CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS…

I can’t recall a single ‘holiday season’ in the last 25 years that I haven’t had to work through the Christmas/New Year period. In fact, I’ve found myself working most Christmas days in recent years. With Christmas Day being just another day in the office for me, I’ve probably lost a little ‘Christmas spirit’ in the last six or so years.

I found there’s an indescribable isolation that you get from being on the clock on the 25th.  The roads are next to deserted (those trekking to the Surf Coast or other popular holiday destinations notwithstanding, of course) and there’s an eerie quiet around the city. It definitely doesn’t feel right.

So this year, I’ve thrown financial caution to the wind, put the foot down and will be taking some time off during the Christmas and New Year break. Knowing I don’t have to be in work-mode during the break, I’ve found myself recalling some of the ‘traditions’ I used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside with – to paraphrase P.J O’Rourke – age, guile and some good and not-so-good haircuts.

One of my favourite Christmas memories was Ivan Hutchinson’s Christmas Movie Guide. Ol’ Ivan was the doyen of movie reviewers in our eyes, and anyone presently between the age of 50 and 35 would remember days playing hookey from school and watching Ivan introduce the midday movie on Channel seven. Each year, Ivan would host a one hour special featuring trailers of movies set for release that summer, like Class, The Last Starfighter, The Woman in Red (remember Kelly LeBrock everyone?) and a host of other ‘blockbusters’ that would hit the screens in time for the summer holidays.

Speaking of school holidays, with the school year usually winding up a week or so before Christmas, from around the age of 12 or so, my friends and I were all allowed to go in to the city from suburban western Melbourne by train without someone’s parents or older brother/sister chaperoning us under the guise of ‘christmas shopping’. Hell yes, good times!

Our trains in from Werribee in those days were V/Line trains (later the electric trains from around 1983 or so) and after arriving at Spencer St Station, we’d ride the trams up Bourke Street and head straight to the Bourke St Mall.

We’d spend hours at Myer in the sporting goods and then the toy departments – predominantly looking at modelling kits, Star Wars figurines, cricket gear and pretty much everything in-between with the exception of Barbie dolls and so on. This would be followed by a movie (on Ivan Hutchinson’s recommendation, of course) at cinemas that don’t exist anymore, like Hoyts Cinema Centre or their Mid-City cinemas. There was the Capitol (which is now part of RMIT’s Lecture Theatres and gets good use during the Melbourne Comedy Festival), the Greater Union in Russell Street and even the Forum when it was predominantly a movie theatre.

Whatever movie we saw was always followed by a feed at a McDonald’s (Werribee didn’t get a Macca’s until 1987, so this was a big deal for us, ok?) and then back home, knackered as the excitement of the day wore off.

My favourite tradition though, was always Christmas eve.  Until you were seriously expected to buy people presents or contribute with helping set up the house for an army of guests the next day, Christmas eve had an excitement all of its own. My sister and I were largely left alone, except for one unbreakable commitment: 7pm mass.

Mass invariably fell smack-bang in the middle of our street cricket ‘tournaments’. Starting around 4.30 or so in the afternoon, most of the kids (and a few drunk Dads and uncles) in our street would get the Degenhardt’s rubbish bin as the stumps, a milk-crate from our house as the bowler’s wicket, some lengths of wood from the Gamble’s house to block the drains, my trusty Buffalo cricket bat and Slazenger tennis balls and a series of cricket games – the likes of which remains unprecedented in street cricket history – would begin.

I, always seemingly on the cusp of taking a valuable scalp with the ball, or set to notch up a match-winning ton, would invariably have to pull the pin at around 6.30 to go to mass. This created a spiritual schism that is yet to heal – so much so that on Census night, I describe myself as a ‘recovering Catholic’.

Anyway, an hour or so later (depending on whether Father Dom went for a painfully long homily or a speedy discourse on the Nativity so he could nick back to the presbytery to watch Carols by Candelight), I’d arrive home from mass and slot straight back into the game. This remains about the only saving grace that I can muster up for daylight savings.

The games would go on, and on into the night. Well into dark and well into the period where boosting one’s street cricket average took a backseat to ensuring you didn’t get hit in the nuts while facing a Jamie Degenhardt thunderbolt.

I can’t speak for the other kids in our street, but I know for me, these Christmas eve street cricket extravaganza’s were meant to get me so exhausted that I would take little rocking to fall asleep once I got into bed.

But such was the excitement of the night, and the expectation of the following day that no matter whether you took a career best bowling haul, or smashed an unbeaten ton before everyone gave up and went home, an early night was about as likely Jamie Degenhardt not aiming for your nuts with one of his patented thunderbolts once the streetlights took over.

Extreme Whiplash

If you haven’t seen Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash  yet, the most simplistic way to summarise it is the story of a young and ambitious drummer, Andrew (Miles Teller), in his first year at a prestigious New York conservatory who relentlessly yearns for the approval of an intimidating bandleader.

Alternatively, Whiplash is –  as Executive Producer Jason Reitman described it – “Full Metal Jacket at Juilliard”.

Describe it however you want, this film is a must-see for music lovers.

I’m no jazz aficionado, but I appreciate it as an art form and I appreciate it as a style of music. I’m captivated by the narrative that explains jazz music as a music “that welcomes you if you come to it” as Wynton Marsalis says.

Similar to baseball, jazz is a genuinely American pastime. And like baseball, the history of jazz music is inextricibly entwined in the country’s dark history of slavery and institutionalised racial oppression.

It is a music born of a society that liked to say aloud all were created equal but silently enshrined a way of life that proscribed some to be much less equal than others.

It rose above the south’s stultifying Jim Crow laws to become a fledgling post-Civil War nation’s babysitter at the dawn of the 20th century, before becoming its spirit guide – carrying a people through the roaring twenties, the despair of the depression years, the anger of Pearl Harbour and then the unbridled optimism that followed the end of horrifc wars in Europe and the Pacific.

Jazz is the music of hope, tragedy and liberation. It is all-consuming and becomes an obsession for those who try to master it like the surfer who searches the world for the perfect wave.

The trials and tribulations of jazz luminaries like Buddy Bolden, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and most notably, Charlie Parker, are at the heart of what Whiplash explores and asks; are you only entitled to be considered ‘great’ when there’s suffering, rejection and heartache in your journey? Are you only worthy of being considered ‘capable’ after some right-of-passage steeped in bullying, malevolence, Machiavellian manipulation and the destruction of someone’s spirit?

“I push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that is an absolute necessity…. There are no two words in the english language more harmful than ‘good job’… “(J.K Simmons as Terence Fletcher, Whiplash (2014))

I enjoyed Whiplash immensely. It is well-written, brilliantly photographed (any movie still shot on 35mm in this digital age is a winner in my book) and the direction is first-rate.

The music production is also brilliant, expertly capturing the nuances of the pieces the movie focuses on; the eponymous Whiplash and Duke Ellington’s legendary Caravan to showcase the challenges playing these songs presents to performers.

If you don’t ‘get’ Jazz, – or at least appreciate the history and the stories behind luminaries of the art form such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, then Whiplash is definitely Full Metal Jacket at Juilliard.

Conversely, if you have an appreciation for the litany of stories across all walks of life in sport, faith, business and the performing arts where people have hit rock bottom in order to discover their ‘greatness’ then there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into here.

If J.K Simmons doesn’t AT LEAST receive a Best Actor nomination in January for Whiplash, then the Academy Awards are dead to me. His portrayal of the malevolent band leader – Terence Fletcher – is on par with Anthony Hopkins’ turn as Hannibal Lector, Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes in Misery, or Michael Parks’ chilling Abin Cooper in Red State, while Miles Teller as Andrew Neyman – who idolises the big band drumming powerhouses of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich – is great.

Whiplash is definitely not a family movie and the language used in the film might put some off, but in exploring the lengths musicians will go to in order to gain acceptance and approval from their peers, it’s an astounding and thought-provoking piece of cinema and entertainment.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

I’m a big fan of the old skool in this age of technology.

I’m the guy that’s had the ‘old phone’ ringtone on his Nokia and later his iPhone as soon as it became available (and ditched Samsung because it didn’t offer a similar choice in its arsenal of sounds).

I also enjoy writing. Like this great piece from John Birmingham, I too used to quixotically dream of a bohemian lifestyle in a semi-dangerous locale with an exotic muse while producing a literary classic – and being paid handsomely for it.

While I’ve managed to punch above my weight and shanked myself the exotic muse, with the arrival of the Hemingwrite, I can also re-live the fantasy of producing literary gold on a typrewriter.

More-so if the product is launched with an option ‘clack-clak’ sound option (hint!)

Dear Santa, if these guys have it launched in time, all I want for Christmas is…

top_render

 

A Story That Has To Be Shared

I hope you don’t see this as bad form, but like Jack Hockman’s story about his struggles with mental illness, I couldn’t help but share David Wilson’s story with you as well.

This is a story that needs to be shared around, and I encourage you to share it with as many people as you can.

I know David very loosely through sports writing website The Footy Almanac. Sadly he’s a Collingwood supporter, but he’s still a fantastic fella.

Today the following piece was posted by David in relation to his recovery from a devastating car accident that occurred a lifetime ago.

If you like a good yarn, if you like to be genuinely moved by what you read, if you like visceral honesty, then clicking this link will more than scratch your itch.

Follow David Wilson on Twitter @e_regnans

 

Australian Writings on NFL: The Pigskin Almanac

Sometimes you get to write about things you like and someone – other than yourself – will publish it.

That’s the fortunate position I’ve found myself in recently, as I’ve been contributing to The Pigskin Almanac : an initiative from the people who brought you The Footy Almanac.

You can’t beat the analysis and news gathering abilities of the NFL’s own website and sites like ESPN, and Bleacher Report but sites like the Pigskin Almanac can be  a nice antithesis to read what writers – as opposed to sports news writers think of the sport.

Because I’m insecure and ridiculously lazy, today’s post comes to you courtesy of my weekly post for The Pigskin Almanac: The Carolina Panthers playing the Cincinnati Bengals which resulted in a tied game. I hope you enjoy.

* * * * * * *

As a kid, I played both Aussie rules and cricket.

I loved playing footy, but I liked playing cricket and couldn’t really put my finger on why I favoured one over the other.

And then one day, I overheard a friend’s dad crystallise why football is better than cricket.

Football is better than cricket because you can stand in the field, in 100F heat on a summer’s day, do nothing except get sunburnt and when a ball finally comes your way, you drop that catch or let the ball go through to the boundary for four. Who knows when you’ll get the chance to make up for that error?

In football, if you screw up, you’ll almost certainly get to make up for a knucklehead mistake moments later; you can make that next tackle, get that goal back, hold that next mark, beat your opponent in that next one-on-one contest. Redemption in football can be a heartbeat away.

Unless you’re Cincy kicker Mike Nugent…

Click here to read the full article at the Pigskin Almanac 

@SteveBakewood

#CowboyNation

The non-Footy Season Survival Guide

Despite all the anti-football posturing I’ve displayed in recent years, I still feel an empty pang inside as the routine of the season grinds to a halt following the Grand Final.

If you’re anything like me as a football fan, you manage to survive as nine games became four when the finals kick off. Four games then become two weeks of only two matches. And then, Grand Final day: Christmas for footy fans, without the shopping centre nightmares. Once the full-time siren goes, though, it’s like pulling the emergency brake on a train; everything comes to an almighty screaming halt (let’s assume that your team didn’t collect a premiership, shall we?).

For me, the moments after the big game’s over is anti-climactic – kind of like Christmas lunch when the dishes are finished, everyone’s napping  (or punching on – depending on how much of the Irish-Catholic resentments that have been repressed over the year have finally bubbled over after a few drinks) and you look around and ask yourself; “fuck… what’s next?”

Plenty – is the answer.

Below, and in something resembling a vague chronological order (with the exception of NFL and NBA/NBL – which run through the majority of October, November December and January), I’ve listed a heap of ways for you to fill the void of no footy.

Instead of bagging out the suggestions, remember the saying: free your mind and yo’ass will follow and it will be pre-season challenge time before you know what hit you.

EPL
You don’t have to love the world game to love the English Premier League. ALMOST all of the best players in the caper are currently in the EPL, so you’re not watching a bunch of schnedleys running around at 3am on a Sunday morning. Kick offs in the EPL are often at midnight or thereabouts so even if you don’t have pay telly, a lot of pubs show matches live. It’s a great way to get out of the house and meet that classy English backpacking lass from Essex who’s up “for a bit of fun, like, eh”. If you DO have Foxtel at home, you can invite the lads around to yours for some lagers (beers become lagers in the world game) and crisps, play some Manchester shoe-gazing bands pre-kick off and make jokes about how early it is in the morning and how you could really go a curry.

Phrases to Use to Look Knowledgeable (PTUTLK): Stoppage time, under the kosh, transfer window, sacked manager, banter, gaffer, terraces, who ate all the fookin’ pies? Lagers, nutters.

A-League
Despite the imminent threat to personal safety and physical well-being that flat-earth old-media outlets would have you believe, going to an A-League sokkah match is actually a really good way to spend an afternoon – whether with the family or the lads (AFL and NRL has ‘boys’. Once you walk through the gates, boys become ‘lads’ and verbal abuse is ‘banter’. Remember this). The food’s overpriced, the referees often look like they have no idea what’s going on and are continually abused throughout the match, you have stupid seating prices and policies despite half the joint being empty, so when you think about it, its just like being at an AFL or NRL match! Also, seeing that games can be played in 35 degree heat in the middle of the day, it’s a great way to work on the tan.

PTUTLK – See EPL. Also: Malaka, flares, riverside, northend, southend, if it’s good for Sydney FC it’s good for the game, look at all those Wanderers fans, I hear Liverpool wants to buy them…

NFL
All jokes aside, NFL is possibly my favourite summer sport. It’s just like a chess game except the pawns check in at 200cm, weigh 130kg and want to seriously injure the guy standing opposite them. A lot of people will tell you they can’t follow the rules, and I ask; how is this any different from League and AFL? Yes, the players wear helmets and padding, but these have all the effectiveness and protection of a placing a bandaid over a shotgun wound to the head. The genuine downside is the timezone differences (the bulk of games get underway between 4am and 7am on a Monday morning) and if any sport is television friendly, it’s American football. Did you know that actual game time in a NFL fixture is 60 minutes? Yet the broadcast takes THREE HOURS. You have commercial breaks for change of possession, commercial breaks after a touchdown, commercial breaks after a punt and then you’ve got the Two-Minute warning at the bottom of the second and fourth quarters, with commercial breaks for each of those. If you’ve ever watched live NFL on ESPN Australia/New Zealand, you’ll know that they have only five ads on a continual loop for the whole game. Let’s face it, you can watch promos for Monster Trucks and Pro-Bull Riding only so many times before wanting to go postal.

PTUTLK – Spousal abuse, steroid use, weapons charges, ground game, hail mary, nickel package, secondary, College draft, fantasy football, franchise

Racing
You’ve seen those Tom Waterhouse, SportingBet and TAB ads all football season long. Your four year old child – who’s only just learned to count past 10 – has asked you to explain what the anchor leg of a multi-bet is. You know what line betting means. You’re a pro. You may not be aware of this, but bookies also offer wagering on horse races. Crazy, but true. You don’t have to wait until next footy season to lose money! But seriously folks, Melbourne in Spring is when the best middle-distance horses from around the world come to Melbourne chasing the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. There genuinely isn’t anything like the quality of racing offered up with the likes of the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the VRC Derby over six weeks like Melbourne in October and November. It is sensational. The downside: Television coverage is just a Swisse and Myer ad with some horse races getting in the way and you’ll see far too much Johanna Griggs and nowhere near enough Francesca Cumani. Bogans love the spring carnival (and white shoes with black suits, excessive hair product and white shades on the head) and getting a bet and a beer sorted if you’re on track at any of these days is a bona-fide nightmare. Upside? Apart from the first class racing, it’s the women looking just stunning and thousands upon thousands of eHarmony profile pictures will be collated and posted to the site by 6pm on the Saturday night after the VRC Derby.

PTUTLK – Nicely weighted, penalty, badly drawn gate, hoop, whips, Myer, order of entry, foreign raiders, sample irregularity, colourful racing identity, Bart Cummings, Peter Moody, Swisse, battling trainer, dream come true.

Cricket
Nothing says ‘White Australia Policy’ like cricket ‘season’. A shining example of inclusion, diversity and a mirror on contemporary multicultural Australian society it is not. Cricket is the sport that Tea Party and Republican voters in American politics would flock to and Cricket – as a sport – has shown that it’s about as adaptable to a changing world as a moon rock and as forward thinking as the Mayor of Pompeii. But just try and keep me away from the Boxing Day test. You can spare me Twenty20 cricket and no one seems to care about the 50-over games anymore, but they’ll be prying my MCC membership from my cold, dead hands and hauling my stinking carcass from the Percy Beames bar before I miss the Boxing Day test.

PTUTLK – KFC, Commonwealth Bank, Slats, Warnie, reverse swing, appropriate collars.

The Australian Open (Tennis)
If the summer of cricket doesn’t fill you with enough Nationalistic jingoism and misplaced patriotic ferver, grab your wifebeater, tie an Australian flag around your neck like it’s a cape, get a ‘Fuck Off, We’re Full’ tattoo and pretend to give a shit about tennis for two weeks in January. Make yourself extra popular amongst your circle of friends by joining the ‘fanatics’ – a group of hooray-for-everything, exclusively white card-carrying ‘Students for Christ’ accounting/law undergraduate nobodies who like to sing and somehow find themselves in prime seats for centre-court matches involving Australians. Nothing suss, I’m sure. The upside here is they only get oxygen while ‘Aussies’ remain in the Mens and Womens singles draw, and being a Grand Slam event, means you only have to put up with these cockheads for the first four days. Oh, and don’t expect to see any quality tennis until the quarters. The host broadcaster likes to follow the local hopes, which is admirable, but just pray that none of the top 10 ranked players drop a set or even a match, because Seven will be giving preference to Novak Djokovic playing some spam wild-card Aussie with a career best ranking of 186 – on centre court, no less.

PTUTLK – Bundled out, tram lines, backspin, en tout cas, baseline rallies, Aussie-Aussie-Aussie, C’mmmmmoooon! Aussie hopes, koalas, Red Foo is fucking that? Aussie Lleyt, Our Sam, Aussie Nick, Our Bernard,

Basketball
You know those Miami Heat hats and L.A. Lakers singlets you see all the cool kids wearing? This is the sport they play. It’s called Basketball, or for the truly cool – hoops. But all jokes aside, NBA games can be a great sport to get immersed in over the summer months. There’s games played just about every day of the week, the time difference between Australia and both U.S coasts is Goldilocks and pay telly here does a pretty good job of covering them. Like sokkah, if you don’t have pay, there’s plenty of places show games on big screens thanks to the almighty wagering dollar. FFS, they even schedule NBA games for CHRISTMAS DAY. In a country where you can’t even say ohmygod on t.v without sending religious types into a frenzy, that’s really saying something about this sport. And the local product? No, the NBL is nowhere near the standard of the NBA, but I dare you to go along to a game and not enjoy it. The local guys play it hard, tough and fast. Like its U.S counterpart, its a great sport to get caught up in over summer. You could be forgiven for thinking that the latest incarnation of the NBL is doing everything it can to fuck things up, but hopefully this latest season can see some great basketball being played – even if Melbournians have to try and ignore that one of the most successful sporting organisations this town has ever seen doesn’t exist anymore.

PTUTLK – Driving strong to the hoop, from downtown, Byeee Felicia! Charity stripe, a thriller in overtime, the post, Kobe, LeBron, one-on-one, tip off.

So that’s about it. The above suggestions should see you through October to late January and beyond.

Before you know it, it’ll be time for the pre-season competitions to get underway in the League and the AFL and who knows, you might have just picked up an appreciation for sports that you’d previously overlooked.

You’re welcome.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Are YOU Okay?

Everybody knows Jack.

Jack’s the guy who lives in your street. The bloke a couple of houses down from yours, always working on the house, or taking the kids somewhere.

He’s the guy you see at the pub on a Friday night who has a quiet beer or two and an each way bet on the seventh race at Angle Park before grabbing fish n’chips for the kids dinner on the way home.

He’s the guy you see on the train on your way to work. He’s the guy you bump into when you get your morning coffee before clocking on.

You’ve never spoken to him, but you’ve seen him plenty of times. He nods and winks at you as his way of saying hello when you see each other. You nod back with a cursory “g’day”. He keeps to himself, but he’s friendly enough.

Jack’s just like you and he’s just like me. And that’s why we need to start making sure we ask our friends, family and neighbours; “are you okay?” a bit more than perhaps we should. They’re really simple words, but they mean a lot.

R.U.O.K is the reason Jack is able to tell this story.

This is Jack’s story.

(Language warning)

“This is a difficult story to tell because it’s mine, and it’s about why I am alive today.

R.U.O.K may only be four letters but when they’re asked, they can save a life.

I had always been the strong one; Independent. Cocky. The guy who called things as they were, and if people were offended it never bothered me. Basically, my attitude was; ‘fuck it, I’m right’.

I may have been an arsehole but I was an arsehole that people could trust. I was the bloke people told their problems to, knowing I would listen, give advice and keep it to myself.

At work I was a Leading Hand. Reliable. My workmates made me their OHS rep, Consulting Committee’s rep and the Enterprise Bargaining rep. The company invested heavily in my ability and the potential they saw in me.

They’d send me on various professional development courses and at times I’d be the senior person on the floor with a truckload of responsibilities that people backed me in to manage. And I did what I was asked, as best as I could. 

All that changed when I copped a pretty bad shoulder injury while at work.

It was never recorded as a ‘lost time’ injury because I never missed a complete shift. Going so far as taking a taxi at 5am the next day to be at work on time – at our managers request – was the level of my loyalty to the company (to be fair, they did give me a cab charge for the trip home from the medical clinic, and to work the next morning).

So there I was – arm in a sling, little to no sleep from pain, but back at work the next day so the division could keep their ‘no lost time’ record, which – to those dealing with insurance & Work Cover – is a substantial thing.

After some hard rehab work with my physiotherapist, I eventually reached a point where my shoulder had recovered as best as it ever would. And that’s when the pressure began.

My employer removed my physio benefits and began encouraging the doctor to fast-track listing me as being on ‘permanent restrictions’. On the back of only one scan I was placed on permanent restrictions. I was devastated. I was no longer able to do my job as I wanted to – used to do. I tried to be positive and focus on the advice my employer gave me at the time; “at least you still have a job”.  

It was just on a month later when – surprise, surprise – the ‘caring’ company I’d busted a nut for and a national icon retrenched me.

My reward for years of dedicated service was 13 weeks pay, with an additional four weeks for no notice. There was also the condition of no further payment for the shoulder injury. After taking it up with their rehabilitation department they set an appointment with a specialist who – again, surprise, surprise – classified the injury at just below the minimum required to be eligible for any form of compensation through their Work Cover insurer. Again, these decisions were still being made off only one scan.

So there I was at age 53, and a job with a company that I had enjoyed doing were gone. At that stage though, I was still confident of finding another job, because of the variety of skills I had picked up on my previous job.

That optimism soon changed. At nearly every job interview I had, as soon as I told a prospective employer about my shoulder accident, their attitude would change, even though the jobs I were applying for wouldn’t be affected by my injury. One employer even went so far as to say while he respected my honesty it meant they couldn’t hire me, even though I was the best candidate for the job.

From there, other health issues arose and I started to isolate myself from areas and people that had been a large part of my life. I would still go places and project an image that I was doing ok, but inside, I wasn’t. Inside I was feeling a sense of shame and that I was no longer of value to my family, my friends, or society.

It got to a point where I was hardly even using things like Twitter or Facebook, where at least I had outlets for opinion, discussions, arguments and small convos that were a bit of fun. I’ve always been the bloke who calls a cunt a cunt and very much don’t follow the mob mentality – particularly on social media. To find myself feeling vulnerable and, to a degree, lost, took its toll as I drifted further and further away from interacting and making contact with others eventually finding myself in a self-imposed exile caused mainly by my own mind.

Many people would use the word depression to describe what I was going through, but realistically that’s too simple a term. Having watched celebrities and sports stars use ‘depression’ as a convenient fall-back excuse for all sorts of shit behaviour – be it drug-fuelled hooker binges or betting against your own rides in thoroughbred races – I’d developed a natural disgust at the ease with which people refused to take responsibility for their actions and blamed depression. Accordingly, I didn’t allow myself to recognise that depression was a problem for me.

I was standing on the precipice of a ledge where life had no value to me because I could no longer place any value on myself, but due to a few people reaching out, I was able to step back and view the whole picture – not just the dark shadows in my mind.

Those few people will probably not want me to mention them here, but in truth I have never really thanked them for it. Like most blokes – definitely in my mind anyway –  admitting you need help would have been exposing weakness, but now I know better, so here goes. Let’s hope they don’t mind!

To Kathy Brooks: one of the best mates anyone could ever have and possibly one of the most genuine people it has been my privilege to know. I will be ever grateful that her and her girls are part of my life. I thank you.

Dean Saxon, a horse trainer from Mount Gambier, who, though we haven’t met a great deal, noticed something was different, reached out and texted – just to see how I was going. Even though I lied and said I was ok, it was while doing that, that I started to realise maybe life had some meaning. Thank you.

My sister Roxane Siciliano who, despite running a business, having a myriad of friends who rely on her to fix their problems and often putting others before herself, noticed things weren’t quite right. Although we are not a close family as we’re all somewhat independent people, Roxanne took the time to give me the arse kicking that was sorely needed. Thank you.

A couple of Twitter mates – who definitely will not want to be mentioned – reached out, and through some direct messages, showed support at a time when it was most needed. So although I wont use their twitter handles I will thank them, because as one of them would say “why wouldn’t ya?”  Darren and Dan, I thank you.

Sorry for rambling but that’s just one story, and it just happens to be mine.

It is amazing what a few simple words on social media, a quick phone call, a text message or any kind of contact can mean to someone.

I’m alive and not going anywhere.

Ask: RUOK?

Listen

Reach Out

Small things that may just save a life.”

Follow Jack Hockman on Twitter: @JackHockman

Help is available if you need it.

You can contact BEYOND BLUE 

Or LIFELINE is available on 13 11 14