Now then, dear reader, you will be horribly aware of my predilection for the occasional rant. In my advancing years I am finding more and more things to moan about, in true grumpy old man fashion. However, many of the things I have a grumble about are merely speed bumps in the road of life, irritants that really do no more than wind me up a smidge, and frankly I should just get over it and move on.
This week, however, I feel justified in having a good old moan, for I have become a statistic. And that statistic is to have become a victim of crime…nothing exotic, nothing that’s going to turn up on Crimewatch, nothing particularly newsworthy – but I have become one of the many, many people that have had their week ruined by the larcenous behaviour of some disgusting waste of air from the wrong side of the tracks. To cut a long story short (phew, I hear you gasp) my van was broken into whilst I was away over the weekend in Nottingham. The driver’s door handle was jemmied off, the skin of the door damaged beyond repair and – access gained – the perpetrator made off with a jacket that’s going to cost a fair bit of money to replace. Needless to say, when I discovered my door handle in pieces in the hotel car park the following morning my language was something a little fruitier than ‘blast and damn’…but as is my wont I simply got on with the job of reporting it to the rozzers and getting on with the day. The hotel staff were really good, they were as shocked as me that this had happened under their noses and were desperately keen to ensure that I was OK. This may only have been a Travelodge – my expectations at budget chains are pretty low – but both the receptionist at the time I reported the incident and the one on duty in the evening were really, really helpful. The PC that came out to see me was as helpful as he could be, and although it’s highly unlikely that CCTV will show up anything of note I’m sure they’ll do all they can.
In the grand scheme of things it’s a very minor incident, but it’s going to cost me several hundred quid by the time I’ve paid the insurance excess and lost some of my no claims discount, so it ain’t victimless. And whilst it won’t leave me on my uppers, I could really do without it. I’m not really the vindictive type, but I hope that whoever did this develops excruciating piles, and then someone gives them a vinegar enema. And then rubs God Slayer into whatever’s left. Using sandpaper.
So apart from that, what was Nottingham like? Good fun actually…the event was really nice, lots of customers, lots of sunshine – though of course this being the school holidays there was rain as well – and being sandwiched between ice cream and first aid tents gave me an almost limitless line in banter when the hot stuff kicked in. Chipotle Chilli Salt and Mango Hot Sauce seemed especially popular, I nearly ran out of both – but not quite. I guess that means my estimation skills are pretty good!
The vagaries of the English weather came to the fore though. It rained a bit on Sunday, fair enough, but overall Wollaton Park is pretty sheltered so, although it was a bit blowy, we weren’t really affected. 30 miles up the road in Newark the East Midlands Chilli Festival closed early due to damaging winds (stop sniggering at the back…). Simon, our bod who was at the event, had some significant damage to his gazebo…after similar conditions at the Royal Cornwall Show back in June I can only sympathise.
Apart from Nottingham not much has occurred. A couple of busy production days at the farm last week, and catching up today with things like insurance claims and admin, so nothing exciting.
Of course the big talking point of last week was the untimely passing of the great Robin Williams. He was a comedian that I’ve been a fan of from very early on in his career…I loved his way with words, his flights of the imagination taking you on journeys that simply disappeared off at tangents barely comprehensible to most. It’s almost impossible to imagine the pain and suffering he must have been going through to have reached the point where suicide seemed the logical conclusion. Depression is a horrific condition – it’s hidden, insidious and devious…the victim often doesn’t know they have it until it’s too late. It’s not like a cold where you get a bit of a sniffle, then feel a bit crap for a few days, then back to normal. Having been a victim of it myself (thankfully not to anything like the same extent) I can assure you that simply ‘pulling yourself together’ does not – cannot – happen. If you can do that, you do not have clinical depression – you’re just a bit hacked off. Once you get past a certain tipping point with depression, logical thought holds very little sway. You don’t get depressed about things, you just are depressed. It’s disabling, it cripples your ability to deal with the real world other than just going through the motions…and without help, it does not heal. It traps you in it’s shadowy embrace, and although it may not be deadly it certainly constrains what you can achieve.
If anyone reading this thinks that they may be suffering from depression, please seek help. Do not be embarrassed – there is no stigma attached to it in this day and age. I got to the point where I could think rationally enough to to ask for help, though it took months to realise that…and it was the best thing I could have done. It got me talking, it got me thinking about who I was, where I was in life, why I was here – and made me realise that I have many, many reasons to keep on keeping on. I learned new ways of looking at things so that – although the temptation to slip back is always there, lurking behind every bad day – I can keep one step ahead and beat the bastard down. Ultimately it gave me the courage to move on from a career that was grinding me down to one that is – whilst exhausting – full of laughter and joy.
Of course it doesn’t feel like that after the bottling machine spits Hellmouth at you.
So there you go – that’s a bit of a confession. And yes, getting all my thoughts down in writing like this on a weekly basis is highly therapeutic – all part of the reason I now love what I do – it keeps me sane. For a given definition of sane, that is.
Back to reality, this week sees me in Reading on Friday and Westonbirt’s Treefest on Saturday to Monday (thought our newest colleague Graham will be standing in for me in Sunday). The Pink Chilli Hobbit will be in Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday.
The reason I’m being subbed on Sunday is that I will be at Potterne Cricket Club’s Beer Festival for a chilli eating contest during the evening – which, after the contestants have had a few beers – could get very messy. Now if only some outlaw scrote hadn’t stolen my waterproof jacket…
Cricket is basically baseball on valium