by design ering

My meltdown—15 years in the making

A couple of years or so ago I had a meltdown online and I need to set the why of it down but knowing what to write when the events that led to it cover some 15 years isn’t an easy task.

So how about I begin with some poetry:

I'm a dirty boy who comes out on the side of dissonance
I can’t even relax without sirens off in the distance
I’m not shitting you little buddy this fucking island’s a prison
The only act of solace I have is the act of conjugal visiting
My solitary condition…

Me – Andy King 2104

No I’m not stealing from Run The Jewels, the words are mine and Run The Jewels talents, skills and artistry took raw materials and ideas of mine and produced music that continues to delight me. I enjoy fucking about with words, bite me. Now nibble.

Just how words, rhymes and poetry spoken by me were included in RTJ2 is protracted, hilarious, violent, disturbed, fantastical, chilling and stalky.

Hitting you in the balls with toffee hammers

My name is Andy King and I have depression. Sometimes that’s fine and dandy but at other times it’s like having a tiny person living in your underwear hitting you in the balls with toffee hammers shouting:

You’re shit you farty stack of git. Get on your knees and lick it!

It was 2001 when in my second job working for a new media company in Cambridge (what we now call web design/development companies) where I designed, front-end developed and maintained websites I made a fatal error. I had sex with the office manager. Here follows a short version of what happened and some few of the events set in train.

The office manager was a close friend of the company’s founding directors as well an ex-partner of one of them and in a relationship with a cocaine dealer outside of work. She had a drug problem which was a problem shared, almost all employees agreed, by the founding directors. The liaison was short lived as it quickly became me just babysitting her, sometimes violent, comedowns and I was cast at work as the “baddie” of the piece for not being there. I had tried to help but argued professional support was needed for her addiction not help from another drug user.

And so began workplace harassment of a professional and personal nature by co-workers and managers led by the directors and owners. The personal attacks took the form of homophobia and racism because, although I’d had sex with a woman, I don’t describe myself, or identify, as heterosexual and I have dark skin.

I’m not hetero so i get homophobic abuse

Since becoming sexually active I have been attracted to and had sex with women, men and transgender. My great grandmother was Indian and I am often asked by people where I am from or where was I born, the answer to both is England. When others want, or are asked and told as they were in Cambridge, to attack you my experience is they often focus on minority issues such as colour, sexuality/sex or religion.

Growing up in 1970’s in the Midlands of England I heard racist insults all too regularly–and I used some of them during my meltdown to talk of hate crime and the violence it often leads to. I expect I upset a lot of people by using them and for that I apologise unreservedly, my intent in this instance was education in critical thought.

It’s been awhile since racist terms have been obviously thrown at me but more subtle racist insults do still occur. Since England, tragically in my opinion especially given the outright dishonesty of both Leave and Remain arguments, departed the European Union there has been a sharp and hugely worrying increase in reported racist incidents.

The attacks I was subjected to in Cambridge included threats of physical violence by the office manager’s director ex-partner at work and by friends of her drug dealing boyfriend outside of work. I was mugged at knifepoint over my refusal to have anything further to do with her, had my car tyres slashed and bricks thrown through my bedroom window whilst I slept.

The professional denigration centred on my inability to programme and the idea, put around by the directors, that I wasn’t creative or a designer. I did design work at the company for its clients and I had gained a degree in Art & Design from Leeds University some 7 years previously.

These are some of the reasons why, during my online meltdown, I discussed creativity and talked of creative ideas like:

“Heart full of pain–head full of habit” Referring to my own long battle with depression, my heart disease & drug taking. Used by RTJ2.

#MakeLyingHistory A hashtag to highlight that lying Politicians despite making serious decisions for the country are not held to laws as rigorous as those for perjury that you and I are subject to.

“Mother fuck your permission. It was never yours to begin with.” This was talking of my parents & siblings homophobia and their part in the harassment that has caused me 15 years violence. They knew of the behaviour I was subjected to in Cambridge and kept quiet to protect their eldest son, an investment banker, and his involvement with the company’s directors so as to protect his career. I no longer regard them as family. Used by RTJ2.

Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson, I observed, had been repeating one show for years and I felt it had become a boring parody riddled with xenophobia. If he had any guts he would try his offensive racism in Argentina–which he did. So I say that the controversial number-plate he drove with there was deliberately offensive.

“Lie, cheat, steal, kill, win. Everybody’s doing it” I thought a good motto to describe unscrupulous neo-liberal liar thief politicians and people, such as those in Cambridge, who maliciously attack others. Used by RTJ2.

#LoveYourImperfections A hashtag I felt perfect for dating agencies after recalling how past loves had, astonishingly, put up with my myriad imperfections.

F.U.K.P (pronounced Fuck-Up) Freedom for the United Kingdom Party I invented this fictional political parties name as means to ridicule racist sexist hate monger Nigel Farage of UKIP and hopefully combat, via raising awareness, the corresponding rise in far right hate group’s popularity seen in the UK.

A quick read of the wiki page on creativity gives the impression philosophers have been unable to reach consensus on the matter for a couple of thousand years. But a founder of the company in Cambridge, let us call him Dr M, whose specialism was programming and who said under oath “the web will all be flash” testified that I wasn’t creative. His word and his opinion were taken at face value. Now is a good time to say that his behaviour could be unreasonable and unpleasant, for example a meeting where he shouted at a group of employees and told them they were “just another fucking bunch of fucking monkeys”. This was taken in employees stride as his very frequent outbursts were known company wide as “Dr M throwing his toys out the pram, again.”

Just another fucking wanker bastard cunt monkey
Just another fucking wanker bastard cunt monkey

My counter-argument for the direction the web would take was away from motion for motions sake Flash due to mobile phone usage increasing which would bring a focus on useful information easily accessible and easily shared in the form of text. This was in 2003 and time has proven I knew more than the Dr M and those employees who backed him.

During court proceeding Dr M loudly whispered “fucking wanker, fucking bastard, fucking cunt” at me, yet it was decided my testimony of abuse in the workplace was “simply not credible”. The Tribunal also decided that email evidence detailing homophobic harassment was “just a joke”. Dr M and others were taken as experts on creativity and I, apparently, was both colloquially mad and vexatious in daring to bring my case to court.

And so the judgement, that I wasn’t a designer or a creative, was passed down.

Not creative said the pin-striped lawyer

I’m out of order your honour? You’re out of order.
This whole court’s unimportant, you fuckers are walking corpses

→ Variation used by RTJ2

As Queen’s Counsel, after listening to offensive public school Oxbridge educated programmer & trust-fund recipient Dr M, ruled I wasn’t creative I, during my meltdown, ranted about creativity. Here are some more examples of my creative ideas:

There are two types of people in this world: the disgusting and the young. Can I hold your nuts while you’re cuming?

→ Variation used by RTJ2

Was my tongue in cheek (phnaar) insight on perpetual generational war we are all a part of.

Coke Life a new product for the Coca Cola range. They already use the colours red, black & gold and as a complementary addition, based on my meagre understanding of colour theory, I proposed using green and a middle ground between sugar which is bad for your health and artificial sweetener which is also bad for your health of reducing sugar quantities alongside the use of natural sweeteners.

Jurassic World the latest film based on the original Jurassic Park book by Michael Crichton. As a fan of the films, and the book which is excellent, I wanted to see another Jurassic instalment and so talked of ideas and sketched out plotlines. The film, I said, should be based at an amusement world and so, being far larger than a park, mean more people to be attacked and/or eaten by dinosaurs. A giant water inhabiting dinosaur fed with a dangling white shark could splash the crowd to help convey the scale of the resort. Roving hamster-ball like transportation, filled with tasty people sized morsels for the hybrid tyrannosaurus velociraptor (also my idea), I thought would make an exciting scene by bringing human and dinosaur together without the former being immediately eaten. And weaponised velociraptors along with a tyrannosaur saving, instead of eating, the heroes & heroines would make for a fun plot flip from the original movie.

Money Saving Supermarket Advert Don’t Cha. I described the advert where a bald man with the legs of a woman walks down the street to the sounds of “Don’t Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls.

I hoped two heart-attacks would end me

Since the tribunal ruling I have heard the same insults and the same professional denigration at every job since, to a greater or lesser extent. It legitimised abuse I was subjected to in Cambridge and it made sure that the malicious Cambridge employers could use their networks and industry influence to stalk and harass me.

In 2006 the ongoing pressures of harassment and malicious career and reputation destruction resulted in my having two heart attacks. I wanted an end to it all and I was at such a low point that I didn’t call an ambulance. I didn’t want to live.

As funny as a heart-attack (x2)
As funny as a heart-attack (x2)

Now fast forward to late 2012 and a job where I was brought in to work on a mobile site. I’d already been working on mobile sites since 2007 and was following with great interest the development of Responsive Web Design as an answer to the disconnected state of separate mobile and desktop experiences.

At this company I started work on a dated mobile site where product information was restricted, branding broken or ignored and buttons made of images across multiple languages. It was slow, very, and not converting enough to be profitable. I consulted with stakeholders and discussed current theories–a long road to education was started upon with much resistance met along the way. Getting intelligent people to change their mind often comes down to the nature of that intelligence. The ability to code doesn’t automatically translate to understanding, appreciation or empathy for users. Here is a summary of some of points of contention.

Them: We want people to know their on mobile and so use a different colour range from that of desktop branding.
Me: They’ll know they are on a mobile device because they will be holding it.

Them: We need to have a minimum of four results per screen on mobile, people don’t like scrolling.
Me: What device screen is that? People are used to scrolling on mobile.

Them: Responsive Web Design won’t work there are too many features on desktop that won’t translate to mobile.
Me: What features… there will be problems to tackle but we’ll look at them as they come up.

Them: People don’t need as much information on a mobile device.
Me: People need the same amount of information to make informed choices regardless of device.

Them: Speed isn’t important everyone is on superfast broadband.
Me: Speed is very important.

Them: Desktop and mobile are different.
Me: Different devices yes but both are web.

My recommendations were rejected wholesale by the board, in the most bizarre meeting I’ve ever attended, where comments came one by one from around the table calling me an idiot who didn’t know what I talking about and saying that my ideas were utterly ridiculous. It was like watching a play of an amateur theatre group with dire actors and came across as entirely manufactured.

Six months later and mobile web was still unprofitable as were iOS and android apps. The apps partially built for Windows and Blackberry had been cancelled. Talk of over a £1 million lost in expenditure circulated and a large round of redundancy hit the mobile team hard. Mission creep along with entire mission about-faces by the director of mobile all contributed to the projects missed targets but its death, I felt, lay in initial wrong direction.

You’re stupid & your ideas ridiculous, i’ll use them!

What was left of the mobile team was disbanded and integrated with the desktop team run by a programmer, who here I’ll call Hed, whose arrogance almost precisely brought to mind my Cambridge nemesis Dr M and I wasn’t surprised to find they had a shared Oxbridge public school trust-fund scientist background. In conversations he continually interjected “yea yes yep” as if he’d already thought and said everything that could be thought and said. Anything that didn’t fit his preconceived understanding of what was and wasn’t important was, seemingly, dismissed. While undoubtedly intelligent in programming he was I felt emotionally stunted and as he couldn’t accept not being the cleverest contributor in all aspects of the business websites he missed beneficial ideas.

Under him the mobile site did start towards profitability but only by implementing ideas I’d championed and that he, during that bizarre board meeting, had sneeringly rubbished. Zero thanks or recognition was given to me and when I pointed out that the ideas for mobile had originated, within that company, with me he reddened and sheepishly mumbled without meeting my eye that “great minds think alike”.

Indeed in place of thanks and recognition I was punished, presumably for knowing more than people who held more senior positions and had loftier titles. One of Hed’s programmers clique was set as my boss with instructions to insult me, on a professional and personal level. He was a 22 year old graduate in his first job and regularly subjected me to professional denigration, racist comments and homophobic insults which he didn’t trouble to cease in-front of co-workers, managers, heads of departments and directors. I tackled his behaviour calmly and quietly but he ignored me and continued regardless. Eventually after much provocation I testily confronted him like for like and he responded in a whining tone: “I’m only saying what Nad & Hed told me to say.” Nad was the Head of Design and my titular boss.

He wasn’t the first person to insult me at this company, far from it. A graphic designer initiated a conversation where she told me I disgusted her for being attracted to transgender people, despite my never discussing the subject of my sexuality with her. And an iOS designer who I was ordered to teach and mentor, despite my bringing up his homophobic insults with Nad, threatened me with physical violence when I objected to his insults about my sexuality–which again I had never broached with him. He was some 20 years younger than me and 18 stone of arrogant pin-headed gym rat. I was fired up and so angrily accepted his, very British, offer of taking the insults “outside” at which he looked perplexed. It’s fair to say he wasn’t the brightest type I had ever meet.

From 2001 to 2014 has been an almost unbroken line of career destruction where I have been told I was stupid and where employees of companies I have worked at were tasked with throwing insults at me, as well as threats.

Interwebs coming to get ya!

I’d existed on a diet of hate, pain, anger, violence and loneliness and I had withdrawn into myself for almost 15 years. Now an involuntary gag reflex made me regurgitate it at my screen.

You might want to turn/record the other way, this shits going to get ugly I’m going to hold a mirror to the motherfucking screen.

→ Variation used by RTJ2

The screen was like a one way mirror giving me the illusion of unreality, detachment, seclusion and safety without which my courage, part Dutch, would have most likely failed. I threw truths together with lies as I embarrassed and taunted myself to my imaginary/real audience who I hoped was there yet also prayed were absent. I ranted at myself and my attackers at celebrities and strangers alike, a digital dear diary dripping with scorn and oozing the hate that had been poured into me. To many I feel I owe an apology and to others I know I still owe far more rudeness.

I knew to gain traction, so that my plight and cry were heard, it would not be enough to explain 15 years of career destruction and homophobic assault, I needed more–I needed sensationalism. A story with sex and foul mouthed insults thrown at people both deserving and undeserving, while ‘appearing’ to do drugs added to my story of homophobic abuse, career destruction and harassment together with creative ideas would help my message spread. It would help me to strike back, at attackers and tormentors past and present, and maybe also help me avoid repeats in the future.

So I sneered, I laughed and I cried waving myself about, talking of creativity and flinging creative ideas out as a grotesquely belated reaction to having been told that I’m not a designer or creative.

With unreasoned reason I calculated that the interwebs, sometimes wonderfully, puerile voyeurism might act as an accelerant. So naked in thought and indeed naked I went to a trans sex site I frequently lurk at and let loose.

You still doubt my creative fu puny human?

Mad Max Fury Road was born from my teen memories of revelling in the post-apocalyptic wasteland depicted by the original Mad Max films. First of all it made sense, I argued, that as a film whose focus was vehicles should be a road movie. After nuclear war music players like iPods and your mobile phone would be dead from magnetic pulses so any music would have to be live and I talked of a flaming guitarist on a lorry along with huge Kodo like drums as a travelling sound system. The idea of having the films outlandish vehicles real and not being reliant on computer generated graphics would help convey the visceral of nature high speed chases and crashes and of survival in a wasteland ruled by violence. A strong female lead with a prosthetic limb would be refreshing to see as most movies are male dominated and disabilities not depicted or discussed often enough. I thought Mel Gibson unrecognisable in a mask, as a nod to The Lord Humungus, would be fun to have as the leader of the baddies.

Even some dialogue of mine was included in the movie almost word for word, my favourite line being: “Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s madder, me… or everyone else.”

Citroen Cactus–Airbumps Wanting to help tackle global warming and out of an interest in vehicles I proposed using recycled material in a cars manufacture alongside steel which is costly to buy and in CO2 emissions. Sections of cars panels could be made from recycled plastic with rubber like qualities and placed at expected points of impact where damage in the form of scratches and dents commonly occur. These malleable recycled panels would be filled with pockets of air, like a tough bubble wrap, giving on impact and then returning to their original form and place. The panel sections would also reduce the weight of the car improving fuel consumption and running costs. The face of the car, I said, should resemble Iron Man and should also have a transparent roof option to further reduce weight and to open the interior. Decluttering the interior of dials and switches and using touch screen to in place would help to distinguish it from any rivals competition.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens As a fan of the original films I wanted to see more light-sabre robotic spaceship shenanigans on the big screen so I described what I thought the next instalment should be about. The story would pick up the lives of the original protagonists and where their worlds were a couple of decades after Return of the Jedi. A strong female lead alongside a black Stormtrooper, which I correctly predicted would be seen as contentious, who defects from his masters would create an interesting dynamic and break from white male cinematic dominance. The new Vader-esque lead villain would be the offspring of Leia & Han who had turned to the dark side in much the same way as Vader and should kill his father for a violent plot twist. To get an idea of the true size of Star Destroyers (the ginormous wedge-shaped Imperial space ships) a dog fight around and in a crashed one would be exciting and refer back to the original space battles of the first films. While musing on lightsabers I described one with a cross-guard made from two shorter energy beams perpendicular to the main one, which could be used to inflict damage during fight scenes, and that the beams should menacingly spit and flicker rather than a hard consistent stream. Of course what would be a new star wars film without a robot side kick and after trolling star wars fans by conflating two famous robot names into R2–3PO I conceived of a new robot named BB-8 and described his body as a rotating sphere for ease of movement. My exact inspiration for the shape and name of BB-8 I’ll save another time.

With Jeremy Corbyn as PM chances are a food waste law would be made
With Jeremy Corbyn as PM chances are a food waste law would be made

#UglyFruitAndVeg I came up with this hashtag to help tackle food waste with the aim of helping hungry people. Since Banksters purposely trashed the global economy in 2008 and politicians have viciously inflicted austerity on us who bailed them out we in the UK have seen a sharp rise in the number of people going hungry. I stumbled across a food bank donation stall in my local supermarket and was incensed that this was how the UK’s population were paying for an unregulated banking system. So I talked of a movement that championed aesthetically challenged fruit and vegetables raising public awareness about the immorality of wasting food based on how it looked when people were starving. How produce that didn’t measure up to an entirely manufactured marketeers idea of form, and its supposed relation to nutrition, was rejected by supermarkets and other suppliers was wasting food and wasting resources used in that foods production. So I pondered why a law that required food thrown away by supermarkets to be handed over to food banks to alleviate the impacts of austerity had not been proposed and passed. Such a law has now been passed in both France and Italy. England to its shame has not seen fit to pass such a law and the numbers of people not getting enough food continues to rise.

Run nakewad backwards through a field of dicks – give a fuck if you deny it kids!

→ Variation used by RTJ2

I broke the news of this new advancement in the field of Gay conversion therapy and how people could self-identify homosexuality. A variation was used in RTJ2. (No nakewad is not naked spelt wrong – I claimed and still claim that the former is the correct spelling.)

Birdman – The unexpected virtue of ignorance This, surprise Oscar winner, is perhaps my favourite movie idea. I’d talked about reboots and wanted to show I could create ideas outside of building on others original concepts. So Birdman was born. I described the device of appearing to be made from one long continuous shot, pioneered by Hitchcock, giving the appearance of real-time immediacy and of being present while events unfolded. With a plotline spanning the divide between superhero genre and ones generally considered more serious would allow for discussion of human nature that could quickly descend into filmic fantasy to convey how unreal life can be and feel. I wanted a film that discussed the nature of sanity, of self-achievement, of self-perception and of self-doubt. Where human relations are messy as hell and where the lines of sanity and illusion quickly cross back and forth. One where adults fall to embarrassing grappling fights of vanity that are received with a shake of the head and ignored by those not surprised at their actions. Who wouldn’t want to see an actor acting the actor stroll down a New York street and have a giant metal chicken (long live the clangers) land above him, helicopters swoop in and missiles impact, who I ask you? A film in which what we do and who we are blurred and where an ex-superhero actor can take flight.

Now I would not be surprised that you are reading this thinking that I am a complete dickweasel. Don’t worry, as someone whose depression has meant near a lifetime of inner voice verbally kicking the living crap out of myself, I got there way before you:

I’m a phallus, there’s no need for any evaluation
I’m a phallus, Johnson Jimmy and spraying faces

→ Variation used by RTJ2

Andy King

Update: this happened over 2 years ago and since then I’d like to say that recruitment consultants and employers have stopped maliciously wasting my time with bogus interviews or requesting spec work and so carrying on the malicious behaviour that started in Cambridge. I’d like to say that I’ve had genuine work offers and that the career destruction has stopped. But I can’t.

I’d also like to say the violence has ended but the last death threat was less than a year ago. The man responsible was the boyfriend of my last neighbour who is a close friend of my last landlord who had insulted me over sexuality since I moved into his property despite my never discussing it with him. The neighbour’s boyfriend insulted me over race and sexuality for some six months before culminating in threatening to have me abducted, tortured and killed by his “gangster” friends. Greater Manchester Police have been very supportive and he was arrested.

The 15 years, and counting, nightmare doesn’t appear to have stopped so maybe another meltdown, or the rest of the story, is on the cards–at least forewarned you can stock up on sick bags. Wuss!