I sit in Ryan's N16 (a trendy bar and eatery in Stoke Newington) amidst the craft beer quaffing, brunch eating bourgeoisie - where I must un-ironically take my place. Stewart Lee's 'liberal metropolitan elite' is making the most of that last day of Britain's Indian summer 2017. It is the first chance I feel like I've had, since spring, to stop doing things and resume contemplation.
What have I been up to? Figuring out a way of extracting money from the liberal metropolitan elite... in exchange for tasty beverages - hopefully doing something worthwhile at the same time.
Myself and a couple of friends whom I moved in with, at a converted warehouse in north London last year, have grouped together and bonded over our shared mental ill health plus a desire to make something happen to address it in our own lives and those around us.
The result is 'Black Dog Society'. With a lot of help from my family (especially Dad) I have managed to get together a coffee cart, made from a vintage styled sideboard I found on Etsy. We have found a pitch in Clapton, Hackney, and are trading on weekday mornings alongside another social enterprise - Core Clapton - which recently opened its doors and is providing affordable osteopathy to people in the community as well as hosting classes in Yoga, martial arts, swing dance and all manner of other things.
Assuming our inspection by the council this Tuesday doesn't throw up any hurdles (though I have learnt by this stage it's probably best to assume the worst, just for my own sanity: see our Instagram feed @blackdogsocietylondon for more information on what brought about this viewpoint) we will continue trading through the winter and use the site in future to hold our own events.
We would like to engage people in talking about mental ill health, challenge the stigma surrounding it, open discussions about the prejudice experienced by people seeking work who are currently recuperating from an episode and may still be medicated, give barista training to those who have had such difficulties and are looking for skills to re-enter the workforce, as well as employing people as they are - accepting mental ill health challenges as something that happens to a lot of people - while being an employer that allows people to take on work in a way that suits their recovery, and without making their condition worse.
Personally, I just got to realising very quickly that London can swallow you up whole if you aren't careful. I have long term goals and dreams that I still want to follow that means being in the city is a great opportunity. The problem comes when your goals are subsumed by the need to pay the bills. I know now that if I want to do something I love but which doesn't make any money, then I need a day job that doesn't kill my soul in the meantime! It's been a big challenge and the reason why I've not had any time to create content or even register my observations on the world.
Watch this space for a website/facebook page that you can share and help us spread the word. I hope to get back to some regular bloggage as it settles down a little. There are rumblings of a permanent café space that will kick off properly in January, though, so we'll have to wait and see how much time I have left!