Archive August 22 DonInLondon 'Day in the Life'

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The Big Issue Foundation's core ethos is self help. We offer support to homeless and socially excluded people who seek to gain control of their lives and help them move off the streets and into a home and a job.We work with over 2000 vendors across the UK, supporting them with a diverse program of opportunities either delivered through our own services or in partnership with specialist agencies. Each new vendor has a Needs Assessment, and from this an individual action plan is set, which is monitored in supervision sessions with support staff.


There come to us moments in life when about some things we need no proof from without. A little voice within us tells us, 'You are on the right track, move neither to your left nor right, but keep to the straight and narrow way.

A person falsely claiming to act under divine inspiration or the promptings of the inner voice without having any such, will fare worse than the one falsely claiming to act under the authority of an earthly sovereign. Whereas the latter on being exposed will escape with injury to his body, the former may perish body and soul together.

You have to believe no one but yourselves. You must try to listen to the inner voice, but if you will not have the expression"inner voice", you may use the expression "dictates of reason", which you should obey, and if you will not parade God, I have no doubt you will parade something else which in the end will prove to be God, for, fortunately, there is no one and nothing else but God in this universe.

For me truth is the sovereign principle, which includes numerous other principles. This truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in thought also, and not only the relative truth of our conception, but the Absolute Truth, the Eternal Principle, that is God. There are innumerable definitions of God, because His manifestations are innumerable. They overwhelm me with wonder and awe and for a moment stun me.

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Progress Not Perfection

DonInLondon London Times August 22
London 'Local' Times 2007

DonInLondon - Journeyman - Listener
Writer & Commentator on Life

August 2007
copyright© don oddy

August 22 2007

DonInLondon - ĎDay In the Lifeí Moving Along

A Good Day

I am still somewhat taken aback by my good fortune and having a more stable place to live. All along in the last decade I have been pretty much homeless and dislocated. And at last I have some where to be. Courtesy of the Local Borough and the hard work and efforts of my Local Council.

Without doubt people in organisations do their best to make possible what is impossible for people like me to find some sanctuary. I am grateful beyond words for all the help given me. I also realise if I were in the shoes of others, I would do as they do, their best under pretty much impossible conditions.

Client Service and Policy

Written into the fabric of Organisation rules these days is this thing called client service.

People in organisations are trained and appraised on their customer client service skills.

In words of performance and efficiency we can find great problems indeed when a service unit is undermanned, under funded and under staffed and under resourced. And still everyone is tasked to give the best service and utilise their best skills and endeavours.


Studies in the 1990ís where organisations turned their policies and procedures to make client service and empowered working the norm tended to produce psychosis in teams and work environments.

Limited resources and efficiency measures made employees do more with less. This was the edict. It empowered people to do more, be multi skilled and still be able to deliver more with less people.

How it works in practice - Psychotic

A person learns to be nice and put the customer first. The rules and operating procedures are re written to reflect the policy and operating procedures. Workers work harder, are nicer and still have more to do with less resources.

People learn to be nice saying no, saying we cannot help, saying its not in our power to change the situation.

Workers and operators are measured on their nice skills, not on the service delivery to the client. So the organisation measures its nice performance rather than its delivery performance.

As everyone in the organisation feels nice about what they do, they donít realise why they hear nothing but abuse or complaint from customers.

Client Surveys

Measurement of Client satisfaction is often done to ensure the organisation is indeed delivering. Unfortunately the only clients that have a voice is the narrower number of clients who get a service. The clients who get nothing and are not in the "survey parameters" donít have a voice and donít get asked.

The surveys come back positive, or worse reflect just a limited outlook.


Customer service declines to the overall population of users. Operations staff deal with complaints and often are abused as they try deal with more with less resources.

When the shit hitís the Fan?

Bosses blame workers, workers blame clients, and everyone is nice to each other with their new service skills. Outside the organisation and inside it, people are still being nice and measured on their niceness. Inside them thoí they know they are failing and feel mad and embittered. Customers are blamed internally as everyone sticks to being nice as nice is measured as performance and not intent of the service they provide.


Its made worse as the nice measures make everyone work at being nice and still the feeling persists that they are failing.

Empowered and Multi Skilled Working

Workers have some more power, some more skills and yet they cannot achieve more. They are more efficient delivering less to the service user.


Management realise there is something wrong and take power away from the service providers and ride rough shod over empowering multi skilled personnel. Personnel feel bitter and realise the problem all along is the customer or service user, as a feckless group of ungrateful customers who should know better.

Result: Nice Psychosis

And no one feels happy, the position carries along for too long and the service is lost and the clients disappear. Job done? Seems so often.


Because the basic understanding is never made, the connections and delivery are misunderstood. The organisation feels nice but underneath the nice is psychosis. And we all go back to square one some years later when it all starts over again..

Nice One!

August 22nd 2006 [all about last year]
Powerless and Unmanageable - Not Me!

I usually ring my Mum every morning with a hello and how are you? Its good to talk as BT used to say. Actually as both of us are getting on a bit, but it does work both ways round to make sure all is well. For my Mum though she needs to know I am ok, it may seem a little over the top, but she is always concerned to know how things are with me and that my disorderly conditions are being managed well. I think she understands enough of blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections to get the picture fairly quickly. So its easy enough to ensure her peace of mind. My Mum is mid 70ís now and gets a free TV licence which she feels is a good perk for her age. A natural Guru at living and dealing with disabilities, she keeps going although she has a torn ligament and a knee brace to wear at the moment.

About Last Night

Last night was a great meeting for me. It was all about what we call step one of our fellowship programme. Step one of the programme is the hardest thing to get. It is a strange thing this step would seem obvious and easy for any sane person, but to us itís a bit of torture.
[Talking of torture, I had walked to the meeting, its not far but my feet were on fire by the time I got there. I have the medication now from the hospital to help overcome the pain, and read the instructions carefully. I am putting off taking the Amitriptyline for a couple of days until I have really accepted the side effects I will get as a result. This medication is a long term one and a couple of days more pain wonít make much difference in the long run after months of pain already, not that there is any certainty the effects will be beneficial either. The side effects described are a great worry as usual.]
Our first step in recovery it is suggested ( all things AA are suggestions by the way) we admit we are powerless over alcohol and our lives have become unmanageable.
Seems an obvious thing to admit if we are addicted? Not bloody likely if we are still of a mind to have a few. And of course in the early stages we are of a mind and still running on will power, or more likely our denial of our problem.
Anyway, this step I enjoy, because itís the key to recovery and redemption. Not an enjoyable thing if you just walk through the door for the first few times though, and with a head like a box of jumping frogs.
Some new people had turned up and some old veterans were knocking about, some with over 20 years sober. So a real mix of new and old. Mind you in our meetings age is not important, some people are in the programme very young and have years more than me in recovery. I learn a lot from younger members who have had the benefit of years maturing more sensibly than me and they afford great advice and guidance dammit. If only I had , thatís what I felt when I encountered the mature and younger brethren at first, knowing more than me, it sort of punctured my ego, which turned out to the good.

Now the detail of the meeting and people is anonymous so some things I mention are just sketchy. Anonymous means we donít give up information or make comment on particulars. Its important and people have a right to privacy and recovery their way and not in the gaze of anyone. We know that gossip kills and undermines people so we keep things inside to ourselves. So if my generalities get too much sign off.

As usual we have a speaker who relates their story of what step one meant and how they eventually got to a meeting and started with the fellowship. Everything is about truth, experiences, strength and hope.
I was able to relate with the speaker, all the attempts I had made in the recent past once I realised the extent of my problem. From a depressive person fighting to keep the dark out of my life, I had ended up drinking for oblivion as well as England. And strange we all seem to have had something missing or something of a low which kicked off the whole chain of events which led us to our plight.
Most of us have some commonality, something which makes us feel less than other people, low confidence for some reason. And often an ego as big as a house when we are drinking, as drink does make us bolder and able to overcome depression until we get so morbid, not even a dog can stand our company.
And as our speaker related so well, I could understand through their words my story to being there and listening to them. And this horrible admission of powerlessness over the one thing that made the world liveable in the end, drink, and then it took over and crushed me completely. And of course my life was unmanageable for years, after a nervous breakdown and attempts to put life back together and losing pretty much all my worldly ties, people and material things and somewhere to live. And then trying anything and everything, any job, any form of counselling and resort to drink as the last safe place of misery. Drink my best friend, took me over completely.
And these things I remember as the speaker speaks. And its good to hear again and again, a variation on the same theme, that its not just me who got this way, its anyone who takes it too far and has crossed the line of dependence. For some of us its drink, or shopping, or eating, or not eating, or sex, or drugs, or anything which takes us over. Or as usual a combination of things. And there is a fellowship out there for all of those things. There is even one forÖ I digress. Anyway it was easy to hear myself in the speakers "chair", their words on their path to AA.
And you know we have lots of humour as we hear what we do to try and give up what ails us, and the stories of treatments and will power and all we do to avoid the horrible truth that we are powerless, and life is completely unmanageable. And of course we hide our problems from those who are close.

Our hiding behaviour and our denial of our problem, our lengths gone to, to avoid detection. We are shifty and crafty and shameful when we know we are on the slippery slope. And we hide away our best friend from others. But we are so easily found out. Yet for ages we might be tolerated as often the problem is not so obvious in early stages and our behaviour as a nation forgives much connected with drink. But we know inside our problem, and we deny it as well.

And as related, will power, and the ability to hold our drink, well that always helped keep us active too long. And clubbing (not me in my last days) or running away from things and issues (me completely in my last days) and just plain knackered and brought to our knees as the game is finally up, and we are not quite dead yet. Well, the stories are the same or so similar, we get the message eventually.

And as our speaker related, it takes some a blink of an eye to recognise their malady, and for most like me, it took ages and lots of attempts trying to stop before I ever got to AA.

When I looked around the room at my fellows, the older ones with long time sobriety, to new ones with just a little while like me. Well we all scrub up quite well and have a natural look about us. We donít look devious or shifty, or worried what you might think of us. We look quite ordinary and generally ok. We all look as presentable as we can afford, and we talk softly and courteously with each other and behave as we are, friends.
And our "new" friends look pretty good as most have some hours or days since a drink. But there are some signs of nervousness and some with the shakes. And thatís normal and we know and help as we can, with a tea or coffee and biscuit and a friendly word.

And this thing we have to get into our heads, about powerless over alcohol and unmanageable lives, its not easy when your head says it completely untrue, and will power will make it ok as we go back out the doors. And my first meeting not so many years ago, I went straight to the pub as the shock was too much.

It about three years after my breakdown and life had gone to crap that I went to my first meeting and these thoughts came back to me last night. And it had been a Sunday morning at 11:00 when I said with some defiance that I belonged in a meeting of AA. And I had listened enough by the time it got to 12:00, and promptly left and went to the pub just up the road.

I had gulped down a pint to stop my involuntary shakes and then left the pub. And a member of the meeting was just happened to pass by, and stopped and talked to me. And as the member was female, attractive and gave me her phone number to me, suggesting I might call if I needed her help. Well I was taken aback and was pleasantly surprised and thought my luck was in. You know how it is, well my ego was still apt to play up back then, and well just how dumb can a bloke be? I wince inside and smile at those memories and my ignorance and silliness..
All recollected last night and with a quiet acceptance of my road travelled since then. Just another dumb bloke with enough arrogance to keep on drinking and thatís what I did. I did not see that attractive female member again for nearly five years. She is now happily married, and could not remember me, now that taught me a lesson!

And I kept on drinking for the oblivion, for the awful jobs I did and deep depression I had never climbed out of and the blackness that followed me around like my own personal cloud. Madness? You bet it was. Being a natural depressive, and this is a trait in one side of the family, I discovered later, drink has always been a favoured way of medicating life away. Knowing this does not stop anyone from their path to oblivion, without some help and support of the right kind, and there was none I could find just then. It was there you know, but I could not or would not see or find it, not yet.

Anyway, I did not speak last night and felt content to hear others, and the stories are not so different. And my losing myself in hearing others is very cathartic. I get to realise over and over how easy we can slip into our dependence and then die from it, or get into recovery. And what is always there, the sure knowledge that it is as easy as blinking our eyes to forget and pick up a drink in a moment of thoughtlessness, anger and depression, joyful exuberance or just plain dumbness. I have met quite a few people along the way to recovery who are now dead, too many I realise who did not get this basic step of powerless and unmanageable living.

So I got hear others stories and how they, my fellows and friends are making their way, and it is always just for one day that we strive to make life work. This one day only.

Now at this meeting we have chips to hand out. Tokens/Medals of sobriety. You may have heard of this. We give out some tin. The chips given are for time sober. There is a 24 hour, 30 day, 2,3,4,5,6 month, 9 month and then yearly chips.

We value most of all the 24 hour chip, for anyone going a day without a drink, itís the hardest day of their lives to that point. But the more durable chips are the yearly ones and I have a couple of those. So there were quite few handed out last night. From early days, then to years sober. Quite a few low numbers and then someone with 11 years went up for theirs, and it was out of stock! Can you believe it? Well we are all patient by the time we get that far along, so it will have to be ordered I guess or they will go get one from somewhere else. One person had flown round the world to pick theirs up for seven years I think, which is very poignant to me and everyone I feel. And we give applause. Its the 24 hour one though that counts the most.

So a good meeting, and under any other business there is the vacancy for tea maker. Now I have done this before. And doing the tea, itís a great way to keep on coming back to a regular meeting. I did not volunteer straight off. Wanted to check with the other tea person first if it were ok with them for me to help too. And when I approached they were very pleased. So next week Iíll have a word with them and see if its ok, because I know some weeks I may not be able to get there and stand long enough to do the job. I am sure itíll be ok, but best to ask first, I hate the idea of letting people down even though I have no control over how I will be day to day.

I nearly went for a coffee after but had to get home for something to eat as my sugar levels dropped too low to stay out, and my feet were roasting by now. Just another dayÖ

Last week is still bothering me and have had no news yet. So will keep you "posted" on what happens next.

Its just gone 5:00 AM and the baby next door has had their morning feed and gone back to sleep. Cries in the early hours donít bother me, as I am wide awake. I was still wondering how to help my neighbour as mentioned the other day, seems all is turning out for the better as one of her family came to see her yesterday. Thatís a relief.

So, when will I start my new meds regime, on top of those already? I think Iíll ask for more advice, the side effects still look so long. But losing the pain, well.. I fear I will lose my writing ability for a month or two and that bothers me too, amitriptyline after all is a tricyclic antidepressant and its side effect is pain relief for neuropathy. This is an inevitable road to another acceptance I guess.

And darn it I forgot my insulin last night, last injection, so my sugar level is too high for overnight fasting, and too high this morning. Means I'll have to guess the amount and work to get it back to normal during today. Now that is a flipping nuisance and not good.

Copyright © Don Oddy


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Be Tolerant

You have the power to tolerate anyone and any situation. But tolerance is not just suffering in silence.

It means going beyond any personal discomfort you may feel, and giving a gift to whom ever you would tolerate. Give your time, attention, understanding, compassion, care - all are gifts, which paradoxically, you also receive in the process of giving.

And, as you do, you will experience your own self esteem and inner strength grow. In this way you can turn tolerance into strength.


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