I’m done.

Two things, linked, one about my health and the other about the health of my country.

I’m so ill, I don’t know if I’ll ever write again. I have two novels sitting half-written, a third planned out in detail and ready to rock, and another bright idea that’s researched and ready for planning, but unless my health improves dramatically I can’t see me ever writing another page on any of them.

My professional author career is certainly finished, and now I’ve reached the point where I could live happily without writing if I could just get some quality of life back. I don’t feel like this is a negotiation I need to make, or even could make, but in terms of the sensible advice don’t write unless you can’t not write, then I’ve realised I can not write. There’s no decision to make. It isn’t that sort of situation. It’s just what it is and I’m too sick and tired to even think about trying to fight it.

As for the health of the UK, I’m gutted by Scotland’s narrow rejection of independence. It was a triumph of fear over hope, and it sickens me.

I don’t know how many of those frightened No voters actually believe any of the lying shit Cameron, Miliband, Clegg et al have spouted in this past week, but the only certainty now is that the Westminster scum and their media whores will continue to make it all about Westminster, and the UK will continue to be one of the most unfair societies in the world.

Labour isn’t going to move to back the left. Why should they? They’ve been a right wing party for years now and they’re very comfortable there. Cameron’s only concern is protecting himself from his racist MPs so he will definitely renege on his devolution promises, and Miliband will enable him in that. Clegg’s as trustworthy as a chocolate fireguard. Establishment England – by which I mean all three main right wing parties, 99% of the media, and the City – will take today’s result as a victory for the status quo.

The majority of English voters are small-c conservative, a significant proportion of them are racists, and sufficient numbers of them will continue voting for right wing MPs for eternity. Nothing is going to change. Our only hope for a fairer country was Scotland voting Yes and English regions being inspired to get a backbone. That’s gone forever. It’s over.

I don’t want to live in this despicable country anymore, but I’m too ill to move. There’s no light at the end of this tunnel of vileness the Establishment has driven us into. No change in gradient ahead. They’ve won and they’ll keep on winning. I’m going to dig my own hole in the ground and crawl into it. I’m done.

September Mornings

Neil Diamond’s September Morn always reminds me of a quiet moment years ago.

At that time I was based a way along the coast from where we live now. My wife was pregnant with our third daughter. I worked in a small team, and on that day we’d arranged to open up our bar on the base and meet for a lunchtime drink. I can’t remember why it was a quiet day, but there was no one else around. Only us four, with our families.

The kids played out in the garden and we sat on a line of stools at the bar, chatting about non-work stuff while a mixed tape played in the background.

When September Morn came on, we all shut up for some long thoughtful moments. I don’t know why. I don’t remember having any sort of premonition or anything, but you know how sometimes a moment catches you? Like that.

Just a few years later, our close team was broken. One died, two of us got hurt, and the fourth got the hell out. I’m sure we’re all very different people now, in many ways. But whenever I hear this song I remember us as the fit, strong young men we were that September day, with our wives and little kids around us, sharing a quiet moment of mutual trust and respect.

Neil Diamond – September Morn

ETA: These small weekly essays are the only writing I can manage at the moment. Each one takes me about half a day to do through the brain fog and leaves me mentally washed out for ages afterwards, and they’re a grain of sand compared to my normal beaches of creative output when my brain isn’t exhausted by a long relapse. But they’re important. They’re like hauling open a firmly sealed door. Only a crack, but light comes in each time and there’s the promise of recovery on the other side of it.

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Staring into space

Now in the 3rd month of my worst ME relapse for 7 years. Not the longest by any means, but definitely the most painful. Pretty sure it’s been triggered by my managed steroid reduction. My GP insists the reduction is essential and I trust him, but the severe pain never goes away and makes me so sick.

Out of bed for 3 or 4 hours a day, for a shower and to catch-up online mostly. Still too ill to write, but at least this week I’ve been able to read, which I couldn’t do for all of the previous month. Started JK Rowling’s The Silkworm this Thursday and managing about 4 short chapters a day. It’s good.

If this relapse lifts, I’ll get right back into writing my YA epic fantasy The Orphan Age. I miss writing my heroine Molly, whose ME is similar to mine.

If the relapse doesn’t lift, if this turns out to be my new level of health, which is entirely possible and has happened before, then I guess I will have retired from writing.

That would be a real kick in the gut. I’ve been writing ever since I got ill, and various publishers have released 7 of my books in that time. Even at my healthiest (Ha!) I’m a million miles too ill to self-publish. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t write. The thought of it is like staring into space.

It’s a worry, but there’s no point in dwelling on something over which I have no power or influence. I’ll just carry on taking it one hour at a time.

“I wish I had all that free time to write like you do.”

Ah, yes. All that free time I have to write. Here’s what’s going on today in my free time.

My heart is pounding and aching. Makes me shaky trembly weak all over, and sick sweaty with slick skin-burning oil in it. I suspect my heart’s struggling because everything else is screaming in pain. Everything. Like a total physical meltdown. Even weirdly unassociated things like my right hip popping out and sudden agony in one eye like a hot needle plunged into it for five minutes then it’s gone like it was never there then it’s back again, and ankle edema that isn’t real edema because there’s no water retention but all the tissues are swollen as if infected and it feels like I’m trying to bear my weight on jagged broken glass and a stiff neck that tinkles sickeningly when I move it and a hammering back-of-brian headache along with all the normal muscle cramps and everything. And hundreds of other things all at once and not stopping for even a sixty-second breather. It’s mid-afternoon and I’ve fainted twice today, once from a big thigh muscle cramp that wouldn’t stop and once from dizzy sickening blood pressure dropping exhaustion. First time I fitted a bit and bruised my shoulder. Second time I just slid quietly from my chair to the carpeted floor, so that’s okay, except for the sickness and blinding new front-of-brain headache when I came round.

It’s been like this for 23 years. Variations on a theme. Details change, but everything blends together eventually. I’m coping with it today, but some days are really bad.

All that free time to write. Yeah, I see what you mean.

Ferguson, Missouri 2014

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller 1892 – 1984