Banana, Yugoslavia, Rainbow

In the somewhere that is Yugoslavia, a banana lays on a desk. It’s yellow. Lightly spotted brown. It’s not in a bowl, surrounded by its fruit companions. Just alone. An ordinary banana, on an ordinary desk.

But this was no ordinary day. The rainbow in the sky may have suggested a pot of gold, some joyous occasion would take place. Alas! That was not to be. The sky glistened blue. The banana glistened yellow. Perfect skin, seamlessly flowing. The oak desk stood firm, banana resting on top.

The small cabin had three rooms, hidden away from the rest of society. The main room was more of a study, with a kitchen area to one side. Then there was a bedroom and one bathroom. The cabin was small, which made it unnoticeable. Hidden deep in the forest, it was miles from the nearest road, and certainly wouldn’t be seen by satellite.

Click! Slowly opening the wooden door creaked slightly as sunlight poured in, illuminating the contents inside. Papers blew across the desk, disturbed by the sudden overflow of air in the room. The room breathed again. Slowly.

The rainbow outside was fading. Precipitation was falling at a slower rate, causing there to be fewer water droplets to sustain it’s vibrant, bright colours. Its radiance slowly slipped out of the sky. The secrets inside the room too were fading.

The intruder made his first tentative steps through the room, his boots imprinting themselves on the scattered paper on the floor. The room looked like it hadn’t been touched in years, cobwebs and dust had made it’s home in all the corners. The window shutters were slightly rotted, allowing small scratches of sunlight to percolate through.

Feeling the banana the intruder could see it was ripe. Its yellow facade a sharp contrast against the faded backdrop. A visual reminder that everything is not always as it seems. But the intruder was not there to worry about bananas.

Carefully, the banana was placed back on the desk. The intruder worked slowly, pawing through the appears. Working to a system, no paper was left unturned, but all were put back in the exact positions they had been found. A sense of urgency did nothing to disturb the precision of the intruder’s work.

A pile of boot-stained papers was growing on the desk. They would have to be removed so no trace was left. Of course, fingerprints were an issue for the other papers, but the number of hands that traded them, it would unlikely be thought of any significance.

The rainbow had completely disappeared now, indicating the onslaught of rain had come to an end. However inside, nothing had disappeared, although the boot-marked papers would soon be of course.

Suddenly there was a beep. The intruder looked around, head spinning to locate the source of the noise. He glanced at his watch, although he knew that it was analogue so it wouldn’t make such a noise.

His glance fell on the banana, where a red light was now flashing at the tip! How could he have been so foolish? He dropped everything, grabbed the papers on the desk and dived for the exit. But as the beeping was getting faster he knew it was too late. The bomb was ready to launch.

It’s February!

So the website’s had its ups and downs last month with a lot of content being edited and added. However, now we settle down into the blog we can start the conversation about mental health.

This is the start of a monthly post for the site. These posts are about coming together as a community and working out what’s positive and to be continued and what we need to work on. I want this site to be led by you. I talk about what you’re talking about, curating content which you ask for.

So what can you expect

The February schedule for Mental Monday is now out. If you miss an episode you can find links to the repeats on there. Mental Monday is my live Q&A broadcast every week on a Monday dedicating the entire time to you

So there’s going to be these Twitter and YouTube episodes every Monday at 7PM UTC to join the conversation about mental health. I love speaking to you guys on there, we have a great time, feel free to join us.

And talking of schedules, we’re back on track

Deviating slightly from the schedule because of all the updates and edits to the site there wasn’t much time for making the content. But now the site’s all sorted we can get back to the content that matters. The blog posts.

So basically Monday it’s mental Monday Tuesday to Thursday I do work for clients, Friday is a new blog post and something special on Sunday but don’t ask me what it is.

So you can expect more posts

Mental health is now the main focus of the site. I still share short stories (for free you don’t have to sign up for anything!) but mental health content is now my priority. And what I talk about is mainly down to you.

I have some ideas and some spare blog posts I’ve written lying around but I want the content on this site to be driven by you. I want to talk about what you’re talking about.

This can be about everything and anything. I like to link to my own story, what’s going on in the world right now and making these into relatable actionable things you can do that will help you. It’s about the tips and tricks, making you know that you’re not alone.

You can also read more short stories

They’ve been suspended for a while but they are now back. I’m going to be completing some of the older short stories with part 2s as well as starting new ones. These are all free – have a look at the current selection now.

So the February Event

This month I’m running a ‘3 for 500’ challenge. You give me 3 random words of your choice and I’ll write a 500-word story on it. The event officially launches today with the form.

This follows on from the Winter Short Story Event where I gave you a short story of your choice to celebrate the festive season. I like doing these events and sharing a bit of free content.

So that’s everything you need to know about what’s happening this February on the site. As you can see there’s more of everything this month.

3 for 500

Following on from the Winter Short Story Event we’re launching another event, 3 for 500. The idea is you give me 3 words(they can be completely random) and I’ll write a short story about it of up to 500 words.

So that’s it. No catch, no sign-up. Free content, published right here on the site. Filling the form below is all you need to join!

So there we are. That’s all you have to do is think of 3 words and then I’ve got the fun job of creating a story.

Forgotten Ones

For the first story, I could talk about many things to you. I could show you the depths of the desires of my heart. I could show you the blackness of it, how it’s darker than coal, the colour of night. I could talk about how my headaches, long for something different. Not longing for something better specifically, just different, anything to change the perpetual torrent of thoughts that envelop me.

I could moan, I could give you the endless tales on end about how poor my life is. I do tend to go on a bit, so to save your ears from being just as depressed as I am I’ll describe where I’m writing this to you right now. That way you’ll see what I mean, and I don’t give any personal details. I have to keep my identity a secret these days.

I’m sitting cross-legged with an old typewriter in front of me. It was my grandfather’s. He never trusted modern technology and always preferred the old fashioned manual way of doing things. It was rather lucky actually. When They came They took everything from us.

So anyway, there’s me and my mind again. Always trailing off. What were we talking about? Oh, I was describing where I am right now. Yes, that’s right. So anyway, I live in a very small shack, which fortunately is better than the majority of living conditions. Of course, I’m not a snob about it, I let others in any time they like, it’s just not workable to fit all the Forgotten Ones in. I have a register and I rotate. Seems the fairest really.

So I’m surrounded by mattresses and cupboards. Somewhere made by my grandfather, other’s I’ve collected through the years. It’s quite a low room, held up by wood really. About 5 mattresses in here, with a little space to walk through them.

The roof is slightly rotting, but supplies are running thin and we need the timber to build up our defences, or to hold up our escape tunnels should They return and we ever need to use them. My abode is mainly made up of oak, from the nearby trees you see, makes it easy for us to forage them. But, you can find all sorts of things, tin, iron, other types of wood. Anything which will hold the place up is used. It’s not like we have a choice.

I’m not going to dwell on too much here, there’s no need to depress you as well. If you’re reading this then you’ve clearly learned to read, probably have gone to school and know a few other things like how to write too. We never had a school. My grandfather taught me everything, how to read and write, how to shoot, how to start a fire. He gave me all the skill I needed so I could keep going, and teach them to others.

“All in it together.” That’s what my grandfather said, those words etched into the wooden sign outside the house. That way people know even if they’re told to come back another day because we’re full, they’re still home here. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know them, I show the same generosity to them as I would do to those I did know. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to do this, supplies are dwindling. I keep morale up as much as I can but it’s becoming even harder to do that now.

It was never like this. We used to have a beautiful city, run with firm but fair leadership. Now everything’s changed. The pillars of respect, honour and trust in our society which had guided our rapid progress and community spirit were now given to the highest bidder. A marketplace of titles.

And so the rich took over. Buying those things as well we could either join them or stick to our morals. Like a few others, I stayed loyal to myself. Many didn’t. Our small group of Forgotten Ones were, exactly as the name suggests, Forgotten. First, we were outcast. The New Rules came in, that was bad enough, made us leave. Expelled from the city we were forced to seek refuge here. Hopefully, there are other groups like us. But we can’t leave our base to find out. Far too dangerous with other scavengers. No, no. We are much safer here, even though the concept of ‘safe’ is all but a distant memory.

The New Rules took our technology too. They allowed us nothing, no radio, television, phones. My grandfather luckily had old typewriters, paraffin lights, washboards. Collections from museums, and that which was self-made. That burdens me with great responsibilities. Few have what I have. Distributing the collection gives me authority. Because I have what’s needed I am also the Leader here.

Not only does my responsibility fall to making sure everyone has what they need. I have to check the defences, hide items away, lead scavenger raids, and try to keep morale up as much as possible. I’m not like their leader though. I don’t hide away in a place, I stay right out with the people, working and fighting alongside them.

So that’s a bit about us. I could go on all day and give the entire history of our people, it’s all stored in the Library. But there’s no point dwelling on about our hardships any longer. If we focus on the present sufferings, we’re not going to have a future.

We will have a future one day. One day we’ll rise up. Fight again. We’re training. We’re developing. Day by day we’re improving and getting ready. It takes time. But I’ll guarantee they’re being complacent. They think we’re nothing. That we don’t exist even. The last thing they’ll be expecting is an attack from ‘the unintelligent dogs’.

So maybe one day we will rule again. Maybe one-day truth, justice and democracy will rule this world again. Maybe you’ll be hearing tales about our rule.

But for now, at least, I need to go to the library. We have a journal where we record the resource gains, fatalities and anything else we need to track our progress. I need to fill and sign the book for the day. No fatalities today, but only food scraps collected also.

So if you’ll forgive me I’ll be off now, if you’ve bothered to read this far down, thank you. Thank you for showing compassion to our society.

Maybe you’ll get to read something of mine again. Somehow we may cross paths again.

Goodbye.

Stay Swimming is now here!

What’s going on?

As I announced on YouTube, Stay Swimming is now going to be right here on my website.

The merge will take place across the next two weeks as all of the content from Stay Swimming will be merged over to this site, along with social media channels.

But…why?

Stay Swimming never really worked. I tried to expand too quickly and talk about mental health from the safe veil of the company. However having that mask meant I couldn’t connect, I couldn’t be someone that people could connect with. And that meant there was no benefit.

My anxiety was stopping me

It was the anxiety of having to say “yes I have a mental health problem” that made me do things through the website. Hiding behind the website meant I could talk about it more openly as it wasn’t just me and mental health.

I think sometimes we all feel that way when talking about mental health. We say we’ve got mental health, but then as soon as a conversation starts, we realise our vulnerabilities and stop before others realise then as well.

I’m stripping everything away

I’m taking everything away, everything to do with Stay Swimming. I’m going to stand here and say that I have a mental health. I’m going to open myself up. My anxiety won’t hold me back any longer.

If I’m really going to help others then first I need to help myself. So while I’ve been doing polls on Twitter and getting your opinion on this move, I’ve been working through my anxiety. Getting ready for the task ahead.

This is what you can expect of the change:

More content

There is going to be so much more mental health content here along with my writing content of course. I’m going to be sharing my blog with mental health tips and short stories and everything you need to improve you’re mental health

Remember Mental Monday

Live Q&A show every Monday. What about a Mental Tuesday. Or Wednesday. What about Mental Monday every single day of the year. Some days I won’t be able to, but I’ll be live as many days as possible.

So expect countless Mental Mondays live on YouTube. They will discuss anything and everything you want and of course, you can ask questions all the way through.

More personal content.

Instead of having a website between me and you I’ll be talking directly to you. Right here, on social media, through email and DM. Hopefully we can take small steps in improving your mental health together.

Anything else?

This is not a complete guide to everything that’s going to happen here. I want to make the content you need, the content you feel is best for you. That’s why you can request you’re own content, and I’ll try my best.

Through what I’m doing I’m starting conversations about mental health. I’m creating a situation where we can all talk about what’s going on as well as creating a community where we can all help each other.