Silence in chaos

I’m slowly getting through all the little jobs in the house that have been left to build over time because not doing them has no effect on family life as they are little tasks, like clearing out the clutter cupboards or tidying out the utility room, which will always need doing.  This pre-spring clean feels good.

Today feels portentous and eerie as if I’m waiting for a dramatic event to take place, like the moment in a thriller where the music changes tempo as an audio precursive to a dramatic moment.  When ranging around this pseudo-empty house it’s hard not to feel like a single man failing to occupy his time. The wife is in bed due to ongoing health issues, most of the day and seeing as I generally try and keep the house to a tidy level anyway I find myself looking for something else to do rather than just sit down and relax.  I’m rattling about the rooms keeping myself busy whilst the wind howls outside filling the rooms with some sonorous irregular heart beat.

The house is empty of children and the bustle, the house is clean and the house is well heated, yet outside the gale is blowing, rain is lashing at the ground causing chaos and throwing the garden trappings around as it goes .  I can see that once I get my first clear day I’ll be in the garden retrieving items or throwing them away.

It’s hard not to get ponderous and all chin stroking at times like this as I’m left to my own thought especially as windswept days always fill me with nostalgia and emotion.  Tumbling days like today remind me of walks on the beach and take me back to the times when I was still young an innocent, which frankly is late into my mid twenties, I took a long time to grow up and realise who I was or at least who I wanted to be.  When I was younger I made choices out of naivety and the inability to let go of baggage I dragged along behind me.  Youth unfortunately does not afford us the luxury of being able to bundle our own experiences and those of our friends and families together to build up a life perspective that will fire off epiphanies, bring to the fore realisations and unladen perspicuity, that would really help those difficult times.  This unfortunately comes only with age, time and lots of soul searching.  Even then, only if you are lucky.  I still see people stumbling through life not truly with any greater perspective, unhappy and beat down.

It’s only been the last four or five years I’ve realised happiness is more important than any social achievement, marital trappings or the pursuance of a gossipy voyeuristic perspective on life that people seem to have.  With all the reality shows, celebrity culture and car crash TV that is put out it can be very hard to focus on the moments that make you happy, and even the moments that don’t.

As a family we are in no way affluent, in fact I’m pretty sure it would only take one or two crises in our bubble to derail the stability we have crafted.  Neither the wife or I go out to work as we have chosen the job of full time foster carers.  Currently with a child with disabilities as well our own birth children, but we have space for two more and could quickly become a family of 7 rather than 5.  With a little budgeting and shedding of luxuries we survive without going into debt but equally we don’t lead a lavish or well-heeled life.

The big epiphany we had was if it everything went pear shaped we should remember we had each other.  We moved up to Wales four years ago and took a punt, we made a life choice that could easily have gone wrong. I used to say to the wife “yes it could fail, yes I could be forced to take a mind numbing job and yes we could really struggle, but we’ll always be by the ocean when this happens (we are 5 minutes away from it) and all the curve balls that life can throw at you could easily have occurred back in Mansfield and we’d be equally struggling there but without the sea view.

The deviation Prestatyn bought from Mansfield was that Mansfield was insular community and if you let it, you could easily have your will or perspective siphoned away.  The sea near us now blows that away ennui, the cold shows you how to pull in tighter and the hills and the small seaside town guides you to notice the minuta and kind nature of everyone we have net and to treat them respectively.

I’m not naive enough to assume this will be defacto for life, anything could change at any moment. My wife years ago, when we talked about our family set up and if were we happy with one child and what we had, when the topic of a vasectomy came up said that she didn’t feel I should have one because neither of us knew where life would lead me and that she felt relationships don’t last forever anyway so should I want another child with another person then she didn’t want to be involved in the choice of a making that not possible.

I had the vasectomy and a year later my daughter was born (who knew it can take year for the vasectomy to take effect, not me obviously even though it was written in all the literature that was given to me that I didn’t read)  So when the wife asked 5 moths later if I’d been back to the hospital to check if it had worked and I said that it was on my to do list, she was able to follow up with “That’s why I’m pregnant then”

We are firm believers in fate, what will be will be and our daughter was 100% destined to be with us.  We thought she was going to be a boy, all my family are boys, my father’s family and his father’s family are all boys.  I even thought I saw a penis on the scan photo, thank god we had a nurse there who knew her biology.

On days like this it makes me think pause to realise how currently lucky I am to have everything I do, to know what makes me happy and to know, like the Persian Sufi poets
This too shall pass.

All work and no play

I feel like I’ve been cooking Lasagna all day.  I haven’t, but that what it feels like.

Some days I can have the best laid plans and then at the end of them and then it’s been a whirlwind of multitasking, filtering my attention to all the jobs that need finishing.  I can end up feeling like I’ve completed a negative amount of work rather than a positive one and I know there’s going to be more to do tomorrow rather than less.

However, between running back and forth between the PC to keep following Gennaro Contaldo’s ragu recipe to make sure I got each step right, washing my hand in between each time I handled the raw meat (I’m a little paranoid that way) and ensuring I’d got all the ingredients together letting it simmer for two hours, I now realise I got a heap of other tasks completed.

Social workers were phoned, wife was given meds and checked on several times, three lots of laundry was completed, six lots were put away, two weeks of diary notes were completed for foster child, conversations with foster company, pots were washed cleaned and put away from night before and breakfast and from my cooking, hallway was cleaned, money was balanced for foster child purchases, kitchen was set up so food just needed to be put in, shopping was completed and foster child was picked up from contact after school.  Aaaaaand the ragu from scratch was for a lasagne from scratch.

Day’s like this, though very tiring make me feel I’ve done my part, that I’ve contributed in someway more substantial than following a humdrum routine of 9 to 5 work days where I come back and maintain a lower equilibrium as I’m too drained to do more.  On days where I don’t stop until the last child is asleep and then some, even though I’m shattered and the dent on the tasks that still need completing seem small, I know it’s all part the bigger picture of maintaining a home and it makes me feel worthwhile.

I have known many of my friends find this is a hard mental road block to move past.  They seem to have found it confusing in today’s society where the consumer TV shows they are fed and the complaining culture where they are encouraged to feel outraged and hard done by for most simple of things in life, to not feel they need more ‘me time’ or that somehow their personalities were being compromised as they were just the cook or just the person who washes the children and changes the beds and keeps things tidy.  I’ve seen relationships erode away as the tide of discontent ebbs and flows against the fragile island they have made, built up with how society had told them it be a should be in a simple domestic set up, and mixed this into the foundations of real life and the want for greater self gratification.  That mix has been where it starts to slide and they become perplexed, angry and even feel cheated that the family they live in is not the same as the family they lived in when children where they were only on the periphery and still had a place to go off and be an individual.

This isn’t the case when you are a husband and a father and a home keeper. Domesticity and domestic bliss needs to be crafted and the warmth of a family home when everything falls into place needs to maintained and shaped constantly.  Running a family is a skill, it doesn’t come naturally, it really isn’t innate. Being a modern day father is not an easy task, especially when it’s hard to push through the still present stereotypes and societies (no matter how advanced we like to think we are) expectations.  This piece I read almost gives credence to slipping into some sort of gender led expectation

So on days like this when I have worked at home all day and been the only one able to maintain the equilibrium even when there is no pressure to do so and had I sat on my ass and watched Gotham or Constantine all day that would have been fine, it feels good to not do that.  There’s a sort of gratification from domestic fatigue and staggering to bed through a home clear of the busy house hold trappings and detritus that has a tendency of building up fast and the sleep is rooted in calm.

No I don’t feel like doing pretty much anything other than sleeping or playing on a mindless ‘godus-2zone out’ game like Godus on my phone before I fall to sleep, but that’s a happy sleep I’ll have, and that’s enough for me thank you very much.

Everyone back to normal

The children are back at school and I have a house to get back into order.

Seeing as the son didn’t take the recycling out on Christmas eve (the day before2015-01-06 11.05.30 the paper recycling ratio takes a predictable peak) we now have a garage full of boxes full of plastics.  It’s a mammoth task to clear but one that needs to be done so I can bring one of the cars back into the garage.  I may just post a before and after picture so it’ll be nice for me to see the progression I make as well ad a motivation to prove to you all that we don’t always live in organised chaos.  The bunting you see won’t be coming down though, we love bunting in this house and maybe at some point I’ll show you.

Of course were I to prioritise my every growing, never written ‘to-do list’ task then there are many other little little jobs that need setting in order before the garage

  • drawers, boxes, storage areas need sorting and clearing of dumped junk
  • Notes need writing, financial work needs balancing, paperwork needs sorting into folders for our foster child
  • menus need writing and cupboards need checking for ingredients for the next weeks meals
  • Our own financial paperwork needs finding, filing, organising, looking at what can be cancelled and tightening.
  • Patio windows outside need cleaning.
  • Garden needs cleaning
  • Massive tip run needs completing (at least twice)
  • Laundry and shed need sorting so one does not overlap into the other.

I could go on and on and on and on, but that it just the downfall of daily existence, there will always be another to complete tomorrow.

All of the above is not heped by the fact my current fatigue levels are wrapped tightly around me like a heavy winter quilt cuddling away my will power and presenting the need to go back to bed until the 2:30pm school run as the more sensible choice.  My brain is saying it can all be left and started on tomorrow and a day of total rest would not be out of context seeing as I’ve been the main carer for the whole house (including the wife) since December the 5th.

My wife has been recovering from four major operations in one and is unable to do much other than go to the toilet, the shower, and to the couch downstairs.  Leaving me to look after the teen, the 6 years old and the disabled foster child, of course as well as being ever present for my wife’s needs and health should anything change.  It has been a hectic month (and still continues) and as I am solely responsible for all domestic duties, it seems that when I sit down for me time the only thing wise to do is sleep.

My heart however, and my need to be complete, says I should really crack on with Camel Upthe tasks, work even harder as the children not being around actually means there are less distractions and I can be focused on the tasks in hand.  I can start my spring clean, pre spring and get a little bit of Zen like calm on the go in the house so when I do get to sit down I won’t be thinking of those things I could be doing rather than sitting down.

Maybe then I can focus on all the tasks that I keep saying aren’t priorities as I need to get the house in order, such as writing, reading, engaging with the world, playing lots more board games and stimulating my mind.

I won’t set goals that I may not achieve as, well, I may not achieve them and then I have manage the woe is me contrition I’ll start feeling and that isn’t productive to anyone really is it.

750 words

I found another site today, another tool or aid to get me into the swing of writing, for writing sake.  I’m still not 100% convinced it’s the bee’s knees but I’m certainly going to give it a try.
It’s called 750 words and when you log in it gives you a blank sheet to write on, 750 words, or more (or less if you want)  It doesn’t go public so the emphasis is on the writing 750 words, even if it’s mindless stream of conscious rubbish, it seems to be about establishing habits.
When you hit the 750 mark you can go on as far as you like.  However there’s now easy way of interacting with the text, for saving it in diary form or looking back over your old posts.  It can be done, it’s not impossible, it’s just not easy.  If you are looking to save, edit, chronologically story something and maybe even do something more with your text, in the future, then this currently isn’t the web site for you.
The neat thing about this site though is the little widgets under the surface, the statistics it churns out when you are done.  It analyses your words and puts out a report for you to look at.  How many words you typed, which words you used the most, what moods the words reflect, how happy it thinks you are with the type of words you are using.  Though I’m sure it’s just a bunch of algorithm’s going off in the background, it’s a nice sketch reflecting the weight or context of your writing.
Here is what I wrote:
Ok I get the idea of 750 words and the fact that it’s meant to be something that gets a person in front of the computer screen to write for the sake of writing.  I get that it takes 30 days for something to become habit and then many more for it to become natural or a skill, or even a natural skill, but if there’s no sense of community and no sense of conversation and no sense of encouraging each other on to write better and write more then I’m not sure I get the idea of going to a closed box site and putting your waffle there when you could just as easily and with less chance of a security breach, write your thoughts down in a word document.
In my journey to write I have found many great sites with great people and good ideas.  I’ve found big sprawling communities or small twee groups with a multitude of advice and guidance .  What my worry is though is that I’ll get bogged down in the sites and visitng them and the ringing of the bell each day that it’ll knock me off from my writing.  I’ll spend so much time reading about writing I won’t write.
I clicked a link from a guy that has been co-opted into editing a writing motivation site, that lead to his blog.  Like I see a lot of the time, you get lots of sporadic blog posts each one beginning with an apology that they haven’t been there for a while because a, b and c has happened or they have just been far too busy.  The blog like the other projects you can pick up along the way initially because you think “This is a great way to become inspired” and soon they can become a burden and another site you carry around in your book marks toolbar as a reminder of all the things you haven’t done or don’t do.  It can weigh you down and sit on the dark side of your esteem to remind you, when you are going through the self doubt mull, that you can;t even make it to a site to write 750 word.  It’s only 750 words, that’s not much, that can’t be hard, can it?
Soon these sites pile in on top of you and you feel weighted down, de-motivated and frankly a little depressed.
Not every day will be sepia tinted, sun poking through the lounge curtains (or where ever you go to write and be inspired) the smell of toast colouring the air with a feeling of healthy a stereotypical “normal living” scene whilst to the side of the pc is a hot/cold cup of your first thing in the morning ritualised drink to kick start you into the day.
Somedays it’s dark, you need a shower, you’ve over laid or your child has woken up early and wants your full attention.  There are things in your life that are using an emotional magnet to draw away inspiration, confidence and all time management skills.  Your drink seems full off ordinariness and stale repetitive patterns, an illness swells in your chest or your eyes or your mind and blocks out the natural rhythms of your body and your patterns.  Sometimes it is very difficult indeed.
So to add another site where you go to a box on the internet and type in a random fashion to get to a point that won’t make much of a difference and won’t impact in anyway that you initially think it should, could be dangerous.
I guess though we all need to try these things out to find what works for us, and if it doesn’t we have to have the recognition and the skill to throw it to the side and not think about it again.  Any mental detritus we pick up as we go along can clog the brains filter system and make the process of writing even more sluggish and gloopy to push through than it already is.
What does shock me though is the badge of 750 words.  Is that about right?  Is that what an average person would sit down and write in a day?  Surely not.  On my blog (where I will copy and paste this text) I’ve set myself a target of 2k words per day.  Which if the average of words per page in a book is 250 is about 8 pages per day.  Have I been my worst enemy and set myself a target that is ridiculously unachievable.
What’s even worse is I said in public that my target is 3k (12 pages) which was a blatant lie, and if anyone knows the maths of writing a book and how many words per average are on a novels page then they probably also know that I was bullshitting.  I was being a car salesman and colouring up my talk with an increase in numbers and a slightly unhinged over enthusiasm for what I am doing.  Putting into practice that psychological state of disequilibrium under the hope that, according to psychological theory, if you are in one mental state but pretend long enough to be in another then that other should eventually become the real mental state.  Constantly putting a brave face on any misery that might be in your life becomes actually bravery rather than a mask because you can con yourself to how your really feel.
As the question squeezes it’s self into my mind it brings with it the answer already, but I feel there’s a need for someone to say “Oh. this is actually how it works” and maybe I’ll be able to kid myself when I know this is not true and the process of writing is individual.    How many words is a good amount for each day?
Two thousand is eight pages, which means in 30 days you could effectively complete 120 pages, but is that a good size for a book, should I be looking to have completed it by then.  What if I write three thousand words a day, that’ll be 360 pages and in my mind that’s a good size for a book.  Then you have to factor into the I currently DON’T HAVE A FUCKING BOOK IN MY HEAD, always a hurdle really.
I still remember Iain Banks saying that he wrote in three months.  He had a book and a plan in his head, he writes for a month, 9 to 5 like a proper job, putting his head into it and getting the words out on paper, then he edits for two months; cutting swathes of pointless waffling and filling out the edges of the places and the people and the direction.
Of course here in the real world we have our jobs and our families and our children and our lives.  So writing a book is something we need to wrap around this life as fragile budget wrapping paper distorts and makes new shapes when wrapped around obtuse presents.  Always running the risk of falling apart, ripping and revealing more of what lies beneath.
I guess though this is how all writers must start out, I guess there’s a point where the first word has to be put onto paper and there’s a point where they feel they can not write anymore and move onto the next step of getting the book, play, script into the hands of people who will either change the authors life or knock at their esteem with critique, comment or even straight wordless rejection.
 

And here is what the algorithm thought I was trying to so say, or how I felt.

 

Then I went over to Ficly to write a short story, 1024 characters short.  It only allows you to use 1024 characters, including spaces and this means you have to be inventive about what you write.  Each story should be self contained, but you can write prequels or sequels for any you like.  I’m not brave enough to write a sequel just yet, but here was my attempt for today.
Ouch! beaded seat covers are supposed to be relaxing, though I guess I’m not following the manufacturers recommendations.
Parking behind the local supermarket late at night seemed the perfect place, with my girlfriend, to get together in my folks work vehiicle to satiate our most carnal (ergo fun) needs. Seeing as we live with our parents and it’s a week day we improvised.
It was going great. The preamble of spreading out of blankets stolen from home complete, we’d got comfy in the flatbed of the back.
If I hadn’t have used my hand to steady myself against the back door window then the condensation that built up would not have wiped away revealing someone walking their dog. Who walks their dog at this hour for Christ sake?
In the panic it did seem like a wise idea to drive off to find somewhere else to park and to get dressed again. Now I’m sat next to the depot hoping the bus driver to my left doesn’t look right, whilst the beaded seat nips hidden brail message into my buttocks. Ouch!

Hey bay Ebay

Gash, how long does it take to type 2k of words, unedited, free flow, with a general idea of where the text or dialogue is going and the intention of returning to it later to edit it, add all the correct punctuations and make it readable.
The reason I ask this, apart from the fact I am trying to get into the habit of writing every day so when I do get a decent idea for a book, one that is not the idea I already have in my head that has been with me for the last 10 years and beyond, is so I can set myself goals and targets. If I have a rough idea of what my output is I can hopefully sit down and write the book without over stretching myself and it won’t be such of a burden as it could be if I started from scratch.
When I see the likes of David Mitchell and the articles he writes I assume that he must have some sort of routine he follows to keep up with his work. Not only does he write the Observer piece every Sunday or at least every other Sunday, but he writes with “That Mitchell and Webb look”, countless radio shows; though I’m sure you could count them, probably on one hand. He appears one quiz shows, which contrary to popular belief are not spontaneous affairs. The panellists/comedians are given the different subject headers that are coming up and they get to go away for a few days before and prep funny answers. So even though there’s scope for riffing off of one another, there is also time to write material as a starting point.
With all of those commitments I assume he must have a structure and routine to his typing. One where he sits down and free flows his thoughts onto his pc and then re edits until he is happy with the end result. Or does his pre plan it all on paper, get a general idea of how each section and/or paragraph is going to go and then sit down and write the article as almost complete from nothing.
If I were to be paid for my writing then my ideal situation would be to have a little room/annex at the bottom of the garden (we would have to move and have a bigger garden) Where I would walk down to start my typing. It would have an office area, a kitchenette for the caffeine fixes and even a little lounge for stepping away from the computer. I could pad down there in my PJ’s , make my first coffee, boot up the PC and start bashing away. Maybe I would have a phone with me or maybe I wouldn’t and I would fill the room with all the books and references and literature to support me.
Haha, look at me, I’m planning the architecture and routines of a world that is still fantasy. I suspect I should write the book and get it published first before I start with these pipe dreams. It is so hard not to loose site of the fact I just need to write and I need to be good at that first.

I’m back on EBay at the moment, trying to still get rid of everything I own, all the junk or the material paraphernalia that I don’t need. The objects that sit on the edge of the mind bloated and useless but hanging onto to my psyche like personality limpets they assume they are part of who I am as much as my hopes and fears and dreams; which is not the case. They are nothing but transiencies and distractions that have gathered and backed up like smaller fish clog and back up in the teeth of a whales when it filters detritus with it’s teeth as it swims and eats. My daily object detritus has gathered and accumulated around my feet as I’ve moved through life and it has tried to weave it’s way into my the skein of my being making separation difficult.
It shouldn’t be that way; each object should have a purpose or be gone. Each object should support me rather than hinder me. I won’t have the items I have being the impression my body has made on the world if I pass away. When I die I want the people who know me to miss me and remember who I was. I wouldn’t want someone to look at the collection of books, cd’s and DVD’s I owned and use that to pigeon whole me into their schemata and stereo type constricting boxes they have for the world about them. If someone does not feel they know me without looking at what I own, then they do not know me at all and they are entitled to their opinions.
So in putting these items on EBay I am still finding the process of letting go clunky and difficult. An example of this being a USB tablet and wireless pen that could be used for navigating photo editing software as well and many other aspects of PC usage. I think the companies hoped this could be the way forward as an alternative to the mouse; this was before controls motion detection software too the leap that it has and now we could be looking to minority report interactions with our computers.
I was asked by another user of EBay if I was prepared to sell the pen on it’s own, well actually the cheeky fucker asked I would sell him just the pen because his broke and told me that the postage would be cheaper for that too. Seriously, why would I list a pen and slate together and then expect to separate this for less money and less postage and less chance of selling the slate on its own. I politely stead that they would be sold together as that would get me more money. Only to have him say that he will pay £14 for it then and he would buy them now. Seriously, it’s an auction you cock, there are bids on it, you want me to end an auction, conduct an unprotected transaction outside of EBay for a guy who has already tried to buy a pen only and ask for less money. I declined.
This just goes to show that the items are still hanging on top my subconscious and I still need to do the right thing to part with them. It would have been so easy just to think “Yeh, it’s £14 in the bank and they would be gone sooner rather than later, as if the plan with me” but I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be the “right thing” whatever that is nowadays. Doing the right thing on EBay, it’s not been heard of before.

4am and all is "well awake mate"

It turns out that though getting up at 4am isn’t too horrendous. When that first shot of coffee is consumed absorbed into the system, the caffeine is released throughout the body like a multitude of balloons released in a nylon factory the static electric begins to charge and spark along the synapse, assailing the nerve endings. As the stimulant courses noisily around the sleeping subconscious, the mind wakes up and accepts that this is now the beginning of the day, regardless of how much it will regret the choice later. The evocation of concentration is buoyed and two and a half hours until the rest of the house wakes does not seem enough.
The down side is, as I crept rather badly out of the bedroom and downstairs so as not to wake anyone, I only took my phone and my laptop and now I want to be reading books, writing things down and making a whole lot of shocking mess to get all of my thoughts out onto paper before the moment loses me. I have up until now been trying to gear myself up to writing in the evenings when I get home from work. I do wonder if my time is actually in the morning. Maybe this is when I get most creative and I need to channel this because by the time I’ve done a full day’s work, made tea, interacted with the children, tidied up, or gone out, or chilled out, my creative zip has zapped and I’m winding down.
In the morning, and this usually happens when I don’t get up at ungodly hours, I find I get the most inspired when I’m driving to work. Most mornings I could turn around and come home to get all my thoughts out and all my tasks complete, I think up until 2pm-3pm is when I would be my most creative. Of course that is not conducive with a nine to five job and only when I start getting paid for writing will I be able to find my zone and make it work.
There should be no restrictions though, either physically or mentally though. I remember over ten years ago talking to someone about the book I had in my head. I said that I wasn’t confident with my writing or my spelling and only when/if I got my first PC would I be able to write with confidence. I was confident that my book would become my big ongoing project that I would craft like you see on the TV or movies; a camera panning behind me as some piano piece plays energetically in the background, my fingers dancing continuously across the keyboard with unbidden energy and creative abandon as my novel flows freely without any need of correction from, the tips of my fingers like I’m possessed by literary geniuses. There’s be a cup of coffee on the table, constantly hot, with the evaporating diaphanous caffeine spiralling away way in a dancing, aesthetically beautiful, but ultimately random shapes and eddies.
The man I was working with scoffed. He was a great personality; plain speaking, always honest, sometimes sharp, but always caring and always giving. “Bullshit” he said “If you are going to write a book then you’ll write a book, waiting for the PC or the time and space is an excuse. Shakespeare wrote with a quill, I’m sure Dickens didn’t have spell check and the Bronte sisters wrote in poverty whilst they battled and lost against tuberculosis and cancer, you obviously don’t have the motivation to write”
I was a little annoyed by this but was determined to prove him wrong. I would get my PC, write my book and send him a signed copy (once it reached number one) saying I told you so, I was going to be so smuggy von smug smug. Now it’s about 12 years later and I’ve yet to write my book.
I feel I’m the most motivated I’ve been in a long time and I’m trying to take the bull by the horns and write as much as I can. I feel I have found my motivation, however indirect it has been, and hopefully even if I’m not published but I am happy with my writing and where I go with this, I will look back and say, I wasn’t ready to write until I was 38. I know that I can look back on my life and accept at 18 I wasn’t ready to have a girlfriend and at 24 I wasn’t mature enough to sustain my first real love. But these things in life are there to lead us to where we are now and without any of them we would be a different person. There is nothing I would or could change about my past as I am now with two children and one wife who I love dearly, everything that has gone before has steered me to my job, my home, my life. I feel that these events have been my rudder and though I can exact choice, life is still steering me through these safely.
Yeh yeh, I know it comes across as hippy bollocks, the thing is it happens to be hippy bollocks I believe in. I’ve almost become clichéd in my job or with my friends by the amount of times I’ve said that I haven’t chosen my careers and that my life has steered me into it.
I would have sworn blind I did not want to work with the elderly and for the love of god I did not want to work for Social Services. When I thought of social services and I suspect like a greater proportion of the country, I only thought of the worse stories that made it into the news rooms or the front pages of the tabloids. I wasn’t naive enough to take this as red, I knew there was good and bad in every sector and you really couldn’t take the press to be accurate. I was also fully aware that bad news was always good news, the worst stories were the best anecdotes. In my mind I did not want to work for an employer or a system where the good work being done would rarely be recognised and I would need to cover myself for when errors occurred when the fallibility of human nature stepped in and this could be used against me. I always said I wouldn’t want to be a Social Worker, Nurse, Teacher or Policeman as these seem to be the four pillars of society that would never be able to do right.
Of course fate had a different idea and I was tricked into doing a three month contract with an elderly person’s team. Even though I felt annoyed that I had been put forward for this position (I worked for an agency) I thought three months would be a good experience and I could see the other side of the coin in an industry I had little knowledge of. I thought I would try it out, do my best and when my contract was done I would never return.
The contract was extended and extended, the team were amazing and friendly and supportive and…. team like. I don’t think I’d worked with such a strong and supportive group of people before and that was made it all very strange for me, it helped me work better and enjoy the job. It made the work easier and helped me see why this job could be so rewarding. It was only after once short stint with a crap team, Lincoln, and another few years with another amazing team that I said to my wife I should recognise what pleasure I got from my job and move over to full time employment. Not only would there be the pension, the sick pay, the holiday pay, the training, the ongoing development plans, there would also be the fact that I’d be in a job I loved and a job that life had guided me towards.
It’s funny where fate can take you, you should really stop to appreciate these moments when you see them. I firmly believe I’m not done, I know life will lead me in new directions and that everything happens for a reason. I won’t deny anything that comes across my path as it may be the next thing that spins me happily off in different direction and exciting new chapter of my life.

Well past puberty

My camera is back from the manufacturers after I broke it (though it was an accident, it was my accident and not a product fault), and they’ve mended it thank god, I was dreading having to tell my wife we had now wasted £220. As always I will show great “locking the stable after the horses bolted” type of thought and now go out and buy myself a case for it to stop the screen getting broke again as a result of my clumsy handed non respect I seem to have for the items about me.365 Thirteen [Cyclical]
It’s so hard not having material things. No matter how hard I try, they seem to gather around me or on me like the faint pattern of dust that begins to form after immediately cleaning down a surface, these items keep gathering. I wish I didn’t get them, but even when I actively avoid getting anything new or anything accumulative, it accumulates.
I feel like the man who excluded food from his life when he read and believed the scare mongering science reports that alluded to links between apple pips and cancer, eggs and salmonella, cows and CJD and so on and so on. I can’t remember the exact path this guy took but gradually he omitted every food stuff on his shopping list due to the ingredients that were bad for him, the process of manufacture or even how it was transported. It eventually got to a point where he was only drinking water and in his last days he gave that up too because of the fluoride that was put into it. He died.
I still wonder what is “needed” in my life and what is not. I like my cup of coffee in the morning so do I keep the cafeteria? I intend to craft a book through a formalised process of design and planning it from beginning to end so do I need the pens, paper, highlighters and index cards. How much do I have to be using an item to justify keeping it? ‘Just in case’ shouldn’t count. How many T-shirts can one man survive on, how many work trousers, how man pairs of shoes? How many pairs of jeans? Even though I’ve cut my clothes by about 80% I want to go further, and have less.
To be honest with regards to the clothes I can’t say I’m that bothered about the variety. I don’t care if they match and I don’t care if people beginning to recognise they are seeing the same items in heavy rotation, clothes mean little emotionally to me. As long as keep them clean (and not even really ironed either) then I’m fine with that. I’d have to be regimented with the whole cycling through the outfits so I always had something clean to wear. They say that you can actually build a template of clothes (there’s another word but I can’t think of it) that can be mixed and matched and accessorised for all occasions rather than slung on because you need to avoid going out in public naked.
I met up with probably my longest friend today. I think we’ve known each other 27 years when he moved up from Wales with his family. For a while I did try to be friends with his brother, who was my age, but it turned out he was a cock and I eventually realised Ian and I had more in common.
We had a very deep conversation about relationships, fidelity, love and life. We talked about whether we were really programmed as humans to have the same partner the whole of our lives or whether we should realise or DNA imperative and explore. I said another friend had explained it that Swans have the same partner the whole of their lives whilst Monkeys have multiple partners, the thing is, are you a monkey or a swan?
There were a lot of revelations about how open my friends relationship was and how the honesty and candour between him and his partner had not eroded anything. If anything the honesty and recognition of the need to roam had actually strengthened their bond.
Who’d have thought 20 years ago we’d be having these conversations. Me and Ian you to sit down and swear blind we wouldn’t do this, wouldn’t do that, wouldn’t drink beer (it tasted vile) and sit on our innocent moral horses to judge other people. We hung onto our homes and our lives and what we valued then. Now we were sat in the pub saying things like “If we loose the house, who cares? As long as the people we love are still with us, as long as we are here next year, as long as everyone is loved and cared for”
Crap, I think I may be grown up.

News is no news

Ex-hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi held in US

Is it news now when a glutton shows that he’s a truculent, vain, facile excuse for a human being and whilst in the process of grasping for the faux lime light went and got himself arrested (Gomez would be ashamed)

Someone whose life achievement is to “smash the record”(sic) for eating processed mechanically separated pork products. Hot dogs, sweated off when cooked and when, thought of in it’s most abhorrent state, reminds me of the over weight Americans culture, cramming these nutritional free products into their mouths like poster boy advocates of the entire gormandising nation.
I’m not an easily shocked person and I’d like to think I’m quite relaxed and liberal in my outlook on life, but these gluttony competitions lauding who can eat the most pies, the largest amount of hot dogs, who can consume the most extensive amount of burgers in the shortest time; these competitions repulse me. I find it sickening that anyone can feel any sense of pride in piling food into them with the poverty and starvation that is probably going off in their own towns and cities let alone the rest of the world.
In these consuming competitions such as the hotdog eating one from the article (I’m not even going to bastardise the word ‘news’ by calling it that) they are allowed to drink mouthfuls of water to aid digestion. The bun or the burger can then softened up and dunked so it can be devoured faster. Rows of people dipping hot dogs in water so they dissolve and slide down the gullet in a grotesque deep throat fellatio recreation.
Whilst spectators clap, cheer and revel in what could only be a westernised ‘competition’.
I feel like I’m watching some sci-fi movie painting a picture of a greedy narcissistic race, usually the antagonist, to highlight how self centred the race are; in a scene of them eating food so grossly and dismissively whilst starvation and malnutrition goes off about. It is scenes like this justifies the future destruction or downfall of the race. Yet here we are, that actual race, shovelling processed foods and glorying in the title and empty fame it brings.
The gentleman in question apparently wouldn’t sign some new contract or ruling in the competition and therefore couldn’t enter; I’m guessing he couldn’t have been refusing on principle as it is apparent he has none. So because he felt put out the sham title couldn’t be his, he stormed a stage, he threw a pissy fit and got arrested.
Across the world people are being beaten, persecuted and killed for trying to champion free speech. Whole countries are being crushed under despotic regimes that try to suffocate the populace and within these places people will stand up and say “I am a human, I have the right to say how I feel” knowing they may be killed for it. Yet here at the hot dog eating championship a cretin is put out because he can’t be lauded for the cock that he is.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/technology/newsid_10500000/newsid_10508400/10508468.stm

Then there’s another news piece that states Lady Gaga has become the first living person to have 10 million fans on Facebook. Family guy, Micheal Jackson and Mafia Wars are still ahead of her in numbers but they aren’t real or living.
Daniel Dearlove from Famecount said: “Achieving 10 million fans is a remarkable testament both to her stardom and to Facebook’s extraordinary reach.”
Seriously, this is news? For fuck sake it’s Facebook, it’s a website it is not the bloody internet Oracle of all that is wise and true. It is a transient piece of crafted webbery that everyone is currently into and it’s more nefarious than prognostic. In five years time it’ll be populated by some die hard fanatics as it sinks into oblivion and we will all be elsewhere with whatever is new and shiny.
Take a look at the other groups on Facebook that the mindless drones join; “I like beans on Toast”, “I like staying in bed”, “Sponge bob square pants for president” as well as a glut of racist, xenophobic, misogynistic odious groups that amass a sizeable membership on their own. This is the site and these are the groups where the detritus of human society aren’t bothered, are too fatuous or maybe even carry a sense of pride for their fallout photo’s from boozy nights out sat pissing in the streets or vomiting in nightclubs with their shitty homes, scutty children and inbred ways.
If it is news that a sizable demographic of the more challenged Facebook members have made Lady Gaga so amazingly popular then I pity cultures celebrity benchmarks. Though in honesty with voyeuristic trash TV shows, manufactured bands and the soap stars being classed as famous then maybe Facebook is representative well and me and my friends are in the minority.
In balance though, all my friends are cool. I’m discerning with who I say yes to on Facebook and who I share my information with (well, not 100% true but that is another long story that I’ll probably not write on here) If it weren’t for the security issues then Facebook really could be a great tool. Well, it could be a site that seen to have a finger on the pulse of society’s beliefs and have kudos with common culture if it weren’t for the security issues, the mindless fucking games and apps, the crappy adverts on the side, the spasmodic chat app and the invites to the above racist groups.

I'm forever blowing bubbles

A day of  meh!  What a great word that is for a type of apathy you are too lazy to be apathetic to or about.  It’s ennui overload.
“How you feeling?”, “Meh”
It isn’t a whine at all, but it isn’t a cliched statement dripping with benign conversation and disinterest same old same old, can’t complain, another day another dollar, there’s folks worse off that these, don’t put the up your arsehole or you won’t be able to stop the bleeding.  Like greeting the people at work or in your life with day to day pleasantries you couldn’t give a shit about.  Seriously, talking about the weather is more or less the only common ground you have and even then you can be on sleep inducing rocky ground.  It’s like a little dance you have to do with each person before you can navigate past and on with the rest of your day.
Now don’t get me wrong, pleasantries are essential and pleasenties can mean something very special in the right context.  The same phrases or similar small talkdelivered right or with sincerity of heart to the right people can carry great meaning and subtext.  A tech social commnetator Cory Doctrow said this about it all (though he was talking about facebook and Twitter at the time)

Criticizing the “banality” of Facebook conversation is as trite and ignorant as criticising people who talk about the weather. There’s a reason we say “Did you sleep well?” at breakfast and “How was your weekend?” when we turn up to the office on Monday (and it’s not that we care about the weekend or the rest) messages passed between friends and family members are a way of maintaining social cohesion. The meaning of the messages isn’t “u look h4wt dude” or “wat up wiv you dawg?” That’s merely the form. The meaning is: “I am thinking of you, I care about you, I hope you are well.”

The point is, for the people who mean something to you on whatever level, who are the people you want to be saying “Have a nice weekend” and “You take care of yourself”, the small talk will resonate and comfort.  These don’t have to be the people you’ll know out of the work circle or the reading group circle or whatever little club or activity you are part of.  They can be the people that make these places better, the people who will sit and have five minutes with you and a coffee when you say you are having a hard time of it or your family are.  These are the people who will sit and look through your photo’s when you need to be a little paternal and gushy and show the latest cute photo of your child doing some generic child pose or smile.
There used to be times when I went to work and it was enough knowing these people were about, and although we could have a day from hell, typing up reports and assessments and setting up care packages and actually never getting to say more than three words; knowing they were in the room to have a moan should I have needed to was enough.

Today I haven’t left the house but…..  Actually, scratch that, I went out for about four hours with a guy with Aspergers I befriend every three weeks.  In truth it doesn’t feel like work at all now as we have so much to talk about.  Deep Space Nine, Doctor Who, pointless clips on the internet, Zero Punctuation, Music, we spend most of our time driving and taking and playing yellow car!!

YELLOW CAR

This is a very simple game but can get real fun if you are competative enough.  Whilst driving and chatting and doing what ever, you keep your eyes out for yellow cars.  The game only lasts the duration of one journey, until the car engien stops and obviously who ever has the highest score wins.  But there are rules

  • The car must be all yellow, no stripes or fancy stenciling
  • If the car has a soft top roof that is not yellow then that counts as it has the potential to be yellow
  • Work vans, no matter how small don’t count
  • Any yellow cars with signage or ads don’t count
  • Taxi’s don’t count (since we drove into Derby once and all thier taxi’s are yellow)
  • If you see one up a street and the other person doesn’t then the other person can say no to eat if they choose to.  It’s best not to do this not even tactically because it’s a fun game and being a pedant is not conducive to fun.
  • Certain shades have to be debated as and when they come up, like the off yellow one that looks like light toffee or baby poo.
It’s great fun, especially if you are on a long journey, listening to a good audio book (we did the whole His Dark365 Eleven [Underwater] Materials the last time we went to Scotland), and you are also playing the number plate game.  Which is just a case of looking of the group of three letters on a number plate and making statements out of them.
NGR “Naughty Giraffes Rollerskate”, “Nana’s Gnarly Rollers”, “Nice Gums Raymond”, “NO! Grab Roger”, and so on and so on and so on
So when I got back I was a little sneezy and itchy and needed my time in the ‘safe room’ which is the bedroom now.  The room in the house where we try to be a little more vigilant with the dusting and keep a fan and an ioniser on pretty constantly.  I think I had good intentions but there was no follow through and I was a lazy bastard most of the rest of the day.
Well, actually, again not 100% true.  Before getting the daughter bathed I set up and tried an idea I had for a photo shot, under water, the one in this post.  It didn’t turn out quite the way I liked it as I wanted it to be bubble free and with me not holding my nose, a very hard task indeed.  I like the way it came out, but may just revisit it at another time.
This will change tomorrow as I have about 2-3 hours left of my 19 hour audio book “The Time Travellers Wife” and I’m wanting to be done.  I find I can, and I like, tidying the house and cleaning around when I’ve got a book on.  I did six hours last week, it was brilliant.  I’m the same if I phone someone hands free, as long as we are talking I potter about the house and tidy as I go along, and with a couple of hundred free cross network calls I can get a lot of tidying done and seem like a bloody good friend to a lot of people.

Zen Garden

Keep your fingers crossed, I’ve just got an Email from the camera repair place to say they’ve now posted it back and it should be here by the 5th, they haven’t said if they’ve repaired it or refused to because it broke purely due to my clumsy handedness.  If they don’t repair it then I have a £220 white elephant to play around with and feel guilty about for a very long time.365 Ten [Homeward bound]
I’ve been lucky with my technology as I broke another portable handicam my parents bought me for Christmas.  About three months after I’d first got it and I had yet to really get into full swing of how it works or using it, I’d been chucking it into the bottom of my work bag just in case that moment came along where I needed to HD quality footage.
Maybe a bomb would go off or there’d be some car crash or road rage or even alien invasion.  I would be the first at the scene with my camera recording all that was going off, not actually stepping in to help out but panning around trying to get the best angle of the tragedy with my only thought being who could I sell the footage onto as I would then be deemed a citizen journalist.
All that did happen however was I threw something harder or with sharper corners in, or it was one of the times when I slung my bag across the seats when I got into my car to go home and the screen shattered.  Luckily with Amazon you can request a replacement and just exchange the unit that is broken, no questions asked.  When I got my replacement HD camera the first thing I did was go out and order one of those twatty padded cases that never look cool in anyway, and wrapped my camera in it.  Now I could put it in my bag and not worry about it breaking.
Two days later I lost it.
It took me a good week before I could sleep well again and finally accept the camera was gone, which I know sounds melodramatic, but it was more the fact it was a horrendous waste of money if my lazy or absentmindedness had lost me a camera I’d not even used.  When money is tight and treats for the grown ups are far and few between it really is a kick in the balls to realise you’ve lost/broke something new or expensive.  It was only four months later when my wife pulled out a car seat for our daughter did she find the case and camera, unscathed, squidged down the back.
Times like that help me realise how hard it is to fight the materialistic pulse of everyday life.  The disposable existence that is sold to us and through clever advertising that even though you might feel sentient enough to ignore the ploys and words and images used to influence you as much as possible, they still seem to work.  It would be so easy to let the flow of wanton wash over, accept the greed and be washed into financial deep waters.
I’m glad that I don’t have to think about this as much as the average person now.  Not because I’m intellectually aloof or making myself to be better than other folk, but because I went on TV and sold most of my junk and have a very blanks and clean canavas of material items, or lack there of.
I joined a website a long time ago called Be on screen where you submit your most basic of details ( or much more if you wish to) and then they ignore all that finery to tell you about every single TV show going under the sun thinking one will stick if they throw it all at you.
Occasionally it did.  I was on a show called “Kill it, Cook it, Eat it” where a group of people were shown live slaughters and then later in the evening the animals we’d saw killed were cooked for us.  It tried to be a serious piece on the farming process and how it was impacting on the world today.  It was quite a good piece of TV in the, though I think I was cut out of it.
The next time I was on TV was “Richard and Judy”, you can see it over on YouTube.  It is a proper 15minutes of fame where a whole piece was centred on me hanging out and doing fun things with the son via something called dad’s school.  It was only silly things like how to calculate the speed of light with a plate of cheese and a microwave or the history the world with a toilet roll We went up to London one week end and a big group of about 15 dads got together for two days to be shown lots of fun things to do with the children to keep them entertained.  At the end of these two days three dads were chosen to go back on the show and talk about what we took away with us, what we liked and if we thought we’d changed.
For me the greatest part about doing this show was it created an amazing father and son time that I hope my son remembers for a long time to come as I know I will.
I remember when I was much younger, in 1984, I was in the background of John Craven’s Newsround for a little over 1 second and that rocked my world.  I thought I was the coolest kids on the block for being on that show, John Craven was so cool that when I heard it was ending and just becoming “Newsround” I wondered if John craven was ill, old or close to death.
So for my son to be on a show presented by people whom he hadn’t known a time without them on the screen, was fantastic.  They were at the peak of their iconic media status and were influential media people in the daytime easy viewing format wars.  So for me and the son to go on the show for an article that featured mainly us was thoroughly was amazing.
We got to go to London together, eat in a French restaurant in Covent garden and finally get  picked up by a chauffeur driven car to take us to the studios.  We hung out in the green room and ate cru de tet afterwards.  We returned home tired, but thoroughly happy.
Then there was then a programme about me and my willy (well lots of men’s willies actually) that turned out to be a big bag of tat and disposable TV.  I’ll write about it in fully at another time as I think that deserves a post on its own.
Finally there was the show called gutted on the HOME Chanel, previously UKtv Style, this was the life changer for me.  It’s format was to turn up to people’s houses who had lots of personal clutter and help them sort it out, remove it and streamline lives.
When I say clutter I don’t mean rubbish, I mean items we had bought, stored, or even planned to use some day, in some way, maybe.  You know how it is when you go out and you see an ornament of let’s say a couple cuddling, carved out of wood and painted into muted colours.  You find that it seems to call out to you and you just have to have it.  So you pay the price, take it home and find a place on a side or shelve or bookend where you can put it, look at it and maybe even start conversations about it when friends come around.
This piece, whether it is the most thought out aesthetically pleasing item in the whole worlds, or whether it is part of a collection of sixty thousand to be found in every generic jewellers shop, becomes a bookmark to whom you are or where you are in time.  Gutted tried to find these people who had lost themselves in bookmarking of who they were with the items, and as I suspect was the case with me, were using these items to define a public image.
If someone were to have asked who I was then I would have pointed to the books I read, the comics I owned, the music I listened to and the junk and bookends and retro toys I bought and left to gather dust on shelves.
In hindsight I think I’d become a caricature of myself.  I had an image in my head of who I thought I was or who I wanted to be and I bought my items to reflect this.  I suspect that who I wanted to be was guided by the people about me or the person I thought I wasn’t rather than the person I was.  I got lost in the white noise of the clutter and paraphernalia of materialistic living that I’d cocooned around me in the one room at the top of the house.
The TV show, transient and simple though it was, came into my house and the houses of other chosen hoarders and as a twist, took everything.  They took all the nick nacks, the books, cd’s, DVD’s, fixtures, fitting, shelving and even the blu-tac off the walls.  Then they asked a few simple questions about groups of your items and if I didn’t know about the answer then, under the guise of “I couldn’t really like them that much if I didn’t know the answers” and therefore they were surplus to requirement.  Anything I didn’t win back was taken to an auction and sold off.
Good car crash TV being what it is, I too went to this auction and got to see people bidding on all my items I’d gathered over the years. My possessions and ultimately my being was reduced to the amounts of money and financial estimations that people who wanted these pieces for were willing to pay, which was usually nothing.  They didn’t know the emotional attachment I had to these and they wouldn’t have cared less anyway.
It was between filming on the last day of the auction when we broke for dinner and I went off to a local TGI Friday’s food chain and let it finally sink in what I was doing.  I became sick to the stomach like I’d been horrendously unprofessional at work and was about to go into a meeting to be disciplined or sacked.  I felt on edge and emotional and even considered if I was having a premonition about some horrific event that was going to happen later.  I told my friend I couldn’t eat the food and felt the edges of my nerves tensing and jarring, it felt like a dozen drills and screeching brakes were sounding around me, but I couldn’t hear the noises and my body was jangling at the silent furore.
In the end though I had already made my mind up and took the decision a week before when I’d been told these were all going to action.
The room was going to need clearing when my son inherited it and the new born daughter moved into his.  If I were to clear everything I owned myself then it would have been a long tiring and emotional experience.  I would have had to make a judgment call about each and every object as to whether it went or stayed and in throwing the objects away I would be prioritising one memory or one part of my identity above another.  It would have taken weeks of loading up the car, using petrol to get to car boots or auctions, I would have been offered stupidly small amounts for items I held dearly.  We would have spent more money for the pitch and the teas whilst on the market, and maybe food too.  I would have packed up the items that hadn’t sold and travelled back beaten and defeated by the drawn out separations knowing I would have to come back again the week after until I’s sold everything, maybe even having to spend hours putting some of it on Ebay.
I wrote about it in a short story I did for a web site.  I put

I knew the twist to the show already; my wife told me not long after a researcher had said it would be in the best interests of the show if she didn’t. They weren’t going to ‘streamline’ my life as was advertised, they were going to clear it up into boxes and take it away.

I was going to come home for the big reveal to find I had nothing, not even the shelves that had held my thousands of books, cd’s and DVD’s. It was only by knowing about my clutter and answering related questions that I stood a chance of getting it back. Anything I didn’t show knowledge for would go to the auctions.

During the time before filming the news was reporting the fires in Australia and people were stood devastated outside charcoal templates of what used to be their lives. As I watched the horror and loss on their faces I came to a conclusion, I didn’t want to miss anything. Were my house to burn down I wanted to save everything I needed, and that was my family. After that is was easy, I didn’t get a single question right.

Like tearing a plaster off the knee of a child quickly, on the count of two when pretending to count to three, it was a quick and painless exercise working with the TV show and it didn’t hurt as much as when it was over like I initially thought it would.
I didn’t leave myself naked though (that was another show)  in my mind the ultimate modern day Zen like state was to have just five items; peripheries and cables and clothes and car not included.  I wanted to get down to my iPod, my laptop, a camera, a hard drive and my iphone.  With this I could still access the films, have the music, take pictures and capture memories and still carry them about with me.  I wanted to think that in the event of a fire the only materialistic item I would try to grab was my hard drive and ultimately if I didn’t get that and I saved the family then there would be nothing lost.
Without these entrapments I feel I am myself now, I am not the collection of books or the shelves of CD’s in a bedroom at the top of my house.  I am not a reflection of the books I haven’t or have read stacked up looking out at me highlighting my failures to get to them and give them the attention they needed.
When I buy a book now I know I’m not going to keep it long after reading and my life is about getting rid of my possessions rather than wrapping and storing them up around me.  I choose the book or the music and it’s not on display to anyone but me.  I reflect what’s going off inside of me now rather than what’s occurring externally and I feel I can breath more and think better.  My soul is now a little Zen garden.