Institutional

Asamoah loved school at that age – though that never stopped him from trying to kid his mama into letting him stay home once in a while! Once she had found his sleeping face so cute that she had been unable to bring herself to wake him…and thus, for the next week or so, he would pretend to be asleep every morning in hopes that he could swing another day off! On other occasions, he’d give out a pitiful cough, or groan and clutch his stomach in a performance worthy of an Academy award…but Chanelle Boateng was no mug, and never fell for any such shenanigans. Her son didn’t really mind, giving a laugh and a good-natured shrug at having been foiled once more, before trotting off to P.S. 77.

There were few boys as popular as Asamoah in the school. He had a multitude of friends and, though not the most gifted scholar or athlete, his teachers without exception agreed that he was a social climber. Nobody doubted his prospects, nor his application; he enjoyed his homework, loved testing his brain, even quizzes and tests didn’t strike the same fear into him that they did some of his classmates. A few of his peers may have envied his relaxed, come-what-may attitude, but in truth he was so likable that it was impossible for anyone to begrudge his fortune for too long.

No question; the future of Asamoah Boateng was very bright indeed

**********

At the Chicano County Criminal Court today, a Mr. A Boateng (43) of no fixed address was found Guilty of two counts of Aggravated Assault and one count of Attempted Arson. A jury of his peers took just over two hours to reach their unanimous verdicts, and were thanked by Judge Roy Sealey for their dedicated public service during the trial, which lasted approximately eight days.

Boateng – no stranger to the criminal justice system after previously serving a three-year custodial sentence for possession, as well as two other suspended sentences for minor misdemeanours – gave no hint of emotion as the verdicts were read out by the Foreman. However, he did give a slight shake of the head as Judge Sealey remarked upon his prior interactions with Officers of the law.

Boateng’s counsel, Attorney John J. Clifford, later gave a short statement to the press on behalf of his client, excerpts of which were as follows;
“Asamoah [Boateng] begins his average day at noon, noon at the earliest, as a result of the large quantities of medication he is required to take for physical and mental anguish. With only the most rudimentary insurance cover available to him, my client has found the cost of these pharmaceutical necessities prohibitive. Combined with his low earning power in the labour market, this forced Asamoah into more and more drastic measures in a desperate attempt to acquire funds. This in no way exonerates my client from the harm he has caused others, but it reflects the reality of life for him and many others like him in our bloated prison industrial complex.”

Sentencing will be held at Chicano District Court in around a fortnight’s time.

lakshmi

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warding off the usual Worries

I hate these bays. I feel so exposed. They are completely open – that’s sort of the point – and anyone can just wander past and look at all the inhabitants. No privacy at all. Combine that with the hourly checks by the nursing staff and there is absolutely no possibility of relaxation…which is ironic, really, given the condition that I – and doubtless plenty of others here – suffer from.

Worse still, I don’t wear pajamas. Any other time of year and this wouldn’t be a problem at all, I’d just sleep in my t-shirt and boxers, but at the time of writing it’s the height of summer. Bloody roasting during the day, uncomfortably muggy during the night. So every time a nurse pops his or her head around my curtain I’m at least half naked! I know, I know; you’re chuckling away at that image. I’d probably find it funny too…if it didn’t put me on edge.

Most of the bay is empty, gratifyingly enough. The guy in the bed opposite is Padraig, a Leeds United fan. He’s pretty chatty; we talked politics and football for a while. Seems a nice bloke…but it’d be nice to able to say, “Well, see you later!” and actually end the conversation in the normal fashion. Oh well.

the_psych_ward_by_methylated_spirit

Despite all these niggling little anxieties, the fact of the matter is that I am much happier in this protective environment than I am on the outside. I sometimes wonder if freedom is wasted on me. The limitlessness of possibility, of choice, of responsibility…just terrifies me in a way I find hard to communicate. Some people think of hospital as prison, presumably for the way it can deprive patients – or ‘service users’ as is the term now – of various liberties…but I just cannot relate to that notion. On the couple of occasions I’ve had a stint in a medical institution, it has been the most liberating and comforting experience of my life.

Benjamin Franklin wrote that those “who give up essential Liberty, to purchase some temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. Then again, at the time he wrote that line, he was a slave owner who profited from domestic and international slave trade and had even criticised those slaves who had fled to join the British Colonial Army in the 1740’s and 50’…so fuck that guy. Clearly didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Posted in Autobiographical, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superficial Reflections in Berlin – Part I

Ages since I wrote anything in here. Terrible stuff altogether. I’ve been distracted with, in order; preparing to emigrate, settling into our new home upon emigrating, watching all of Euro 2016, playing PS4. Note absolutely no mention of a job there…but that’s for another time and panic attack.

I won’t bore you with broad strokes on how Berlin is, like, SO much better than Dublin you guys. Instead, this missive will predominantly involve the little things I’ve picked up and enjoyed in the 7 weeks spent living in Germany’s capital. Just take it as read that almost everything is cheaper than in Ireland, of higher quality to boot, and that the only thing missing is the sad fact that we couldn’t bring all of our friends & family to live with us when we moved.

So anyway. Fritz Kola. I fucking❤ this stuff like an absolute nutcase. There’s Club-Mate Cola too, which is excellent as well, but Fritz is the tits. As well as their regular black stuff, there’s loads of other flavours to guzzle – so far the only one I’ve tried is the apfelschorle, and that’s easily the best fizzy apple drink I’ve ever tasted. This is all wonderful as far as I’m concerned, as I grew up loving Coca Cola before beginning a boycott in university that lasts to this day – thanks UCD and Mark Thomas. Now I can finally renew my love of cola, free from any shameful associations with union-busting, environmental destruction, activist murders and Nazi-supporting! Best of all, only a few weeks after Saoirse & I touched down in Schonefeld (apologies for the absence of an umlaut over the ‘o’ – I can’t work out how to program this sodding keyboard to make umlauts easier to insert), Fritz Kola joined the ranks sponsoring my favourite Bundesliga club… St. Pauli. I’ll drink to that!

fritz-kola-fc-st-pauli

Right, I’m tired and bored now, so I’m going to sign off. Join me next time, for a paean to another object of commodity fetishism! What’ll it be; some local confectionary? A bike? The microwave-oven? You’ll have to wait to find out!

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Posted in Gibberish | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Left Remain Campaigners Sold Out the Working Class: Lesser Evilism in the EU Referendum

Leicester Socialist Students

There are few illusions about the reformability of the EU on the left, even amongst those campaigning for Remain. Paul Mason has stated that “it is impossible for the EU to be a democracy”. The ex-Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has described the “point blank refusal” of Greek creditors to “engage in economic arguments.” He explains, “you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken.” No doubt fuelled by these experiences, Varoufakis has since expressed serious doubts about the prospect of his own campaign succeeding – “It will probably end up in failure like all the best intentions.”

In this respect, they are in harmony with the left opposition, who argue that the prospect of reform will inevitably fail because the EU lacks a democratic structure.

But this has not been the main focus of the debate. Instead, the main issue has been less the objective…

View original post 898 more words

Posted in Gibberish | Leave a comment

The Hell Where Youth and Laughter Go

This past week it was announced that the next release in the Battlefield franchise will be set in the Great War, a period hitherto under-explored in video games. While this had been rumoured for some time, due to leaks and soforth, it still surprised me when I finally saw the teaser and subsequent trailer; put simply, it is a pretty mammoth task to make a compelling video game out of the First World War, given the lack of cultural touchstones in the collective consciousness other than trenches, foot rot, shell shock, and gas masks. Fair play to DICE and EA for looking past such clichés and shibboleths to examine the whole of what occurred between 1914 and 1918 and seek out the events that lend themselves more aptly to gaming adaptation. Me, I’ve been dying to see World War One become the focus of a AAA title for a long, long time, so to say that I’m excited would be a zeppelin-sized understatement!

6b47ea482c6ac8ad5d4b8e0fc419705b

 

The title isn’t one I would have chosen. They’ve gone for Battlefield 1, which has earned a great deal of criticism online. I don’t hate it, I understand that it refers to the setting – 1st World War, World War 1 – but I would have gone for the slightly more clever Battlefield ’16; the number representing both the middle of the war, 1916, and the year of release, 2016. If only they had as finely-tuned a mind as mine on their naming team. Alas…

It is so refreshing to see a triple-A developer and publisher actually take a punt on something that hasn’t been done before and represents a risk. I can’t stress enough how much of a rarity that is becoming in an industry that frequently spends much, much more on ‘dead certs’ than they can possibly recoup in sales; great games like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and others with ‘Brand Recognition’ did not do as well as projected…because the projections were ludicrously optimistic. These companies are built to make profits, not art; they are, by necessity, risk-averse. So it is lovely to see – especially from EA, of all people! – that there remain individuals who are willing to explore relatively unknown settings in order to produce something that has not been seen before.

battlefield-1-cover

Judging by the cover (sorry Yahtzee, no copyright infringement intended), the game will also attempt to shine a light on the experiences of soldiers of colour during the conflict. Certainly, there are items in the slated DLC which refer to the Harlem Hellfighters; they were a regiment almost entirely made up of African-Americans drawn from the boroughs of New York City, and they achieved fame and notoriety in battle on the Western Front in 1918. In fact, the ‘Hellfighters’ moniker was not one they chose themselves – it was one their German opponents came up with as a mark of respect…and, probably, terror.

Battlefield 1 is due out in October, and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Posted in Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We’ve come a long way, crazy…

As recently as the mid-20th Century, psychiatry was in its infancy. A lot of ideas had to be thrown out, shot down and discredited before scientific, medical and therapeutic practice became humane and effective. Therefore it is perhaps normal to note that a few hundred years ago, some pretty whacked out notions were accepted as fact.

Nonetheless, it might surprise you to know just what were believed at the time to be the major causes of mental illness. In 1805, the leading French authority on the subject, Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol published his seminal work; Les Passions considérées comme causes, symptômes et moyens curatifs de l’aliénation mentale.

‘The Passions considered as Causes, Symptoms & Cures of Mental Instability’.

Esquirol essentially believed that all psychological ailments derived from ‘passions within the soul’ rather than from ludicrous notions like hereditary biological conditions or environmental factors. He also was convinced that no form of madness could fully and/or permanently affect a patient’s reason.

Wanna know what the ten most common causes of insanity were, according to this quack?

anmpx02x0082

TOP TEN CAUSES OF MADNESS IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

1. Moving into a new home

Pretty stressful, granted, but would you really believe that such an experience could cause someone to completely lose their shit? Maybe if they’d just moved into the house in Poltergeist, that’s probably the only way this could happen.

2. Squeezing a pimple

So adolescence, basically? Ok, I can buy that. Unless…unless you’re seriously suggesting that the mere act of popping just one spot leads to…ah. That’s exactly what you’re saying. How big would that zit have to be? Is the pus your sanity, in this metaphor-taken-literally? You know what, scratch that. Some things man was not meant to know.

3. Old age

Alright yeah, we kinda still believe this one. Next!

4. Childbirth

Well, there is Post-Natal Depression so…partial credit? Give ya a pass on this one too, Jean-Étienne.

5. The Menstrual Cycle

Not touching this with a fucking barge pole…

6. Shrinkage of haemorrhoids

You just know he was venting, don’t ya; “These things are driving me CRAZY – oh yes, that’ll do…” Only thing is, why would the shrinking, in particular, cause people to go off their rocker? I mean, logically – and I’m using the word ‘logically’ extremely loosely, I know – wouldn’t you become more unhinged the larger the haemorrhoids got? Do…do people with haemorrhoids become insecure if their dangly grapes lose their vim? Urgh. Just… Urgh.

7. Misuse of mercury

Shit, what’s the correct use of mercury? Can you be a bit more specific? I mean, if you eat it then, yeah, madness is probably the least of your worries… Were people snorting the stuff at this time? Using it as an acceptable substitute for salt? We’re talking about a time when lead-based cosmetics were used by fucking everyone, so nothing is beyond the realms of possibility here. Maybe they were using it to beef up their ‘roids…

8. Disappointment in love

D’awwwwwwwwww…

9. Masturbation

Wankers are nuts, no doubt. It probably didn’t help that French shrinks were watching them perform the act, though.

10. Bloodletting

‘Sure’, you might think, ‘Self-harm is a signifier of torment and distress, they were on to something there.’ Ah, but you see, standard practice at the time was to treat individuals adjudged to be of unsound mind…with bloodletting. So you can imagine the confusion this last entry caused, as the medical community still believed that cutting someone and letting some liquid drain out was a foolproof cure for psychological trauma.

Sums it up, doesn’t it? A bunch of nonsense, and the only objection most psychiatrists in the early 19th century had was that Esquirol was being a bit harsh on the benefits of bloodletting.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Posted in Gibberish | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Nerves

You don’t know what it’s like in my head, living every day afraid. That’s no fault of yours, it’s just a statement of fact. Unless you’re a psychic or something…and I’m reasonably sure that they don’t exist. Given that reality, I’m going to try providing some insight into the total mess of neuroses that is my daily existence.

I don’t know who would read this, or want to read this. Maybe nobody. Maybe a few people, though God alone knows why. Might it help someone? Probably not. Possibly me. It might even hurt somebody, triggers being what they are.

In Carrie, Laurie Piper’s repeated line sums up the main fear of yours truly; “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” Suffering humiliation. Betraying ignorance. Being ridiculed. You get so, so angry when made to feel this way. It’s always there – the threat. You never escape it entirely. You can be on cloud nine and the slightest, most insignificant event sends you tumbling into the abyss.

4b19a01e9e6d63e6d591efa24d8ac1f8

You’re in a pan on a cooker, the heat of which is turned up a little more with every derisive look…every verbal put-down…every mocking cackle… You simmer. You bubble. You boil. Eventually, apparently out of nowhere as far as onlookers are concerned, you spill over…into rage.

This is known as the Fight-or-Flight response. Mental Health practitioners and anyone suffering with a wide variety of mental illnesses will recognise it as a common experience of those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Never been diagnosed with that myself, I’m GAD & proud…and in any case, my idiosyncratic response is more Fight-and-Flight; I briefly lash out, then flee the scene. Charming, I’m sure. For all concerned.

Why would anyone put themselves – never mind others, the potential unwitting victims – through this?

Vent over.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters… ;

Posted in Autobiographical, Gibberish | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment