Taken Out With The Junk (poem)

We loved the rave, those nights to day
We danced we talked cod philosophy
It’s the second summer of love
There’s something tribal in the funk
But a darker fate for some friends waits
As they were taken out with the junk
Dealer says he’s out of pills
Do you want to try some brown
And the love, the dance, the thoughts
All stopped
The smile became a frown
The comedown drops
In the corner flopped
Your robbing shops
The clock of life it ticks
And then it tocks
Ticks and then it tocks
Tick
Tock
Comes to a stop
And your slumped there on a bunk
Needle in arm
Deaf to alarm
Taken out with the junk
Some tried to escape with traveling
To stop their lives unravelling
This high was the worst discovery
Take twelve steps to recovery
The rave now seems a fiction
As you battle the addiction
I saw the last gasp taken in
As your veins are filled with heroin
Now I’m not saying you need live you lives
As though you were a monk
But I can’t forget that list of friends
Taken out with the junk

 

 

 

The Bench. 2 page sketch.

We were asked to write a two page piece called The Bench…

THE BENCH. 2 PAGE SKETCH

The year is 2061. We are in a central London park. Bernard a representative of OneCorp is processing the final sale of a park bench to Raymond a Scot.

Bernard.   So here’s your investment Raymond and if I do say so a canny purchase.  There are seven benches up for grabs at auction this month and a snip at seventy thousand. This has one previous owner, don’t worry we’ll have the brass dedication plaque to the previous owner’s wife removed. A sorry affair, he was a suicide I believe. All quite common these    days sadly but it does slow down getting these things to sale. Obviously the park is owned  by OneCorp, well we pretty much own the city. As a customer of ours you’ll have daily   access to your property. There’s lots you can do with this my friend, enjoy the view,            treat a friend or perhaps romance a lady eh. Hell I like it so much I could happily live on it.

Raymond. Yes…Live on it. That sounds like a good idea.

Bernard.   Err… I was joking sir. I mean technically as the owner you could indeed live here…but…well I’m assuming if you can afford a bench you’re perhaps in one of the more spacious units in a OneCorp Megastruct. You’re not living in one of the camps are you? You’re a Scot aren’t you? I’m assuming you’re now down here because of the accident.

Raymond. Ah yes the accident.

Bernard.   Yes, jolly bad luck that was. Such an irony as well to think you put all that effort into trying to get rid of nukes then one of the bally things goes up in the air and straight back down on half the population. Bloody awful state of affairs. I hope you didn’t lose anyone.

Raymond. We all lost someone.

Bernard.   Indeed. I am sorry.

Raymond. So you think it was an accident?

Bernard.   I do indeed sir. You’re not one of those conspiracy nuts are you?

Raymond. A conspiracy nut? Conspiracy’s an interesting thing isn’t it? People have studied them for years. Pearl harbour, the Kennedys, Princess Di, nine eleven…a nuke lands on Scotland. Pearl harbour is one that interests me. You know some believe the American government let the Japanese bomb them so it would galvanise the country into joining the war in Europe.

Bernard. Well it’s an interesting theory but…

Raymond. Yes it is and seems entirely plausible to me. Now what if you took that theory and applied it to the “accident” as you call it.

Bernard. Well I can understand your anger old bean but I don’t think Scotland’s in any fit state to mount an invasion.

Raymond. No…not on their own. Anyway who says it would have to be an invasion.

Bernard.   I’m not sure I ascertain your meaning?

Raymond. You see the trouble with people like you and OneCorp is you see Scotland and the Scots as a geographical point on a map, as an accent, a nation, a right pain in the arse of the old empire. Sure when nationalism first arose in that part of the globe it was self-serving and inward looking. But we expected that. We planned for that. But then that        nationalism matured as we knew it would. The idea became more egalitarian, eventually it started asking not just for in independent Scotland but a better type of Scotland. A            fairer Scotland, a country that treated all as equal. Whether they won the independence      or not was a moot point. You see the thing is the idea of what it was to be Scottish would   spread. Next thing you know Iceland have sacked and imprisoned their bankers, and that   was just a start, another example that the world was watching. Freeing Palestine was the big one. That really shook up the old order…But we needed something bigger. Something  that would galvanise not just a country…but a planet.

Bernard.   I’m sorry you say “we” expected that…who the hell is we?

Raymond. Well I suppose you would call us conspirators. Trust me I don’t think that’s quite fitting enough for what’s about to happen.

Bernard.   Right I’m sorry sir but this is sedition you’re talking here and I’m well within my remit as a OneCorp representative to hold you here for questioning.  I’m just going to run a background check on my pad…what’s going on here? Bloody net won’t…

Raymond. Won’t respond. Yes we’ve just taken it. The internet invented by Tim Berners-Lee. A great and noble man, and one of us.

Bernard. Are you insane we have armies.

Raymond. Ah the armies. You know two thirds of the homeless are ex services? I’m afraid your stock isn’t too high with them. Maybe should have looked after them a bit better on your various corporate excursions.

Bernard. The capital, the resources and the banks. You don’t have banks! We have the money! That’s the way of things.

Raymond. The money isn’t real my friend. It isn’t a real resource. Here’s how we look on that. Thanks very much for lending us your invisible wheelbarrow…here you go you can have your invisible wheelbarrow back now.

Bernard.   And what will become of OneCorp? What will become of me?

Raymond. We have everything. We’re on every board of every bit of business that’s of use to us. Look on this as a not too hostile takeover.  A velvet revolution is what they used to call it. As for you…Well this bench now belongs to me, you’re than welcome to spend some time at my place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene from a play. (I/Mmature student 4.)

I imagine I’ll regret posting early stabs at stuff up here as things go on. Bugger it. We’ve been asked to write our first wee scene. We were given this start… 

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

And then to develop some physical action to follow this and then to produce a scene. I admit this is a bit hack and obvious but hey it’s also about having fun. Any resemblance to real life characters is purely coincidental. Oh and one other thing if you want to see me live I’m hosting Stand Up for Corbyn at The Tyne Theatre Newcastle tonight.

THE CLEANER.

Scene  1.

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

A woman then enters. She is cleaning. On the wall are two paintings, one of Winston Churchill and one of Margaret Thatcher. She dusts the Churchill then blows a raspberry and makes a rude gesture towards the Thatcher leaving it uncleaned. She then finds the letter and starts to piece it back together.

Mrs Ribble.  Ee…Someone’s not popular. There must be about two thirds of that shower asking for his resignation. Shower o’ shite the lot of em.

The man re-enters. He finds the cleaner with the letter.

Mr Radisson.   Err…hello. Are you the new cleaner? You really shouldn’t be reading that you know.

Mrs Ribble.     Divin’t worry pet. Your secret’s safe with me. Ah haven’t got that git from the papers lodging in me spare room to cover that friggin’ tax o’ theirs.

Mr Radisson.   You mean Rupert Murdoch?

Mrs Ribble.     No the one that does the gossip column. Piers…something…Anyway he’s gone right doon in my estimation since he was hacking all them phones. How dare they, and Hugh Grant was such a gentleman aboot it all.

Mr Radisson.   Yes but I really must stress the severity of this. If one word gets out…err…Mrs, Ms?

Mrs Ribble.     Ribble. Like rabble but with an ibble as opposed to an abble.

Mr Radisson.   Well Mrs Ribble I really can’t emphasise enough how what you’ve read mustn’t be spoken of outside this room. I have to prepare a statement in response. You do realise this is what we call a political coup? There’s every bit of a chance I might not even be in this office this time next week.

Mrs Ribble.   It must be hard…

Mr Radisson. It was expected. You see I’m trying to take the party back to…

Mrs Ribble.     No I mean on your feelings. It must be hard on your feelings. There’s a lot of people on that list I’m sure you regarded as friends and yet here they are putting the knife in. That must be hard. I reckon a lot of folks don’t really see you as a real person. Just another face off telly. To tell you the truth Mr Radisson I’ve never really been interested in the world of politics but that was because the world of politics was never really interested in me. But then you arrived and I thought you had some nice ideas. I’d like cheaper trains. I have to get the train here every day and it costs a bloody fortune. It’s no wonder they’re called Virgin ‘cos no bugger wants to ride on them. (LAUGHS)

Mr Radisson. (LAUGHS) Oh that really is quite good…

Mrs Ribble.   Ee maybes you could use it at the next Prime Ministers question time.

Mr Radisson. Well… perhaps not. Look, Mrs Ribble that really was the kindest thing I’ve had said to me in months.  I am a person and yes this betrayal is causing all sorts of pains. These ideas of mine aren’t new, if anything they’re quite old fashioned. They’re what this party is supposed to stand for. However much a brave face I put on this I really am not sure this is a fight I can win. Too many of own party have a lot to lose.

Mrs Ribble.     Well I for one hope you take them on and fight this oot. And there’s a lot of folk feel like me aboot you. You’re a proper fresh breath ye are. If it helps there’s a saying we have in my family, I don’t know if it’s become popular, but we say it a lot. It goes, Divin’t let cunts put ye in a mincer.

Mr Radisson.   Err…I think that might be, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Mrs Ribble.     Trust me pet. I know what I mean. My husband came up with it after he saw that film Frago.  Anyhoo I best get on. I’ve got a pile of overtime on since we did a Brexit. Most of the other cleaners have buggered off back to where they come from. And who can blame them! (LAUGHS)

Mrs Ribble exits leaving Mr Radisson in contemplation.

I/Mmature Student. 2. Fellow writers. Macbeth.

Ok now that I’m getting the first insights into what the workload is going to be like at Northumbria Uni with my studies of Drama and Script I’m beginning to realise this blog may be a place where I come for a wee break to relax and recharge. I’ve no problem with said work load…but yep we’re going to be busy.

Much to my delight I finally met my fellow writers today.  A great eclectic bunch from India, Latvia, Gateshead and other such exotic places. There are 6 of us but if you include Richard Stockwell our course tutor there will be 7 of us in the room at any given time. That’s a good number, both lucky and magnificent. Obviously Richard is the Yul Brynner leader type. One of my classmates Holly is a Bowie fanatic (there is no other type of Bowie fan) so she’s obviously dead smart/cool/old fashioned. I imagine over the next three years the pair of us will manage to put the other five off The Great Dame David for the rest of their days.

I’m absolutely delighted with the tiny size of our group. Compared to the more common class sizes we can have a lot more feedback and attention provided to our developing skills.

For our first classes we’ve to read The Coen brothers introduction to Fargo. I know, how cool is that. This is my homework! Plus we’ve to read/reread Macbeth. I’m not massively versed in Shakespeare but that is the one play of his I’m pretty familiar with. I’ve got a copy of it in the house somewhere  along with the notes. However as a bit of a cheat I’ve also just downloaded the latest film version staring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard and err…me. Honest I was a member of the English army that invade Scotland. I would be gobsmacked if I can pick myself out as I wore a hood over my head for the days shoot. Possibly a good thing as my many friends in the SNP might find my role that day a wee bit hard to stomach. The shoot that day was pretty rough as we spent most of our time up a massive hill or in a bog in Northumbria at the start of February in sideways rain. Most of us spent most of the day slipping and falling on our arses. At one point I was heard to say in my broad Scots accent, “Ahm no sure if this invasion of Scotland is such a good idea. I think someone’s going to get seriously injured here.” Whether this adlib has made the final cut remains to be seen. I’m not so sure improvising is encouraged when doing the Great Bard.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/

macbeth-1
Is this a dagger I see before me… I’d imagine so mate. We’re in Glasgow.

 

 

Living successfully with Bi-polar 1.

Living Successfully with Bi-Polar 1.

I wrote this blog several months ago then didn’t publish it. The stigma issues connected to such stuff were still very much to the fore of my concerns. Since then something happened that changed my viewpoint dramatically. I chose to perform a half hour of comedy about my condition for the mental health charity Mind. I told a good 30 minutes worth of very personal anecdotes about my experience. It turned out to be very funny and deeply cathartic. Perhaps the same effect someone may get from an AA meeting. At the end of the show I met several other service users who thanked me for sharing my experiences. I’m now in the process of writing a one hour show to be performed this October about my life with Bi-Polar 1 which is brutally frank and hopefully as funny. Re-reading this article I find it still quite guarded compared to how I talk about the condition now just a few months later. I’ll publish some of the stories when I get them down on this blog. But in the meantime this serves as a bit of a po-faced synopsis of what’s to come. I look forward to getting it out there.       

“In truth I’m never keen to talk about this on a public forum. However, after recently watching Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive AND meeting a young woman recently diagnosed with the condition I felt compelled to publish something. If it helps one person then that’s of use.”

I had my first episode of Bi-Polar symptoms around the age of 24. I’d not long split from a long term relationship and was self-medicating and smoking a lot of cannabis. At the time it kicked in I was at collage one day when in I became delusional and paranoid. I was convinced criminals were out to get me and that people were conspiring against me. This is all very common symptoms of Bi-Polar.

At the time a lot was being written about direct links between schizophrenia and cannabis and I feel this really contributed to a misdiagnosis. I spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was then for the next 6 years treated for schizophrenia which in the end turned out to be very detrimental to my health. I can’t really recall the various treatments I was given but I lost those six years. I felt as if I was in some kind of bubble, detached from people and the world.

As time moved on I began to read up on schizophrenia and Bi Polar disorder and began to realise I wasn’t showing any signs of schizophrenia but was showing all the signs of a Bi-Polar disorder. Eventually one day I phoned a Bi Polar helpline and something really quite unbelievable happened. For anybody that follows my blog you’ll know I’m a professional comedian. It’s how I earn my living. So I rang this helpline and got talking to a woman on the line. I told her about myself when she interjected and asked, “You say you’re a comedian. Were you on in Glasgow this weekend.” I replied that yes I was. The woman then told me, “John I saw you this weekend and spoke to you. You are in my opinion 100% Bi Polar and its very important we get this diagnosis changed and get you the correct treatment.”

It then took almost a year of arguing with consultants etc to get the right treatment and diagnosis. It turned out that once a “professional” gives you a label it can take a hell of a lot of battling to get that opinion turned over.

Eventually I started getting more appropriate treatment and immediately began to feel better and enjoyed a couple of years of relatively “normal” life. But it never truly went away. It just receded for a bit.

Still now feeling better things began to improve in my life. I met and fell in love with the woman who is now my wife. I began to get on the bottom rungs of a career in the comedy industry. I’d stopped self-medicating with cannabis. (I haven’t touched the stuff in about 13 years)

The condition wasn’t quite done with me yet. About 3 years into my relationship I began to suffer some terrible stress at work and eventually another really big episode kicked in. I experienced full blown elations and delusions and frightening paranoia. Then my delusions turned more to a notion that my soul was destined for Hell. Those were terrifying delusions. Just stop and think for a minute what it would be like to believe that a place like Hell was actually real.

My health went up and down over the next few years and from the years 2006-2008 I entered my absolute worse period. Delusions were happening on an almost weekly basis. I was crippled by the condition and finding all kinds of social stimulus almost impossible. I was terrified I was going to burn out and the condition would be the end of me. I’d read once that only around 15% of people with Bi Polar 1 actually manage to function in the real world. Somehow in amongst this I managed to keep working. It was the hardest struggle of my life.

In desperation I one day again handed myself in to psychiatric services and it was decided a new treatment should be tried. That’s when I went onto Seroquel. It pretty much saved my life, my relationship and my sanity. I responded to it fast. I remember 6 weeks in turning up at my consultants office and asking, “What is this? The delusions are gone. The crippling depression is gone too. I remember this feeling. This is what it is to feel normal.”

I’ve been very well for 6 years now. I have a life I’m very happy with. I’ve worked as a professional comedian and writer for 13 years now. I’ve been with my partner for almost 16 years. I’m off to do a degree in Script writing this year at university. Trust me the condition isn’t gone, but the point I’m here to make is it is VERY treatable. So if you’re out there experiencing a bad day with it today remember there is a tomorrow.

Years ago the notion was put to me that geneticists are now heading towards the gene that causes the condition and may be able to eradicate it. If I could live over again would I have my own Bi Polar taken out of my life? I had to think long and hard about that and eventually concluded no. If it wasn’t for the condition, despite the entire struggle, I wouldn’t be who I am and living the life I do today.

For all the detriment this condition causes I believe there are some great plus signs. One being that Bi Polar people experience everything just that wee bit more acutely/intensely than others. From listening to music, watching a film, enjoying other people or looking at the patterns the rain makes on a window. We have an intense appreciation of the good things…and yes the bad.

Focus on the good. Some things this condition gives us are gifts. And always remember it is treatable. Maybe not today but definitely tomorrow.

The Ladies of Greggs (poem)

If you’re reading this outside the UK I should explain Greggs are a nationwide chain of bakers who originate from the city I live in Newcastle. I’ve heard several locals refer to them as a good employer. I can’t vouch that 100% you’d have to ask the staff. But the notion of employers treating staff well is a dwindling standard across the globe with some large areas being shoved back to slavery. I think that’s what the deliver us from evil line is about at the end…

 

THE LADIES OF GREGGS.

The ladies of Greggs work hard on their legs.
To bring us those pasties that keep us all fed.
The ladies of Greggs rise early from bed.
They’re the best of all mothers Ive oft heard it said.

With a smile and a cheery, “There ye gan pet.”
To say they seem happy is a fairly safe bet.
But why do they bother to bring us good service.
Most workers these days of their jobs they are nervous.

Because Greggs are an employer of decent repute.
Thats why you dont find them in industrial dispute.

For the cakes that they bake pay a good hourly rate so happiness at work is these ladies fate.

So we’d like to show thanks to the people at Greggs.
Deliver us from evil with our daily bread.

Milk The Cow Podcast No. 2

HERE’S THE LATEST MILK THE COW PODCAST. WE JUST HIT NUMBER 1 IN OUR CATEGORY ON I-TUNES!!!!  I’m on again, but ignore that and listen to the lads. I-Tunes top ten in their category. you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel rightfully outraged, you’ll want to sleep with all of us (probably not the last one…but hey…print the legend)

http://www.milkthecowpodcast.com/podcast/2015/10/23/043milk-the-cow-podcasttony-seaman-teeside-construction-activistpolice-harassmentjohn-scottsod-the-tories