They say of authors, and aspiring ones, that they are either architects or gardeners.
Architects like to have things planned out; a beginning, middle and end. On the other hand a gardener just plants seeds and sees what grows from them. I count myself one of the latter, I love planting seeds of thought and growing ideas.
But gardens and plants for real… I’ll leave that to other folk. Too much like hard work. Or so I thought.
I have been blessed with many gifts but green-fingers are not one of them. Hence my dislike of all things horticultural.
So I am pleased to announce that I am the proud owner of one very healthy banana plant; from which I have now taken cuttings and have its off-springs developing nicely.
I never thought I would have so much joy at such a seemingly mundane thing to do as help and nurture a plant to grow and reproduce.
But let me take you back a couple of months. Read more
The recent incendiary online spat between the American Fox News Anchor-man Sean Hannity and the British stand-up comedian Russell Brand has provided some moments of unprofessional journalist practices (Hannity) and some moments of quintessential Britishness (Brand). This is not the forum to delve into the political motivations behind each of the protagonists, neither is it the place to offer support or disagreement to the argument, but the highly emotional subject of the (current) Israel-Palestine conflict debated between these two media faces seems to have exposed an all too familiar prejudice.
It started with Brand’s response to the initial report and interview slot from Hannity who had impressed his personal (pro-Israeli) opinion on a Muslim guest, without seemingly giving him the opportunity to respond. Amongst his rebuke, Brand referred to Hannity as a ‘Ken doll’, the toy doll which was introduced in 1961(by Mattel) as a boyfriend to Barbie, whose appearance is that of a dimpled and fashionable all-American male. Read more
The horrors of heroin addiction have been well-documented recently.
Despite its gradual decline amongst users, especially younger ones, who have swapped to novel psychoactive substances (commonly known as legal-highs), the UK still has a heroin problem and the dangers of overdose and needle-sharing still plague this population.
Heroin, like so many other illegal drugs, can never be taken safely BUT it can be made safer.
A new Government initiative that allows the NHS and other registered addiction treatment providers to be able to provide foil to addicts so that they smoke the drug, or to use the street slang ‘chase the dragon’, rather than inject it has been launched. Read more
80 per cent of people would rather go without a car, chocolate or alcohol than be without their digital device for a day according to a recent report. Now I don’t know about you but when someone can’t go without something, or suffer acute withdrawal from lack of its use, I’d call it an addiction.
Just as a person might crave their fix, or their next drink it seems that many of us simply can’t go for any length of time without tapping, scrolling, playing or watching something on a digital device. All the time we are feeding that habit and being kept on the electronic leash we are missing out on a whole world of creative opportunity.
Addiction is a relationship between person and substance. Being wedded to a mobile mistress (or master) is no different. Read more
‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats’ exclaimed Ratty in The Wind in the Willows.
And so it was when a motley crew was pressed into action and took to the high seas (Mote Park lake in Kent), in a quest for riches; while a land raiding party prised gold and silver coins from the dry, land lubbers watching the battles on deep blue (murky green really) take place.
But this was not just any scurvy bunch.
It was led by the infamous Captain Mad Sea Swashbuckler (aka the RSA’s Susie Pascoe according to a random pirate name generator), this rag-tail rabble was banded together from the three hubs (Maidstone, Gravesend and Tonbridge) of the West Kent Recovery Service. This was the first time the trio had connected for a community event.
The crew of 26 was made up of people in recovery from alcohol and drug misuse, staff and peer mentors from CRI (one of the RSA’s partners in the initiative), and of course other members of the RSA’s Whole Person Recovery team, namely able-seaman Jack Robson and the not-so-able yours truly. But to quote Martin Luther King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now”. Read more
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us,” Albert Schweitzer
At the beginning of 2014 my life changed beyond all recognition. I, for the first time was brutally honest with myself and I realised that I needed help. My cocaine addiction had taken me to a point from which I thought there was no return.
Mounting debt, breakdown in relationships, the deception both to myself and others and my worsening mental health had meant I was out of control.
I self-referred to Priority House and spent two weeks in a mental health unit. When I came out I was clean, but realised that I could not continue on my own any further and needed external support, I self-referred into the West Kent Recovery Service and started to attend Aspire2be meetings. Read more
In its quest for a more ‘circular economy’, the RSA Great Recovery is focusing on the links between design, materials and waste. Last week, I visited the Science Museum’s new installation on rubbish.
The bowels of the Science Museum are perhaps an appropriate space for an exhibition about waste. You can smell it even before you reach the entrance to the Rubbish Collection. The odour has been somewhat deodorised for public consumption, but the unmistakeable whiff of putrefying food, stale coffee and plasticisers reaches into the stairwell above.
Needless to say it is this ‘pong’ that seems to prevent some visitors from venturing down into the strip-lit atrium, where volunteers in boiler suits and gloves are tipping bags of rubbish onto a row of white tables.
The Rubbish Collection is a project by artist Joshua Sofaer which hopes to change people’s attitudes towards waste by bringing them into close proximity with it. Once an object is brought into a museum, says Sofaer, it is usually imbued with a certain value and afforded a kind of reverence. Not so once it turns to waste, and he is on a mission to involve the public in documenting and examining the museum’s discards over a period of 30 days. Read more
There are so many different types of recovery. I believe that we are all in recovery from something, or someone. Any trauma in our lives, anything that makes our body, head or heart hurt takes time and effort to move past. Time to recover from.
We often hear about individuals in the West Kent recovery community working to help others. Many choose to become peer mentors in the service or volunteer for other organisations elsewhere. There is a fantastic sense of ‘giving back’ to the community.
There is nothing quite as quintessentially British as a group of people sitting together enjoying a picnic. Sitting on the grass in the grounds of the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone, not a stone’s throw away from William Shipley’s tomb sat such a group of folk.
‘Morning Trevor, you alright?’
‘I’m alright Doug, you alright?’
‘Yea, I’m alright’.
Some mornings, of course, they were alright. But how often does your conversation go like this?
You ok? Yes, I’m ok. (No, I am not ok. My Nan has died, my goldfish is depressed, and actually, things aren’t going well in general).