The Continental Operand

The city was hot, the savage sun bleaching colour and sanity from the world. I sat in my office, cooling my heels and my head, sipping a long iced drink in front of an asthmatic fan which wheezed mournfully as it struggled with the temperature.

The phone rang, it was a bad line and the person on the other end sounded like they were gargling marbles at the bottom of a coal mine but I heard enough to pick up the word “murder” and an address out in Twotown. I gave the fan the last rites, finished my drink and headed out into the bitter heat. That was my first mistake.

Twotown was endless rows of identikit suburbia. Two’s prided themselves on their diligence and their commitment, aesthetics to them were what a doctor used to knock you out. I stood out like a sore thumb in their placid, orderly world. And I would not have changed that for anything.

I arrived at the address. It was a standard suburban house with a lawn front and back and a large garage taking up the lefthand third of the ground floor. What was not standard was the figure nailed to the garage door.

I parked and walked over to the small group who were gathered around the door and the body. A couple of photographers were capturing the scene so that sometime later jurors could lose their lunches as they saw what the human mind is capable of. O’Carroll from my team directed a group of uniforms as they kept sightseers away and searched the scene.

The body was that of a middle-aged man, dressed in a grey flannel suit, he was completely unremarkable save for the fact that he was nailed to the garage door, held up by large steel bars through his shoulders. He looked like a normal Two apart from that.

‘Not really the season for decorations,’ I said to O’Carroll.

‘Well he ain’t Santa, that’s for certain.’ O’Carroll waved one of the uniforms over and took a clipboard from him.

‘His name was Martin Dewson, he worked for the Corporation as an accountant and he lived right here. No criminal record, a wife and 2 children – all away visiting her parents for the last week, and no signs of a break-in or struggle. We are just waiting for the Coroner before taking him down.’

He held the clipboard out and I took it. I glanced through it and could see nothing in it beyond the life of a normal Two, definitely nothing to explain such an extravagant death.

Handing the clipboard back I looked around the scene, and paused.

‘Found something?’ O’Carroll asked.

‘Why is he wearing 1 black shoe and 1 brown shoe?’

O’Carroll smiled, ‘Yes, no self-respecting Two would ever do a thing like that. So is it a clue or a sign?’

‘It’s a headache.’

I stood back and looked up at the sky, there was not a cloud in sight so why then did I have such a strong feeling that a storm was coming?



On Delirium

I had a very nice few days in Croatia – great food, great company, great scenery. And then I sprained my foot.

Not waterskiing or climbing or demonstrating Drunken Master style but by falling off a very low step. Oh the ignominy.

My foot swelled to twice its normal size, turned black and became very VERY painful. Fortunately this was near the end of the trip so I pottered around and took Ibuprofen and then flew home.

As I travelled home I started to feel odder and odder – feverish, faint …

I got home and collapsed into bed as delirium took hold.

As we all know, when we are ill our energy levels drop so our brain moves slower and we feel dumber – the dimmer switch on our IQ is turned down.

Delirium is similar but while the consciousness is dialled down suddenly random parts of our mind suddenly fire vividly into life!

I found myself not drunk texting but delirious texting. I sent weird texts to a number of friends – some channelling my 16 year old self, some announcing great revelations about the nature of the universe and at least one in Finnish – a language I do not speak. I can only apologise to the recipients and hang my head in shame.

The interesting thing about this for me though is the connection between energy levels, consciousness and sanity. I agree with Sartre, consciousness is always consciousness of something. It is like the old art of plate spinning – we can keep so many plates spinning but there comes a point when  it all comes crashing down.

I wonder what that means for our time poor, attention demanding lifestyle?

Whither Weather?

People might find these links to travel and weather information useful in the current #uksnow adventure:

UKOnline’s Travel Information Page

BBC Travel (London)

BBC Local weather (London)

National Rail Enquiries (when it is up!)

Met Office

Live Departures – Charing Cross

Live Departures – Victoria

Live Departures – Waterloo

Live Departures –Cannon Street

Live Departures –Liverpool Street

Live Departures – Kings Cross

Live Departures – Euston

Live Departures –  Paddington

BBC Travel Alert Twitter page

Ben Marsh’s #uksnow page

These sites tend to get a lot of traffic so if you cannot connect you may want to check the status of the site.

The Most Difficult Post Revisited

My thanks to everyone who commented on my post about depression. I am very touched by the expressions of support and understanding. I am thinking though the interesting and deep points people made and I will be doing a followup post soon.

Many thanks to you all, seriously 🙂

The Most Difficult Posting

I have thought for a while now about writing this entry as it deals with something very personal about myself and also feels deeply scary to write but I think it is important to tackle the issue as it is one of the last big stigmas.

I suffer from depression. To be more accurate, I have a medical condition which causes me to experience bouts of extreme depression and panic attacks. Effectively, my brain chemistry is out of kilter and without daily medication I am at the mercy of said dodgy chemistry.

I am fortunate that my condition is organic so responds well to medication.

Depression and related conditions are prevalent in our society –

A fifth of early deaths are related to mental health problems, compared to under a sixth for both heart disease and cancer.

At least 1 in 10 of all Scots are on medication for depression.

But depression is still surrounded by myth and stigma. A panic attack sounds almost trivial, but it is not. Odd that The Onion gives the best description of what it feels like.

Depression is a name given to a symptom which can have a range of causes. Sometimes it is like mine and organic in nature. Sometimes it is triggered by an external event such as loss or a public holiday where the pressure to have fun becomes too much and loneliness and despair kick in.

This time of year is particularly bad with a lack of light, a number of public holidays and often a lack of normal support networks all acting as potential triggers.

The key thing for anyone who experiences depression is to seek professional help immediately.

The BBC site has a good guide on the options.

If you are in the UK then check out NHSDirect.

My condition is with me for life but with medication and support I can live a normal life. I do not let my disability define me, nor should you.

This was a hard post to write but if it helps someone to find professional help then it will have been worth it.