here is distant

melancholic moment medley

The desk opposite me was empty, as my boss came to sit next to me, screwing up her nose as she did. It smelt. Not the kind of smell that jabs your nostrils violently, but the more subtle and un-delightful eggy kind, that lingers and loiters in the background.

My boss soon moved and whispered into a colleagues ear. The sound of two people trying not to be heard could barely be drowned out by the sporadic clicks of mice. I smell. There was no one else it could have been round there. I stare at my screen but can't think about Excel.

I'm leaking sewage. Everyone knows. My garments amplify my odours. They all talk about it when I'm at lunch. My holes are valveless. It's what they think about when I talk about clients. I can't look after myself. It's what they all smell when I talk to them about bookings.

Then everyone talked at once. All the voices were hissing over each other. They all tried not at look at me, so that I couldn't guess who they were talking about. Noses held, arms wafting and air freshener pumped. Aria brought in an egg sandwich for lunch and people are asking her to put it in the fridge. I closed the google search for incontinence with quite a lot of relief (but not too much, thank God).

You have just read my 14th blog post of all time, entitled Paranoid Panda-Void

I have a crush on a girl I sit two metres away from every day. The office is not an environment where I feel comfortable, or capable, of forming any kind of meaningful relationship, but she is friendly towards me and laughs if I joke.

Today she was talking of how she lacks direction her job and feels a bit useless at work sometimes. I will freely admit to this blog that it pleased me to hear it. Most of the characters in the office hide their insecurities behind overt self-satisfaction and are painfully incredulous in the face of anything that even remotely challenges them. My crush's vulnerability and unhappiness feel so much more honest and relatable to me. I genuinely find myself wishing gentle dissatisfaction onto her. Maybe because otherwise she'd never be interested in me, maybe because I am jealous of other people's happiness. I just wish I could connect with her

and that she didn't have a boyfriend.

This my 12th blog post. Its title is stolen.


I was checking the latest Instagrams today.

Suddenly my phone went all soft and my finger went through the touchscreen and out the other side, as if I were fingering a generously filled jam doughnut.

The phone was turning to liquid and the latest Instagrams were looking blurrier than usual.

They were all over my hands and were dripping into the carpet.

I called tech support but they said they only deal with software issues.

I'll have to try and fix it tomorrow because I need my phone to send messages and do other important things.


Football ruined my life.

If there was no such thing as football, I'd be happy. I'd be somewhere less tragic than this, doing something less miserable than this. I'd be eating grapes, reflecting on what went right. But here I am, spooning ice cream, patching together a themed life-narrative to diagnose the causes of my inadequacies. This is a blog post written by a graduate who still wants to be a footballer. This a blog post about who I really am and how I'm really nothing.

Like most boys in the country, my relationship with football started in childhood. I loved it. At home, there was enough space in our garden for my brother and I to run around playing fake premier league games, and our neighbours were patient enough to throw our wayward shots back over the fence. At school, wayward shots were usually just underneath the imaginary crossbar, or just inside the jumper-post. Much to my mother's frustration, every lunchtime I would prioritise running around the playing field over preserving my school shoes. But it was worth it, as my school-shoe skills could earn me some serious social currency. I was popular and lunchtimes felt good.

I could do things with a football. I wasn't the best player on the playground, but it often looked like I was, because I had a very flowery style of play. I could weave between players at speed. I could bring the ball from in tow to on toe and then a metre behind a defender keeping him rooted to the spot. Football could make me move without thinking, and it made other people like me. If I scored a goal, I'd win a high-five. Otherwise, I'd get some vocal affirmation that I'd done something good. On the pitch I was worth something, I was valuable. I loved having a football at my feet. But football ruined my life.

At high school, footballs weren't allowed so we'd play with a tennis ball. I could still manipulate it, getting it to do anything I wanted and it still made me feel good. But as we got deeper into high school, football wasn't cool anymore. Suddenly, all the football boys just wanted to sit around talking to girls. But I carried on playing football, and would come to class after lunch unattractive and sweaty. But it was worth it: the feeling of having a tennis ball at my feet could never be surpassed by chatting.

I lost touch with the football boys at lunchtimes, but we'd still play real football together at weekends. It would be cold, muddy, and the midlife crisis dads cared too much if we lost. Football training was fitness training, where we'd spend most of the time warming up or putting down cones. When Sunday rolled around, it would be a long drive to a random village, to listen to an overly passionate team-talk and unsuccessfully try to win a header against a post-puberty teen twice my tiny size. My love of football didn't come from team spirit or winning matches. It came from being absorbed in the ball at my feet and how I could use this to win respect off other people.

At 16 it all stopped. My dad, who had been ferrying me across the county for ten years, got his Sundays back. High school finished and sixth form began. All of a sudden I was meeting people who didn't know I was good at football. This shouldn't have been a problem, but my persona on-the-pitch had become an important part of who I was off-the-pitch. Football had made me notoriously cheeky and dangerously cocky, which are not qualities that go well with someone who's painfully shy. I didn't really realise it at the time, but football was a part of my personality, and I needed it when it wasn't there.

It was around this time in my life I took a disinterest in following football. As a child I'd been a keen supporter who was heavily invested in the game. In adulthood, the emotional investment needed to support a team seemed absurd, and amateur punditry became boring. I could still enjoy watching good football, but I didn't care about player stats or which team won. I don't know if it was part of growing up, or a slip of mental health, but this feeling of malaise was seeping throughout my life, drying out everywhere where there was once passion and vigour. Or maybe it was just just because my team got relegated. I felt distanced from those who cared about the beautiful game, despite the fact that football was what made me happy.

When I went to university, I didn't feel comfortable making football part of my identity. Unlike when I was in primary school, football no longer comprised the majority of my peer interaction. Embracing football was to embrace the culture of sport, and with it, a certain masculine identity that I just wasn't compatible with. When being placed in university halls, we were asked our interests, so to be placed with like-minded individuals. I loved football, but didn't want to be matched based on that fact, so I left that box blank. Incidentally, that came back to bite me. When I was put into a accommodation with 4 flatmates who had put American football in that box, I kinda wished I had written football.

That was 5 years ago. I'm 23 now. If someone asks me what my hobbies are I'll still tell them football, because it's true. But 2 minutes later I have to say that I've no opinion on the ludicrous display last night, if Arsenal were trying to walk in, or if they bought on Walcott far too early. To like football, you have to be a certain way, behave a certain way, and know the scores on a Monday morning. In school, you need football to make friends, but now I need friends to play football. I play 5-a-side only semi-regularly, and it's not easy as it should be to find a team.

So how did football ruin my life?

I clocked 1000s of hours playing football as a child, and I was good at it. I played on my own in the garden; every lunchtime at school; every weekend for a team and round the house I moved from room to room with a ball at my feet. Football was how I socialised; it was how I made friends and how I fuelled my self-esteem. I've always been very shy, and football gave me a way to speak with my feet. Football was my social crutch, and in adulthood it was taken away. Every time I meet someone new, they don't know I'm good at football and it makes me feel inadequate. So maybe football didn't quite ruin my life, but it didn't prepare me for it.


I find it very strange not having you around. Disconcerting, and lonely. My life is now just monologue after monologue and nothing in between but the sense of my character rapidly disappearing. Everything I ever liked about myself has been drained out of me and the vessel where it once was, is empty. I could always communicate better on the page, but now I feel as if speech is something I can only spectate. That’s a dangerous thought to have, but there’s no one around to correct me. I’m talking shit because that’s what is in my proximity: I’m inside my own head which, if you haven’t noticed, is shoved very far up my own arse.

Alejandro is Spanish. He has a 17-year-old son with an English mother. They met when she was on an Erasmus year in North-West Spain. People take the piss out of Alejandro. He won “the most unnecessary use of words” award at work, but I like him. He always used to touch my shoulder as he passed me at the end of the day, saying something like “bye” or “see you tomorrow”. Until one time something happened, and he never did it again. It was about three weeks ago, and he was leaving as usual. As he was heading past me, I stopped him because I had something to say to him. Whilst I was taking a second to remember what it was, he told me he was sorry for touching my shoulder and that he won’t do it again. I said No Alejandro, it wasn’t that, that’s fine, before adding something about the meeting tomorrow. He never touched my shoulder again. He still says “bye”, as he walks past me on the way to the door, but he stops himself from fulfilling his European instinct because of the simple fact it was voiced in an up-tight English office. It’s not like I can say to him “Alejandro, please can you start touching my shoulder again, because I need the symbol of familiarity in this office of cold unfamiliarity?”. But that’s what I want.

But what about our relationship? Isn’t that most important thing here? I should be trying my utmost to put my feelings into words. The concepts of feeling and words are not in any way compatible for me, even though technically the former is the latter. It’s not an easy task. It hurt when I saw you changed you profile picture on Facebook. Because I was gone and there, staring at me from the top of my newsfeed, was the girl I love standing alone with no one beside her. And she was alone. And she was smiling, the kind of smile I know she can’t fake, because it only comes out like a ray of sunshine when she is genuinely happy. I spend so much effort making sure that everyone thinks I’m ok, that I never know if I’m happy or sad because I’m feeling nothing but self-pity. I miss your smile.

Rob’s a twat. You can tell this piece of shit hates himself too. Or he did, before he read every book worth reading on management. Now he gains a lot of self-worth from being successful in the workplace. But how successful he is in the workplace doesn’t have anything to do with how he deals with me. He looks at me like I’m a piece of shit on the bottom of his shoe. He’s just sent me an email about how we agreed I was meant to action something. Lies! It was him that was meant to action it (important: “actioning” is his turn of phrase, not mine). I hope Gary backs me up on this.

Have you ever been so lonely you get a headache? Or so lonely you can’t go home, so you cycle on one road for 10 miles, inadvertently arriving at the airport. If you have, you might imagine hopping on a plane and going somewhere just to get away, but of course you’d be as trapped there as you are here. But it would be nice if it wasn’t raining. I’m 23 and I have a libido to match. The pleasure of lying face up on my mattress alone is very short lived and incredibly depressing when I’m squeezing out the second or third helping of the day. But I like being alone. I was looking forward to having the flat to myself. There’s something I find nice about not doing the washing up, shitting when I want to and having the ability to just chill out without having to think about how it looks and whether it’s a good use of my time.

I’m a romantic. I remember with some nostalgia my teenage years. I carried with me a yearning for girls that was far from lustful but consisted of deep and meaningful crushes. They would dander through my daydreams but never escape the dreamscape. I wasn’t proactive and feared rejection more than I craved proximity. And I craved proximity like crazy. I didn’t get it until I was 18, and it wasn’t from my crushes but from whoever wanted it from me. We know men are meant to make the first move but that required a vulnerability that I never overcame so I ended up with a real “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality. But I liked it. The idea that someone wanted to get with me was exciting. It really was a beauty of youth. I’d look forward to nights where so-and-so would be there, or whatever. The future was exciting. When you’re young, you are everything you could do. When you’re old, you are everything you’ve done.

I’ve not done much. I’m 23 and I live in an office, doing work I don’t mind with people I don’t mind. I like adventure, I loved Segwaying at speed through the forest. I like running but I don’t look forward to it. I don’t look forward to anything. I love going to bed, I hate getting up. But I still think I’m a morning person. I’m not the person I wanted/want to be in my 20s. There’s so much missing. Creatively, I don’t produce. I need to. I miss writing essays, taking pride in a project. I don’t play football anymore. I love playing football. Writing helps me unwind. I barely recognise the guy from one hour ago and paragraph 1.

Maybe a break is what it took to figure all this stuff out. It’s a cliché to note that ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ is a cliché, before delivering it anyway. However, by paragraph 8, you should have realised just how me it is, and not you. I want to do the right thing by you. I want to tell you that I’m not comfortable being this comfortable. Of course, the relationship is three years old, so the passion won’t be what it was, but the less passionate side of a three year relationship is what scares me. Of course, there would be many other great things to come but I really don’t feel ready for that. I’m immature in that way. I think that’s the crux of it. Is it.

I don’t know what I want but I want to laugh a lot more than I do. I want not to see people in terms of the great social distance between us, but for who they really are. I want to feel comfortable around other people, not just you. That includes my family. I want to make more of an effort this Christmas. I think I still have a very teenage attitude towards my family, which to be fair, partly (mainly) comes from how mum treats me. I would want to be there for you a lot better than I how I have been. I think I’ve been a lousy boyfriend because I self-pity all the time. I have all this stuff floating around on my head but it’s a really fucked up and suppressed version that I’m constantly mulling over so much, that in the end, none of it really means anything. Not to me, and certainly not to you or anyone else. I’m crying all the time because I feel hopeless.

Even now, every time I bring you up in this letter, I can’t go a sentence without linking back to me. I’m lousy like that that. And to be honest you deserve better than where my headspace is right now. This letter is my life right now, but I want to know how you feel. I really want to know. If you can do it in a letter, that would be great, because I like letters. And I understand them. Ask me questions. Tell me about you. What don’t I know about you? What am I missing? What do you want me to hear, and listen to? I will.

In this episode I forgot how to be happy. I'll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.

I was 20 or 21 or one of those other ages that everyone says they want to be again or for first time. Every Wednesday afternoon would be the same. I'd do half an hour's walk from my house to an office, where I'd volunteer for charity for the afternoon. The nicer the weather, the worse I'd feel. When the sun was out, the city and the parks were full of people, groups, frisbees and laughter. I've heard volunteering is good for mental health, but I was only there for something to do, and to channel my myself away from myself. I don't think it was overly beneficial to me.

The walk to get there reminded me of everything I thought I wanted. I would try my hardest not to create an idealised Wednesday afternoon that I knew didn't exist, but it was right in front of my eyes. There wasn't any escape from the shame I felt when confronting my unhealthy levels of social and sexual frustration. And so I wrote a poem

a nice assumption from your face sweet, it tells of charm within hidden words, unlaughed laughs tomorrow's touch, tender skin

See my glass three metres high. Come to me. Break it down. Or my hunch, it's not disproved!

a grim grey cloud i float around

This isn't a blog post about the future of retail. The role of the title in this blog post is not to to attract or inform but to chronicle. This is a blog post about mental health.

It was June this year I was sat in an office so open plan that even the distant horizon was lined with desks. It was late in the day, and the employees were going home or somewhere else to enjoy the June English heatwave. I had earned my seat there by saying shit like “I was drawn to the opportunity”. I had decided that any society that makes someone feign interest in the changing nature of retail is unforgiving, yet perfect for my personality that doesn't like it when I'm invested in something.

I sat listening to two lads in their 20s talk about the future of retail, in their free time. They were passionate, intellectual and genuine. Ideas, opinions and direction were bouncing between them. It was just me and those two around, and I felt so uncomfortable sitting there. I was clearly listening their conversation but was adding nothing. I had nothing to say. So I just sat there, wishing they wouldn't say anything in my direction, but also mad they didn't see me as worthy enough to join in. I felt contempt for their passion, their spark and their intellect. I didn't belong there. But I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere. That's why it hurt.

I need some passionate social intercourse.

I've been trapped inside my own head for either weeks or years and I don't know what any of it means or where I should be going.

I tried counselling once but didn't know what to say. I answered her questions the same way I answer anyone. I just said empty words and hoped the conversation would move onto something else, like one of her opinions. Of course, it didn't. It was my counselling session so I was the one who was meant to do the talking. All I could say was that I was fine. I felt incredibly socially uncomfortable, as I mostly do, and didn't know what the right thing to say was. It didn't matter the questions were coming from an empathetic place. I was mute, and she was helpless. I think it was scheduled for half an hour but after ten minutes I was walking home feeling bemused and a bit annoyed at myself for not knowing what the fuck was going on inside my own head.

If don't start a blog all the stuff that would be on my blog would be as lost as I am. Blogging is a bit like thinking but there are some differences. The death of a thought occurs simultaneously with its conception. A blog isn't timeless but it's not going anywhere. And thoughts aren't one hour in the making. Yes, this took me one hour to write.

I struggle to construct narrative and it's making my life difficult.