I’m very British about going to the toilet. One pretends one doesn’t. Of course, everyone shits. I’d just rather they didn’t and if they have to I’d rather they didn’t tell or show me. A wee I can deal with just. As long as the girl (or boy) I’m with is having a delicate tinkle and not pissing like a horse. I can even pee in public. In a wood on a long walk with friends as long as I’m behind the statutory tree. Shit is another thing altogether. A steaming pile of smelly turd that scrapes down the toilet pan leaving greasy streaks that needs to be removed as soon as possible. A lingering stink, from some people so bad one can almost taste it. Shit is awful!

Imagine then my horror, when dog-sitting for Elizabeth, (that’s Ee-Liz-A-Beth not Elizab’th) to find that not one toilet in her house had a loo brush. Just a bottle of bleach.

“Loo brushes are disgusting” she replied when I plucked up (from somewhere very deep inside) the courage to enquire why not.

“What the fuck! Greasy shit streaks over white porcelain aren’t?” I thought.

“Just put bleach down the pan” she carried on.

Yeah right, ‘cos that will clean the bowl in about, what? A day? As well as the dogs I was ’sitting’ I was also looking after two teenaged girls. I was horrified to think either one of them might use the bathroom after me, an inevitability, and find my horrid brown stains and know it was me and not the others sister. Even the Queen shits. I know that. It’s just that I doubt she advertises it or wants a phone-camera pic of her last one showing up on Twitter. I bet the Queen has a loo brush in every and each of her two hundred or so toilets across all of her estates.

Like the Queen, in my house, I have a loo brush in every toilet. All one of them. I, like Ee-Liz-A-Beth find them pretty disgusting but (unlike Elizabeth) a necessary evil. To reduce the vileness I have bleach in the container you put the brush in. That way I figure the brush is permanently being cleaned. Sure, it’s going to get shitty but at least I’m attempting to lessen the germs and vileness.

I’d loved Elizabeth for years. I mean really loved. Really really loved. Could I live in a house where the loo brush was banned, even for a short two weeks? I was going to find out. I wondered to myself, if things had been different, would Elizabeth and I have argued about loo brushes had we ever lived together in our own house. We had certainly discussed living together once-upon-a-time, we even discussed marriage! Who would have won? Would I have capitulated and lived in a loo brush free house, buying gallons of bleach on a weekly basis? I have no idea.

I’d love to know what you guys think… (Names have been changed to protect the guilty).