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...

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Sunday, 30 January 2011

Catch Your Breath

Gasp as the cracks torment
Opportunity dried up in an untouchable haze
The last element in my eye
               I watch as it flutters to the heavens

Gasp as despair soars through my core
Entwined in euphoric whirl, coursing from my stomach
Caught like a fly, the web spins
               I struggle to remain

Gasp through vomit stench
Fighting for nothing
Empty stomach, vacant dream
               Filling with poisonous dark green bile

Pause, breathe
Clutch to any notion of life
Of hope, of possibility
               How many times?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Seduced by the City

One week of frivolous activities has left me elated and the most relaxed I have been for quite some time. I have taken some time out from my part time job and have relished in the two weeks of freedom between handing my assignments in and my new classes beginning. My usual strict regime of hitting the gym at least three times a week and only drinking one day a week has gone out of the window, but it has been much needed and left me feeling on top of the world. Two birthday parties, one at the Ice Bar in Central London and one at a house in Kingston; an evening in Surbiton’s highly priced Bosco Lounge with my friend Alix, and an uplanned evening on Thursday which saw a group of seven of us go from bar to bar and eventually ending up with us dancing like knobs at Kingston’s indie night, ‘New Slang’. This past week has been exceptional, and largely due to Wednesday evening’s events.

I was reeling in a dry-mouthed, head-achy, disorientated hung-over state when waking up at 3pm. The first thing I do when waking up is reach for my phone and check what messages have come through during my deep sleep. A text from Lucy Furlong was slowly coming into focus as my mind raced through the usual first thing questions; ‘what day is it? What did I do last night? What am I meant to be doing today? Am I late?’

It was Wednesday, I got home from Scott’s 21st birthday party at 6am after drinking an insane amount of rum and I could now read Lucy’s text; ‘Hey hon, are you still up for coming to the poetry thing tonight?’ I held my hand up, above my head, to read the message for a good minute before allowing my hand to flop back onto the bed. I considered my options; lie around the house all day feeling rancid or just get up and get going and experience something new.

I met Lucy at the Poetry Library inside the Royal Festival Hall less than two hours after waking. Thankfully the twenty minute train ride from Surbiton to Waterloo was deadly quiet. For once I decided to enjoy the silence and not listen to tracks on my Iphone. The silence was beautiful. Upon reaching the Royal Festival Hall, somewhere I had never entered, I found my way up to the fifth floor and to find Lucy engrossed in the Poetry Library. We had never seen anything like it. In this amazing building was an astonishingly varied and large collection of poetry and information about poetry events online and throughout the country. We both established that this was a place we would certainly be frequenting on upcoming free days. Upon exiting the library, we ventured out onto the balcony to witness the stunning view of 5.30pm January London. I’ve been on the London Eye and walked across the river countless times, but the image from five stories high at the Royal Festival Hall was overwhelming and beautiful.

We crossed the river and popped into Gordons Wine Bar which has been open, and remained much the same, since 1890. After carefully walking down a narrow staircase, the uneven floor is filled with as much character as is the cave-like surroundings of the walls. A stunning place which I have every intention of revisiting very soon. We then ventured across London to Liverpool Street, where our walk to our next location felt more like an exploration of an unknown part of the city. The buildings between Liverpool Street and Shoreditch were overwhelming. One minute you are walking amongst inconceivably modern structures that resemble something from Inception or The Matrix, and the next you surrounded by 100 year old buildings that have been abandoned and are crumbling slowly to their deaths. In between this stark contrast were some of the most beautiful town houses I have seen in Central London. Just walking around the area and taking in the surroundings was a fascinating experience. As Lucy and I walked, with our jaws on the floor, as we broke our necks to see how high the buildings stood, we unexpectedly came across a stunning Tron-like light up floor. Amongst these futuristic buildings was a large patch of cemented land with a grid of white and red lights zapping around it. We were both mesmerised and stunned that we knew nothing of the eye catching spectacle before.

When we arrived at Rich Mix for Jawdance, now also with Christina, I was already forgetting my hungover body pains and having an exhilarating and refreshing evening. Three hours of performance poetry, from numerous different poets from all walks of life, was mind-opening and brilliant. To witness poetry in such an exciting environment was liberating. I realised that there is so much more to writing than simply writing and hoping someone will enjoy reading it; there is a whole world of fellow writers out there to share and connect with, who you can learn from and who will listen to you. The whole night left me very excited about future possibilities and a refreshed love for London, my beautiful and diverse city.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


My work is complete and has been submitted. I should be happy. I am, in part. The reality that there is only five months left until I finish University altogether is now plaguing me and preventing any relief of getting my work done from being truly absorbed. I need change; I crave it. The dilemma that I face is what am I going to do next? I don’t want to stay in London, or even the UK. I need more. I am worth more.

The problem is... if I go, I will be going alone. If I stay in the safety net of London and being near my friends and family, I will struggle massively financially and end up taking any job to remain living somewhere incredibly expensive, that I am, ultimately, bored of. I have lived in the South East of England for 26 years, with the exception of the time I spent in Australia. I don’t want to spend all of my youth in one place that clearly isn’t working for me. I would never say London doesn’t have its advantages, but I want to try being somewhere else. I have major cabin fever.

Where do I go though? Should I use my Mother’s house as a base until I figure it out? Financially I think that may be my only realistic option. I just don’t know how I would handle spending a prolonged amount of time living back with a parent and in Hull; somewhere that has very little to offer.

I need guidance and help, but I know I am the only one that can decide and make the move. I also don’t know who could help me. The university only try to convince me to do a masters, which is not a financially viable option for me. Plus, I am really bored of being a student. I want a job. I want to love my job and throw myself into it, and travel for it. I don't know what I want to do or where I want to do it. All I know is I love to write, and it would be a dream to be creative in my employment. 

The void is growing as University draws to a close.

I frustrate myself immensely because I feel that I am not equipped to make the decision. My memory is appalling which I blame on my dyslexia, but also, I have no idea where will make me happy. I only know that I am unhappy here.

I need a handbook for life. 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

My Alternative Blog

In order to maintain this blog as the writing side of my blogging, I have recently set up a new blog on Tumblr which is the sister blog to this, but is nonsensical ramblings and postings. Please follow me! http://jameschristophersheppard.tumblr.com/ Also, The Roebuck Poets blog is now up and running with a poem from both Lucy Fur and myself, so please check it out. http://roebuckpoets.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Big Facebook Debate

I have several friends that have deactivated their Facebook profiles in recent months and have gone on to adopt an attitude of ‘Facebook is evil and is destroying the world’. There’s videos making the rounds claiming the same thing, and ironically the ones I have seen, have been through people posting them on Facebook itself. Well I have been considering the pros and cons of all these arguments that I am constantly hearing people be so passionate about.

Right then! Facebook is purely a social networking site. Those that are obsessively distracted by it are clearly easily distracted and if it wasn’t Facebook distracting them, it would be something else. It doesn’t prevent social interaction in any way; those that are fulfilled socially by sitting at their computer and not physically seeing people, will be satisfied, Facebook or no Facebook. The rest of us, that still enjoy human contact in the ‘real world’, will still seek it, regardless of having a Facebook account or not.

The insinuation that Facebook is destroying the proper use of the English language by people using written slang and text talk is insane. It’s a tad like saying that paper is also killing the English language. If people don’t spell or punctuate their writing correctly, the chances are that they do it regardless of Facebook. The only thing with them writing poorly on Facebook, is that it is there for us all to see. As for ‘chav speak’, in the vain of ‘innit’, ‘bruv’ etc, the kinds of people that choose to use such language, will use it anywhere that they speak or write. One of my pet hates is poor spelling and punctuation and so it does infuriate me when I see it, but I don’t blame Facebook for what my ‘friends’ write. If people’s awful statuses irritate me that much, I click the little button that gives me the option to hide their updates.

If you are annoyed with people knowing too much about you from Facebook, put less of yourself on there! Likewise, if someone is driving you crazy with their tedious status updates about hating their boyfriend or their cat being ill, DELETE THEM! If you delete someone on Facebook and then see them and they confront you as to why you have deleted them, tell them they were infuriating you and that you would rather not see their updates of this and that and that way when you see them in real life, you will still have some respect for them. You don’t have to have people on your account as your friends. You have the freedom of accepting/declining and, more importantly, deleting and blocking! You can also detag if you hate that picture so much, OR make it so that no-one can see, or even tag pictures of you. Problem solved.

Constant event invitations to shit that is completely irrelevant to us is annoying. Did you know you can click ‘Ignore invites from...’? I did it from all the rubbish ones and now I get very few. Marvellous. The emails Facebook send out whenever anyone does ANYTHING are annoying- so disable them! You can also control what notifications you get- and block applications and games- even Farmville!

If knowing that your ex is on Facebook, and you can look anytime because you are still ‘friends’, plays with your heart too much, delete them, they’ll understand! If they don’t, they aren’t worth shit.

At the end of the day, I have managed to stay in contact, and sometimes regain contact, with people from the past, that without Facebook I would never have seen again. It's also a brilliant way of sending messages to a group of friends, or inviting people to a party or a night out. It is also a brilliant way of gaining support from your friends to your other online ventures, such as this blog, where a lot of my traffic is from Facebook. My family is spread out over the whole country and Facebook is the easiest way for us all to stay in touch and share photos and what we are up to with each other. It’s really not very different from a mobile phone; it is essentially a way of us communicating with each other through written word and photos. People that have extreme anti-Facebook rage, should probably reconsider what they are actually angry about. Facebook is what you make it. If it becomes an issue in your life, in any way, you have big problems. 

2010 was the year...

2010 was the year...

My passion and engagement in the writing process reached an all-time high. The freedom of the modules ‘Independent Creative Writing’ with the very encouraging Heidi James, and the life writing exploration ‘Get a Life: Forms of (Auto) Biography’ with the infectious and acclaimed author Vesna Goldsworthy, have stood head and shoulders above the other modules I have studied over the past three years. I am more confident as a writer than I ever have been, which in turn has filled me with confidence all round. In writing I have found my strength, and more importantly, my outlet.

I finally saw Hole perform live. Despite Courtney Love being the only original member still in the group, it was a feast I thought I would never experience; hearing Courtney and her band belt out tracks from 1994’s ‘Live Through This’ and 1998’s ‘Celebrity Skin’. Absolutely incredible.

 In May I moved into a large two bedroom apartment with Chloe. Living in a larger space with just one other has suited me the most out of any living situation I have experienced since leaving the safety of my Mother’s house in 2007. I have definitely reached a point of requiring where I call home to be a sacred space. The days of parties every week are long gone, as are having a house full of people of a regular basis. Time on my own has never felt so fantastic. It turns out I am a lover of my own company; quite a massive U-turn from my over-sensitive 2007 self when I first came to Kingston.

I bought a new passport! My last passport expired after returning from Australia in 2002. My new passport has been met with a new resolution of leaving the UK at least once a year. My first trip abroad in over eight years will commence in less than two weeks time! I am very excited.

For the first year ever, I maintained regular trips to the gym, which have been very rewarding. I have also not fallen off the non-smoker wagon, which is a major result. I have smoked the occasional cigarette on a night out and had a few over Christmas, but no more than an estimated 80 cigarettes all year long. I am OK with that.

Chloe and I stayed in a hotel in Manchester for a few days in February which was brilliant! We saw Lady GaGa at the MEN and explored the city, which I loved. We were welcomed with open arms by all that we met, and discovered Pesto, an adorable Italian restaurant, with impeccable and delicious food.

I started this blog, which surprisingly has made quite a difference to my life so far. I would recommend blogging to anyone tempted. I plan to open Tumblr account later on today and play around there too! I hadn’t realised how rewarding writing for an actual audience would be. Until I am published, being optimistic, I can use these opportunities to write and create.

I didn’t have sex with anyone during the entire year. I have reached a point that the random sex of the gay world no longer appeals. I am pretty content in my singledom and don’t want sex with strangers, this would sound like a problem to most. I think, however, put a bit of an effort in; buy me a drink, have a flirt, try to actually seduce me and you might get somewhere. When I came out in 2001 I was bombarded by the sex-obsessed gay scene of London and I relished in it. I am happy to have moved past this stage though, as effortlessly as aging. At 16, being 26 sounds incredibly old and uncool. When you get to 26, you look back at 16 and think ‘thank fuck I’m not there anymore.’ Fortunately, acceptance and maturity come with age. 26 year old me is certainly the happiest and most content so far.

I bonded with my niece, Chloe, and nephew, Oscar, more than in the past which has been beautiful. I even attended Chloe’s birthday party and had a role in the party games, thanks to my dear big sister, Samantha!

It’s fair to say that until very recently I hadn’t ever planned for the future or worked towards a solid goal. Before I left Oxted School, my sexuality and its associated anxieties overwhelmed me; before I came to University, I was only concerned with getting work out of the way and getting paid; for the first few years of being in Kingston I just wanted to party and make the most of all opportunity. Now, and for the past year or so, I am considering my future; where I want to be and what I want to be doing. I have so far concluded that I need to leave Kingston in order to assess where I want to be. If the world was free to all, I am pretty sure that I would try living in the USA for a while or Canada. I feel big change right around the corner. The freedom of choice is always ours- something to always remember during very dark times. There is usually a way out.

2010 has been an important year in growth for me. Through the lack of drama and my writing, I have had much self reflection. 2011 is going to be the biggest one yet. A year from now, who knows where I will be writing from?