Tablette 2

Finalement, parce qu’il serait fou emporter la tablette au centre de désintoxication, je l’ai vendu à Rob (pour moins qu’un tiers du prix originel). Un peu étonnamment, il a paru heureux de l’obtenir, qui m’a fait heureux à son tour, peut-être même plus que l’argent. Donc, en rentrer chez moi, j’étais en même temps content est mécontent. Mécontent parce qu’il est possible que cela a été la dernière fois que je l’ai vu, est je ne l’ai pas dit audieu à la façon convenable.

 

OCD?

I had a vague idea what OCD was for several years: knew about the condition before Tommy and me sometimes jokingly accused each other of having it. It was only recently, however, that I discovered I might really have it myself.

I bought Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by David Veale and Rob Willson and began reading it. But while I’m sure I show symptoms for one kind of OCD, namely the “excessive concern with exactness, order, and symmetry” kind, I always halt when I read the word anxious. I definitely would not label my emotion when things are not ‘neat and tidy’ as anxiety: the correct word is annoyance.

But the authors brought my attention to another condition, one I had never heard of before: obsessive compulsive personality disorder, which has other symptoms I definitely show, like “constantly making lists” and more to be found in Wikipedia’s leader.

OCDP, then? Who knows. More probably than OCD; then again, I have not shed the suspicion that it may in fact be Asperger’s.

 

Jamie’s 50

The technical details, the condensed description is in what I call my ‘log book’ – I don’t have the time to make it ‘literary’ enough for a blogpost. Still, a few reflections which would look out of place there:

The scenery from the Uplands on wasn’t bad. Not as good as in Scotland of course, but miles better than where I stay now.

I didn’t fully understand whether the event was actually organised by Jamie (who seemed to pay more or less all the expenses) or by Falcon (who seemed to be in charge of the ‘programme’).

Jamie and I were in the same class at college, but he’s eleven months older. The event taking place a few months in advance, I was celebrating his 50th birthday while still not having reached my 49th, which felt sort of weird.

Most of the participants seemed to be more or less ages with us, so it was surprising to see how many of them could no longer read the quiz questions from a printed page without spectacles (“too short hands”, if you know what I mean. Points is, I’ve been wearing glasses since before primary school, but luckily I’m still not troubled by this problem).

Conversely, I was surprised by the general knowledge of geography people apparently had. Indeed, at times I almost felt like quite a yokel. I probably knew much more than the others about Britain, as much about Western Europe and North America – and much less about all the rest of the world.

Most importantly though: I didn’t feel like I really belonged, but neither did I feel too alienated. I didn’t have too much conversation with my friends (let alone talked much about myself), but neither did I sit in a corner on my own. I made myself think about the event as an exercise in patience when I did feel a bit lonely/bored, as training for the rehab when surrounded by people I didn’t know and so on.

Unusually perhaps, I was neither longing to stay longer, nor longing to leave earlier (except perhaps when it was too cold in the evening, and even then only a little and only until we moved indoors). I was taking it quite equably, considering.

All in all, I was reminded that if I return there after the rehab things certainly ‘won’t be the same’, but my intention to try and do so was, if anything, reinforced rather than otherwise.

 

Les amis meilleurs que les membres de la famille

D’après une recherche de l’université d’État du Michigan, nos amis nous font plus heureux et de meilleure santé que nos parents. Bien sûr, je savais toujours que mes amis « fournissent un exutoire » , que je peux « leur dire des choses et ils sont moins critiques » , qu’il y a « une distance qui fournit un niveau de l’honnêteté » . Mais je ne m’apercevais que c’est vrai pour les gens en général.

 

MQB gu MQF

Agus gnìomh eile ‘tasglannach’ air a choileanadh: tar-sgrìobhadh an leabhair leam le truaill-chainnt agus gnàthasan-cainnte èibhinn (a’ mhòr-chuid dhiubh èibhinn gu do-rùnaichte) dhan fhaidhle theacsa. Bha fiù agus an tìde agam airson am faidhle a chur chun nan càirdean bhon cholaiste ris a chumas mi suas fhathast, agus gu Rob.

Bha fhios agam gun robh mòran fhealla-dhà bhon cholaiste is bho Sheirbheis Nàiseanta ann, ach chur e iongnadh orm dè cho mòran ’s a bha ann bho na bliadhnaichean as dèidh sin. Gus deach mi dhan rehab. Tha fhios nach robh mòran ann as dèidh sin, agus mi a’ cur seachad an àm saor agam air an eadar-lìon, seach a’ coinneachadh ri daoine ann an taighean-seinnse.

 

Book shopping spree

What do you do when you find out the debit card for your bank account abroad will expire soon, and you have no way of preventing the bank from sending a new one to the address where you used to stay there except by phoning them – but you suffer from phone phobia?

You spend a fifth of the remaining balance on buying all the (thirteen) Kindle books you’d noted down for buying gradually in the future, send another fifth to your best friend still in that country, and transfer the rest to your account where you stay now, only leaving a token amount in the old one.

The ‘Unread’ (meaning ‘not even begun’) collection on my Kindle now contains 27 items. Enough to read not only for the rest of this year, but also for the next I guess, especially given I like rereading one of my favourites every now and than. (But I do feel like I’ve lost another link to the country of my heart …)

 

Conasg

’S e bloga ‘mìosail’, mar gum biodh, a tha ann an Seabordgàidhlig, agus roghnaich an t-ùghdar conasg airson cuspair post-bloga an Ògmhiosa. ’S e post taitneach mar as àbhaist dhaibh, agus bha dà rud gu h-àraidh innteach dhomsa: gu bheil an lus feumail taobh a-muigh a luach mar rudeigin a tha àilinn ri fhaicinn; agus gu bheil e cho gann sa Ghearmailt nach àbhaist dha na Gearmailtich a bhith eòlach air.

Smaointich mi mu dheidhinn an dàrna rud agus cha b’ urrainn dhomh cuimhneachadh conasg fhaicinn san dùthaich seo a bharrachd. Nise, chan agair mi gur ann grànnda a tha i, ach tha mi ag ionndrainn cus rudan an seo a tha pailt an Alba, bho àiteachan leth-fhiadhaich gu taighean cloiche gu daoine socair; a-rèir coltais, tha conasg am measg iad sin a tha mi ag ionndrainn gun a bhith eadhon mothachail air.

 

Köln a’ tadhail orm

Bha cèilidh an 90mh co-là-breith aig seanmhair Khöln (caraid leam bhon cholaiste) faisg air an àite seo Disathairne; dar a bha e a’ tilleadh dhachaigh an ath latha, chuir sinn mu dhà uair a thìde seachad ann an taigh-seinnse mu choinneamh an stèisean mus robh an trèan aige ri fàgail. Feasgar tràth taitneach: cha bu dàna leam ithe (ged a ghabh esan dà chamembert) agus tha fhios gun robh mo ghuth glè thùchanach fhathast, ach chaidh agam air bruidhinn gun thilgeil smugaidean, gun chasad mòr is gun thionndadh balbh. Cha do shuath sinn air cuspair mo thuiteam air ais ’s mo rùintean no dùilean airson an ama ri teachd, ach bha mi coma. Bha mi dìreach a’ mealadh na cabadaich sèimh, socair.

 

Tiomnadh

Chnuasaich mi an nòisean gum bu chòir dhomh tiomnadh a sgrìobhadh a-cheana san t-Sultain an-uiridh, ron chiad àm a chaidh mi dhan ospadal airson endoscopy fon an-fhaireachdair fhaighinn, ach cha robh an t-àm agam air a shon. Tha mi a’ dol a-rithist Diciadain agus an turas seo, sgrìobh mi e: cunntas-banca Seiceach gu Rob, cunntas-banca Albannach gu Tommy, leabhraichean-latha gu Jamie no Falcon (am fear a lorgadh iad na bu luaithe). Tha mi ’n dòchas a-nis gun lorg mi cybercafé airson ga chlò-bhualadh.

 

2016

Generally, a very bad year.

Of course, it had its good moments too; for instance, I’ve read some good (even some very good) books. But outwith books and the Net there were few pleasant moments. On the contrary, there was no lack of nasty things. I hate this noisy stinking land and nation more and more. I’m even losing my affection for Rob; while Tommy has obviously lost all interest in me.

So the cancer I’ve been diagnosed with is quite bad as well, but in fact not extremely bad. Sure I’d like to overcome it, but if I don’t and the next year is my last . . . I suspect I won’t lose all that much. There’s precious little to look forward to either way; I’m only driven by the instinct of self-preservation.

 

Cure begun at last

I’ll spare you too many details; I hope I still haven’t turned into the kind of patient who can only talk about his disease, but who’ll expatiate on that whenever given the slightest excuse for doing so. Neither do I see a point in turning this into a sort of “My fight with cancer” blog.

Suffice it to say that on Wednesday they inserted the PEG tube into my stomach, which wasn’t half as bad as I was afraid it would be (although getting used to it will take some time yet), and on Thursday and Friday I finally underwent my first two radiotherapy sessions (the mask still troubling me, but I guess in time I’ll get used to it as well). Also, my hospital roommates are apparently more bearable than the previous lot (in fact, probably more bearable than my neighbours), so there’s little to complain about.

That said, exhausting it is. Both the diagnostics and the curing tire one more than living with the tumour did. (And my parents are plaguing me with questions, while Tommy ignores me completely.) Then again, if I end up cured, it would be worth a lot of temporary inconvenience. Even though I’ve got precious little to look forward to in the future anyway.

 

Not so heavy

I visited Rob’s today: him naturally having scales in the pub, the idea was to weigh myself before the cure begins, and then after its end to see much much weight I’ll have lost. Given that I have much, much less exercise these days than usual, while eating much, much more, 62 kilo doesn’t seem so much. On the other hand, who knows what was the starting point a few weeks ago at the end of the bender, and anyway, 62kg translates into BMI 19.1, with underweight allegedly turning into healthy weight at 18.5. So it seems that (probably after many years) I have a healthy weight after all.

 

Rob in Jyväskylä

A week and a half ago Rob texted asking me to find out this weekend’s weather forecast for Jyväskylä for him. Putting it down to his usual laziness I complied (later even sent him requested updates). However, I then realised he’d probably expected me to show interest in his trip. Having shown (or indeed felt) none, it made me feel a little bad.

 

A quarter of a century out of college

On 5 July it was 25 years to a day since I left KSK, the student hostel I’d been staying in for the five previous years. I would revisit a few times while some of my former crowd still remained there; there would be quite a few trips together and other reunions; to this day I keep in – however rare – contact with a handful of my former college mates. And I still consider those five years (plus the next one in the National Service) as the best days of my life. But somehow I don’t reminisce about them all that often nowadays. And the handful of old friends are the only ones from that period that I’m still interested in meeting with. Somehow … somehow my three years in Scotland overlaid those older memories.

The KSK days were the only ones in my life when I felt like I really belonged where I was. An indisputable insider within a community I cared about. They were the best: no two ways about it. But the Scottish days were the second best … and they’re much closer in time.

 

Sister’s visit

Generally I don’t like meetings unexpectedly suggested at short notice, but in the end I liked this one. My sister’s in a spa some 25 miles away now (she’d contrived rheumatoid arthritis), so she came over on last Sunday’s morning to sightsee this town and after work I joined her. We went to a restaurant garden and for maybe a couple of hours had a pleasant relaxed chat with no discordant tones. I didn’t bother her with too much talk about the Kingdom, she didn’t bother me with too much talk about the Republic; we mostly reminisced and talked about literature. But then our meetings usually turn out like that. We are close enough without being too close: most of the time we go our separate ways, but when we do meet (every several years or so), we know how to make the occasion enjoyable for both of us.

 

Why I exiled myself

(It’s been almost a year since I left my country and came back here. Probably the right time to put down why: long enough to view the matter dispassionately, not long enough for the memory to be much distorted. This will probably be a long rant, so you’d better not read it; in fact I’m writing it precisely to be able to look it up myself when my memories do, inevitably, become too distorted.)

The short, technical, superficial answer is that I was afraid of ending up on the street, then – not being a citizen – getting deported, thus ending up in exile anyway, but potentially also barred from a future entry. I’m not a lawyer: maybe this wouldn’t happen, but it was this fear I acted upon. Nevertheless, this doesn’t answer why I got into such situation in the first place.

It would be easy to blame everything on alcohol. But alcohol is always a secondary problem, a symptom of deeper troubles. Still, it’s often a highly exacerbating symptom, and this time a trigger as well. Several things had been wrong for quite some time, but the breaking point was probably when before that year’s last spell in my then job, for some reason I could never really recollect (I’d been looking forward to that spell for fuck’s sake), I got drunk and didn’t attend. Since then I stopped boozing several times, but sooner or later the vicious circle of depression and anxiety attacks alternating with being drunk always started anew.

So what made me drink? I think that paradoxically I was having it both too good and too bad. On the good side was the amazement of being in the country of my heart, in a ‘secure tenancy’ flat in an attractive area, the complacency of having already been there for more than half the time needed to be able to apply for citizenship, and the – for me – large sum I’d received the previous year, some of which money I still had at the beginning. My cup was flowing over . . . or so it seemed, now and then. A dram or a pint was the icing on the cake. (Of course, you can spoil a cake by too much icing.)

But under the surface, the bad things were fermenting. I may have been nearing citizenship, but I was getting impatient; the waiting seemed too long. And a sort of midlife-crisis question kept returning: Fine, so you’ll become a citizen, change your name to something you could like, and then what? Any goals after that? To which the sincere answer was No, I can’t think of any. Also, it was getting harder to fool myself into thinking I might ever really belong. Thanks to my social phobia and linguistic inadequacy, after three years I only had one friend there – and I felt I was insidiously losing even him. All of which was compounding my thanatophobia; as if it hadn’t been bad enough even before all this.

Then again, the flat which had so amazed me to begin with and where I’d done so many improvements was feeling less and less like a home. Not for the first (or the last) time in my life, a neighbour upstairs was noisy in the way which isn’t bad enough to entitle you to complaining, but which is bad enough – supposing you’re hypersensitive to noise – to prevent you from sleeping, reading and so forth. (I often sat in the kitchen simply because it was the quietest of my rooms.) A place isn’t really a home when you prefer leaving it to returning to it. A place isn’t really a home when your mind doesn’t associate it with rest, but with worrying about when the noise which won’t let you rest will begin.

And then of course, these things were interrelated, influencing and aggravating each other. Being jobless, I was meeting even less people than usual (hardly anybody in fact), making me more lonely. The noise was making it easier to decide to have another fag and another doze of booze. Not seeing the flat as a home where I’d like to live for the rest of my days, nor seeing any way of changing my situation (after three years I was disabused of the idea of getting anything better than another temporary zero-hours contract), made the future look even bleaker and more pointless. And so on and so on.

If you combine all this: booze, unemployment, no long-term future goal, the paradoxical complacency, thanatophobia, a noisy neighbour, no friend to see regularly . . . maybe it’s little wonder I became too lonely even by my standards and mentally/emotionally burnt out. There were some half-hearted attempts at finding a new job, some more determined visits to the JobCentre, but my heart wasn’t really in it. They were just token, perfunctory activities to salve my conscience before sitting down in my kitchen with a book, fags and booze once again. (Strangely perhaps, my depressions didn’t make me consider suicide. My suicidal thoughts were of a defiant character: often I sat there, pleasantly pished, and thought Ah, what the fuck, if the worst comes to the worst I can always comit a suicide.)

Until the money ran out. Then, as usual, the instict of self-preservation kicked in. And in the state I was in, after some six months of intermittent boozing, to borrow some money and return here, in other words to exile myself, looked like the only feasible option. So I executed it.

Come to think of it, I suspect that the instict of self-preservation is what’s been keeping me going ever since. But that’s already a different story.

 

A handful of people

There’d been no contact between Lùc and me for over a year, so the other day I deleted his email address from my Thunderbird address book. And I realised there’s only a handful of people left to me.

There are many I still enjoy reminiscing about. There are many I lost touch with long ago. There are many about whose present lives I might like to hear. Nevertheless, for various reasons I’d rather not reconnect with them; I certainly wouldn’t be interested in meeting most of them.

There’s only a handful of people I really care about left, and fewer whom I’d really prefer to sit with and talk to to sitting here alone at my laptop: Jamie, Falcon, Rob and Tommy. Maybe Ziggy and Köln.

An old, sad, burnt-out sod. And I’m not even fufty yet . . .

 

Spiritless

On 28th August it was exactly a quarter of a century since I first entered Scotland. On 31st I successfully completed my 3-month probation in my current job. On 5th September it was a quarter of a century since I promised myself in St James Church in St Andrews I’d be back.

Until recently, each of these would be a reason for celebrating; at the very least for an individual blog. Nowadays, I may not even have noticed them if I hadn’t put them down in my calendar.

Similarly, I’ve bought several things to make my life easier lately: proper pillow, fleece jacket, doormat and more. I paid off what was left of my debt to Rob. I finally sorted the flat’s door. All the pleasure these things brought was little more than the satisfaction one feels when one can tick off a completed task.

The View’s newly released Ropewalk CD arrived five days ago; it’s copied onto my hard drive but hasn’t been listened to yet. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the fleece from the post office; I’m not sure I’m even looking forward much to that, however useful (with nostalgic value added) it will inevitably be.

On the other hand, all life is in balance. Big pleasures are invariably followed by big miseries; small pleasures mostly only by small miseries.

 

The Clutha reopened

Almost 20 months after the fatal helicopter crash into The Clutha near Glasgow Green a new bar, created in the former smoking area, was opened to relaunch the pub while the interior of the old pub remains sealed off.
BBC: New bar at Clutha opens after helicopter crash
As far as I remember, The Clutha was back in 1990 the first pub I ever visited in Glasgow, and indeed in Scotland. I have never been inside afterwards, although many a time I passed by, often reminiscing about that pint of McEwan’s lager with Jamie. Let us hope that in a few years the sight of the venue will in most passers-by trigger similar pleasant memories instead of recollections of the 2013 tragedy . . .

 

Ag imrich ’s a’ suidheachadh

Shoirbhich mi. Fhuair mi na h-iuchraichean, ghluais mi na ciad rudan bhon ostail, agus (còmhla ri Rob) an leabaidh bhon t-seilear. Caidilidh mi san àite ùr a-nochd.

Tha fhios gum bi mòran obrach ri dhèanamh san fhlat fhathast. Ga nighe is sgioblachadh, na rudan eile agam a ghluasad ann agus gan suidheachadh, an t-Eadar-lìon fhaighinn ann, an seòladh ùr innse dha iomadach duine is buidhean, deasg is cathair (agus diofar rudan nas lugha) a cheannach . . .
 

Caisteal Dhùn Stafhainis.


Ach rinn mi a’ chiad cheum. Leis an fhìrinn innse, chan eil am flat a’ còrdadh rium ro mhath, ach chan eil teagamh nach fhoghnaidh e. Agus tha dùil agam cadal ceart fhaghinn aon oidhche a dh’aithghearr mu dheireadh thall. Tha mi glè fheumach air . . .