Delayed…Due to a Delay

Do you ever feel delayed in life? Like you’re not really going anywhere but you’re not really sure why? 

This morning, on Clapham Junction’s 6th Platform, I arrived to find the train delayed on the departure board.  Shortly after, a posh lady came on the tanoy, to tell me that, “The 9:08 Southwest Trains service to Windsor and Eton Riverside is being delayed, due to a delay”. Er, no shit Sherlock! 

There was no broken down train, no signalling problem, no passenger taken ill at <enter station here>.  To make things worse, not only was the train delayed, it was cancelled altogether.  

When you suffer with depression, life can be very much like that.  Outside influences can have a big effect on a depressive’s mood, but so can no reason whatsoever.  Sometimes, life is the outside influence, and there’s really nothing you can do to stop life.  Well, there is, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  

Sometimes you just have to wait out the delay, the cancellation, and take the next service.  It might take you longer to get to your destination, and you will probably end up being late, but always better late than not at all. 

People without depression will never understand why sometimes you can’t put your finger on why you feel mad, sad, bad and very occasionally glad.  But if they ask you can always give them the old train excuse: you were delayed, due to a delay. 

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Dazed, Fazed, Hazed

So yesterday was apparently the Most Depressing Day of the Year (yay! They finally named a day after me!).  That day that is far enough into January for Christmas to be forgotten about; but not far enough into the new year for summer holidays to be a reality. Nobody has any money and payday is still the best part of two weeks away (if you’re like me).  

Anyway, I’m not joking when I say they named a day after me.  Sometimes I really do feel like the Most Depressed Person in the World. 

But not yesterday.   Yesterday I felt…good.  I felt positive.  I wasn’t fazed by the whole “Most Depressing Day of the Year” thing.  In fact, it was more like the most depressing day of the year.  I knew it was there, but it wasn’t screaming at me the way it is usually would have done.  And I wasn’t indulging in it the way I would normally have taken great delight to.

But that feeling did not last.  It got me through to about 5pm, which was a most valiant effort on my insides to keep this horror at bay.  But then the MDDY penetrated my armour, and I started to feel its attack.

One of my bosses called me out on something I may or may not have done wrong at work.  Despite investigations, I haven’t found out whether it’s my fault or not yet, but it’s looking likely. So I took the blame.  That made me feel pants, and those old feelings of how shit I am at my job reared their ugly heads.

As I headed home, I started looking for jobs, not feeling inspired by anything I saw, and in the back of my mind all I could hear was you haven’t been shortlisted for anything in three months, so what’s the point.  There was no question mark, it was a statement of fact, like that current ad on the tube which should really have a question mark at the end, but they obviously feel so confident in themselves they don’t need question marks.  If only I was like that.

So then I got home, saw I only had 23p of electricity on the meter, and nipped to the Co-op, or the Co-oper-ative as my beloved Nana used to call it. But as I stood in the queue with a marked-down Piri-Piri pizza, I realised I had left my purse at home.  Uuuugggggghhhhhh.  

So back home, grabbed my purse and back to the Co-op.  On the plus side I did get a “fresh” chicken roast – two chicken fillets, cocktail sausages, some stuffing and gravy – for 99p.

So home I went, putting the chicken meal in the freezer and the pizza in the fridge for the following night, when I will get home late from book club. 

I cooked spaghetti bolognese, making the sauce from scratch out of my Usborne First Cookbook, the one I’ve had since I was little.  The one with illustrations of little people showing you how to make the recipe (which never has more than about four ingredients), just in case you’re too little to read the instructions.  

The spag bol was a success in my opinion, though that may have been more to do with the Malbec I added, not as per Usborne, but as per the Beeb website that I’d checked while in Sainsbury’s buying my ingredients. The Zinfandel I was drinking might have helped too. 

By the time I’d cooked, eaten and washed up, it was gone half nine and the last thing I wanted to do was apply for jobs I didn’t have a hope in hell getting.  So I read for a while, in a bid to get my mind to stop whirring, and cease the downward spiral I felt myself on.  

Then I read about the passing of one of my favourite musicians, Glenn Frey, one of the founding members of the Eagles.  And the tears came.  

I did not cry for Rickman – I was too busy laughing at all the wonderful one-liners he gave us in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (“I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon, Locksley!” being my personal favourite). Nor did I cry for Bowie, and all I can hear him say is “Well, laugh” before he continues laughing along with the goblins.  But for Glenn, a man I had seen perform three times with the Eagles, I cried. And could not stop. 

At almost 1am, I went to sleep, waking this morning, still feeling unsettled.  It is no longer the Most Depressing Day of the Year, but I still feel the after-effects.  Maybe I am just particularly hormone right now. If so, that will pass.  As all things come to pass.

RIP Glenn Frey (1948-2016)

Tequila Sunrise – The Eagles (1973)

A Name On A Coffee Cup

She spies the cup on the table. Lid off. Its sleeve has fallen to the table, no longer needed by its owner to prevent burnt fingers that are already suffering from frostbite.
The cup, which is about a quarter empty, or is it a quarter full, she wonders, of brown liquid, has been abandoned by its owner.  
Mark.
That is the name emblazoned on the side of the cup, next to the familiar green logo. Surely it cannot be spelt right? It is probably Marek, or Marco. Or just perhaps they got it right for once. 
She thinks about Mark. Wonder what kind of job takes him from the Broadway into town. If he buys Starbucks every day he must be well paid, she thinks, before it occurs to her that she buys Caffé Nero soya lattes, one shot please, every day. It’s like a ritual, or is she obsessed.  
She skips her coffee today, in favour of catching the 9:08 Windsor & Eton Riverside. She has been late to work too many times recently. Already, stood on platform 6, she feels she is missing her fix. Maybe she shall take a leaf out of Mark’s book, and go to the Starbucks kiosk at Gunnersbury. Leaf. Tea leaf? No, Mark is definitely a coffee drinker. 
Could he already be drinking a second? No. His cup was still on the table outside the cafe, not joined by cups from Helen or Sanjay. He hasn’t been gone long. Long enough to hop on the Northern Line, north, not South. Not to Mordor. He’s probably passed Clapham by now, about to get off the tube at Stockwell and walk across the corridor to join the Victoria Line, also going North. Not packed today though. He takes a seat next to a man in his 50s reading about the death of David Bowie, and a woman in her 20s who opens her mouth as she applies her mascara. He opens his book. Hemingway.  
He’s a reader, as well as a coffee drinker. Yes, he read as he supped his morning coffee, and smoked his cigarette. Tried to quit last year, but the evil weed keeps him hooked. He can’t quit now, anyway, not with Amanda being the way she is. He is not ready to get married. She has been ready since she was 13. He always checks the condom after sex, and her pills in the evening, to make sure she’s still taking them. Sometimes she ‘forgets’. He remembers the last near miss.  
He is content in his life, but he knows that is because he glosses over the issues. Paints over the cracks. Layer, after layer, after layer. Layer Cake. I might watch that later on Netflix, he thinks.  
Later he arrives at work, for some reason craving another caffeine hit. Normally his morning Starbucks keeps him going until after 10am. But this morning he left some of it after receiving a call about an urgent matter requiring his attention in the office. He makes himself a coffee, his assistant Lula looking at him in surprise as he normally barks beverage orders at her.  Lula wonders if there are problems with Amanda again, not that Mark has told her this, only what she has gathered from carefully reading between the lines. As she watches him carry the cup out of the kitchen and stops to chat to one of the other partners, she wonders, and a smile plays on her lips as the fantasy plays in her head, the one where Mark proclaims his love for her and then makes love to her right there and then on the desk. Yes, Lula wonders.
She is so busy daydreaming that she does not hear her phone ring, the trill tone of an internal incoming call. 
Mark glares through the glass partitions of his office at Lula. Stupid cow, he thinks, slamming the phone down. Daydreaming again. Shakes his head. He is very fond of the girl, but sometimes her head is just not in the game. And in this business you need people who are totally committed to the game.
He thinks about Amanda again, and how he is not totally committed to that game. Far from it. He looks again over at Lula, and remembers how her hair fell over her face while she was dancing to The Final Countdown at the Christmas party. He thinks about Lula, and he wonders. 
As she gets on the Overground at Richmond, she wonders. And she thinks you can learn a lot about a person from their coffee cup. 

Picking Up The Pieces

As this new year starts, I am very conscious of the person I want to become.  Having explored this arena for the last ten years, I feel I am finally getting closer, day by day.  

Having read an online excerpt of Matt Haig’s new book, Reasons To Stay Alive, I headed down to Waterstones one lunch break to buy it.  I have it in my bag this morning, but haven’t started reading yet.  I’m still floored by having finished Disclaimer, by Renée Knight, a recent debut chart topper.  With reviews comparing it to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynnn, another book that had a profound effect on me, I know I can write something like it, something clever.  My mind fails me with logic sometimes (I am, however, plentiful in Jodie Logic) but I can knit together the perfect tale in my mind.  

As I wait for the train to leave Gunnersbury, I think back to the reason for writing this post.   I think back to being in the car during the Christmas break, and hearing Jess Glynne’s Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself on the radio, and vowing that I would not be so hard on myself this year.  I am my own worst critic; I don’t publish blogs because I don’t believe they are good enough to read.  I start but quickly abandon any form of fictional writing because I just don’t believe I can get it out of my head and onto paper without it sounding stupid.  The minuscule amounts of creativity that bubble to my surface are quashed because I  just don’t believe in myself.  So when I say I can write like some of the current bestselling authors, I do believe I can; but there is that other part of me, the one that says no you can’t, don’t be so stupid!

Buying my soya latte this morning (a recent experiment to see if I was lactose intolerant which has really become a morning ritual), I decided to buy a gingerbread man (I do realise the epic faildom of screwing up my gluten-avoidance with this action by the way).  Anyway, the first gingerbread man I picked up and put down again, because I could see that his leg was broken off.  As I put the packet back and selected the perfect one behind it which was intact, I had second thoughts, and instead picked up the broken man I’d originally had in my hand.  

Don’t be so hard on yourself, I thought.  And don’t be so hard on broken gingerbread men.  They’ve done nothing wrong.  

  
Happy New Year everyone. 

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself – Jess Glynne (2015)

Come Rain Come Shine

Standing in the pouring rain under my umbrella the other day, waiting for my train to come, I contemplated the weather.  Saturday was boiling hot, but most of this week the rain has poured.  Today it looks like it is going to be sunny (and my iPhone confirms no rain forecast, which is good because my already-broken umbrella can’t take much more). 

My mood, like the weather, has been up and down lately.  The week before last, it was down, down, down. Trouble at work saw me in tears (at work) almost every day, and of course at home.  Last week was much better.  Some tears, but none at work.  

Why the sudden turnaround?  Well, the same reason it has always been. Last week I spent my evenings talking to a guy, having spent most of the Sunday chatting on the phone and via video Skype after meeting online.  

Last week the work issues that had been so predominant became less so, and my good mood was eased by having someone to look forward to chatting to in the evenings.  

We made tentative plans to meet Sunday, but of course I didn’t hear from him after Friday lunchtime.  Friday night and Saturday I had my own plans, so I didn’t think about it too much, knowing that we would finally be meeting on the Sunday.  The beautiful hot weather on Saturday lifted my mood even higher.    

But Sunday everything came crashing down.  Tentative plans are not good for me.  If I am supposed to have plans but they don’t materialise (with anyone, not just men) then I will find it hard to think about doing anything else.  As I woke up Sunday and checked my phone, I was disappointed not to see a message from him.  Determined not to be the one doing the chasing, I refrained from messaging him.  

But as the rain poured down outside, so did my mood, and I spent almost the whole day in bed.  Not that I have much choice in this matter anyway; my studio flat has one main room which has a double bed in it and not much else.  

At around 5:30pm, I finally sent a quick hi, which of course was ignored.  

Today I feel embarrassed and humiliated, for believing that a few conversations could have been the start of something.  But in my five years’ experience of Internet dating, this should be nothing new. 

I think the biggest realisation for me, was that no matter what I do to lift myself up, I will always let men drag me down further.  Last Friday I was so happy to have written a new blog post.  But the joy I felt was not as great as the low I suffered after a man I spent less than a week talking to decided he no longer wanted to chat.   

I know I have issues with both men and self-esteem, the two having been linked for most of my life.  I know that I need to put more effort into making my life what it should be, so that I can be happy alone, or at least get to a point where I don’t suffer as much at any kind of rejection from a guy. 

Today I was at risk of a really bad mood bringing me down.  Thoughts of another man who rejected me earlier this year still too raw, when I should be over it by now.  The bright sunshine has, ironically, watered down my bad mood and I feel calm stood on the platform with my coffee (it’s payday) at Clapham Junction’s Platform 6.  I have my broken brolly with me, a mirror of my broken heart, and a weapon to fight the bad weather.  I’ll buy a new one in the next few days.  An umbrella, that is.  My broken heart can’t be replaced the way my umbrella can, but perhaps I can take some inspiration from the fact that you can fight the rain with a broken umbrella, and you can fight future heartbreak with a broken heart. 

The Opposite of Train Spotting

The last two days I’ve been on a last-minute business trip with work to Leeds, West Yorkshire (the West is important apparently) which meant getting the train from London Oop North to Leeds. This particularly train line takes me approximately 16 miles (25km – as the crow flies) away from the cathedral city of Lincoln where I was born.

While I have never been ever so fond of the place in which I grew up, it does have one extremely redeeming feature, and one that I find myself becoming more and more proud of as the years wear on.

Think you’ve never seen Lincoln cathedral? Think again. If you’ve ever seen Tom Hanks in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’sThe Da Vinci Code, then you’ve seen inside it at least. The cathedral was used for filming when officials at Westminster Abbey refused permission to film in the London Minster.

While the inside is pretty spectacular, it is the outside that always amazes me. As a child, we would play a game called “I Can See the Cathedral”, which is very similar to being the first to spot the sea whenever you got anywhere near the coast. Lincoln cathedral is perched high on top of a hill, called Steep Hill to be precise, and if you’ve ever tried to walk up it sober, well you’ll know it’s certainly not advised to do it after a few pints. While Lincoln’s alcohol consuming population curse its location, back in the 11th Century, its siting on top of the hill had the ideal defensive location. In the modern age, when floodlit at night or on a clear day, the cathedral can easily be seen from around 20-odd miles away, proving that the Normans knew what they were doing.

To add to its fame, between 1311 and 1549, the medieval cathedral was the tallest building in the world.

A number of years ago, on the train home back to Lincoln, I spotted the cathedral on the horizon, some 20-something miles away to the South. I was in awe of the fact that it could be seen from that location. I often travelled with my family to visit my Grandmother to the East of the county, where the Minster was always very visible, but I hadn’t realised it could be seen, albeit not so easily, from just past Grantham. It was that sighting, combined with the view I had as I entered the city from the South by car on another visit home, that really cemented it into my heart.

On the outbound train to Leeds I once again spotted it, quite painstakingly by staring out into the horizon. Whilst I did the same on the return train, the glare on the windows and the pure blackness outside prevented any beautiful vision.

As I head back down South, I think of the family and friends I have not had time to visit during this emergency work-related visit to the North of England. I also think of my beautiful cathedral upon the hill. While I don’t miss too many things about my home city, the cathedral is one of those that I do yearn for. Its beauty and spellbinding powers yield far more admiration from me than any London landmark ever will.

Restless in London

I woke up this morning, as I have many times in the last week or so, with a sinking feeling. At least it’s not as bad as it was last Saturday. I woke up in my friends’ flat in Manchester, ready to help pack boxes ready for their move to London, but I could not shake the feeling I woke up with, and this will sound dramatic, but it was the feeling of impending doom. Luckily the move came off without a hitch, and the feeling had disappeared by the following day.

Today all I want to do is call you. To check if you are ok, for you to see how I am. I miss our morning phone calls.

But I guess that was part of the problem. Even though it’s been a long time since we physically shared a bed, you were there most mornings, to cheer me up when I was down, or to just be there to say good morning and share our feelings on the day ahead. But I am a single girl, and I should get used to the fact that from the time I wake up until the time I say “Morning” as I walk in the office, that the only person I will speak to is my cat. I have a housemate but he is never up before I leave for work.

One of the reasons I’m in this pickle is because for all intents and purposes, I made you my surrogate boyfriend. You were the man I turned to for everything. When I won tickets to see Ryan Adams, you were the first person I asked to go with me. You already had other commitments, and of course, I ended up going alone. Maybe that was meant to be. The universe’s way of telling me that I won’t be getting what I want. But the fact is, I should not have made you my first choice. Because I will never be yours. And to quote Walter, Bill Pullman’s character from Sleepless in Seattle, I don’t want to be anybody’s second choice.

So I will resist the urge to ring you. Or Facebook message you. Or text you. Or Whatsapp you. Just know that I am thinking about you, and that I hope you are ok. The cessation of our friendship will not be having the same effect on you as on me, but I know that you will be missing having a friend there, as you too work through your own life problems. I wish I could be there for you, but I can’t. For my own sake, I have to become the strong person you were always telling me I need to be.

I hope one day that we will be friends again. For now, I have no choice but to write about how I feel, because I know that calling won’t do either of us any good.

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