HEALTH & WELLBEING: Do I have an ‘addictive personality’?

To my mind, the short answer to the question posed in the title of this post is a short and resounding yes!

However, apparently much of the science says otherwise: ‘Fundamentally, the idea of a general addictive personality is a myth. Research finds no universal character traits that are common to all addicted people.’ [1]

Anyway, I’ve suddenly collapsed into a near vegetative state of depression, over the last few months. Some of the reasons are perennial (lack of money), others more singular (least said, soonest mended).

Amidst all of this, I’ve relapsed into few behaviours (I’m sounding like an amateur naturist, er… naturalist, now) that seem, outwardly, very aulde. One of the common denominators to all these behaviours, is addiction.

And some of the things that characterise the kind of addiction I’m talking about: firstly they compel one to act in ways one knows are foolish and high risk, and two, there’s a kind of hollow joylessness to whatever the indulgence might me.

On that latter point, it has to be said that things aren’t really as cut and dried as that idea might imply. Pleasure can be and is taken in the addictive behaviours. But there’s an underlying sense, sometimes even when unquestionably enjoying the addictive behaviour, that one is acting foolishly.

Why should it be this way? And what makes certain things so compelling that they hijack one’s better judgement? This post isn’t an attempt to really answer such questions. In truth it’s more the sudden realisation that I’ve got some possible addiction ‘issues’ I need to acknowledge and work on.

Looking at all the textual images in this post, which I pulled from the Google image search results for ‘addictive personality’, they almost all apply. Perhaps unsurprisingly?

I’d say that for me there are two or three chief drivers when it comes to most of my addictions: pleasure, relaxation and escape. And the leaning into these behaviours is exacerbated in times of high stress – such as presently – by the desire to reduce or mitigate it.

I like to use my blog as a somewhat candid journal. But it’s neither an outright confessional, nor the best place to air dirty laundry that might best be addressed professionally.

On this last topic, however, I feel I’m being let down in a pretty big way, by the alphabet soup of acronym-heavy mental-health organisations I’ve been alerted to. It’s all pillar to post Groundhog Day assessments, and nary any actual support!


Having inferred above that here is not the place to go into the gory details of specific addictions, I will use one relatively innocuous seeming but actually very insidious example, namely spending.

My re-formulation of Descartes famous dictum, for our times, runs thus ‘I spend therefore I am’. One of histories’ greatest dictators, the unholy axis of capitalism and materialism, has marched into and annexed almost every conceivable aspect of modern life.

And I will often attempt to spend my way out of obscurity and depression with anything from a Gregg’s pizza slice to a book, CD, clothes or shoes.


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MEDiA: Saxondale

Watching this terrific little series again. What fun! as Miranda’s mum liked to say. Saxondale really tickles my funny-bone. And laughter is great medicine when you’re wrestling with a St. Bernard’s sized black-eyed dog.

The ageing quite clever and quite articulate ex-roadie turned pest controller is a great creation. Struggling with anger issues, and having to deal with the excruciating Vicky (Morwena Banks) to get jobs.

He encounters a Top Gear presenter, his ex-roadie pal Deggsy, animal rights protestors who object to his pest control methods, and a plethora of other characters, from the occasional appearances of hapless shopping centre-salesmen (Tim Key), to regulars, like Vicky, Raymond, his girlfriend, Magz, and his anger management counsellor, Alistair (James Bachman).

Vicky, Raymond, and Tommy.

In a similar yet different way to Coogan’s sublime Alan Partridge, the whole attention to detail thing with Saxondale’s music-obsessed character is a real pleasure for those who, like me, share similar interests.

And, again, as with Partridge, we love him as much for his myriad foibles and failings, as for his ‘good qualities’ – be they his ‘Stang, ready wit, or ‘classic rock’ schtick – all the while squirming in embarrassment when he goes off on another misplaced tanned-genital rant.

The scenes with his daughter and her beau are great, as Saxondale battles with his responses – whether natural or conditioned – and piles mistaken assumptions on top of angry prejudices. And all the while Focus or Tull, and similar ‘70s sounds, pump up the irony of the disparity between an ageing rocker’s dreams and visions of himself, and the humdrum reality.

Vicky, perma-tanned denizen of a Stevenage industrial estate.

The rapport with Vicky, via whom he gets his pest control jobs, is truly and deeply and excruciatingly excellent. Indeed, all the relationships are really well observed, teetering between very broad humour, and finely nuanced observation.

There are just so many moments that resonate: the comfy old slippers, the lines of coke with Deggsy whilst lamenting the follies of the world, the inadvertent self-harm at the gym (and the hilarious drive home after), and the struggles with ageing.

These latter range from Saxondale’s quirky facial tics and odd snuffling noises, to his inability to hoist himself into a loft (as his young assistant Raymond does), the glasses scene with hooker, the need for Viagra, and limitations on sexual positions due to a body that’s gradually wearing out.

Another dimension to all this, besides the 70s rock thread, is the general cultural milieu, with Tommy quoting Zulu, and frequently harping on about everything from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Barnes Wallis. A set of … eugh! tropes (spits and washes mouth out) that fit a certain demographic, to which I belong, like Cinders’ glass slippers.

It’s humour that cuts pretty close to the bone, for some of us viewers. And, I think, is all the funnier for it.

Tommy smoking a dolphin bong. Brilliant!
A fab scene from Tommy’s anger management group.
Several fab scenes from Tommy’s anger management group.

I love the scenes at the anger management group that Tommy attends, at the local library. His humour and sarcasm are tragicomic, and, as with much comedy (also very much so with Partridge) he says out loud what many might think, but either then think better of, or at least choose not to say out loud.

Teresa isn’t so keen. ‘It’s a boy’s thing’, she says. And maybe she’s right? Still, I love it!

MiSC: Sore Throat, Tough Work, Crap Snooker… What a Day!

IGAS cases…

I’ve had a sore throat for a few days now. Symptoms are very Strep A like, and I believe that’s running amok in the UK. Teaching in schools, I guess, may make me more likely to be exposed? It seems more virulent amongst the very young. And I teach in two primary schools.

But I can’t find any particularly helpful maps of known cases. Something I thought might shed light on whether this might be Strep A or something else. And then there’s the various varieties: Strep A, Scarlet Fever and IGAS may all be caused by the same bacteria, but (I believe?) each manifests in slightly differing ways. So, for example, I don’t have any rashes, so I don’t have Scarlet Fever.

… and Scarlet Fever.

But without proper medical advice – ironically I had an over-50s NHS health check last Monday, before I got this damned sore throat – which is increasingly hard to get as the Tories grind the NGS into the ground, how do I know what’s causing it, or indeed even what ‘it’ is!?

BTW, the info-graphic map images I’ve used here are from my researches, and usually the webpage (if not always the image itself) adds more info, such as when the statistics were gathered, or the time period they cover, etc.

I guess I was after this sort of thing, for our area.

What I really wanted was a map with ‘pins’, something rather like the above image, but showing cases in my living/teaching zones. Maybe then it’d be easier to see if there were recorded cases where I’m teaching, for example? Anyhoo, calling 111 has (so far) got me nowhere.

Teresa and I are back to childminding at my sister’s. And we’ve been roped into an extra night over, as my mum backed out of her usual Sunday commitment. She did so partly due to dad having Covid (so I hear!?), and me having this sore throat.

I also booked two Amazon delivery shifts: one today, another tomorrow. Todays was a real nightmare. First off they had approx 30% more stuff to deliver – 30 bags as opposed to he usual 20 or so – than I normally have, and yet supposedly to be delivered in the same (two hour) time frame!

My Flex shift today was hellish!

On top of this, even before I’d left, the scanning and naming/numbering of the deliveries didn’t tally correctly. There were extra bags, numbers/names/codes didn’t match, and, well, more on this later…

I’d also very much like to opt out of making any deliveries to Cambridge. Most trips to Cambridge involve dropping deliveries to at least one ‘block of flats’ or student halls of residence. In theory I can contact the customer. In practice this doesn’t always work. Today I had a whole slew of Chinese students in multiple occupancy residences , none of which had sufficient info to locate the customer, that made the entire shift a total nightmare.

Supposedly 2-4pm, I didn’t finish till 5pm. And when I did I had two bags of undelivered stuff left over! I had to call the Flex driver support line several times. To their credit, they do try to help, and sometimes they even actually sort things out. But, as ever in modern life, there’s far too much interacting with automated robotic systems. And they can’t always resolve stuff satisfactorily.

I anticipate negative feedback from Amazon on this delivery run. One particular order initially took over 45 minutes to ‘complete’ (or so I thought), putting me seriously behind schedule. And in the end this was – or so it seems – the order to which the two extra mystery bags that were left over belonged to. So adding that in, as well, at the end, means that one stop accounted for about an hours work!

How all this makes me feel!

Add to this my sore throat, the bigger than usual load, that for much of the shift it was cold and very rainy, and, nearly all of it being in town, there was heavy traffic congestion to negotiate… Bah! Not fun at all. For the most part I do enjoy doing Amazon Flex deliveries. Not so today! As already mentioned, I’d like to decline any further delivery trips to Cambridge.

Back ‘home’, at Hannah’s in Northstowe, I’m mainly staying in bed, as I don’t feel at all well. The right hand gland in my neck is swollen and painful, swallowing hurts, and I’m on a diet of liquids, paracetamol and lozenges.

Missed (again!). Bloody awful.

Thought a bit of snooker might help. So I watched the Trump vs Bingham Masters semi-final. Trump won, 6-1. But, my sweet lard, was it ropey! It was excruciating at times. I like fast heavy scoring snooker. This was low breaks, tactical grinding (and wailing and gnashing of teeth), and, frankly, quite boring . Both players playing well below their best.

What a day!

MEDiA: La Planète Sauvage, 1973

Wow! This is a pretty amazing animated film. The quality of animation is terrific. Especially for its (pre CGI) era. Whilst the visual aesthetic is not immediately to my own tastes, it’s so singular and powerful it kind of sucks one in. Well, me at least, at any rate.

I discovered the existence of this movie thanks to the inclusion of some music from it on the vinyl compilation Mindbending Nuggets, which a friend had bought. This latter is a great collection of slightly obscure music, with a good selection of odd and unusual but groovily funky tracks (released in ‘97).

The basic premise of the film (itself based on a book*) is that humans, called Oms, are kept as pets by Draags, big blue red-eyed and web-eared humanoid characters. These Draags spend most their time meditating and being a bit weird.

They live on a planet, Ygam, whose look reminds one of both surrealism generally, and in particular the paintings of scientist (and surrealist painter) Desmond Morris. All organic blobbiness, but with an appropriately ‘sauvage’ spikiness.

Tiva plays with Terr.

Apparently the movie was marketed as a stoner experience, best watched in an altered state. And I can see that that might well be a good way to see it. Although personally those days are, for the most part, very much behind me now.

The music, by Alain Goraguer is terrific. It’s often compared to Atom Heart Mother era Floyd. Although, to my mind/ears, it’s far more complex, focussed and funky than the Brit-proggers.

Funky keys, wah-guitar, and lush strings and vocals create the perfect aural companion to the visuals. It’s one of those rare instances where the music stands in its own right, and is as strong as the film it accompanies.

Mmm… sexy jazz!

Above, a bit more of Goraguer’s work. I’ll prob do a post on him at some point. But for this one, let’s get back to the animated film. Which is, frankly, visually stunning.

* Based on this book:

All told, there’s something a bit odd, and slightly limp or disappointing, in the ideas or the narrative. The visual imagination and invention is terrific, but the conceptual side occasionally feels a little lame.

There’s a definite hangover of both WWII and the hippy era. The ‘de-Om’ing’, or culling of humans, clearly resembles the Nazi ‘final solution’. Most obviously so when gas releasing pellets – Zyklon B springs to mind – are used to kill Oms en masse. But in the end, and rather quickly, it’s determined that peaceful co-existence is the only way forward. And, rather abruptly (and dissatisfyingly), boom, the film ends.

It almost feels like they just ran out of either budget or ideas! Maybe not? Who knows. Either way, it’s a bit of a damp squib way to end.

Nevertheless, the sheer visual richness, and the soundtrack, make this essential viewing, in my opinion.

BOOK REViEW: The Wild Boys, William Burroughs

Just finished reading this. It’s a short and fairly easy read, albeit the prose veers between normal and ‘cut up’. Luckily there’s enough standard English to make it readable.

I’m fascinated by Burroughs. I think he’s prob’ a bit nuts, and possibly a bit of a huckster/charlatan. But he has a great command of language, and an amazingly vivid if somewhat twisted imagination.

In essence, a great deal of Burroughs writing – at least what I’ve read – is autobiographical. But rather than straightforward documentary narrative, Burroughs serves up a postmodern bouillabaisse of fevered drug-addled eroto-fantasy, interwoven with crumbling memories.

Burroughs wandering life as a trust-fund dilettante, globe-trotting in search of, essentially/frankly, thrills, and being both gay and – by dint of the latter, to some extent – Bohemian, lead him to live in all the places that crop up here: St Louis, Mexico City, London, North Africa, New York, etc.

Burroughs’ unusual outsider life – involving crime, drugs, and a sexuality that meant living not like but as an outlaw – all conspired to fuel a pretty weird fantasy world. And so The Wild Boys (and other writings) veers towards being his kind of heir to the Marquis de Sade’s vision of ultimate freedom in a melange of sex and violence.

Depending on the reader’s tastes, it can make for quite compelling and entertaining (or off-putting) reading. What it’s real merits may be, I’m very uncertain. In some ways I enjoyed this book. In others, I was disappointed.* As with much of Burroughs’ work, it’s like the somewhat choreographed dredgings of a disordered and fairly warped mind.

In some of his writings all of this is filtered through very standard prose, in others – particularly when he employs his cut up style – it’s practically unreadable. Here it’s a mixture, thankfully erring on the side of comprehensible. But the visions it describes are, well… read it. See what you think!

The book signs off ‘William S. Burroughs, London, 1969’. This was an interesting time in his life, about which you can learn more here.

Pop group Duran Duran’s hit song is named after the novel (more on this below). And I’ve read that cult gay film maker Fred Halsted was in discussions with Burroughs about making a pornographic movie of The Wild Boys. But that never came to pass, alas.

* The titular Wild Boys don’t really come to the fore till very near the end of the book. Making many of the ‘plot’ synopses of this work I’ve seen seem way too glib/conventional.


I made the following notes as I read the book. I forgot to do so for two chapters, so those are in [brackets]!

CHAPTER / Remarks / score
Tio Maté Smiles - Cinematic surrealist Mexico City sleaze… **1/2
The Chief Smiles - Moroccan death sleaze … ***
Old Sarge Smiles - St Louis nun-sleaze, with a sprinkling of racism… **1/2
Bury the Bread - Audrey moons, Old Sarge rants; a psychedelic melange… ***
Penny Arcade Peep Show #1 - Funfair surreal gay sex dreams ***1/2
Le Gran Luxe - Big swanky party surreal gay sex dreams ***1/2
[Penny Arcade PS #2 - I forget!]
[Miracle Rose - … er? Something to do with anii… & ‘rectal mucous’!?]
Silver Smile - Frankie & Johnny gay sex dreams ****
Frisco Kid - Klondike gay sex dream ***1/2
Penny Arcade PS #3 - Cinematic cut & paste
Dead Child - Golf course gay sex dreams morph into shaman jungle dream ***
Call Me Joe - Defection from the straight army to the Wild Boys **1/2
Mother & I - Perverts vs Police State: ‘Our aim is total chaos’. Wild Boys eroto-horror… ***
Wild Boys - The title finally addressed… more of the same [gay sex dreams]… **1/2
Penny Arcade PS #4 - Tree-house-boat gay sex dream ***1/2
Penny Arcade PS #5 - Assassin gardener **1/2
Wild Boys Smile - Arrival, more of the same [gay sex dreams]… The End ***


The Duran Duran song, The Wild Boys, is of little or no interest to me, particularly musically, in itself. But it is a little intriguing inasmuch as it was supposed to be the theme song to another mooted attempt at making the book into a film. The ‘songfacts’ website says:

‘Duran Duran recorded the song because Russell Mulcahy, who directed their videos, bought the movie rights to the book and planned to make it into a film. The band wrote the song for the movie, which was never made. At the time, this was the most expensive video ever made.’

MUSiC: Cocaine, Cale & Clapton…

What a great album cover!

I grew up with J. J. Cale’s Naturally. It was in my parents’ record collection. And I always loved it. One of the first covers I ever attempted, in my early teens, was the song Magnolia, from this superb album.

We also had a few Clapton discs, including both Slowhand and 461 Ocean Boulevard. Fantastic albums! Slowhand is interesting because it features two covers by other artist that are both superb in their original versions, by their composers – J. J. Cale’s Cocaine, and John Martyn’s May You Never – and none too shabby in Clapton’s readings. And in both cases Clapton’s versions helped make the original songwriters a little better known.

J. J. Cale… gone but not forgotten.
If you want to hang out, 
You've got to take her out, cocaine
If you want to get down,
Get down on the ground, cocaine
She don't lie,
She don't lie,
She don't lie, cocaine

If you got bad news,
You want to kick them blues, cocaine
When your day is done
And you want to run, cocaine
She don't lie,
She don't lie,
She don't lie, cocaine

If your thing is gone
And you want to ride on, cocaine
Don't forget this fact,
You can't get it back, cocaine
She don't lie,
She don't lie,
She don't lie, cocaine

She don't lie,
She don't lie,
She don't lie, cocaine

What do I want to say about this song? Well, first off, I love both versions. Cale’s is more personal, with his unique ‘home studio’ vibe. Clapton’s benefits from the sublime drumming of Jamie Oldaker, whose buttery smooth press rolls lend the song a whole new feel.

Jamie Oldaker performing with Clapton and co.

Also, and perhaps more controversially, I love the ambivalence of the lyrics, and their stance re the titular drug. On the Wiki page on the song Clapton says it’s a clever anti drug song. I think he’s being a bit disingenuous!

The line ‘Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back’ is the only cautionary caveat to what is otherwise a fairly clearly pro-cocaine line, so to speak. But it has to be admitted, as the last statement before the recurring refrain ‘she don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie’, it does subtly and cleverfully skew the up until then positive perspective.

Of all the drugs I tried in my, um… what shall we call them… wasted years? It was the only one I have no bad memories of. All the others turned from happy highs to depressing downers. But cocaine was, for me, always pure fun.*

I never got this deep into it!

Maybe it was just that I didn’t take it in the quantities rock stars and Tony Montana types did? I did that instead with weed. And that soured the experience. But, whatever, as they say these days, for some reason this song is resonating with me right now.

I think it’s high time – sorry, can’t he’p maself – I both transcribe and learn the Oldaker drum part. It’d be a great tune to teach in my drum lessons.

Clapton’s version popularised Cale’s song.

* I’m not advocating it’s use, by the way. Merely relating past experience. One of the strongest objections to its use – quite apart from the well documented hazards for users – is that it inevitably supports the brutally exploitative international narcotics trade.