This latest journal entry talks about the structure of my writing and some possibilities for the future. It touches on therapeutic societies and whether they are a good or bad thing, before discussing my lockdown fatigue. Finally, there are some short reviews of films I've seen recently.
I’m starting this without any real idea what to write, my only intention being to get some words down because it’s been nine days since I published one of my journal entries. I’m disappointed it’s been so long, but in that time I’ve made some real progress on my book-writing, there’s been FPL Nightmare posts and I’ve been working a lot, so it’s no surprise the time to write a journal entry has been scant. The other problem I’ve had is that I’ve not really felt like I have anything to say. When I started these posts, it was just meant to be a stream of consciousness once or twice a week, but it quickly evolved into a four-topic format with one main topic, two smaller ones and a throwaway paragraph at the end. Part of that was because of the pictures I use in the titles and it dividing by four quite easily, but another reason is because it’s a bit like a newspaper columnist. I used to love getting the Sunday papers on my day off, getting a pot of tea on the go and a few joints pre-rolled and then spending my Sunday reading the columnists, and that seemed to be their usual format – one big topic as the backbone of the column, two or three smaller comments and then a throwaway bit on the end. Following that format makes sense, because it’s a good, simple structure and, well, you can’t help but wonder if you might be able to get a newspaper column one day; I think everyone who has ever published their thoughts on anything has hoped to get a weekly stipend for their writing, however unrealistic it may seem. I can’t see that happening for me, because newspapers thrive on extreme opinions absent of nuance that generate polarising opinions and therefore engagement and clicks, whereas I try to be as nuanced as possible and that just doesn’t drive the traffic in the modern world. It’s a shame, but it is what it is, and I’d rather write things that I enjoy than whip up division for the sake of a few quid a week. I can’t imagine most newspapers would publish an opening paragraph of near-four hundred words either.
I remember when the pandemic started, and the Evening Chronicle asked for Newcastle fans to write opinion pieces, and I thought it would be perfect. I asked about the word count, and was told they were looking for around five hundred words a piece, and it’s just not something I’m really interested in doing. Maybe I should, though. It would be good to be published somewhere other than my own website; it’s been several years since I even submitted something to another organisation, and it’s always good to have your words hyped-up by somebody else. It would be an interesting challenge – can LAWES narrow his meandering thoughts down to a short, snappy five hundred words? Can he humble himself enough to work within someone else’s constraints? I think, were they looking for submissions today, I’d be able to do it no bother, and these journals are the reason. I could just write the Newcastle stuff as the second or third topic in my journal post, then copy-paste it into an email and send it off, keeping the rest of the journal entry for myself. I could knock out five hundred quality words on Newcastle a week while taking my morning constitutional, it’s little more than a long Facebook status. I don’t know whether they are still looking for fan essays, but maybe I’ll look into it. I could always go back to posting in The Mag again if they aren’t. I’d need some sort of angle, though. Given all the misery around the club, I think restricting myself to only writing about things from a positive angle might be an interesting challenge. It might stop me feeling quite so miserable about football at the same time. I swear, if I hadn’t grown up a Newcastle fan, I don’t think I’d bother with football at all nowadays. What a load of shite it has become.
I do miss writing for other websites. It always felt like a real achievement that somebody else wanted to publish my writing, whether it was a big fanzine like The Mag, a mental health charity like CALM or something like the Good Men Project or Sabotage Times. It’s much easier to get something published when you focus on one particular topic, like I used to with mental health, but it also makes you very insular and narrow-minded. You see people now and they have to look for ‘their’ angle in everything – an affliction which particularly seems to affect people when discussing political situations. Whether it be race, gender, free speech or whatever else is their particular obsession, they cannot help but see everything through that particular prism, and it all gets a bit boring after a while. I know, for me, mental health is the filter that I tend to see things through, and it’s something I have to be careful of when it comes to weighing up my opinions, especially given my university studies centre around the topic so much. Interestingly, the part of the module I’m working on now discusses how Western culture has become much more of a therapeutic society particularly since the death of Princess Diana, and how the mass outpouring of emotion in the aftermath of her passing has changed the psyche of the country. It’s something I need to ponder about a lot more before declaring any sort of official opinion, but I do find myself wondering whether the very quick rise in people talking about mental illness and distress publicly is actually helping people or not. I think it probably is, in the sense that it’s no longer taboo to talk about mental illness – as long as it’s not one of the more stigmatised conditions like schizophrenia, which society still isn’t comfortable with – but it does worry me how quickly people self-diagnose themselves and other people with these complex conditions that they aren’t trained to diagnose people with. The one that always grates is when you hear people go on about how other people are narcissists. Narcissistic personality disorder affects approximately 0.5%-1% of people within a population, yet to hear some people talk, everyone they come across is a narcissist. The term is losing its meaning, and this desperation to give people clinical tags for irritating personality traits like being selfish seems to be diminishing these diagnoses in the eyes of the general population. Like I say, I need to think about the subject of therapeutic societies more before really talking about it, but that topic of my studies has really stuck with me, and it’s something I will be considering in some detail before fully opining.
It’s funny how I started this post off by laying out how I generally structure these journals, and then this entry has been little more than a stream of consciousness that fails to fit into any real format. It’s the side-effect of having nothing particular in mind to discuss when opening my laptop I guess, but not every entry can be some world-changing viewpoint. I’m trying to think of things that have happened since my last entry but, let’s face it, most of the days just bleed into one at the minute. This whole lockdown caper hasn’t really got to me much so far; I’ve been working throughout, and I still go to the shops and then come home to my partner and the twins, so my life hasn’t changed all that much. This last month or so, though, I’ve really become worn down by it all. I think not being able to see my grandma on her ninetieth birthday last month was the turning point for me; I’ve not seen her since her eighty-ninth birthday, and that anniversary really brought home how bloody hard this last year has been. Stopping at my Mam’s house for a couple of nights while the bathroom got re-done compounded these feelings; all these things missed out on, all these relationships restricted, and still months away from any sort of normality. It’s really tough, and I think society as a whole deserves a lot of credit for handling it as well as we have. People will point out some random outlier of an event where people congregated, but I think some perspective is needed about these things. If someone had said last March that we’d spend eight of the next twelve months unable to see people or do anything, I think the majority of people would’ve expected much lower levels of compliance, and much higher rates of incident. If I remember rightly, all the talk a year ago was that the scientists said the population could only handle eight to twelve weeks of lockdown before non-compliance became the norm, yet a year down the line, we’ve pretty much proved that science wrong. It’s been a remarkable national effort, in the face of such woeful leadership from the government, and I think we all deserve a lot of credit for that. Hopefully, with the vaccination programme well under way, this won’t have to continue for too much longer. For all I rightfully slate the government, and for all I despise every aspect of that blasted party, they’ve done remarkably well with the aggressive vaccine procurement, and I’m very grateful to them for that. It doesn’t let them off the hook for the 127,000 lives lost, many of whom could’ve been avoided, but the vaccination effort has been outstanding, from everyone involved.
I’ll end this entry with a few very short reviews of films I’ve seen recently, because I always enjoy getting recommendations of things to watch, so I imagine others might too.
It's a Jason Statham action film, so you know what you're going to get - an enjoyable ninety minutes that leaves no real lasting impact on your life, but it was worth it anyway. Perfectly fine, perfectly forgettable, great tone throughout with a fun ending. You won’t miss anything if you don’t watch it, but if you enjoy action films, it’s a worthy watch, with a little more depth than most.
My Mam put this film on when we stopped at her house, thinking it was a comedy. It is, but it’s one of them comedies that start off with a load of funny set-pieces then transition into something much deeper and more emotional. Mark Wahlberg and his wife are looking into adoption, and end up adopting three children – one a teenager – rather than the one they originally wanted. When the birth mother comes back on the scene, it will play your heart like a violin. You’ll start watching it thinking it’s as throwaway as the aforementioned Jason Statham film. You’ll finish it realising it’s absolutely wonderful and it will stick with you for a while. I highly recommend this film.
The first proper horror film I've seen in a couple of years, and I really enjoyed it. What was nice was I got to watch this with my Mam, my stepdad and my partner, none of whom really watch horror films, and watching them over-react to the scares made it even better. A young lass goes to England to house-sit a doll in a mansion as a means to escape an abusive partner and, all alone in the house, weird things start happening. A great sense of unease builds throughout before reaching a satisfying conclusion. Definitely worth checking out if you like horror films.
The problem I had with this film was it was so predictable - I'd figured out the twist in the first main scene, which took away a lot of the mystery of it. Still, it was a good film that's worth watching, and it was entertaining watching it unfold and seeing how they got to where they were going. Despite figuring out the big twist quite easily, the ending took me by surprise. Another perfectly fine way to kill a couple of hours.
Law Abiding Citizen
I absolutely loved this, though it’s pretty dark in places. Gerard Butler is a man whose family is murdered, and then sees his lawyer plea-bargain to keep his success rate up, allowing one of the killers to go free. He swears vengeance, and what follows is a twisted tale of revenge that will find you changing your allegiance throughout and wondering just what is going on. My partner and I thought we had it figured out, but we were wrong. I can't speak highly enough of this film, it's a must-see for me.
Christopher Nolan is my favourite director in the world. I think he’s unparalleled in his field, though I’ve not seen Tenet yet and I’ve heard it’s a bit of a confusing mess. Interstellar, however, is a masterpiece. Matthew McConaughey, one of my favourite actors, is tasked with exploring space through a wormhole to find an alternative planet, as Earth is on the verge of destruction and resources are scant. He has to leave his young family behind, knowing he may never see them again, but that this is the only hope he has of safeguarding their future. What follows is a film that takes you on a ride through musically, visually, emotionally and philosophically, something that reaches for the very extremes of brilliance and gets far closer than most. I wish I could watch this film for the first time again. If you have yet to do so, I’m jealous of the opportunity you have, and strongly urge you to grasp it as soon as possible.
Right, that’s enough from me. I’m full of cold, I’m tired and I’m surprised I was able to ramble enough to make a worthwhile entry. I hope you have found this interesting, in many ways it’s been the hardest one to write because I had nothing in mind when I opened my laptop. I know it’s lacking in structure somewhat, but we’ll blame that on the Lemsip and hope the next entry is a bit less rambling. Thank you for your continuing support, I’m very grateful. I’d love to know your thoughts on those films, leave them in the comments if you have any, or feel free to recommend films on Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime to watch.
Song of the Chapter:
‘We’re In This Together’
by Nine Inch Nails
Quote of the Chapter:
"You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins."
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
"It communicates a deep understanding of troubled individuals who suffer from the challenges of mental disorders ... Courageous, wise, humorous and thought-provoking ... an easy-to-read, surprising and subtly moving chronicle.
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