Friday, March 03, 2006

What does this 'Publish' button do? Oh Sh......

I spend a large part of my working life writing, so why have I spent the last couple of hours on the phone, sending e-mails, listening to Test Match Special, reading and contributing to the Weymouth FC Message Board, and occasionally staring at this little white box on the screen not having the first bloody clue what to write on it? Hopefully this blogging business is a little like swimming in the English Channel. You creep in inch by inch with the water feeling scrotum-shrivellingly cold, splash a few bits of water onto yourself to try and fool the metabolism that you've just swum to France and back before finally taking a deep breath and plunging in. And then the water feels either a) wonderful - why was I such a wuss getting in? or b) painful. You are standing in only two feet of water.

Assuming option a) is more likely, I'll try to spell out what this blog is going to be all about. I've worked in mental health since 1983, and have run a small training consultancy for the last 8 years. JCK Training started life as a part-time concern while I continued to work as a mental health nurse, but as time went on the business built up gradually and is now my full-time job, with my wife and business partner Caroline supplying the much needed brains and backroom support while I get on with the day to day work of liaising with clients, writing training material and of course going out and running the courses all over the UK.

Mental health is often described as a 'Cinderella' area. Here in the UK at least, many more billions of NHS pounds are spent on what I call 'hard' medicine than the rather drearier and 'soft' areas of medicine such as psychiatry. NHS Trusts might think little of spending 4 million quid on a nuclear powered endoscope that can make a patient's rectum look like an action shot from a Tarrantino movie, but take a look at the average acute psychiatric ward and we're much nearer One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest than Pulp Fiction. Actually, some of the wards I’ve worked on did have more than a passing resemblance to Pulp Fiction but that’s another story.

Note to self: you are barely on paragraph three and have started ranting already. Calm down.

Nonetheless, if you are a journalist or a documentary film maker, mental health does seem to be rather sexy, and I often find myself watching, listening to or reading about mental health stories and either nodding appreciatively or going various shades of purple and shouting “no, no, that’s complete bollocks!” , which is not too bad most of the time but raises some sideways looks on the train while I’m reading The Times. Otherwise the only other recipients of my opinionated, world-weary and cynical outlook are Caroline, our German Shepherd Kira or the kids, who all try to humour me as best they can apart from the dog, who looks at me with that “why are you such a plank?” expression that dogs can do so well. So rather than annoy my family I have turned to here to either vent my spleen or wax lyrical on something that is really good.

And before I sign off for now, a few more things to add to the ‘blog manifesto’:

a) I will try ever so hard to stick to my specialist area, but may lapse occasionally into pontification on areas as varied as politics, the media, culture and of course football, a subject on which I am particularly expert along with about half the world’s population.

b) As a professional trainer I shall try my hardest to be cultured, prosaic and erudite. I don’t really know what ‘erudite’ means but I think it’s good. Nonetheless, there will occasionally be the odd lapse into irreverence, swearing, non-PC-ness and even occasional rudeness, but I will only be one or all of the above when the occasion demands!

c) I have often thought that people’s personal blogs are the 5 megawatt vibrator version of ego masturbation. I shall try really, really hard to stay focused and keep my hands OFF my ego.

Okay, I’ve gone from writer’s block to diarrhoea in the space of a few paragraphs, so let’s get back to proper work and ..

Ciao for now.