Category: Uncategorized

Another depression post

Yeah, more stuff about depression. Sorry about that, but when you live with it you find that it kind of dominates things. Even when you’re not feeling down, there’s a shadow, a presence, even if it is diminished for however long.

Anyway, it’s not my fault it’s topical again. No, it’s Johann Hari‘s. He’s written a book and been doing the rounds on various channels, not least Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP). The book has been critiqued by many. I’ve not read it and don’t intend to. I love me a bit of RHLSTP, not just because of the celebrity York City fan aspect, but I had to turn this one off.

I do not doubt Hari’s experiences with depression – and lord knows he’s given us all ammunition to do just that, but let’s be charitable. I do not doubt that what he talks about – and I refer specifically to the podcast here – can and has worked for him. Much of it bears a truth as far as I can see, though only goes part way to making an understanding of what goes on in a depressed person’s brain. The big selling point of the book seems to be these new revelations about lifestyle – societal rather than personal – factors weighing so heavily on the id which, so far as I can tell, aren’t really revelatory at all.

I’m not having a go at Hari – I’ve not read the book so can’t really dive in like Dean Burnett did. More, I want to explore this line of thinking.

At least in part my own depression, I came to work out, lay in this existential angst of my place in the modern world, in a neo-liberal end-game capitalist era. This article from George Monbiot really struck a chord with me. On the back of it, I bought the Paul Verhaeghe book cited within, What About Me?, and again it helped me make a lot of sense about what I was feeling and how utterly misplaced I was within modern society. Still am, really, just better able to understand why. And I keep forgetting the key takeaway – I’m probably a deviant and should be proud of the fact.

Obviously that’s not all there is to it and someone else’s experience of depression will not tally at all with mine. Verhaeghe’s book was no more a magic bullet than any other possibly could be, and from what I’ve read and heard, neither will Hari’s. What worries me more is that Hari’s is being marketed as that magic bullet. Listen to this and all will be fine. And that’s potentially dangerous.

Depression is complex and it’s crafty. It changes. There is no checklist to tick off a few items and declare yourself fixed. I guess what I’m saying is take with a large pinch of salt anyone suggesting otherwise. By all means read Hari’s book, just take it as one bloke’s experience and how he dealt with the issues he was facing, and don’t take it as a recipe book on how to fix depression. There are all sorts of therapies out there – yes, referrals take time and that – as well as medication. Some will work for you. Some won’t. And that’s absolutely fine. You will find one that works for you. Just beware the snake oil salesman.


Not resolutions

These aren’t resolutions, but aspirations.

By this time next year, I want to have had my book published (I’m assured this will happen), make a record (I believe this to be achievable) and play some more proper gigs (this is the least likely).

Anything over that is a bonus.

Oh, and not die in the first blast of the nuclear war that man-baby about to assume the White House will launch when someone is rude to him on Twitter.

Poetry corner: America, you’re a twat

“Keep off my ancient lands!” cries she
“Send your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost back to sea”
America, you’re a twat.

Your new President has extremely thin skin –
An open racist has just got in.
The KKK are celebrating the win.
America, you’re a twat.

You’ve had 200 years in which to grow the fuck up.
The whole thing runs the risk of blowing up
When you see that you’ve been sold a pup.
America, you’re a twat.

Fucking Donald fucking Trump?
That compulsively lying fucking chump?
With you and your country I’ve right got the hump.
America, you’re a twat.

The whole thing is just fucking absurd.
Into a maelstrom we’ve all been hurled.
And now begins the end of the world.
America, stop being a twat.

David Bowie would know what to do.
I’m starting to think he was society’s glue.
Oh, to go back a month or two
When America was less of a twat.

Dobson’s Choice

I am a Labour party member. I’ve got the card and everything. I’ve not been a member that long – I joined shortly after the 2015 election in the spirit of ‘oh dear sweet christ how did that lot get in again?’ – but I’ve yet to be excluded from the upcoming leadership election.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn last time this came round in what I assume is a now-annual competition. I did so because he seemed to be the only candidate that wasn’t blaming the loss at the 2015 election on Labour not being Tory enough. In trying to be slightly less nasty than the Tories, the opposition under Ed Miliband didn’t seem to be doing much in the way of opposing and carrying on like that was unlikely to get a Labour government of the sort I believe would be helpful to the nation into power.

I’ve liked some of what Corbyn has tried to do, but attempting to play a different game – his fabled new, kinder style of politics – when nobody else is aware of the rules just doesn’t work. And in that space, any message gets lost. And there have been plenty of times where strong leadership is required and we’ve not seen it, particularly surrounding the base level of debate around his leadership.

The manoeuvrings of the parliamentary party, at odds with the membership’s overwhelming choice, was depressing and dispiriting. If that energy had been directed at opposing an utter shambles of a government we might be getting somewhere. But a leader needs to command not just a mandate from members, but also from the party’s MPs so it’s clear that Corbyn’s position has been untenable for a while.

It’s said that he’s unelectable – always a highly subjective statement – and that there’s no point having principles if you never get the power to legislate in accordance with those principles. Which sounds to me like suggesting that the only way to gain power is to lie to the electorate and do lots of other stuff when you get in. That sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing we’d all scream about should the Tories do it and a lot like the laughable Leave campaign in the EU referendum. He may be unelectable – the polls make ugly reading – but I wouldn’t particularly want to fight the next election on a sham of a manifesto.

I think probably that a change is required. But the alternative being offered isn’t that appetising. Owen Smith seems to represent the option that reverts to the sort of position that lost Labour the last election and more or less support the neoliberalism that clearly, abjectly and demonstrably failed in 2008, albeit in a slightly different shade.

In other words, I don’t know what I’m going to do when my ballot arrives. Go for someone I don’t think it very good at leading the opposition or someone who former DoSAC minister Hugh Abbott would doubtless have described as a brushed aluminium cyber-prick. I don’t know. And I’m not going to call anyone names on social media if they disagree.

EDIT: BUT I’m always less likely to find common ground with anyone who thinks homeopathy is anything but pure quackery.

You know what I did last weekend?

So we did that thing for charity. Finally, we did it.

Five bands, three spoken word artists, about four hours and who knows how many beers.

Here’s a film:

If you were there, thank you so, so, so much. We cleared over half a grand for CALM including a £315 donation from Mark, bassist of co-headliners Dr Hackenbush, who had been running a last man standing football competition all last season.
It was a top night. I had a laugh despite falling off the stage after the brilliant Ceiling Demons had finished and giving myself a really solid whack in the ribs.

If you weren’t there, you can still donate. With impeccable timing, we set up a justgiving page after the event. Chip us a few quid at

Maybe we’ll do it again some time.

Five get overexcited

As you may have seen, I commentate. Specifically on football and rugby league. While I do it voluntarily for a charitable organisation, I take it very seriously. Sometimes it’s difficult not to get carried away and get overexcited, but I think that not being a fan of the two teams I cover most helps – there’s not the emotional involvement for me that there might be for some of my colleagues. When you are a fan, emotion can get the better of you, as per last night and Iceland’s dramatic late winner v Austria which secured their first ever win in a major championships:

That is up there with two of the greatest examples of overexcited commentary ever.

from the unmatched Jack van Gelder.

from the partisan Rodolphe Pires.

Marvellous. Sport, isn’t it?

All-time York City XI

Football sucks. I thoroughly hate the bloody game at the moment (typing this just after a 4-0 loss away at Oxford which pretty much turbo-fucks us as far as Football League survival goes).
But a couple of weeks ago, Nick Murphy asked if I’d knock together an all-time York XI (in a 4-4-2) plus five subs for the Dagenham and Redbridge programme in advance of our game there. And so I share it here for you, to remind you of happier times.


GK: Dean Kiely
Arriving initially on loan, but quickly being snapped up permanently, Kiely played a part in the two great glories of the 1990s – the play-off win at Wembley and the 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

RB: Andy McMillan
Having trialled for Spurs and Hull, the South African signed for City in 1987 and stayed for 11 years. 492 games puts him second on the all-time appearances for the club.

CB: John MacPhail
A stylish but uncompromising defender, MacPhail won Clubman of the Year twice in his three years at City, the first during the 1983/84 Division 4 championship-winning season.

CB: Paul Stancliffe
Not arriving at City until he was 33, Stancliffe still played with distinction, captaining the side to play-off victory at Wembley in 1993.

LB: Wayne Hall
Cult hero thanks to the combination of gingerness and baldness and twelve years at the club. Another alumnus of the play-off win, he struck the winning penalty in the shoot-out with that fabled left foot.

RM: Gary Ford
Classy right-winger who debuted for the club at 17, member of the Championship side of 1984 and the Cup win over Arsenal and draws against Liverpool.

CM: Nigel Pepper
He was a nutter, but he was our nutter. You didn’t want to be on the end of one of his rasher challenges. Owned a rocket of a free-kick too. 1990s stalwart.

CM: Neal Bishop
Only spent a season and a half at the club when we were in the Conference, but he was clearly far too good for us. Clubman of the Year in his one full season.

LM: Jon McCarthy
At a club like York, you don’t often get truly exciting players. McCarthy was one. Twice Clubman of the Year, he was right-sided, but I’m sure he’ll do a job out here.

FW: Keith Walwyn
My first football hero. A man about whom nobody spoke anything but highly. A true gentle giant. 140 goals in 291 matches, second highest in the club’s history, and sadly missed by all.

FW: Keith Houchen
Before his diving header in the final for Cov, Houchen’s FA Cup moment came at a freezing Bootham Crescent in January 1985 as he rolled a late penalty past Arsenal’s John Lukic, the most memorable of his 27 goals in two seasons at City.

Subs: Alan Fettis, Denis Smith, Graeme Murty, John Byrne, Paul Barnes


Basically, what I’m saying is that for two periods in my life – the mid-1980s and mid-1990s – we weren’t utterly shit. Maybe I should have put Byrne in for Houchen, but the latter gave us that moment against Arsenal. Maybe I should have put a left-winger in instead of McCarthy, but I didn’t and I don’t care. And obviously I only went for players I’d seen, otherwise the 1955 side would have got a look-in.
Anyway, now that navel-gazing is done, let’s return to the present reality. *sigh*