Monday, 22 August 2016

Desperation

Long discussion about porn.

Porn. That's something I could do. It's been a while, and I have all afternoon.

So I open my external HD. Click. No, not that one. Not that one either. Not that one. I don't even know why I have that one. Why do I even keep this? Okay, that one is... yeah, not feeling it right now. I'll keep VLC open, though, just in case. Click.

There's this one scene I want to see. SoftPornTube. Click. There it is. Click. Oh - it's been deleted. Maybe I'll find it on XVideos. Click. There is is. Click. Oh - that's the same page. It's been deleted. Maybe it's somewhere on Pornhub? That's unlikely. Click. No, it's not there.

I'll find something else. YouPorn? Click. RedTube? Click. Ancensored? Click. Chaturbate? Click. She's pretty, but I'm more interested in hearing her talk about Death Note than watching her get off. Okay, maybe there's something good on Twitter or one of the blogs. Click. I've read all of these. Damn it.

My hands are a blur as I open window after window. Unfinished erotica shorts. Dead blogs still active. Porn on Tumblr. Picture after picture after picture after...

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Stop, ILB! Stop! STOP!

I stop. Close all the windows. Breathe in.

What, exactly, do I want to do?

Click.

Open VLC. Watch a couple having orgasms together. Bring myself off afterwards. Go downstairs, make a cup of tea, go to bed and have a lie-down. Feel better.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Lines to do?

"Who are you trying to call?"

I looked up. I really shouldn't have done. This was a music lesson, and everybody was making such a racket that it was a wonder any speech could be heard over the din. Our music teacher, who had basically had enough, was hiding behind the whiteboard; I was at the grand piano working on my tune. Most other people had keyboards at their disposal, but - as I was working on my own as opposed to in a pair - I took the piano.

I wasn't a fan of the girl holding the 'phone to her ear. I had nothing against her, but she had proved herself to be rude, conceited and spiteful at points. I didn't really walk in her circles, but she was in my class, so we occasionally crossed paths. It was clear she didn't like me. Very few people did. By contrast, the girl who'd asked the question was somebody I did like. Not as much as she liked me (if the rumours were true), but she seemed genuinely pleasant and, while I had never exchanged more than a few words with her, they had all been good ones.

"Who are you trying to call?"
"Sex line."


Calling a sex line? At age 14? In the middle of a school lesson? Was I supposed to do something, seeing as I appeared to be the only one who had heard? Unable to look away, but unwilling to stop it in any way - wanting to see how this scene played out - I stayed where I was, tuning out all the chords people were playing and concentrating on their conversation.

"Hey, big boy," the girl holding the phone said. "I bet your cock is hard for me. I want to give you a cunt sandwich."

Yes, she genuinely did say that. The above line of dialogue is in no way fabricated - I was shocked by the filth that was coming from her mouth (and I also suddenly wanted a sandwich). Still reeling from the C-bomb she'd dropped, I almost missed the fact that she'd snapped her 'phone off and was swearing softly to her friend.

"What did he say?" her friend asked.
"He worked out that I was a kid, and he said he ain't got no time for kids," she replied mournfully. (Privately, I agreed. Once we were all past 16, anything seemed OK; I just wasn't sure this was appropriate at the time.)
"Hey you!" came a shrill voice which, I realised, was the voice of her friend - quite a distinct one; even over a rather basic Nokia you could have told it wasn't the same person. "I called up only wanting a bit of sexy fun, and you hung up on me! I'm gonna kill myself!"

Pause.

"I think he's hung up again," she said in a slightly conspirational manner. "I don't understand... what are we doing wrong?"
"Maybe we should try ag..."

Three dramatic chords rang out across the classroom. Not wanting to start any confrontations, I had decided to take action. Whether or not they were too young or in the wrong place or time to be making such a call, I was starting to feel sorry for the poor sex worker getting harangued on the other end of the line.


"That's not part of your advertising jingle, is it?" asked our teacher. "It sounds more like something from a silent suspense film."
"No, Miss. I was just warming up," I replied, following up by actually playing her my advertising jingle, a masterpiece of talent that rhymed "biscuits" with "risk it" and "cool" with "fool". This was the '90s: I was allowed.
"Oh. That's quite good," she lied. "I'll go around and listen to some more, and then we'll do the recording, shall we?"
"I think they're finished," I said helpfully, pointing to the students sitting the furthest conceivable distance from the girls on the sex line. She drifted off to talk to the boys in question, breezing swiftly past the girls, who hurriedly stowed the 'phone in a bag and tried to look busy.


The fact that they managed to come up with an advertising jingle in the remaining time was, frankly, nothing short of amazing... although, as I reasoned while making my way to lunch to (finally) get a sandwich, they may have already finished writing it before the lesson started. They evidently needed something to do in the meanwhile.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Nil by Mouth

I've been away. That's why I haven't been posting.

Where I went doesn't really matter. I had a good time - surprisingly good, if I'm being honest. I ate and drank and danced and screamed and applauded and slept and flirted. And I returned, after a couple of days - not to this house, but to my aunt and uncle's - for one final day of sedentary life and making sure four cats are okay.

They are, I'm pleased to report.

I went to work yesterday, feeling ridiculously out of place until someone mentioned David Bowie and I had something to contribute. I went back to my aunt and uncle's house, had a sandwich, waited for a while, had a pizza, and then went to SH to celebrate my sister's birthday and had some cake.

The reason I'm mentioning food so much is that I'm not allowed to eat any. I have a medical procedure tomorrow which may (or may not) yield results; I'll actually be in hospital for that. I've been let off work because hospital. Whatever the reason, I'm not allowed to have food. I was, before 9am this morning, allowed to have breakfast. I set an alarm for 8:30 which I promptly slept right through, and by 11:20 when I finally woke up, I'd passed that threshold already.

I'm not allowed to eat. Sips of water are permissible.

[Break during which ILB goes to get a glass of water. It doesn't taste good - or, more accurately, it doesn't taste like water. He is trying to ignore this.]

I woke up this morning (11:20 counts; it's still the morning) with massive horn. I know not from whence it came, but it felt both pleasant and frustrating enough to ignore. Working on a job application that I don't need to do in order to keep my brain active, trying to forget about how much I'd like a cheese sandwich right now, it returned. I could touch myself, I reasoned - having a morning wank would be pleasant and there's nothing in the medical notes that says I can't do that. It might even send me back to sleep, and that's a way to pass the time.

But I didn't, because I'm the sort of idiot who doesn't want to lose any fluid or nutrients when he's not supposed to take anything by mouth.

Still, at least it's not 5pm yet. I'm meant to take a thing then, and I'm expecting pain, very much as a result.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Sore Fingers, Bad Timing

My fingers were bleeding slightly by the time I finally put down the guitar. I hadn't played it for months, and even then, only a little in the past year - a few chords every now and again under the pretence of songwriting. I don't really have the space, never mind time, inclination or even a quiet place to practice. Since I'm not in a band any more, I don't even have anything to practice for, as much as I enjoy the music itself.

Here at my aunt and uncle's house, there's a lot more space; a lot more time, to boot - however little motivation I may have, the bit of me with some semblance of energy found time to go up the attic in SH, hunt down an acoustic guitar and haul it over here. With little else to do and having actually bothered to do the thing, I tried to remember how to play the instrument. Whether or not I succeeded may be debatable, but I didn't stop for about an hour, even though my mum kept calling to check if I was still alive.

By the time I made it to the bedroom with incredibly sore fingers, I'd managed to work myself into a frenzy. I'd been trying - and failing - to masturbate for several days; never actually achieving orgasm due to the sudden rush of panic I'd been feeling every time I got near. I'd had a manic day of doubt and fear (and, for some reason, guilt), but at least I now had the time.

India was on the bed when I lay down. She was fast asleep, and the ominous creak of the springs didn't disturb her. Maybe she was used to it. She also didn't seem to mind when I stripped off my trousers and pants, and made myself comfortable.

My hand screamed obscenities when I started. Torturing it with steel strings maybe hadn't been the best pre-masturbation activity, but I (genuinely) wasn't waiting any longer - I needed my release and, by extension, my rest. I switched on my iBrain, wheeled through various scenarios in my head, settled on one and rolled my foreskin back. A glorious twenty minutes of getting back in tune with my sexual self beckoned, and so it began to pass - comforting, familiar, warm, satisfactory. Relaxing, restful, peaceful. So, so good.

I lay on my side, bottom half still unclothed, breathing heavily, counting the beats of my heart thumping in my ears. India opened her eyes, gave me A Look, then gave a perfunctory yawn and went straight back to sleep. I closed mine in response and settled down for a post-orgasmic nap - actually straightening out or getting under the covers be damned, I'm tired and I just came and I'll take my rest, dammit! - and I started to drift off.

The doorbell rang about a millisecond after I fell asleep. I meandered towards the door before remembering I was naked on my bottom half, and while I was haphazardly pulling my trousers back on, it rang again. Twice. I cascaded down the stairs, my hair a bedheaded mess, face flushed and belt hanging loose around my waist. I heard the scraping of a key in the lock, and my heart leapt into my throat. Maybe my girlfriend was back early - maybe she'd find me here, dishevelled and sweaty and half-dressed and sexy.

I wrenched the door open with a grin spreading across my face.

"Nan?!"

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Meander

I've had this feeling before: it's late, it's dark, and I want to go wandering.

I can't, though. It's too late. It's really dark, though warm enough to explore, and I'm not as familiar with the bit of London in which I now live as I was with the bit I previously lived in - and was born in, brought up in, etc. - so I'm not even sure if there's anywhere to go. Previous nocturnal explorations from my parents' old house were always long and accompanied by music. I knew my way around; I could get back home from wherever I ended up.

This is different. It's a quiet neighbourhood, but the sound of emergency sirens have reminded me that there is a main road nearby. Not as large, perhaps, as the main road near my parents' old house, but large enough. Large enough to encourage a bit of wanderlust.

Once, while I was at university (first time around), I heard a noise in the distance through my open window, and was seized with a sudden desire to venture out into the night and investigate. I was in the Midlands - this was my final year, so it wasn't unfamiliar to me: just a little alien. At that time, I was on the verge of putting my shoes on and walking out of the house before I mentally checked myself. What was I supposed to be doing, exactly?

I sat back down and wrote a blog post about it. So that's what I'm doing now.

My urge to go wandering could be indicative of anything or nothing (or, paradoxically, both). It could be the need for a summer adventure (I am going on one in less than a week, so that may be it...), the memory of unfamiliar settings (the Midlands city; the familiar streets of my local area; Central London at night with 47 and no way of getting home; Somerset, where I spent last summer and the one before, spending many nights staring out of the window...), a yearning for physical activity, or maybe just aimless walking. I used to go for daily hour-long walks by the river in an attempt to lose weight; while this may not have worked, I got a lot of fresh air...

Some of my friends are at camp. Some are away in other countries. Some are taking the summer one day at a time. I've been at work, day in, day out, with no sign of a break yet.

And I still wish to wander in the dark.

It shall happen.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

An Empty Condom, An Empty Bed, And Subtext

I was in my university's union bar, trying not to let the music get to me while sipping my usual non-alcoholic cocktail. This was, of course, in my first year - I rarely went clubbing in my second, and in my third, I'd graduated more towards going to band three times a week and sex chatrooms when I had more time. I'd never really been clubbing before, but our union bar held weekly loud-music-and-getting-drunk nights. I went to dance for a couple of hours (on my own), drink things without alcohol in (on my own), kiss girls (on cheeks and hands and, occasionally, shoulders), and check out cleavages (with 47 on more than one occasion). Everyone went, and so did I.

Keeping in line with my life from the age of 18 onwards, I was perpetually single, and to be frank, the idiots getting off with other idiots on the dance floor were offending me. Not because they were getting off, exactly; I was absolutely au fait with the amount of sexual tension there was in a bunch of rowdy students. Nor was I offended that they were doing all this in public view: it made for an amusing spectacle. It's just that the dance floor was meant to be used for dancing, in my opinion. I tended to thrash around a bit, sprawling mass of limbs and hair that I am, and if I had to bump into one more kissing couple...

I weaved through the heaving mess of saliva and grunting and noticed, among other things, a discarded condom on the floor. Durex. It was still sealed in its packet, and I naturally picked it up (because I am a sucker for free things I find on the ground). It looked fine to me when I inspected it - no rips or tears in the packaging. Still felt relatively fresh, and it was well in date. Had probably just fallen out of someone's back pocket, I reasoned, slipping it into mine add to my own stock when I got back to my room.

"Have you met my friend Laura?" asked a girl I vaguely knew from sight. I knew a lot of the girls in my year; they all seemed to know me: I was the dancing idiot. Out of a mixture of courtesy and curiosity, I followed her finger, turning around... and there she was. 


Laura. Blonde hair cascading over her shoulders in countless, messy curls, sparkling blue eyes, nice body shape, and a cheeky, attractive quality. There was something ineffable about her - she was, as an unknown quantity, being given a bit of a wide berth by everyone else in the club. Drawn inexorably into her aura, I shifted uncomfortably and managed to rearrange my face into my default ‘flirting’ smile, hoped it wasn't too much of a grimace, and said hello.

The rest of the evening passed in a Laura-shaped blur. I hovered. I bought her drinks. I tried to make polite conversation. Eventually, I flirted. It was, at the time, something I was good at - flirty without being threatening; male without being masculine; sexy without having sex. I just never seemed to know when to start or stop, or where to go with it. But she was receptive, seemingly hanging onto my every word. I ended up, after a while, telling her she was sexy, gave her a big hug, earning a dazzling smile...

My room floated into my head. She'd be welcome there. It was tidy. My bed wasn't too small. There were Pokémon posters on the wall; everyone loves Pokémon. I'd been so terribly lonely for months now...

"Okay, well, I’m going back to my room," I heard myself saying to Laura, who (as I noticed with a certain grim fascination) was now more than a little drunk - which was, of course, my fault. "I might get a bit bored, but this is tiring me out." And I've got a condom in my pocket, I reminded myself.

"Well, when you get into bed, text me," she said.


I didn't need her to elaborate on that. Nor did I want her to. What was unsaid was a far sight more exciting than what was actually said. I doubt, however, that it was her intention to ascertain that I'd made it home safely. I just needed to walk across campus and make it up the stairs to my room in student hall. Hardly a difficult task, especially when not hyped up on Coke-and-cordial and chips with cheese (I always, somehow, ended up getting chips with cheese...).

"Oh... but I don’t have your number," I said.


Yes, that really is what I said. Not "could I have your number?", "I'll give you my number!", "I look forward to it!", or even "I will!". But I was aware that this sexy girl had asked me to text her without giving me a means to do so. In the pre-Twitter, pre-Snapchat, Faceparty-dependent days of 2003, this could be a serious setback.

She shrugged, laughed, and didn't respond any more than that, taking another sip of whatever I'd bought her and beginning to groove to the phatter bassline. I could sense her slipping away, but I didn't have much of a choice - I'd said I was going. I hugged her goodnight and walked off, out into the cool night air, and into the kebab shop to get chips with cheese.

I never saw her again. But, on the plus side, I got a free condom.


[Heavily edited and re-posted version of an article originally posted elsewhere. Hooray, bonus content!]

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Soft Porn Sunday: Mia Zottoli & Jason Schnuit

Considering how much I like Mia Zottoli, it's a  surprise to find I've only really mentioned her in passing before. She's genuinely in a lot of stuff I've seen, and I've always liked her scenes, even in things like Sex@Students.edu (yes, really), despite the dodgy subject matter. While there's no doubt that she's an attractive lady, there's something else about her that I like; her performances are playful, enthusiastic and wholehearted (as well as bring sexy). I'm amazed, frankly, that I haven't brought this scene up before.

Or this entire movie. I haven't mentioned this before either.

Appearance: Fast Lane to Vegas (2000)
Characters: Biker Babe & Motel Clerk

Yes, two unnamed characters! Two! Both played by actors using a pseudonym, no less: the sexy biker
Jason's been at the laughing gas again.
girl by Zottoli (credited as "Ava Lake"); the sexy motel clerk by "good ol' Jason Schnuit" (credited as "David Veleo", presumably as part of his quest to provide more unpronounceable surnames to the world). As you'll probably surmise from their lack of character development to the point of not having names, they aren't really primary characters. What a surprise.


Fast Lane to Vegas is apparently quite good. I can't, in all honesty, say I've seen all of it - and it's easily confused with Fast Lane to Malibu (also 2000), which features Kira Reed and Nikki Fritz as bisexual policewomen, in addition to probably the main two characters; I don't know, I wasn't paying attention.

Anyway, Fast Lane to Vegas is a road movie sex comedy, à la Road Trip, only probably quite a bit better. Zack (Stephen Harvard) and Brian (Stephen Curtis) - the soon-to-be-legendary "Two Steves" - are heading to Las Vegas for a wedding; on the way, they meet an alarmingly large number of sexually available women, including strippers, housewives, aliens, and a biker babe who sleeps with their motel clerk, although I'm not sure if they actually meet either of those.

Let's do so ourselves.

This sex scene is refreshingly brightly-lit, as it all takes place in a motel room (surprise!), with a huge
The better the sex, the bigger the grin.
window in shot, through which you can see what looks like actual scenery (were it a still picture, it wouldn't move then the camera pans left and right). It doesn't waste any time in getting to the nudity, either; Schnuit is partially unclothed at the very beginning, with only vestiges of his uniform left, and Zottoli starts by stripping off, so yeah, plenty of skin from the first second. In fact, we get a soft porn blowjob within 25 seconds, soft porn cunnilingus within 55, and soft porn penetration by 1:15 - very efficient!


The sex itself is pleasantly jumpy, insofar as it jumps between positions with such rapidity that I'm finding it difficult to screenshot. There's missionary, springy bouncy astride, doggie while kneeling upright (a difficult position to actually do, but probably easier if it's softcore), a sitting position which becomes somewhat athletic towards the end, and it isn't even one of those scenes with an ending: the camera just pans away from them, implying that the sex carries on for a little longer. I'd want to keep going, I'm sure.

Boobs!
I can't really go through the sex scene point by point, as there's nothing really different about the way they do things: it's all very enthusiastic with plenty of movement. There are some cursory moans (and laughter) from both actors, bump and grind just the way I like it, and background music (jazzy rock with a 12-bar blues bassline) is really fun, without being a distraction: it adds to the scene (so much so that I just rocked out to it a little - I am the king of cool).

But it wouldn't be half as fun without the hat.

Throughout all the sex that's going on here, there's a blue hat which gets almost as much of the action
Your car's here, sir...
itself. It starts on Schnuit's head (maybe it's part of his uniform?), then switches to Zottoli's as she starts to give him a blowjob. It reappears on her head later (in fact, she adjusts it) during the sex bit, then again, but backwards; Schnuit then does a reckless snatch and replaces it on his own head, and Zottoli ends the saga by sweeping it off his head in retaliation.


"If I can't wear the hat, nobody can!" she yells. (Only she doesn't. But I'm going to pretend she does. It's my review.)

Of course, the hat is the real star.
This is a really hot scene overall. It's fun, it's well-shot, it works, and it really doesn't matter that the characters don't have names. The best scenes are the most memorable, I think, and this one has its own secret weapon - the hat - a prop that proves to be just as memorable as Mia Zottoli's chiselled eyebrows, full lips and well-proportioned breasts. 

Well, almost. Almost as memorable.

It's interesting to see these guys in something that's not made by Surrender Cinema, as well. Allegedly, this is from Indigo Entertainment, who also produced such masterpieces as Girls for Girls and Personals II: CasualSex.com.

Yes, really.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Ritter

It was baking hot in western Denmark, and - pleased by the change in weather - I stripped down to my swimming shorts and ran headlong into the sea. Of course, the instant my feet touched the water, the sun disappeared behind a cloud and wind picked up speed, so I ran back out of the sea and wrapped myself in my towel. Reflecting on how foolish I'd been to put any stock in Western European weather, I trudged back to the campsite to change back into more windproof clothing (well, a T-shirt).

A lot of my friends who'd come to Denmark with me were hardier. One of them was still wearing her bikini, and one was topless. They were basking in what remained of the sunshine, and I scrambled around in my tent to fish out my book (Small World, by David Lodge) with a view to joining them.

"Do you know what I really want?" came the voice of the girl I had a crush on. "Chocolate!"

There was a general murmur of assent from outside, and at that moment, I had the most brilliant of revelations: I had unopened chocolate with me. Amused though I was by the existence of a Danish candy called Spunk, I had chosen to buy a couple of packs of Ritter chocolate with praline in the centre earlier in the week, and had promptly forgotten entirely about it.

"Hey hey, I've got some!" I shouted, proceeding to throw aside my bag of dirty clothes, my sleeping bag and mat, my GBA-SP, three unworn jumpers and a bunch of unopened condoms in order to unearth a pack of chocolate. "I've got the..."

I emerged from my tent brandishing the chocolate like I was declaring the power of Greyskull, and it immediately revealed itself to have melted while in my tent (maybe I slept on it at one point...). What I had available, really, was a gooey, sticky mess which was, once, a bar of chocolate.

"...remains of the chocolate," I finished.

"I'll open it," said my friend in the bikini. "We may need to eat it some other way, but..."
"I'll go and get a spoon," said the redheaded girl who had organised the trip, and she scuttled off towards the kitchen. I tentatively handed over the chocolate, standing back a bit, to the girl in the bikini.

"No problem," she said. "It just opens like..."

Melted chocolate suddenly appeared all over her tits.

And this is the reason why there's a picture of a topless guy licking melted chocolate out of the cleavage of a girl in a bikini, with me in the background spooning the rest into my mouth.

Yes, it's the real reason.

Sorry about that.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Study

Much as I enjoy it - all the sexual contact (don't we all enjoy it? it's why we're here...) - much as I do enjoy it, my most recent exploits have been, for want of a better explanation, more about fascination than anything else.

I will attempt to explain. I haven't had full penetrative sex for a while. Having sex at the moment is focused mostly on trying to re-familiarise ourselves with my girlfriend's body (both of us, for our own reasons, are trying to reconnect with it). I've been spending a lot of time squatting between her legs, gently bringing her to orgasm with my fingers. Sometimes it's quick, sometime it isn't; sometimes it's easy, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes she flutters her eyes closed and screams like a banshee and comes all over my hand; sometimes we have to stop for a while, get some water, apply some more lube, take some space to breathe.

And then sometimes it's more natural. Last night I dripped lube onto her clit and slowly worked a finger in a circle around her vulva - over the labia majora, down to the perineum (with an occasional flick of that), back up the other side to quickly rub her clitoral hood a few times. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. A calming experience for her - a low throb of pleasure, without being too much - and for me, a continuous action which I can perfect with every circle.

The vagina is fascinating. It really is. If I hold it open with two fingers, I can see it throb and pulse. When it's aroused, the lips engorge and it flushes red. The clit grows in size as it becomes erect and I can feel it hardening up underneath the pads of my fingers. The sticky, messy, wetness I can lift and drip off my fingers mixes with the lube I spread and the coating of my tongue as I lick and suck and kiss. The way it dilates and contracts as she orgasms, and how quickly it vanishes from sight as she claps her thighs together when she shudders to a climax.

I can still taste its tang on my fingers later, once we've finished and watching stuff on YouTube or I'm reading Robert Galbraith's latest book or discussing the relative merits of Natasja Vermeer as Emmanuelle. If I'm eating Hula Hoops and then licking the salt off my fingers, her taste is still there. Sometimes there's a residue on the back on my hand or my palm: a stain, a mark of honour, a reminder of the wonders of orgasm and how fascinated I am, once again, by the vagina.

She says it turns her on when I talk about it. So here I am... talking about it.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Retreat

Sometimes it's all a little too much.

I stay as strong as possible because I have to. It's not really in my nature - my instinct tells me that I need to be held, protected, guided. In lots of ways, the best place for me was in education: I didn't fit into the system, but at least I had an academic advisor to point the way. While my usual daily routine is established and fairly static, sometimes it just seems too much.

Something went wrong at work last night. I didn't have a solution and worked through it anyway, worried that what I did as a solution wouldn't count. It doesn't, really. I called in this morning, sick with chest pain, stomach pain and worry, my heart in my mouth, beating a violent tattoo; said that I wasn't going in today, I would be in tomorrow to finish the week and could you please have a look at the note I left because I am so worried about what happened, please tell me it's going to be okay, please?

And so I cut myself adrift in lieu of the three hours' pay I'd get for going in. Aware as I am that I need that money - it's not much but I need money - I feel the guilt and the shame on my shoulders, pressing me down, adding to the chest pain, back pain, worry and sweat. I flail wildly, unable to concentrate. Kept awake last night by housemates arguing and the sweltering inability to sleep.

This time last year I was at my annual worky retreaty thing in Somerset, in (or near) my final week there. Working in a more modern environment in a polo shirt and shorts. Yes, it was hard work; yes, I barely got any time off. But it was a change. I got space to rest, space to breathe. Free bed and board for four weeks, a change of scenery, and a big stack of books next to my bed. The silence was freeing. Here, now, it's oppressive.

It's all too much. The pain and the heat and the silence. Too weak to scream, too tired to sleep. Battered, bruised, breaking. And possibly some other things beginning with B.

It's a moment, I tell myself, it's just a moment, it will pass.

But after it passes, and I fall back into my aforementioned routine... what happens then? Where's the end point? When am I trying to get to? How, without money or resources, do I get there?

So many questions that don't exist, without any answers which can't.

I can be strong, yes yes, sometimes I am; sometimes I put on a front. I am in control, I have all the answers, I am reassuring and calm and a constant presence. I'm there when you need me. I'm reliable and knowledgeable and intelligent and caring. I can do all I'm asked to and more - I often do more. I take it all on. I handle it well. I am not vulnerable, or worried, or guilty, or sick.

But I am now. I am, and the knowledge that I have these moments scares me. Sometimes, as I said, it's all a little too much.

I will not shatter. I will not break. I will not fail.

But I will today.