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The S word

Warning this post refers to mental health issues, self harm and suicide. Please do not read any further if this is difficult for you in any way.

This week has been pretty weird. I’m not quite sure why I’m writing this all down really. Maybe it’s to rationalise some thoughts, maybe it’s to make them leave my brain and onto a virtual page of sorts, maybe it is in the hope that someone else might find this and relate to it as they stumble around the internet. Maybe it’s to find some form of outlet that isn’t retweeting people supportive of this way of thinking to deal with my outrage at this week and the people who form and define the opinions in our media. That does fuck all. Will this do anything? Who knows, but it might make me feel better.

What happened this week? Well, a famous woman confessed to having suicidal thoughts on TV, a male TV host then said he didn’t believe her and has since doubled down on that, even after being sacked. Numerous folk have backed that person including such nice people as a famous football pundit usually known for his nice guy image. My timeline on Twitter is now full of discussion around suicide (in a round about way) and someone’s ability to say this out-loud and be recognised for it and have their thoughts accepted as being valid. This is extraordinarily difficult for anyone who has had the slightest dealings with either suicidal feelings or losing anyone to suicide in their lifetime.

I guess you could say I have been triggered.

My experience with this subject matter goes back to when I was a child, 15, and couldn’t cope with the world and the emotions it was generating in me. This resulted in self harm and a poor attempt on my own life. I played this down for many years until confronting in in therapy a few years ago and recognising and accepting that situation for what it was. It was real. It was serious. And it ended up with me at the GP with my very worried mother. I’m still embarrassed to go to the GP as this is on my record.

Two years later, when I was 17, my next door neighbour took his own life that Christmas. He was 26 I think. His room was the mirror image of mine in the terrace house we lived in and next door to my room. There’s details of that experience which haunt me to this day and won’t share. I still blame myself for not stopping him.

When I was at University in my second year of architecture school my housemate made an attempt on her own life and was hospitalised for a week. She survived. None of the rest of us quite knew how to deal with it or engage with the pain she felt. I think I was 20.

I’m now in my 40s and have struggled with my own mental health in recent years. Firstly in 2018 with some pretty dark thoughts – what I now know is referred to as suicidal ideation. I got myself back to therapy and seemed to have dealt with that for a while. And then again in 2019 it all got bad again. I wouldn’t use the tube when feeling like this for instance. The thing for me is when headspace / hot baths / exercise don’t shift it you know you really have a problem. I tried to ‘solve’ or do something about this and tried to find a walk in mental health clinic where I could seek professional help. I live pretty close to The Maudsley (a mental health hopsital) in South London and stupidly thought I would find an emergency clinic to walk into. As I left the house to try and find it Google Maps told me it had closed in 2017. I tried my GP and couldn’t get an appointment for weeks on end and gave up. Those thoughts come and go still. It’s like your brain is eating you from the inside. But ultimately I don’t think this gets fixed, it gets managed and you live with it perhaps.

This isn’t all about me either. I know of plenty of close friends who have dealt with many similar situations to the above. It hurts them and changes them.

One situation in the media that really affected me was the death of Caroline Flack. I’d not heard of her until her death. But the more I read about it and the more in which people so casually talked about it and even made jokes about it really deeply affected me. I left that WhatsApp group for good and struggled to relate to those people for a while.

I guess everyone’s lived experiences are different and you can’t possibly ask people to recognise how hard that is if you’ve never experienced it. But you can ask people to not be dismissive. I remember Ben Goldacre on Twitter remarking once “If you find me dead from suicide, it was the CIA”… or words to that effect. Again that shocked me, but more from a personal confidence level and his sheer arrogance and dismissiveness.

To say S word out-loud and admit to those feelings of ideation is extraordinarily hard regardless if you’re on TV or talking one to one with a loved one, GP or mental health professional. To have these feelings dismissed is the most shocking thing I’ve seen in a long time and is beyond contempt. It’s really really got to me.

It feels like we have made huge progress on the discussion of mental health recently but I feel this has set us back by years and years. I genuinely fear for what this has done to anyone who is struggling right now.

Again, I’m not sure what the point of writing this was or if there is any real conclusion to it all. I just needed to write something.


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A series of occasional links

I started a little newsletter back in late April 2020 as a way of sharing little links and good things I found each week in various places on the internet. I’m not quite sure how I came up with the idea but I think I’d seen someone mention the TinyLetter service previously, maybe Iso? It’s a bare bones email newsletter platform which is also free and now owned by MailChimp.

I think starting this was partly inspired by lockdown and having more time sat at home thinking about the world perhaps. I’m not quite sure what series of thoughts led to starting one but I came up with a name and a format and then pushed it out to anyone I could on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. The usual, hey follow this please request to all and sundry. To my surprise and joy 55 people signed up to the first one and then off we went.


Much like podcasts, does the world really need another email newsletter by a middle aged white guy right now? 

Probably not but it’s something to entertain myself with and share with people. Here is the first

I mucked up the formatting a bit with the first one as TinyLetter has some odd little quirks but others appear to have been more successful and I also managed to keep a bit of a handle on typos. The one’s you only see when you’ve hit the proper send not the draft send to yourself.

As with all these things I try and make rules or constraints for what is and isn’t allowed as a topic for the newsletter each week and as to how I imagine it should be formatted. Here’s a rough run down of my thoughts:

No self promotion in the links. It’s fine to talk about yourself a bit in the intro but no linking to my own work or activities. It should be about sharing links not telling the world what photos or building you worked on this week or some stupid bike ride you went on. There may be a very rare exception to this rule such as when I link to this blog post. 

No politics. The world has enough of that and we’re swamped with it as it is.

Nothing negative and shitty. No one needs to feel bad on their Sat morning after you send them a link to The Guardian about the end of the world. 

Be largely positive, uplifting and thoughtful with occasional use of amusing cute animals. 

Nothing too mean or making fun of individuals. A fine line with comedy sometimes but worth trying to avoid belittling people. 

Be engaging and humorous. 

A brief intro then ten links only. But allowed a few extras to link to similar things or to credit those who posted or shared the original thing you’re sharing.

No emojis. I broke this rule once and won’t do it again. 

I find all sorts of links to share during the week and put them into a note in SimpleNote then sort through and choose which ones to use each Friday night before hitting send on a Sat morning. I skipped a week or two in the early days but have been pretty regular since. It’s been a really nice thing to do and have had some lovely feedback from people. The title was specifically crafted to allow me to skip or pause when not feeling up to it or busy.

In terms of where I get all these things from I have a range of sources. Twitter is by far the biggest source but also various WhatsApp groups and people just generally sharing things there. I’m also still an RSS user and use Reeder on my phone/iPad/laptop to scan through and look for things. Kottke.org and daringfireball.net being two of my favourite feeds. One of the best places is another newsletter which kind of inspired me to start doing this and is called ‘The Overspill’ by Charles Arthur. I adore this in terms of the articles he sends as well as the commentary that goes with it. He also always responds to any feedback or further comments on Twitter. It arrives in my inbox at 8am every weekday and always good to rear at the start of the day. My favourite sources on Twitter are the Present & Correct account, Urban Fox and Dick King Smith. Maybe I need to keep updating this as time goes by. But all of the above has generated a huge amount of interesting things to share and gives me a reason to read, digest and then collate and post on for other folk. (I’m on a social media break so will link to the Twitter ones later).

The list is now up to 118 subscribers at the time of writing and hopefully it continue to grow organically. I’m a way away from hitting the 1000 subscriber limit of TinyLetter.

If you want to see the archive then have a poke around here and if you’re tempted to sign up then can sign up here


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Test shot

Testing, testing.

When shooting with the D700 on proper shoots I have lots of images of me standing in various places with a grey card looking back towards the camera with the remote shutter release. It seems like with then GoPro I’m going to have a lot more of these style shots – squinting at the camera and seeing if it’s on and recording.


So I got up to cycle to work to record lots of cyclists and mega-traffic-ogeddon but neither showed for the occasion. There was hardly anything to see at 7am so maybe an 8 or 8.30 start next time. Still, the settings and position seem to be a lot better. Facing backwards is a bit more fun as you see cyclists expressions and you’re not aware of the camera recording all the time. I set it to take a shot every 0.5 seconds and ended up with 3726 frames. The GoPro 2 seems to be much much better at getting a consistent exposure as well as a much better overall tone and colour to the images.

Arse cam


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Terrible Two

Terrible Two, originally uploaded by weequizzie*.


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Impossible, originally uploaded by weequizzie*.

Bought Emma some of the new film from the Impossible Project for her Birthday. I think she likes it!


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