Call me 8-Ball


My last blog post generated quite a lot of interest, sympathy and empathy, dealing as it did with the daily travails of someone suffering from a mental illness: me. One reader commented that in reading what I’d written of myself, they saw themselves and were relieved to learn that they weren’t alone. The same person also expressed gratitude for me sharing my thoughts in such an open way. As I’ve always said, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes my words are controversial but they’re often helpful to others and that’s one of the many reasons I write. Call me mad; call me 8-ball but that’s what I do.

As most people know, those who benefit from my “wisdom” are mainly young adults; mostly girls. They’re the ones who seek me out most often – I never seek them out – and although the company of a bevy of teenage girls is undeniably agreeable, I do not discriminate. So I was quite heartened this week when an older gentleman friend of mine sought my advice. It’s impossible to counsel someone who is facing inevitable grief because the loss of a loved one is a subjective thing, affecting each individual differently. I wasn’t going to insult my friend’s intelligence nor patronise him by telling him that everything will be okay because it simply won’t. So I dispensed my usual frank and brutal advice. What I said remains between friends but in essence, I started the grieving process prematurely; something which I was told was actually refreshing. My friend dreaded the inevitable less. Anyone in that position may lapse back into addictions which they may have had under control but my advice was not to beat himself up for using what is simply a coping mechanism. Alas, the inevitable event has occurred. I shall not constantly enquire of my friend’s wellbeing because if he’s coasting along with his coping mechanisms and someone asks if he’s okay, the immediate reaction will be in the negative which may not have occurred to him were it not for my enquiry. So, just like the young people, I shall not seek him out but I will be here should he need me. I asked my friend why he’d sought my advice, when I hold no appropriate qualifications. His reply was typical and along the lines of my being so open, approachable and intelligent. The poisoned chalice which is my intellect is the main cause of my mental problems but I wouldn’t be without it.

The girls who’ve adopted me aside, there are a few persistent enquirers who claim to wish to see me for advice or company but who actually need me for convenience and a free convenience store. These people don’t seem to understand that I do actually work, albeit in an unconventional sense. As for the girls themselves, I believe they all have boyfriends at the moment. As such I shall most likely hear from them less, at least until one of their wheels come off. They’re always a pleasure, as they don’t use me.

So lately I’ve been somewhat inwardly reflective, while I continue to recover from my alcohol abuse and face up to the things I did and the people I hurt whilst I was drunk. I beg no forgiveness when I say that it’s sobering. I’ve been diagnosed with a form of PTSD, following the drinking and homelessness and I must admit that sometimes the temptation is to drink, simply to cloud over the knowledge of what I’ve learned I did when drunk. But that would be to deny the problem. I must face my deeds and deal with them, just as I have my demons. Sobriety is a punishment, for enlightenment of my ill deeds is uncomfortable but it’s something I must live with. I did those things and must pay the price. And this whole process remains one which I mainly need to be left alone to deal with myself, just as others need to be left alone to grieve. If I need help, I shall seek it.

I had a very pleasant brunch with the mother ship yesterday and am able to explain things better to her, now that I have greater clarity of mind. Just like my girls, she understands me and that understanding is bringing us closer together.

Time off from social and counselling engagements has also allowed me to get on with the other thing which I refer to as work: writing. I have taken a very big decision with my book, The Paradoxicon: I’ve signed over serialisation rights to the magazine which I’m a regular contributor to. From the editor’s point of view, the serialisation of a good book – readers’ words, not mine, although I do maintain that it is a good read – ensures return visitors and readers. I stand to gain from impatient people wanting to read the rest of the story and buying the book, here. Furthermore, COGS, my very controversial tale of automata but a story of which I’m proud, is going into print in the next bi-monthly edition of Schlock. COGS joins The Message, previously published and available here.

In keeping with media tradition, finally, sports news: last night the pub pool team, of which I’m a member, played our weekly league game and this week we played away. We lost the match and I lost my singles game – putting my player stats for the season at two wins and two losses – but we were competing against a very competent opposing team. The game is important to us and the league to our pub but more than anything, it’s an enjoyable night out with the team and we have a laugh.

The first singles match, not involving me, was a comedy of errors and went to the black ball, which through a combination of ineptitude, ignorance and incompetence, refused to pot. Both players attempted the black no fewer than four times and the tension was tangible, broken only by my announcement that I’d had a phone call from 1985, asking if they could have their game back.

I shall not name and shame any of the other players by highlighting their errors and amusing asides but I was not immune from the cock ups which were a feature of the evening: it is tradition every week that we have a football card, with team names on. Each pool player selects a team, pays an entry fee into a collection glass which is passed around and we have a sweepstake. The sweepstake card and collection glass arrived with me, I selected my team and without looking, deposited my pound coin. Into someone’s pint.

Redemption for my singles defeat came when myself and my partner won our doubles match. I was the fourth player to address the table and prior to my visit, our opponents had potted all but one of their balls and my partner had potted none. Therefore I was faced with one red ball, seven yellows and the black on the table. I cleared up in one visit: seven yellows and the black to take the game. I don’t recall the last time I played an eight ball clearance and the opposing team had apparently not seen one for a while, as they all congratulated me and shook my hand. As did my team, of course.

So, call me Mr 8-ball if you like.

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