The Pessimist returns…

2 blogs posts in a fortnight. Then 7 months till the next one.
My blog updates have been slightly less consistent than Wayne Rooney’s goal scoring.
Maybe thats a good thing, right? I did after all say that I use this blog to get things out of my head that would otherwise have me despairing.
well it’s not as if there’s not been much going on since my entry in April:

    • I watched Bruce, star of the last post, breeze round the streets of London on a very enjoyable marathon day
    • I cycled up Mount Teide in Tenerife which was immensely challenging and enjoyable
    • I cycled down Mount Teide in Tenerife which was utterly terrifying
    • I completed my 1st cycling sportive, the 130km etape Caledonia in Pitlochry
    • I attended a nerve shredding court case in support of a family member
    • I started a new job. or more accurately I now do the same job but for another company. I celebrated the 2nd birthday of my 3rd son
    • I mourned the 4th anniversary of the death of my 2nd son
    • I found out that at the 4th attempt, I’m potentially going to have a daughter

There’s been some other notable things too but I don’t want to cheapen those points above by giving my achievement of binge watching 2 series of Mr Robot equal billing. So why then, has it taken so long for another blog post?  The truth is I’m not too sure. I’ve thought about writing one countless times, but if anything there’s been too much to write about. The news these days is so bloody awful that I couldn’t narrow down any one topic. Or, on the occassions where I did pick something to rant about, by the time I was halfway through the article it had been trumped (pun very much intentional) by something even more scandalous than the original topic. So I gave up. Until today, when I decided I need to just get something down on screen, as my internal monologue has been getting louder again, and I don’t want it becoming too prominent again. (Maybe those 2 series of Mr Robot have got me worried I’ll end up like like Eliot…!)

So, here we go. A return to the R, R & R. First up, rather than running it’s been riding. My bike that is. (I’m not sure if the need for clarification there says more about you or me) After picking up an ankle injury that ruled me out of the inaugural Chislehurst half marathon in May, I have swtiched 100% from 2 feet to 2 wheels as my given form of physical exercise/ mental exorcise. I’ve been out for several 50, 60 & 70 mile rides over the past months. In Scotland, Tenerife, Majorca and mostly around the hills and lanes of Outer London. It’s a completely different kind of challenge to running. For a start I can be out on the bike for 4-5 hours at a time, whereas other than near the end of marathon training, it’s typically 1 hour or less for running. And cycling uphill on steep gradients after 50 miles in the saddle is a whole different kind of pain than running, but a welcome pain none the less. Like most things in life, cycling relies heavily on confidence. For a start, you need to go out in public in full Lycra and let’s face it, that takes balls. (And proudly displays them). As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not naturally the confident type, so there’s been a few moments where I’ve wondered if I really should should commit to the new hobby. One such moment being cycling down a volcano, at 30mph, round hairpin bends with nothing but a sheer drop at the side. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I told myself “if you get down this alive, you’re never cycling again” over and over for at least the first 20mins of the descent.
I’m already booked up to return to that same volcano next year. I’m little more confident now, and easily as stupid. Last year I wouldn’t ride at all in the dark, or the rain, again mostly a confidence thing as I didn’t quite trust the traffic of London but now I’m commuting even after the clocks have changed, and despite cycling in central London sometimes being a bit like wacky races & Mad Max combined, there is something magical about cycling across London Bridge at dusk, looking left and seeing Tower Bridge lit up. I love it.
One thing I’ve noticed about cycling, when out on my own, my internal monologue becomes external. I don’t know if it’s something about the speed I pass folk at makes it feel less weird to be talking to myself than if I was jogging past them. I do wonder if making it external is in any way better at clearing my head than just thinking it. Talking to myself is something I’ve done forever. Not weird is it?  Technically I’m doing it right now. (if you have watched Mr Robot you’ll probably understand by now why I like it so much!) I know my wife thinks it’s odd, or maybe she’s just jealous that she sometimes gets less words out of me than I do but I digress. The main point is, I feel far far better, arriving home from work after my 11 mile commute by two wheels, than I do when I’ve spent it sat on a bus/tube/train. Mentally & physically, so my aim is to do it as much as I can regardless of the winter weather.

Ok, so that’s the cycling bit done. That’s the easy bit. Next up is where I rant. This should be easy too, given how farcical real life has become these days. I’ve taken to avoiding the news/social media mostly these days for the sake of my own wellbeing. It can’t be healthy being repeatedly exposed to images of Boris johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton,Jeremy Hunt, Jose Mourinho, Robbie Savage, Piers Morgan etc, each of them talking their own particular brand of utter c**tspeak. To make matters worse, no one ever calls them out on the verbal gruel they feed us. The fact that the term p§ost-truth even exists and is used regularly to describe this period of history we are creating makes me want to self combust. Remember the old days when truth was an actual concept that we could use to determine facts from nonsense? How has it come to this? My own theory is we’re all responsible for allowing this. Most of us spent years watching (therefore supporting) X factor style TV shows, where being a fucking idiot, ideally one with little discernible talent, was prized over actual values worth aspiring to. A million shows have been spawned where thinking up a new and novel way to insult someone in front of a huge audience for trying their best is the key theme. All while a baying audience laugh or boo along. We’ve created a culture where children can watch ‘Joey f**king Essex’ set himself up for life by being an ignorant moron. And be proud of it to the point of faking his idiocy even further. The less knowledge he can display, the more popular/successful he becomes. An elected politician tells the country that “people are tired of experts”. Knowledge is no longer King. How do we even check a fact these days? Look it up on the Internet? Yeah, good luck with that. It’s a swamp of half truths, lies & conspiracies.
And so here we are, day away from a world where a compulsive liar, who has been openly racist in press conferences, recorded boasting about sexual assault, and has a mouth that looks like a blow up dolls arsehole is in charge of one of the most influential countries in the world. We’re all culpable.

So, that was cheery midsection,huh? Lets seamlessly move into my reflect bit where I make sense of my mildly bipolar brainbox. That’ll be a larf, right?
So, we’ve learned so far that the world is essentially closer to a Charlie Brooker inspired dystopia than any of us imagined. And that I like cycling up hills while talking out loud. Given these two facts, how would I rate my own mental wellbeing since my last blog? It’s hard to sum up 7 months in a short statement. There’ve been peaks & troughs as you’d expect, given the 8 bullet points I started with above. But there’s been an overall feeling of unease, a hint of something not quite right below the surface and I couldn’t quite figure out what or why. The good thing is I did/do know that I wasn’t quite feeling right. I’m getting quite good at spotting it, which helps. Some obvious signs were over exaggerated mood changes. Like when the coffee shop near my work gave me a free coffee & cake and I walked away feelings like I’d won the lottery. I was genuinely elated and practically skipped back to the office. Later on the same day, I overheard a guy in the lift at work defending Apple’s decision to remove the earphone socket from the iPhone 7. By the time I got to my floor I was wanting to re-enact the lift scene from the film Drive. (I was gonna link to a clip of it, but it’s pretty brutal)
Without knowing why, it’s hard to correct, so I’ve made multiple attempts at writing this blog before realising what it was. I’d originally assumed it was Dexter’s 4th anniversary, the most negative thing on my list. But eventually it dawned on me it was entirely the opposite. The best thing to happen, something I’d always wanted, was the trigger. The day the nurse told us our 20wk scan was clearly a girl.
As part of my old pessimist outlook, I also have a thing where i do my utmost to never get anyone’s hopes up unnecessarily. The obvious examples of this are with my eldest son, mainly because his mum highlights the polar opposite view. So for instance, I’d never tell him I planned on taking him to see a film he liked until I was sure I could actually get the tickets. His mum would think nothing of saying she was taking him to Manchester & he could go see United play in a Champions League game before deciding later that she couldn’t. (Actual real life example).
If I spent 3 frantic days and £50 of my phone bill trying to get you tickets to a gig you really wanted to see, but ultimately failed. I’d rather you never even knew about my efforts, as at least your hopes wouldn’t have been raised (and then dashed). The thought of your disappointment really, really eats at me as I’d essentially have been the cause. So until I have the tickets in hand, I will keep shtuum.
Where the f**k are you going with this? I hear you ask.

1st of all, mind the language, 2ndly I’m getting there. So, for the majority of our latest pregnancy, I’ve been almost unable to allow myself to get my hopes up. I remember the comparison between our pregnancy with Dexter which was amazing, filled with hopes & expectations and the subsequent pregnancy for Milo fraught with constant worry & stress. While there has been a lot less reason for worry in this latest pregnancy, I’ve never quite managed to get back to the original state of enjoying the time and looking forward to another amazing chapter for our family. The fact that it is a girl has made the stakes higher somehow, and I think more than anything in annoyed at myself for not being able to think more positively about it all. At the weekend I had an argument with myself whilst in a shop, about buying some clothes for a baby girl. With less than 2 months to the due date, I still worried about ‘tempting fate’ so until then I’d not bought a single thing. Even writing this blog today seemed a bit premature (pardon the pun). I’ve got about a paragraph left to write, but even now I’m not sure yet if I’ll actually have the nerve to post it.

So I guess I’ve not quite managed to shake off my pessimist outlook as well as I thought I had. But now that I’ve finally recognised what’s been eating at me, hopefully I can deal with it a bit better. In 2 weeks, we’ll be almost at the same stage we were, when Milo was born. Which seems like a reassuring target to aim for. We’ll also be at the start of the Sagittarius birth sign, which means if you believe in all that crap, then little Miss S will have the same personality traits as both her mum & dad. She’ll also probably have money troubles on the horizon, and a stranger will bring surprise news.

So until then, it’s legs crossed for Mrs S, and fingers crossed for everyone else. Here’s hoping there’s a positive blog post coming up next.

Graeme