The Stark Reality


Sweet dreams are made of these… who am I to disagree… travel the world and the seven seas, everybody’s looking for something…”

Earlier today I was in the car with my staff worker, driving back from a meeting with my psychiatrist. Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics was playing on Magic FM.

“Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you… some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abuuused…”

Like the vast majority of the staff in the rehab unit where I live, “Joe” is African. I asked him his thoughts on the Oscars which had been held the day before. On YouTube I saw a streaming service for the Academy Awards which would be streamed in three hours. I took my medication, smoked one final cigarette and made sure I was fast asleep before the thing started.

“I saw it on YouTube,” he said, carefully overtaking a car and moving into the other lane. “There’s a lot of people who think it was staged.”

I have been in the NHS Mental Health system since I was 19. Now a few weeks away from my 39th birthday, after years as the Grim Reaper of Hollywood, with my patience and ability to operate as a film and literature critic I have become (to my amusement) rather a respectable chap.

Khair, I thought to myself, thinking of my late girlfriend, even scoundrels and whores become respectable if they survive long enough…

My editor had emailed the morning of the Oscars, asking if I’d mind writing a piece for I Have A Name on homelessness in Post-Covid London. Sure, I wrote back, and then, a few hours later, I wrote: I’ve made a structured plan, but because of just how intrinsically important I feel the topic to be, I’d like to sleep on it.

No worries, he wrote.

My plan was to sleep through the Oscars to discredit it in some spiritual way, and to continue processing the Homelessness story, as is my habit. Today I knew that I had a psychiatrist meeting, which would support the thesis so long as I remained calm and objective. We talked about my journalism. I had told my parents and Joe that I was writing a story about the Rehab Unit where I live.

“All three of them panicked,” I smiled. “It’s this bizarre thing that’s been going on for so long now, the idea that I have some kind of evil agenda that I’m hiding from everybody. For example, some years back I wrote a review of Michael Herr’s Vietnam memoir Dispatches, a memoir which inspired both Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. It had been a personal, autobiographical take, comparing the Secure Unit in 2012 where I first read it to my own personal Vietnam. These parts were messily removed from the text, making it almost unreadable. But safer, I suppose. Over these past years, especially after Khair’s death, I’ve become disinterested in making my own films. And that’s where Hollywood has found itself, out in the wind, realising that when you keep secrets they invariably come back to haunt you.”

It’s my opinion that crack and heroin are the number one cause of both crime in the UK, and homelessness. I am a former addict, who has been clean from crack and heroin for five years now. If I’m not bipolar, I can concede that nobody else is. I’m very clearly bipolar, and to the undiagnosed, rich, cocaine-addicted manic depressives in the entertainment industry, most of you would benefit from hospitalisation and medication, either forced or voluntary.

My life nowadays is extremely controlled. One of the best options for treating Bipolar disorder is routine and discipline, exercise, healthy eating and a careful medication plan. In about an hour I’ll go downstairs and take my meds, Clozapine and the anti-tremor side effect tablet Sodium Valproate.

I suggest that if you find a medication plan that helps you, stick to it. As for the homeless problem, there is now an excellent Criminal Justice and Welfare System in London which often sees damaged and desperate people needing to make serious choices. The treatment is there if you’ll accept it.

I suppose you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.