Is UK Democracy Under Threat?

Unless I’m mistaken, there is no electoral commission crying foul, no independent observers saying that the election result cannot be trusted because on 23 June, 2016, Britain was a failed or corrupt state that could not be trusted to deliver a free and fair vote.


510750075_eeee488cd6_zI have argued elsewhere that the present outpouring of emotion from the recent referendum losing side is, in one sense, to be expected. It is part of the normal grief process.  (See Post Brexit Grief is Normal.)  However, the more calls there are for the decision to be set aside and for a second referendum, the more I become concerned about the threat to the democratic system which Britain used to be proud of.  Perhaps the potential weakening, even loss of democracy, is even more important than the loss of the EU membership, and even more important than the threatened loss of Scotland from the United Kingdom.

The arguments for setting aside the results just don’t stand up. Continue reading “Is UK Democracy Under Threat?”

What Do Women Really Want?

Now both men and women can expect to live at least another 20 years once the children have departed, and more and more women are deciding to leave the relationship and try to get their legitimate needs met elsewhere.


If you are a female, please try not to get too irritated by the seemingly arrogant presumptions of a male writer. Of course, I don’t really know what women want. However, in my professional practice as a therapist I have worked with lots of couples over the years, and as I wind down for the summer and sup my iced lattes, I have been reflecting on patterns. (I am obviously aware that not all couples are heterosexual, but my observations here relate only to them.) Some men, take note. The things listed below are really important. Even as you sit reading this, device in one hand and beer in the other, their presence or absence is strengthening or corroding your relationship.  Continue reading “What Do Women Really Want?”

Power Play: The Sex Games Are A Metaphor

I found myself laughing out loud at one point reading about the American reaction to a major event in the book, thinking it was so over-the-top to be absurd, and I had to remind myself that as a former BBC correspondent in America, the author knew precisely what he was writing about. It is this convincing detail of the political worlds involved that provided much of the pleasure for me.

13021847This is a very interesting and skilfully crafted book. If you enjoyed “The West Wing”, you’ll love this. It has so much more to offer. The author takes you inside Downing Street as well as the West Wing (and the British Ambassador to America moves seamlessly between the two). We see the see American security forces dealing with a crisis (as well as trying to instigate and/or avoid World War III), the British security forces dealing with terrorism, we visit a grouse shoot in Scotland, and make an historical journey to the British forces in Northern Ireland.

My previous reading of Gavin Esler had alerted me to his ability to deliver sharp, witty prose, with pithy observations about political life, and this book delivered in abundance. And the political worlds that he describes in such detail provide a fascinating and authoritative backdrop to the action. Continue reading “Power Play: The Sex Games Are A Metaphor”

Post Brexit Grief Is Normal

In effect, people are saying: “I am shocked. My foundations are no longer secure. You have done this too me. My evolutionary fight/flight emotions have been roused to tackle the sudden perceived threat. And I am going to attack, attack, attack!”

A Psychotherapist Visits Some Responses to the UK EU Referendum Result

FullSizeRenderIt is early days yet, but in the brief time that has elapsed since the referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, I have been struck by the intense emotional outpouring from many people about that decision.

Most of the emotion appears to have come from those who lost. There may be several reasons for that. Given the vitriol of the campaign, the winners may be striving to be magnanimous in silence, or they are just stunned at what has happened. If it is true that many of the winners were older, disaffected, and predominantly disadvantaged, their voices are perhaps disproportionately under-represented on TV and social media. Or perhaps it is just that the pain of loss is felt more deeply than the sweetness of joy.

As a jobbing psychotherapist I deal with the pain of loss on a daily basis and work with clients who are struggling to come to terms with the emotional tsunami that had hit them. Of course, there is no one template that fits all loss experiences, no neat stages that have to be followed, and certainly no quick fixes. However, there are common experiences that many people experience in their grief. And it is possible to see some of these grief experiences in the responses to Brexit by those who lost in the referendum. Continue reading “Post Brexit Grief Is Normal”

11 Sure Ways to Beat Procrastination

“No one ‘builds a house,” Tim Urban writes. “They lay one brick again and again and the end result is a house. Procrastinators are great visionaries — they love to fantasize about the beautiful mansion they will one day have built — but what they need to be are gritty construction workers, who methodically lay one brick after the other, day after day, without giving up, until a house is built.”

426799067_55027d4244_zThe lawn sat there accusingly, waiting to be cut.  And it refused to go away or cut itself.  The pile of bills sat there waiting to be paid.  They wouldn’t pay themselves, and certainly didn’t do self-filing.

All procrastination is avoidance. It is a supposed coping strategy to help us face the future.  However, as we know, procrastination can make the future worse rather than better.  The long grass eventually clogged up the lawn mower.  The black bills turned into red demands. Continue reading “11 Sure Ways to Beat Procrastination”

Easily Format Your Blog With Markdown

If Markdown is enabled on your device you can concentrate on writing and simply insert the style options with easy to remember characters.

Markdown is a simple way of styling text without having to search for particular buttons on your wordprocessor, and without having to learn complex HTML.  It is an easy way for writers to convert text to HTML using just plain text.  If Markdown is enabled on your publishing platform you can concentrate on writing and simply insert the style options with basic easy to remember characters.  So, for example, you can easily insert bold, or italics, or subheaders, or lists, or active links, into your blogs, comments, and emails.

You can use Markdown on your WordPress blog if you enable this feature.  To use Markdown in a WordPress post (blog or comment), you need to do the following:

  • Login to your site.
  • Click the “My Site” tab on the top left corner.
  • In the left hand menu, select the bottom item “Settings”.
  • At the top of the Settings page select the second tab along – “Writing”.
  • About halfway down the page tick the box that says “Use markdown for posts and pages.” Then click “Save Settings”.
  • Next, go to your compose screen.  Enter your text as normal but include the Markdown stylings.  Then click the “Preview” tab before posting just to check the text appears in the way you intended it to.

I have listed to basic Markdown elements below. Continue reading “Easily Format Your Blog With Markdown”

Can Love Stop The Pain?

The final fifth of the book is a tour de force of careful unravelling of detail. The reader wants to know what happened to the final child, if he is still alive, and who (if anybody) took him. In the space of relatively few pages three separate explanations are given, one after the other. Each one is convincing at the time and leaves the reader satisfied until the ground we stand on is suddenly pulled away. I was left feeling sympathy for the police officers and something of their shock.

24422329I was sitting up to 1:00am. I had to get to the end to understand what happened.

On the surface this may have a lot to put you off. All I can say is, “Don’t be put off by the surface.” If I tell you that it involves the death or disappearance of six children, the grief of one mother, the guilt and rejection of another, a war veteran with PTSD, and the rigours of the Falkland Islands’ landscape and water, you may want to put it down saying that it sounds too grim. However, despite that, it isn’t grim at all. In fact, it is one of the most optimistic books I have read for a long time. Ultimately friendship, care, and love triumph over the pain and losses.

The first part of the book is dominated by the grieving mother who has lost her two boys in a tragic accident that could have been avoided. We sit with her in her pain as she plots either the murder of the woman who could have prevented it and/or her own suicide. Sadly the Islands have a history of dead or missing children. At least two other boys have disappeared in recent history. We are jolted into the present as another boy disappears, and then another one.

Continue reading “Can Love Stop The Pain?”