Stripping away the ugliness.

i) I’m still there ii) Issues iii) Finale

I am still in those 501’s, those eight-hole DM’s, that Donkey Jacket adorned with badges pertaining to a libertarian cause, that black army-surplus canvas bag – slung over the shoulder containing the papers, reviews – the University revision work too – the essence of what my twenties were. Heck, my very soul is in that rucksack, the very ethos of my youthful endeavours (but one could quite easily argue misguided), stuck in a period of time like some indelible mark that is hard to wash away, difficult it seems now to ignore and forget. I do not know what I was aiming to achieve back twenty-five years ago. Hey, if you have read this blog you all know that I grew up from seventeen years old in a pokey little bedsit (slightly bigger than the size of a large cupboard), amongst alcoholics and some dodgy folk; I had issues from those experiences that, to be brutally honest, are still with me now at nearly forty-five years old, probably suppressed and dealt with in the interim period, but forced to re-surface at this period in my life (because I am in a similar situation, possibly). But I worked to achieve something worthwhile in my life; I studied intensely – mainly because I worked in some very low paid jobs when I was in my youth. And I knew I did not want to have a life stuck into a grind, stuck into dead-end jobs. I knew I was worth much more than that, even though I failed my secondary school exams and ‘went off the rails’, due to family issues, discussed elsewhere. But later on I went back to College and I ended up in University (an achievement). I wanted to be better than the rest because I knew I was not stupid in School. Heck, I had already read a ton of fiction and non-fiction, probably quadruple the amount of my peers had ever read (and will) before I had left School; I mean, the only main result from the secondary years I achieved was a pass in English Literature (that, combined with History were my favourite subjects – and still are), which I believe speaks volumes about my character and intelligence. To put it very bluntly, I was not thick, stupid or remedial; I hated sports with a passion, but remember being abused because I was not that ‘sporty’ and was perceived as being ‘different’ to the herd, during School and in some of those awful jobs I had by work colleagues too. But you adapt to your circumstances, and I have adapted to everything thrown at me since I was sixteen years old when I finished School. A bit of self-praise is in order here now – I am one tough cookie and no matter what you throw at me or have thrown at me, mentally or physically, I will always survive your hate, dislike and bigoted abuse because I am better than you as a being and much more soulful, deep and intelligent than you can ever hope to be. I hope you know who that is directed at. I hope it turns you to cinder when you read it, because you will turn me into star-dust from the abuse you wrongfully directed at a very poor and fucked-up man – and I hasten to add through no fault of my own. At all.

So, in my minds eye, I am still twenty-one years old. I am still in that bedsit, now with some student friends, still in a relationship (sexual) with a married older Woman – and what an experience! I am still working in the Market Research firm, I still have my old and very diverse group of friends, I am still going out to the pub on a regular basis – I have friends who I really respect, and that I believe respect me. I am educating myself, culturally, emotionally, sensitively and academically; I turned vegetarian and I am learning to cook so much better than when I worked as a trainee chef. I develop a whole new ethos around my character – a bit libertarian, a bit geeky – a great amount of individualism gathered up, which helped create the character I became in my early twenties. It is still there, in my mind, like it is still happening almost like it was yesterday. And I think why this is so, why I dare write this up now, after a failed marriage, being back down on the streets at middle-age – because I miss it, that is why, because I never felt so liked, so wanted, so HAPPY when I was twenty years old (but with issues, hey?)

Issues. I could never hope to explain myself as an individual, as a man, as perfect. I would be telling lies about myself if I ever could say that I was almost a ‘perfect man’, because a) I am not sporty b) I am not a fighter or one to throw his fists around (and never was) and c) I believe I respected my wife, being a Socialist and ‘all that’ to have the mental strength (actually as well as bravery in the face of adversity, belittlement, harmful allegations et al) to bring my two sons up. That included taking to school and what that entailed, whilst sacrificing my career in doing so. So, my ex-wife I allowed to progress her career whilst I was at home bringing up my sons – and guess what? I had no qualms about it, I felt almost quite liberated in doing so actually. I felt (and still feel) a good man in achieving this – my sons are very well educated for their age (and I would like to take the kudos for that) and I love them immensely. I know of many men who could never say the same, probably who would never want to do what I did because of peer pressure, because they would think it an ‘unmanly’ thing to do (and how sad is that?) Well, small minds have small lives, that is all. But it was not easy – challenging is a good word to use – and I totally respect Mothers who have to do this from ‘social norms’, whilst their husbands work. I believe I am more of a man from doing so, and that is my opinion – you do not have to like it (as I know you will not), but hey, I really do no longer care about ‘opinions’, what you think of me, how wrong you perceive me to be, and so on and on. Take a good look at your own personalities, your own fault-lines, your own mistakes, and then take a good look at mine and compare the difference. None of you had to grow up into an adult without any proper moral guidance in a bedsit full of spikes, alcoholics, ‘weirdos’. Think deeply on that if you are capable – without judging (hard isn’t it?)

I may or may not update wordpress again; sad I know, because it was at first a good outlet, a good way of intelligently ‘raging’ against what happened to me in 2008 and onwards, instead of using physical aggression or worse to get my revenge on persons that had set out to wrong me (and now, with times passage, looking like a deliberate attempt to destroy). It is times like these, here tonight, that I am grateful for my literacy, my ethos, and the ability of being able to still hold onto myself in the face of quite nasty adversity. I believe, now when I look back, that there was a conspiracy directed against myself; my family and my ex-wife included in that (and guess what, I am more rational than you will ever know – maybe to my detriment), and I do not say this lightly.

Thinking about this, I might well update again, but it will be infrequent. The whole internet ‘thing’ I adopted back in its infancy, right back in 1996 or so. I have seen it become a whole worldwide phenomena, so much more accessible to use now than it was during the 1990’s (but I really learnt how to use analogue modems, obscure Operating Systems and a heck of a lot of geeky stuff about computers), the rise of smartphones I believe being the biggest breakthrough. They are like mini-PCs, and guess what? I only use a really old one, very outdated. But for me it is not an issue. I think there is a big security issue around it today. We have become so vulnerable to digital manipulation, all our bank accounts are online, it has proven to be very easy for teenagers to hack into multinational corporations despite secure systems in place. We are breeding a whole generation on free pornography, hateful online abuse as well as the ability to track everyone anywhere, including their internet profiles, pictures, posts and so on, and that includes my children too, who are addicted to the thing. So where now can you draw the line? It seems almost impossible – just live with it and try and be responsible is the only way. But today I am not thinking it as progressive or positive as it once was, or could have been.

‘Tis all now, on wordpress. I feel no more need to carry on updating, because I have said what I needed to (and it seemed to make no slight bit of difference), and that is all.

Scar Tissue.

I have an innate built in mechanism to deal with emotional upset and distress, stemming predominately from when my Mother passed away when I was thirteen years old. I was never given any proper counselling for it, and at that age, that important developmental period of my life, I had to swallow and hold in all the grief, confusion and loss that the experience involved. Looking back (and hindsight is a fantastic way of understanding where things started to go wrong, alas no use for the present), it was the most single transformative event of my life, the main thing I believe that caused my life to go so tragically wrong in my later years. To try to understand some reasons why I failed in my later secondary school years in terms of not passing my end of school exams (just achieving mediocre grades apart from English Literature – the only subject I passed with any distinction) and from going off the rails during those last several school years, I must begin to look back at the lack of support I experienced when my Mother died. I did go off the rails, I did become a rebellious teenager listening to Rock music, drinking and suchlike, I had an awkward relationship with my Father who probably never understood me (and myself not understanding or probably respecting the grief he was still going through), and so on. Fundamentally, I ended up not resitting my exams and went to work, ending up being ‘encouraged’ to leave home at seventeen and moving into a large town, away from the village and peers I grew up with, having to make new friends in the place I moved to; the beginning of the bedsit years had its inauguration in September 1988.

And so I struggled. For a highly sensitive teenager to have to learn how to do his washing, pay his own bills, cope with having so limited money (I was working on a Government Youth Training Scheme in Catering at that time – and that was low wages), plus suffering the pain of not having anyone in my Family to talk to when I finished work, then it was a very tough, very lonely time. I never finished my apprenticeship in Catering as I could not afford to live on the wages it paid, and the other reason was suffering from eczema. I started work in a Factory afterwards, and yet I still found it hard and tough going on my own even with a small increase in pay. The Samaritans were involved with me at one point between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years old because I had become so depressed living on my own in a pokey, sparsely furnished bedsit and having no meaningful existence apart from going to work and living off, for example, cheese on toast for the majority of the time. A very dreary existence. It was only in later years, towards my twentieth birthday that I changed employment to a much more positive office based job and became acquainted with some really interesting people – those dreary, single unshaded lightbulb days faded fast. Lady luck came a calling, and that I believe changed my fortunes back then. Or at least it started to form a much more individual identity to base my own personal liberty and ethos around; less Metal, more Grunge and correspondingly social issues, please. Identity Politics were the rule. A pure Generation X’er, coming from that screwed up past to want to try and change the world, and back then it was a true ‘rags-to-riches’ story – there was much that was good about me I personally and vehemently believe when I look back, albeit with scar tissue.

However, I still struggled. I still had issues within my makeup that had become so deep and hidden and swallowed into my soul, that on occasion would plague me, like some outbreak of fever whose illness would occasionally burst through the defense mechanisms that I had learnt to build around my hardened, but still sensitive heart, stemming from shutting out heartache, pain and rejection. Big huge, barbed wire defenses. As I grew older, this time living with my partner (later to be my wife), life turned slowly into normality; less the radical, freedom and rock-music loving youth – the one who wanted to change the world – more now into a responsible adult. Knowing about my adoption as my Mother never held that information from me (she told me when I was quite young), my late twenties seemed like a good time to uncover who my natural parents were. There are rules about making contact and when I found out various organisations that dealt with this, the law stated that a period of counselling is required before you make contact. I did all of this, I remained within the guidelines, but when the first letter came from my natural Mother, then all the emotions broke loose, ripping asunder the pandoras box where they had laid dormant for such a long time. It was not a quick process, it took me quite sometime to find her, but find her I eventually did. Terms that come into my mind as I write this tonight are: confusion (I still had the bond with my adopted Mother in my subconscious); love (hence confusion) and elation (hence love). Still, even over fifteen years after finding her, it is very difficult to write this up, to put this onto paper, to explain the most intense emotional ‘fuck up’ I ever had to experience. And all those stories about how good some reunions are, the ones that mess up are hardly discussed, or at least feeling the initial excitement of discovery, the bad tales just do not register. I digress. It screwed so much with my emotions – my mind, feelings and long forgotten things came rushing to the forefront of my life; I felt confused about my relationship with my adopted family, feelings about my Mother dying, age-old issues resurfaced with a staggering intensity that smashed through my old defenses, throwing them aside as a whirlwind would blow away a hastily constructed shelter. I felt emotionally ravaged, torn asunder in feelings of severe emotional intensity. I ended up having a serious breakdown from this crazy period of my life, and that really is all I can say about it, or at least all I wish to publish on wordpress at this time. Looking back (again hindsight is wonderful), my partner pulled me back together, and about a year or so afterwards, I married her and had children. Fin.

I believe that this existence, this life we lead whomever we may be, whatever our social circumstances, either makes us or breaks us, and there is the famous adage that ‘whatever does not kill you makes you stronger’. This so much is true. When I do look back at the things that went wrong with paths I chose, or were chosen for me (or highly encouraged), and the fact that I survived some incredibly rough treatment on occasion, then it made me a much more thoughtful, intense and mentally stronger person; the gift of being able to express some of these emotions on a literal level is something I am grateful for because I felt, with the intensity of living through such difficult situations, I needed to write to find closure, to come to terms with issues. Also, despite the initial feelings of joy and euphoria on finding my natural Mother, I do not think I am such a good advert for adoption organisations; it went wrong for me so I truthfully should not endorse the tracing and finding of your natural parents. If you have a stable relationship with your adopted parents, if you have a secure life, if you are emotionally strong, then go ahead and satisfy your curiosity. If on the other hand you are slightly worried in any way for whatever reasons, then give it a lot of thought. Who will it be affecting? Will it damage your relationship with the family that chose and loved you? And make sure you get the counselling beforehand. I am not sure if the law has changed since the late 1990’s, but that was a requirement before any information about your adoption details were handed over, and rightly so.

To conclude this rather confusing (it seems) post, then I think my character has been formed through struggle. Life has made me what I am today. The power and intensity of life-experiences gave me a hardened shell, and much more tougher skin than I ever believed I could have had when I was that sensitive kid from the South Wales Valleys. I most certainly have frayed edges, but I have an inner strength that has kept me together for all these years, an inner determination to prove the naysayers wrong about my character, to counteract deceit against my person. Even the shock of becoming homeless after my marriage ended never killed me, but it certainly has probably caused a more permanent and deeply emotional scar than anything else I have been through – and that truly is saying something.

Brief thoughts on ‘trust’ and a few on social media, too.

i) Social Media thoughts ii) on Trust.

I have not stopped updating this blog, although only producing one post for the whole of 2014 may seem like I have ceased blogging. I think deactivating my Twitter account in 2013 resulted in loosing some good contacts and writer friends, as well as my occasional forays into #writechat, #scifichat and various other writer related forums on Twitter. Being active on those forums made me want to blog – it gave me an incentive, much the same way as my Creative Writing class I was attending did. It was getting to stage however that I became more focused on using Twitter to say some questionable things whilst I had drunk too much alcohol in the evenings, such as the things that had gone wrong with my marriage and becoming homeless; I suppose any person who had lived so long with a partner, marriage, raising children and then having a sense of being rejected from all the good you did would feel the same. I mentioned this before here, so in a hasty decision I deactivated the account and hence lost all those good followers I had. I think shifting over to Facebook was probably a very unwise move – it is just not the same as Twitter for the reasons I had set up the account in the first place. I mean this in terms of using it in finding fledgling writers, all with the same agenda of getting our written work published; finding publishers; self publishing; using modern e-readers and the formatting issues et al were my main focus in using Twitter, i.e finding ‘contacts’. Facebook is a much more individual, personal experience without the link to ‘the many’ that I found on Twitter in the forums mentioned above. Old school friends, family, work friends etc are Facebook’s main focus, and sometimes I think that it is not such a good or healthy method of social networking – an electronic method of communication? Maybe if I had succeeded in achieving something great in my life, then perhaps less the critical stance on that particular social networking site I personally have. I suppose I would have no qualms about stating what a wonderful job and family I had, how good my life is and so on. With all the media focus on what people tweet or what they publish on Facebook et al, then I am wondering if social networking holds much that is positive – abusive trolling, quite vicious political arguments, sexism, racism and so on; I guess possibly though it is just a mirror to what actually people are reading, watching and thinking about in today’s world, but is this form of media and actual zeitgeist and catalyst influencing modern, 21st Century culture? For someone like myself who became an early adopter of the whole internet and IT ‘thing’, I sometimes wonder as if I have been left standing with the rapid progress and the more ‘social’ aspect that what it has become today, what it turned into has overtaken me and has thrown me from the road I was following, almost killing me. When I started using the internet back in the mid 1990s, then it was a much more tech focused thing, using analogue modems (anyone remember modem init strings?), needing to have a degree of technical capability to really understand how it worked and fix issues (hence I ended up very briefly working for an Internet firm and went on to study Computing at University level – another story for another time) – it was actually I believe much more ‘fun’ back then than it is today, being right on the cusp of progress? Am I being elitist here, or am I just such a geeky, introverted bloke that I preferred the tech challenge? Windows today is all ‘under the bonnet’, compared to how things were with DOS, Windows 3.1, Win95 and to a lesser extent XP (the beginning of the ‘end’). I digress (reminisce) here.

Trust is a very vital component of our emotional lives. Trust is whereby you can speak and relate to someone you consider close to you. Maybe that closeness involves a loving relationship, perhaps it is your partner, your wife or husband; someone emotionally tied up with your life, someone you consider a friend, a soul mate, someone who has experienced the same things you have been through in life. Someone on the same ‘wavelength’. Also, the concept of trust is also related to your family relationships – in a time of need who do you go to first? Perhaps if you end up unemployed and on the streets, away from the security you normally were used to, then asking a family member for guidance or help would just be second nature; perhaps they could offer you a place to stay in your time of need? I think, as a species, without that support network in place in society, without that feeling that you can love or trust someone (either a spouse or a family member), then we become depressed and disorientated; we loose what it is to be human, forgetting what it is to be kind, loving and compassionate when rejection is offered to you instead. It is worth pondering this for a moment – just how selfish, abusive and deceitful we can become in on a personal level, especially when there is financial and material gain from being so emotionally ugly. Almost soulless.

Thats it, ’tis all I have to say at this moment – more as a way of actually trying to keep wordpress active than anything else. I still need to write the experience of adoption and what it involved tracing my natural Mother all those years ago. It has proven to be very challenging to express the feelings on a literal level, feelings that overtook me over fifteen years ago.

A brief update.

I guess I need to update this festering blog. Festering, but also maturing as well, like an expensive wine or an aged single malt. I can read back on posts I have written over the past five or so years and see how things have developed, from the personal posts about being rejected and suffering homelessness, feeling a sense of being outcast and scapegoated, to my occasional game and book reviews along with some deep, soul-searching poetry too. My best writing is contained here on wordpress – some really personal posts, especially the one about loosing my Mother as well as briefly mentioning my adoption and the effect that had on me (leave alone tracing and finding my natural parents). More I am beginning to realise needs to be written regarding these issues, a much more soul searching post on what it took to find my natural Mother – the complete confusion and emotional highs and lows it involved. It really hit me like an emotional sledgehammer back during the late 1990’s. I had a breakdown from it which I have not mentioned here. But maybe I should make this public, not just to write and understand what happened to me (need to exorcise those demons), but also will hopefully will blame some of the people who made what should have been a beautiful experience into a living hell for me that I believe caused a permanent scar that effected me mentally and socially – and still stays with me nearly fifteen years later. It feels like something is still haunting me from back all that time ago.

This is not meant to be a proper post about anything in particular, its just that I woke up in the early hours of last night and opened my curtains to watch the night sky on my bed with my cat asleep next to me – saw a very bright shooting star and I made a wish – I wished upon a star and then said a prayer (which I do not do that often). Its now just gone 7am and I writing this directly online using wordpress instead of Open Office, which I usually use so I can edit better. But I felt this morning I needed to say something after a restless nights sleep. So, objective for this blog and my writing is to try and update more often before the end of the year – I guess my new resolutions do not work that well (if you read my last post), but maybe just occasionally posting something here might also make me try and do something more worthwhile with what is left of my life (health issues at only 43 – maybe I  will tell more later regarding that). So please, if you follow this blog, dont despair! More is most certainly yet to come – and I will attempt to try and make it interesting as well. Thank you.

 

 

End of the year musings.

i) Emotional scars ii) End of the year iii) Some final thoughts.

Some famous author once said that you have to have a degree of talent to become a writer, but much more important is the ability to remember every scar inflicted upon you in this life. Each one of us has a small amount of baggage that we lumber around in our day to day lives; some of us have a huge weight to bear, some deeply rooted scars that, whilst being scars and hence have healed, still retain the marks of their being inflicted on your soul in the first instance. From whence these scars came from, for they being scars of some emotional pain or some great loss or hurt, is the most defining aspect of our existence. And we can, as this famous author once said, if we have a degree of literacy, put these unsettling experiences into words. This I believe can make your stories, poems – your creative writing – stand out from the crowd due to the power and intensity of your personal life experience and what made that wound so deep to leave behind a scar in the first instance. There is also a saying that each of us has a book inside, our lives being unique and individual that we all leave a blazing trail of a comet behind us in our relatively short time on this planet. Our time on this Earth I believe is meant to try and shape our future, to try and leave behind a better world for our children to live in whilst we learn from our own personal scars what hurt us and not to try and make our offspring suffer the same fate. Progress and healing seem good enough words to use to try and understand our existences here, what our material plane of being means in the grand scheme of things. Some of the most powerful authors whose works reside in our library’s and bookshops – some of the most intense novels – are usually the ones whose authors lives were marred with a tragedy or whatnot; some upset of an event they witnessed that made their creative writing convey a sense of depth, understanding and contain a humane outlook. I deign to mention any such authors here however, there are so many that I feel I would be doing a disservice to the ones I missed. Perhaps another post for another time to discuss the power of emotional distress and the authors who managed to put their experiences into form. So, each one of us has some unique aspect about our lives or families, that we all have the capability to actually try and creatively craft words to describe this uniqueness, this individuality – the very thing that may have caused a scar to form.

Its December, hence the final month of another year. 2014 inevitably approaches and again I am pondering just what I have done this year, like the one prior, and nothing really comes to mind. My days sometimes become so hazy that each one carries no unique or different life experiences, they all seem the same like a groundhog day that has lasted for me for nearly three long (but relatively speaking, short) years. I think also this is one reason why I stopped regularly blogging here on WordPress; I felt I wrote what I needed to make clear about my life and there seemed not a lot else to say from what I had written down here. So it seemed that if I did carry on blogging, nothing new would be said, the song would remain the same so to speak, and for this reason I stopped because there was no new experiences to write about, or any part about my past that felt I needed to explain and make clear, originally stemming more from a sense of defence that someone somewhere had slighted my character or did something terribly wrong behind my back. I have a high level of intuition and also, especially when I was younger, an innate sixth sense (and sometimes that is never such a good gift to have) which is why I picked up on things. Its hard to explain. So, a new year rears its head in the next few weeks and I did actually give up making resolutions years ago, I took a fatalist outlook and just accepted that I wouldn’t make anything worthwhile from my life; there appeared to be too many obstacles out there to trip me up, and hence, carrying this fatalist self destructive attitude within me allowed me not to try and put my life into some modicum degree of order and discipline. Perhaps I will try this coming year to try and rectify this.

I have been deeply thinking a lot about the concept of time. Maybe this is due to being in my middle-age; also it could be because I have a lot of spare, wasted time on my hands; possibly because I have always been fascinated with History and Archaeology – digging up the past and discovering how we lived centuries and millennia ago held a deep fascination within me, something I always had from an early age. Its obvious I believe that we are a progressive people, that the whole purpose, as I mentioned above, of life appears to be some form of evolution or maybe intelligent design. We have an actual purpose in our world and that purpose, to me at least, seems to be to develop ourselves and evolve, to progress. I believe that our ultimate aim, like the Age of Discovery inaugurated in 1492 by Columbus, is to explore the universe, to reach for the stars so to speak. It must be. It seems the only logical conclusion to our existence on the Earth, on our home planet. But whilst this may seem a lofty ambition or goal, we must also not ignore the suffering that this world contains, the poverty and starvation, the conflicts that displace people, as well as our unbalanced eco-system. This surely must be the main priority that we face, more important surely than reaching for the stars? I need to think and read much more about this. Maybe for the new year?

Crusader Kings II – a review.

Crusader Kings II.

Paradox Interactive games have evolved a long way since their first game, Europa Universalis (EU) released thirteen years ago. Essentially, this Swedish game company deal in grand, real-time strategy, and when I mean grand, I mean probably in an epic sense of world conquering proportions.I became a great fan of these games since Europa Universalis 2; at face value they are all strategy map games, but underneath the hood, there is some very interesting complexity occurring as the game runs in a real-time environment. Forget turn based moves, this game runs with the clock (unless you pause), with the games AI making decisions for all other different countries that are on the map. Musically, with EU2 at least, it was stunning, containing nearly two hours of period music of the later middle-ages, right up to the late 18th Century. Since EU2, Paradox produced many other games, dealing with different periods of history such as Victoria (19th Century), Hearts of Iron (WW2), Rome (self-explanatory) and Crusader Kings (Middle-ages), and for a history geek such as myself, these games and this company became the holy-chalice and saviours of grand-strategy gaming.

Paradox’s latest release (well, its over a year old and this review is well out of date) is Crusader Kings 2 (CK2). There is an evolution in gaming that is quite interesting to observe with the development of better hardware and technology, especially over the past fifteen or so years. Instead of the old 2D graphics that the early titles used, Paradox went with a proper 3D map which makes CK2 a visually pleasurable experience. The most defining and unique feature however is the character driven plot of the Crusader Kings games. Instead of just running and conquering different countries and dealing with their economies, CK allowed you to play as a King/Queen/Duke/Duchess/Count/Countess and develop relationships with other characters included in the games, such as marrying (either into your own relations or marrying another countries leaders daughter or son, creating a rather large family tree that could last the game time – 1066 till 1453 – the beginning and end of the Middle-ages). For instance, marrying your daughter into the family of, say, the King of the Franks would then create an alliance with that country and also, if played cleverly, could possibly gain a foothold and claims to that country later on. You need reasons to declare war with a valid Casus Belli, you just cant wage war on anyone, you need reasons, and claims to their land or throne are the only ways to gain power. Also, it could mean the opposite and then the King of the Franks, say in a different generational time span, could then lay claim to your country too. And the game allows you to try and use subterfuge and plotting and counter plotting (I think CK2s most defining and interesting, but rather bloody, feature) to try and influence who you want on the throne, usually by paying assassins or creating a plot amongst your vassals and courtiers to depose of someone just to get their power. And so on. The game has a large amount of characters, all with different character traits, skills (which are important to whom you want as your advisor’s, for instance a Spymaster to be effective would need a high Intrigue rating to uncover plots, steal technology etc), to make a very interesting and dare I say alternative gaming experience.

UntitledKing Harold and family

Since its release in February 2012, CK2 has grown from strength to strength with added DLC which has expanded, both the games time span (with the latest expansion the game date starts at 867 AD allowing you to play as the Vikings with a foothold in Jorvik, or any other Pagan country in Europe; even the Zoroastrians are playable) or now to have the ability to play either a Republic as a Doge or the Hansa; an Islamic add on allowing you to play as a Muslim ruler along with changed rules (multiple spouses, decadence rules and so on); or even try and heal the schism in the Western and Eastern Church playing as the Byzantines. There is a whole load of different DLC for this title, and it really has changed the game since its release quite drastically and very impressively. What I find the most defining feature of CK2 is the intrigue and plotting going on in the background with its character driven database. You can actually start to become attached to your ruler and their family inheritance and so on and inflict serious punishment on others who assassinate or plot against one of your members by sending to prison and stripping them of their lands and titles. Most new titles today will include DLC and this I believe adds to a games longevity and replayability. This is especially true in the case of Crusader Kings 2; well over a year after release and I am still putting in the hours with the greatly enhanced and expanded game. That, with the relative low price of the expansions, makes this game very good value for money.

One last word to say, the most challenging aspect of this game is the succession crises that invariably occurs when your current ruler dies. CK2 incorporates all hereditary laws, and one time per ruler you can change this; gavelkind, primogeniture, elective monarchies et al are here, as well as agantic and cognatic, allowing female characters to inherit if no sons are eligible. If you play the Basques, then that is default anyway, with female inheritance only, whereas with all the other nations, male preference is standard (as it was historically). Back to the succession crises; if you have a large ’empire’, then usually civil war breaks out, maybe from a disinherited son who starts a faction, or vassals with different agendas or of a low opinion of you. Its part of the game, and when your ruler starts to get old, then you start to worry about the independence split or the call for a different heir to the throne. Another defining aspect of this title. Out of ten? I would give it a nine. It is immeasurably addictive with a fantastic feel for the period it is set in, great music, graphics and concept. If you a history fanatic as well as a gamer, then this really should be up your street or avenue.

ck2 2013-06-27 11-23-15-77Religious diversification

On prophecies and living them.

A new post for the beginning of summer, having unfortunately missed spring (you can see how this blog has developed if you look back at the dates I posted updates; sometimes it was several times a month, slowly progressing into monthly posts and finally big chunks of not updating it at all. I guess it can be seen as a mirror of my continued struggling existence, stemming from the depression and other ailments I experience). Even now at the moment of writing this, I am beginning to question my motives whether it is wise or correct to continue making the occasional update to my blog. Its not so much an online journal or diary, rather I think it could be more like an expanded status update about my life and what I felt I needed to write, to make clear. I was toying with the idea of turning the blog into a daily journal, describing my emotions and daily activities, but when I decided to give that idea some thought, I quickly realised that I have no social life or any interesting daily activities, so I quickly threw that idea into the recycle bin, hoping that a better idea can be formed from the rubbish. I hope so.

I started reading again. Of an evening, I started to stare at my books piled high against my wall in an unruly fashion; the seven different towers of literature seemed to be imploring me to love them again, to take notice of their unloved state over the past twelve months, to find solace within the pages of history of a different epoch, or find a story about fictional people in fictional settings. So I tidied up my stacks, brushed the cobwebs off and showed my books some love, as well as add to the collection. I find the literature social networking site ‘Good Reads’ (now owned by Amazon) a good place to hang out and review the books I read as well as get recommendations for new books to buy. I have a few reviews over there as well.

The biggest emotional roller coaster ride and upset, apart from loosing my Mother as a teenager and being ditched by my wife, was finding my natural parents. I may have mentioned this to my readers on this blog, or even on twitter once or twice, but I was adopted when I was two years old. I managed to trace my natural Mother about sixteen years ago now, not an easy process and very time consuming too, but I eventually traced her. It was just incredibly emotionally upsetting, letting loose some very complex feelings and emotions. In many ways, what happened to me after I met her a year later was the equivalent of opening a pandoras box, a box that split me spiritually down the middle, a feeling of being torn asunder in an emotional storm that messed with my mind so much. The feelings of finding your natural mother are just too complex to coherently write about I believe; when I look back to the late 1990’s and what happened all those years ago, then it is with great regret that I ever wanted to find her, the Woman who gave birth to me forty two years ago. What happened subsequently was the equivalent of your life ending up in a hijacked and robbed train wreck, and that is a statement directed at everyone involved who messed with my emotional feelings. Do I suggest search for your natural parents if you are adopted? If you have a degree of stability in your life and if you have several months worth of professional counselling, that your relationship with your adopted parents will not suffer as a result, then by all means, satisfy your curiosity. But be warned of the ups and downs and the danger to your emotional feelings. If you are of a sensitive disposition, then I would truthfully not recommend it.

When I was studying Social History and Sociology in Swansea University, we studied a subject about ‘self fulfilling prophecies’. I fail to really remember what it was about (something to do with class and education and that poorer children just believed they wouldn’t succeed), but basically it dealt with the belief that a prediction will come true because you believe it will. For instance, the fear of failure is actually reinforced and will happen because the person who believes it makes it happen from the very fact of believing it in the first instance. This is one lecture and essay I wrote in Swansea that stuck in my mind all my life, because I believed my life would be a failure, I would never succeed in anything I attempted. My life became a travesty and a failure because I think outside people reinforced this belief, this attitude within me. Its hard to explain at times, maybe because I was incredibly sensitive all my life ( but rather less so since the homeless incident in 2008), but I thought it worth mentioning here.

Next week/month/whenever I will try and work on something here that I have been planning for a while, that is some sort of travel blog, or least a post about where I live, which, even though I do not do so much here, I still love the history behind where I live. We have a greatly preserved Norman-built Castle, an Abbey- its ruins lay in testament to the Reformation and great countryside. Thanks for reading!

*Edit – I just noticed that this is my 42nd post on WordPress, and just turned 42 years old three days ago! Happy coincidence.