Explanation for Recent Absence

Just to let people know why posting has been intermittent at best here for… well, for a long time, really.
I’ve made several allusions to health problems here, but this should give you an idea of what’s actually been going on — I bumped into an ex-workmate last night. He apparently asked another ex-colleague “What have you done to Hickey? he looked incredibly happy and stress-free!”
Yesterday was also the day I developed a nervous tic that meant my left eye was spasming every few minutes. But my ex-colleague wasn’t joking — I almost certainly *did* look more relaxed and less stressed than he’s ever seen me. It’s just that that’s a really, *really* low bar.

I don’t talk about personal stuff on here very often, but… while I don’t want to imply any legal liability…let’s just say that when I started my old job, in 2008, I was pretty healthy. By the time I started *this* job, in March this year, I had blood pressure in the extreme hypertensive range, had lost most of my hair (though that’s possibly coincidental — I was thinning before), had developed two new sleep problems, had psoriasis so bad that I was having to coat most of my body in steroid creams, had semi-regular asthma attacks, had a doctor trying desperately to persuade me to take Valium, had put on six inches around the waist from comfort-eating, had a bad back that makes it sometimes difficult to walk more than a hundred yards or so without having to sit down, and was having severe chest pains.

Since then, there’ve been ups and downs, with occasional weird new symptoms appearing and disappearing (ever hear of globus hystericus? Neither had I…) but I’m generally getting better. But one problem that has occasionally been there is an extreme loss of cognitive functioning — I’ll lose words, sometimes for several minutes at a time.

This, too, has been getting better, but I got a mild case of the flu a few weeks ago, and it’s been worse than normal since then, and I’ve been fatigued as hell, as well.

I’m sure it’ll get better soon, but don’t expect much from me for a little while. I’ve got a proposal to write for something I’ve been asked to submit to (and for which my deadline has already been extended), a short story that’s been commissioned for an anthology that I need to get done by the end of next month, and I need to actually get the revisions for my novel done.

I *will* be posting Doctor Who posts on Mindless Ones — a lot of them — because if I want to get the book of Who essays out for the 23rd (which is both the anniversary and Thought Bubble day) I’ll have to go fast, but probably little else for the next couple of weeks, except some of the California Dreaming essays. The other ongoing things I’m doing on here (Liberalism and How To Build Your Own Time Machine) will have to wait until I’ve got stuff that’s on a deadline out of the way, and anything else (like my review of the Beach Boys box set, or just random posts about whatever I’m thinking) will have to wait too.

But this won’t be the case forever. I’m getting better all the time (couldn’t get much worse…)


I’ve been thinking of ways to boost the sales of my book of short stories, because I’m hoping to get a lot more fiction out over the next couple of years and that book’s not selling in huge numbers. One thing I thought of doing is doing readings of the stories and putting them online, maybe one a week.

Would this be something anyone would like to hear?

If so, what would be the best way of delivering it? People seem to like SoundCloud, but that can’t be used with fully Free Software GNU/Linux distros because it requires Adobe’s version of Flash, so I’ll only do that if it’s what people *really* want. Otherwise, I could do it as a podcast through podomatic, which would make it easy to subscribe through iTunes, or just stick the files up on my own webspace and link to them, or stick the audio up on YouTube. Which would be most convenient for people?

If people want this, I’ll try to get the first story done tonight.

A quick note on comments, emails etc

Just so people are aware, I’m currently not particularly well, and when I’m not well I have to prioritise stuff according to how much or how little it stresses me. Writing actually relieves my stress, so expect me to be positively logorrhoeic here over the next few weeks, but other forms of internet activity (Twitter, email, comments threads and so on) can very quickly raise my blood pressure, and that even goes for people I like.
So I’m very deliberately limiting myself to a two-hour period of the day, in the morning, where I’m allowing myself to take part in Twitter, Facebook, blog comments (including this blog’s comment threads) and personal emails. I currently owe Richard Flowers, Plok and my uncle all at least two long emails each, which will take up most of the next few days’ internet socialising time, so if I don’t respond to your email, comment or @reply, please, *please* don’t think I’m being rude, or that I’m ignoring you. I’ll try to get around to everything, but it’ll take longer than it otherwise would (and I’m not great at that stuff at the best of times).

Doctor Who Post At Mindless Ones

I’ve written about An Unearthly Child over at the Mindless site, as part of a new series I’m doing for them covering one Who story per year for 1963 through 2012. I’ve written about this story before, of course, and I even re-used a couple of paragraphs from one of those posts here, but this is a much longer discussion than I’ve had before.

In other news, my computer’s now working properly again, so over the next few days expect more Bigger On The Outside, more Doctor Watson, and the long-delayed continuation of How We Know What We Know, as well as *possibly* some more Cerebus. I’ll also be contributing to a Thought-Bubble wrap-up post on the Mindless site this weekend.

Brief Update: Bad News (for me)/Good News (for people who like my blog)

Proper update later, but here’s a very rare personal post. Some of you may have noticed the lack of posting recently. It’s been because I’ve been working very hard for months, putting in a substantial amount of overtime, and I’ve also been feeling unwell for quite some time.

On Tuesday I went to the doctor and was told I have high blood pressure. Not “you’re going to have a heart attack tomorrow” blood pressure, but “you need to work *at most* three days a week for the next month and not do anything stressful, and that way you won’t wake up screaming at 2AM thinking your head will explode” high blood pressure. While normally I’m a workaholic, I’m also a workaholic who wants to live to see forty, so I’m following the doctor’s advice.

Since I find writing about the most relaxing thing there is to do, and since I’ve got an enforced break from work, you can expect a *lot* of blog posts over the next few weeks – once I feel better enough that I can look at a screen for long periods of time, anyway…

Top 100 Lib Dem Blogger?!

How odd. I’ve just discovered, from seeing a screengrab at Caron’s blog, that I made the top 100 Lib Dem blogs this year in the Total Politics awards. This after for the last few years I specifically asked people not to vote for me, and this year didn’t mention it at all.

I don’t like the Total Bollocks awards, and the way they legitimise a very Westminster-oriented view of what is and isn’t political, and the way they’re inevitably biased towards the friends of egregious gossipmonger Iain Dale, which is why I don’t like drawing attention to them, but I’m incredibly flattered that anyone bothered to vote for me at all, especially in a year when I’ve not posted much political stuff (other than all the AV stuff, I suppose). So I just want to say thank you to the people (or person singular? I don’t know how many votes it takes) who voted for me.

However, looking at that list, there are a number of very obvious people missing from it, so *next* year, if you’re thinking of voting for me, could you please vote for Debi Linton (who is, as of today, DOCTOR Debi! – congratulations to one of my very favourite people) or Alex Wilcock, or Jazz Hands or Mat Bowles or Nicholas Whyte or Strange Complex or Andrew Ducker (I *think* Andrew’s a Lib Dem – he’s not mentioned supporting the party in a while and I wouldn’t currently want to assume anything).

There are so many good, intelligent, funny writers in this party – so many of whom I am proud to call friends and who are not just better writers but better people than me – that I’m almost ashamed to have made that list. But also still very, very grateful that someone(s) likes my blogging enough to bother voting for it. I hope over the next year I can improve enough as a writer to justify it.