Eclectic Blue

Fighting back

No Comments 20 March 2018

On yet another NHS mental health waiting list, I’ve taken matters into my own hands now. While the mood is not too low, I’ve been most unlike me. I’ve been assertive, I’ve taken what politicians refer to as “difficult decisions” and it’s made me all tired, emotional and – I have to be honest here – in desperate need of a drink.

I’ve had all manner of fall outs with various family members, including my only uncle and others whose relationships I don’t quite understand. Sometimes, they were to blame, other times I was. I’ve written to all of them today seeking reconciliation and saying sorry. I’m also hoping they are not all dead. I’ve told them all they don’t need to reply and I would completely understand it if they chose not to. But I’d be happy if I did.

I’m standing down from the award-winning Bristol Rovers programme The Pirate at the end of this season. My God, this was a very difficult season since this has been the writing gig of my life. I absolutely love being creative in my own little column in what is a brilliant publication, edited by the very best of Bristol Rovers, Keith Brookman. However, I have to balance this with my current feelings for the club I have supported since I was a lad and the truth is I no longer have any.

My passion for Bristol Rovers was dented when I got involved in trying to help the club back in the early 2000s and I saw just how apathetic people were towards positive change. I then supported the losing, but correct, side in the boardroom bust up of 2006 and saw myself booted off the programme and, more contentiously, removed from my Bristol Evening Post column. Nick Higgs’ breathtakingly autocratic and incompetent time in charge saw the club tumble into the conference and he mixed that with a twist of spite in banning a former director who just happened to be a close friend of mine. I didn’t attend another game until his ban was lifted and when it was, under the club’s new Jordanian owners, the thrill of supporting the club had gone. I do not regard the new owners as a “safe pair of hands” but that’s by the by. I wish I had buried my head in the sand about Rovers’ off the field issues like almost everyone else. Too late now though. The late Geoff Dunford’s theory about football being about “luck and chemistry” may have been right all long.

And I’ve informed the British Red Cross that I do not accept their assertion that the bullying and abuse I suffered at their hands never happened and that I must have imagined the mental breakdown I suffered because of it. Worse than that, they even accused me of “intimidating and aggressive behaviour” to one manager. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply after reading that one. Bullying, abuse and now lies. Not a good look for a humanitarian charity. Still, I’ve asked the CEO for his views about what happened to me. My guess is that he didn’t join the British Red Cross in order to bring about illness to employees so I am keeping my fingers crossed for decent reply.

Do I feel better for having done all this? Hell, yes. So what inspired me to be all positive and clear-eyed? Why, it was inspired by the travails of my youngest son in coping so bravely with his bout of depression and the love and strength I get from the rest of my family and friends. I saw the boy yesterday and he’s slowly getting to a better place. If he can do it, maybe I can too.

I read some stuff on the internet last night about how to sleep when loads of things are going through your mind. My sleep patterns have been wrecked for the last year but some of the techniques actually worked and surprisingly none of them relied on alcohol, which was a bit of a disappointment. I’m still in the woods right now but I feel better for having taken ownership of so many things. Having functioned at the most basic level, I’m trying to raise a very low bar.

Things are much better than they were last week, that’s for sure.

Eclectic Blue

The Sound of Silence

No Comments 19 March 2018

I’m pausing my public efforts to obtain a full and unqualified apology from the British Red Cross for the bullying and abuse I suffered during my period of employment with them. This is because the CEO, Mike Adamson, has responded to a tweet I sent him last night in which he denied having received the two letters I sent to him about these issues. Well, I’ll give him a chance and re-send my letters.

I’ve been advised that employers are loathe to apologise for bullying because they are concerned about the consequences of admitting guilt. I would like to think that a world renowned humanitarian organisation would simply want to do the right thing rather than behave like a multinational corporation. After having conducting a local investigation to which I was not invited to contribute, which concluded that I made it all up, including the mental breakdown I subsequently suffered, the Red Cross locally has refused to say sorry. And that’s not good enough.

I lost my job and my income because of the behaviour of a number of individuals and I need closure. I’m now a the point where I won’t let this go until I get it.

39 years of continuous employment with the civil service with not a hint of bullying behaviour from managers and within two years of working for the Red Cross I was forced to resign because of it. I don’t tell lies. In fact, I hate liars.

Finally, before I take this matter further, I want to see what the man at the top of the shop has to say about it. Hopefully, he is more of a person of honour than some of the people who bullied and abused me.

In the meantime, silence from me. Maybe permanent if I get a satisfactory resolution to the matter.

Eclectic Blue

Fix You

No Comments 18 March 2018

Sorry to put that broken record back on the turntable again, but the FA Cup will continue to decline in the hearts of the footballing nation if the powers-that-be don’t make serious efforts to restore its magic. And here’s how:

– The winners should get a place in the Champions League.
– The semi-finals should not be at Wembley. We have wonderful stadia all over the land. Wembley is for finals. Spurs are effectively at home in the semi-final.
– The FA Cup final is at 3.00 pm and no other games are played at that time.
– No game from any round should be played after the draw for the next round, barring exceptional circumstances and/or the weather.
– Make the draw more formal. Don’t arse about with celebrities drawing the balls or having cheering fans in the background.
– TV comperes to stop trotting out irrelevant stats as every team is drawn out.
– Keep replays for every round except the semi-finals and final.
– On no account allow the FA Cup to leave the BBC.

Sadly, the Champions League bit is needed for the top clubs who otherwise tend to put out the stiffs. The Europa League is more of a deterrent for doing well than a reward.

Essentially, the FA Cup wasn’t broken and there was no need to fix it. The Premier League has changed everything because it’s all about the money, money, money now and nowhere has more money than the UEFA Champions League.

None of this make even fix the FA Cup but having watched some of it this weekend, it surely can’t go on like this?

Eclectic Blue

Last man standing

No Comments 18 March 2018

The number of people suggesting that there might be an alternative source for the chemical weapons act in Salisbury is rapidly diminishing. I have seen the odd evidence-free conspiracy theory that someone else might have been responsible, like the Russian mafia for example, who might, we are asked to believe, prefer to arse around with dangerous nerve agents rather than merely shooting someone and others who urge caution, over what I am not sure. Now the unbelievers are few.

Even the unpleasant shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a comrade down to his boot straps, has today confirmed that he too believes Russia was directly responsible for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. He believes Theresa May. The list of those who believe the truth now includes:

Intelligence Services
The Gov
99% Opposition (inc McDonnell)
The EU
The US

Which leaves a handful of nut jobs, Putin (yeah, right) and other assorted tyrants around the world. Oh, and Jeremy Corbyn.

McDonnell is a far more important political figure than Corbyn. Labour’s leader may well have a large cult following but he is hardly the brains behind the operation. No. That’s the shadowy team led by chief spin doctor Seumas Milne and including the aforementioned McDonnell.

At least McDonnell has seen beyond the shoal of red herrings that have accompanied this ghastly event. That Russia should be given a chance to examine the chemicals themselves, that we should avoid a rush to war, like Iraq, that we should seek out alternative explanations, that maybe Putin didn’t do it after all. This assumes Russia can be judged on the same basis of everyone else. The reality, as we should all know by now, is that Putin is a canny operator, a manipulator and a liar.

There’s little doubt that Putin was behind this murderous attack on British soil. He will not care that the trail leads back to him because he will simply deny it. We can speculate that Putin has timed this attack to build his strength at home for today’s election (I wonder who will win) and that he has moved to exploit Britain’s weakness as we leave Europe, something he welcomes more anyone in the world, including Farage.

Jeremy Corbyn will not be forgiven for his appeasement last week. He may well retain the support of his Glastonbury supporters but the electorate will not vote in sufficient numbers for a man who fails in the very first duty for a political leader, which is to protect the country.

John McDonnell is a nasty piece of work but for once he seems to be telling the truth. Which makes Corbyn more isolated than ever.

Eclectic Blue

So lonely

No Comments 17 March 2018

It’s been interesting to read social networks and follow the debate in the media following the Russian chemical attack on Britain. Not for the first time, I am going to use someone else’s twitter comment to make my point for me, not least on the grounds that an Oxford professor might just be a little smarter than someone with one O level.

“Anyway, Putin is winning. He’s demonstrated that London will only administer a slap on the wrist, subverted the official Opposition, spread doubt, division and disinformation in every direction. He’s good at this,” says Professor Glen O’Hara of Oxford Brookes University who, like me, is now politically homeless. Every word is true.

More than anything, Putin loves to sow the seeds of division and the free world suffers because of it. As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to unravel, it will become clear just how much Russia has been interfering. As Britain leaves Europe, to both Putin and Trump’s delight, I have no doubt that there will be, and have been, Russian involvement. Salisbury is part of it.

Hard left apologists for Russia carry out Putin’s work for him. Jeremy Corbyn’s woeful reaction to the chemical weapon attacks on English soil will have seen the Champagne corks popping in the Kremlin. Now, the useful idiots of the hard left bring forth their ludicrous conspiracy theories, devoid of evidence, to muddy the waters, to further divide an already disastrously divided, and weakened, Britain. Yes, Putin is good at this.

For once, Theresa May, that most useless of prime ministers, has got something right. Listen, this time, to what she has been saying about the chemical attack and not her bellicose foreign secretary. Remember, too, that Labour’s policies are literally being made by a fully paid-up Stalinist. You must be able to see what’s going on here. Of course this is the work of Putin. There is no likely alternative. I would suggest that if you say this is not, or may not be, the work of Putin, you are either from the far right (Trump, Farage) or the far left.

In any event, Britain is in terrible trouble. Far from taking back control, we are losing power and influence by the day. We may not like the government but that’s not the point. It was not the vicar’s daughter May who carried out the assessments on who was responsible for Salisbury or indeed tested the chemicals concerned. This goes way behind mere domestic politics.

Putin must be absolutely loving this. He has tested the UK and knows we have been found wanting. And we are beginning to discover what a lonely world this can be.

Eclectic Blue

They shoot horses, don’t they?

No Comments 16 March 2018

I tuned in late to BBC Points West tonight, specifically to get the weather forecast. I was a little early and found myself watching a live report from Cheltenham at the end of the horse racing festival. The reporter was interviewing a suit from the Jockey Club who was gushing about the record crowds, as well as the state of the course and the quality of the racing. Earlier, I had heard a similarly gushing John Inverdale on BBC Radio Five Live, praising the wonder of Cheltenham and wondering why the meeting couldn’t be extended by another day. His interviewer replied that he doubted whether the livers of the spectators could stand it. Oh, how they laughed. In neither report was there any reference to the death toll.

Until today, “only” two horses had died at Cheltenham which was way down on usual. On Tuesday, one horse had died after breaking its neck and another had to be destroyed. Gold Cup day restored Cheltenham’s ghastly reputation as being the main killing field of horse racing with three horses having to be destroyed.

For some reason, there were no references that I heard in the media. All the talk was of the stuff I have described above. The drunkenness, the craic, the spectacle of beautiful animals in peak condition was all they talked about, as well as the ladies’ dresses and did I mention the drunkenness? At no point did Inverdale mention the carnage that had taken place today as didn’t Ali Durden on the BBC.

I don’t know why the media imposes such a degree of self-censorship, as if the death of so many participants doesn’t matter. I rather think that if five jockeys had died this week, we might just have heard about it. But they’re only horses, aren’t they? And they shoot horses.

Although Cheltenham is the worst offender when it comes to deaths at British horse racing, it needs to be pointed out that deaths are common, even expected. A fatality occurs every couple of days. This week alone, as well as the five deaths at Cheltenham, three died at other meetings. On the rare occasions the slaughter of horses is mentioned in the media, the apologists say that it’s a dangerous sport and accidents will happen. Yes, the humans involved do, but the horses, who almost certainly have no idea they are actually racing in the first place, probably do not know the risks.

I’ve no interest in horse racing. I know for many Cheltenham is the high point in the racing calendar. For me, it’s the almost daily slaughter of beautiful animals which did not evolve into creatures that can survive the regular falls. To celebrate a day during which three of them were destroyed is beyond me.

CORRECTION: Four horses were slaughtered today and not three. Apologies for any distress caused.

Eclectic Blue

Depression report

No Comments 16 March 2018

My youngest son revealed to me that he too has been suffering from the black dog. My reaction? Self-pity, of course. That makes me feel terrible, I’ve passed on the family madness gene, where are the tablets. This feeling lasted less than a second. My dad head took over.

Obviously, I’m sad that my son suffers from depression. Which dad wouldn’t be? We wish nothing but good health and success for our children. It hurts when they are ill. I remembered when my sons had other things wrong with them, other than mental health, and my reaction was certainly not self-pity. It was supporting them and that’s what I am doing now.

My own black dog journey reached a new level following my mental health assessment. I am no longer going to get group therapy, I am being referred for individual therapy, which is the only way. That’s the very good news. The less good news is that I will have to go on a waiting list. Ah, yes. Those magic words: waiting list. After the good news, then the bad, comes some better news. I’m not feeling too bad at the moment. I wish I knew how this thing worked.

The news from the British Red Cross that I had in fact imagined my workplace bullying, that my mental breakdown was a figment of my imagination and that they were a caring, sharing, people-friendly organisation didn’t dent my new found resilience. Nor has the fact that CEO Mike Adamson, basis salary circa £180k per annum, hasn’t gotten round to replying to my personal letters to him, not least after they informed me I was off sick from work, despite having left the Red Cross some three months ago. I haven’t finished with them, yet. (If you are reading this, Mike, I shall be writing to LandRover who are corporate sponsors for the work I was doing and I am going to ask whether they are happy that some of their money was being used to pay the wages of bullies. If bullying appears to be part of the Red Cross, I doubt that LandRover will be too happy to pay for it.)

My boy and me are at different stages of our lives and our respective depression. If any good has come out of his it is that I hope we have caught it early. I would imagine that the chances of him making a full and permanent recovery are good. He is a fine young man and I know he will fight the good fight until the black dog disappears into its kennel.

You can see the extent of this mental health epidemic everywhere. I have friends whom you’d never guess had their own demons; happy, shiny people on the outside, looking through a thick fog on the inside. Just to think, when I was a kid, there was no such thing as poor mental health. It was self-pity and being fed up. Even though we have a government that barely gives a toss about the issue, we are winning the argument that they should.

I reckon I am doing much better at managing my son’s depression than I ever was with mine. Hopefully, I can learn some lessons, too.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (16.3.18)

No Comments 16 March 2018

I know what you’re not thinking. When is that Eclectic Blue chap going to do his weekly shuffle on the iPod, live from the Man Cave. Well, here it is anyway.

Welcome my friend to the show that never ends.

1. Avenida Revolucion by Chickenfoot. Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith and Michael Anthony show that rock is very much alive.

2. My Id-Entity by the Wondermints. From the wonderful Bali album and featuring some Stranglers-type harpsichord.

3. Pavanne for the Sleeping Beauty by Joe Walsh. An astonishing synthesiser version of the Ravel classic from the So What? record.

4. Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder. From Stevie’s Songs in the Key of Life long player, this great tune has been sampled to death by the likes of Coolio. Stick with the original, I say.

5. Sweet Arcadia by Saint Etienne. From the wonderful Home Counties album from last year, I could listen to the lovely Sarah Cracknell all day and all of the night.

6. Back It Up by Nils Lofgren. What a talent this man is.

7. Night By Night by Steely Dan. Absolutely belter from the Pretzel Logic, featuring David Paich and Jeff Poracaro from Toto. Still the best band ever for mine.

8. Run by Snow Patrol. They had their day in the sun with the Final Straw record. Excellent.

9. Find the Cost of Freedom by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. “Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down.”

10. Family Portrait by Pink. What a great way to finish this shuffle.

That’s all, folks.

Eclectic Blue

Lions led by donkeys

No Comments 16 March 2018

Britain’s worst columnist – or should that be fifth columnist? – Richard Littlejohn writes in the Mail today what things might have been like in 1940 had Jeremy Corbyn been prime minister. The article is so poor you might be forgiven for believing it had been written by someone with only a passing grasp of reality. Actually, you’d be right.

Hilariously, Littlejohn imagines Corbyn as expressing doubts that Hitler was responsible for the blitz, suggesting that it might have been carried out by rogue elements of the Luftwaffe. The whole wretched piece carries on the same dreary road. The biggest irony of all was that the Mail of the 1930s actually supported Adolf Hitler and indeed the father of Max Mosley who organised fascism in Britain.

However, this should not be seen by anyone as a defence of Corbyn. It isn’t. Corbyn, presumably under instruction of his chief spin doctor and Labour policy maker Seumas Milne, simply can’t bring himself to criticise Russia. Instead, he suggests that perhaps the nerve agents that brought terror to the streets of Salisbury might have been used by someone like the Russian mafia. It doesn’t make any difference.

If it turns out some “rogue elements” carried out the attack, it will still have been carried out with chemicals developed by the Russian state. That is a matter of fact. And the Russian state is obliged to report to the appropriate agencies any chemical materials that go missing. I suggest we are in the world of speculation here, or rather Corbyn is.

The other thing is that the Labour leader is the right honourable Jeremy Corbyn is a member of the privy council so he will have been privy to all the information the government possesses. In other words, May’s statement to the House of Commons will be on the basis of information he has been able to read. Is he disregarding the information, saying it is a lie or did he simply not understand it?

Corbyn is talking absolute tosh when he talks about the “rush to judgement”, comparing it with the Iraqi invasion of 2003. It is not even vaguely similar and anyway no one is talking of invading Russia.

Here we have the worst of all worlds. Britain led by a prime minister who is hopelessly out of her depth, a Labour leader who is essentially a pacifist and has sympathy with countries like Russia and a dog whistle media that regards facts as anathema.

Once again, we are lions led by donkeys.

Eclectic Blue

Salisbury scenes

No Comments 15 March 2018

The scenes of Theresa May walking round Salisbury like some minor – in her mind, major – royal was among the most bizarre things I have ever seen. I mean it. The prime minister of our country, supposedly on a sombre visit to a city where the Russian state has attempted to carry out murder with chemical weapons, fist bumping, accepting flowers from locals and posing for selfies. She was really enjoying herself. It was utterly barmy.

But everything about the political reaction to the Russian attack is barmy. Jeremy Corbyn, who simply cannot bring himself to attack the Russians because his Stalinist spin doctor Seumas Milne won’t let him, blames everyone else, his latest ludicrous suggestion being the Russian mafia. America reluctantly blames the Russians but the Trump stays in the background, desperately keen not to upset his pal Putin and now the man who helped bring us Brexit, Nigel Farage, a friend of Trump and admirer of Putin says that the EU is worse than Russia.

It is not just Brexiting Britain that is on its way to hell in a handcart; it is also the entire world. The extremists of extreme left and extreme right are taking over and I fear for the future of mankind.

With Britain leaving Europe, Trump taking leave of his senses and Putin attacking the world, I don’t know how we can get out of this. Even before Brexit, Britain is weaker than ever before. A woefully weak and useless PM, flouncing around Salisbury, and a bungling monkey with a Stalinist organ grinder leading the lack of opposition.

I’m going to write a lot more about this. Things are getting very serious.

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