its been a long time since I read anyone’s blog, or written, or had much of an online presence at all. i’ve missed reading my favourite bloggers – Nicola, Tanya, Liam, Silverbetty – and the interactions stemming from the same. i managed to write The Magic Moaster, but that was more about allowing myself to get back to sleep during one of my occasional 4:30am sleepless moments than it was about the desire to write.

in short, its been a very stressful time combined with a great deal of activity that needed high levels of management on my part, combined with some sleeplessness and some low points on the depression cycle.

as catharsis, and an explanation to those brave souls who have nothing better to read, here goes:


  • fight camp imminent. organising the marquee donors so that I can get them the colours and sizes they want for their reward packages. in itself, no mean feat – ordering approximately 40 teeshirts and hoodies of mixed sizes and colour. preparing the walking sticks, pyrography of same. each walking stick takes over an hour of effort.  some stress here
  • work.  looks like my time at my job is coming to its end.  company wants me to relocate back to the office 220 miles away from home.  i’ve been invited in for a chat with the human resources department, in august, after fight camp.  there is a question about my work from home status, it seems someone somewhere in the organisation is being difficult about it, and no longer wants to pay my expenses. does this mean i need to pay back 6 years of expense claims?  no way that is going to happen.  makes me angry.   I manage to kill that concern dead – the company has been treating me explicitly and implicitly as a work from home employee.  my future here is in doubt
  • family.  treatable cancer in my partner’s family.  should all work out fine, thanks to our  wonderful NHS
  • work again.  i’ve had a change of line manager from a person i respect, who is intelligent and has excellent leadership skills, to a person who is the opposite.  i will not have my 37.5 hours a week managed by this person, and neither will i tolerate her being in charge of bonus decisions.  this has to stop.  i am resolved to leave, one way or the other.  start looking for work.
  • set up Macaw website, complete with online shop for the events that have been organised.  actually take some money through the site, so that’s brilliant.  need posters for each of the events, or at least images for the shop.  purchase 2 metre banner for marquee, supply artwork for same.
  • make sure all events for camp are publicised.  create and maintain order list for 40 curries, along with tracking who has paid and who has not.  will there be enough people for the chinese watercolour workshop, and can i organise enough chairs and tables for the same?
  • purchase £600 of insurance for the marquee, ensure that the camp site are still happy for me to put it up.  figure out if the curry machine’s power requirements will blow up the site’s electrics for all campers and caravanners.  it may well do, so start figuring our generator requirements to keep food warm.


  • with the exception of three days, we have house guests booked for all of August
  • week before camp, i need to package up all rewards for marquee donors, into shoe boxes, nicely folder, badges, vouchers, walking sticks etc.  Make sure there are plenty of apple cuttings and bamboos for the lantern festival.  package all up for easy transport to camp.
  • summer camp.  once again, brilliant, but this time, much more stressful for me this year as there is an amount of organisation required for all events, coupled with the pressure to train and an eye on the weather.  I am desperately keen to get the marquee up so that all those who donated can see that i haven’t just pocketed their cash.  of course, they know i haven’t, but i still need to deliver.  two days in to camp, we succeed, it looks great.  the banner i ordered arrives just in time.  will everyone pay their fees?  I really hope so, as i have promised to pay some instruction fees this year.  whilst enjoyable, camp feels as much like a job as it does a holiday which knocks me sideways a bit.  wonderful moment when viewing the marquee from afar, seeing it full of happy people having a great time, and then feeling proud for once, thinking, I did this, I made it happen.
  • although a brief trip to work, its about 450 miles round trip. discuss employment options, i offer to accept a redundancy instead of relocating.
  • multiple car failures, still ongoing.  one particularly stressful event is 15 minutes before I am due to teach, the same day that I am also due to drive us to visit family. loads of stress plus a significant lowering of  mood means the wonderful boat trip and picnic up and down the river Dart is something that I take part in, rather than something i thoroughly enjoy.  low mood the next day means that four of six hours in the local zoo is similarly anhedonic.
  • invited, along with my drummer friend, to join a band for a gig locally.  start rehearsing and learning numbers.
  • Jazz week needs to rent my PA and 4 microphones.  Need to order two more microphones.  Come the period of rental, nobody on site wants to take ownership of anything, so its up to me install and arrange all items, and hope that its what is wanted.


  • A sudden and stressful clash of dates – one of my oldest and best friends is coming to visit for his birthday, the village hall where i teach is having its AGM the same night as the friend arrives, which is also the same night as the gig.  furthermore, having driven 250 miles to see us, I have training and grading commitments that weekend that I cannot change.  oh, and the inlaws are coming that same weekend too.  its all good!
  • me and Pete Bongo are dropped from the band for no good reason, the week before the gig. i have spent probably 8 or more elapsed hours rehearsing and putting effort in to this.  its not worth me being discombobulated about, i can’t afford to take a mood swing as a result of other’s selfishnes.  others fume on our behalf
  • invoice for PA rental falls on deaf ears.  i am owed £100 for my efforts, but i end up having to post the invoice as the recipient does’t bother to use his email, and wants to pay by cheque.  i eventually collect in person
  • a student’s parent is giving me a hard time about the decision not to submit his child for the grading.  i won’t go in to detail, but suffice to say it makes me angry and fed up.  i resolve to stick to my decision and live with the consequences.


i am still teaching, but due to lots and lots going on, I can’t make it over for my training very often.  i feel guilty about missing training, and receive pressure from my teacher.  similarly, with boot camp, i have heaps of stuff to do round the house which is good exercise. i receive pressure from boot camp and pressure from my partner. boot camp looses.  i can’t find the time to organise and play with our band, it involves coordinating and hosting 3 others, and i just don’t have the time right now, i harbour some guilt.  Iain and Sue have their baby boy, Maxwell.  I really should find the time to drive the 200+ miles to see them all, but its not that simple.  more guilt *sigh*  I have a sick friend whose behaviour is adversely affecting me, so for self preservation and in order stop loosing sleep, i decide i must withdraw a little.  i am these days resolved to fight to maintain friendships, but at not at the cost of my own mental health.  huge guilt.  i am becoming increasingly interested in politics and feel guilty that i am not campaigning for our NHS as much as Nicola.  in a similar vein, i feel i should make the time to read each party’s manifesto so i can make a vote for the lesser of all evils.  perhaps our soon to evolve devolution will inspire me to get involved with politicians on a local level.  that’s a lot of “volve”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s been some wonderful times this summer, this list is just the tricksty stuff that’s been eating my time and mood.  its good to get it our of my head, hopefully releasing me from its grasp.  to restore the balance, I must the write the blessings of the summer.  we really need a holiday to spend some time together and just let it all wash away.  must get on with organising that…busy, stress, guilt, *sigh*

and another thing, must write up our fabulous camp this year….

The Magic Moaster

Its Sunday innit, and wanna go up the boot fair, get rid of some of this old tut, offload it on to some muppets. MUUUPPITTTTS! Prollum is, all a roads are busy, kewing up for miles to get there, right pain in the arse when you wanna go anywhere else like, but I’m smart see, so I leaves early, get’s there for 12 innit. Reckon I’ll ave a fag while I’m waiting for Farmer Giles to open ‘is bloody gate. Muppit. Come on matey. Nice little earner for im though, all the other HIGH CLASS VENDORS WAITING TO SELL THEIR WARES la-di-da, must be rakin it in taking a fiver from each of us. Reckon I’ll set up by the ‘ot dog van, all the hungery punters will have to look at my tut while they kew up for snausages. Smart see?

wasn’t to ard gettin past the Busy – he was only there for traiffic anway. right, lets get this boot open. The septics call em trunks don’t they. muppets. Mind you, i got plenty a junk in my trunk innit, so maybe their on to somefink. Maybe, maybe THAT’S FAR MORE APPROPRIATE FOR MY “TRADING SINCE TODAY” merchandise retailing venture. mwah ha ha. come get it, muppits. Already some keen punters are doing the rounds, swarming round the boots of the motahs, like flies.

“gis a chance mate, lettus get me stuff out. five minutes matey, five minutes”

can’t believe this lot will wanna take Chris and Emmas leftovers, bits of stuff from the kids, ropie old gift’s that i never wanted. travel iron, that”ll go a bundle, pay for me pitch should do. heh, be good to be shot of this old shite, eating up room under the stairs, need to free it up so i can put some more gear away. a few tasty shirts left over from the office days. washed some of em, couldn’t be bothered with doin all of them though. ooof, look at em pit stains – only muppets would wan em. take em for cleaning the car, then burn em afterwards.

“ow much for these?”

I look’s at the 10p i’ve clearly written on the box. the p is a bit wonky, but maybe he’s a bumpkin an can’t read.

“fifteen pence each mate, going cheap” muppit

nuther fella comes up, puts 10p in the jar. picks up the hole lot, box an all, and walks off with it. I shouts at im, all ryechus indignashun,

“ere, come back ere!”
“waaas problem? changed yer mind an not sellin them then?”
“still sellin them mate, but i want more that 10p for that lot”
“it says 10p”
“10p each mate, 10p each. not 10p the lot you muppet-uh”
“trade descriptions sunshine,” he says slowly grinnin, all smug like, “it says 10p on the box. taking the box”

Luckily, I see the Busy, probably sniffing round for stolen goods.  I calls him over and explains, so the Busy catches old of the theef and reads him the riot act, gives him a clip round the ear, takes him down the station. I expect im and his mates work him over a bit, serves him right for being a theeving gippo.  Pikey!  Piiiikeeeeyyyyy!

Course, none of that ‘appens for real.  swat my quack calls REVENGE FANTASIES OF THE IMPOTENT, s’all in my ead innit. still, eads a lot more quieter now, since them pills he gave us. ardly ever have arguments in my ead now.  nice.

I can’t believe it, some old doris as bort all the shirts for her old fella, even the ones with the pit stains! ha ha ha don’t sniff em mate.

“allo darlin, you look like you wanna buy a travel iron!  Lovely job,  look, andle folds down an everything, almost brand new it is.  yours for a fiver.  ah, ta love”  Result, that’s my pitch paid for, all the rest is just profit now, have a sherbert tonight to celebrate, clearing the house, loosin the tut, makin a few bob.

just two bits left now, a couple o samwich toasters.  each one is the same as the other one – cept for the one the right.  it has a little speaker on it, and when the samwich is done, it makes a mo0000o sound.  both of em have that black and white pattern on em, like them freeshun cows.  i aven’t ad a toastie in ages – got fed up in the end, all that mucking about and it just leaks out the bread and leaves a great big gob of hot steam to burn your chops on, right nasty.  always seemed like a good idea, and the freeshun pattern clinched it for me.  the one on the left, i’m appy sellin it for a fiver if i can, i don’t need them now i’ve got that george formby grill.  funny fing is, i didn’t know he was black.  i seed him in those old films, and ee always came out white in them i’m sure.

“Get your moo-toasters ere, two of a perfect pair.  Fiver each.  Mooo-toasters, moooooo-oasters.  Moasters!”

i flog the safe one for three quid to an old beggar, i warn him about burning his falsies.  he spits them in to his hand, all clever like. ucccchhhh, i don wanna see that.  he won’t burn them, but he’ll burn his gums all the same, muppet.  oh well, i’ve done im a favour on the price.

just the last one left now, but a bit nervous about flogging it.  ope it behaves itself.  i’m lookin round in case the Busy is still here.  don’t want im kicking off if a punter buys it.  when nobodies lookin, i risk looking inside, check it’s all clean.  and safe.  i lift the lid a little bit, and take a peek, all careful like.  jeeeeebus. all safe.  I breathe out, didn’t even know i was olding my breff.

fing is, first time i made a toastie in this one, the one with speaker, it was a bit…queer.  i put some pukka bread in there, buttered both sides an all, like it says to, cheese and beans on the inside.  set it all going, went for a wazz while i was waiting, jus for something to do like.  anyways, i eard the mooo-ing, and was right pleased with it.  cept when i opened it. samwich had gone, and instead, there was a big cow’s eye in there, blinking at me.  i slammed the lid and ran back to the bathroom. jeeebus. must have imagined it, i fort, so I went back and opened it again.  sure enough, cow-eye was still there.  in the end, it wouldn’t go away, so i had to use the first toastie for me tea.  when i’d finished scoffing, i ad to get rid of the eye, can’t risk leaving it in there to go off.

next time I tried it, wasn’t a cow eye.  wasn’t cheese and ham either.  looked like a cow’s ear, but with all the fur burnt off.  brown cow, though, not a freeshun.  strange that.  next time, egg and snausage toasty, came out as cow tongue. i went through a whole loaf of bread seein what it would come up wiv next, and next, and next. Nostrils, ox tail, strange tubes with a flappy bit, some brain or liver, couldn’t properly tell. hooof.  udder was the worst, smelled of burnt milk.  the last straw though, was the peanut butter, blue cheese and lime pickle toasty.  I fort there was no way it could change that, however magic the singing toaster had become.  i was wrong.  when it moooo-ed its final mooo, i opened it up. it was writhing. Writhing with tiny cows, the size of peas.  they looked like ladybirds, all climbing over each other, but all black and white.  i prodded one wiv me knife, and he climbed on.  i brought him close to my eyes, so i could see it better. it looked at me, and I looked at.  he opened is wing carapace and flew off.  reminded me of a girl from the office.  she used to work upstairs on the first floor ON THE MEZZANINE DON’T YOU KNOW, IT’S A MEZZANINE, IT LOOKS OVER THE GROUND FLOOR and she always used to wear these metallic shiny shirts.  I told her one day that her shiny green one looked LIKE A BEETLE’S WING CARAPACE and that i was expecting it to split open down her back and for wings to come out, and for her to fly over the balcony to get downstairs to the coffee machine. IT’S A MEZZANINE.  Didn’t see much of her after that, but i would often imagine her flying off the balcony, body hanging limply beneath HER GOSSAMER WINGS, settling gently by the coffee machine.  I wonder if she could land on the roof of a bus.  I wonder if a fig gets cort in your froat it hatches into a beetle.  Or is that olives?

I takes my earnings and kew up for a snausage.  Glad i shifted the magic moaster, even if i only got a squid for it.  Now to get home before all others do a bunk and clog up the roads again, muppppets!  Result.

Mini-Event Schedule for Summer Camp

Monday 11th August

Order some great food.  Sajla will be preparing this food in her kitchens and delivering to our site.  If you would like to order, please do update the relevant comment section under the same image on our Facebook page, or leave a comment here.



Tuesday 12th August – 3pm – 5pm

Lynne’s amazing handiwork below, again, you will need to book and in this case pay up front as Lynne will be ordering materials for this course, so don’t miss out.  Spaces are limited.

jase flyer copy



Wednesday 13th August – Lantern Parade

Cost is £1 donation for materials, but don’t let that stop you paying more!  You will need to make your own lantern at camp, I have all the materials, and your lantern needs to be ready for use on Wednesday evening.

A picture of some lanterns

Lantern parade at The Eden Project. Photograph copyright Tim King

Giving Up Smoking – A Transferable Approach to Breaking a Habit?

Here are the details of two techniques that freed me from the habit of smoking, the first technique worked for 5 years, the second, forever, so far. I bring the lists up-front in case you don’t have time to read my waffle.


I woke up one morning with a pain in my chest.  Turned out it was a pulled muscle, but I didn’t find that out until later on.  The night before my fear event, I had stupidly, honestly told someone that I would never give up smoking as I enjoyed it too much.  As soon as I noticed the pain, I stopped there and then on the spot, and didn’t touch another cigarette for 5 years.  Fear is an enormous motivator, but it needs to be real fear, self inflicted and visceral, not just a rational notion that this is bad for you, so don’t do it, you may get ill.  If you don’t have the fear, but still wish to give up, try the next approach.

Response Prevention

  1. Try to wait as long as you can before you have the first cigarette of the day.  If you light up before you leave the house, try to wait until you have left the house.  Try to wait until 5 minutes before your train arrives.  Even increasing by a minute per day is progress.  Keep pushing it to as late in the day as you can manage.
  2. Every time you want a cigarette, wait another twenty minutes before allowing yourself.  Set your watch or phone timer for twenty minutes, and if you still want it, have you cigarette then.  If that’s too easy, set it for thirty minutes, but no less than twenty.  Smoking every twenty minutes allows you three cigarettes per hour.
  3. Smoke half a cigarette.  Keep the rest of it until later.  Even if this is your fundamental approach, you will immediately cut your smoking by half.  Personally, whenever I wanted a cigarette, I found my urge was satisfied by half way through a cigarette anyway.  Do you really want all of that cigarette?  Your brain has had its hit by the time you exhale the first puff.
  4. Keep cigarettes handy.  If I can’t have something, then I want it all the more.  If the cigarettes are nearby, then its just a case of will power and techniques 1 to 3, and this is much less agonising than constantly thinking about going out to buy some cigarettes, and the accompanying guilt or sense of failure.  Remove that self-flagellation and give yourself a break – its not easy, and having them nearby as a crutch makes total sense if you are applying techniques 1 – 3.
  5. Don’t smoke with others at work.  If you keep going out for a cigarette every time your smoking buddies do, then they are calling the shots.  If they are still a trigger, wait until they come back from their cigarette break before you go on yours, apply 2 and 3.

Jase’s Theory of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine suppresses hunger, that’s what I understand.  When inhaling cigarette smoke, nicotine hits your brain incredibly quickly and gives you some kind of hit.  Now take these two facts, and follow this logic: you are hungry, your brain tells you you are hungry triggering a desire.  You smoke a cigarette and immediately your brain receives some signal which not only provides feedback for the hunger, albeit an incorrect signal, but the nicotine also suppresses your appetite. Ahhhh, that feels good, and I am no longer hungry. A double lie to your brain.  Its easy to see that before too long, this cycle of hunger – nicotine – satisfaction results in weight loss, in turn giving rise to more hunger signals and the urge to lie to your brain again.  Smoking.  Those are some fundamental desires going on there, hunger, pleasure, satiation, and once confused, no wonder its so difficult to give up.

Response Prevention?

I discovered the techniques 1 to 4 myself, and they were very effective.  When I later beat my obsessive compulsive disorders, it was through the technique of response prevention, fostered upon me by my partner, a psychiatric nurse.  This technique aims to break the neural pathways that are laid down by habit, and thus gradually break the habit.  For my hand washing disorder, this involved increasing the time between a trigger and the habitual response – so, every time I considered my hands dirty, I waited as long as possible before washing them, and afterwards, repeating the mantra it’s not so bad, the dirt didn’t kill me.  I was allowed to wash my hands, I just had to eke out the time between episodes.  It worked.

Applying that notion to techniques 1-5 above, you can see that you would be slowly chipping away at the undesirable neural pathways, and constantly weakening them instead of reinforcing them.  Habit does have a physiological affect on your brain, its not just a case of will power, its a case of destroying the unwanted links and laying new paths.  its not easy, and it takes time, but it is achievable, you just need to stick with it, and not throw it all away if some days are worse than others.

The triggers:

  • Physiological
      • hunger
    • stress
    • any others?
  • social
    • meal times
    • work breaks
    • pub visits
    • any others?
  • habitual
    • walking to the car
    • walking to the shop
    • waiting for the train / bus
    • after a bath
    • after training
    • band practice?
    • barbeques?

Whether or not you make a list of your triggers so that you are more aware, just keep applying the techniques and give it time.  You couldn’t just regrow a nail or a nerve or knit a broken bone, so give yourself a chance with regards to changing your brain.

I would say good luck! but there is no need.  Whether you want to give up or cut down, the above will work.  Let me know how you get on applying these or similar techniques, or indeed if you think I am talking absolute rot.

The two surprising NHS surveys the government hopes you don’t see

Thanks to Nicola for sharing this, and for seemingly constantly campaigning for our NHS, one of our nation’s most valuable assets.

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today!)

There has been a concerted campaign in the mainstream press over the last few years to smear the NHS.

Here’s a recent example:

Daily Telegraph uses death of baby and outright lies to smear NHS

This is all part of the government’s misinformation campaign to discredit the NHS so it can turn over as much of it as possible to private healthcare companies.

Which is why you probably won’t have seen much in the mainstream press of a recent international survey which has ranked the UK’s NHS number 1 in the world for healthcare – above countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Norway:


But there’s another shocking recent survey you probably won’t have heard much about either.

The latest NHS staff survey shows over 70% of NHS workers think there are no longer enough staff to enable them to do their jobs properly:


If the government has its way and keeps on…

View original post 110 more words

small kindness

elderly fella walking slowly around the cliff path. its lashing down with rain and he has built up specialist shoes, bandages on each leg and is hobbling about holding on to a Zimmerframe with wheels. I walk up and with a bright hello I ask him if he wants me to shelter him with my umbrella – he seems delighted and admires Willow, my dog. his wife catches up with us and he tells her that there is another gentleman in Bude, and that makes me feel really good. I walk him the short distance to his gate, the rain stops, and i walk back home feeling good that even though my knees hurt a bit, its nothing like whatever he is going through. its a really nice moment this morning, and I feel grateful for my health. if I spot an opportunity to deliver a small kindness, i almost always try to take it, its as rewarding to help as it is to be helped.

grow your own II

all ingredients you can see in the picture come from our garden:

  • rocket
  • asparagus
  • cress
  • spinach
  • watercress
  • chives
  • egg

Lucky me, it was all assembled by my lovely partner Adele. A complete meal sourced from our garden and windowsill, how good is that?

Later in the year, we are expecting to add chilies, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, elephant garlic, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, goosegogs, rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pears and apples to our menu. Adele is already making and freezing rocket pesto….

…honeyberries, cherries, shallots, spring onions….

food, clothing and shelter

some lads are sleeping at my Tramp Headquarters. This is a shelter on the cliffs near me, where I walk Willow every day, and where I was due to drink some breakfast Guinness this morning, just for the hell of it…

nice lads these two, each with a horrible tale to tell. I took them some sandwiches and a can of Coke last night, after one of the lads had been beaten up a bit by some others – 5 on 1. Cowardice teamed up against vulnerable people. Horrible. This morning I stopped by again to see how they were today after a rough night and a rough morning. Only one lad was there, the beaten one recovering and drying out elsewhere. I asked Karl how he was doing…no surprises, he was cold and wet after being soaked all night. I offered him some clothes and he was keen, so I nipped off and got him a tee-shirt and 3 jumpers that I could spare – truth is I haven’t worn them for ages – and Adele added in 3 hard boiled eggs, some cheese slices and a packet of biscuits. Hopefully this will have eased the rest of the day somewhat.

how lucky am I that I was only wet through walking the dog without wearing a coat, that I slept in a warm dry bed and have an endless supply of food. Its good for the soul to meet others who have considerably less, and good also to give to them, so that their situation is improved, however briefly. You never know how important an act of compassion may be to someone – it may be the lifeline that prevents someone from giving up altogether.

if you see someone struggling or suffering, give them something if you can, even a greeting and a smile is a long, long way from being ignored.