An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet


Mental Health

The Legend Of 28c – Prologue


The universe computes. The solar system is a computer. The Earth is a computer. I am a computer. You are a computer.

Our great central databases are at Facebook and Google. Facebook Research is the locus of  Psychology research on a scale hitherto unknown. The research is flawed, due to the nature of the data collection and a well documented  phenomenon in the field of Anthropology which I shall call the missionary’s curse. Nonetheless, a powerful entity emerges in the field of Psychology. I wonder if one day it will give itself a personal name.

The genie will not go back in the bottle. Two billion wishers rub its lamp constantly, and it rubs them, and they rub back. This is the positive feedback of addiction. So let me use it to at least tell a story of a little consequence. One of those little myth books, in fact, that will have a life of its own while the breeze barely rustles the long grass that brushes the headstone of the mister man who originated it.

On the day a gofer with a handicap you might think barely worthy of the name hit towards a location well to the left of the fairway, a brown envelope came through the door of 28C. The gofer himself was well used to receiving envelopes, bursting with Nazi bullion or Middle Eastern promise, it was all the same to him, so of course the brown DWP variety were not of much concern to him, and in his mind this was as it should be, for he saw himself as a very deserving type, and indeed he could not help himself deserving and deserving and helping himself to another serving of what he rightfully deserved, and this was his handicap. Anyhow, this envelope was not for him and he wouldn’t have wanted it.

The story begins on Christmas Day, a cheerful time of goodwill and family when two brothers with severe mental health issues living in an overcrowded flat each had a good miserable sleep through the whole thing. One brother did at least get out to meet a friend for a little dinner and a couple of drinks before the year had given up entirely on its brief, blighted existence. This being some relief from the isolation, the brother had a few more drinks after the friend went home.

I am distracted by a Ladybird.

Photo: pthompson500 at

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When I was in The Beatles

John Lennon laid back, head casually on my lap as we lounge about in a white hotel room. I could see the odd nose in the curtains. We were talking about  newspapers, bottles of beer, sweets (candy), ice lollies (popsicles), and so on, and how before ’63 George and me, or John and George – well, that doesn’t matter (I am you are he is we are me and we are all together, you know?) – back then we could nip off to the shops, “What do you want John?”, and… now, that’s just impossible. And off we went, two heads of JohnPaulRingoGeorge, on an errand, messing about and talking about The White Album. 

There was some legal letter we had read, we’ve all read a lot of Latin over the years, and… it was art. It was the perfect comment, unintentionally, on the whole circus. I said we should put it on the wall with one of those little placards – the place was a bit like an art gallery – but John, perceptive chap now and then, was totally against it. 

“Don’t be reflexive for the sake of it.” he said, “It’s got to mean something. In other words, you have to feel it, brother  mine.”

I remember asking him, some time in the 21st Century, about mental health. “Well I certainly didn’t get the help I needed.” he said. So he is we set about changing the way people look at the world instead. Not consciously, we were just a little rock and roll band in our eyes, you know. John really was A Spaniard In The Works. Your friendly neighbourhood enemy within. When he went to live in America with Yoko, the CIA wanted him deported. John Lennon. Think about that. They should have built a statue of him on Wall Street. Of course, he would have seen bitter irony in that, like the airport where he used to spit in the sandwiches he served for fuck all an hour.

I was watching Star Trek last night. An alien called The Traveller, of an advanced species, knew the secret: 

Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, and thought by itself are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a union of the three…

He had the power to propel The Enterprise billions of light years in barely any time at all, by channelling the thoughts of the crew. 

At the end of the universe, beginnings. The crew began to experience scenes from the past. Chased by a rape gang. Ballet lessons. A beloved childhood pet. 

Of course, The Traveller was a kind of Mary Sue. For him, light years in the Star Trek universe are only a thought away. 

The journey weakened him, and a successful return depended on the crew focusing their thoughts on The Traveller’s well being. He got them home in time for crumpets, but -exhausted- he phased out of their reality in the process.

Today is the anniversary of George Martin’s death. You don’t get presents for that. Or maybe you is we are he should.

The cycle

There is a cycle, of worthless, lazy, sad, loser children. It’s not true, it’s just what people hand down, a learnt behaviour, something they themselves have internalized. It gets passed down in written notes, verbalized frustrations, and even casually.

The least miserable child I know has  ability to rise above it but they can’t perform miracles upon themselves. They are loved, but the words sometimes leak out.

I’m told it’s just me that causes this “You ARE scum/a dog/a cunt/worthless/a miserable child.” This is not true.

It’s a cycle that can’t be broken without recognition that the internalization has been damaging.

No-one is perfect. Some have a worse problem than others and it runs in families. That is the painful truth that has to be accepted. The child was told awful things and they took them inside, believed them, and they spit them back out.

Two vulnerable adults

playing dangerous games. Yet the relationship with the son is good for him. It’s healthy. I don’t think I could manage without it either. Everyone else in my inner circle is either gone, shut down, or negotiating razor wire. New friendships take time to build. I don’t have this intense schedule that brings people together. 

I don’t have the emotional support to play this game. I’m worried about psychosis. I’m letting people down.

I can’t allow my feelings, my loneliness, my hurt to be delegitimised. Yet I am. I make allowance after allowance for her. 

It has to stop for his sake if no-one else but I don’t know that she knows a better way to protect herself.



George Michael 1963— Donald

We find it comforting to name impersonal forces. It may seem as though knowing the winds that totalled your car are called Barbara isn’t going to do much for you (and it’s entirely unfair on my elderly aunt) but personalization is at the heart of every inner storm too.

By this point, 2016 has earned a name of its own. The obvious choice is Donald. Capricious, petty, and no friend of musicians from the world of pop and rock. Donald killed an uncle of mine this year for good measure, although Happy Birthday at five eighths of a semitone lower or higher than everyone else aside, I don’t recall hearing him sing more than a couple of lines. 

We might have hoped that Donald had done its worst, its reign of terror almost over, but there was one more horrible surprise on Christmas Day.

​George Michael was a gay North Londoner. He sang about Finsbury Park. He struggled with prejudice and his identity. He cruised the West Heath. He was just nine years older than me. His end hits me harder than any of the famous others in 2016.

Finsbury Park
Finsbury Park. Image:

Although there are no details of his death released yet, growing up gay in a prejudiced world certainly  contributed to physical and mental  health problems. 

You can’t ignore also that he was part of an immigrant population. Like many of the Georges, Michaels, and Chrisses I grew up with, Anglicizing your Greek name was what Greek Cypriots did to seek greater acceptance. Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou was no name for the cover of Smash Hits magazine. 

Although he never cast off the trappings of celebrity and wealth bestowed upon him at a young age, by his mid twenties he was maturing as artist, operating out of the mainstream yet producing a range of pieces with a subtly original twist. Some of his music is not just deeply moving, it is harrowing. These two aspects of his music set him apart from some prominent stars who will take this opportunity to appear on TV talking about his influence on them. George had that universality of appeal which ensured his fortune, but his lasting legacy will be beyond the attainment of almost all ex-Boy Band songwriters. 

On Christmas Eve I listened to John Lennon’s last interview, with Yoko Ono, a conversation with Andy Peebles of BBC Radio two days before he died. It was clear he was relaxed and happy to be part of a stable family. I don’t think George Michael ever found quite the same peace in life. I am not the only person who will find “John And Elvis Are Dead” an especially poignant song at this time. 

The thing he softly said
It stayed with me, it keeps messing with my head
If Jesus Christ is alive and well
Then how come John and Elvis are dead?

In common with Lennon, George Michael found a simple but penetrative honesty in some of his best songwriting that is rare in the world of pop. A Different Corner is one of my favourite pop songs in the whole world. Precious Box is a great crossover of 80s/90s club dance music and traditional songwriting “bout private feelings ‘n all”. Many people will think of songs from Listen Without Prejudice. Praying For Time will now forever be associated with the televisual history of Donald. If I’m going to choose one song to remember George by though, it would be remiss to not look death as squarely in the eye as he did. So it has to be this haunting one he wrote to himself. Of course there is something in it for everyone. Even Donalds. This is the album version. .  . 

Love you, George. 

The Everyday Stigma Project

​The Everyday Stigma Project exists to catalogue instances of mental health stigma experienced on a day to day basis. 

By sharing your story you are showing the world that mental health stigma does exist and it is a valid problem to discuss.

From careless and unhelpful calls to “snap out of it” or “cheer up” to amateur attempts to silence you with patronising comments about your mental health, stereotypes about violence, or any inappropriate use of “crazy”, “insane”, “nuts” etc  directed at an individual,  e-mail and, provided it meets the criteria,  I will upload your story.

If you are a supporter who can host this site on its own domain, an email would also be very much appreciated. 

This page was inspired by The Everyday Sexism Project,

Recovery College 

Back from the Recovery College. Treatment agreed with psychologist (not a student midwife or relative) for what is best referred to in the presence of lay people (that’s you) as Circadian Arythmia. 

They are very nice people. There might be one in your area. Look, they have courses on anxiety, mindfulness, dealing with stigma, all sorts… 

Don’t worry. I’m not taking the course on assertiveness 😛

Language Matters: Watching The Watchers

Mental Health is inextricable from politics, as the recent United Nations report on the impact of UK Government austerity measures demonstrated. Political perspectives on empowerment are revealed by the language used. In a policy contribution to the Labour Commission on Mental Health many months ago, I briefly raised a point about a specific  phrase used in negotiating treatment for mental health problems. 


There is no denying that successive UK governments for some years have failed to deliver holistic policies for ensuring the good health of the people. We find ourselves in something of a mental health crisis. It is morally unacceptable, and unhelpful, for a state which has reneged on its duties to its citizens to attempt to impose a one sided deal. 


“Compliance” is a particularly paternalistic phrase used regarding treatment that inhibits cooperation between providers and suffering individuals. “Compliance” is a symptom of unhealthy power dynamics. 

Progressives especially have no business trying to get others to “comply”. To DEMAND deference and bourgeois decorum belongs to a bygone age. Fortunately, new brooms are sweeping clean. The revolution, as always, is in the head, for those with compassionate circuitry.


Having made the point about this odd phrase, I must say that the psychologists of Camden & Islington Mental Health team have been great. Waiting times are an issue but that isn’t their fault. Jeremy Corbyn has raised the problem of waiting times for mental health consultations several times during the Labour Leadership campaign. 

Corbyn and some others within the Labour Party who have the PRIVILEGE that enables them to set an ever compassionate example are leaders to cherish. There is a genuine conversation to be had about creating a society of greater mutual respect. For sure, you don’t create respect by mass exclusion. Tribal “us and them” politics is dead for the left. Or the left will wither, with horrific consequences. 

Note that Labour rules covering social media reference “foul and abusive language.” Clichés often enable lazy thinking. Britain swears. There is practically no word that cannot be pronounced after nine o clock on national television. Our MPs often swear. Our SPADS swear. A lot. 

Abuse, especially online abuse, is a complex and sensitive issue. “Foul” language? Get thee to a monastery. 

Hypocrisy, invasiveness, and thoughtless squeamishness has no role to play in the solutions to the UK’s problems. It is a part of them. We must set our house in order. Labour is already at a remove from the country. Those who won’t play fair will find themselves even further removed soon enough. 

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