The writing blog of James Christopher Sheppard. I am a 26 year old gay male from London, UK. Here I present my experiences, poems, thoughts and opinions...

Please follow, enjoy, comment and make suggestions. Thank you!

Monday, 28 November 2011

That really pisses me off

So I've been ill in bed with a stomach bug and flu for three days now so I am feeling a little... frustrated to say the least. It's especially worrying as I am flying to the Maldives on Wednesday so the pressure is really on to get better and fast. I'm sure I will be fine by then... Eek! Anyway, you know over time, as you feel that you get to know yourself better, you understand what you like and don't like more? Well I just thought that I now must have quite a comprehensive list of 'Things that irritate me', so I thought I may as well write them all down. It's just another step on the ladder of 'getting to know me', plus I am bored and thought it might be fun.

Things that really piss me off/irritate me include:

1. Heavy footedness. Is there any need? You're not a fucking elephant so try treading a little lighter. Thanks.

2. You have a stomach bug, yet are constantly asked- 'Oh, have you eaten something that hasn't agreed with you?' ...NO! I HAVE A BUG!

3. The Saturdays... what a personality-less, boring group of mediocre girls singing dull as arse songs.

4. When people can't accept a difference of opinion and they feel the need to argue with you that your view is WRONG. We are allowed to disagree. Get a grip.

5. Defensiveness when it really isn't needed. A sign of a good friendship is being able to disagree and share different points of view. You should be able to criticise each other and bring up absolutely anything- like if I owe you a tenner, remind me I owe you a tenner. If that top looks shit on you and you ask, I will tell you.

6. Being asked if I want children. Replying 'Oh God no, I could never be a parent, I'm not big on children.' and getting the response 'But there are ways you can have kids now, aren't there?' Did you not hear me?

7. People that don't like Kylie Minogue. I just don't get it.

8. Wheat irritates the fuck out of me. Quite literally. My insides go into meltdown.

9. Being the only single at a party. Really guys? If you're inviting me to a party of 14 other people and they are all with their other halves, do you not think you should mention this to me? At least then I could prepare and invite a friend along.  I am worryingly becoming Bridget Jones.

10. People with straight hair. Bastards.

11. Sookie Stackhouse's narration in the True Blood books. I'm sorry, I love the show and want to read all of the books, but by the second book, I felt like burning the lot. 'There was something I had to do. Part of me stood back in amazement at my own stupidity as I pulled on some shorts and a T-shirt and slid my feet into sandals. I looked even worse in the mirror, to which I gave only a sideways glance. I stood with my back to it to brush my hair.' Charlaine Harris writes at the opening of Chapter Seven. Don't get me wrong, you can't fault the detail, and the stories are brilliant, but reading them ALL from Sookie's point of view who feels the need to tell you every tiny little laborious detail about getting dressed every few pages is mind-numbing and about as gripping as a lake of ice.

12. When people make up bullshit excuses to get out of things. Just be honest. If you don't fancy doing something, you are allowed to say 'Actually I really don't feel like it anymore, sorry', not say 'Oh shit hun, I didn't realise but I've got no money left and I'm not feeling well and I forgot that I was meant to blah blah blah.' Why lie??

13. And on that note- bullshitters. I can not count the amount of times that I have had to listen to people blatantly massively exaggerating and bullshitting their way through a story. I don't know who they are trying to impress. And it's so obvious they are bullshitting too. Weird.

14. When people mock you for liking certain bands/music/tv etc. What are we? At first school? Really?

15. Critical comments that are quite tactless when they are not asked for. I used to work with someone who would actually say 'Oh James, you've put on weight, haven't you?' and 'Nope, sorry, I don't like the new hair colour'. Fucking bitch. There was no polite way to say 'Well, I actually think you look like a fucking moose and couldn't give two shits what your opinion is' unfortunately.

16. Men that say they have 'Man-Flu'. Do they not understand that man-flu is not an actual illness but is used to describe a man making out that he is really ill when he has a simple cold? I hear so many guys so 'I've got man-flu' and they are being deadly serious. Uneducated knobs.

17. 'You need to drive'. Well actually I don't. I'm in the twenty-seventh year on this earth and so far I have coped just fine without being a driver. I don't have kids and always live within walking distance of town and a train station. Driving is so ludicrously expensive and lazy.

18. Louis Walsh being the only original X Factor judge. He is so wet, clueless and never says anything of any interest. Why Simon Cowell renews his contract over and over again, I have no idea. I miss Dannii, Cheryl, Sharon and even Simon.

19. 'You'll find someone when you least expect it and aren't looking for anyone.' I have been single for eight years. Do you think I have been expecting to find someone that entire time or looking? No. I'd say I've spent about seven of those eight years quite accepting of my singledom. The biggest pile of bullshit thing to say to someone that says their single. Maybe I won't find anyone, ever! You have no fucking idea.

I think 19 points will do for now. Mainly because I really need the loo. That also annoys me.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Year I Found Me

So much can change in a year. In less than twelve months I have encountered several incarnations; from final year university student working on his dissertation in Kingston, to shop worker for less than minimum wage in Hull, to professional travel specialist on good money and getting to travel the world, while spending my weeks working away in a casual office environment in Sussex. And from non-smoking, gym addicted cyclist to chain smoking heavy drinker to serious dieter. Even my eyewear has changed multiple times in 2011.

The last time it was dark by 1730 on a Sunday afternoon I was living with Chloe in a large old Victorian flat in KT1. Now I am sitting here at my Dad's house in my hometown with the 'King's Speech' mumbling away in the background and I have to say, I think without the Hull episode earlier this summer, there is no way that I would have been content with sitting here right now. So yes, 2011 has been quite a roller-coaster of a year so far, but has certainly lead to me knowing myself better than ever. I understand better what drives me and makes me happy, what saddens and upsets me, where I like to be, who I like to be around, how much of myself to present in different situations and when people and places are and are not worth my time.

Now with graduation looming just around the corner, I can mark this period with a suitable and formal celebratory ending and beginning. Farewell to my life as an uneducated and troubled youngster and hello to James, an adult who knows exactly who he is and hasn't done too badly for himself at all.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Student lifestyle VS Full time work lifestyle

I feel utterly deflated.

I started my new job as a Travel Consultant about a month ago and I am happy to report that it is going very well. The people I work with are great, the office and hours are cool, the work is interesting and I am learning more everyday. So all in all- horah!

Work is good and I feel so completely at home and comfortable being based back in East Grinstead, so what is puncturing me and making the air seep out? Could it be that I’ve been not been writing so much or going to the gym as much as I used to?

I am finding myself longing to visit Knights Park Student Union all the time. I am really missing the student lifestyle I had in Kingston- even down to my routine of cycling everywhere and hitting the gym regularly. It’s just not as easy to do it here. I miss my bike more than anything I think. Perhaps I should invest in a new one when I get paid next week.

The people around me in EG are brilliant, but naturally I miss all of the good friends I made in Kingston. The trouble is, only a few of them are left there now. Most people have had to go back home after Uni or moved away from Kingston so popping back (which is only an hour away) can actually leave you feeling more hollow than before. I genuinely miss my lectures and having fascinating and difficult literature to read and write about, as well as the spontaneous afternoons and evenings of drinking cocktails.

Perhaps I’m just struggling with change- although usually I pride myself on loving and even needing change. Like I said to Ben the other day though- if I was offered a temporary job abroad now, I would probably turn it down. I think I am longing to settle down and get some sort of routine back. Thankfully, I can see that in my not so distant future.

Hopefully Graduation on 1st November will satisfy my student lifestyle longing.

Bring it on.

Remember the Sky

by James Christopher Sheppard

With rushing and frantically trying to create
worth creating,
that would stand up and bow to the admirers and students
and band wagon jumpers,
it can reach the point of saturation
of having to stop through fear of burning out
or more realistically of failing to create
anything worth creating
for any eye to take the effort to
engage with brain and remember.
So I did look around
and noticed the sky
but not before realising I was stumbling off the trail,
off of the rubble and down a ditch
where trees stood tall and no man could prevail.
I took it all in,
the warnings and signs and noticed
that it couldn’t matter
if I created something worth creating
for eyes and brains to engage or not,
so long as I saw the sky and wasn’t afraid to look up
and risk falling down the ditch
filled with nameless men before me
that saw the sky just I have.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Sore Throat

By James Christopher Sheppard

I’m so sick of talking
of writing and verbalising
screaming and shouting
just to explain myself to you.

I want to take pictures
and draw and paint
put together collages of images
to fill my empty days.

Brain disengaged in a way
but awakened to
sounds and sights that fill with delight
the space that once was words.

I want to want
to study and live and love and learn
and I do
yet I don’t hold the reigns tight enough.

I want to learn to relax
and to dance when asked
and to stand at the bar with confidence
and to not feel awkward as I walk through the room.

So it turns out I should have chosen a different path
or perhaps stuck to the original,
but I am not one to pick and stick
if not completely convinced.

I’m so sick of waiting
for something to grab me
and throw me onto the conveyer belt of dreams
and for life to finally begin.


It had been quite sometime since my last update, yet when I tried, all I could put together was this. So yes, in a nutshell, feeling like my degree is pretty much worthless in the sense of getting a decent job in the now as a writer. I keep looking at fellow Kingston University students online portfolios and archives and am blown away. The students that seem to be getting somewhere are the journalism students. Us creative writers alone, don't seem to be half as up on what they are up on. I'm now thinking I should have studied Creative Writing and Journalism instead of English Literature, but we can't change that now. I did love my course, I just hadn't given much thought to the technicalities of employment afterwards. Of course I can chase the freelancer dream, but as we were told in class, you have to have a day job for several years before you can have any hope of living off what you make as a freelance writer. 

Even as a freelance writer, I am barely trained, compared to the journalism students. Their sites are professional and concise, where mine is amateurish. I feel disengaged with writing about myself and what's happening in my life at the moment as I am pretty deflated by it all. As the poem depicts, I am sick of words and trying to piece things together. What I want is to just feel free, and even though I am, I don't posses the ability to embrace that. I don't know, I wrote a poem because it's hard to explain. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

This is Home

It's been four days since I arrived back in my hometown- the small West Sussex town of East Grinstead. Of course, people are always sharing their unwanted opinions- 'but you spent all that money moving all your stuff up to Hull' and 'you should have known this would happen', but ultimately we are in control of our own lives and their direction, so no-one needs to worry about what I'm doing and why.

Over the past four days I have spent every day catching up with friends and remembering my place in the world. These are the people that made me. These are the people that shaped me and have never judged. These people are my family- the one I have created for myself. Life without the people you hold dearest is a lot harder than I ever thought it could be. And it doesn't mean you don't care deeply for the people you have left elsewhere, but you need to be around the people that are driven by what you are driven by, enjoy what you enjoy and share a similar attitude for life. It is those shared values that lead to a happy existence- or at least that is what I have learned.

Beyond the people, it is also such a relief to feel happy and confident about leaving the house. The view out of my window right now is green- with hoards of trees and hills and fields. The walk home is down a dirt track, surrounded by woodland and nature- it feels so sacred and unexplored, like nothing a city can offer. The town is brimming with pubs and local restaurants, which by 27, is more than adequate to satisfy my social needs. What I spent so long trying to get away from when I was in my late teens and early twenties, is exactly what I have run back to now that I have experienced city life. London is an hour away and I am ok with that.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Call me what you want, I love the south.

It's important to consider what we learn as we endure difficult times. My experience in Hull has been largely disastrous. I found that the city had very little opportunity and that living in such a congested deprived place had massive implications on my mental stability. But the whole episode has taught me some very important things.

  • I can honestly say, with total confidence, that I know myself better than ever. Being taken out of my comfort zone of the south made me sit up and accept who I am. I'm a southern boy, someone that is used to living in or right next to London, and I have trouble being in less accepting or multicultural surroundings. 
  • A break from being in London was definitely needed so that I could appreciate everything the capital has to offer.
  • My friends are the most important thing in my life. Being two hundred miles from all of the people I consider close friends was the most challenging and upsetting thing of all. I am a single and independent man, but my friends are everything to me. I didn't realise just how much so until now. 
  • I'd rather be broke and in a town I like and near my friends, than in a place I can't stand and be sorting out my finances.
  • Life is too short to be sensible if it comes at the cost of your own happiness.
  • Do not feel guilty about your choices. It is your life and will effect you more than anyone else. 
  • If you are unhappy and you need to change something, do it. I cannot stand it when people do nothing but complain, but never do anything to resolve their problems. 
  • I have a very short fuse with people in my own home. When I am at home I like to switch off. I don't take kindly to having my personal time or space invaded. 
  • I'm actually a pretty sociable person, but only around certain people. I am not one you can take out and can be the guaranteed soul of the party. It is very dependent on the people I am mixing with and the place. 
  • I would rather live in the middle of central London and risk being in a high risk terrorism area than be bored to death in Hull. 
  • I seriously dislike the North East of England and Hull in general.
  • I'd rather live in a tiny room with virtually no possessions in London, than have a large room full of belongings in the north. 
  • People from Hull are so different to those from London that you could literally be in a foreign country. The culture is stuck somewhere in the 1990s. There's a lot of chavs and a lot of indie kids. And that's about it.
  • Racism and homophobia appear to be more accepted in Hull than anywhere else I've been. As in people make racist comments and expect you to agree with them. It is appalling. 

I shan't go on as I can feel myself ranting on and on about how uneducated and grim people are in Hull and I'm sure I've already got my point across. Ultimately, I appreciate what I have in the south more than ever and I am itching to get back and make the most of it. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Location, Location, Location

Let me paint you a couple of scenarios.

Scenario One

You’ve just reached your street. You finished work at 7pm so it’s already dark. The street is a cul-de-sac, a quiet road just off a main road in Kingston Upon Thames, apparently the safest borough of London. The attractive Victorian town houses are stood closely together, with a yard in front of each one before the pavement. It’s pretty quiet considering the proximity to one of the busiest cities in the world. The tree’s rustle in the slight breeze that’s blowing and the subtle buzz of traffic whispers in the distance. You walk on the pavement on the left of the road, as your house is the last house on the left. As you walk past the other twenty or so houses, you notice warm glows dotted around, inviting strangers in from the windows. You glance into the homely living rooms and wonder what your neighbours do for a living or what kind of life they lead. Are they as content as they look? Every few feet along the pavement is a large tree, standing tall in a protective state, like a bouncer. Orange light glows from the street lamps, which highlights the three cats that are strolling about the quiet street like they own it. Beyond the end of the road is a large park, with a black metal fence around its boundaries. You can see two separate people walking their dogs in the faint light that stretches that far.

Feeling safe and happy to be home, you reach your large black front door. In the darkness of the porch, you feel instinctively for your keys and open the door to the dark hallway. You close the door before turning on the light, stop and sigh. You always take this moment of arriving home to appreciate that this space is yours, and yours alone. On walking down the hall, you remove your jacket and hang it on the coat stand and place your bag and shoes neatly underneath. Your stomach rumbles, as it does everyday at this time, so you enter the large kitchen at the end of the hallway, place your Iphone on your Idock, press play, and investigate the contents of your fridge. Once deciding what to cook, you open the double French doors out onto the back yard to let the fresh air in as you cook. While your food is cooking, you prepare the lounge for your arrival, turning on the TV and getting one of your favourite TV shows cued up on 4od. You draw the curtains, turn on a singular lamp, re-place the cushions on the sofa and light a few candles. By 7.45, dinner is ready and now it’s time for your reward- a few hours to switch off and just be, untouched in your own sacred space.

Scenario Two

You alight the bus a five minute walk from your house as it’s the closest you can get. A five minute walk wouldn’t usually bother you, but it’s not the exercise you dislike, but what you have to walk through. You live on the outskirts of the city of Hull, one of the most deprived and financially depressed areas in the United Kingdom. ‘Cheers Drive’ the three people in front of you mumble as they get off the bus. ‘Thanks’ you say with a smile, trying to be polite. It’s 8pm. You finished work at 7, but it takes you an hour to get home as their isn’t an earlier bus. You cross the wide concrete road and make your way through the housing estate, the biggest in Europe. Houses are everywhere and they all look the same; somewhere between the colour of grey and beige, with the same windows spaced the same distance apart. This is not a place for individuality. A house is a house and you’re lucky if you’ve got one. Where lights are switched on inside the houses you pass, curtains are closed. The air is a wash with the sound of children screaming and hollering at one another. ‘It’s kicking off’ one of them shouts at the top of her lungs in her most threatening tone. You can’t see what is apparently kicking off, but you can hear male voices shouting obscenities to each other and womanly screams. These are throat blistering screams too, not just little girl ‘I’ve seen a spider’ screams. You continue to walk down the straight path to your house, with houses and alcoves of more houses surrounding you from every angle. The roads, the paths and the houses all appear to be the same colour, which reflect the street lamps dull ache of a colour. You see a group of youths walking in the same direction as you a few steps ahead, so you slow down, as to not overtake them. They walk slower and slower, to the point that you are going to have to walk around them, but you bottle it, taking a sharp right turn at the last minute. You can still get home via this labyrinth; it’ll just take longer. Thankfully you aren’t followed.

Eventually you come to your house. It looks like all the others, only every light pours out of every window on the lower level, and two on the first floor. The garden looks vulnerable, protected only by a broken old wooden fence. To the right of your house is a car park and to the front, a public pathway from the local shopping centre. Concrete city. Someone has left the key in the door so you have to knock. Your mother opens the door- ‘Hello!’ she welcomes you. You try to smile, but it convinces no-one.
‘Hi’ you manage back, but it sounds more like a sigh. You’re immediately in the kitchen diner. To your left is double doors that lead to the lounge. Your adult brother and his girlfriend lay on the sofa watching television and say hello. As you’re replying, one of your mum’s boyfriend’s pre-teen children bounds through the room from upstairs and embarks in a very loud conversation with their Dad, who is sat at the dining room table in front of you playing on his phone. Your Mum has now sat back at the table to join him. Your mum’s boyfriend’s other pre-teen child then comes into the kitchen from the lounge- ‘Hi’ they say. The radio in the kitchen is playing, ignored for the twelfth hour, but still it plays too loudly. You accept there is limited opportunity for any stimulating conversation and so make your way upstairs to sit alone in your room, where you can at least pretend you have your own space and some control. You turn on your lap top for lack of anything else to do and download a TV show to watch. The house doesn’t have a television areal so the internet is the only way to watch things. You can hear the TV playing in the lounge underneath you, you can hear children and adults speaking and getting annoyed with each other, but it dies down eventually as you tune into your own world as best you can.
SLAM! Your whole body jumps in shock. Hostile shouting and screaming comes from your brother’s bedroom, two rooms away. His girlfriend screams at him, he swears and shouts back. There’s banging, slamming, crying. You do your best to ignore it, but your body has already reacted by shaking. You’re unsettled and uncomfortable, like you were as a child listening to your parents before they divorced. Finally, you decide to try and block it out altogether and put some music on. Within half an hour you get a text message. It’s from your mum- ‘Can you turn it down a bit please? The kids have just gone to bed. x’ The kids of course, sleep in your old bed in the room next to yours.
The following morning, you have to leave the house at 8.15am to get to work on time. Your alarm goes off at 7.30am, you jump up and open your door. The bathroom door is closed and locked. So you sit on your bed and wait. Fifteen minutes later, you hear the door, so you open your door again. No, it’s closed again. Either your mum’s boyfriend, one of his children or your brother’s girlfriend is in there. You, the only person out of these people that actually lives at the house, don’t get a shower and go to work as you are, because you couldn’t get in the bathroom. That evening, if you have to do it all over again.

Hopefully this helps to clarify just some of the reasons why I find living in Hull so desperately depressing and awful. I have come from scenario one, into scenario two. I knew it would be difficult, but I didn’t appreciate how much so. So yes, I am moving into a tiny bedroom at my father’s house in my hometown of East Grinstead. I will have very little personal space, but it’s home. I love it how a Hull person loves Hull. I know the people and the places. I have many, many treasured friends there and will have some form of social life back. I have outgrown the ‘let’s go out and get off our tits’ mentality that all Hull people seem to be about. I want conversation, I want art, I want gigs, I want to feel secure taking my macbook to a Starbucks and writing all afternoon. I tried to appreciate Hull for what it has to offer, and I think if you’re in a settled family unit, it really isn’t bad- plus it’s very cheap. But for a single person that is career orientated and treasures friends and intellectual stimulation, Hull is slowly killing me and I’m the first one to always offer the advice- ‘If you don’t like your situation, get out of it’.