My 2007

It’s been a tough year – yeah, that’s the right word – tough. But it’s also been a year of achievement, not only in the form of a certificates but also personal achievement that really pushed my sense of identity and perhaps even my sense of reality and sanity. A finally got my degree and I even quit smoking after ten years! Let’s run through my year in a vaguely chronological order via the people who I got to know along the way, I’ll also try to link to old blog posts for more details.

Matt and Ian

winner.jpgThe year started with the news that Top of the Pile had been axed, the silly little student TV show which had offered me an escape from the horror of my film degree into the alt dimension of television studies. Of course TV students hate TV as much as film students hate films so it meant a fresh perspective on things as I slowly started to comprehend the nature of media rather than just cinema – a important thing because TV at that level, or rather the people making it are almost completely artless and just work in a way that seems to them like common sense.Anyway – that was all over now (although I would return to that studio later in the year to present a number of things including a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style quiz, a cooking show, a short film about a chat show host and some kind of interview) and it meant the friends I had made on the quiz drifted away – apart from Matt and Ian. It had taken a while to tune into their wavelength but I realised that their friendship had the same social dynamic as that of mine with Dave – who I was missing more than ever by this point (the podcast had grind to a halt in the summer).
itunesart51.jpgI’ll try not to bang on about Matt and Ian too much but I will fast forward to April and the National Student Television Association conference. It was here that I would really bond with those guys and for the first time in months felt like belonged to a little gang of friends. I was happy, although I’ll admit I hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t happy before hand (more about that in a minute). And it was there, Coventry (wonderful little city BTW – big roman road) that I really started to notice that alcohol was getting almost impossible to drink without some incident or tantrum. In this case – and the reason for my visit – I’d been nominated for some award – and when it came to reading out my name…well they read out my name – I’d been un-nominated. And being as I was drunk in order to boost my confidence the blow to my ego – that I didn’t get my name called out, was all a bit much.Anyway, let’s move on – that tale has a happy ending.

Eric Strauss

Not just for me but for a lot of people, podcasting drew to a close. The idea that a gang of people online should create their own citizen brew media was initially very compelling but thanks to the BBC, marketing people, businesses, trendy media types and the wave of web 2.0 meant that making a show was just silly. And stand alone bits of media dotted here and there seemed far more relevant to an internet user base that uses google search. I wrote a series of articles about it here; but it’s enough to say three things –

I officially axed the Spainful Podcast (really tough); I said goodbye to Podshow (quite tough but they deserved it for their appalling management); I began writing blog posts just for the fun of writing – generating media as Mr. Strauss would say.

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Oh yes, Mr Strauss. He of Vox Monitor – the podcast review podcast. As I switched off the idea of podcasting and started to tune more into the idea of bits of media here and there, discovered at random or out of sequence I started to really love Vox Monitor more than ever. It’s the oddest thing – like buying news paper for a few years and then realising you hate the writing style, the political stance, even the font – but you like the feel of the paper and the smell of it, so you keep buying it for that reason alone.

And then two great things happened almost at once. Eric Strauss published a book – which I bought for no reason other than the fact it I would be another unit on his sales statistics; I was really into his music by this point so I just thought buying something, anything that he made would be good karma for him – a way of saying thanks for the music alone. And the book was brilliant. But – out the blue – and as if for me, the Strauss website (which had been locked off for months) was open – so in what can be only described as an orgy of media. And none of was in any order whatsoever….

Andy Bowles

In my final year of collage, whilst I was enjoying all this disparate online media I should mention I was living alone. This meant that I would ahve to leave the house if I wanted to speak to anyone…human. Thankfully, across the road from me was a student house share which included my friend Andy (he’d appeared in my podcast as Mr. Miller).

It not a big thing but it’s an important thing. In a few months time someone would ask me to define exactly what I thout friendship was, what it meant and I described my friendship with Andy. “Just to be able to go round to his place, sit down on the sofa, maybe not even say much, but to just sit there and relax and maybe laugh about some of the stuff that’s going on in each others lives – and to be able to ask or say pretty much anything with fear of what the other may say. I would miss a simple thing like that pretty soon.

graduatoin.jpgMeanwhile my adventuring was going into overdrive. Have travel card – Will travel.. I’d got into the habit of jumping on the train and just going to whichever stop took my fancy but by the spring I was doing this almost daily. Sometimes writing, other times making recordings, some times reading or just thinking – I explored Dorset thoroughly and would often pop into see Andy on my way home to report my findings.

Alice

It was whilst going on one of these adventures that I would have perhaps the worst panic attack I have ever had. Over Easter I had given up smoking, it had done weird shit to my brain without doubt and I also think that it had triggered what would later be diagnosed as agitated depression. I wrote about it in my apologetic explanation of why I was stopping the Spainful podcast.

April 14th: Something inside my head breaks – or rather explodes. Unlike my usual depression in which I just don’t want to get out of bed, I find that my body seems to want to get me up and about. I find myself waking early, going for walks and eating healthier (out of nowhere I suddenley stopped smoking). But I also find it increasingly difficult to talk, I start stuttering for the first time in my life and have to stop to take deep breathes mid sentence. And when I go to bed I don’t just cry I fucking weep.

So I knew that survival was the name of the game this year. As long as I just got through with my graduation I could then go home – climb into bed and die in peace. I hated myslef and I suppose that’s why I was travelling so much, I was looking for some kind of escape route!

But one day, having already spotted her at collage I saw the girl whom after three years I had failed to even speak to properly. By this point I dreamt about her regularly, just nice dreams. She was just there with me – handing my hand and talking to me as my intimate friend. But here she was now at the train station. So of course, in the state I was in I was terrified of what could happen. Perhaps she see me – perhaps she’d call over that policeman telling him that I was following her or something – or perhaps she just talk to me; probably the worst case scenario.

Thankfully none of that happened. I collapsed behind some bins – I managed get me breathing and heart back to a sensible speed and I wondered why all this weird mental stuff was happening to me – panic attacks….me?

(and I think that was the last time I ever saw here)

Professor J. Rufus Fears

When I wasn’t thinking about real life I was thinking about history. I’d discovered so recordings, audio lectures you could say – and given that I was now very used to consume audio media, thanks to my interest in podcasting these lectures were a perfect way to learn all the things that I’d wondered about. From Ancient Greece and Alexander the Great to the second world war, the Renaissance, Machiavelli, and all these books (literature) which I’d tried reading but couldn’t make any sense of.

355296043_44db6b8665-1.jpgAll these things were explained to me and with the bitter irony that I was learning at college degree level whilst at my own collage I was learning nothing. Professor Fears lectures in particular resonated with me as he has the uncanny knack of making almost every point he makes seem relevant to me personally. Really wonderful stuff – and perfect for listening to whilst do all that exploring.

But before I knew it I’d someone managed to finish the degree. It was over and I was in a state of near bliss for about a month. Blissful but utterly emotionally exhausted. As I promised myself, I came home to Jersey and I rested. I joked that I had come home to die but it was completely true, I totally had enough of life and just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up again. The only thing that kept me going was series’ – remember how I said a moment ago that I was only interested in stand alone media? Well it was the serialised stuff that gave me a reason to live. I watched Rome, and could die until I’d seen the last one – and those lecture of course, they were a series, but there was always another series to get through and then there was also this new website I’d built….

Youtube Poop

(not a person but a whole bunch of people – and a culture movement of equality)

Every day, since May, I sit down to my computer and sort through a bunch of videos that have been made in the last 24 hours. Then I check my email, I get about 10 per day now, before doing a bit of moderating in the forum I set up. There are a few hundred people and enough messages to keep me busy every day for about an hour while I look for people calling each faggot or nigger, while I answer questions innocently posed by 10 year olds and while I look at comments about how evil/ignorant/funny/british/nazi/stupid I am for whatever reason some one see fit. Sometimes it’s fun sometimes it hurts and other times it’s boring as – hell be it keeps me busy, and I know from the podcast that if I keep myslef busy I can keep away the depression. Or so I thought.

conradadvanced.jpgYoutube Poop is like a video collage community, with a touch or bloody mindedness, a touch of nihilism, a lot of creative risk and a safety net of indifference. The fact that to intuitive choices or a 12 year old can completely shit all over the skill and experience of a trained media proffessional makes it a great leveller. Although I never felt much of a blow to the ego – I was happy to learn and get my closure – after all, you know you’ve gone down a bit of a dead end when you get bored of your own stuff, and Spainful to me by now was painfully slow and dull.

And whilst doing all this I leart a thing or two about branding. Whilst Spainful Films had it’s own logo and a whole bunch of idents I hadn’t given brand that much thought until I started curating youtube poop. It was here that I noticed kids who were uploading old tv idents as if they were historical artefacts. And it was here that I realised the amount of power a logo or a name could really have. It was not only a sign of acceptance but also a thing of creative safety. As more member joined the site they would use idents in their video to make their media seem more official looking – and each of these of course included a the address of the website so in effect they were all advertising my site. I always count myself lucky that I was the first to spot the potential of poop as an online community and despite trying out new stuff, taking risks and being silly now and then I find my paternal instincts engaged much more than my business instinct.

Doctor Macey

And so I was very busy working, often with great discipline and professional ambition. And I found that if it wasn’t for the fact I had no money whatsoever I had no reason to go out – a job would mean less time to work on the site! I wasn’t allowed to drink now, having lost control of myself at my parents ruby wedding anniversary I had gone to promise my mum that I wouldn’t drink alcohol again (in much the same way I had promised her I wouldn’t kill myself) so there was no reason to go out at night. Add this to fact all my old friends had left Jersey by now I just didn’t want to leave the house. And this, before I knew it mutated into fear.

I mentioned that panic attack I had in the summer – well by September they were coming along twice or three times a week. If I stayed in front of the computer, at home then I was fine. I was sane, level headed, calm, clever even. But as soon as I would have to get on a bus, and see the eyes all looking and sound of teenagers shouting and pushing and people taking risks on the road, the rain, the dark as the evenings drew in – Jesus Christ it was a fucking nightmare out there.

photo-25.jpg But this was the annoying thing. I was perfectly ok in doors, in my comfort zone I suppose. Although once, I did burn dinner and I found myself on the floor so upset that I couldn’t even lift myself up to get to a chair to cry with a little comfort. In the end I just had to go to the doctor although I still had no idea what was wrong with me.

And it turned out to be depression. Depression!? But I didn’t feel depressed. Doesn’t depression just mean unhappy. Apparently not. I say apparently because I still don’t really understand what it’s all about. Something to with a brain chemical being missing from my brain – this I can understand fine; but there is a on of lifestyle stuff that goes with it. My lifestyle meant a gland couldn’t do what it was meant to do – and strangley enough one of things I had to start doing was going for walks.

All that exploring I did in the spring was what was keeping me going and I thought it was just for fun.

And so – with the help of a little bit of consultation and some low dosage medicine called Citalopram I found I was back to normal and the whole incident just seems to me now like a bad 3 month long hangover. Saying that, I’ll admit a trip to town still entails and element of adrenaline and when sat in the pub on christmas eve I was rather intimated by the mass of people but at least I was there – talking to people and behaving in a vaguely human manner.

Tomorrow I intend to discuss the year ahead:

June 11th: Am I really going there by becoming a fucking runner for a company that makes shoe adverts set up by a handful of 19 year olds with rich parents? Or do I really have to take the freelance route and set myself up as some sort of consultant who exploits the ignorance of companies who think that placing a bit of audio on their site and calling it a podcast will make them not only more hip but also more money.

One Response to “My 2007”

  1. Matthew says:

    Its worth noting though: It was simply the uni screwed up, and plain forgot to send your tape into NaSTA – they skipped a whole bunch of categories, it wasnt anything you done, they just messed up! Im sure you would of done well, had they remmembered to post your tape…

    BUT – when it come to their own awards – The Nerve* awards – well, you won didnt you.

    But the reason thats hysterically funny is this:

    You thought you were nominated for a NaSTA – and wasnt, and got upset when you found out

    You DIDNT think you were Nominated for a Nerve* award – And WON the award and was then VERY pleased and surprised

    Wasnt very funny on the night in Coventry, but I do find it quite funny in heinsight now the way you never know if your nominated or not!

    The world works in mysterious ways Conrad….

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