Monday, 23 October 2017

Random day

Just thought I'd share a strange story.  There's no moral, no punchline and it isn't particularly amusing, just a strange thing that I experienced one day.

Some readers may already know, but I used to get myself in quite a lot of trouble by refusing to blindly accept things and also ask far too many questions. As a result, my natural need to take a pragmatic approach to life used to get me into all sorts of bother when I worked at the hospital.

One afternoon, I was responsible for admitting to the unit the patients that were on the operations list the following day. Basically, the patients come in the day before so that all the routines can be fulfilled, the paperwork completed and medical observations performed and so on. The aim was that the following day the surgical lists would be assured to run smoothly and without a hiccup.

For the patients arriving, all this can be quite boring as there is little for them to be doing apart from doing a lot of waiting.  And there is lots and lots of waiting.

On this particular afternoon, we only had one patient for admission and he was fortunate enough to have the 4 bedded bay to himself.

Now, each bed is numbered, and each patient is assigned a numbered bed.  This bed chart is completed and forward to various managers, one of whom being "the bed manager" who is responsible for overall bed allocations within the hospital.

So, sat with the patient by his bed as it starts to get dark outside, I am filling in his paperwork with him.  Switching on his bedside light so that I can see better, the light doesn't work.  The bulb has "blown."

Now, the procedures state that I must fill in a form for the "estates and maintenance" department.  This form is then countersigned by my manager and enters into the system.  Weeks later, someone appears with a bulb that doesn't fit and says he will be back later.  More weeks pass and eventually a man with a bulb appears on the ward but no one can remember where it is supposed to go because it was all so long ago and now the original paperwork has gone missing.

I decide against this nonsense and simply switch bulbs with the bed opposite. I intend to leave a note for the night staff so they can fill in the form, and thus the policies are fulfilled, and my patient can read his book in bed this evening.

But disaster happens.  I'm seen changing the bulbs by the unit's jobsworth.  She starts lecturing me about policy, job descriptions and health and safety and how I won't be "covered" if anything happened to me when I changed the bulb.  Apparently, I'm going to be "reported."

And that was when it happened.

She told me to "switch the bulbs back to the way they were before you messed with them."

I paused for a breath before saying that this was against policy because there were health and safety implications for messing with light bulbs and I'm not allowed to touch them. After all, this is what she has just lectured me about.

"Do as you are told!" she commanded.

"I am," I responded.

And she marched off, presumably to get reinforcements.

The patient attempted to offer a resolution. "Why don't I just switch to that bed over there?" as he picked up his stuff and move over.

But of course, that bed didn't have a working bulb, because I'd just switched them.

"Just switch them back like she said," said the patient.

And, just as I was about to, you guessed it, back came the jobsworth with her reinforcements and commanded that I cease and desist immediately and go and wait in the office. 

The patient was told that he could not switch beds because of the allocations had already been made, and he was ordered back to his original bed.  As he did this, she switched the bulbs back, so that he was back in his original bed with the broken bulb.

Order had been restored.

And there you have it. A random day in my life.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sex, Stalking and NLP Training

After allowing for time zone changes and jet lag, I had one day spare to see the sights before the NLP training began. As there was a choice of theme parks to attend and a lot of shopping malls to see, I was up early that day. By 7am, I am experiencing my first 'all you can eat' breakfast for less than 4 dollars. Needless to say, I made sure I got my money's worth, read the paper, drank a bladder full of tea and after taking tourist advice from the helpful restaurant staff I headed off in search of a bus to go into town.

By 10am I was in the theme park and by 10.30am, I realised that I don't actually like theme parks. There's something about the insincerity of the places that make me feel a little bit depressed. I guess I prefer nature, beaches and countryside. I just don't enjoy mingling with men dressed up as cartoon characters and seeing dolphins imprisoned in swimming pools.

I stopped at one of the many restaurants and had a jumbo bowl of ice-cream and mug of steaming tea whilst collecting my thoughts. It was during the ice-cream headache that I formulated the plan of foregoing any attempt at 'getting my money's worth' to have a go on the frighteningly large roller coaster and then leave the park and head back into town for the shopping malls.

Now, I got lucky. As there wasn't a queue for the roller coaster, I could jump straight on board. I didn't really think about it, I just jumped in the first seat available in front of me and quickly realised my mistake. In my excitement, I had ignored the etiquette of leaving an empty seat gap between myself and the next person. After all, about half the seats were empty. This etiquette failure wasn't missed by the 17-year-old blonde girl beside whom I had just sat, who in turn was sat next to her mum. They both looked at me and then looked at each other. Their expressions said it all.

I suddenly looked and felt like the man who is in a theme park on his own, who has just got onto a half-empty ride and who has just sat too close to the underage pretty blonde girl. In the few seconds that this awful realisation and psychic exchange was occurring and before I could get up and move seats, the safety bar was lowered, thus trapping me inside this socially embarrassing situation.

But it got worse.

The only way to hold on was to have my arms up and out in front of me on the safety bar. The width of which meant than in order to hold on, my arm made an unnecessary level of contact with the girl's arm. And of course, being hot and sunny, we were both short sleeved. I tried to escape this, as did she, but unfortunately, the only other place to rest my arms would be to have them down by my side, which would mean my hand would rest between my thighs and her thighs. Naturally, it was only by attempting this that I found this out.

I had visions of how the press release would go after my arrest.

This wasn't at all good.

And it got worse.

Now, with this teenage girl clearly feeling very uncomfortable with my continued presence and an inescapable level of skin-to-skin contact, her mother attempted to call over the attendant to raise the barriers so that they could move to some other seats. But no-one heard her and the bastard ride started to move.

Continuing to feel very awkward indeed and unable to escape, the roller coaster climbed higher and higher and higher and higher and higher until I was worried that I was actually going to faint. Then, just when I could panic no more, it rocketed vertically downwards with a horrifying level of acceleration. A thought briefly flashed across my brain that this must be the sensation that one gets just before a plane crashes from a very high altitude, and I am sure I lost consciousness somewhere for a moment. I'd been grappling around in my panic and realised that I was now holding the blonde girl's safety bar and not my own. I could feel her glaring at me as we corkscrewed around the loop the loop thing and I struggled not to be sick.

But it was to get worse. Much, much worse.

About 30 seconds after it had started, the ride was finally over and the safety bars were released. Mother and daughter quickly left the ride as I struggled to regain control of my limbs and found to my amazement that I could actually breathe again. Then, in attempting to control my exit from the coaster, I managed to thrust myself out onto the platform, stumble forward like a drunkard and go crashing into both mother and daughter who were squatting down whilst putting their shoes back on.

The only thing for which I am thankful is that I had peace of mind not to try to grab either of them to try and save myself falling. Instead, I crashed to the ground whilst mother, daughter and the ride attendants deliberated whether or not to call the paramedics or to call the police.

I didn't wait around to hear the sirens and clumsily fled the scene of this social crime. I escaped back to the hotel to regain my dignity, change my clothes and put on a wig before heading to the mall for some serious shopping.

I'd never been to America before and this was turning out to be one heck of an introduction.

There are of course other perils with attending a training that is a sizable distance away from home. For example, problems can arise from the choice of accommodation. One such problem was experienced by Trevor ' a hefty 6 foot, 6 inch tall Safety Officer from Scarborough. Looking rather haggard from jet-lag on the first day of the training, Trevor explained the problems of staying in a cheap motel. Keen to avoid the rather high bedroom fees of the hotel in which the training was held, Trevor opted instead to save a fortune and book into what became quickly known 'The Bates Motel' across the road. It was a decision he quickly began to regret. Not only were the beds too short, but the 'bed end' meant that stretching out was totally impossible.

Of course, this was only the start of Trevor's regrets. For you see, being a cheap motel in an expensive part of town, the Bates' Motel was inevitably a major draw to students looking for cheap accommodation during their Spring Break. And of course, the student Spring Break coincided perfectly with the duration of the training.

So, lying diagonally each night in a hapless attempt at comfort, Trevor was forced to endure the hormonal antics of drunken teenagers and student sex each and every night for the duration of his stay. The evidence of such activity was invariably found slithering around on the shared bathroom's floor each and every morning.

Of course, all this torment proved very amusing to the other course attendees who would have to nudge Trevor awake at the end of each group hypnosis session lest his snoring give the trainers completely the wrong impression.

It was only when Trevor developed a rather sinister skin rash that everyone started staying away.

Rather than seeing it as a worrying problem, it was this rash that one attendee from Birmingham began to wonder might solve his own particular problems arising from being on the course.

'Do you think I am overly attractive?' asked Derek in a concerned tone of voice.

'What?' I asked, not quite sure where this was going.

'No. No. Not like that. I mean, to men, do you think I am attractive to men?'

And I must say, I was even more concerned for a moment. After all, I had just returned from the coffee shop with Janet, Derek's wife, who was standing right beside me. Now, I've been on courses before where on the last evening attendees gather in the bar and rapidly turn it into some strange kind of immoral fuckfest, but this seemed too early on in the course. We were only on day two out of six. So, just where on earth was Derek leading with this line of questioning'? I was worried.

'Derek, what are you on about?' I asked as I quickly hid behind Janet.

'Well, see him over there,' he said pointing at a ginger haired guy. 'I think he might fancy me or something.'

I had to look again. After all, the guy being pointed at is considered to be quite a 'name' in the field.

'What on earth makes you think that?' I asked.

And so Derek told me. Apparently, the previous day Ginger had told him that he thought Derek was 'hot' and winked knowingly. As a rampant heterosexual, poor Derek was a little confused by this and wondered just what Ginger had meant.

'Let me take you in there and show you,' Ginger had apparently replied with another wink whilst gesturing to the toilets.

'And what did you say to him?' I asked as Derek was turning quite red with embarrassment at telling the story.

'I didn't know what to say,' said Derek.

'So, you didn't say, 'no', then?' I asked much to the amusement of the rapidly assembling audience who had migrated away from Trevor's infection update to hear about a possible NLP sex scandal.

'Uhhh'no''urrghh'fuck off!

So, we'll return to the blooming relationship between Derek and Ginger in a bit.

Meanwhile, NLP courses tend to attract some fairly common stereotypes. The most evident are what have become known as the 'NLP Wankers' ' these are the course junkies and groupies who wander around smugly intimidating everyone with how fantastic they feel and like to show off how confident they are. Visual cues are often there too. The guys invariably have a little ponytail and tend to mimic their favourite trainers' mannerisms and dress style, and the girls tend to have to project their voice at all times, stand like a man and invariably stand too close.

Their conversation skills are fairly limited to discussion such as, 'Who did you train with?' and 'How did you get into NLP?' and so forth. They do of course always refer to their celebrity trainers on first name terms and always have a story to tell about their amazing experience to anyone who will stand and listen. Any deviation from the theme tends to confuse them a bit, something that often sends them running over to their next victim.

The other category that is common are the 'Wannabe NLP Wankers' ' this is the second most dangerous category of all. These are the 'Groupies In Training' who are still at that ridiculous meta-model phase and think it hilarious to challenge everything with a ''specifically?' question. I hate these idiots and wish for them all to be neutered. The reason for this is that they tend to want to 'do' NLP on everyone ' they wander around commanding everyone with exceptionally unsubtle language patterns and keep poking and prodding everyone under the guise of 'anchoring.'

Shoot them. Shoot them all.

Often on the big courses, it isn't unusual to find a reasonable number of people with mild to significant emotional and/or behavioural problems. This is to be expected of course, because seminars focussing on NLP and hypnosis tend carry a significant leaning towards personal development, and so those in need of personal development attend. Of this attendee group, the majority will have self insight and so tend not to present any of their problems to other people outside of any appropriate context.

So, this is the category of normal people. They are there for all the right reasons, with social skills variable, dress codes mixed and they tend not to go around inflicting their NLPness upon everyone else.

So, all well and good so far.

However, on every single NLP orientated course that I have ever attended there is always at least one member of the most sinister category of all. And that category is the 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Serious Problems.'

A brief outline of a 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Problems' is as follows:

Usually a social inept male who utterly fails to respond to social feedback. In order to overcome his social limitations, rather than change his own behaviours he seeks to change and control the behaviours of other people. Often a devotee of NLP orientated seduction material he suffers raging hormones that render him highly sexed with nowhere to discharge and he stalks his way around NLP workshops.

And stalking is the right word here. For on this particular course, our 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Problems' was a 54-year-old Londoner called Wain.

From the first day other seminar participants started referring to him as 'Wain the Wanker' which rapidly became shortened to the somewhat inevitable, 'Wainker.'

I'd met Wainker briefly the day before the seminar shortly after my embarrassing day out at the theme park. He shook my hand and introduced himself. He didn't let go very quickly and when he did, his hand slithered away from mine. Afterwards my hand felt emotionally sticky as if he left some etheric pervert glue on me that could only be properly removed with a brillo pad, bleach and a decent Catholic priest.

From the very first day, Wainker was spreading his pervert glue around the large number of Japanese women who had flown in for the training. Coated in cheap aftershave, Wainker moved quickly like a sex offender whispering creepy NLP language patterns into uncomprehending Japanese ears as a vain excuse to maul any accessible opart of their body. On the first day, the women retained their Japanese demeanour, polite mannerisms and Kimonos. By day 2, they were wearing running shoes.

By day three, Wainker had focussed his attentions to me. Every corner I turned, he was there. If I stood still, he was there, mauling me and trying to get me to 'try not to feel amazing now', 'remember when you felt really good, with burning desire'.' I began to get loaded down by the pervert glue.

Now, this isn't common. At 6ft 2, such people rarely try to bother me. On the odd occasion when they do, I invariably invoke the three-stage escalation rule.

Response 1. 'Get the fuck off me, now!' No ambiguity there, so if this is unheeded, move to response 2.
Response 2. Use sudden and unexpected physical force to establish at least an arm's length distance between myself and the aggressor. This is paired with a loud retort of, 'Get off me, now!' If this still goes unheeded and the aggressor has still not understood or continues to present a threat, move to response 3.
Response 3. Escape the scenario immediately, or if circumstances dictate that this is not possible, immediately reduce the threat posed with a pre-emptive strike within the parameters of the law.

On my first encounter with Wainker the day before the workshop, I politely but forcefully got away from him the moment he let go of my hand. My second encounter with him led to me to aggressively push him away and telling him to get away from me. Sensing danger, he retreated quickly.

But after that, he kept sneaking up on me.

When we broke for group work, he was always there. I'd be pouring tea at the tea stand, and he'd be there. I went out for a meal across town with a girlfriend, and he was there on the next table. One lunchtime I popped into town to buy a pair of shoes, and he was there in the shoe shop. Every bar I went to, every restaurant, every toilet. Like a sick shadow, Wainker was everywhere, trying to whisper NLP bullshit into my ear in some freakish attempt to make me want to let him bugger me.

It culminated towards the end of the week in a bar that he happened to appear in. Yes, there were over one hundred bars in town, and Wainker had managed to find the one bar that had me in it.

'Come here!' He demanded as he wondered over to my table. He stopped and stood about 15 feet away.

'Fuck off! Just'fuck'right'off!!' I shouted as aggressively as I could and with a little higher pitch than intended. Other people turned round and looked.

Needless to say, he didn't fuck off. Instead, he came over and grabbed my arm as he leaned over to my ear and started to breathe, 'Now, feeling that warm feeling inside...''

So, I whacked the freak. I picked up the chair and hit him again and again, breaking the chair into pieces as I did so. All my fury and frustration that had built up inside me came pouring out in an orgy of violence. I tried to jam the broken chair leg in his ear.

But I didn't of course. Because that is only what happened in my imagination in the hours afterwards. Actually what really happened was that as soon as he grabbed my arm and started saying the same old creepy stuff, I pushed him away forcefully and fled the bar immediately feeling thoroughly intimidated.

A bit shaken up, I return to the bar at the hotel where I meet Derek.

'What's up buddy?' he asked. So I told him the story about Wainker and how I was fantasising about hitting him with a chair.

'At least he isn't Ginger,' said Derek.

'Maybe so, but he is the most relentless weirdo I have ever met.' I said. It is true, he is. And as if to prove the point, right on cue Wainker came and sat at our table. The fucker must have followed me again. He reached over to Derek, poking him in the nipple, 'Now, you, like me, like to feel good, really good'' Wainker slathered.

Derek looked at him aghast at first and then aggressively, but Wainker continued undeterred, ''...and as you feel really good, you can begin to wonder what new experiences you can open your mind too...' he continued.

And then, suddenly without a word being said by either myself or Derek, Wainker just got up and left. I was puzzled until I saw Derek's face.

'Oh Jesus!' He breathed as he looked past my shoulder and in the direction of the bar. I turned. There was Ginger, mincing his way in our direction.

All this got me wondering if there is a strange kind of hierarchy between stalkers. Wainker bowing down in front of Ginger's evidently freaky superiority and quitting the field. Maybe there's a territorial mentality between stalkers or a secret communication that the rest of us don't see. Wainker was everywhere, but Ginger had precision. Precision wins.

Wainker was everywhere. Incredibly, he was even in the same security queue as me at the airport when I was leaving the country. But I like to think that is just co-incidence. He couldn't have followed me in a taxi, surely?

Characters like Wainker and Ginger are mercifully rare, but their persistence and determination tend to make them seem more common than they really are. The difference between these two is that Wainker is clearly a highly disturbed and socially dysfunctional individual who undoubtedly was known to the authorities, Ginger is a highly successful trainer and businessman who is clearly not only socially functional but is also very popular. What is evident from all this is that all the NLP training in the world won't save people from making a complete fool of themselves in making major social mistakes. For me this isn't really the bad thing in all of this. After all, for my own part, I can be one of the most socially inept people around and often have to make the sheepish phone call the next day to apologise.

No, it was the small detail that Ginger was supposedly a 'name' in the NLP world and was an assistant on the course on which Derek was a paid attendee. Call me old-fashioned, but I have this strange belief that course trainers and assistants, homosexual or otherwise, really should not try to shag course attendees. Unless of course, a shag was part of the payment deal, but let's not go there.

But then I guess Ginger wouldn't have been the first or the last to use his 'status' in the NLP world to try and get laid. As the fuckfest in the bar on the last evening of the course would later demonstrate.

But more about that in due course.

One of the greatest things for me in attending large courses is the number of fun characters I tend to meet. One of the shining stars on this particular course was Gene. Gene The Invisible was how I first thought of him. With his trousers hitched up past his diaphragm and sporting a haircut that could only have been performed by a blind psychotic, Gene appeared at first to be lacking in any real social skills and tended to shy away from the crowd. It is in meeting people like Gene that I realise how absolutely wrong I can be in judging character. It soon became evident that Gene's naturally talent for comedy made him an excellent public speaker and it wasn't long before he found himself unable to escape the crowd. He consequently tended to be the centre of it and I couldn't help but get the impression that everyone knew why Gene was so popular except for Gene himself.

Now as the week-long seminar drew onward, the growing hormone levels became almost palpable. "I heard that Richard once told all seminar attendees that the gloves were off and they were all married for the week," one panting attendee told me whilst gawping at the Japanese girls. "Uh huh," I said non-committedly, hoping that he'd go away before asking me how I got "into" NLP.

I was rescued by Lolita Smutt, the predatory female "Flirt Coach" who had systematically induced the vagina dentata phobia in every male that she spoke to. She homed in on me, and I readied myself for a mauling whilst the previously panting attendee fled the scene as his testicles retracted in fear.

She stood like a man, but too close and leaning back slightly so that she took on the appearance of a she-male presenting her crotch to me for a good sniffing.

My dog went through a phase of sniffing crotches and it briefly passed through my mind just what the dog would do in a situation like this. I stood like a rabbit caught in the headlights, whilst my brain struggled for something meaningful to say.

I didn't have to worry. Lolita supplied the question to fill the silence. She put her hand on her hip and leaned back a bit further, a pose I had witnessed her strike often before she moved in for the kill.

"So, how did you get into NLP?" she asked. Oh no, not another one - not again! I rather thought she was going to ask me about the size of my cock.

I looked around hoping to catch the eye of someone else I could bring into the conversation, but it was too late. They had all fled to the refreshments table. I realise that I'm the last man standing and they didn't even leave me any weapons. Bastards.

I struggled for a few moments trying to think of the best answer - one that was non-committal enough to discourage the conversation, but one that wasn't rude or insulting in anyway. An awkward gap opened and she bridged it by leaning close and taking ahold of my masonic pendant and asked about its meaning.

The situation was deteriorating by the second. If I tell her what it is, she'll inevitably tell me that she's into magick and wicca and I'll have to hear all about her orgies on hilltops under full moons.

"It's Masonic." I blurt. Fuck!

"Hey, that's so cool," she tells me, "I'm into Wicca myself, do you know much about Magick....?" The fingers caressing my pendant 'accidently' touch my throat.

"Tell you what, I'm just going to go and get a coffee." I tell her.

Actually, I hate coffee, but she didn't need to know that.

I went over and joined Pip who was doing his best for international relations. Having already spent the night with one of the Swedes, a Fin and a Japanese - not at the same time, I should add - he was now working his charms on a lady from Mexico. It was when she asked him, "So, how did you get into NLP?" that I saw his heart sink. He quit and we moved back outside to join the smokers where Trevor was showing people his rash.

All around us the temperature was rising.

"The fuckfest is coming," I told Pip. "Don't worry, it is coming."

"Yes. Yes it surely is." Confirmed Pip.

For the uninitiated, the NLP fuckfest invariably occurs on the evening of the last day of the course. Usually in the hotel bar of the venue where the course is hosted. The fuckfest is an international affair as it usually consists of those people who are catching flights out the next day, or are travelling further than convenient evening transport permits.

Usually, on the end of the last day, there is lots of hyping up of people. There's all the rounds of applause, the giving out of certificates, the cheering, the thanking and lots of feel-good stuff flying around. Email addresses and phone numbers get exchanged, promises of coming-to-visit-sometime are made and hugs and kisses all round. Of course, memories fade fast and very few people ever make that contact later on. But why spoil a good moment as this is all good atmosphere building for the chaos that comes later.

I fled quickly to avoid all the spittle. Before I went I checked with Derek if he was coming to the fuckfest.

"The what?" He asked cautiously.

"Don't worry, it's harmless enough but trust me, you will never look at some of these people the same way again." I told him.

"I'll be there." He said.

I arrived in the bar seconds before Derek and Janet. We were the first ones there. We pulled up our chairs, ordered our drinks and lit our cigars.

"Ahh..let the games begin." Said Derek as the crowd began to arrive.

It wasn't long before some Israeli guy was attempting to chat up Janet. The presence of Derek and myself didn't deter him one bit, after all, this was an NLP fuckfest. All gloves were off - somebody had said that Richard had once said so. And now people were saying that someone had said that Richard had said so. It all gets silly like this at the fuckfest.

"Fuck off!" Janet advised him quietly. She had done one of these before, I could tell.

Meanwhile, a trainer from Germany was strutting his stuff and not getting very far before declaring that he was in an "open relationship" with his girlfriend who was sat wearing a miniskirt so short that one gawping guy declared loudly that he could "see her pubes". This elicited cheers from the throbbing crowd.

She sat next to me. "Come up to my room," she suggested as I watched Pip trying to not explain to Lolita Smutt how he got into NLP. Sensing his opportunity, Pip called over the German trainer and introduced him to Lolita who immediately set about him demanding to know how it was that he got "into" NLP.

All around us, more people were arriving and everyone was getting increasingly tactile. The tension and desperation was growing to a fevered pitch. More guys tried hitting on Janet and all met with the same fate. I began to expect violence at any moment - Janet could get like that after a few drinks.

Meanwhile, clearly feeling left out of the shenanigans, German Miniskirt shouted woefully, "Why doesn't anyone want to fuck me?" before stropping off to the ladies room.

My girlfriend was sat the other side of me enjoying the show. As a psychopharmacologist with no interest in NLP or anything related she could only sit back and say, "You NLP people sure are a weird bunch!" at which point German trainer came immediately in order to attempt to demonstrate "anchoring" on her which seemed to involved an awful lot of what I would call, "stroking."

"You are a prick!" She told him and he quickly withdrew to go and try his luck on the ever-present Japanese girls before returning to Lolita who was grateful to find the only guy in the building that wasn't scared of her.

Elsewhere things were building to a climatic crescendo. Sexual tension and desperation hung in the air and the air was getting sticky. So to extend the time for opportunity, the call came to move onto a nightclub elsewhere that was open late. This created much excitement as some people tried to persuade other people, who of course had to put up the token resistance. The noise grew and then as quickly as it had started, it was over. The horny rabble departed noisily as the fuckfest moved onwards.

This left the bar empty except for me, Maddy, Derek and Janet.

"Thank Christ for that." said Maddy as the rest of us nodded in agremeent.

"Shall we go home now?" I suggested.

"Oh yes, yes please," came the reply. 
(C) 2007 Andrew T. Austin
 

Post-Script 1
Firstly, thanks to all those people who wrote to me to point out the typos. It still amazes me that I can read through a piece of writing several times and run it through the spell checker, and still numerous typos remain unnoticed. I'd never make an editor, that is for sure. So please, if you do spot typos, I do appreciate someone telling me. Thanks!

Now, in the first 24 hours since I put up this page, I received quite a large amount of emails relating to the essay. Whilst the majority were expressing some level of agreement to the themes explored in the essay, I did get a few that only serve to prove my point.

I'll add at this point that no private correspondence will ever be published or identities betrayed outside of a court order and/or written consent . And that being said, I was quite amazed to receive two very similar emails from two different individuals whom I have never knowingly met or nor ever heard of before. Both identified themselves the same as one of the characters portrayed in the essay, and both threatened legal action if I didn't remove the webpage.

I did wonder if the emails were hoaxes - I do appreciate this kind of humour - but no. The IP addresses and email domains check out and correspond to their business websites.

I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

So, bring it on boys, bring it on.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Cripple Sex

Many years ago I worked briefly in a residential unit for severely physically challenged people. Now, I say “briefly” because my employment lasted exactly one day and 90 minutes. The first problem arose one day one from my candid conversations with a small group of 16-19 year old about how exactly sex is possible when one’s body is severely contorted with spasticity and lacking any overt conscious control.

Some people in such situations have a number of problems. One is that nurses and care staff rarely see it as part of their duty to assist their charges in having sexual intercourse with each other. Another problem is that a person with such severe disability may well have the same attraction strategy as anyone else – i.e. attraction to fit and able-bodied people. Now, in terms of attraction and integrity, which self-respecting cripple would knowingly date a person who is sexually attracted to, and aroused by, people with serious physical deformities? By the very nature of the problem, some cripples are destined to only ever date perverts.

These were the issues comically put to me by my teenage charges, and the conversation was interrupted by my boss who clearly wasn’t happy. Clearly, sexuality amongst these teenagers was a subject to be institutionally ignored or there’d be trouble. That was the first indicator that there was a problem. The second and biggest problem, or at least, the problem that was written down on my dismissal notice, occurred on the second morning around 7am when I found myself at variance with the manager over exactly what “residential unit” actually meant.

For all I know I might be a pedant over such semantics and be unaware of my own pedantry. So this is of course quite possible, but when I was told to enter a room at 7am, turf the “resident” out of bed and bath him whether he liked it or not, I found myself questioning a few things. After all, I was aware that some of the residents, including the one I was to turf out of bed, were up until about 2am watching all three of the Omen movies.

And today was Saturday.

You will do as you are told,” my manager barked. She was disturbingly good-looking, blue-eyed, blonde and about 4 years older than me. She pointed her finger at me and fixed her stare. The previous day, some of the resident cripples had told me, with much-hushed mirth and laughter, of her nick-name. It was quite appropriate given her general demeanor, attitude and the place in which she was in charge.

Get on with your work.” She demanded. Now, personally, when I get up in the morning, I like to take my time. I usually begin with a cup of tea, catch up with the news headlines, another cup of tea in the bath and then onto breakfast. Apparently, in this “residential” unit, things were quite different.

The finger continued to be pointed at me, and as I had a rudimentary understanding of Bateson’s work at this point I knew that “the pointed finger denotes the fist, but does not denote that which is denoted by the fist” - so I pointed both my forefingers and middle fingers back her as though they were pistols and grinned, saying, “Ha! Outgunned! Now whatcha gonna do, call the sheriff?”

Well of course, what she did was sack me on the spot. The reasons given on the paper work I received later were “inappropriate attitude”, “inappropriate conversations with residents” and “unwillingness to perform the required duties of the organization” which I guess in their own way were all quite accurate.

Before I left though, I did let slip to her what her nick name was. I had to. I’m just that kind of guy.
How weird it was though when about four years later I found myself sat opposite her at the dining table of an Army friend’s wedding reception. Trapped for over an hour opposite someone nicknamed “Margaret Mengele” who, on sitting down next to her rather frightening looking husband, looks over to me and says, “Oh hi! You seem really familiar, where do I know you from?”

Oh happy days...    

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The problem with Nigel

The phone rang in the therapist’s office. The mother on the other end outlined the problem – Nigel, her son, now aged 44 had been in care for nearly 8 years in a state of catatonic schizophrenia. Various drugs and electroconvulsive therapy had been tried with only moderate and always a temporary success. Neurological assessments revealed nothing of significance. Nigel spent his days in a seemingly twilight world where there was minimal, if any, apparent interest in his surroundings. In short, Nigel appeared fully conscious yet totally unresponsive.

I think they have given up on him,” his mother told the therapist, and knowing his reputation asked, “Is there anything you can do?

Oh yes!” Replied the Good Looking Therapist.

The trickiest part was getting the psychiatric care home to allow the therapist in. There are all sorts of rules about these things and territorial considerations, but with persistence and some wiley charms, the therapist was able to get the relevant forms signed.

With minimal observation, Nigel’s care routine became obvious. In the morning, the care staff would wash him, drain off the catheter bag, dress him, place him on his chair, feed him and then park him in front of the window or television for the morning. Periodically, they’d lift him and move him to prevent pressure sores. On Wednesdays, the weekly enema was given to prevent constipation. At lunchtime, the catheter bag was emptied and Nigel was fed and watered and after lunch was parked either in front of the television or back in front of the window. The evening routine was similar and then he was put to bed.

This was pretty much Nigel’s life had been for the past 8 years. Now the care was mostly professional and was indeed very caring. He’d never developed a pressure sore, suffered unreasonable constipation or any other unreasonable physical health problem. Often, the staff would talk to him and read to him, but rarely was there even so much as a flicker of interest from Nigel.

I think he is lost to us,” one member of staff voiced to the Therapist, “what are you going to do?” she asked. “I’ll show you tomorrow,” the Therapist replied, “I’ll show you tomorrow.”

The following morning the Therapist was in early before the more dependent residents had been gotten out of bed. He brought freshly made doughnuts from the 24-hour supermarket and made all the staff tea and coffee and waited to be called. “Just let me know when you have Nigel out of bed,” he told them.

Forty minutes later, Nigel was out of bed and the Therapist waited patiently as the staff spoon fed Nigel who ate disinterestedly. When he had finished eating, the Therapist indicated to the nurses, “He’s mine, give him to me!” He demanded and as he took over control of the wheelchair leaned down and whispered into Nigel’s ear, “Just play along with me, I’m getting paid a fortune for this,” and wheeled him up along the corridor.

Reaching the small cleaners cupboard, the Therapist took out all the mops, brooms, dust pans – took out everything – and found to his delight that the cupboard was just about big enough to fit one man and a wheelchair into it. “Shhh! Just play along with me!” he said quietly as he shut the door, locking it after he did so.

It was at this juncture that the staff went nuts! What did this therapist think he was doing? Did he not know how unprofessional this was? What if something happened to him in there?

Look!” the Therapist explained. “That man is catatonic, he hasn’t moved in nearly 8 years and he is locked safely in a small empty cupboard. What on earth is going to happen to him? And besides, he’s safer in there than out here – haven’t you noticed, this place is full of crazy people?!

The staff were clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation and put up quite a protest. All this was occurring outside the cupboard where Nigel resided. This was part of the Therapist’s plan. Nigel might be unresponsive, but there certainly was nothing wrong with his ears.

He stays in the cupboard!” The therapist ordered, showing the staff the written authority that had been granted to him for the unconventional intervention. The staff went away unhappy. The Therapist did notice later that day that the doughnuts brought earlier remained uneaten.

At lunchtime, the therapist unlocked the cupboard and wheeled Nigel back to the care staff that ministered to him in the usual fashion.

After lunch, Nigel was wheeled back into the cupboard with the passing whisper, “Look, let’s see if we can string out this all week, it’s a really cushy number!” and the Therapist once again locked the door.

That evening Nigel was handed back to the care staff and the therapist went home. He was back in early again the next morning and when he took command of Nigel in his wheelchair, Nigel did something – he looked at the Therapist, and it was a look that communicated something. Precisely what that something was no one was sure, but the care staff saw it too. “He seems angry,” said one of the nurses.

At around 8am, with Nigel fed and watered, the Therapist wheeled him along the corridor to the cupboard. As he did so, he said in a jovial manner into one of Nigel’s ears, “Thanks ever so much for this – I really do appreciate it,” and placed him back into the cupboard and locked it.

By 1030am that very same morning, that cupboard door was off its hinges and a very angry looking Nigel was found standing in the corridor screaming, "cocksuckingmotherfuckingcuntingshitcuntbastard!” And as if to complete the image, he actually had spittle flying from his mouth and drool on his chin.

It certainly as if Nigel was awake and he was looking more responsive than yesterday. Yet, this behaviour appeared to unsettle the staff more than when he was locked in the cupboard.

So, the first thing that they did?

They sedated him.

Monday, 14 August 2017

How to make a promotional video

There appears to be a set formula for how one should produce a self-promotion video if you are a coach, NLPer, hypnotherapist or wotnot.  To make it easy for the new alphabet therapist (IEMT, EMDR, NLP, CBT, EFT, NAET, TFT, TAT etc) to fit in, I'll briefly outline what you need to do to make a video for your website.

1. Location.  Without a doubt, the location is the most important aspect.  As you know sitting in front of a bookshelf will make you appear intelligent, so take the time to select the right books to have on the shelves that will appear behind you. It doesn't matter if you have actually read them or not.  Alternatively, you may wish to use a plain background, in which case you should position yourself in front of an interior door for that plain-background-that-is-actually-the-bedroom-door appeal.

2.  Lighting.  There is no need to use proper lighting, the 11watt economy bulb that pretends to be the equivalent of an old style 100watt bulb will do just fine.

3. Microphone. The mic that is inbuilt into your video camera will do just fine.

4. A tripod is entirely optional, you might want simply to borrow a family member with a steady hand to hold the camera for you.

5. Remember to tell your story. Absolutely everyone wants to hear "how you got into" NLP, ABC, EFT or whatever it is. Everyone will be riveted to hear how you have always had an interest in people, words and so on and how you are so happy to have this gift of being the special one.

6.  Script/content.  Forget decent content because there is no need to offer your viewer anything that is actually useful, after all, you don't want to give away the shop. Instead, simply state your name, location and preferred alphabet therapy that you practice.  Then use a generic, "…and so if you have problems with <insert short list of conditions> then please contact me on my website." Use the simple logic that looks like, "because I am a hypnotherapist and you are a depressive, then you should call me for an appointment."  Yes, that'll work.

7. Where to put the video. Simply upload it to youtube, because this is the type of video that Youtube fans just love to watch. Badly embedding the video code onto your web-template web page will, of course, drive a torrent of traffic from eager customers to your video.

Once you have this video uploaded, your colleagues will recognise you as one of their own and you will fit right in. The only thing left to do will be to start posting onto public internet forums asking for advice from other experts as to what techniques you should use with your next client.

Good luck.

Or...do something different.  Here's Topher Morrison. I don't know him nor his work, but this is a great promo video.



Please give other examples, good and bad, below.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How much to charge?


A very common theme in the hypnotherapy and complementary therapy world is that of "charging as much as you can" and "the higher you charge, the more you will be respected."

Something I have encountered a lot is, "if it is important to the client then they will pay anyway."

I'm not so sure about this, and I personally wonder if this reflects the elevated egos of so many private therapists.

The reality is that many people with problems simply do not have the money and so to insist that they pay a high fee will only add to their burdens and not necessarily help them in a positive way.
The other issue of a high fee is that it acts as a very good filter by excluding those people at the really shit-end of life and instead works to select in those who have a significant disposable income to spend on a luxury as hypnotherapy.

Therapists do like their YARVIS clients the most (Young, Attractive, Rich, Verbal, Intelligent and Sane) and the really screwed up ones who are without money, have poor articulation and poor personal hygiene are definitely the ones to be avoided. 

It's easy to claim a high success rate when one's clients don't really have many major problems in living and what they have are basically cosmetic problems.

But then we all want to earn a good living and have the dream life that they told us about on our training course. Or more importantly, the dream life they told us about in order to get us on their training course in the first place.

Well, what did you expect?

What do therapists do when they don't get enough clients…they run training courses in how to get clients of course!

So here's a simple guideline for knowing how much to charge:  do you feel bad, guilty or awkward with the amount of money you charge?  Are you scared of "being found out"? 

That is the clue - you are charging too much.

For years I have suffered the problem of ego maniacs and general dipshits in the NLP world telling me to put up my prices.  Well, where are those people now?  Most of them are either in enormous debt or have gone back to their day jobs.  Really.  But their websites are all still online displaying the ridiculous prices they pretended to be charging when in fact they never got any clients at all.

How do I know this? I do a credit check on these people.

The internet is a grave yard of websites that preach success but actually were never successful in the first place, and this gives the illusion that people are all earning loads of money and we are the ones who are not doing so well.  I have copies of the financial records of a good number of trainers and therapists and it doesn't make very good reading at all.

Despite it all, I still don't understand how it is possible to rack up a six figure debt by being a hypnotherapist, but it isn't uncommon.

Something I did several years back which was quite successful was to offer two prices - £25 (students, low wage) and £95 (waged) - I always let people decide for themselves which price they paid.  People coming via my websites hardly ever selected the cheaper option. The local social services such as community housing, probation office, crisis centres and so forth did provide me with a steady stream of £25 clients which kept me very busy indeed and helped me to build the extensive professional network that I have today.

Years back, I also did "Free Fridays" where I'd offer one or two sessions for free on Friday - anyone could book those sessions, regardless of income.  Again, people were good about that, the waged ones would mention that they deliberately weren't asking for a free session. 

And the ones who did book the free sessions?  Well, most of them were either late, didn't show up, or were moaners who always wanted more, more more and nothing was ever good enough.  So I stopped the free Fridays.

Anyway, just some random thought, hope this helps,
Andy

http://www.brassbollocks.co.uk

Monday, 31 July 2017

Bad business

THIS was originally posted in 2013, but it remains my consistent experience of trying to book hotels and venues:

I think I know why there is a recession on.  There's only one reason - people are completely crap when it comes to business.

Or maybe it is just me and I'm having one of those weeks.

A company I employ to handle my credit card processing sent me a snotty letter. "Your direct debit has failed and you owe us £23.40p."  But there is no reference as to why I owe them this money, or an invoice number or anything at all in fact.  But the letter continues, "Failure to pay within 7 days of this letter will incur a £30 penalty as outlined in our terms and conditions."  

Well, that's just charming.  So I check with the bank - all direct debits are working just fine.  
So I call the company's billing department.  Apparently my call is important to them, but no one answers.  I try umpteen times over several days.  Still no luck.

So I email them.  No reply.  This all began back in December.  On the 20th, to be precise. I email them repeatedly.

Still no one answers the phone, and no one has replied to my numerous emails.

Then customers started to complain to me that they couldn't make payments online.  I contact the company support desk.  Eventually I get a reply.  Apparently there is nothing wrong with the credit card processing, my customers simply aren't using it correctly.

But still those pesky customers keep complaining that they can't pay me money.

Several arguments later with the technical support monkeys and I cancel their service.  Still no word on that issue of the £23.40 pence though.

I'll wait for the legal letter, maybe their legal department will be more helpful.

Then on Monday a venue that I had booked for an event this year emailed me.  Sorry they said, but due to a computer glitch, they need to change my booking.  What this translates to is that someone there has double booked the venue and as the smaller player, I get dumped.

Now the thing is the room I booked was a very specific room. The requirements for the venue ware exact and this booking fulfilled those requirements. I'm offered an alternative room "at no extra charge" but this alternative doesn't fulfil the requirements.  It's a bit like paying for an iPad only to be told, "Sorry, we have had to cancel your iPad, but here's a mouldy banana and a free cup of tea instead at no extra charge."

So, I start shopping around for alternative venues.  I think I find one and i send off an email to the conference booking manager.  Yes, we have a room that is perfect for you," she tells me.  

"Can you send me a picture?" I ask

"No." she tells me.

What?

Wait. So, let me just check.  I'm wanting to book a large training room for the better part of a week (about £3000-£4000) plus refreshments (probably about £150 a day) including hotel accommodation for about 35 people for either 3 or 4 nights at £147 per night. People who will also inevitably buy breakfast and an evening meal as well drinks at the bar.  And this person can't be bothered send me a photo.

"Perhaps you could use a camera phone and send it over to me?" I try suggesting.

"Sorry, we don't do that, but please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything further I can do for you!" she says cheerfully ending the converstion.

And right there, right then in a little *poof!!* noise and a painful lack of initiative, £20,000 of guaranteed business for that hotel vanished in a little puff of smoke.

So, I move on.  I find a well known hotel chain with a good reputation.  I've stayed in some of their hotels before and always found them to be very good.  So, I go to their website to find the phone number of the exact hotel I require.

But there is no phone number for the hotel. 

I can only find a generic central phone number. The website suggests that I enter a web-enquiry and a customer service agent will call me back.

Now, remember, my requirements are very specific. A customer service agent in Calcutta is unlikely to be able to answer any of my questions.  "Fuck it," I think, "nothing to lose", so I click the link.

Except it doesn't take me to a phone number or a place where I leave my phone number.  No, what it does is it takes me to an account creation page and only when i have created a business account can I "submit my enquiry."  Fuckwits.

And right there, right then in one swift click, £20,000 of business just vanished for that hotel chain.

I call the next hotel.  The phone rings out in the conference booking department.  I wait half an hour and call again.  It rings solidly and rings out.  No answer phone to leave a message.  So I look at their website, there is a "submit enquiry" form. 

I fill it in.

I click send.

And I get a screen load of error messages.  Stack overflow runtime error 6000, or something (I don't care. Nerds, please don't bother trying to correct me or explain it to me, I'll probably just be rude to you).

And right there, right then, another hotel loses £20,000 of guaranteed business.

And then something magical happens.

Calming me from my mounting fury, I find something really special.  I mean, really, really special.  I can't tell you what it is, because it would reveal where it is, but trust me, it is the Piece de Resistance of training venues.  I know it will be expensive, but I think it is worth a punt.  I send off a speculative email enquiry outlining my exact requirements.

A reply comes really back quite quickly.  But there is something a bit strange about the reply. 
It has a bunch of attachments that are actually booking forms and confidential data that has been sent over to them by another potential customer.  

God only knows how they got attached to the reply email. Then there is the thing about the price. It seems far too cheap for what they are offering.  But, the email says, in bold red letters beneath the venue details, that this is the correct price and for this specific venue.

I go bounding into the other room where my wife is working.  I think she is pleased that I've finally stopped ranting.  I tell her the good news.  The dog wags his little tail, he too is happy.  But the look on my wife's face tells me what the voice in the back of my head is also telling me.

I send an email back querying that they have sent me the correct details.

"Oh no," they tell me, in complete contradiction to the big red letters in their earlier email, "The price we have quoted you is for the other main training room, not [the really special place]"

The main training room seats 20. It's another mouldy banana.

But did they think, "Oh, maybe we should give him the prices for the other rooms?"  

No they didn't. That would require some kind of initiative, so I have to send another email back to them to ask this.

And guess what.  No reply.

I'll watch the news later.  It will continue to tell me that we are in recession.
And I will smile a little knowing smile of exactly why this is.

Do please share your stories in the comments section below.