Author Archives: AILN

Why I’m wearing nail varnish.

Four students in the US have come up with a nail varnish that changes colour when it detects ‘date rape’ drugs in a drink. Stir the drink with your nails and the tell tale change of colour occurs if rohypnol etc are present.

You have to be kidding me?

But sadly this is real. I’m also sickly amused by the fact that the four students are male. Why? Well, it’s a lot easier to make a nail varnish than make a stand it seems. It’s men doing the raping, it’s men who cause women to feel unsafe walking home.

Excuse the pun but this nail varnish is mere veneer. Rape is an issue that won’t be combatted by nail varnish.

So I’m wearing nail varnish for a week as a statement saying I’m a man and I’m not ok with rape. I personally know too many people who’ve been raped including someone who was robbed at the same time. The perpetrator was caught. And got a longer sentence for the robbery.

I can’t stop rape. I can’t stop people making jokes about rape. But I can make a stand against rape in my own way.

I’ve asked make friends to do this as well. If I was a rock star, movie star etc I’d have 10,000 men with painted nails by dinner time. I’m not but if 50 men do this that’s a lot of people asking why. I’m doing this for a week. I hope I get asked a lot.

It takes no courage to rape. It will take some courage to go into a meeting or the gym with painted nails.

So men reading this, paint ’em up.

Here’s a video I made earlier about this-


You Won.

For a moment I started to forget my place in things.

To get ideas above my station. Be arrogant as you say.

To believe I could be loved. What a fool!

I started to think I might achieve something. That I might be a good person.

I even believed, for a while, I’d achieve something worthwhile. Maybe be useful. Maybe make the world a little better in some small way.

Thank god I’ve realised I was just kidding myself. Thank god I know I’m no one.

Thank god, the relief is fantastic. Just be the piece of shit you told me I am.

You’re right. You should have hit me harder, beaten all trace of hope out of me. It would have saved me from myself.

You were right, Dad. I’m nothing.

You win.

Into The Black.

I go Into The Black when I can’t live in this world.

When here is too much and there too far to get to. There within reach, yet so far out if reach.

There, not here that is embossed with lilies gilded in black. A promise of hope shattered with black. There where the freedom lies. Here freedom is a lie.

A lie seducing with hope, false promises of a better day.

Here where I dream that nothingness might join me, caress me until dawn rises without me. Free, free from here, from there, from the pain.

Death so I might rise again.

Am I Loving Now…only if I’m speaking my truth.

So I’m posting instead of hiding.

I’ve no idea where to start as I don’t want to write, don’t want to reach out here. Why? It’s an old survival pattern. Get hurt, shut up. Don’t ask for what I need so I won’t get hurt. Stay small, be invisible and no one will get me.

It’s been a while since I’ve been like this. But then again it’s a long time since I had anything to do with my family. A few weeks dealing with dad in hospital and my brother was like being the bullseye for poison arrows.

During this period over mid June to the end of July I start getting chest pains. I try to ignore them and figure they’ll go away. They don’t. The doctor sends me straight to the heart institute here. Heart disease, angina. They want to put a camera in my heart, put me on this pill, that pill. It’s scary. I carry a glycerin spray to use whenever I have a pain. This gives me a terrible head ache. I call it my anti heart attack spray. Tastes like shit as well.

I tried, for the sake of my dad, to bring the 3 children together to talk about what’s going on. I was the only one who went to the hospital, I’m the only one who has the information from nurses,doc,OT. My sister said yes, but pulls out because a friend was in labour which apparently means you can’t send messages etc for 48hrs. My brother doesn’t reply to any of the messages from me or my sister.

I fall into a dark hole. Suicidal fantasies a constant companion for a while. Stopping as I choose to detach from the family again. They’re dangerous to me. Sure, the heart stuff was there and it’s not lost on me that dealing with the family triggered it. Collectively doing their best to keep me in my place,to keep me the outcast.

The heart I’m taking care of with diet. I’m not doing pills even the doc says are a crapshoot if they even work and funky side effects. I get excited if I go a day without a chest pain. But I had the worst one yet on Friday. I’m exercising- walking,swimming. It’s super scary. Yet I also see this as a gift.

Less than a year after it sinks into my body I’m alive having died after an overdose the gods are yelling at me…wtf!!!! You’re still not living,not embracing your opportunity. You had you’re celebration trip but what else? Living so badly,so afraid. Get your ass into gear.

Scary. I feel alone. Alone with the path I want to take. Afraid. Afraid to leap. There was never anyone to catch me. My heart is wounded. I’ve had memories and knowing a arise. I’ve re felt the terror of being a baby and small child and not being held,a terror that damages the heart in so many ways.

I know I need to trust Spirit. I know I need to live rather than survive, hide. But being single and having no kids at 46 it’s really easy to think what is there to live for? Faith, love, trust were ripped out early and gleefully skewered and roasted to death. They tried to destroy me but somehow they didn’t. Somehow I had the fire in me still to not fully bend. Dad says he wishes he’d hit me harder as a child so I’d have learned my lesson. I celebrate I fraught back, that I took the beatings and kept my will,myself somehow. But the price is being ostracised for 40 years. Being labelled the trouble maker, arrogant for having different opinions.

I’m scared. I want to live in the country, by nature, I want to kiss the earth and the sky. I want to meet someone who’ll kiss me with her breath lingering on my heart, squeezing tears of wonder from me. And write and dance, and laugh and play. And as I write that to tendrils of death that claw at me everyday rise, say don’t expect that, you can’t be happy, you can’t be loved. Don’t be so arrogant. Suffer. Get back in your box. Go on. And the blows rain down. Tears of an opening heart to hope stop, numbness descends.

Walk With Me.

Walk with me.
I am right by your side.

Dance with me.
I am the rhythm of your life.

Dare to find the rhythm of your life.
Not the prescribed rhythm society prescribes. The corrupted song of discordant monied melodies, warring scales, choruses of self interest.

What if you could trust you are not alone, that I am right beside you?

That to dance with me is to dance with you. The true you that sings only your heart’s song. The you that erotically sighs into life daily nuzzling at Eros’s neck.

Could you lay down the weapons you use not to live- childhood scripts, that there is no place in the world for you, that your dance, so exquisitely unique, isn’t enough, isn’t welcome.

Put down your weapons. Weapons that injure no one but you.

Take my hand.

Let me lead you onto the dance floor of your life.


I’m on the coach leaving London. This journey is always evocative as it takes a route through where I grew up. Through memories, a winding path along hopes and heartbreaks. More heartbreak as I didn’t dare to hope believing I’d be dead by 30, often hoping that would be the case.

I’m sat facing backwards. Do I dare to hope? Do I dare to hope I can leave some of my past behind, the past that says I’m not enough to fall in love and be fallen in love with? Can I dance the life and love that lies within me alive? Do I have the courage to dare, to risk? I couldn’t do more than hint to the first girl I’d met in so long that truly made me dream. Ok, a crazy dream as she lives in Italy but in her company I found the depths of the Tom who could love so deeply waking.

I’m exhausted, so vulnerable. A week of friends, companionship, Pearl Jam then visiting my dad in hospital. And today giving up a PJ show to spend more time with dad, to make sure I’m back in Bristol to work tomorrow. I’m processing a lot. Pissed at my dad for not understanding that to see him after all that’s between us is huge. There’s a casual thanks, it’s all he can manage. I tell him his cleaner sucks as his home is grim and we need to sort that out for him before he goes home but it’s seen as criticism not that I love him enough to want his home right. It’s so much, too much at times. The praise falls from his lips for my siblings, one who chooses to have next to nothing to do with him, the other who colludes as if his life depended on it. And perhaps the life of the child in him does. And perhaps it’s one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done to walk back into my family where I’m scapegoated at every turn, not accepted, where I’ve had to hide me, my vulnerability. To walk back in and stand in a loving place for my father. Didn’t always manage it though and I’m grateful I’ve grown enough to accept I’m not perfect.

And I had to witness so much casual racism from him, so much creepy behaviour around women staff. And the need to be the centre of attention. His stuff is sure magnified when I’m spending so much time around him. Wow.

I’m really aware I need to be home, to rest and allow all this and so much more to process and I’m also also aware it’s less than 20 minutes till Pearl Jam come onstage and I’m on a bus. And my body feels like it wants to rock out, to sing my heart out, to be around people who accept me more than my family. Fuck, I mean I had my dad making dig after dig about me going to Pearl Jam shows abroad and to have my father be jealous and want to criticise hurts. It takes a certain skill to make the comment…you must be doing well…into a criticism. But my uncle could as well. It’s too much for him to be happy for me. But this is the man who replied to me saying one day I want to have a healthy, loving, happy relationship with the words…don’t be so arrogant.

I had the best time in Leeds for the show on Tuesday. I queued overnight for the rail and I’m convinced this makes for a better show as I don’t sleep so my ego boundaries are less resilient. I also was very aware I took only a couple of photos and rocked out in a different way, less self consciously, freer. It was great.

I’m tired. Very tired.

And super vulnerable.

Live At Leeds.

I’ve been blessed to have seen Pearl Jam 25 times. Seen them in 8 countries and 15 cities.

Seeing that in black and white illuminates the gift that Pearl Jam has given my life. This tour alone 4 shows, 3 cities and 3 countries 133songs, 86 unique songs including a 3hr 20 min, 36 song show in Leeds. Great music, 3hr plus shows and then there are the other fans I meet. I know I’d meet someone I knew at a Pearl Jam show anywhere in the world.

I have found being around new people scary throughout my life yet at a Pearl Jam show this melts away and I find I can join in without being afraid. This is a relief. I feel at home and accepted. And the Leeds show had everything I desired.

The venue was a delight, the people I wanted to be there were there and the show was something beyond my wildest dreams. And a night out queueing for good measure arriving at the venue just after 4.30 Monday afternoon for a show Tuesday night and I wasn’t the first. I still haven’t mastered the art of sleeping on the concrete so it was a sleepless night. A sleepless night of conversation, of big Mick on the guitar, a visit by a drunk and companionship.

I could write so much about the show, the rarities played, Fatal getting played as a request for a friend. The only thing I want to write about is Jeremy. Every time I hear it live it affects me deeper than the last. A song about a young boy who shot himself in front of his classmates feeling that nobody cared. Now they’d care. My whole body shook on Tuesday as the twin peaks of his scream and my own screams as a child to be cared about met. I sobbed because we live in a world where children have guns, where children are soldiers, where children are abused. I love the power of this song, I love how the brutal truth is being told.

I want to thank everyone at Leeds who made the show so special for me. So very special for me. I can’t name you all as I’ll end up forgetting someone so I’m going to name no one. I’m thanking the crowd with no names and I’m trusting you to know who you are.

Think you all

And for me, I’m still Alive and those who know that story know I really didn’t think I would be.

A Letter.

This is something I’ve been wanting to post for a while but my fear of being so open and putting my dreams and my heart on the line have got in the way. So, I’m putting the fears aside and away we go…

Dear You,

I have no idea who you are. I do think you might be circling waiting for me to say yes. God, I don’t even know what to say although this has been spinning around my head for weeks.

Ok. You are the woman who is going to want to date me for who I am. Wow, just writing that has brought tears to my eyes. See, I’m conditioned to be something you want me to be, conditioned to have to be perfect. But I’m not. And I’m also 46 now and I’m not super fit or great looking. I’m overweight. Smoke too much.

So meeting you will hurt as much as delight as I’ll have to trust you want me as I am. That’s kinda terrifying. I don’t have a lot to offer in the material world. Actually make that pretty much fuck all. I live in a weeny bedsit, I’ve got debt, I’ve started a project having quit a well paying job and lord knows when,if it’ll provide me with a regular income.

And I want to fall head over heals in love. But with someone who won’t betray my heart, won’t sleep around. Someone who would enjoy a love note left by the kettle for the fun of it, who’d want to spend time with me.
This also means sex. This is a tricky area for me. I was abused as a child and this can sometimes get in the way. I sometimes don’t really know how I’m meant to be around sex. I’m pretty sexual but I’ve been criticised for this in the past. I’ve tried to be the perfect lover. I’m 46, not 26. Please don’t expect me to be a super stud. And please let me express that I’m not sure how to be without being a super stud. That was a currency for me. I’m crying now as I realise I’m so very lost here. Please be gentle with me. I promise I’ll give you that back.

But I’m also aware I can get angry, I’ve ‘stuff’, I carry a fair bit of shame. I can be very spiky if I feel threatened and I find it hard to trust people. I feel like I’m talking myself out of the ‘position’ here. Yes, I’ve got shit. Yes I’m far from perfect and I’ve also a lot to offer as I have a giant, poetic heart that want love and beauty in the world. I’d love to be a father so we could have kids or if you’ve got already I’d be hugely happy to be a step dad to young children. I’ve learned a lot through therapy, personal development. Sometimes I reckon I know a lot. Today I feel utterly bemused. I’m smart too. And funny.

I’m also an addict and died from an overdose coming on to 8 years ago. I don’t use drugs/booze anymore. But the addictive tendencies live in me. I was a mess for a good few years after cleaning up but didn’t realise how much at the time. I’m doing ok now but I’m not perfect. I’ve some rough edges.

I do know you’re out there. Actually someone did a reading a while ago and said you were a northern woman called Terri or something similar. But he’s got the love life part of readings wrong before.

I’d like you to be able to accept me finding you sexually attractive. And not feel that it’s ‘bad’. It’d really help if you’re into Pearl Jam. I’ve a bit of a thing about them. If not I hope you’re up for travelling and having adventures with me following the band. It’s kinda my thing and I love it.
I love gambling too. It’s something I do. I don’t lose on the whole. I do intuit winners, or have gambling medicine as a Native friend told me once. But it can be something I do to distract myself and it’s not super healthy. But it is fun and I know plenty of people who really disapprove of gambling. A part of me wishes I didn’t at all as it’s something my dad does. Who is a royal ass by the way so I hope you’re accepting of someone who doesn’t think the sun shines out of his parent’s butt. They’re flawed humans too. My mum is dead. Both are long stories for another day.

So, wherever you are please show yourself. By the way with my history I really don’t want a big drinker in my life and certainly no drugs of any sort. If you want someone who’d delight in reading you poetry, mine and others, I’m your man. I do want a sexual relationship. It’s scary to say but a lot please. Like an alive sexual relationship. I know what I mean and you’ll know too.
I feel a little silly now, a little shy but also lighter.

A big aaaaaaaaahhhh.


I’m Tom, pleased to meet you….

Ordinary Is Ok.


I’ve woken up with the full impact of something that started to creep up on me the last couple of days. Initially like a fine mist, hardly discernible. Then last night the clouds darkened and in them I saw the shapes of truth starting to form. I spoke my truth to a friend and after he left I tried looking in another direction for the sunlight. Yet the clouds now were chasing me.

I’m due to fly to Amsterdam in a few hours to see Pearl Jam and I am so miserable. I feel so lonely, so alone. This is my thing. Or has been for 5 years. This has also been a marker to the progress I’ve made since the summer of 06 when I overdosed and only lived because I was with people who brought me round. I quit using drugs and drink in the autumn of 06. Seeing them in 06 was not going to happen with needles eating the money I had. 07 I couldn’t make it to London to see them as money was thin being on benefits and trying to get myself together. By 09 I had some work and caught the 2 UK shows, met ‘PJ Paul’ and became part of the touring community. ’10 I caught 3 shows, 2 in Ireland, the second in Belfast and I chose to not get accommodation for that night to save money and intended to crash at the airport but it was closed so I loitered in a hotel lobby and wandered the streets till the airport opened.

I had a goal. To be working,earning enough to be able to afford a real road trip without crashing in airports, watching every penny. ‘Success’ for the guy who died and made it back.

’12 came along and I made it to 5 shows but with a backdrop of a chaotic relationship. She went back with her ex just as I’m about to fly to Prague. The wounded child in me accepts her apologies by email,the show is year stained. The pattern learned as a child that to be abused, not be able to trust and to accept crumbs is alive. The little boy in me knows this well…do whatever you like to me and I’ll accept it as long as there’s a little something for me. Lie to me,beat me,break my heart; it’s ok so long as you’re there to do it again. This mess lasted until the December and a horrible ending. But I was free,painfully 4 months of intense grieving free.

As time took me into spring I started to form a dream. A dream to go to the States and see PJ on their expected Fall tour. I was working hard and when the dates were released I committed. I was going to make it happen. I did.

This was for me, for the child in me that never got to do what he wanted. For the adolescent in me who had never been having had to look after himself from 16 in a wreckage of a family. We went to the US. We rocked, we danced, we met people, we ate great food. There were tears. Tears of joy as dreams came true, permission to live alive was granted.

The gift to myself was huge on many levels. Truly loving myself, giving to myself. The first show in Phoenix was a dream. Everything I dared to hope for and more. And more! Me? Me receive more from the gods than I could dream about? Oh my, how does that fit with the heartbroken child? This was good eating, the sweet taste of joy.

And I came back knowing I had to leave my job even though I earned well. I had to take care of me and stop working where I’m not valued,where consciousness didn’t exist,where I didn’t have to fight to be heard.

The gods knew this and gave me the gift of being able to start my own music project,Given To Live, thanks to the right people being in my life. I love this project and it’s tough as I’m alone and haven’t earned for a couple of months. Thankfully I’ve had financial help from a couple of friends to help me get by. I utterly believe in the project.

So I fly to Amsterdam in a few hours thankful I could pay upfront in December when the dates were announced. Yet this feels hollow.

I wonder who I am and what I want. I want to meet someone to love and be loved by. A real relationship built on trust.

I’ve been single for over 18 months bar a couple of exploratory kisses. I feel unattractive, fat, unlikeable. Yet there is a growing sense of self that says I’m ok as I am. Out with the old in with the new. Painfully so.

I do so much to distract myself…series on Netflix, often pure dross but addictive, copious amounts of coffee, smoking fiercely, eating crap. I gamble, not enough to hurt me financially but enough to distract me-and boy are there gambling opportunities with the World Cup on. Oh how like my father I am except he never stops gambling until he is forced to take a break because he’s losing.

All this yet somehow I feel better about myself than I’ve ever done. Perhaps all this distraction is to keep me from letting my magnificence shine through. Perhaps I daren’t shine.

Perhaps after years of necessary distraction, self medication to numb to trauma,pain,shame that is the legacy of my childhood I’m now trying to numb my ascent into adulthood? Perhaps being me is so unusual I don’t know what to do.

I want to write. I want to fall in love passionately. I want to laugh and dance with joy.

Ah! Ah…I’ve been with my current therapist for over six years. A theme has been for me to learn to accept being ordinary. So a little awareness arises and I see this trip doesn’t have to be the same as my US trip. This isn’t about great obstacles being overcome, this isn’t about proving to myself I can achieve dreams.

This is that life goes on. That it’s ordinary. That I can go see my favourite band and have a great time and that’s it. That adventures don’t always have monsters to fight.

Now I’m ready to go. Now I know I’m allowed to enjoy my trip even though it’s not a landmark trip like November’s. It’s a landmark of its own, of thinking ahead and booking in December when I had the money and taking care of me. Of remembering life is ordinary a lot of the time. That this trip,and Berlin the week after, are gifts to me if more subtle than November’s.

I’m ready. Thank you all for this space to share. A place in my need for distraction I’ve not visited in a while. Outside my window clouds are gathering. Inside me the clouds have been chased away and it feels like springtime, a time of hope, of new life.

Note to self…Tom, write more often for the love of god. It’s my stairway to divinity. Pay attention to this.