Tesco Delivery Man has arrived and I’m still in my dressing gown. What on earth is going on?

White Tesco delivery man standing next to a white woman in her 50s in a dressing gown

Tesco Delivery Man and I’m still in my dressing gown

What a few weeks. Where shall I begin? Insomnia. Two weeks of waking up two hours after I went to sleep, then spending the rest of the night thinking, putting two and two together to make four, four and four together to make exactly eight, a hundred and a hundred, and so it went on. Then it dawned on me. The Great Reset, and I researched more, about the founder/author, Klaus Schwab, who was brought up in Nazi Germany, then I’m thinking about Alice Miller, ‘For Your Own Good: The Roots of Violence in Child-Rearing’. And then I make more sums about Klaus Schwab’s childhood, he is 83 now, the book came out in June, how did he write that so quickly? ‘All the world’s a stage’, what are we really playing in the name of ‘For your own good’? Some think that the sequel to this book is known to all world leaders. It sounds like utopia but how will it happen? However it happens, whatever happens, it’s likely to be in the name of ‘For your own good’.

Our world has been gearing up for this. I became aware in mental health when our Southwark (and everywhere else) holistic therapists were got rid of from primary care. We fought to save our services, to no avail, of course. I didn’t lose my job because I did a CBT course at the Maudsley, and for the rest of my time in the NHS, I pretended, I complied, I made up the stats in order to keep my job, whilst offering my patients my ‘true self’ in the room. I was complicit to use this method, going along with something I resisted so much. It’s not surprising I became ill and had to leave. CBT is useful for a symptom, but it often stops there, mind control, changing your thoughts, why should we change our thoughts? CBT rarely explores, and EXPOSES the cause. Many years ago, I performed at a conference on ‘hearing voices’ at the Wellcome Trust, curated by the wonderful Dolly Sen. “We want our voices heard”, sung the crowds of patients and carers alike. In my CBT course I cried “What about dreams?” the tutor said “Dreams? We don’t do dreams”. Like we can’t sing in a church now, and I can’t swim butterfly in a public pool because my splashing may infect someone with Covid.

Boris Johnson belittled Muslim women not so long ago, we are now all letterboxes. Well, I’m exempt so I’m not a letterbox. I will not have rubbish put into my box. It’s time to stand up for ourselves, but how do we do it? Liverpool did it, they wouldn’t let the police shut down their gym, their fines paid by supporters. They are safe places and promote health and wellbeing. This is madness and is pushing us to our limits, how far will governments, the WHO and whoever else is pulling the strings go? It is far easier to comply and remain hostage, than challenge. Our internet sets us up to divide, algorithums take us to places that fracture our relationships, confuse us, keep us in fear. The vaccine, like Prozac, like CBT never was and never will be the solution.

Our world is reacting to a symptom, wearing the masks, washing the hands, it’s as insane as the sanitizers used, every few hours, or in some cases, every few minutes. It reminds me of working with an OCD hand-washer, red rare hands, a symptom of self-harm from childhood trauma. The world trauma, decades, hundreds of years of abuse, is coming out. The amount of people searching for mental health services is taking its toll. It’s overwhelming. I have never been so inundated with people asking for help. Today I needed to call BT, it didn’t take long before the Scottish technician picked up on my empathy and told me his story. He has been on a waiting list for 3 months to talk with a mental health nurse. His 20 minutes phone consultation is at the end of November, we were on the phone for 40 minutes. My daughter’s school ‘Place to Be’ has a waiting list too long for her to wait. The kids are saying they feel ‘dead’ inside. The older ones are getting drunk and having accidents, or rather ‘onpurposes’ (I studied the psychosomatics of accidents in my Masters degree), turning up in A and E. And I’m getting calls from as far away as Harrow, as us therapists are all so busy. And that’s just talking therapy, with the new lockdowns coming we will be more overloaded as body therapists will no longer be able to work, again, their businesses still not recovered from the first lockdown.

During my insomnia, I have become acutely aware of a higher consciousness, I am an interpreter of the unconscious afterall, it is my duty, it is what I was put on this planet to do, I cannot stop this process. Once you become aware of something, you can’t put it back, it’s out there, but others don’t like it and attack. “Stop watching all this conspiracy theorist stuff”. I will not let the lies seep into my body and become ill, I will not pretend, like I did when I worked in the NHS, obscure statistics so I obeyed the NHS ridiculous (sometimes harmful) protocols, and believe me, they are so ridiculous that the patient, the human, could get lost, and that was over a decade ago.

For the last 6 months, I have felt like the little boy in the Emporer’s new clothes, now I feel like the prince in sleeping beauty, trying to cut through the dark forest to wake up the sleeping kingdom. I have found myself praying and when the new moon came, my insomnia subsided. My homeopath calls me the ‘Unsleeping beauty’. While I am unsleeping, I am continually asking questions, why? why? why? Why did they put covid on my friend’s dad’s death certificate and then change it when she challenged them? Why is it that the press tells us hospital beds are full when some hospitals have as few as 8 covid beds anyway and NHS staff are saying otherwise? Why doesn’t the BBC tell us when the deaths are very low in one day? Why doesn’t anyone remind us that the flu has a vaccinne yet still kills between 45 and 65,000 a year. I could go on and on, but I’m cooking a nice organic chicken in a bit. Ultimately, I haven’t a clue what’s going on, but I’m exploring what’s going on in my mind.

Below is a photo of the print ‘Mad Bonce’ I bought from the amazing artist and editor of DAO, Colin Hambrook, it depicts exactly what has been going on in my head during all these sleepless nights. It was a no brainer to buy from his website, the last time I had so much fun shopping was buying underwear from John Lewis with my husband, just before lockdown. Blue Water was dead, that will be the last time I shall be trying on underwear in a shop. But, Colin’s website is very much alive. We can’t stop being human, our dreams are very real right now, I’d love to tell you mine but there are too many. Oh, sod it, here’s one, I go back to my old family home, my kids are expected to arrive and when I go up to the attic space where I should be staying with my family, there is no roof, I question the parental figure downstairs who I don’t seem to know anymore “How can we stay there, what happens if it rains? Why have you had no roof on this house, for so long?”

My friend has put a bet on that Doris will get on his Santa costume and ‘give’ us Xmas. All I know is that my two friends, one a Selfridges Santa, one a Legoland Santa, have no work this year.

I wrote this poem in 1988, it goes well with Colin’s print, methinks. And below is the original picture I drew for the poem. Call me a nut job, shame or blame me for not wearing a mask, tell me to stop reading conspiracy theories – but it is the nut that sews the seed, the’ nut’ that does the ‘job’. My nut is connected to my gut. My gut says this is NOT for our own good. We need to socialize with our loved ones, be at their sides when dying in hospital beds, care not control and protocol, connectivenesses has never been so important. I am the sanest I have ever been. The strategies and tactics for this great reset are alarming, but that’s for another time, right now I’m thinking of roast chicken and I want a good nights sleep.

Living in a Squat with Uncle Pervious (1988)

An opening head

An exploding brain

Is keeping me sane

Diidle which reads an opening head, and exploding brain, keeping me sane

An opening head, brain sane, not sanitisedIllustrated artwork showing the cross section of a head with people in different rooms inside it

‘Mad Bonce’ by Colin Hambrook

Waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man while recovering from Queueing

Tesco Delivery is great because it doesn’t involve any queueing and the delivery men are personable, friendly, helpful. This week I had to endure queueing to great extent. A visit to the post office (traumatic), and a visit to the bank. At Barclays, I stood with my daughter patientley, meditating. I didn’t have my stick seat with me unfortunately, I forgot. I asked my daughter to wait in the queue so I could go sit in the very empty waiting area of the bank. There is now only one cashier working, anti social distancing and all that, keeping the staff safe, and all of us safe, and all that.

The people in the queue understood exactly what I was doing, we’d been chatting, the man in front of me was an estate agent and had been there 40 minutes already, he wouldn’t get his lunch, the man behind me was a car mechanic who’s branch in Norwood has recently closed. I was wearing my ‘invisible disablity’ lanyard. When I walked into the bank the Barclays masked security woman looked (difficulty to see how she looked in a mask but fear is easy, you can feel it too) fearful. She put her arms out in front of her and shouted “two meters”. I looked about and became stressed as I didn’t think I was standing near her and there wasn’t any markings and I didn’t have a tape measure. I tried to explain what I needed, “the bank closes at 2,” she said. “I know” I said. She couldn’t hear me and the stress (as stress does) went straight into my legs and I couldn’t stand up any longer. She wouldn’t let me sit on a waiting room chair so I sat on the floor, using my yogic skills so I looked like a gliding goddess sitting down to meditate as opposed to the embaressing collapse, of my time before yoga. I continued talking wth her, taking deep breathes, trying to explain my dilemma. She then got a wooden stool from somewhere and placed it outside on the kerb, by my daughter in the queue, but ON the kerb, “I don’t feel safe there,” I said. “It’s too near the road.” She was angry, and at that point I honestly felt that she would have liked me to have been run over by a bus. I put the stool back by the safe walls of the bank and continued to wait.

This is what is keeping us safe. While we’re all keeping each other safe, our banks, post offices, community spaces, gp surgery’s, mental health services (and don’t get me started on that one) are all closing or reducing services. Try to get your ears syringed? I think this service has gone now on the NHS because they don’t want us to hear. Try to get a dental appointment? I think this service has gone now because they don’t want us to talk, you can’t talk if your teeth have dropped out? Try to get a contraceptive cap taken out? (I’m meno but I know someone who’s been quoted £400 privately) they don’t want us to have babies?! My husband has just come back from Rippon where there is no bank, its a small city, the bank van which usually parks outside the city once a week or so has not been seen since lockdown. When I rang Barclays, in the first instance, they told me that the issue I had, had to be dealt by a real life cashier. We cannot exist online only. It’s not possible. Oh for human contact without fear and anxiety.

I didn’t want to rant on this post but I am struggling with this fast changing world, I knew it was coming, I’ve known for years, but CV19 has made this all happen before we’ve had a chance to even think, process, demonstrate, be equipped for, process mentally. I feel like a prisoner sometimes, but not because I can’t go out, because when I go out, I feel like I’m a nuisance because of my questioning or requests for services or help.

But, onwards and upwards, while I breathe I am still very much alive, even though I’ve got gastroenteritis so I can’t enjoy food or beer right now, oh, poooooor meeeeee … apparantly there’s a lot of it about ….

Liz Bentley feeling the grief and extra happy to see the smile from the ever more important Tesco delivery man (or occasionally woman)

White, ginger Tesco Delivery Man standing in a front doorway giving thumbs up as a white blonde woman smiles next to a piano.

I really didn’t know what to write about today. I asked my friend, and before she could answer, I said “Grief’, loss”, that’s it. That really is the only sense I have right now, two deaths that are closer to me this week, one from cancer, one from CV, and the new knowledge of CV deaths at the college I work for. I feel very much in the front line of grief this week.

Another direct personal loss was my MS nurse who has supported me for the last 8 years. I received a phone call from another nurse who needed to ‘tick boxes’ on her new register. I asked where my usual MS nurse was? The new nurse mumbled something about her being ill and not coming back, but then retracted and said she didn’t know her at all. I said I was sad and that I wanted to say goodbye, to thank her for all the support she had given me.

Eight years ago, when I had to give up my beloved job in the NHS, my nurse was there for me, she listened, and supported me in taking the next steps in my life’s journey. I sent an email to the new nurse to pass on my letter of thanks but I doubt she will ever receive my thanks. Has she died? I don’t know and no one can or will tell me. That’s just how it is, my new nurse knows nothing about me, and was distracted by her barking dogs.  She told me that from here on things were changing, consultations would likely be by phone or through the screen.

It reminded me of when I had to leave my NHS job, taking with me years and years of knowledge about patients I had been looking after, IAPT weren’t interested in my findings, my stats, my concerns, and how I’d done a successful job.

We are numbers, only to be seen through a screen or through a mask.  As a psychotherapist, working for decades to get rid of my mask, my ‘false’ self (as Donald Winnicott would say) only to find the universe is requesting I put one back on. And to be a number, I must be jabbed, marked somehow.

Below the photo is a poem I wrote, inspired by the ‘The Wing Assignment’ arts project. As Rachel Pantechnicon poet would say, ‘life is partly nice, partly nasty’. I was admiring the poppies at Peckham Rye then stepped in dog shit.

Photograph of an urban park, with poppies and trees and a block of flats in the distance

Bingo Wings Flapping in the Sun (Everyone has Bingo Wings)

M wings are over 5.5 decades old

In over 5.5 weeks of lockdown

The slow metabolism of carrying weight

As the wait of uncertainty

Begins to create

The worldwide break

Down of life, as my wings knew it

My bingo wings flap

 

What goes up

Must come down

40,50,60,70, lengths of the Pioneer pool

Will not change time

I stretch my arms up and down

And down and up

The wings still hang, wise and weary

 

Writhing in the snake pit below

As the divide strengthens, to conquer

I look up at the sun

Soaking in the vitamin D

That will conquer CV

Eros, equated with the sun

Breathes the spirit of life

The erotic, the creative, and in the psychoanalytical world, it is sometimes said ‘you live your life in the same way you experience sexual intercourse’

 

My bingo wings, flapping in the sun

Over cum ing, Cummings

And his dread of death

 

The voices behind the WHO (not of the Roger Daltrey kind)

Have clipped my wings

The little boy in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ screams

“It is the soil, not the germ”

As we learn

My bingo wings WILL keep flapping in the sun

 

Thoughts on how I would pick myself up now while waiting for the Tesco Deliveryman

Tesco delivery man and Liz

I love Ken Loach, I really, really love him. I’ve seen ‘Sorry We Missed You’ and ‘I Daniel Blake’ and last week I saw him on a chat show talking with a council tenant about the squalid accommodation and homelessness in our country. A man on the ‘phone-in’ to Ken said “20 years ago I had social issues and became homeless, through council housing, help with benefits and working at £5 a week, I eventually got a job £21,000 a year, if I hadn’t had social housing and help I would not have been able to pick myself up.”

After moving to London, then escaping from my heroin addict boyfriend’s flat (where we sub-rented a flat on the 15th floor of one of those blocks in Gunnersbury, near to the Steam museum, the ones used in the comedy ‘People do Nothing’, they stand out when you’re driving out of London and onto the M4), I ended up sleeping on a friend’s living room floor. Going back to my home town in Essex wasn’t an option, I had just started in therapy and was beginning to make sense of my childhood in relation to the ‘wild’ Liz I’d turned out to be. I was at the time desperate to keep my new job as a clinic assistant at a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in the West End, they were funding my counselling training, however wild I was, I was good at listening.

I slept on the floor at my friend’s flat for 9 months, it was very kind of her to let me do this, I was jeopardising her tenancy agreement, but it wasn’t just the floor that was hard. I had MS symptoms and rheumatic pains, I was under the Lupus clinic at St Thomas’s and the Neurology and Rheumatology clinics at Guy’s. Everything was painful and uncomfortable, inside and out. It was my new, very wonderful psychotherapist who had taken me on as a low-cost patient, who helped me write a letter to Southwark housing. Three months later I was offered a one-bedroom flat in Bermondsey, a hard to let flat on a troubled estate, but it was home and from then on, I was able to transfer, and like Ken’s caller, my career took off and I was able to get a mortgage when my first child was born, with a deposit (courtesy of a friend who had died age 53 I’d met through the MS society). Having been able to receive this help at this time in my life, I was on the housing ladder, and truly grateful, I am very fortunate.

Now, now?  Now, sadly, my story would be very different.

Tower Blocks

I wanted to live in a tower block

A buzzer instead of a knock

As a child I envied Mary, Mungo and Midge (1960’s cartoons)

I wondered that if people lived in closer proximity

They may share more intimacy

In London I moved in with my Scots carpenter whose beauty deteriorated as his heroin addiction was built upon

Jokingly, he picked me up one day and dangled me out of the window of the 15thfloor tower block

This was not the intimacy I had been longing for

But my psychotherapist taught me there was more

Extended thoughts about the Joker, while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man

We all have a ‘Joker’ within us, I know mine and it isn’t nearly as severe as the ‘Joker’s’ in the film, but it is plenty enough to gain understanding in my work as a psychotherapist. In Primary Care where I worked for 12 years, one of my old patients came to mind while I was watching the film, I saw him around the time the Maudesly psychiatric 24 hour emergency clinic closed down because of the cuts, of course, I hated that time, I hate that word CUTS. (The more I hear about CUTS in our community the more in my work I see our young people’s scars from their cutting, that is another story).

Liz with Joker card and Tesco Delivery ManIn the film the Joker says to his social worker “You never listen to what I am saying. You always ask me the same questions.” I didn’t ask my patient the same questions, I just did what I do best, I listened to everything he said, intently. It was no surprise he’d had an extraordinarily abusive mother and his father’s presence came in the form of a creased black and white photo his mother had given him before she died. Sometimes my patient came into the surgery with bruises where he’d self-harmed and/or had been in a fight, he’d self-medicate with anything/everything he could get his hands on and he was usually in trouble with the police. Of course he was angry, very, very, angry, underneath his anxiety and depression was that human rage that has to be expressed somewhere somehow. (I know about this, I discovered during my own therapy that my rage can be found in the form of my MS symptoms.)

I began to care deeply for this young man as we built a relationship over some years, he, me and his GP worked together, beginning the process of psychologically ‘re-parenting’ him. He soon became dependant on me, he bought me flowers one session and arrived drunk the next, he would fall asleep or be angry with me for not sorting out his problems fast enough. During those years I set up a small group for men who were feeling suicidal, this patient was then valued for helping another and the group observed that how he treated me and how his mother had treated him was alive in the room at all times, but we all managed it, learning to make sense of it. There was a spark of love in those sessions as I provided a safe empathic container.

In the film, the Joker’s social worker ends their relationship by saying “They don’t care about people like you, or me.” I had to bite my tongue not to say those words to my patients, as the cuts came and my clinical supervision was cut and then my job was cut in favour of a more computer-based ‘thought’ changing – you guessed it, Cock and Ball Torture CBT.

My patient left the surgery soon after I left, he got kicked out. He was rude to reception staff on more than one occasion, apparently, but it wasn’t their fault, they weren’t trained to understand (just like the Joker on the bus when he is trying to communicate with the child and the mother just doesn’t get it). My patient had to leave the surgery, our staff had to be safe, but the measuring of ‘safe guarding’ is appallingly inaccurate (that is another story).

In my clinical supervision, after my final session with my client I said. “I am devastated. I believe there are only two ways this will end, he will kill himself or someone else. I was working on this and now I can’t, and now there is nowhere for him to go. There’ll be a photo of him up on the board with a BEWARE sign over him.”

As the Red Rebels of Extinction Rebellion rebel against climate change, they look the police in the eye and sometimes make them cry because they know, that they know, that I know, that we know. THEY don’t care.

As student services are cut in colleges and mental health services cut and cut (and don’t be fooled about all this money the government are saying that’s being pumped in, it’s not real therapy, it’s questions, the same questions, and computer-based everything) Joker’s are rife and will riot. Kindness prevails over all, the Red Rebels gestures have got it right. If everyone had been kind to the Joker there’d be no story, no Batman. Watch out world, we are living in the age of what I call ‘The Return of the Repressed’. Stay safe on Halloween.

Here is a song I have written for 31st October about Brexit, it’s called ‘INS’, which is short for Inverted Nipple Syndrome (a taboo common condition that can affect all human beings).

I N V E R T E D N I P P L E S
I N V E R T E D N I P P L E S
Will it stay in? Will it come out?
Will it be hard? Will it be soft?
If it stays in, if it stays out
It could be C A N C E R O U S

Why waiting is an issue for Liz Bentley while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man, (or occasionally woman)

A ration book

It is normal to have presents on Christmas morning but my parents made us wait until 3pm. We had to eat dinner (which I began throwing up age 16), wash up, walk the dog and then we’d sit down in the cold front room and Dad would put the Christmas lights on the tree, each year one less bulb worked. Presents were passed around our small family, one at a time, with breaks to ponder over each gift. I should feel grateful that I got presents at all, but watching my friends playing in the street, showing off their new toys and bikes was excruciating.

My mother was quick to get rid of the boxes of our Easter eggs. She’d break them up into small pieces and store them in a glass jar high up somewhere in the kitchen. Each weekend she tore off a smaller piece and gave it to my sister and I to share. Our Easter eggs lasted until Whitsun. I should feel grateful that I got eggs at all, but watching my friends in the street scoffing their chocolate on Easter Sunday was excruciating.

How has this affected me? Here is one of the more positive examples:

My husband bought me some rather lovely spa shower gel and body lotion for Christmas. I placed the gift, still in its box, on my dressing table and admired it, lovingly. A few weeks later, when my husband was wondering whether I even liked his gift, I took the items out of the box and pondered on how and when to use them. I decided they would be treats for when I showered after swimming.

White woman standing with black tesco delivery man

By February the items were in my swim bag. Now the products are coming to their end and are back on my dressing table. I intend for them to be there until next Christmas (possibly to avoid feelings of loss) when I will hope to receive a new gift.

Delayed gratification
Of my parents wartime generation
Passed down to me
So I can see
Bars and bars of 85% Green and Blacks chocolate in my fridge
And eat just one square a night
I’m not tight
I buy bars and bars from Tesco when on offer
This chocolate is very expensive but I’ve included it as a treat in my MS recovery diet

(Do not try this at home unless all eating disorder-related symptoms have been analysed away)

#Brexit and an #InnerChild #GreatBritishBakeOff

My parents had been arguing constantly, I was an observer of daily passive aggression. One day while we were watching ‘The Great British Bake Off’ they asked me and my older twin brothers whether we thought they should separate. I said “no way” and imagined our family as the ingredients of a big cake, wondering how my parents (the eggs) would extract themselves from the mix, whilst still delivering something remotely palatable. My brothers however had been fighting and were distracted with twin competitiveness, they said “Yes, divorce, we’re sick of you.”
During the 2 year divorce proceedings my parents went to mediation and various solicitors. They began to realise the effect it would have on us – we wouldn’t get to see dad , we may have to move, and we would all be financially worse off.
During those two years we were stressed, anxious and my dad lost his job. I was diagnosed with ADHD, my brother got sick and my other brother started smoking skunk.
Then my parents began holding hands again and said :
“We’ve decided we don’t want to divorce after all,” they looked at each other and said “the grass was greener..” They laughed and kissed.
One of my brothers had gone to uni so was absent to react , the other said “ You’re disgusting, you made a promise, and now you’ve broken it” and I said
“You are irresponsible. You gave us a choice that you hadn’t thought about. Bad parenting you fuckers , I wish I could disown you.”

Tesco delivery man in the heat and preparing my blog for World #MultipleSclerosisDay

It’s World #MultipleSclerosis Day on Wednesday 30th May, coincidently, the next Boyfriend (No. 43)  of my book/blog  fromessextolondonin101boyfriends  is set in 1987 when I was diagnosed with MS, that’s nearly 31 years ago.  My diagnosis is referenced in my blog re boyfriend No. 43, so only befitting to publish it on Wednesday to celebrate, rather than today, when I would normally post the next boyfriend.  Sorry to keep you waiting ….

To catch up with boyfriends No.1 to No. 42 thus far scroll down on fromessextolondonin101boyfriends.com

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#Tesco delivery man, meal deal’s and customer services

One is penalised if one buys the meal deal online and not all of the items are available. A jobs worth at customer services will tick you off as you didn’t go through the whole caboodle with the delivery man and send back the other 3 items (i.e. the incomplete meal deal stuff). This is discriminatory as if one were able to go in a Tesco it would be clear the items were unavailable therefore one wouldn’t be in the situation in the first place unless for example they were inebriated whilst shopping.  In my experience sometimes one will encounter a non jobsworth customer services person  who will apologize and refund immediately.  How different one’s experience of incomplete meal deals can be. This is  a poem I wrote when I went shopping once.

The Meal Deal

Can I have the cloudy apple juice?
Is that in it?
Can I have the rhubarb smoothie?
Is that in it?
Oh well, I’ll have the orange juice

Can I have the root vegetable crisps with beetroot in?
Are they in it?
Can I have the sweet chilli crisps?
Are they in it?
Ah, nevermind, I’ll have the cheese and onion

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