Churchill used to refer to it as his “black dog”.

I never understood that. People tend to like dogs for one thing, and it doesn’t actually describe his state of mind in any sensible way.

This site, when it was just a blog, was once called Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. That wasn’t particularly accurate either, as I’m often much more upbeat than Eeyore ever was/is. I do laugh, you just don’t see it that often.

Sticking with the literary theme, I quite liked Dr Watson’s description of Sherlock Holmes playing the violin with such melancholy… until he would catch sight of Watson’s face and immediately played something more cheerful and uplifting. That certainly strikes a chord (as it were). I like to make people happy, even if that means not being around those people because they’re happier when I’m not around.


Anyway: a couple of months ago I had a ‘wobble’. One of those occasions where the only thing you can do is go to bed early, listen to Porcelain by Julia Fordham (a most dreadfully downbeat album, but lovely in its own way) and literally cry yourself to sleep. I’d felt the mood building up all day. My mind had started to dwell on those personal problems that were wholly of my own making and which I knew I would never fix. It happens.

It was while doing the aforementioned crying myself to sleep and struggling to put into words to explain to myself – if no-one else – what I was feeling that I struck upon a much better description than merely calling it a “black dog”.

For me it’s like those old Looney Tunes or Merrie Melody cartoons, where some poor sap is running along chasing after another character, then runs off the edge of a cliff – but doesn’t notice they’re defying gravity, so they keep on running. It’s only when they realise that they’re running on thin air instead of solid ground that they crash to the valley floor below.

And there is no better exponent of this than Wile E. Coyote from the Roadrunner cartoons.

His task is simple enough – catch a roadrunner – but he manages to tie himself up in knots by making the process as complicated as possible. Anvils balanced precariously on rock ledges, large magnets on tracks and metal pellets mixed in with birdseed. Never taking the simple option.

Sounds like me, doesn’t it? I can over-complicate anything from catching a train to asking someone out on a date (yes, I do do better with the trains, thanks for asking), and then the simple task has suddenly become one requiring lots of thought and anxious moments waiting for things to fall into place or emails to arrive. And frequently not happening.

But here’s the thing. Every time one of these silly schemes or Acme product fails, he picks himself up, climbs off the valley floor and tries again. And again, and again, and again.

And for me, that’s the point. I know that for all the potential success I might have I’m inevitably going to fail, to crash and burn at something. But I’ll always get back up. Come the morning I’ll be all cried out, but I’ll be damned if I’m just going to lie there and give in.