Bristol seemed like a big-time thing, when I lived in Exeter. It boasted of whole extensive shopping centre – even with with a Hollister! You have to understand that this is the ultimate dream, as an Abercrombie/Jack Wills drenched youth. Admittedly I was a little older when we did end up moving, and the whole Hollister novelty had slightly worn off (considering the sexual assault claims, I guess those topless models weren’t so good after all). Nonetheless, Bristol seemed a whole deal more exciting than Exeter (until I moved to London 6 months later, where there is an abundance of Hollister/Abercrombie stories, albeit very tired and you-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead). Particularly for food – voted the vegan capital of the world last year!

Not to be side-tracked by my questionable fashion choices as a teenager (a Jack Wills onesie still lurks at the bottom of my wardrobe), I’m more here to talk about the food options. No, still not a vegan, but when pressed to decide on tasting menus at Bulrush, in Bristol, I opted for the vegan one. It’s rare that a Michelin starred restaurant offers a complete vegan alternative – and by that I mean actual, thought out dishes, as opposed to the meat option minus the meat. I’m not massive on nouveau cuisine. Sort of in the same sphere as my attitude to alcohol, I was always told that my tastebuds would mature, and that I’d start to appreciate wines and spirits (which still really hasn’t happened but doesn’t stop me shotting them straight), I was told that I would come to appreciate a fine foie gras, or gazpacho (the devil of cold soups), or pate. None of this has unfortunately taken place, and whilst vegetarian, I’m still happier with a bowl of pasta than tiny dishes of mousses and extractions and foam (imagine this all said in the deep and soulful Masterchef voice over).

white asparagus and fried nori and whatever the meat eater was having…

Still, not one to turn down a treat, I was more than happy to try all of Bulrush’s 9 courses as part of their vegan taster. As mentioned before, the menu is tailored accordingly to vegans, and not just the steak without the steak. Situated in Cotham, Bulrush prides itself on organically sourced ingredients, and high-end, well thought out and beautifully executed dishes. I remembered to snap a picture of the menu, because my memory isn’t that good. As you can see, the dreaded gazpacho was indeed present (although cleverly disguised under the name tomato consommé) but it actually wasn’t half bad. My favourite course was admittedly the bread, served with vegan cream cheese which lo and behold actually tasted like cream cheese. The only let down was personally the ‘scarlet elf cap in fermented cep broth’, but as those close to me know, I really do hate mushrooms so mushrooms floating in mushroom water was a bit overwhelming, and my distaste lies with my own mushroom-related fears rather than the dish itself. 

After 1 ‘snack’, 6 savoury courses, 2 desserts and a truffle, you are pretty full – don’t be deceived by the small portion sizes. With the wine pairing, offering 5 glasses in between courses and of course dessert wines to match, you might even lose sight of what exactly you’re eating. Not to fear, for Bulrush exceeds not only in food but also service. Aside from the menu, each dish is clearly explained upon presentation, as is the wine. All waitstaff were incredibly attentive, and you’re given the choice to eat at your decided pace, either eating and relaxing at a languid pace between courses, or having the food as quick at it comes (permanently hungry, I opted for B). The atmosphere remained relaxed, and a polite eye was turned to my mother lecturing me about my career prospects (getting paid to blog remains an unlikely dream…)

21 Cotham Road South



Lunch: Thursday – Saturday 12.30pm – 2.30pm

Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Closed Sundays & Mondays.


I am definitely not made for running. I famously tried once to run (slowly) for three days in a row – having not really run at all prior – aged 15, and ended up in bed all day, projectile vomiting on the fourth. My body finds running disagreeable.

A podiatrist who treated my feet several years ago and prescribed me incredibly expensive insoles (one of which I also famously managed to lose on a night out last term. How one manages to lose a shoe and insert at 3am on Oxford Street remains a mystery. Bins were scavenged and checked the following morning, to no avail). My arches were declared a lost cause, and my pronation a source of distress. I was told I would be able to walk a more pain free if I always remembered to wear my insoles and promised to buy supportive footwear (I unfortunately have not touched a supportive sandal since), and abstained from heels (something I have also failed to do). Running was off the cards unless I bought a second and equally expensive pair of insoles in a different shape, with vague threats about my Achilles coming away from my foot.

Fast forward to the second year of uni and I became a little bored of in-gym cardio. It’s pleasant sometimes. I can go on my phone, and don’t break a sweat. There’s air-con, and no chance of running into pedestrians. I already spend enough time as it is in the gym though, and decided I wanted to see a little more of London – and what better way to do it than at a pace.

Okay, admittedly a slow pace. I ran like a snail to Hampstead Heath in September. It took me 20 mins and I was very out of breath afterwards. I caught the tube home. Those of you that have followed or dabbled in couch to 5km will know that it isn’t easy, starting to run. Most people don’t keep up the commitment either, but I’ve come to enjoy it as a designated period for thinking things over, blasting Spotify, getting out into some greenery in the midst of London, and seeing about 20 dogs a morning. Unfortunately I’m such a massive creature of habit that I have now run the exact same route consistently for 8 months, but I’m still pretty happy.

tan enough to hide how red I am

Running a half-marathon was initially my friends’ idea. I’m pretty passionate about mental health awareness and would like to raise both funds and awareness. It seemed like a pretty obvious way to combine the two. I didn’t really train as such, just continued to run for an hour, 2-3 x a week around Hampstead and back. I did the equivalent distance of 26km once the weekend prior and found it pretty gruelling – and that even with a coffee break in the middle.

The actual half marathon was a lot easier than my practice. I mainly have my running partner (and best friend) to thank for that. We sort of silently yet unanimously decided not to stop, and made it round in 2hrs. We started right at the back-of-the-back, and I cannot stress to you the level of people-dodging that went on for the first half hour as we were packed like sardines – something that I hadn’t premeditated. Other than that, the sheer number of people, both supporting charities, and families ready to support any and everyone, are the main reason it’s so much easier. People are caterwauling and throwing haribo at you and bashing drums and waving signs and egging you on in every way they can, so not stopping becomes easy.

Other than 3 black toes and a severely sprained midfoot, my feet also held up sort of okay.


Some people have weird habits.

Some talk to themselves (we’ll easily overlook that as the first stage of insanity and view it as more of a cute quirk for now).

Some bite their nails (also me). Some also sleep walk, sleeptalk. I’m not an avid sleep walker, don’t get me wrong. It happens only once every few months, so it’s still a bit of a novelty. 

haven’t surprisingly been caught on camera sleepwalking, so you can have some footage of me in bed instead

One of the girls with whom I shared a room in boarding school bought this niche new app that slyly recorded us all as we slept. Surprisingly, no midnight conversations from me, but I was constantly privy to the light snoring and even more absurd sleep-mutterings of five girls. Maybe my sleepwalking knows when it’s being recorded and decides only to rear its head surreptitiously.

My sleepwalking certainly isn’t a new development. Despite highly protesting a 7pm bedtime and futile attempts to escape, I was also occasionally found dreaming whilst out and about the house as a child. Always on a manageable and slightly entertaining level; I’ve certainly never found myself outside, striding down the street at 4am in my pyjamas, or trying to drive (thankfully, I’m bad enough at driving awake).

only relevant because of the pjs

Sleepwalking appears to be a long-lasting condition (I would use the term chronic but that makes it sound like an insufferable disease, whereas my experience so far has been amusing and hardly detrimental). I did go through a period in halls, in which I woke up once outside my flatmates room, clawing on the door in the middle of the night like something fresh out of The Shining. You probably already know that I touted earplugs for a good night’s sleep in a previous blog post. I’ve also woken up in the middle of the night and found myself stuffing said earplugs into my mouth in a more bizarre episode of sleep walking (thankfully I woke up before anything was swallowed).

As amusing as sleepwalking is, it begs the question of what exactly the cause is, and why only a select few experience the joys of waking up wholly disorientated, midst cooking a haute cuisine meal, or trying to shave the cat (don’t panic – I haven’t made it as far as either of these – yet).

one of us is asleep

Somnambulism is the proper term. Sleepwalkers tend to be out and about in the deep stages of NREM sleep. 1-15% of the population is said to experience these onsets, and it is much more prevalent in children than in adults. The exact cause remains uncertain, but some scientists speculate that it is a repercussion of the brain trying to go from the deepest stage of sleep, directly to wakefulness, without reversing through the stages of the sleep cycle. Alcohol and antidepressants exacerbate nocturnal wanderings,

Sleepwalking horror stories are abundant. It’s pretty easy to bring to the stand as a form of defence for larger scale crimes – for who could surely prove whether or not you were conscious, or comatose, disregarding the blood on your hands.

One thing is for sure – the impression that waking a sleepwalker is dangerous is a common myth. It’s always better to wake your dozing friend if you find them ambling about the hall at night.


we look almost put together, considering the cirumstances

I think it was almost a year to this date that I last dragged myself out, horribly hungover, for afternoon tea at the Sanderson, and remembered to blog about it. This highbrow venture was swiftly followed by an unplanned trip into Camden and a tattoo to balance out the dignity and decorum, so overall an interesting Sunday.

The concept of afternoon tea remains slightly perplexing to me, and I complained that going at 11.30 am to the Ritz, a year later, was terribly early for tea and cake – especially after going out the night before – but still managed to drown my hungover sorrows in sugar, cake and scones.

You get what you pay for in terms of food and service; every waiter is incredibly attentive and proper. You get your tea poured for you. A glass of champagne was offered – towards which I balked, deeming alcohol to be the last thing my hangover needed – and the respective jokes about hair of the dog were courteously exchanged.

I’m not really at the level of blogging where one whips out a professional camera and teeters on a seat to get good angles of food. It’s more a case of stealing furtive, blurry shots of dishes, and swiftly forgetting what I’ve eaten before I get to post about it. Nonetheless, afternoon tea includes an array of sandwiches, three cake type petit fours, scones, and additional cake if that isn’t a wide enough assortment of cake to tickle your fancy. The menu boasts of a whole 18 different types of loose-leaf tea, and they apparently employ a Tea Sommelier (from what I understand, the equivalent of a wine connoisseur, but for tea), who travels the world just to bring the finest of teas to your doorstep. The Ritz is also one of the only traditional afternoon tea hosts to offer a complete vegan menu (on this occasion, I decided not to force vegan cream upon myself), but I’ve read that it is just as good.

I have a pretty simple palate, even when it comes to desserts (I’ll happily opt for chocolate chip cookies over any nouveau cuisine pudding any day of the week), but was pleasantly surprised by the sweets on offer. I may also have been hungover enough to blissfully fill my mouth with anything sweet.

not wholly sure what this was but some sort of rhubarb/white chocolate mousse biscuit

A universal tip for afternoon tea at the Ritz (or really anywhere) is telling them that one of you is celebrating a birthday. One of my friend’s sort of was (albeit a month late). Any mention of a birthday and you get a free cake, lit candle, and a brief rendezvous of happy birthday on the piano. Not quite as embarrassing as an entire restaurant yodelling happy birthday, and who in their right mind would turn down free cake.

Staging a proposal is potentially also worth a shot – you never know, you might even get a bigger cake. 

the ritz

150 piccadilly




I’m going to have to backtrack a little. I got a fair few replies to a picture of Bose’s new Sleepbuds asking my opinion, but I shot them down immensely. However, after sleeping with them in for a good two weeks now I’m converted.

(At least I thinkI’m converted; I did wake up the other night, sleepwalking, and turning them off in the process. I tend only to sleepwalk when really stressed, so either deadlines are really getting to me, or my subconscious doesn’t like the sleepbuds quite as much as I think).

I have pretty bad chronic insomnia. That’s not to say that I never sleep; when managed correctly, it doesn’t get in the way of everyday life. That being said, taking one hour to fall asleep is a treat. Two hours is often average, and in cases of extreme underlying stress I don’t sleep at all. I often get asked what I do in the bleak 8hr period that I’m lying awake in bed, and honestly my thoughts can keep me very busy! I’ve been taught the sleep deprivation methods of getting out of bed after 20mins, if you haven’t fallen asleep, and gradually retraining yourself to see fall asleep within a shorter period, but in all honesty, I’m often too lazy to leap out of bed every 20mins.

I’ve been wearing earplugs to sleep since I started backpacking, as sharing a dorm with 40 strangers is enough of an experience without being woken up by a cacophony of snoring, late night snackers, and those brazen enough to dabble in other late night activities even in a room full of other nomads. Earplugs were all good and well until I went semi-deaf after Shambala, and lost 90% of my hearing in one ear for a month. I was lucky enough not to damage my ear drum permanently, but the combination of the vacuum created by earplugs, and napping in a cold, damp tent did end me up in hospital. I’m now – understandably – a little wary of over-the-counter earplugs.

at shambala, looking a little too blissfully happy considering I spent the next 12 hrs crying in a+e

I was really excited to discover the Bose Sleepbuds – there aren’t many similar products on the market. It is easy to see why. Priced at £229.95, they’re not exactly cheap. The design is pretty flawless, with a 16hr battery life, and sleek, portable charging case. They also fit comfortably in the ear, cause no pain or irritation, and never fall out overnight. They don’t however play music (nor should they perhaps, for then they wouldn’t be sleepbuds), but at the price, it would almost be better to buy a high-end but otherwise normal pair of earbuds and play static noise all night.

Noise cancellation isn’t what you’re paying for here. Instead, you get a choice of 10 different calming, ambience tracks. I personally find the crackling campfire, and moving tides too distracting to sleep, but the ‘warm static’ and ‘altitude’ settings mimic the quiet hum you hear on planes. This then blocks out most surrounding noise (I live in the middle of London and have sirens going past every hour), and the comforting sounds of my flatmates falling into the flat, slightly drunk and armed with take out, at all hours of the night.

All in all, I have no faults with the design; the earbuds are sleek and efficient. They are incredibly expensive, considering they play only the 10 select tracks, but this is after all their intention.

Not just useful for sleeping, I’m also wholly excited to be able to wear them to the library and remain blissfully unaware of quite how much racket I manage to make by eating popcorn in the study spaces.


I used to love going to the circus when I was younger. Not so pro using animals nowadays but this also isn’t anti-circus propaganda. I think I’ve just watched too much American Horror Story… I would ultimately love to do a piece for every act & animal but kept to a select four for now!

  1. tigers

The tigers are tired. They lope around the arena, with sore toes and a resilient bout of mange thinning their furling tails. The circus used to employ a vet, you see, but that part of the budget was first to go. They’re sturdy animals, the director insisted. In reality, they were hardly sturdy, having been flown in from all over the world. An Ostrich in York, shivering against the Autumn breeze. Three elephants in Hertfordshire, braced together against the first snowfall. The streak of tigers , who managed to catch a particularly nasty bout of cat flu from some Somerset moggies, four of which consequently now adorn the Enchantress’ cabin, as a ragged bunch of pelts. Even if the animals can’t take the climate, the director stokes them on, jabbing his fists and flogging any mammal who dare refuse his command. (Three quarters of the once stocked menagerie have now either been immortalised in the form of taxidermy, or lie below ground). The Strongman is by far a cheaper method of dealing with the sickly, and those who don’t do as they are told . Not just physically robust, he’s also the only one not to flinch when they drag out the diseased and ailing and give them a swift bullet through the head. No, but the tigers are tired. They want to lie down, to stretch, and feel the unforgiving sun beating down on their stripes. They know the taste of the whip, if they do falter, pause, even refuse to hurl their weight through one of the flaming hoops. An almost balanced choice of pain, between lurching into the hot flames and the bite of the whip. Not that they weigh much, in this day and age. The tiger who came to tea should be fed on succulent meats; fat steaks and fresh blood. A can of putrid sardines has become the likely dinner. A sorry streak of tigers, absent is the dynamism which once propelled them through the flames. Now, they hesitate and waver. They choose between the lash of the whip, and the lick of the flames, and gamble as to the lesser pain.

(A group of tigers is indeed called a streak of tigers. Gaggle of geese. Streak of tigers. Who knew.)

2. circus master

All eyes on the circus master. He takes centre stage, spotlights amplifying his position. He needs the amplification, really. He’s a small man. Barely reaches five-foot-five, even in the scuffed tap shoes, which bless him with that very necessary extra half inch. Boy does he need it. He used to tower over his performers; maybe not in height, but certainly in stature. Holding that gleaming club in one hand, he had the tigers and the trapeze artists eating out of his palms – quite literally, in the case of the latter. Less so now. Murmurs of dissent run amongst the performers, meows of disapproval from the big-cats. Someone must be responsible for the leaking caravans, for the threadbare costumes, empty seats. Someone must be held responsible for the deserted ticket booths, the empty wage envelopes. They’re starting to starve, the performers. They jostle and leer at the circus master – he still has the largest caravan on site, after all. Needs a lick of paint and new upholstery, but otherwise it’s the most in shape of all the make-do scrap in which the others find shelter. They’re starving, you see. They make joke about eating up the little circus master, a cannibalistic outlet of the rage they feel in their hungry bellies. Well, jokes – they say – but someone has already anonymously carved up one of the emus, roasted it on a spit and left the plumage round the back.

3. animal keeper/costumier

But oh, now, for the animal keeper. Or the costume maker? Oh but of course, the funding to have two such roles ran out almost a decade prior, so the two very different jobs have now been amalgamated into one. A stout little man, he himself flounces around in an old purple brocade that hasn’t been washed since the seventies. He hardly has time to feed the penguins, and make sure the final, left over elephant has something more substantial to eat than hedge trimmings. He’s told his second in command – his chef de partie– of the animal world time and time again that no, the elephant most certainly isn’t going to be eating roasted road kill. In any case, the last sorry carcass he picked up looked awfully like a rat, and aren’t elephants terrified of mice? The last thing he needs is for the sorry looking great hunk of a beast to be throwing any temper tantrums. The circus once had a flurry of pretty pretty girls, who flung themselves up on to the back of the great, lumbering elephant. They sold tickets, with their tight curls and cherry-red lacquered lips. And their costumes, oh to think of the costumeshe once made. Tutus studded with tiny jewels, and tight corsets made of the finest goose down. What he would do to be back amongst his old fabrics, tracing dainty fingers through velvets and silks. His fingers are calloused now. A residual layer of dirt seems to stick below his nails, no matter how hard he scrubs. There’s no money for costumes, and no performers to dress. It’s a good thing he and the elephant get on so well, as he spends far more time caring for the great brute than designing clothes for non-existent acrobats.

4. tarot reader

A smattering of hairballs, as she has a sorry tendency to pull out her own during states of crystal-ball-reading induced psychosis, tired and stained corsets strewn across the floor. Remnants of meals shared with the ill-tempered street cat are growing mould on most available countertops. She’s lived in the same caravan for the past 17 years. It’s not a case of attachment; circus wages hardly afford bespoke wheels and embroidery. If she had it her way, she’d have her customers enter into one of those fancy hand painted affairs, with her name in loping cursive on treated wood. Instead, she must entertain them on the front ‘porch’ (as much as one can be said to have a porch without house). One of the younger construction boys – not much to look at, even given her tendency to let her eyes wander onto the strapping young lads who hoist and heave with the tent poles, and master even the wildest of horses – had a tarpaulin sheet pinned down from the caravan, covering the two seats and table from at least the worst of the elements. It isn’t however wholly waterproof, the odd drip just adds to the ominous atmosphere she tries to create when reading of tall dark strangers and twists in the road ahead. Admittedly, she shouldn’t have let her stained and wrinkled fingers grope their way under the table upon which the crystal rests (the boys almost didn’t notice, too entranced with the orb, and the promises of pretty wives and a poker’s fortune). She might have gained herself a little reputation, here and there. She pretends she can’t hear their catcalls when she goes to dinner. Slinks into the communal tent. Grabs her soup and stale crust, and hunches over one of the empty benches in the corner. She only had her tarots read once; for all a lifetime of pawing out cards and glossing over the future, she doesn’t believe much in knowing what lies ahead before you should. Or, having been told her days would be filled with disappointment, she knows that the cards can cut a little too close to home. 


Good evening! I’m always amazed at how much time seems to fly between blog posts – I‘ve managed to go since August without writing anything which is dreadful but in my defence, I have spent most of this university calendar year with my nose in one book or another, and finding time for extracurricular writing is a challenge, alongside 3+ novels per week for a single module.

Weekend getaways are however seemingly not a challenge, as I spent the last few days in Berlin thanks to post new-year spontaneity and the delights of Ryanair last minute flights. I’m going to warn you now that the 6am Sunday flight back was a big mistake, particularly as Berlin Schoenfeld is severely lacking in adequate 4am drunk snacks and places to sleep.

brandenburg gate

I try to remember to snap pictures of restaurants, landmarks or (much to the displeasure of anyone who accompanies me to dinner) food, to get back into the swing of reviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t do quite so well on taking pictures of landmarks, mainly thanks to the sub-zero weather conditions and numb fingers.

checkpoint Charlie, with ‘checkpoint curry’ avaiable at the nearest takeout

With flights at £50 return, only a few weeks in advance, and an Airbnb around £50 a night for a decent apartment, or slightly more upmarket flatshare, Berlin is certainly one of the more affordable European destinations. Whether it’ll be accessible or not in the future is debatable – the first question I was faced with by any and every German was my thoughts on Brexit (pitifully little, I’m not the one to be asked when it comes to politics). We crammed a lot into 2 days, whereas 3 would probably be a better choice to experience more of what the city has to offer.

Tourist attractions such as the Brandenburg gate, Berlin Victory Column, Reichstag Parliamentary Building, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial architecture are all within walking distance – albeit more 30 mins. The latter is certainly impassive and eerie, interpretations widely debated but generally suggesting the grey, sobering abstract cubes to suggest the unease of a mass graveyard, and a sense of entrapment.

holocaust memorial

Food wise, the aptly named A Never Ending Love Story offered a basic but appetising brunch of pancakes and avocado toast, boasting neon lights and bubble-gum coloured walls as expected to draw in brunching millennials. Food is overwhelmingly cheaper than in London (surprise surprise), and dinner at Saigon Green boasted cheaper meals and a more vegetarian friendly menu than I found in Vietnam itself. Berlin is increasingly heralded as the most vegan-friendly city in Europe, so meat free options can be found on every corner. Even the infamous post night-out doner kebab shop offers numerous vegan options. On the topic of nightlife – I have absolutely no idea where we ended up out, but it was duly underground somewhere, in some abandoned warehouse building. Entering the elusive Berghain was not attempted on this occasion.

avocado toast, but abroad

After spending a continuous year living out of my backpack and traipsing between hostel dorms, I still haven’t returned to the joys of sharing a room with 40 strangers, so have been using more of Airbnb as of late. We stayed in Humboldthain – a little north of the direct centre. Public transport makes all of the suburbs very accessible, and is easily navigated, although unfortunately not contactless. 

My German is a little rusty round the edges at the moment. I can still understand everything, but sometimes I’ll go to speak and it feels as though someone has packed my mouth full of cotton wool, or my voice being 5 seconds behind my brain. Luckily, the German education system means that students excel at foreign languages, and pretty much everyone can speak English better than our basic equivalent of GCSE French or Spanish. So you can bring your pocket guide and put your best Guten Tag and danke and zwanzig Euro on show, but you’ll often find yourself met with a slightly amused English reply.


I received an email a little while back, stating that my DNA was being shipped to Milton Keynes. I had largely forgotten that, a good 5 years ago now, I participated (donated? I’m not entirely sure what the correct term is) in a wider project named Charlotte’s Helix. Charlotte Bevan sought to collect samples from over eating disorder 25,000 sufferers in a bid to begin prioritising the need to research one branch of mental illness which is demonstrating itself to be evermore genetic. Charlotte passed away in 2014, and the project has slowly continued in her absence.
I think my DNA is now in Milton Keynes (sort of exciting). From what I gather, the NHS National Institute for Health Research has asked BioResource centres to transfer DNA collections to a different location, and connect different pools of data for a wider field of research. It sounds like things are (hopefully) progressing.

Once I’d investigated the email enough to decide it wasn’t spam, having really forgotten my 2013 trip to the King’s College Maudsley NHS trust, I’ve been pressed to write a little more about my own experience with the NHS. It’s a love hate relationship, as you will come to discover. I gave my DNA in to Charlotte’s Helix, hoping that one day, we will have the knowledge to combat mental illness from a point of prevention and preparation. Following the same line, although dissociating from genetics, I also really hope that one day, the NHS might be better set up as to red flag people who require treatment, and provide an improved service, as to increase the chances of recovery, in cost effective methods which have already been researched by BEAT, and will be provided below.

Under NHS England waiting times targets for eating disorders, under-18s who are classed as an emergency should receive treatment within 24 hours, urgent cases should be seen inside a week and non-urgent cases within four weeks. I’m not entirely sure what the exact categorisation for ‘urgent’ is, but I’m guessing that it is developed established according to a critically low bmi, and life threatening vitals. These targets are largely not being met. Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister for mental health, has continued to voice disapproval surrounding the lack of direct funding to mental health sectors, drawing attention to the 2016 BEAT report mentioned below. BEAT is honestly a blessing in the campaign for awareness, recognition and funding towards all forms of eating disorder.

Now I’m definitely approaching this more from the eating disorder point of view, over anything depression/OCD related (else this blog post would end up well over 10,000 words, and I’ve already been told you get bored if over 800, and/or in the absence of pics…)
I was lucky to get into treatment for these other issues mainly on account of how low my weight was, and went on to receive private treatment thereafter.
A little researching shows that referrals for depression are commendably improving; 88% of people are waiting less than 18 weeks for a referral to talking therapy, with the 2016/2017 performance statistics showing a reduction in waiting times and improvement in recovery rates.

I think however that I will lead you to BEAT’s somewhat sobering statistics, tied in with my own experience.

BEAT; Delaying for years, denied for months research

  • People wait on average 3 ½ years between falling ill and starting treatment
  • Only 14% of people are referred within four weeks of their first GP visit. Even if you, or a carer, implores the GP for a referral on to a specialised centre of care, it isn’t happening unless your weight is low enough, so for many sufferers, it’s a case of starving a little bit longer before you can be seen.
  • Gender is particularly appalling. Males wait on average 28 weeks on average for a referral, vs 10 weeks for girls.
  • 27% of sufferers did not begin receiving treatment for over 3 years post initial referral
  • It isn’t even smooth sailing once you get a referral. The time between initial GP appointment and referral is usually another 12-18weeks.
  • As if these delayed statistics were not bad enough, every stage and delay is doubled for those over the age of 19, no longer under CAMHS’ wing.

Before I continue, I just want to say that I really don’t hate the NHS. I’ve just had some really interesting and variable experiences. I was told that I wasn’t sick, nor that thin, a few times before getting my own referral (if I get as far in my lifetime as raising a little bit of awareness in how to engage with and respond to even symptoms of disordered eating, particularly in commenting on the weight of someone exhibiting sign of a hugely competitive illness, I will be incredibly happy).

I’ve endured quite a lot of torturous and disorganised CAMHS therapy, and been passed between about 12 employees in total. Outside of mental health issues, I’ve had some really bad and outdated advice over the contraceptive pill, and a poor, googled false diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. All this aside, 6 years of treatment for depression, anxiety, and eating disordered related treatments – according to calculations provided below – puts me at a debt of over £500,000.
Were I not quite so lucky, in America for example, my access to treatment would have been all the more limited. American statistics place a 30 day stint inpatient at around $30,000, with many inpatient clinics running for 90 days – and then bearing in mind that many sufferers will end up inpatient on multiple occasions. The entire recovery process ends up taking several years, on average. Inpatient, followed by extensive outpatient treatment and support easily places the individual in hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical expenses. BEAT suggests that this cost doesn’t just sit on the individual.
Carers end up with an average annual cost of £32,672, taking into account time off work (the most evidence based supported form of treatment for eating disorders is family based), and specific foods such as high calorie Ensures (trust me you’d rather have peanut butter).

2015 BEAT calculated eating disorders to cost the UK economy £15billion per year, £4.6 bil directly to the NHS. This is obviously a huge and ever-increasing figure, particularly when considering the current pressure to cut NHS expenditure (figures show that whilst the Government states mental health spending is at new, record levels, the actual income of mental health trusts in England is currently lower than it was in 2012, when taking inflation into account).

Whilst this extremely expensive inpatient, treatment should generally be regarded as a last resort (replaced instead with the solid support of specialised outpatient clinics), services in the UK are so strapped, that children often end up being sent hundreds of miles away from home. Cherry on the cake sort of trauma, when on top of battling a life-threatening illness, they end up isolated in some far-off part of the country.

For all the faults I find in the NHS’s current approach to dealing with eating disorders (minimum bmi required for any treatment, over a year long waiting lists, the greying GPs from the dark ages who are still insistent that mental health is really all fabricated, and that they’ve seen skinnier so you’re fine), I am extremely glad for the safety net and treatment that we do receive under the NHS – as is my mum for not getting us into half a mil of healthcare debt.

The NHS is not always good, it’s definitely not perfect, but the services are (in the long run) there for sufferers, and hopefully with recognition and awareness we can work on improving the treatment services provided.

BEAT puts forward two comparable patients, to demonstrate the effectiveness – both in terms of cost and, more importantly, psychological assistance and recovery – of a faster method of response and treatment to an initial diagnosis of eating disorder. I wish I was savvy enough to make little graphs or flow charts to demonstrate their paths, but unfortunately my GCSE IT lessons were dropped for CAMHS (I use this excuse whenever someone tries to get me to use spreadsheets).

  • Patient 1) Seen at GP. Waits 3 months for a hospital referral. Receives referral in the post, and must wait 4 months until seen at hospital and diagnosed with moderate anorexia. Patient 1 receives dietitian/doctor appointments bi-weekly and is put on waiting list for individual therapy. 6 months later, patient 1 begins individual therapy, however they are now so ill due to prolonged wait that they must enter inpatient for 6 months. Their bmi is restored to a healthy level, and they are discharged from hospital and begin extended family therapy for 6 months + = £83,807
  • Patient 2 ) Having suffered for two years, seen at GP and referred immediately. Referred to intensive outpatient, followed by 6 months of 5 day a week day care (outpatient) – 7 months of family and individual therapy = £40,716.
    Loosely, BEAT stipulates that the current and painfully slow system of treatment costs more than twice as much in the long run, as well as obviously taking far longer to assist the sufferer back to recovery.
  • I’ll save you the extended details, but my experience looks not dissimilar to patient number 1, other than my mother fighting tooth and nail to prevent me from being sectioned; hence no inpatient, just an extra 5 years of family based and individual therapy added on. Much in the same way as patient 1, I was not that unwell when initially referred. Still extraordinarily sad, dysfunctional, and vehemently in denial, but probably at a bmi of around 17. The first response my family had from taking me to multiple GPs was a very finite ‘she’s not skinny enough’. I feel like some things, even for those completely obtuse to mental health, are self explanatory – calling someone even potentially borderline, or undiagnosed, ‘not unwell enough’ is pretty obviously included. It triggers a ‘not yet’ type of clause, which the sufferer will then often be pushed to achieve.

    So, to conclude, I do wish the NHS was funded adequately, and that enough of those resources were pooled towards mental health. I wish sufferers didn’t have to wait as long, and suffer the consequences of being shifted from service to service. I wish those services were more up to date, and that even GPs were trained more in how to assess and deal with disordered patients as the first port of call. I am however still deeply grateful to the blanket of care provided by the NHS, and hopefully, with charities such as BEAT working hard to disclose and promote awareness surrounding better paths for treatment, we can work towards a more efficient and swifter form of treatment, which in turn should prove to be a cost-cutting method with more benefits for the patient at the end of the day.

    Please do check out Charlotte’s Helix!
    Either for any donations (I’m still trying to persuade people to do the 3 peaks challenge with me…), or as a sufferer/past sufferer of anything eating disorder related, OR even as someone related to a sufferer, if you’re willing to give some DNA for a great cause!


    dedicating this to Nessie & Tab since I miss them both terribly, despite my unrelenting protests when actually forced to walk them. Plus, a flood of dog pictures can only be a good thing for readership numbers

    I occasionally get asked why I don’t blog regularly more, and to be honest, I tend to often forget that my little star-studded space still exists. I’m also never lacking (admittedly pathetic) excuses as to why I end up going months without posting anything – mainly related to a constant blanket of writer’s block which I hope will one day lift itself.
    After speaking a little more openly about my experiences with mental health on Instagram, I’ve had a fair few requests to write more on the topic, plus a bunch of requests for more info on how I train, so I’m going to do my best to oblige (although despite all the inquiries, I actually don’t have any personal training qualifications, and have not yet stooped to shilling £10 booty building programs and touting Herbalife. We’ll see how my morals survive if uni gets anymore difficult).

    It does make me inanely uncomfortable at times. After trading handles with someone on a night out, I was drunkenly faced with a bunch of boys commenting on my before/after picture, saying how awful I looked before, if I still considered that attractive. It isn’t exactly the drunk scenario I hope to end up in, and part of me worries terribly about how people might come to prejudge my current state by my past. To an extent I pay a price for the exposure, but one that I’m also happy to carry.

    I’ve been asked a lot for my tips and tricks in battling mental health issues. As anyone will tell you, it’s not a clear path. It’s probably the most clouded and obscure path there is. Think thick moor fog, Woman in Black style, and no headlights. Nonetheless, there are a selection of habits that helped me, amongst which I would put purposeless walking – something that becomes more and more of a rarity and a luxury in today’s culture.

    I’m definitely a little bit lazy nowadays. Whenever my family bring up the annual Christmas stroll, I do construct a good counter-argument (why the hell does anyone who doesn’t own a dog go for walks? I could totally justify it when we had an army of terriers, and several pony-sized labradoodles cowering behind said terriers, but without a dog to be walked, I’m always in firm support for Christmas naps and whatever sad vegetarian Christmas food ends up being provided). That being said, I spent a lot of time walking alone, when I was in one of my less positive stages of life.

    Before I continue, I have to make it clear that no music was involved – god forbid. How does one walk, in the twenty-first century, without Spotify blaring down your eardrums, I can practically hear you objecting already. I would absolutely agree. I can now hardly walk the two minutes down the road to pickup snacks at Sainsbury’s without my headphones on. That being said, I think that constantly listening to music on the go sort of cancels out a lot of deep thoughts.
    Slow, purposeless walking, often in a scenic setting, has been linked to a therapeutic state of deep thought (not even a Buzzfeed source, I swear). Dickens wandered endlessly at night, brooding up many of his infamous novels, as did Wordsworth, the renowned poet who I am sure many of you were blessed (literally blessed, for the focus on religious topics) in A Level studies. Forrest Gump covers nearly a continent and grows an impressive amount of facial hair, demonstrating quite aptly the many, many benefits of extended walks.

    I’m not shooting down music. I love the Spotify discover weekly (my mind was to a degree blown by the news that Spotify weekly was not the same for every user, and tailored individually. Who knew) and do get a little excited when it updates every Monday morning. I also love podcasts. I do however think that constantly listening to something does remove an element of the scope for deep thought that we get in silence. Starting to think about – during the day – the things that more often than not kept me up at night, started to give my mind a chance to reflect, and come to terms, with certain memories and thoughts.
    This really isn’t a quick process. In my previous home, based in the middle of nowhere, deep in Devon countryside, there was the perfect 5km trail setting off from the drive way. I walked this consistently once (sometimes twice) a day for 6 months, and at least twice a week for 6 years. I could probably walk it blindfolded and not end up in any potholes, even now. I’ve dragged a load of my friends around this track too, come rain and shine. I’ve walked in wellies in Winter, and even once (very, very bad decision) barefoot in Summer. I’ve tried running, decided I’m very much not a runner, and returned to aimless wandering. You get to enjoy nature, and watch the seasons change (a rarity and something that I now miss, living in a city), as well as giving your thoughts free rein for a little while.

    Like I said earlier, it’s not a quick fix. It takes more than one hike to start working on deeper issues, but I’m a big fan of walking; (as much as I might sometimes come across as a very cardio-adverse sloth). You don’t even need any deep-rooted mental issues to tackle to get into it, or to reap the benefits, and I’ve only grown to love it more, the more I travel.
    You don’t even really need a dog (although these are a massive, four legged blessing).

    Meeting your Maker

    Amongst my halfhearted attempts to be productive on my gap year, I did send random tales off to a bunch of short writing competitions. One did make it through to Hammond House publishing (having a little book nestled somewhere in our living room bookshelves with my name inside is pretty exciting, although I have since then decided to shed the extra ‘e’ from my surname – hopefully it still counts as mine).
    A bunch of friends asked to read it, and since it wasn’t made available online, I thought I might as well post it here, albeit 2 years late (as you can tell I’m in the depths of revision, thinking back to a time when I could write about things I actually enjoyed…)

    It is pretty weird, I won’t lie. My slightly morbid fascination with life after death definitely filters through.

    This is also the unedited version – I’m really, really lazy when it comes to reading my own work through, and got an email afterwards admitting that someone else was thankfully going to smooth it out before publishing. It is also about 4000 words, and I don’t have any cute pictures to break it up for you (still half one of the essays I have to do tonight).

    For anyone who read the Spiderwick Chronicles as a kid, I think the strange, grouchy soul creature is definitely a Thimbletack inspiration.


    Meeting your maker
    Christie’s  Auction House, 1905
    Sale; ‘Assemblage of Items of Unknown & Unexplained’
    Lot 332
    ‘A collection of writings on pieces of worn parchment, supposedly produced from the mouth of Teresa Yearnet at birth (Wyoming, 1823) and held in possession of family since’

    There must be a backlog on today’s order. The wheeze and groan of the Vivifium suggests the ominous possibility of a shutdown. The last time so many orders cam through was international chaos, as I recall. A national outrage, a mad whirl of blame and urgency to find someone to point the finger at, politicians scarpering left right and centre in a desperate bid to shift any question of their own faults. Terrorists were an unlikely choice as the perpetrator in this case. Unfortunately, global warming provided an equally unsatisfying option. You couldn’t string Global Warming up in public and give him a good lashing. You couldn’t pierce Global Warming’s ankles and drag him around the city, leaving pools of ashen cloud in his wake. Global Warming couldn’t be hung, drawn and quartered on national television, in front of the faces of millions of wide eyed viewers, kipped back on sofas across the world with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. Fists would curl, biscuit paste momentarily forgotten beneath the pallet as the executioner drew closer. The people wanted bloodshed. They wanted pain, the pain of others, to pay for the pain of their children and the pain of their mothers and fathers and semi forgotten aunts who – as they were alerted to by delayed air mail -had suffered an extensive and prolonged death when trapped beneath the falling rubble of a three story flat in some far off country. Reduced to the misery of starvation from the barren, dry fields of the East and the rising supermarket prices of a loaf of bread in the West, the people wanted to objectify something tangible, a name spat with anguish over the dinner table discussions, a face plastered with crude graffiti slurs through central cities. This barbaric witchhunt, the striking of torches and savage idealisations was always the more appeasing option against blame on their own shoulders.
    Now where was I? My mind’s constantly slipping. Everything else operates like the machinery I’m surrounded by. The smooth slip of the cogs and bolts on a low order day, allowed to lean back and appreciate coherence of the machine. Everything fitting together in unification, moving slowly and smoothly in a way that humans could never possibly fathom. Like I said, today doesn’t seem to be a low order day by any means. The machine already groans and heaves with the weight of the souls being poured through to the left. My heart aches a little for the lost critters. On the quieter days they can float through, the transient and peaceful experience narrated in picture books for the young in a bid to educate them on life after death. The gift and curse of eternal vitality means that I’ll never personally float through the Earth and this place myself. I’ve contemplated asking to experience the ride, perhaps as a late birthday gift or raise, perhaps? I’ve studied the teeming office buildings clogged with corporate humans, the conflict and rivalry in desperate bids to reach the top, feeding of office bonuses to find the newest car model and weekend getaway pool house. He might find my request amusing, endearing even, and let me float through the tubes for a few peaceful moments in reward. He might also double the orders and jack up the heating in scorn if I asked, so I relent. You see, the journey doesn’t always seem quite so peaceful. I pity the souls, the impermeable vapour like substance which constitutes their half time bodies packed together like goggle eyed sardines. They wriggle and inch along the tubes, looping through the last section of my bureau, mouths stretched in wretched open O’s. He hasn’t given them eyebrows, not for this section of the journey, but if they had they would most certainly be downcast, furrowed in fury or quivering in blinding fear. Occasionally, one will end up wedged right against the glass of my bureau, jammed into position while a steady stream of souls drift on behind it. I’m not entirely sure why I was given the small section of viewing glass into the pipes. An aquarium of my own, I can watch the listless life drift by. Perhaps the glass section was installed in case of emergency, a blockage of some sort. I suppose my role would include the part time plumber, ready to leap in and usher the half dead along. Thankfully his technology has proved flawless thus far, for which I am grateful for heaven knows what I’d find to use as a plunger.
    It takes the souls a while to wind round the tubes, up from the resting places of their material vessels and into the skies. The matter of time has always puzzled me; whether the looping tubes provide a ride lasting only seconds or thousands of years. Although I’ve no need for sleep, he’s factored in shifts for my working schedule, giving me a generous amount of time in each day for my own affairs. I’ve considered requesting a companion for my lonely little office, something to rub itself around my legs and curl up under the generators, but I’ve never asked what happens of the animate pets kept and mollycoddled by humans; whether or not there’s a bureau somewhere else, some other chamber with someone like myself returning them to the living. I suppose it would be rather a lot of hassle, having one little furry soul set aside to inhabit my office. My working hours are busy, endless. The duty of an entire hive of honeybees performed by one little tired bluebottle. Turning on all the generators is an issue of its own. He must have overlooked the height of the series of knobs and levers when creating my sturdy little legs, for I hardly reach up to half the height of many. Fortunately, my little bureau comes with a sturdy wooden stool. Convenient, perhaps he placed the stool there intentionally, and amuses himself at my scrabbling around, balancing on rickety legs to wake up the machines. Or perhaps just coincidence, for the stool matches the scarred wooden table in the centre of the room. On it sits a fist sized paperweight depicting a jolly panda bear wearing a festive hat, enscribed with ‘Happy Birthday Emily – Detroit Zoo’. God knows how it came to be here, the only possible solution I can think of is it somehow being dragged along by someone in the tube and deposited here. I hate to think of the blockages it might have caused for my predecessor.
    Paperweight aside, I haven’t seen another soul – bear with me, I see plenty of souls but not necessarily of the living variation – since I was installed in the bureau. Since my own creation. The creation of the creator. By the ultimate creator. It all gets terribly confusing if you try and differentiate us, to ‘meet your maker’, so to speak. One could conclude that I run the real business around here, up all hours sorting out the souls and defining their features before posting them back down to the Earth. However, one could also ascertain me as a mere employee, though I’m hardly paid beyond the salary of my existence. I’ve pondered what happens when my time runs out, my wages finished. The average lifespan of a human may be 71 years but I don’t think I fall into the homosapien category and I’m sure I’ve already been around over ten times that already. I’ve had all sorts of peculiar fantasies about my demise. The tube might split open and suck me into the flow of souls. I’ve never checked the ceilings in my bureau, so maybe those will open and I’ll be plucked out from the room by some gigantic hand. It tickles me just thinking of the possibilities. No need to brood over what is to come, however, I have far too much to focus on at present. Like I said, todays orders seem to be particularly overdriven. The last occasion on which there was such a huge number of souls passing through was the result of three earthquakes and a tsunami within the space of a week. Natural disaster galore, I worked day and night to get the souls in ship shape condition for their return and rebirth. It was exhausting, both physically, for my little hooves tearing up and down between screens, and mentally. It’s awfully disconcerting knowing that you sent a soul back down to the living missing an earlobe just because you were a little tired that day.
    My task is an arduous one, but generally consistent and wholly rewarding. I stand as the main pilot for the Vivifium, the largest (and only) life generator I’ve ever seen. In the hours of running, the machine rumbles and groans as if alive itself. It pulls the wayward souls through the tubes by methods of extreme suction, drawing them all the way up from the Earth to my workshop. The rest is up to me; wipe clean whatever physiognomy the living world left behind, and work with the clean slated soul left in its place. You could call it a form of art, if you like – although I’ve never been much of an artist. My creativity wasn’t encouraged with brand spanking new sets of crayons and felt tips, and the glorious freedom of being able to colour outside of the lines. I’m not sure I was privy to any form of childhood. I don’t appear to age and wrinkle like the human colonies below. Whoever made me just installed me in my prime, thinking it witty to mix my genetics with something strange and faun-like. Provided with no mirror in my little abode, the glass panels of the soul tubes provide a dappled reflection, bristly hairs running down my legs and furled horns on my forehead. I suppose having an actual human up here running things would be slightly perverted. Anyway, my artistry is an unusual one. In fact, I’m not entirely certain you could call it art, but I like to think of the creative flair I bring to my job. The Vivifium stands studded with multiple screens, with hundreds of buttons and levers jarring out from the wall, over five times wider than my menial height. Now you probably understand the conundrum involving my little hooves and the stool. The main screen is placed in the centre of the beast, an interactive display which allows me to ferret through possible features and physicalities and install them on to my soul.
    You didn’t think you were just born naturally did you? Goodness gracious no. Someone laboured away up here to make sure that your heart shaped face has slightly slanted eyebrows. The trill of your laugh, why I could easily have granted you a hoarse cackle but I was feeling pleasant that day. One blue pupil, one green – why, maybe my fingers slipped, or I was feeling a little adventurous that day. I made you tall. I made you small I gave you those slender legs you thought you inherited from your mother’s side, and widely bridged nose which I know you hate, and have decided can only be a curse from a distant great Aunt. The Vivifium displays indistinct silhouettes of the parents to whom the next soul is being delivered, which I make effort to incorporate in my creations. I can’t help it, though. Sometimes my little fingers run astray. God knows how many marriages I might have broken up, sending an albino down to dark haired parentals. The expression ‘gingers don’t have souls’, is in my eyes really the pinnacle of human wit. Of course they have souls! I installed the damn things. I watched the little quivering soul on the screen take shape and form, the transient particles of whatever they’re made out of up here take form as I flicked through the hair colours on offer, deciding on a darkish russet red with a few streaks of gold. Every being has a soul. Or humans, as far as I know of, I’m not personally responsible for the mammals, or the fish, or the plants, but I’m sure someone around here is putting in the work to differentiate each and every being.
    Some will demand my method of choice and selection highly unfair, but I do try my best. That little girl in the playground will descend on her classmate during break time, cornering her and yanking her white gold plaits in frustration. Those glossy curls that all the little boys keep an eye out for in kiss chase, dainty little fingers and a high pitched trill of a voice she pulls out for morning hymns, the little nightingale. Little do they really know that gifts often come accompanied by a variable curse. In this case, I have the little nightingale the most vicious temper imaginable to man. The sort of horrifying temperament that goes off like a shot at the slightest irritation. A hot fired disposition, one that will cause a wave of apologetic glances round the monthly dinner party table to the occupational parents, after the shrieking and the hurling of a plate of peas at the wall. Doors will be slammed all through her teenage years, and young suitors might be frightened off by her orchestra of insults upon ordering the wrong bottle of house red. Her temperament may even be her downfall; where her beauteous voice might carry her career, her temper may well be her undoing, as she flounces off stage from an early performance after someone admittedly turned up the aircon a little high.
    Whom shall be granted the greatest gifts, and who shall be born with a fated curse? That is a question which drapes itself over the Vivifium, a great weighted cloak of death in its own right. Whereas the decision is ultimately left to my own bristly little fingers, I was left an ambiguous set of instructions. Sitting on the table you see, beside Emily’s paperweight, stands ‘Percival’s Guide to the Formation of Souls; a Guide to the Course of Creation’. Quite a hefty hardback, I doubt it scooted along the tubes and rather like to think that someone left it here for me. My predecessor’s hand’s probably brushed the worn pages, following the minute cursive writing. It all comes out fairly formulaic in the end. Once every so often we have to ship out a great man – distinguished from the ‘common herd’. Seneca seemed to know what category he had been folded into. You didn’t think that Achilles just happened by chance? Although that wasn’t entirely of my era or creation. My predecessor favoured the philosophical gifts, and I assume can be thanked for the likes of Pythagoras, and Plato. Who made Herodotus, well I’m not entirely sure. The guide presents a keen link between gift and curse, so, like my little songbird, no human will appear too blessed. Glorified, but to a conservative level. Achilles, for example… well, we all know the tale. A stroke of genius for whoever worked the Vivifium before me. I would never have thought to incorporate the tendons. I’m a little less creative in my intertwining of gifts and curses. Stevie Wonder, for example; I swapped everyday sight for a flare with lyrics. Cruel you might say, but look where it got him.
     Of all the gifts I could give, you might very well question why I choose music. It’s a little lonely up here, you see. Percy’s handbook and my paperweight make for listless compatriots. A little furred friend to keep me company, now that wouldn’t go amiss – I do wonder who takes care of all the little souls of the cats and the dogs of the planet. Probably a little gremlin near here, in a bureau very much like my own. Surely redirecting one animal soul along the pipes and dropping it off in my office wouldn’t be too much to ask, but then again I’m not sure how I would care for the creature – if it needed care, unlike myself. In the absence of companionship, I do yearn for music. Sometimes, a little humming noise can be heard transcending the glass panels of the soul tube. A music festival having jacked up the speakers a little high, or a concert upon which the police have not yet descended in a desperate bid to turn down the volume and for heaven’s sake let the locals sleep. If I can’t be granted a phantom feline friend to curl around my legs and get in the way of day to day Vivifium runnings, I would wish for a set of pipes. Isn’t that how the folklore runs? A fawn and his pipes. I could yodel and jig, and send out a stray accordion of notes whilst keeping the Vivifium running at a smooth pace, sending out my allotted souls. It sounds wonderfully romantic, don’t you think?
    Of course, there is the small question of human error when it comes to the creation – and recreation – of souls. Or not human, shall I say, but fawn error if we’re being precise. Percival’s manual unfortunately offers little assistance as to what to do in the event of natural disaster.The more the world seems to turn against it’s inhabitants, the higher the tides swell and the mountains shake. In turn, the more souls flood my walls, anguished faces pressed up against the walls. Terrorist attacks contribute to this, of course. I didn’t stop to sweat after 9/11, issuing out warm shades of skin tone against flighty characters against those with fat knuckles and almond eyes. All this palaver led the machine to shudder and groan, grinding to a halt. The central screen upon which I filter through all possible traits and qualities flickered and turned an alarming shade of blue. They don’t call it blue screen of death for no reason. Of course I dived into the depths of full blown panic. ‘Turning it off and back on again’ doesn’t really work up here since there’s no magical switch powering in through the backrooms and fuelling the reincarnation of my souls – I’m honestly not too sure how this place is powered. God-currents probably don’t need to be piped in through wires. Anyway, the threatening blue screen of death resulted in quite the anticipated outcome. I’m moderately grateful for the blue skinned gene to have turned out a dominant and inheritable factor, and must say I quite enjoy applying a washy shade of blue to my newborn souls whenever Kentucky pops up on the screen.
    The humans can’t seem to blame themselves for the ever rising strain of the dead heaved upon the Vivifium. As I said, rather have the local deputy hung drawn and quartered. Splay the faces of the revolutionaries on live tv and blame them for the ever rising death roll. The shame of slowly polluting your own planet seems too true to bear, so like all of us, even the less-human residing in our little offices somewhere high in the sky, they shirk around the issue. Why, more might be dying but let’s have a round of applause for the birth rate now folks. One in one out would be a fair system I concede. Unfortunately, Fair and Square rarely turns up to Churchill’s meeting table on time – he’s always preoccupied with Vegas’ casinos, trying to keep the tables running at a marginally lawful rate. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all that must die does pass to the ground below – the tangible composition, at least. I don’t suppose anyone has to supervise the slow degradation of the skin, the fingernails and those pretty gold locks I opted for on that little girl. I don’t like to think too much about material death, the wasting away of my masterpieces. Would Gaudi like to see the Sagrada Familia sink to the floor? Ashes to ashes indeed, or a great big pile of rubble. Or Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl, how would he appreciate his paint-strokes going up in flames. Let’s hope she would put up her dainty hands in defeat and flee off into that dark canvas before the flames really took hold. The art and effort I put into each of my souls, sculpting them, defining them. Even the everyday human, the Steves and the Plain Janes, the blank faces that slide out from under umbrellas on rainy New York sidewalks.  Or the indistinct faces rolling past on the subway – did someone once said that all these strange faces make up the characters in your dreams. Praise be to my creativity, my ability to throw together a smattering of freckles, a stubbed nose and a tendency to inquire into overly personal beliefs, but you didn’t think yourself capable of matching and making and binding together a whole set of personas surely? You lot have far too much to worry about down there as it is, with getting your articles in by Monday morning in fear of your new boss, you daren’t comment on this nouveau hairstyle for what have you to know about the ebb and flow of fashion tides. Plus, the young ones always bite quickly, swift in sacking those old enough to cluster round the desks at lunchtime and cluck over the best current deals on washing powder. What else is playing on your mind… let’s see, I should know after all, I decided to give you a fear of sudden loud noises, and an aversion to raspberries. You have to worry about the world blowing up on Thursday, according to the tabloids, and the price of tea in China would be a more tolerable woe than the rising oil costs. The everyday fear of having not turned the hob down after cooking your porridge, and the whole house having burned down to embers by the time the evening bus rolls into your road gives enough stress as it is.
    Quite overwhelming really, it’s lucky you have me to sort your dream faces out and give you one less thing to twiddle your fingers over.

    I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing all of this, or who will come to read it. It’s not like I can post it off down the tubes in a bottle. Nor can I stuff it down the mouth of some unsuspecting soul, to ferry it down to Earth for me. Can you imagine the horrors, pulling out a wad of my scribbling’s from the mouth of some unsuspecting newborn. They would be heralded as the new Jesus, I’ve no doubt, the son of… well the fawn in the sky. They need something in which to place their faith, you see. Something to carry them through the dark days and someone to thank at tea time, and I just know that the Vivifium and my little hairy legs don’t exactly fit the bill for the saintly position. Imagine my face, splayed and worshipped on every street corner. I’m sure my unidentified master would have crafted in some form of communication with the world below, if he so willed it. A string phone, for example. Why, I could bestow my wit and witticism upon the population through the quaint connection of two rusty old cans. Soup, even. Although I’m sure my master’s technology is a touch more dexterous, considering the size and scale of the Vivifium. I’m assured means of communication would have been installed, had the broadcast of my voice to the people below been of necessary consideration. Thus, my job remains a quiet one, uncharted to the thousands of souls I let slip and slide back down to the world below.

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