The Haunting of Hill House has captivated me for the
10 episodes of it’s debut showing. This blog will not be a review of the series
you, my dedicated reader, will be relieved to know. I can share that I have
been avidly engaged and sat with and partly been haunted by.
The show another Netflix coup of story telling mastery, I
started watching out of general interest in pushing my boundaries into
uncomfortable story lines and genres. Frightening fare is not usually something
I spend my time sitting in front of. Hill House changed that. There is an intelligence
to the story telling, a story hidden within the character plots and twists. All
things initially feel off, out of kilter, spinning to their own tune. Then the
spin appears to regulate like pieces in a watch keeping time…
The idea of haunting hit me first as I attempted to write my dissertation to complete my counselling course – ‘A Son’s Journey’. It was Steele that stated that a ‘person’s life can be haunted by ghosts’ that began a discovery into a hidden past that my parents had unwittingly hid and held from me.
The quote that stood out and began the research with fervor was ‘ Steele (2003) p. 95 Put simply a woman who is still frequently haunted by ghosts from her past is, likely to create, however unwittingly, in her infants experience an ongoing sense of potential terror in the relationship. Hill House offers a layered approach to the idea by Steele. A number of families lives are changed as a result of their involvement with the building. Is the Building, The Family that move in, or the family that first lived there that are haunted? The House it Moves is a great Moth Podcast episode about a possible haunting in a Parisien Apartment.
The terror was the unknowing for me. Discovering and capturing a truth in ‘A Son’s Journey’ helped to gain understanding and put things into perspective for me about my family’s history. I can face the past, present and future with acceptance and a sense of release that conducting the research offered.
Hill House put a number of ideas to me that stood out. One was the idea of walls and doors holding something of importance for those that live in a building. The other was the idea of knowing the experience of nothingness as in death. A stand out scene arrived in the 9th episode where two of the remaining sisters are driving to Hill House and swerve off the road due to a surprise encounter. The younger sister shares a haunting insight. A stand out scene!
Locked – Release
The 2nd idea that meets the idea of ghosts and haunting is the idea of trying with great effort to keep things hidden behind walls and doors. Wanting to hide from aspects that are painful and shaming is human. The apparent truth to this is there is no way to hide important information or keep things supressed without cost. As a counsellor the idea intrigues me. For we do hide stuff and are often undone by secrets leaking. Better to be open to self and others.
Watching Hill House offers a stylized chance to lose ourselves in an uncomfortable realisation. Truth has a way of surprising and surfacing that is uncomfortable, uncertain and necessary at times. There is a sense that once the truth is out things can return to normal.
Perhaps normal was not the direction or destination of travel originally imagined…
Imagine a meal of sumptuous proportions cooked expertly by a recognised chef. Imagine that you are hungry, and interested in what you are about to consume.
Imagine the expectation, the table set. The dinner guests delighted and eager. The lighting perfect, the aromas wafting carrying in the anticipation of what delights are to follow.
Your dinner, the one worth waiting for! At the moment of delivery, at the height of expectations being met, the meal doesn’t arrive.
After all that anticipation?!
This is my experience, a therapists experience of the missed appointment or the client who does not arrive for their scheduled second appointment.
The preparation is only half of the story though. It is in the moments the appointments, the twists and turns of the therapeutic encounters to follow that were worth the anticipation.
These moments are where I find alchemy takes place. Little can happen before the client and therapist meet. In the appointments are when the therapist and client are both tested, triumph, fail and succeed continually.
But then the reasons for the client not attending are too numerous and complex to fully appreciate. Generally the reasons could be about fear. Fear about what change could mean. Remember The light bulb has got to want to change. But we are not to know.
That’s the hard part to the appointment missing client for a therapist. The not knowing. The guessing and the not getting to support that person who is struggling to experience something new. Like that meal mentioned at the top. The difficulty Not met and lieing unresolved.
Unknowing of when next to begin. Training in therapy invites therapists to be aware of resiliency in treatment with another. But the missing client has a very different weight to it. Training encompasses what to do in that 50 minute appointment which include:
Sit and ponder the last interaction and think about the work. Make notes in the pad to take to supervision to reflect on what is going on for the therapist the client and their relationship. Catch up on writing notes. Review the notes with the non attending client and be mindful of patterns.
Very often there are few answers but many many questions. To do what with I wonder? To provide answers. To look at things differently. To arrive at choices that could alter the work or the practice with that client.
It could also be a time to make a hot drink, have a conversation with a colleague/friend, do something creative and be mindful. This is about you and not them. What is a potentiality is the client returning.
This is when the labour made in those missed appointments comes into its own and the investment of time spent is met.
Also known as – Deliciously Displayed Information 2 Writing the first overview of the many podcasts I was listening to back in 2017, and still am now, was a milestone experience. My aim was to share my enjoyment of listening to a number of unique and interesting shows that did a good job of entertaining educating thrilling and amazing me. What follows below are my latest podcast listens. Stretching my little understanding and knowledge that little bit further. If the quest for more information, honest reporting, and fun are in your neighbourhood of things you like to be with, look no further.
Like a number of people in the UK
I read Reni Eddo Lodge’s book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About
Race’ and found that her writing summarised my experience of being in white
spaces and not wanting to contribute too much for fear of offending, upsetting,
being labelled or facing ignorance. Getting on and staying quiet seemed to
cause little disruption for others and at times myself. The Podcast over turns
the dynamic of remaining quiet. Taking the conversation out beyond the intimate
and separate and hidden but out to the world.
I have been a fan of Malcolm
Gladwell’s for over 10 years. His book David and Goliath opened my eyes to a
myth that was beautifully retold. Broken Record deep dives into the music
business. I had originally thought that the podcast was going to be about Hip
Hop music and what I have been invited to listen to is Malcolm’s varied
collection of music tastes. Hip Hop is a feature as is Country and Pop. As a
therapist it is the stories of the musicians and of Rick Rubin’s Shangri La
recording studio that captivates and draws me in to each episode.
I have been hearing about Dan
Carlin’s Hard Core History for a few years, mostly from other Podcasts I have
listened to including Revisionist History, The Tim Ferris Podcast, The Science
of Success and Hidden Brain. All have offered an insight to what I would
observe about telling a unedited retelling of historical events. With episodes
lasting up to and sometimes over 3 Hours be prepared to get comfortable and be
amazed as Dan and his team share their perspective of historical events like
you would never hear anywhere like on Hard Core History. I am up to Blueprint
for Armageddon VI and listen on my hour long commute’s to and from work.
There’s something about the way Dan Goes In. He is excited about reliving these
historical moments. Almost like he is reporting on them like he is there. I am
a little upset on Dan’s behalf that Netflix has gone and copied his story of
the beginning of WW1. I recognise now that Dan’s enthusiasm may have been
caught by others… To his credit history has never looked so good!
I credit my wife for introducing
me to Dope Black Dads. I have been hearing about the mischievous 3 for a few
months and have started following them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I
listen because I am a Black Dad myself and they offer a point of reference for
men, for women, for parents. The conversations between the three and their
guests are insightful, humorous, educative. Discussing topics that are
challenging with vulnerability and sensitivity they do and do so well. I can
understand that from my perspective it is what the world needs now.
An imaginative journey where inanimate objects talk to an interviewer about their lives. Being used by us a d what their interpretations of humans are. Stand out episodes include Louis Can of Cola and Chioke Grain of sand. I have gained insight to random facts that the host – Ian Chillag goes on to interview specialists in the field about. There are moments when the randomness is surprising and hilarious, then there are moments that are as profound as anything heard on Philosophy Bites or Code Switch. Thank you Charlotte for the recommendation on this one!
Grief and bereavement are unfortunate experiences that some of us have faced and whilst the subject matter can appear dark and comfortable. Cariad Lloyd spends time with comedians discussing the loss of significant people in the comedians life. David Baddiel’s interview was as tactful as it was exploratory like a therapy session in miniature. A brave show that delivers more than is expected.
I thank Dorottya Szuk for introducing me to this podcast. The stand out episode for me has been with Mo Gawdat who discussed his learning from significant losses. Elizabeth Day talks with luminaries from a range of backgrounds and professions about how they have recovered after setbacks and taken the learning to apply in new projects and ventures. I find the show uplifting and surprising.
The discovery was made by accident, with new and interesting on i-tunes. As a former visiting lecturer at University of Greenwich and at the University of East London I am keen to improve my speaking skills. The idea of standing in front of a room of people and speaking for 2-3 hours used to petrify me. Having lectured a number of times now I relish the opportunity to give insight about psychological matters to students. With How to Own the Room Viv interviews women that have experience of leading, speaking and presenting to audiences. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Meera Syal, and Mary Portas all had fantastic points that will help many to know the craft of speaking well in front of a room of people.
Hebah Fisher an Egyptian-American
presents a thoroughly researched and engaging podcast on the events people
history and culture of countries in the Near East. Kerning Cultures puts a rich
frame around the miss-told and miss sold experiences of people from this region
of the world. Hebah in every episode explores, shares and invites the listener
to hear about concepts and experiences that are often lost through the gaze of
the westernized other. Kerning Cultures is a feast of learning about lives not
largely different from our own but with a flavour that is Saffron in subtlety
Malcolm Gladwell is possibly the funniest North American Podcast/writer/journalist around. These podcasts – reviewing miscarriages of justice, are maddeningly good. As they present little known facts about some of the worlds largest scandals. There is something about the enthusiasm Malcolm approaches each subject.
He goes hard at trying to understand the complexity of the laws and set ups that allow places to get away with unscrupulous acts of behaviour that would throw most in jail or seeking psychoanalysis. Episodes to look out for are The Lady Vanishes, The Big Man Can’t Shoot, Food Fight are great examples of Malcolm’s ability to dig in to places that are squeezed tight against illumination pulling at the truth of injustice, and setting the record straight.
As a show the Allusionist
continues to amaze and enthral me. Words appear to be at the root of the show’s
beginning middle and end. Following a word’s use back to when it came into current
lexicons and translations is part of the format. Helen Zaltzman is infectiously
curious humoured and incredibly punctilious about getting words right, perfect in
all the right spaces. Jeff Goins in his book Real Artists Don’t Starve said
finding the right word is the difference between a lightning bug and a
lightening bolt. Listen in if you like to investigate words their meanings and
their multi usages.
I thank a radio 4 producer for introducing the receipts to me. Louise Kattenhorn I credit the receipts to you. I have listened since January and have to say my life has been better informed, and lifted ever since. Another show I liked to listen to – Black Girls Talking went off air in 2017. I am still guessing as to the reasons why the show no longer is produced.
The Receipts now only on Audible is filling the space that Black Girls Talking left. Tolly T, Ghana’s Finest Audrey, and Mama Sita Milena Sanchez literally cut a fine audible hole for listeners to take a look through into a myriad of worlds insights and views. The women will have you shouting with them with their listeners dilemmas and then uproariously laughing with some of the audacious things that the presenters offer as advice.
If you have listened to Criminal you will know the voice of Phoebe Judge. Her expressive way of speaking invites me to wonder, often, as to what words she is going to say next.
The podcast is a tour de force on what we as human beings define and understand as love. Phoebe has interviewed a woman who swam with a lost baby whale until it found it’s mother. The superhuman feat took hours. The most recent series of This is Love, are in Italy meeting people who love cats, the ugly and art in Venice. I find the podcast uplifting. A feel good factor with no unfortunate pay off dirges. The only bad bit is the shows coming to their inevitable end! Noooooooo
Wanna Be I was surprised to find after Melanin Millennials ended in 2018. Imri hosts a podcast where she interviews notable professionals about their career choices and experiences. Wanna be is a short show 30mins where guests share their story arc from points of personal discovery, and loss to heady heights. Sharing how they have achieved goals they set for themselves. Ultimately inspiring.
If I am honest I have refrained from listing 3 shots higher on this list, however I would be doing a disservice to the talented conversationalists that headline these highly charged, entertaining and generally funny podcasts. Yes there are questionable ethics and topics that scrub the lines between right and good, leaving the listener to make up their own mind.
The three men, Keith Dube, Tazer F Black and Marv Abi are a trio that discuss a range of topics that are at once questionable as they are hilarious. I have found myself chuckling at the *ludicrosity of the conversations that have words mispronounced, hard lefts being turned mid conversation as Keith shares a funny story and the presenters reminiscing about encounters. There are some podcasts that dare, this podcasts dares greatly and possibly is unaware of how far they have danced across many lines.
END I am on the lookout for a French, Italian, and Spanish podcast that lets me get lost with the pheonetics of these latin origin languages. My mum had a theory that the more time I spent being lost in a particular language the faster and better I would learn that language. If any of you have a particular podcast that I have not mentioned before and feel that it should be amongst this list please include it for me to listen to in the comments below.
With thanks I appreciate you reading these words.
If any of the above you do listen to, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.
‘If a book doesn’t make you better then what on earth is it for?’ My wife Dr. Warner recently shared the above quote with me. Typically, I interpreted it in relation to helping people heal with the writing of these blogs. What else was I to do?
Improve I laughed at first at the quote. Then thought about people that experience a mental health difficulty or return to the community after prison. Are people recently released, able to help themselves and others be better? Do they become discouraged by an unfair set of goals achievements and just out of frustrated reach opportunities?
When working with a person my aim is geared towards understanding the root cause of some of the difficulties and supporting reintroduction to living well.
Writing my blogs on a weekly basis has become an important part of maintaining wellness myself throughout the week.
Crafting Writing these short stories helps to build a positive idea of my thinking for anyone to access and begin formulating their own thoughts. The aims are to share ideas, inform and provide thinking points/reflection points to travel with in a meaningful way. I am doing my bit to make the world a better, more reasoned place, that is more informed and can offer balms.
Inspiration Using tactical empathy like an open circuit I invite readers to use the materials they find to inspire thought. Closing the loop is when an informed action takes place. That’s the point of these pieces of writing – to help readers to arrive, make links, create change.
Core needs The want to move forward, figuratively, metaphorically and within the mind and body, is I feel human. The need to stay safe and protected and loved and warm is a need too. As is being fed, staying healthy, being social, finding and maintaining love and finding a sense of purpose. Thank you Maslow!
Interned Staying in one place brings with it challenge, boredom and a feeling of loss. In the course of a year I have met those who have experienced significant personal tragedy and trauma, who remain constantly vigilant and yet willing to pit themselves against their fears and try to haul forth out of the ruins of their former lives something honourable and worthy. Ultimately they are willing to try.
Gladiators I am reminded of the encouraging words from Brené Brown’s recent Netflix show, quoting Theodore Roosevelt’s arena speech. Those who are on the floor of the arena get a different perspective to those sitting and spectating.
The offer here is to: Be patient Be resilient Be engaged but most of all have fun.
In time it will all be worth it.
The point is to hold on ‘Alice Walker’ until you near the end. The end has the potential to be better than the space you are in now. Just hold on and you’ll see!
Start anew 13th and Eva Du Vernay’s latest Netflix film has further convinced me that criminal justice is a blight. What does the phrase mean – criminal justice? Who gets justice? Does the perpetrator of a criminal act get justice? What if the perpetrator were witness or victims of criminal acts when powerless and young? What justice can be measured against the crimes that they could not stop?
When They see Us Has turned my stomach, turned my emotions into a heavy drum that reverberates with a sense that Angela Davis’ call of ‘Are Prisons Obsolete?’ are right here, before us, NOW! This is not a review of WTSU. I need a little time to allow what has been stirred to settle. This is a call to remember those who are away, serving time in places called prisons, forensic settings, exclusion units, on probation, in cells, in mental health hospitals and restrained and detained in deportation units.
Cross Pollination is Us.
Almost 10 For 9+ years I have been there. Seeing listening and supporting as a counsellor in Her Majesty’s Prison Services in South London. At Probation Services in a number of offices in and around London and now at a number of prisons in Kent.
Four Tales Ava DuVernay’s 4 films, 4 tales about the system of continued oppression that a person who is considered ‘other’ may face primarily because of them being in the wrong place, wrong time wholly screws with the idea of justice.
Fresh Start How here in the UK a person can grow up in circumstances that are *unsupportive to them as individuals or as communities and make good is an unfair expectation. The recent report in Fresh Start shows what wide spread social investment can do for communities. Lack of support could mean one wrong turn, a bad decision, an argument, a moment of unconstrained fury, frustration, injustice, abuse – explodes and becomes a 35 year sentence.
Break It Up No the criminal justice system needs to be deconstructed. I’ve borrowed Jesse Williams phrase and ire here. Look at the things that feed the causes. Capitalism, guilt, shame, blame and the ideals of equality, discrimination and that of ethics are not achieved and held out of reach, I would argue need be mentioned.
Replace In its place a community of activists philosophers, cooks, teachers, faith leaders, prisoners, students, constructionists, film makers, politicians, service users in the community, Artists come together and develop a number of ideal ways to help move a person who has hurt, is hurting, was hurt to grow.
That’s what is at the foot of this mountain. POTENTIAL
Together We don’t get to the top by wishing, or acting against ourselves or anyone else. We get to the top of the Mountain by planning, co-ordinating, arguing, directing, moving, retracing and supporting and being compassionate – be human. To All. For All. Ubuntu
A system that further puts people at risk, hurts them and shames those already embroiled within it’s contorted digestive tracts. A system that cannot support a person to free climb up, out and away. Prison – It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It compounds a problem but does not create solution.
The Obstacle is The Way The aim is to climb the mountain to establish a fair and equal society for all. That is the dream. Accepting that perhaps society as it is does not work for all. Accepting that education systems whilst worthy and reasonably *investable remains a widely separating experience for students of a three tiered system. Accepting that a system that identifies those who are hurt, who then go on to hurt others, are put into a place where others who like themselves are also hurting. Seems nonsensical!
Medieval Sounds like an inhumane calamity, if we were able to, allowed to, we would think this has to stop. We would demand that things damn well ought to change and set about making the necessary steps to install that change. Rather than invest in a system of continued pain.
Brave What does work, is gathering all interested parties and support and time being given to see the hurt child inside and help, not blame, help them to reach higher and be courageous as we also become courage-ful.
At a recent counselling in Prisons Network CiPN conference Philip Wheatley presented a simple truth, risk is a factor of life. Risk can be managed but not extinguished and ruled out of our experience. The police, prisons, probation, nurses and detention centre officers should hold the idea that risk is a factor to the work when supporting those who offend.
The dream is for us all to be okay with wherever we are on that Mountain, living our best lives.
Swimming In At a local swimming pool another one of my random thoughts struck.
On your marks… The thought centred on knowing about something before the experience arrives. Almost prescient to an event and being ready when it happens. Does having information early provide either comfort or terror?
Unsuspecting The event that brought me to my thought was, a boy of about 16/17 who stumbled out of a swimming pool near to my family and me. He walked with difficulty to the poolside near to us and appeared to slump onto his back. The incident happened quietly and quickly at a packed Lido. He began twitching and both of his hands curled into fists with his thumbs pinned inside his hands.
Busy Calm I wondered what could be happening. The boy appeared calm in voice as he explained to his friend to get help. A life guard arrived moments later and radioed for senior management. The pool was packed and the life guard’s attention seemed split into a number of other directions.
Speed Management sped over to the prostrate young man and after a few questions with him, called 999. Over the phone instructions were offered to calm and reassure the young man. Within 15 minutes a paramedic arrived and took over. I wondered again about what the boy was experiencing and was transported back to lying on my back on sports day after running my heart out. This was June 1990. I had just completed a 200m final sprint, came 2nd and was to compete in a triple jump event for my class team.
The RACE Before the 200m I had successfully contested and run against, the school’s favourite and won against him in the 1500m. Back then, something unexplainable was going on and my body was failing me. This was before my 2011 diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I wanted to get up, run and compete again. 3 events in one day I knew I could do it, but my 16 year old pre-diagnosed body had other ideas.
Primary Attack I lay prone and incapable of moving for at least 30-40 minutes, on a beautiful summers day, on a school field in Cambridgeshire. A number of people mostly fellow pupils showed concern and asked if they could help. At which I said “No, I’m alright”. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, and was too embarrassed at feeling so weak and powerless to accept help.
AHA! This then was my first glaring incident of a relapse. It sucked! I can still hear my fear anger and anguished thoughts ricochet around my head. “But this shouldn’t be happening to me? What about my team? I’m not helping us win! What’s going on? What the hell is this?! What’s wrong with me?”
Forewarned My thoughts wander back to the boy. At this side of the pool lying on his side, pronounced as needing support and not knowing what this mysterious illness is. Perhaps it is or is not MS. Perhaps it is another debilitating auto immune disease that like a thief, a picket pocket, appears disappears and removes slowly, imperceptibly, all that is held dear.
Bliss Maybe it is better not to know and live with no to little knowledge about a challenging future that could be ahead. Managing an illness that disrupts brain to body connections and renders the sentient being housed in said body mute, captive, ignorant and helpless.
Quiet I remained silent and said nothing. Reluctant at handing to this young man an idea of a future that is largely an uncomfortable unknown – a morass of uncertainty and discomfort. Perhaps it is best I look on and hope that his mysterious twitching and collapse is something more explained like blood sugar levels or early onset type 1 diabetes – rather than an auto immune disease.
Autonomy I lived for 20 years with a certainty that I was as healthy and as physically and mentally able as I was supposed to be. I would not want to rob another of a chance to live for better or worse in the knowledge that life as they knew it was irrevocably altered and that new designs were to be placed. A life pattern redrawn. At 16 the news might be impossible to digest.
I am interested to know what you all think about these small thought journeys. This is a genuine request to find out what thoughts you have about these blogs – my mental workouts, and it is a request from you to help improve my work. For instance are Thursdays a good day for my work to be released?
Everyone I meet, work with, support and speak to has doubts about themselves, about the role they are contributing to their society, about parenting, sex and relationships, criminality and the justice system, health and mental illness, education and many other rich and diverse subjects.
Over the past 5 years I have dabbled with a number of the topics listed above. I want these blogs to be more of a service for you my loyal but quiet audience. So this invite is to serve you better. Help me to achieve this aim.
I look forward to reading your suggestions comments and feedback about the words written. I trust you to be well.