Obsessive Compulsive Disorder……


I’ve suffered with OCD for the better part of 50 years now. I realise it’s been a huge help with my collections ( comics, toy robots, vinyl, vintage video cassettes, magazines, gum cards, movie posters, you name it I collect it! ) keeping everything pristine and stored well. It has also given me, along with much programming from my Ma, the highest hygiene discipline. And of course, I hate untidiness and can no longer tolerate clutter, tho there was a time when I enjoyed it, in a controlled environment of course! It’s also helped to give me a serious eye for detail, which has been jolly useful in many different scenarios, especially my music. The musicians that I’ve worked with know I won’t be happy until I get everything about a song completely right. It’s second nature to me now. Unfortunately there’s a very dark side to the condition……

I think my Mother definitely sowed the seeds of my OCD, with her obsession with cleanliness. I can recall refusing food at various friend’s houses because it smelt wrong or I couldn’t be sure that whoever prepared it had washed their hands prior to, because Mama did so, and I always had to. But I think what brought it on proper was going to Grammar school, and an experience I had with my step grandfather. I did an audit of my past ( how very L Ron Hubbard of me! ) and they were the two biggest traumas of my childhood.

Passing the 11 plus exam was very much a Curate’s egg for me. Sure, it confirmed what I already knew: I was part genius ( and part mad man! ) but actually attending the place was a different matter. To me, as a young boy, the place was huge and cavernous, and there were what seemed like thousands of children there, along with the masters, most of whom spoke like public schoolboys ( a very alien accent to me ) and felt free to shout at and generally over discipline the kids. I don’t ever recall any master being polite or gentle. Most of them terrified me: initially I didn’t know any of their protocols, like calling the masters “Sir” or taking your cap off when you passed one. And I always say my “posh” speaking voice was achieved at grammar school: woe betide anyone who said “ain’t” or “innit” in front of a master, as it usually meant you’d get a slap upside your head! The elocution lessons there were based on intimidation and violence.
Another unpleasant aspect of going to grammar school was having the uniform fitted at a local menswear shop. The chap who was in charge of fitting the uniforms was very keen to measure my inside leg, several times, and each time he managed to touch my cock and balls, despite my protestations. The uniform no doubt cost my poor parents a small fortune, tho’ I can recall rather enjoying wearing the clothes initially, in a Mod kind of way.

As a result of being at this new and terrifying school, in my stressed out/OCD state, I started washing my hands continually, probably 20 plus times a day. I also became obsessed with smells: the aftermath of school dinners always smelt awful to me, tho I recall the food being rather good. But when I got home I’d smell my clothes, time and time again, and no doubt harassed my poor Mother into washing any article of clothing that smelt “funny” to me.
Looking back some 50 years later, I realise that for the brief period I was schooled there I learnt a great deal. But today, their methods of discipline would be classified as child abuse

Earlier that year ( 1969 ) my step grandfather allowed me access to a book that had always intrigued me as it really stood out on his bookshelf: it had a red foil skull embossed on it’s spine and was called ‘Covenants with Death”: http://www.greatwar.nl/frames/default-picnic.html

It’s a collection of photographs from the first world war. The book, first published in 1934, showed the horrific scenes of foreign conflicts, in an attempt to warn future generations about the insanity of waging war. It is an overwhelming insight into the tragedy and carnage of modern warfare.
It’s contents absolutely appalled, revolted and terrified me and I simply couldn’t get those ghastly images out of my head. Ironically enough, shortly thereafter, I remember being in the lounge of 118 Fitch’s crescent, alone and listening to the radio on my parents big old radiogram, and what should be played but “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon https://genius.com/Eric-burdon-and-the-animals-sky-pilot-lyrics. It was an epiphany of sorts: I realised that some of mankind were evil, and were capable of horrors beyond my childish comprehension, and the lyrics of “Pilot” simply confirmed that.
My happy little world had been full of music, thanks to my sisters and parents, and when I wasn’t dreaming of the USA and preparing myself for Rock’n’Roll stardom, I lived in the Universe inhabited by superheroes, like Batman, Spiderman and the Hulk.
The bloodied limbs and heads in those grotesque images of war in the Covenant blew away my private near-vana and replaced it with a charnel house.

A word about my step grandfather ( my nan’s second husband ) Jim Moore: he’d fought in the great war, and was gassed in the trenches at the Somme I believe. You only have to look at the photos of him, still a young man after his return from France, to see how dreadful an experience the trenches were for him. His eyes show extreme fear and horror, and he was obviously greatly disturbed, .
He became a game keeper for Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. He slaughtered literally thousands of animals in his work, and was known as a hard man and cruel man. I don’t think Alfie liked him much, and unfortunately he sexually assaulted my sister when she was a child.
Obviously he shouldn’t have shown me the Covenant: indeed the authors state in the forward that the book “should not be put in the hands of children”. Those images are probably too much for most adults to stomach, let alone an 11 year old boy. Perhaps it gave him some sort of sadistic pleasure to see me upset, tho’ I guess being a persistent little fellow, I probably hounded him until he showed me the book. Jed was there too and no doubt he was also fascinated by it.


Of course to be OCD proper, I think you have to be pre disposed with a particular type of chemical imbalance in the brain, plus the type of imaginative mind that knows few limitations. Because the thoughts that come as a result of the illness are always horribly graphic.

The worst part, and sadly the most pertinent aspect of OCD are the dreadfully violent thoughts and feelings that to come to mind. Age, experience and meditation, plus enlightening myself about the clinical nature of the illness, have all helped me to deal with the condition ( as is writing this piece ), and it’s easier than it’s ever been for me to dismiss those thoughts. Failing that I just tell the voice to shut up, which mostly works for me. The Mad Princess used to say similar……

Although it had to be said, the males in my family ( tho’ thankfully to a lesser extent with Pa and I ) are known for their anger and capacity for using their fists, should they be suitably irritated. My grandfather, Alfred Charles, had a brother who was known as “Fiery Fred”. For a time he was a bare knuckle fighter who fought mostly gypsies at fairs and shows, and never lost a fight. Some sort of achievement I guess, no doubt mostly motivated by his great anger. When my cousin asked him whether he’d killed any Germans in the Great War, he replied “Yeah, fucking hundreds”.
The Mad Princess used to say I was a very angry individual, but was amazed how much I learnt to control it over the years. But there’s still times, when someone really REALLY irritates me, where I lose control and my anger takes over. Fortunately the few times that this has occurred in living memory, angry words have been enough.


Another aspect of this illness is sadly what helped to send one of my heroes to an early grave. Joey Ramone’s Lymphoma was in remission when he went to see his chiropractor in uptown New York, on the 30th of December 1997. The following day in the early hours, the voices in Joey’s head told him he should go back to the chiropractor’s office, to make sure he’d closed the door properly. It’s typically OCD, the need to check then re check. Most of Joey’s life had been ruled by obsessive compulsion, with a generous helping of paranoid schizophrenia thrown in for good measure.
That morning in New York a thick blanket of snow covered the city and the temperatures were sub zero, but Joey knew the only way to make the voices stop was to go back and check the door. Which he did, twice. Sadly on the way back the second time he slipped and fell on a patch of ice. He’d broken his hip which required major surgery, that meant his cancer treatment had to cease.
On April the 15th 2001, doctors turned Joey’s respirator off, and he died as a result of his Lymphoma, a month before his 50th birthday.

I guess every one checks to see if they’ve locked their front door when they leave the house. People like me have to check the lock at least 3 times, then go back once more, to check again. It’s difficult to describe why it happens, and of course it’s not just checking door locks, tho’ that seems to be a major issue for me. Taps must be checked ( especially as I can’t really hear taps unless they’re running fast or I’m up close ) at least twice, fridge and other appliance doors must be checked at least twice to make sure they are closed, the list is endless.
And this is the 17th time I’ve revised this piece, so I guess I’ve said what I needed to say. If any one reading this has similar feelings please, find out more about the condition, and don’t worry, our OCD thoughts never manifest themselves physically.

Peace be upon you good people.

As Jung said, “I acknowledge I have waste thoughts, but it doesn’t mean I have to act on them, I can simply discard them”.

Leave a Comment

To prevent spam, the first time you post a comment on this blog, it will be held for approval. After that, as long as you use the same name and email address, your comments will appear straight away.