Liz Bentley wishes you a happy newish year while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man

Happy newish year. Fenton was my first Tesco delivery man of 2010. In the photo I am holding my 2020 diary. I always buy a Redstone diary and this year, the theme is ‘Dreams of Europe’. The cover photo is a semi-naked Bridget Bardot sunbathing, on what looks like a Greek nudist beach in the ’70s. I used to hang out on Greek nudist beaches, it’s all so familiar to me, but I am in a dilemma that this years diary, may not be entirely appropriate to have on my table, when clients are booking appointments during therapy sessions.

Liz Bentley with Tesco delivery man and 2020 diary

What’s new this year? I shall miss visits from the Thames Water and Eon man. Smart meters are the thing now, another meaningful exchange I will miss. More isolation.

But, I have started swimming lessons again and I’m going to Peckham Pulse. After my lesson, I sneak into the sauna by the side of the pool. There is always chit chatter in the sauna, it’s sociable and I like the cultural mix of people.

My friend Jolie Goodman has an art exhibition at JAG’s swimming pool, in Dulwich. It’s called ‘Swimming in the slow lane’. Jolie also has MS, and works for Mental Health Foundation, you may know of her work its fab. We’d met before, but our relationship developed since meeting her at East Dulwich swimming pool. Jolie asked me to speak at the launch of her exhibition before Christmas. I was delighted to talk about her art and I wrote and performed this poem.

 

Liz Bentley-on-Sea

 

With a hole in my heart I was born in Leigh on Sea

Learnt to swim in the Thames estuary

Great Ormond Street said to my mum and dad

“If she swims, things may not turn out that bad”

I did all the laps I was encouraged to do

And the hole in my heart closed too

 

With no-one to watch me at galas, I gave up

Switched my attention to boys

Written in my school autograph book, twice

“If all the boys lived over the sea

What a good swimmer Lizzy would be”

 

I travelled the world and swam in the seas

Moved to London, then the diagnoses

Multiple sclerosis

 

Just keep moving, reverse it, reverse it

I meditate up and down the ‘middle’ lane

In therapy and creativity

I focus on the body and brain

At home I gave birth in the birthing pool

I pulled out my own placenta, that was cool

 

As a performer, trying to find a venue for a show

Sweet Entertainment said ‘I’ve got the apex hotel pool’  Oh?

I wrote and performed in Camberwell on Sea, Edinburgh fringe on Sea, Hackney on Sea, in the pools with my boyfriend who wasn’t called Paul but was the lifeguard of these pool shows and we bought a house in Peckham-on-sea, in the Pioneer health centre and we swam around the embryonic sac of a dysfunctional rebound relationship

Then, I did a master’s degree on mind/body psychotherapy, got married to my husband who isn’t called Paul either and the Pioneer pool needed a new roof

So, I took to East Dulwich on sea and one Monday, I reconnected with Jolie

She swims in the slow lane, I am competitive, I swim in the middle lane and I’m having lessons

(I have 4 years to get up to speed to compete in the over 60’s Paralympics, I have a long way to go, my instructor is very positive, who knows?)

Bah humbug, Liz Bentley’s Xmas Tesco Delivery Man

Liz Bentley and Xmas Tesco Delivery Man

I struggle with Xmas, but try my best to do the ‘Merry Xmas’ thing. It’s exhausting to be happy, excited and full of joy, when inside the familiar feelings of isolation and detachment whirl around my head. I have to fight to them off as best I can, I don’t want to upset or have an affect on the merriment of others around me. Xmas is hard bloody work.

In the old days I would drink, but now I only drink when I’m genuinely happy, I can’t mask it in the same way. While I’m wrapping presents for others, I’m thinking of climate change, the homeless and all the stuff and how grateful I am that I can have all the stuff, but I’m conflicted, I hate the stuff. I’m thinking of austerity and racism and sexism and other things that are going on outside of Xmas cheer. At Tesco Metro (re my last blog) I gave the homeless man sitting outside, a pound.

“How long have you been homeless?” I asked.
“A year,” he said.
“What happened?’
“I was a carer for my granddad, I lived with him in his council flat. I wasn’t on the tenancy, I went away for four nights, a few weeks after he died, when I came back, I couldn’t get into the flat. I had nowhere to go. I’m waiting for a hostel.”

All the parcels I have ordered for Xmas have arrived. The only one that hasn’t, was a dress I’d bought to wear on Xmas day. It’s been signed by someone, apparently its been delivered, but I was here and I didn’t get it, no-one recognises the signature, most confusing, and sods law. I rarely buy anything new for myself, but I was making an effort, treating myself, nothing too special.  I tell myself it wouldn’t have fit anyway, it was a size small, I’m an extra small, but they didn’t have extra small.

I’m small because I’m small, always been small from birth with my defect of having a hole in the heart. I don’t eat much. I mainly stick with the MS recovery diet, but even before then, I was never a foodie. I don’t look forward to food, I don’t look forward to ordering it from Tesco, buying it or cooking it. I eat to live. But I enjoy my meaningful interactions with the Tesco Delivery drivers.

Food was always an issue for me, as a baby, a child and adolescent. When I was old enough to be really conscious of my appearance, I became bulimic. Xmas was a difficult time because of this. Here is my Xmas medley about Peace.

Peas

Xmas is coming, I won’t be getting fat
I’ll be far too busy, playing with my twat
(wrong song, I’ll start again)

Xmas is coming, bulimics don’t get fat
I make sure the sick doesn’t soil the bathroom mat

Back at the Xmas table, I’m smelling like a rose
But I’ve left a bit of puke that’s hanging from my nose

Food glorious food, hot sausage and mustard
While we’re in the mood, regurgitate the custard

Peas

On my plate one solitary brussel sprout is left
Dad talks of starving Africans and gives it to the pet
Dog, who swallows it in one and puts it’s head upon my knee
I wipe my nose with a serviette and the dog crouches down and pees

Eat the world, don’t they know its Xmas cake
Eat the world, salivate and masticate the peas

I wish you a merry Xmas, I wish you a merry Xmas
I wish you a merry Xmas, and a happy new year

Let’s throw up some figgy pudding, lets throw up some figgy pudding,
Let’s throw up some figgy pudding, and bring up good cheer

Peas on earth good will to men

Thoughts on the election and accessible shopping, at Tesco Metro

These last few weeks have been difficult. Chronic insomnia and flu viruses affecting me and most of my family.  The general election on Thursday falls on ‘Perverse Verse’ my show I host at the Ivyhouse in Nunhead. It was supposed to be our Xmas Stocking show, it’s changed into something more befitting to the occasion. I had no choice.

Liz with Tesco Metro staff

On ‘Int’l day of persons with disabilities’ I was due to host a night of celebration with ‘Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts’ but I was ill. I was also supposed to be exhibiting my work at Wierdo zine fest at Science Gallery,  but because of the incident at London Bridge, it was cancelled.

The highlight of my week was popping into Tesco Metro, not to shop, I needed to get cash from the cash point, but I wanted a photo, and to have a meaningful exchange outside of my house.

The shop was virtually empty, it was like I had Tesco metro all to myself.

“Hi,” I said to the one cashier. “I write a blog for Disability Arts Online about waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man, they brighten up my day and today, I’m excited to be out of the house, and inside a real shop with other shoppers” I looked around and saw that there were a few people musing the isles. “And cashiers. I love cashiers,” I smiled at her. “It’s a shame that there are fewer of you, I notice that younger people prefer the machines, I think it’s to do with having grown up with computers, they struggle with intimacy and communication, I’m a psychotherapist and see more young people than ever before.” The woman nodded. “The few times I have used the machines, I’ve got it wrong and have had to call a cashier, so it seems like a waste of time, either that, or I have confirm that I am over 18. But I have MS, I rarely shop anyway.”

Liz with Tesco Metro store manager, posing for photo in the aisles

The cashier beamed at me and produced a Lanyard and a flyer from beside her till, she handed it to me. It read “The Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, some people with hidden disabilities such as autism, MS and hearing loss, might need help while in store…..” Within seconds the manager and another member of staff wanted to pose with me and here they are. I love that Tesco are now offering shopping help like this. As they say, ‘every little helps’, and it may result in me getting out of the house more often, although the traffic was road raged and I am a slow driver.

Now here’s a question, two families brought up in the same town, living in the same street, kids go to the same school, the eldest of the children vote Tory and the younger siblings vote Labour. Do you think this is because the youngest have always had to share and the eldest know what it’s like to have parental support all to themselves and want to recreate that feeling? Hmm.

We are in a state of ‘splitting’ as the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein might say.  It’s like being in labour, the intensity before the birth, then after the long and difficult pregnancy this thing comes out and we have no idea what it will be like.

Talking of babies, here is a poem I wrote and performed (my voice over while I was underwater with a breathing tank that lasted 7 minutes, in a dolphin patterned duvet, floating about, until I rebirth into the Edinburgh Apex hotel swimming pool, 2008, Edinburgh Fringe). The poem is published in my anthology “£500 a line and other poems”.

Birth Story

Thank God it’s nearly over, it’s been really stressful here these last few months, growing, sudden UV lighting and shit music.  If I ever hear “Building baby’s brains” or “Mozart” one more time I’ll do a stillbirth.

I wish she hadn’t given up smoking. I could do with a fag and I could murder a drink. Three glasses of shit CAVA at a wedding then dealing with her guilt for 8 months.That was worse than the gastro enteritis.

I’m really looking forward to going through that deep dark tunnel and getting into the pool.  Soon I’ll be pissing in someone else’s water rather than my own stinky sac, and it’s getting pretty stinky in here.  Just got to hold off from shitting, just for a few more minutes otherwise it could all go horribly wrong and I’ll end up with Dr Bari doing a caesarean, that’s what happened to my brother and he’s never recovered.  They took him to a cranial osteopath but he’s still got a flat head.  It’s difficult to airbrush baby’s heads.

I’ve done my stretch in this old cell, some have made it through the other side – some haven’t. It’s pretty hardcore to survive in these conditions.  It’s dark all the time and very basic.  She could have done it up a bit, she’s 41, she’s had plenty of time, some pictures on the womb wall, wouldn’t have to be anyone too raunchy, Helen Mirren perhaps.  An internal tattoo would have been nice, but maybe that would have stopped my concentration and deep exploration of my inner child.

Thank God the sex stopped. Most unsettling.  Then all of a sudden, it began again and she started taking it up the arse.  That was only two weeks ago and by then it had got so tight that I couldn’t move around, my arse was right by her arse.  I’m going to be a poet when I grow up and write shit like this….

 

I’m a baby stuck in a womb

I’ll be out soon

Thank God they rolled the dice again

Otherwise Boris would have been my name

Apparently, Boris Johnson’s buttocks are similar to those of Adolph Hitler’s

I heard that at a gig she did

That’s when the arse thing kicked off and my kicking stopped

Now it’s my turn to help her out

Otherwise she’ll have to shout – more

So, here we go, I’m really shitting myself now ….

Liz Bentley’s thoughts on her time working in the NHS while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man

I worked for over 10 years as a psychotherapist in the NHS, managing a counselling service at a Bermondsey GP surgery. My job consisted of giving all patients who were referred for counselling as much support as they needed.  We had good links with the Maudesly, the community mental health teams and other charitable low-cost therapy centres like The Lorrimore and Charterhouse (both of which lost funding some years ago). I was also part of a counselling development group where I led meetings with other counsellors in the borough. We looked after each other and loved our jobs. We were all ‘let go’, and this poem is how I ‘let go’ of my beloved job in the NHS.

Liz with Tesco delivery man and big ben advent calendar

The People’s NHS

For me, things started to change in 2006
I was required to ignore free association and dreams
Focus on CBT
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cock and Bull Torture and reams
Of paperwork

Change your thoughts
Don’t believe
Leave the webs to weave
Unwoven for another life

I arrived one day at my office to find that my new
computer was bigger than my therapy chair
From that day on, I learned more about our computer
man’s relationships
Than that of my own patients

I checked my emails
‘Benefits advisor, cut, dietian, cut’
Then a knock at the door
Three nice young men in overalls
“We have come to measure your radiator” they chimed
It was the end of the tax year
Health and safety pockets lined
The excuse, someone had died
Falling out of bed onto a radiator

Once the radiator cover was built and installed into my
counsellor’s shrine
(and into every consulting room, not just mine)
I noticed the nice men had omitted to cut a hole where
I would be able to change the temperature
It took time to get the key to unlock the cover of the radiator
To take it off
Every time it was hot
Or cold or cold or hot

That key and cover were so stiff
I needed my computer man to shift
To turn it up or down
Down or up

Then ….

The forms came marching 2 by 2 hoorah, hoorah
The forms came marching 4 by 4 hoorah, hoorah
The forms came marching 6 by 6
There’s only time for a temporary fix
And they all went marching, down, to the arc, to get out
Of the cuts
Boom boom boom

The ship of relations became an arc of robotics
Clinical supervision was questioned and funds taken away
Management supervision now, more forms and box ticking
Volunteers gone, no funds to support them
And as my support was taken from me
It was easy to see
Why my MS kicked in
I had to use my stick to get myself in
To work
Or not to work?
That was the question

As for the patients
My needs took over from theirs
The new psychologists weren’t aware
It’s not their fault
They are required to vault
From box to box
Helpless to helpless

With nowhere to refer
The arc almost sank
Thank God for the food bank
And suicide note
That keeps the helpers afloat

You need to vote
And protest
Before you are bereft
Of the NHS

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

Packing in Mental Health Day and London Cocktail week and waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man with Julie Andrews

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Julie holding Simple soap with Tesco Delivery Man

To celebrate World Mental Health Day, Julie Andrews helped me with my Tesco delivery and we got out of the house and went to see Alice Cooper and the Stranglers at O2. To celebrate London Cocktail week I had a cocktail with Julie at the O2 while watching Alice Cooper and the Stranglers. Julie Andrews and I go back a long way, we both worked at Marie Stopes abortion clinic, we both trained as counsellors and we both did our Masters degree at Goldsmiths age 43. We both had a child in the year 2000 and we both got married within the last 4 years. She changed her name so I don’t feel I can ask her to sing “The Hills are Alive” so frequently, even though I know she wouldn’t mind.

My favourite Alice Cooper lyric isn’t “Only Women Bleed”, despite our world bleeding to death, depicted by the Red Rebels of Extinction Rebellion who have been demonstrating admirably all week, but it is the lyric “Even my shadow has lice”. In the depths of my mental distress, I have felt like my shadow had lice or at least that my bed bugs had greater importance on the planet than me. Here is my Bed Bug song, possibly inspired by the great Alice Cooper and the bed bugs I had in the squat I lived in Bermondsey in the late 1980’s with Uncle Pervious.

Keeping a live Bed Bug – Staying Alive

Lay down flat, on the mattress
No sex tonight, we’re out to get bite
By the bed bugs

Little tiny white ones, hungry baby white ones
Ah, bless ’em

Snuggle down, under the eiderdown
Sort of rhymes but not true
Really a du
…. vet

Glistening shiny pink ones
Don’t splatter those ones, might be carrying baby ones
Ah, bless ’em

Uh uh uh uh staying in bed, staying in bed (to the tune of The Bee Gees)
Uh uh uh uh staying in bed

Deep sleep, nightmares creep
Wake up and leap out of bed,
Light on, oh what fun inspecting
Bed bugs

Big dark daddy red ones
Juicy juicy fat ones
Ah, bless ’em

Put them in the cigarette tin
Keep them alive for a day or so
Wash out the stains on the sheet if you can
Or die them red, passion for the
Bed bugs

Itchy, but nice, er than lice

And the bed bugs sing-
We don’t fear death just excites us more
We like to grieve for our cousins
So, don’t worry

We make good pets
We’re easy to keep
We don’t affect your sleep and you are
Never ever, ever lonely

So don’t worry about us, we like to die
And you have much more in your life to worry about

And the coloured bed bugs sing (to that Lou Reed tune)
Do, do do, do do do do do do do do do do etc. (fade)

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)

#JadeGoody #Loneliness #BigBrother #Psychotherapy

I have a special affinity with Jade. Firstly she was my nurse at Surrey Docks Dental surgery before she went on Big Brother, secondly I auditioned that same year for the series.

In the first part of the Channel 4 Jade documentary they showed her original VHS audition tape, among a few others. I watched in fear that mine would be shown. It was a bizarre VHS I sent in but possibly the producers saw, although I was clearly a wounded healer, I wasn’t as troubled as Jade and wouldn’t provide the same entertainment, but who knows? I’m likely to have sunbathed naked back then.

Jade was much younger than me and no way would the producers have wanted two girls coming from Bermondsey (I’m an Essex girl of course but lived and worked in Bermondsey for nearly two decades ). I got off lightly and so did my family. Jade sadly not.

I have been obsessed with all the Big Brother series, as is my fascination with all groups, my step daughter now has me hooked on Love Island, oh dear. The nearest I ever got to be on Big Brother is studying and being in group Psychotherapy for two years, and then facilitating writing as therapy, supervision and counsellors groups. Groups can be fierce, even in therapy.

Coming back to loneliness, firstly Perverse Verse on 26th September is on the ‘loneliness’ issue (invite coming soon) and secondly, my very loved group psychotherapist, having helped so many of us for decades with our internal loneliness, took his life. I’d assumed he’d died of a heart attack or something similar and found out of his suicide at his funeral.

The last time I saw my group therapist was 2017 at the show I did at The Guild of Psychotherapists, he laughed and laughed and we enjoyed a glass of red wine after the show. Watching the Jade documentary made me think of him.

Very very sad.