Head Talks re-visited – What lies behind the mask, society would rather not see…

After a raft of positive feedback and requests to further promote awareness surrounding my Head Talks video I have decided to re-publish it for everyone to view once again…

I have received huge volumes of messages, off the back of taking part in filming Head Talks (alongside Alastair Campbell and the likes), who have told me that this has helped them to discover themselves, to try and analyse some of their issues in a more effective and productive way, the aim to gain long term solutions…

In addition many business owners and directors have been in touch to talk about changes they’ve made off the back of hearing what I had to say, so that’s really positive also…

To view the video please click below on the egg you think best represents you…

NOTE ONE THING: They’ve all got different traits, but they’re still all in the same box… Together… It doesn’t matter whether it’s day to day stress because you’re late to work, depression, PTSD, alcoholism or beyond; we’re all human beings, living through varying degrees of anxiety… The quicker everyone realises that, the quicker the stigma drops and we all become human again…

mental-health-issues

 

 

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The ones we miss… The lost souls…

This week I was told I’d lost a friend.

Not a friend that I was in touch with every day, but a friend that I’ve shared a fair amount of experiences with over 10 years and through some of the most eventful years of my life…

One of those friends that you always think you can get back on the phone to, always knowing you’ve a similarity of mindset somewhere… A guy with enthusiasm, arrogance and tenacity.

This is a man I trained… He came to work at the same company as me back in 2006, an IT bod in a salesman’s world…

At the time I was at my peak, I was the Obi Wan (as we called it in the sales team) and he was to be my padawan apprentice, the first member of staff I was to train from scratch.

At this time I was working for a telemarketing company and I was averaging 1 face to face appointment with a FTSE100 Director every 5 dial outs… (Which will only excite sales directors most likely)

Now this chap had a very good technical knowledge, something I could never hope to achieve, he could even diagnose some problems IT Directors were facing, over the phone… No need for a meeting…

But over time I taught him how to approach a call, no scripting, just genuine thought and tact, empathy and adaptability. The beautiful point was when the stage came where we were always the top 1st and 2nd sales-guys on the phones. He beat me one month because I’d been on holiday for 2 weeks so my figures were down, but I came back that month and fought him until the final day, reaching 2nd place out of a good amount of guys in terms of revenue generation was really a high point for me, but seeing James at the top of the board was a better feeling.

He was balshy and brash and arrogant and quick witted and he was always blunt and honest… At least that’s how I’ll always see him, remember him…

I feel like I’ve lost a brother. When you’ve bonded with individuals under the same pressures, through breakups with girls, fights, through drinks and football and days out and Christmases and sales targets and loss, you may as well have been brought up in the same house. Because wherever we all are now, Liam, Nick, Neil, Anthony, James, Glenn, Colin, Sam and Stuart, those were the guys I’d always remember, I’ll always revere the time spent with those boys.

Running my own business is often basically sitting here wishing we were all running it together…

We must free our minds during loss, we must allow ourselves to breathe and to hold on to those past moments as we develop into new ones in our own present and future lives and I won’t forget him and he’ll always be there, reminding me that there are those we may not at first notice, but which may just need you…

Another loss that I found quite hard to read about this week, I was sent by a friend who thought the story would be worth sharing; it’s from the following article:

“GP found dead after being suspended over bipolar disorder blog”

Dr Wendy Potts was suspended after patient complained about blog in which she wrote about having condition

drwendy

A GP who kept a blog about living with bipolar disorder was found dead after being suspended from work when a patient read her online entries and complained, an inquest has heard. In the weeks leading up to her death, Dr Wendy Potts had written candidly about her condition and the effect it had on her life.

A patient at her surgery saw her online posts and contacted management, questioning whether she should be able to practise as a GP. The inquest heard that Potts later told her partner: “How can I have been so stupid?”

Potts, who had two children, was suspended after the October half-term break, which is said to have deepened her symptoms. By the time of her death, her suspension had been lifted, but she had not been allowed back to work. Her partner, Mark St John Jones, found her body at the family’s home in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, on 24 November last year.

Jones said Potts, 46, had kept a blog in which she stated that she had bipolar disorder. He told the court that a patient had read the blog and complained to the surgery, which was not named during the hearing.

The court heard Potts was under psychiatric care and her medication was increased after the suspension. Before she died, the suspension was lifted but other investigations were still being completed. Jones said Potts had experienced other work-related stress, including dealing with the death of a patient, and had previously tried to take her own life.

Dr David Walker, a consultant psychiatrist, said he was not aware of this attempt. “She chose not to tell me this had happened,” he added.

Potts’s mother, Joan, told the court about a manic episode her daughter had experienced in February 2014. She said: “She was shouting, jumping on the settee and talking in rhyme. It was very strange – I’ve never seen anything like it before. We didn’t see anything like it again.”

Afterwards, Potts did not work for three months. Joan Potts added that her daughter “felt she had got more than she could cope with” after she and her partner bought a smallholding in Cardigan, west Wales, in May.

However, Jones said: “Wendy wrote in her blog that this was what she wanted. She wanted to get away from work.”

Derbyshire’s assistant coroner, James Newman, adjourned the inquest to obtain a report relating to Potts’s suspension.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

And the crux of this situation, is that when a doctor can’t get the help she needs, to save her own life, how can people not comprehend, that it’s harder than you think out there today, to find the right support through the darkness that visits us…

If there’s wasn’t such an established stigma & pretence behind what mental health means, or how it might acutely effect an individual, or how it should be defined, then we wouldn’t be losing these people… They’d be with us today and they’d find us, we’d find each other and in time, unified, we’d strive and eventually find the peace that we’ve been searching for…

CEO’s, Managing Directors, Board Room Exec’s, Doctors, Blue Light Sector Staff please speak up, it’s now more than ever that we need your voice. This must become mandatory in every avenue of business and industry across the UK, there must be a legal obligation to support those with and without mental health with their day to day climb… The struggles that we face must be recognised, not pandered to, but understood. Respect will remedy whats previously been broken. Things become brighter when we accept we’re all equal…

 

Vodafone & how the big boys take advantage…

Firstly, finding a corporate complaints number in our day and age may as well be like trying to find a unicorn…

After 12 years as a specialist in business development/commercial & sales strategy and all that entails, it’s likely I can find your direct contact details, regardless of your role or where you work, in a matter of minutes, through various connections, sales channels or web searches etc. this is down to working in sales environments and B2B telemarketing centres across the UK and Europe all my working life…

That said, my intention here is not to seem arrogant, it’s to stress the point that if I personally struggle to get hold of the relevant people to complain to, with 12 years’ experience, how can we expect as a society for the every-man (or woman) to find the details they need, let alone succeed in any kind of resolution, if a big business tries to take advantage of them…

 

Following a recent 11 month disaster of a time with Vodafone, I thought I’d highlight this point and ask, how can we as an economy change the way these commercial and convoluted operations work, to better support their end user, namely the person on the street who simply wants to call a colleague, or text their mum at the weekend…

 

Around September 2015 I casually wondered into my local Vodafone shop and asked whether I was due a phone upgrade any time soon, I was told it would be next year, but I was entitled to an iPad upgrade and could get my hands on the new iPad mini for no extra cost.

 

Happy days! However, that was the beginning of a slippery slope I’m still struggling to clamber up today…

 

At the time I was asked to sign into another maddening 24 month contract, which I did, as we all do to get our hands on the latest technology.

 

Unfortunately, little did I know that instead of transferring my details over, the Vodafone rep, for whatever reason, signed me up to a new contract without my knowledge… So at this point unbeknown to me, I walked away from the store with my phone contract intact, my new iPad mini contract and with my old iPad contract still running…

 

So as a consumer I’m thinking great, I’m happy in the knowledge that I will only be paying for 1 phone and 1 iPad as usual…

 

Oh no… Life’s just not that simple.

 

A friend asks if he can buy the redundant old iPad for his daughter, which I didn’t have a problem with and I carry on with my life.

 

As a few months pass my fiancé, who’s also my Financial Controller for my businesses, asks me why I’m getting debited such high amounts for my bill every month… Am I calling overseas more, downloading things etc.

 

So at this point, around 4 months into the increased bills I think maybe it’s just an oversight on my part and I start to look into it. I then go back to my Vodafone store and ask what the issue is, only to be told that I have 3 contracts instead of 2. Then they say that I have to call their hotline and they will sort it over the phone as they have been overcharging me via direct debit for this duration…

 

I go home and that evening I call the Vodafone customer services, who tell me they can’t do anything. They say that the only way to resolve the issue is to go back to the store again, find the girl who set up the new account and get her to write on her notes in their system that she made an oversight and was incorrect in doing so, I then need to call them back and they will firstly credit the money onto my account and then they will eventually pay that back into my bank…

 

So, 6-8 weeks of trying to get into the shop on numerous occasions, while the girl in question is on shift and I still don’t catch her. At this point I complain to the store manager and he has one of his team sit down a work out 6 months’ worth of overpayments that amounts to around £600.

 

I’m then told that they have cancelled the iPad, credited the account, but they have to take another £32 for that month as they can only cancel with 30 days’ notice, but they’ll pay me that back later and that once the full amount is credited to my Vodafone bill they will refund me into my bank.

 

Well, a bit of red tape and unnecessary additional billing & crediting… Happy days again! Finally resolved! Or is it……..?

 

A few days later and we see another overcharged bill… I call the customer service line again and talk to a legendary salesman who tells me how useless the shop guys are and convinces me he’s finally actually cut off the old iPad and it’s definitely happened this time… A new era begins, or so I believe…

 

A month later I’m overseas in Europe and my phone says ‘No Service’ where there should be a signal bar… Bit of a bugger I think, because I have around 14-15 business voicemails on there that I was waiting to access…

 

At the time there was a bit of internal government/military dispute in Turkey, so the locals where I’m staying tell me that the signal may be due to Turkey having a range of signal pylons there and that’s potentially why I lost service…

 

I decide to wait until I’m back in the UK, making the assumption that in 48 hours when I fly home my service will likely just pop back into play if I ‘turn it off and on again’ – However, when I get back to the UK that’s not the case…

 

In a taxi on the way back from Luton airport I decide to use my hour travel wisely and resolve this by using my partners mobile to call Vodafone. At this point I’m told that they didn’t cut off the old iPad when I was in the shop that day, despite me confirming and reconfirming that they’d got the right device at the time… They’d cut off my sodding mobile… The mobile that I’ve had on contract with them since 2009… You can image the happy fluffy feeling I get at this point before my tirade begins!

 

So, after 45 minutes ranting, while bent double over the back seat, having to use the taxi driver’s phone charger from the front seat so the battery doesn’t die after a 4 hour flight and I’m finally told that the matter is resolved… They apologise for my phone being cut off, which is their oversight, they will cut off the old iPad now but need to bill me another £32 for the 30 days’ notice again, but not to worry as they’ll credit that to my Vodafone bill then pay it back into my account at some point…

 

An argument ensues, they then agree to give me the £32 early as a credit, because then at no stage am I out of pocket when they bill me the £32 later… They tell me they will pay me the full £600 odd into my account and that they’ve cut off the old iPad and that my phone will be reconnected in 2-24 hours but probably earlier than 24 hours…

 

I’m also offered 2 months free billing for my troubles… That equates to £100 for 3 days or so without any phone access and an hour on the phone in the back of a taxi, might I add… Rubbish freebie there!

 

But….. Happy Days! Lots of hassle and un-necessary anxiety and stress, but we finally have a resolution and I’m feeling like the lady has reconnected me and done me proud! Or has she…

 

27+ hours later… I’m confused as to why my phone is still not active and to all who are unaware it looks like my business has gone down the pan, as I’m receiving emails as to why clients (some at Global Board Director level) can’t get in touch telling me that my phone has been disconnected… I call Vodafone again…

 

They’re quite confused, apparently in the fine print it says reconnection (of the phone that should never have been disconnected) will take a maximum of 48 hours; but usually the worst case is 24 hours and they need to look into it with no idea of when it will be definitively reconnected… I have to hang up and leave them be until they resolve it…

 

A further 24+ hours later, beyond their 48 hour maximum window I am chasing them and they promise it will happen, however they can’t deal with the final compensation until after it’s reconnected… It eventually is connected the following day…

 

I decide at this point that rather than jump on the compensation immediately I’ll get on with running my businesses and give them a call when I have some free time.

 

Today, my colleagues notify me that a figure of around £500 has come out of our business account from Vodafone, while I was actually waiting to put some money in… I call them, shout, swear, rant etc. and I’m told that I was charged for the cancellation of my phone contract, they billed me around £1100 for the remainder of the phone contract… A phone contract that they were never supposed to terminate in the first place and have since re-connected, due to my swearing the manager of the team won’t take my call so I hang up after around 30 minutes on the phone and dial in again… An hour later still on the line for the 2nd time after explaining the majority of the above to 3 different staff in 3 different divisions of Vodafone and I’m told they will have to look into it and call me back…

 

I mean… Frankly I’m bored writing about it and you must be bored reading it, so what are we supposed to do as a society about this type of red tape…

 

If you’re within the mental health spectrum is irrelevant at this point to a degree because anyone would get frustrated at 11 months of incompetence when a company this big is just sitting on your money and generating revenue & interest off the back of it.

 

If you take my issue and consider that they have effectively taken an average monthly wage from my bank account, then multiply that by the thousands and thousands of people who have the same sorts of issues daily and further consider those who don’t have the energy, mental stability, time or patience to contest this year upon year; then just how much money are these companies draining from our economy and frankly from the common man/woman on the street, only to line their own corporate pockets prior to evading any relevant tax most likely… And what sort of interest are they making on OUR money, while we struggle to make ends meet day to day in an effort to fight for it back…

 

I mean… I just don’t know how to affect a change here… And Vodafone won’t be the only ones who do this… That’s just one major company, of a range of major companies in one specific sector of business… There are thousands of sectors and thousands of businesses at the top of the ‘corporate food chain’ who are rinsing money off joe public on a daily basis.

 

Where do we go from here? And should these businesses be held accountable and made to provide those individuals compensation relative to the grief and the anxiety that they cause on a daily basis…

 

Luckily for me they took money from my business bank account, so I am fortunate enough to be able to afford a bit of time to rant and get it back, but there must be so many people on a fixed monthly wage, without spare savings, who would be getting bank charges and having other payments bounce while they try to fight their corner and I can guarantee that Vodafone and those like them won’t be levelling the playing field for those inconveniences, meaning that the little guy has an even harder slog to contend with when trying to affect a change in their lives for the better…

 

What a corporate will never understand is that they are jeopardising peoples monthly food bill, their rent, their chance of a mortgage, their kids school fee’s, their engagement ring, their annual holiday, their car maintenance and every other aspect of their lives that may also create stress in its own individual way…

 

How do we, as a unit, make these companies operate in a more humane way? We are people for god sake… Or will it always be a case of…. Computer says NO?!

Head Talks Initiative

Working in an initiative called Head Talks, alongside the likes of Alastair Campbell, Jane Horrocks, Bruce Parry and Geoff McDonald (ex-Global VP of HR at Unilever), I have recently been asked to record some of my story…

My hope is that in seeing this video you will gain an insight into what some of us face day to day. Please do share this with anyone you feel may benefit, the reason I do this is because I see so many responses to the blog where people have been set free by reading some of what I’ve written and I want to affect a change or a light-bulb for any of those still suffering in the dark where I began my journey…

Just click on the picture below to see the video, its clever all this technology lark! – For CEO’s, Managing Directors & Business Owners this video is a must!

To learn more about Head Talks or offer your support please contact Oliver Chittenden – oliver@londonspeakerbureau.com

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Vulnerability

The essence of vulnerability in my mind, is to find yourself wanting…

Wanting for the lost soul within one’s self to finally re-align, so we feel whole.

I think from my perspective, life ‘is’ vulnerability… from the moment we’re born we find ourselves cast into a world of moments; moments that offer us up to understanding our personal weaknesses.

If we’re lucky, as humans, our mother and father will shield us until we’re able to find our feet. If we are unlucky then the path to adulthood is not quite as simple, meaning that we develop an additional layer or two of guardedness, but ultimately inside we still feel what each of us feels – vulnerable.

I find the most valuable aspect of dealing with my own mental wellbeing, is to focus on my drivers as an individual. And I don’t mean the everyday wants and needs of the vast majority… I’m not talking about focussing on money, or how to arrange your next holiday. I’m talking about what drivers we each have as individuals that may help us to feel more complete within.

A few years back I took a step back and asked myself ‘what is it I want’?

My decision was simple; I wanted to wake up every day and feel happy, happy within me, happy within who I was as a person, what I do for a living, my day to day…

That struggle still continues even now, but I find that I am developing a lifestyle that fulfils me. And while working to support a charity initiative, or building a kennel for my dogs out of pallets, teaching my friends kids some martial arts etc. I find that I’m living within the soul and energy that I want to achieve.

Our lifestyles define our mental state and it is our lifestyles we must change in order to develop and to overcome those darker moments. For we cannot change who we are, you are who you were born to be; but we can change how we live our lives, we can understand what fills us with a passion, what mends our souls in those moments of grief.

I am not a religious man, but I do believe there is an energy that binds us as a planet and as one whole organism we, as individuals, can re-align our own energy, to flow along those roads life takes us down… You could call it “wanky”, but I think that science defines this ‘magnetic energy’, if you will, as a reality and we all have a place in the jigsaw. That doesn’t mean you should conform, you must find who you are, irrespective of what societal trends dictate. After all, a society without individuals just becomes grey and automated.

If you feel in your life you are vulnerable, please don’t dwell on the shadow… There are people who care, who’ll talk to you and really listen. It may not always feel that way in life, but you can reach out, we all have the strength to connect and only as individuals can we change our own stars!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do.

It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Despondency & Procrastination…

It’s been a manic few weeks since my last blog post to be honest and a very difficult time for me.

I feel myself constantly questioning things… The more I think about writing a blog, the more I struggle to find the words.

In a sense I’ve had an amazing 4 weeks or so… I’ve been out to India with retailers looking at textile production for my business http://www.indianapparel.eu which is very exciting, because it means that my focus on ethical retail production is moving in a very positive direction which will mean a lot if I’m changing the world one retailer at a time.

I’ve been part of an initiative called Mind Talks where they’ve filmed a 30 minute segment for a website initiative designed to make mental health awareness more accessible, as well as giving people who suffer from a wide variety of issues, the chance to find their own solutions in hearing about others and our coping mechanisms.

I wrote a piece on ‘Vulnerability’ for the company Red Letter Days & the Building Societies Association. Which has gone out in blogs and magazines to their wider audiences.

In essence there’s a lot going on that’s exciting.

That said, there’s a darkness that drives an area of my mind and doesn’t allow much room for deviation on occasion. It’s that feeling when you wake up and can’t bring yourself to the point where you draw back the covers… you despondently fumble some clothes on and mime your way through making a cup of coffee, hoping that at some stage the switch will hit you and your deeper commercial and vastly more energetic self, will surface and all will be well… But it’s not!

I HATE that feeling!

For those of you who share these moments, the loss of will to move forward is probably the most difficult to stomach.

Sitting here now and thinking about everything I have to do to ensure I’m on the ball work wise is where the pressure piles on and the procrastination begins. I tried smoking for a while but regardless of the subjective calm it instils, the irony is that in theory I’m killing myself to get better! How do you remedy that…?

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here… I’m just lost. The mania of success, vs. the absolutely gruelling low points where you feel worthless is such a difficult thing to try and wade through. It’s a treacle that just doesn’t seem to shift for long enough to gain momentum.

A lot of the time it comes down to money, trying to stay afloat in terms of cash flow, while operating as a completely ethical and honest business and managing a range of staff at the same time to maximise growth, thats always a tricky think to wrap your head around.

You remove the staff and you make money, you have the staff there and the growth rate increases but  you lose the profit… And I don’t have mummy and daddy to help me like so many people I meet day to day. I have to do this for myself and the agony of constantly worrying whether the rug will be pulled out from under me is such a farce.

Where do you go with mental wellbeing…? I campaign across the UK at my own expense to try and make people more aware of the issues people with conditions of the mind face, how to spot them, how to ease the pain of dealing with those issues, but it just costs me more and more money and my mind is suffering through every element.

It appears that you could chat on stage to a few hundred people about what you feel and there’s an energy surrounding that freedom that builds you up inside… on the other front you know that when the hubbub dies down, there’s still an element of emptiness in your own self worth, thats what I want to fix.

I feel fairly successful, I feel like I’m dynamic as an individual but where does that leave us as individuals? I’ve seen friends go through manic depression and out the other side, but I never seem to get out of the tunnel…

Today it’s raining, when I step outside and smell the damp air and cut grass I feel like I’m back on a Cambodian beach travelling, there’s a moment of solace in an otherwise crowded mind. But that damp and the weather also brings with it that sinking feeling at the pit of your stomach where displacement remains…

In my blogs usually I try to instigate a driver, a push for change, a point… I think the point today is that just when you think you may be out of the grim, it creeps upon you like Harry Potters dementors.

A Dementor is a non-being and Dark creature, considered one of the foulest to inhabit the world. Dementors feed upon human happiness, and thus cause depression and despair to anyone near them. They can also consume a person’s soul, leaving their victims in a permanent vegetative state, and thus are often referred to as “soul-sucking fiends“. They are known to leave a person as an ’empty-shell’.

Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.

Talk to someone, just talk to someone… Find a way to break through… It’s not easy, life would be a waste if it was. There’s something different inside you, you know what that is and only you can know… we as individuals have a light that burns in us, our end gain! Find that light and hold on to it… I’m going to start with breakfast, tea and another step outside into the wind just to feel that Cambodian sea one last time before I get back behind the desk.

Every one of us is in this together and I hope that if there’s someone else out there feeling this today and you’re able to drive yourself forth into fruition… Think not of that wilting that traps our souls, think only of flowers in bloom! No one has the monopoly on pain, we all are consumed by it as we live and we grow, what sets us apart is our ability to purge the shadow from within and step forth… step forth into your mind tomorrow, when trees are greener than they seemed before and the sun only shines on you and your spirit within…

“Everything will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, then it’s simply not yet the end…” – Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

 

Bi-Polar Businessman meets a Mental Health Musician supported by Eric Clapton

In the course of trying to affect a change in how people perceive mental health, I am fortunate enough to meet a whole raft of interesting individuals, each on their own journey, their own path of self-discovery…

They’re not all dealing with the same things as I am, they’re Doctors, Thought Leaders, CEO’s and in the most recent instance, Musicians…

I was introduced to Jonny through a mutual friend and local business woman and we’d decided to have a chat; the premise was, that we were both trying to make a dent in the stigma surrounding mental health and both our disorders were diagnosed as falling into various areas of the bi-polar spectrum, so we had something in common.

After a 40 minute phone conversation it was evident that we were going to get on, very similar experiences, very different experiences and both keen to see if there was any way our story could free others.

So today I want to shout about what Jonny’s doing!

You can see Jonny’s wider story here: Jonny’s Story – MIND

Having been a musician for a long time, throughout his battle with bi-polar, Jonny has always had music there as his constant. As a means of bringing peace to an often busy mind.

He’s now formed the Santiago Quartet and teamed up with Argentinean bandoneon virtuoso Cesar Olguin, to produce a studio album that will be sold to raise money for mental health in support of the charity MIND.

Their upcoming album showcases contemporary Latin American and British music, all of which has a deep personal significance to members of the quartet. The music of Piazzolla combines with a beautiful quartet by Will Todd and a ballad by Eric Clapton, arranged by Nick Ingman.

With a variety of music on the album in donating money to support the initiative you receive gifts which range from Violin lessons, to bespoke oil paintings, involvement in recording sessions and lots more.

I spoke in a previous blog about how music can remedy those moments in life that I find most difficult and here’s a prime example of how it’s changing people’s lives!!

Please do take a look at Jonny’s album plans, what you can win by getting involved and listen here to what the Santiago Quartet have to say.

It’s a positive thing when you meet someone who see’s the world in a similar vein to yourself… I believe the feeling is that you’re no longer so alone in what you go through day to day… To those who suffer from issues surrounding their mental health, it’s important that they know they’re not alone, we’re not talking about the plague here, we’re talking about something that in working together we can remedy. People don’t want to be treated differently, or create a fuss, but wouldn’t it be winning if we all took a step back and said, “what can I do to make support more accessible in my business?” – Think of it as changing lives…

 

The theory & the practise…

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about whether I can talk about how I deal with the day to day in terms of mood variation and so I thought I’d try and cover off a route through the negative…

There are occasions when I generally just feel so very depressed… It sometimes comes from a level of anxiety that enveloped me, given a certain situation or occurrence in my day to day, that said, there are those days when you just wake up and feel like it may be better to hide…

In my instance would say that the ‘wrong side of the bed’ scenario is less often. I generally tend to find that if I’m in a difficult situation, or I’m stressed or frustrated about something, then I will start to feel a surge of adrenaline.

This is the most important bit! The adrenaline control/anxiety level (as some people might contextualise it) is paramount in dealing with the situation, in terms of the eventual calm.

I think the worst feelings come from someone hurting you inwardly, through a flippant comment, sometimes made in haste, or sometimes not even meant within a negative context.

Regardless of cause, there are a few ways to tackle the issue:

  • The Jaunt – For me the adrenaline is the key, and a body standing numb or crumpled behind their computer screen at work is not a good place to be when adrenaline kicks in… With social media so active and email communications or messenger options to colleagues I’d recommend you get the hell out of dodge and do a session around the block. As adrenaline is something we develop when active, it make the most sense to get your body moving and a trudge is a good way to release that tension, reducing the adrenaline rate and enabling you to get back to your original lucid state. (I once saw a film where a man defined trudging “Trudging, to trudge. A slow weary depressing, yet determined walk, of a man who has little left in his life, except the impulse to simply… soldier on!” And that’s what it means to me. When the world hits rock bottom I will take some time out, find my feet and just think, I don’t wrap myself up in the sh*t, I just try and find solution in clarity of vision and while walking, you generally find that’s a possibility. And don’t take your phone with you when you go!!
  • The Journey – An advancement of the jaunt, the journey is useful in the context that an evolution of the level of anxiety has occurred. This could be an argument with a partner, a friend, a boss, a colleague, but generally a journey comes in useful if you’re really feeling cut up by the situation. The way I contextualise a is that it requires a destination, where as the jaunt may be you doing a few laps of the block, the journey should be your lead to a place of solace. For myself I live by the ideal that we should have green in our lives, it’s a well known fact that if you see green regularly this will increase your rate of happiness. This could be with a plant in your office or in this instance of the journey, for me it means going to a park, a garden, a place of considered calm where I can just be with and in nature. To sit or wonder and just to breathe in these environments (again without any phone, stop taking your phone everywhere!!) is a natural release for your body and to be honest it’s a great way to reduce anxiety and try and bring yourself back to a state of normality. This is another good one to consider if you do have one of those ‘wrong side of the bed’ moments, I often walk to the office a different way and the route suits my mood, sometimes changing up the mundane or repetitive elements of our day to day can make a huge difference. (If you want to know more about colour in the context of mood then do take a look here: LiveScience – Colours from Happiness to Depression
  • Buffing it Up! – This requires a certain degree of patience, because we can’t all just run off to the gym when we have issues, we have to learn to control our state and release at the optimum moment. This could be whether you fancy a treadmill as a solution, or if you prefer to take on a martial arts class. And in either context, as you’ll see from the ever expanding yoga craze, just try to find classes that aren’t happy with instructors that got the certification off their back room printer after reading up on the definition of yoga online… That said, I have a huge range of friends and colleague who suffer from all sorts of issues and yoga is a very sound way learning to control your body and it’s state. And if you’re a real man thinking yoga’s too girls for me, then consider two things… 1) Whether you want a 6 pack as opposed to the whole keg and 2) girls much prefer a man with an open mind…
  • Music of Life – This for me is a core part of getting by… Music is a medium I’ve found can completely change my mood in the course of 3 and a half minutes or so… Over the last 10 years, not willing to take medication for my disorder I have relied on the above and on music. There are a number of songs that will send me into a really positive state and played in context with the situation music is a really great stimulant against anxiety or depression. Music has a rhythm that can be used to channel your bodies energy based on the beat and the context of the tune. We must as individuals look at how we change our bodies state, as we perceive it to be, because our perception is a mentally controlled entity and by using music, we can shift the dynamic to a state where our mind is not in control, it just has to let itself be swept away by the music and in doing so we clear our minds, left only to feel the energy we’re feeding ourselves.

A few tunes I love:

Joe Esposito – You’re the Best (also know as the song from the original Karate Kid) – best used in the context that you have a big meeting.

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now – best used in the context that you’re running late or you’ve just had some amazing news!

The Five Stairsteps – O-o-oh Child – (also seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) – best used in the context that you’re feeling depressed or low… This is a good one to bring you through a bad time, it builds you back up gently to the point where you can feel much more positive.

Anyway, apparently my staff are suggesting that I need to head into a meeting now about running a business… The audacity!! So I must away but I want to leave you with one note when considering the context of the above…

The Dalai Lama, if you read his books, says a lot of things that you may think seem relatively obvious… (as with my overview above) But it’s not until you really consider them that you benefit… in life we rarely take the most obvious route, but it’s usually the one that defines a result, our body is a mechanism to the mind and the relationship between the two is such a valuable thing to explore…

 

The Sunday Spot – 17th April

Every Sunday I will drop the businessman in me and put down a piece of fiction… This could be something you enjoy yourself for a bit of escapism, or just read the kids before bed…

Darklands – Journey for Freedom (One of The Questor Chronicles – by Thomas Duncan Bell)

Chapter 5

A Path through the Crystalline Forest

The adventurers continued to run as fast as they could manage through the crystal encrusted trees of the forest that engulfed them. They weren’t sure if they were being followed by goblins from the wall and they certainly didn’t want to risk being captured again. What if next time they were to meet something worse than a witch? “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen” panted William as they finally came to a stop. “I know” replied Samuel “I didn’t think we were going to get away from her.”

Samuel knelt down to lay Bindlebob on the floor before him. “Is he ok?” asked William as he knelt down beside his brother. “I don’t know William, I hope so, I’ve no idea where we are and we must have passed this tree at least five times!” he replied. “It’ll be alright Smello’s” said Bindlebob as he struggled with his words, his chest hoarse from the attack. “Are you ok Bindlebob?” asked Samuel, his eyes beginning to brim with tears at the relief that his friend was conscious again. “I’ll be ok you little rabbit gobblers!” said the hobgoblin as he sat up to catch his breath, hobgoblins are quick healers. “Why don’t we stop here and rest little warriors, this place is safe.” he whispered. The three travellers sat back to relax a while in the small glade, deep within the heart of the Crystalline forest.

Then, out of nowhere came the tiniest ear piercing scream. “Owwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeee!!” They all jumped immediately to their feet, even Bindlebob who was indeed already looking like he’d been healing fast and drawing their weapons they began scouring the area for any sign of a potential enemy. “Who’s there?” announced Samuel, trying his best to sound authoritative. “It’s me you big clumsy!” came the high pitched squeal again. Still none of the friends could see where the voice was coming from. “I’m down here. Why don’t they look down here?” screeched the voice. As they cast their gaze down toward the forest floor they could see what appeared to be a little mushroom waving two small silvery leaves that looked not dissimilar to arms right back at them. He seemed to be beckoning them to come closer. “That’s it, here I am, on your knees if you please?” the creature squeaked as the group drew nearer.

William couldn’t help pushing his youthful face right up to the man in an effort to get a better look. “What are you?” he asked. “I’m not saying a word until big bonce over there gives me an apology!” said the tiny creature pointing a leafy arm at Samuel. “What am I supposed to apologise for?” said Samuel looking confused at the accusation. “You sat on me” said the mushroom man “and it hurted!” “I am truly sorry little one, I didn’t mean to hurt you, we were just so tired that we had to stop and rest” replied the older brother. “I should have been paying more attention.” “You should have” retorted the mushroom man with a squeaky yet gruff undertone. “Now can you tell us what you are little man?” asked William. “He’s a mush man” chimed Bindlebob. “That’s right!” cried the mush man. “The gnome knows! I’m a mush man; a little bit man, a little bit mushroom. My name is Hempleroot.” he exclaimed.

“Nice to meet you Hempleroot” said the boys in unison. “Maybe you can help us?” said William. “We ran into the woods to escape the evil witch of the northern gate, but we’re a bit lost and we don’t know the way out.” “Can you show us a route through the forest Hempleroot?” asked Samuel readily. “Well I might if you grant me a wish?” replied Hempleroot. “What kind of wish?” asked a rather confused Samuel. “We don’t know any magic and we certainly don’t have any powers.” “Well you don’t need magic silly bonce, but you have to promise yes before I agree!” Hempleroot continued, in an even higher pitched voice, eager for the travellers to respond well to his request. “Very well” said Samuel hoping he could fulfil his vow. “If you show us a way through the forest then we will grant you a wish.” “Alright” said Hempleroot, preparing himself “My wish is to come on your journey with you! I don’t mind riding in the pocket of your jerkin and I can show you the way from there.” “Well that’s an easy wish” announced William “We can definitely agree to that, but why do you want to leave your forest? It’s very beautiful here.” “Its rubbish!” said Hempleroot folding his leafy arms in a huff. “All I do all day is wonder around the forest floor; I can’t see anything good because I’m all the way down here and what’s more is, every time someone comes around here they either try to pick me and eat me, or, they tread on me! It’s rubbish being a mush man. I’ve always wanted to go on an adventure, I’m bigger than I look on the outside you know!” he continued.

So, with a renewed spirit and confidence, the adventurers decided to continue their route north through the forest with Hempleroot as their guide, never having thought that they’d ever be lead by a mush man. The band of four wandered for quite some time, continually with the feeling they were being watched at the back of their minds as shadowy figures moved back and forth through the trees all around them. They quite enjoyed the company of their new found friend with his odd little stories of growing up as a mush man and how his family were all but eaten or squashed some years before, in a terrible accident while trying to cross a footpath.

After a short while Samuel spoke “are you sure you know exactly where we’re going Hempleroot?” he said. “Of course I do” replied the mush man. “We’re coming towards the river of red, we will have to cross it, but with you so big I don’t know how.” he squeaked. Sure enough, just as his sentence ended, the crystal trees parted to reveal a vast river before them. The river ran crimson and thick dark, like the blood of a thousand men and William felt a shudder run throughout his body, a lump in his throat as he recalled his father’s body, soaked in blood in the village square several days before.

The river must have stretched for at least twenty feet in front of them and on the other side they could see the remains of what must have been a bridge some years ago. One thing was certain; they were not going to be able to cross without some sort of raft. But before Samuel had chance to consider a solution, his thoughts were interrupted by a poignant howl in the darkness, like the cry of a banshee, piercing the air with its eerie scream.

The friends huddled together back to back, as slowly and silently from the shadows they could see at least eight pairs of silvery eyes moving towards them. A voice spoke from the dark. “What do you think you’re doing in my wood” rasped the voice. “Do you think you can just pass through without my say so?” it snarled. “Why don’t you show yourself scum toes!” Bindlebob called out into the shadow. “Very well” replied the voice. And the eyes began to move forward until the creatures were stood before them, surrounding the band completely with their backs to the crimson river.

As the travellers slowly peered about them they could see quite clearly that the voice that they’d heard was that of a wolf and his pack of snarling followers. The wolves all looked quite similar, great muscular beasts, with silvery flesh that seemed to glisten as they prowled around drooling, their sharp crystal fangs bared at the boys and their friends as if waiting for the order to tear them apart. The leader however was different, his flesh was a duller than the rest, it was torn and scarred as if from a great number of battles and his eyes bled black, as dark as the deepest of chasms, allowing any onlooker to become lost in the dark pool as they peer within.

His face was almost bloated though he had a slim pointed snout, upon which Samuel could see that there were what appeared to be crystals growing from his nose and up across his face, stretching down his back to become barbed crystal spikes that stuck out around his ribs and spine giving him the appearance of a creature of purest evil. “Looks like it’s time for us to feed, doesn’t it boys? Why don’t you come a little closer and say hello…” snapped the wolf, as he steadily began to approach his prey.

The brothers weren’t sure what to do, Bindlebob had vanished again, but they knew he must be somewhere nearby, though there was nothing that Hempleroot could do to save them, as he buried his face in Samuels pocket lining. In trouble again they found themselves wondering whether they’d ever make it to their mother and even if they did what good would they be? They couldn’t take on an army! William’s hair stood on end on the back of his neck; he reached out to grasp his brother’s hand and the boys held one another tight as they stood waiting for the inevitable; the wolves to attack.

Yesterdays Sunday Spot -11th April

Every Sunday I will drop the businessman in me and put down a piece of fiction… This could be something you enjoy yourself for a bit of escapism, or just read the kids before bed…

Darklands – Journey for Freedom (One of The Questor Chronicles – by Thomas Duncan Bell)

Chapter 4

The Witch of the Gate

Bindlebob skimmed quickly round the outskirts of the forest edge. He could see the two boys being carried into the vast wall through a crooked wooden door next to the smaller goblins guard hut and knew that despite his power of invisibility, he would never be able to just walk out across the clearing in broad daylight without being spotted. There were more goblins here than he had ever seen before and they would most definitely notice his footprints in the dusty earth beneath him.

Despite looking terribly stupid, goblins were actually quite bright creatures and expertly cunning when they wanted to be. Bindlebob decided that the best course of action was to try and create some sort of diversion so that he could slip past un-noticed and get closer to the door where the boys had been taken. He had no idea what he could possibly do that would draw their attention for long enough; but he knew that if they were all focussed on one thing then he’d easily be able to get across the courtyard un-seen.

He quickly started rummaging around in the array of coloured leaves that lay before him, until he stumbled across a sharp rock between his feet. Very subtly Bindlebob stooped to pick up the rock, trying to remain as casual as possible, completely forgetting that no one could see him anyway so his covert actions were completely un-necessary. In his mind he was a spy, a shadow dweller who was on a mission of espionage to save his friends and he wasn’t going to be seen by anyone or anything. Then, before he had time to carefully consider a course of action, his impatient nature got the better of him and he clumsily hurled the rock through the air at one of the goblins on the far side of the main gate. The goblin in question was cackling to himself while quaffing away at spider grog, a poisonous, putrid liquid to all but the goblins.

Spider grog was made up of the bodies of dead spiders and birds that had been puréed together into a foul smelling paste, the one thing that all goblins found hard to resist.

Though, despite a moment of merriment on his part, he was swiftly interrupted as the stone from Bindlebob’s tiny hand hit him square in the temple, causing him to squawk in agony as a greenish clotted blood pulsed from the wound. Without hesitation he whirled around and immediately accused the first goblin that he saw. The accused was a sort of rough looking hulk, with huge dark blue skin wrapped around tightly formed muscles, rippling beneath his partial armour chest plate. He stared almost completely without emotion at his accuser as he began to draw his giant sword from its scabbard.

Goblins were notorious for bickering and fighting amongst themselves; after all, this was how they made decisions about things like leadership and who would get the most food, or even treasure, when that was being divided amongst the horde after sacking a village or pillaging a band of travellers. “What do you fink yer doin’ scrag ‘ed?” said the first goblin Fangscuttle, while nursing his temple. “What do ya mean by that stinkpot!?” said the bigger goblin, totally unaware of why he was being targeted. “You it me! And yer gunna pay fer that!” said Fangscuttle, quickly whipping out his blade before his victim had time to draw and driving the cold jagged steel deep into the stomach of the accused, which was followed by a gurgling, spluttering, thud, as the now lifeless figure hit the floor. Bindlebob stood there in a stunned silence, barely able to contain himself following such luck and he watched on as an immense riot began to ensue.

Goblins everywhere were screaming at one another, many of the smaller ones were cut down by their larger allies as they scrabbled about the courtyard trying to defend themselves; the clattering of their weapons and clashing of armour was raw in the air around them. As the chaos erupted before him, Bindlebob was able to gather his senses, realizing that he might not have much time and he picked up a hefty looking stick for protection as he scuttled quickly across the left flank of the courtyard and up to the door, a little surprised that despite the distraction, none of the goblins noticed the stick bobbing up and down in mid air before them.

When he reached the door he tugged hard on the warped brass handle, pushing and pulling with all the might he could muster, but to no avail, the door wouldn’t budge. “I must need a key” he thought as he turned slowly and began to creep towards the guard hut. As he craned his neck around the entrance, Bindlebob could see the small purple goblin dozing away, while seated on a clumsy wooden stool with a large set of keys strapped to his belt, oblivious to what was going on outside. Ever so slowly, Bindlebob crept closer to the goblin, gently raising the hefty stick above his head ready to strike. But before he could attack, the goblins eyes snapped awake and stared eerily at Bindlebob; the stick flew down with a force! Still sitting up straight he lingered briefly in silence almost as if he was unscathed following the incident, this went on to the point that Bindlebob thought he should give him another bash, but there was no need, as after a few long seconds he wobbled slightly and fell off his stool and onto the hard stone floor of his hut, unconscious. The hobgoblin quickly grabbed the keys and ran outside again to the door where his friends had been taken. After failing with several of the oddly shaped keys, he eventually managed to unlock the door and cautiously began to open it. Bindlebob wasn’t sure where the goblins had taken the boys, but he knew he must find them and rescue them. He closed the door behind him and locked it tight so that no one was able to follow him in; he then proceeded along the dark, dank corridor that stood before him.

Almost cavern like in its shape, the corridor was grim, with stalactites encroaching from the ceiling above, lit only by tiny candles hidden in crevices in the walls. The tiny figure continued onward for a while before coming to a corner that led him to his right, revealing a long, winding staircase. “This must be where they went” he thought, as there were seemingly no other doors or hallways that he could make out in the miserable light. He began to move ever so quietly up the stairs; they too were made of stone, just like the walls, but they felt cold and sticky like the slimy skin of the goblins as he almost had to peel his feet from the floor with every step. Bindlebob was still with fear. He knew that while he was invisible no goblins could see him, but something inside him was making him fearful and danger felt too close to remain at ease. As he crept closer to the top of the winding staircase he heard voices growing louder as their owners moved further along the hall towards him. Despite his invisibility, Bindlebob became so nervous that he darted quickly behind a rotting wall hanging so as to be quite sure he wasn’t seen. Then, as the voices were almost upon him, he sneakily poked his head out to see the goblins from the wood strolling leisurely past him and back down the staircase he’d ascended. “What do ya fink she’ll do wiv em?” said Grelbog. “Dunno mate, don’t fancy their chances though” growled Bolrag in response, as they passed down the stairs and out of Bindlebob’s earshot.

Once he was sure that the coast was clear, the hobgoblin gently began to move along the hallway once more. He knew he must be going the right way now, but there was an urgency about his pace as he drove forward, knowing that the boys were likely to be in trouble. He swung fast around another corner, this way to his left and before him stood another staircase. This one was much, much wider than the last one had been and a tattered blue carpet made it look almost grand in the glimmer from the candles against the damp glistening walls. As well as the addition of the carpet, another difference between this as the dingy surroundings he’d passed through on the stairs before hand, was that the steps themselves were much steeper and each very high; it took Bindlebob quite some time to clamber up from step to step with such little legs. Also on the walls around him as he pushed on ascending the stairs, there were hundreds of tiny paintings. Some were of goblins, some were of men, but there were also a number of paintings that represented oddly misshapen animals, far too numerous and grotesque to describe, none the less sending a shiver down Bindlebob’s back. It was a very strange feeling to the tiny traveller, but as he climbed on, they all seemed to be staring in his direction as if they were watching him from their frames. This was somewhat un-nerving to Bindlebob, as he swallowed hard while his stomach bubbled with nervous energy but made a conscious decision to try not to pay attention, as their ghoulish dead eyes followed him up the steps. When he eventually did reach the top he could see a leathery looking door, studded with metallic spikes that jutted out sporadically at awkward angles. Bindlebob pushed himself as close up against the door as he could, craning up on tip toes to push his eye against the keyhole on the left of the doors dramatic Gothic handle. As he did so he discovered that what lay beyond the door was a large room, lightly furnished with a range of tables and chairs, armour statues, wall mounted weapons and to his surprise he could even see the boys. Samuel and William were both hanging from a thick ‘hemp like’ rope that had been bound tight around their wrists; they hung from the far wall of the room.

Bindlebob wondered how he was to help them, but after another quick glance around he realized that he couldn’t see anyone else in there, so drew his small blade from it’s sheathe and decided to try the door. To his amazement it opened with ease and the hobgoblin wondered cautiously through the centre of the room, towards where the boys hung. What Bindlebob hadn’t seen through the keyhole, was that the room was covered from wall to wall with bookshelves; they were brimming with old and tattered books and seemed too far off the ground for any human or goblin to reach. Before him stood a large wooden table with a host of assorted archaic chairs scattered clumsily around it and as his eyes roved around the room he also noticed that one of the walls hosted a thin window, through which he could see out onto a sliver forest and the rocky plains of the Darklands in the distance. As he whirled about in awe he noticed that on the wall behind him, above the entrance was a large antique portrait.

The portrait was of a beautiful young woman wearing a green silken dress and her face looked almost as if it was filled with the deepest of sorrow while he watched on, mesmerised. As Bindlebob stood before him gazing at the portrait, Samuel’s eyes opened slowly to see a host of muddy footprints dotted around the room. “Bindlebob!” he cried. “Thank goodness you’re here; we thought that you’d left us!” “Not to worry smello’s, it takes more than a goblin or two to stop old Bindlebob!” he jeered as he scrambled up Samuels leg and swiftly cut the boys loose allowing them to drop to the floor rubbing their wrists.

Suddenly a voice rose from across the room, filling the air around them with an almost unbearable echo. “Do you think that I can’t see you master gnome?” sneered the voice, from behind Bindlebob. “Do you think that your foolish pixie magic will work on me?” As the three friends looked up at where the portrait was hung, they saw woman, floating before them above the doorway. There was no longer a figure in the portrait, but the woman they saw was not what they remembered from the painting. This woman was not beautiful at all. She was haggard; her face was difficult to gaze upon as it was creased and shadowed with age, almost like her soul was lost and had taken the colour of her life with it. She did indeed wear a green silken dress as the girl in the frame had, but this dress was not as it had been, it was tattered and worn, grubby and gnarled with the ill-keeping of years; tormented as its wearer. The woman had long grey wispy hair and her eyes glowed golden, like the crimson fire of their village as it skipped about and drifted to ash. Samuel and William stared at her, their thoughts beginning to grow black as they saw their father, he was fighting wildly with passion as he was struck in the chest by an arrow and run through with a darkened blade; they saw their mother screaming as she was beaten by a man clad in black armour and loaded into a caged wagon.

The brothers felt weak, recalling how far they’d come, hearts racing against their will, sweat beading across their brows as they felt like they were choking, swallowing their own tongues as they suffered for air, it felt as if death was slowly taking the boys forth into his world of fire and anguish, snatching their lives from about them as a reaper in his corn field. The room had become hazy and distorted as the pair fell to their knees; a scream broke the silence, dragging the brothers from their trance. “Don’t do it smello’s! Don’t look at the eyes; she’s a witch with spells to cast! Don’t look at the eyes!” cried Bindlebob as he thrust the boys to the floor, breaking their gaze. As the last words left his lips, the witch raised a long skeletal finger and the hobgoblin flew immediately across the room and into the far wall by the window with a crunch, falling to the floor into a silent, motionless heap, bruised and bloodied after the attack. “Silence you pathetic little imp! You think you can stop me having my way?” she whirled back around to face the brothers. “You think you’re safe, you think you can escape? No one escapes me! You will go to your death just like all the others!” she cackled. As she grimaced away still cursing them, Samuel and William began to sink into the floor.

What once was stone was now more like a thick concrete and the deeper the boys got, the more their bodies felt as if they were being crushed, as they were slowly enveloped against their will. “William, your sling!” gasped Samuel. “You have to strike her!” William didn’t wait to ask any questions, he quickly removed the sling from his belt and fitted a stone from his pocket into the pouch at its centre. Then, before the Witch could comprehend what was happening, William loosed the stone hard at her face, striking her just above the right eye, leaving her screeching wildly as she fell to the floor. Still reeling from the wound she too began to sink into the floor as it bubbled and slurped away, thick as the quick sands of the northern plains, always eager to feed upon their prey.  Samuel had managed to reach out and grasp one of the chairs next to the table and drag himself from the engulfing mass, skipping expertly onto the vast table and reaching out for his brother still struggling before him. William took hold of Samuel’s hand and between the two of them they managed to mount the table.

Without wishing to linger too long as it slowly disappeared into the floor the brothers gingerly jumped off the table and from one piece of sinking furniture to the other until they reached the stone window ledge; then sweeping down to scoop up Bindlebob Samuel realized what awaited them as he looked down from the window at the drop below. It was a very long way down and they were clearly out of options until the faint voice of their injured friend whispered at them, not making much sense but trying to hand something to the boys from one of his pockets. “What is it Bindlebob?” asked William, but the response was garbled, though they thought they heard the word magical before he fell out of consciousness once more.

William opened his hand to show Samuel what he’d received and it appeared to be a small reel of golden cotton. Samuel looked visibly worried “and what exactly are we supposed to do with that?” he exclaimed with a hint of cynicism. “Didn’t you hear him brother, it’s magical” said William as he began to tie one end of the cotton to a suit of armour, the body of which had almost entirely disappeared into the floor. Then he took the reel and threw it from the window, letting it fall further and further until it was out of view. “What are you doing?” cried Samuel. “Trust me” replied William and he started to shimmy down the cotton as if it was the toughest of ropes. Samuel began to follow his brother carefully, with Bindlebob under one arm, navigating his way down the tower and the following wall. The brothers zipped quickly down the golden cotton, surprised at its strength and the soft feeling while clutched in their hands. They could hear the squeal of the Witch as they descended and good natured as the two were, they couldn’t help feeling lifted as she sunk to her death in the chamber above.

When they reached the bottom they saw the most beautiful silvery forest, all of the trees seemed to be made of the purest crystal, twinkling in the light of the afternoon sun as they would sway in the gentle wind from the East. No sooner had their feet hit the ground, the boys ran as fast as they could into the thickets and while a growing feeling of relief began to take over their bodies, the brothers knew that their adventure was once again on the move.