Monday, 30 March 2015


“Depression” seems to signify social ills for which we have no solution, from violent, homicidal behavior, to health illiteracy, to our culture’s neglect of the elderly. Constructing societal deficits as a medical problem does everyone a disservice—because treatment specific for depression won’t work for people who don’t really have depression. People who need social support can be expected to benefit most from programs that provide social support—not from psychiatrists.

'We apologise for the inconvenience, but there is no wi-fi on the ship this evening. We wish you a comfortable journey...' The captain's voice, even allowing for the distortion of the speakers, was smooth and reassuring. Only the slightest burr of his highland accent remained, and he handed over to the 'important safety announcement.'

Another voice crackled to life, with the enthusiasm of a game-show
host, and explained the location of various floatable devices, in the unlikely case of an emergency. Criticulous opened up his brown suitcase - by god, the things is heavy - and removed the machine from its depths. He checked for a recording device, then closed the suitcase. 

He was facing three, large, round portholes. The sea, and sky and hills - they were only moments clear of the harbour - were shades of grey and green. A thin rain - a smir - was descending, imitating the filter of a thin fog. Behind him, a bank of televisions competed with different channels, each one's volume reduced to a whisper, but bleeding into each other.

A politician from a popular nationalist party takes to the stage to the sound of canned laughter from a chat show. A celebrity questions an amateur artist, who is racing against the clock and competing with a polite interview on a religious programme.

Criticulous remembers that he enjoys travelling on ships: he's of an age that can remember a time when this was the only way to 
make journeys across water. The cheapness and convenience of air-planes notwithstanding, his sentimentality is leavened by a sense that the speed of trains and boats, and even buses, are more congenial to the human consciousness. 

The view through his porthole, however, is unlikely to be adapted for a tourist's postcard: it isn't quite grim enough to be austere, and the limited palette of colours inhibits the spectacular majesty expected of the Highlands.

He'd felt sick on the bus - he's taken a seat in direct sunlight, and had been forced to put aside his book. They were following the bed of a river - meandering as it came closer to the shore, and clear evidence of the region's glacial past. At times, the road was at the precipice of a narrow, deep channel, the water gurgling and bouncing along far belong, great slates exposed beneath the eddies and falls. Then, suddenly, the valley would open out, a vast flood plain with steep mountains going further into the distance.

Despite this not being the country of his birth, he feels one of his sporadic surges of sentiment. These are inevitably followed by resentment.

He tries to catch up with the machine's commands. It has been locked away for the journey, but he is drawn back to gather his instructions. The recording device is ready to be emptied. He syphons off the excess and filters out the grains, pressing them 
flat onto the screen and using his finger to test their colour and content. 

It is the sense of being suspended above... either potential or the void, he thinks. Only on the road is he ever alone.

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