Saturday, 30 November 2019

Ups and downs this week.

I recently switched from Mirtazapine to Duloxetine, and had somewhat of a bad reaction to it, as in I was staggering through Manchester like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.

Long after I stopped taking them I was still feeling awful. I managed to get an urgent triage appointment yesterday morning where a doctor switched me back to Mirtazapine, which was the most effective of all antidepressants I've tried. Already feeling better. A looooong sauna also did wonders.

As mentioned, these are my experiences, and they may differ to yours, so always consult your GP in relation to meds.

In other psychology-related news, I volunteered to man a stall at Manchester University's annual Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing event on behalf of Andy's Man Club Manchester.

Saturday's event saw hundreds of university staff attend the small venue, where me and another Manchester AMC member encouraged people to attend the Monday night sessions. I've manned a few stalls and events for AMC over the last couple of years, and they're always emotive, engaging days. Talking to people about mental health and seeing people take their first steps to overcome what could be a long-standing, very personal problem is always rewarding.

If you fancy a chat in a private venue where you can get any issues off your chest, come down to Federation House on Federation St, Monday nights, 7pm.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Andy's Man Club Oldham Needs a Bigger Venue- Can You Help?

Men's support group Andy's Man Club now has 22 groups across the UK, offering a safe space for men to talk about any problems they may have- the ultimate goal to reduce the suicide rate, this being the biggest killer of men under 45.

The Oldham group currently meets in Chadderton Sports Centre, and sees over 40 men attend. The space we have there just isn't big enough. We're working on getting a bigger space, and as you can see, The M.E.N is helping out too.

We need your help. We're after a room that can take 40+ people, every Monday night between 7-9pm. We would need this in Oldham, ideally in the centre, and on a voluntary basis. The use of all our rooms are donated freely. If you can help, Contact the club through Facebook and one of the organisers will be happy to talk to you.

More Andy's Man Club info tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

#tbt Beermats: Week 21

We're getting into the very old beermats at the bottom of the box now. Early 90's stuff. Plenty more to come.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Once Upon a Time in Great Britain: Part 2


On Tom’s graduation photo he smiles, proud. Image fades to black slowly.

When uni lets you out, their job is over. You get no support. You can go to the uni careers advice office, but they’ll just dump a load of leaflets on you and tell you to check the net. They even told me to 'change direction.' As far as your department’s concerned, you’re Alumni. You’re a figure for the pass rates. They don’t want to know you. It felt like getting out of prison, or I'd imagine, except you don't have a parole officer.


Tom files his degree certificate in a folder with care.

After all the graft and all the stress, after all the anticipation of finishing the course and finally making some money, how was I rewarded?

Then he files a Jobseeker’s form- again, in his name.

What is wrong with this country?


Tom walks from stall to stall, picking up goody bags, dishing out CVs.

The building is nineteen-sixties-built and probably hasn’t been decorated since.


On computer being typed, rearranged, adjusted, new experience being typed on.


Being opened, closed, read, written on, the spine becoming creased.

Being opened, ads being cut out, crossed out, thrown away.

Being used, being searched.

Tom reappears in this montage walking into a job agency.

Tom signs forms and is computer-tested at the agency.

Three shots of Tom walking through the doors of three other different agencies.

Tom's on the phone, with a box of computer software in his hand.

We didn’t mate. We only received nine copies. Please don’t ask me to check again- Oh fuck you, you fucking prick.

Slams the phone down. Customers look over to the office area nervously.


Tom opens a P45 saying “Thomas Aaronson” at his kitchen table.
Then another.
And another.

Tom picks up the post. He opens a letter addressed to Thomas Aaronson BSc Hons.


Over this:

When you’re a dickhead like me, you dread opening the mail. You never know what it’s going to be. I job-hopped for a fucking year. I honestly did not have a clue what to do. Every company under the sun had either knocked me back or fired me within a month. I was gonna just fuck it all off and join the Army at some point, but even they might not even take me due to a few scrapes with the law. I thought: one last recruitment fair. One more go.

A graduate recruitment fair: A room full of mostly twenty-one-year-olds hoping to find a much-needed job. Graduates and final year students- na├»ve young men and women- are queuing to meet managers, with plastic name badges and plastic smiles, standing in front of large billboards. Business names are proudly displayed all round. Many business reps from these companies look placidly at Tom’s CV and hand it back to him.

Tom walks away from one stall, on the verge of losing his nerve. His eyes are reddened from hay fever. He leans on one of the end stalls and drops the goody bags he got from the companies. He blows his nose and takes a sip from a carton of free orange juice. A free newspaper he received shouts HOTTEST SUMMER ON RECORD. Another headline reads: Political Assembly in Manchester: Is it Necessary?

At the other end of the hall, there’s a man in a black suit on an unmarked stall- MR DEVANT. He’s aged forty with a distinctive, clean-cut south-England accent. His stall is separate from the others, and he’s waiting. Devant and Tom lock eyes.

They are the only people paying each other attention. Tom picks up his bags and walks over with a trained smile.

Nice stall.

Thank you.

Devant nods to the rest of the room.

Seen anything you like?

I’ve seen loads I fancy. They just don’t like me. Story of my life. That’s what happens when you do a media degree instead of something remotely worthwhile.

I was just curious. Are you local?

Longsight born and bred! I’m a proud Manc, it’s safe to say.

Tom puts his fist on his heart and grins.

Devant studies Tom for a second.

You’ll have seen the city change, then.

Yes. Yeah… I was in town when the bomb went off in ’Ninety-six. I was supposed to get on a bus near there, but I was running late. It’s funny. Since then they’ve built hundreds of offices but, seemingly, I can’t stay in a single one of them.

And you’re looking for a new challenge to completely immerse yourself in.


Do you have a CV?


Tom’s unsure as to who this guy is.

Devant gestures for Tom to sit on a chair. It belongs on the next stall, but Tom takes it anyway. Devant studies the sheet of paper. His eyebrows rise.

Tom is about to ask a question but Devant beats him to it.

How many words was this film censorship essay?

Ten thousand.

Interesting. What do you want to do?

I’ve been asking myself that for some time.

Please God… Deliver me from administration…

I know one thing: I don’t ever want to work in an office for the rest of my existence.

Sounds like you’ve had a hard time since you left University.

Tom nods in self-pity.

I’m tired of selling myself with an air of, uh, pretentious enthusiasm.

You’ve got good qualifications; you’ve had plenty of work… What’s going wrong?

Tom decides to open up. He's nothing left to lose.

Well... my degree left me with the beginnings of a few useless skills, and an immensely crippling debt. Although I enjoyed uni and don’t see any point in regretting it, I’m still bitter that it's done nothing to improve my employability. My esteem is low. I've left out numerous jobs from my CV that didn’t last ‘cause I either couldn’t understand them or couldn’t tolerate them. The part time jobs I had while I was at uni, they left me with no decent work experience, unless you count pulling girls who probably weren’t old enough to be in the bar in the first place. There wasn’t even that much work to do at uni. Throughout three years of study, most of the time I just drank too much and generally made a tit out of myself. They still let me graduate- miraculously- and since then all I’ve done is move from one temp job to another. I’m beginning to think that there is NOTHING I can make a career out of.

Tom looks at the floor, like he’s just sold his soul to the devil. Then he gets out of his seat, exhausted.

TOM (mumbling)
There’s always the Job Centre again…

DEVANT (All business)
There’ll be a lot of opportunity in this city very soon.

Tom pauses; sits back down.

I’m looking for someone who not only is able to handle responsibility but who has a certain amount of pride in Manchester- someone who is very comfortable handling people from all areas of society. Someone who can deal with a frequent change of scenery, working with representatives from businesses like bars, banks, shops, some offices, but you won’t be there long, believe me. But particularly, I'm looking for resilience. I see that in you, Mr. Aaronson.

So there’s travel in the job, then?

Oh yes. Suit and tie work. Responsibility. You will be required to liaise with a variety of very important people in the private and public sectors of Manchester.

Some of them girls…

Tom picks up on this; cuts him off.

What’s the pay like?

Like no other job you’ve ever had, I can assure you. The average student debt is fourteen grand. Am I right?

Uh, I dunno.

I am. Is that your figure?

Probably. I don’t really wanna check, to be honest.

Fourteen grand happens to be the average starting salary for graduates, strangely enough.

That’s what they say. I graduated a year ago and I never got that much. So far, none of my mates from uni have either. So, would you like to interview me, or...?

I don’t think so.

TOM- Disappointment.

DEVANT (deadpan)
How about I just give you a cheque for fourteen grand right now.

Tom searches for any sign that Devant is bluffing, and coughs as he tries to smooth things over.

You are going to give me fourteen grand?

Devant nods.

I wanna ask why, but I don't want you to change your mind just in case you're actually going to do this.

Devant takes out a chequebook and, with the last cheque in it, writes one out for Tom. From Tom’s perspective, the writing is upside down.

Tom can’t believe what is happening. He's trying to act professional, as if this is a normal occurrence in his life. But he’s still looking for the catch.

Sorry mate, but I don’t believe for a second that this cheque isn’t going to bounce.

Of course you don’t. And I don’t believe that anyone will ask you about your newly replenished bank account. Creditors will not contact you.

Hang on. If it is real, how do you know I’m not just going to cash this and disappear with it?

Devant holds up Tom’s CV.

DEVANT (a little threatening, but with charm)
I can easily find out more.

Wait a minute. This is tax-free, yeah? What is the business? What’s the whole thing about? And is this for like a year, or…

Wait for the phone call please Mr…

(Checks CV)


Devant starts for the door.

Wait, Mr, er,

(Checks cheque)

Devant- is this not your stall?

No, Mr Aaronson. I’m squatting, or so you could say. Keep your phone on.

Devant fold up Tom’s CV, sticks it in an inside pocket and walks off, through the crowds of people and out of the room.

Tom’s staring at the cheque- £14000

Fourteen thousand pounds. Tom ditches the branded bags and folds up the cheque, sticking it in his jeans as he walks out with an uneasy smile.