Saturday 26 December 2015

#134 Intermission

I needed a way to stop writing about a bunch of people whose ship had sunk. It might seem as though I could simply stop, for no reason but reason can be important to the human mind. It was easy enough to point out that the story was symbolic: of searching for a new team at work, of my approach to dating, of the restrictively traditional apsects of celebrating Christmas.

Why stop with the story? Because it was too enigmatic. Does that mean that the blog has meaning? That it's meant to represent something? Well, sure. It's usually meant to represent my thoughts on things. Describing the adventures of some fictional characters doesn't represent my thoughts on things very clearly. So it's time for them to return to their source. 

#133 A short break

In the next blog post, I intend to dispel the pattern of using a symbolic story to represent my experiences in a way that I find charming.

There was no point in trying to think our way out of the sea monster's jaws. We were in a sea monster. You can't think your way out of a sea monster.

Our host wriggled deep down beneath the surface of the waves and on into the dark, cold depths. Bouncing back along the creature's tongue, we tumbled into its stomach. Blackness. All we heard was the gurgle of water and occasional groans as the beast swam on its way.

How did the captain and all of us nine crew members end up away from the island and inside the belly of this gigantic animal? The peculiar thing was, I had no idea. It had only been two days and already our adventure seemed unrealistically dramatic.

I woke with a start. It was about noon and having wandered back to the canvas to fetch my hat, I had taken a moment to rest and had quite fallen asleep. Back to the beach now I jogged. We'd be setting off again in a short while to try rowing our way back to land.

Sunday 20 December 2015

#132 Rise and shine

Mark was a quiet sort of chap. Quiet of voice. Loud, on the other hand, of sound. He had effectively been the ship's musician. Effectively, as the ship very obviously could not have funded such a role but he did have a harmonica on which he could play the odd tune or two. I think. I'd never heard him play a recognisable tune, just some strung together notes. Sometimes the music almost seemed to fit the mood of the crew at the time in which he played it.

It was seven o'clock and we were still on the island. Shivering slightly, I pulled the canvas over my head, wrapped the jacket more tightly around me and tried to warm up during those last moments of unknown length before we all roused ourselves for the day. The notes began creeping their way out of the harmonica. Every morning at seven, Mark would play to us a combination of notes he thought would best set us up for the day. As if notes could really do that. He wondered if they could. I think he believed that they could. 

Different combinations, he'd play. Mostly the same sort of mood but I noticed that if we'd had a good night's rest the notes sounded different. I couldn't work out how different because they always were different. Was he playing his instrument differently because he'd had more sleep too? Or did they just sound different because I'd had more sleep?

Mark had been trying for months now, or so it seemed, to find the right wake-up tune. There in that first morning on the island after the ship went down, I felt like I heard it. I could be wrong of course and might find that if it were played to me again another day, it wouldn't invigorate me but this morning, certainly, it had. I got up, took a pencil out from my jacket pocket and wrote down the main notes of the tune on the back of an old rail ticket I had in my wallet. 

#131 Searching for food

The first island that we came across was indeed that, in every sense. Not more than a few thousand feet or so by a few thousand. No obvious sign of any fresh water supply and no long-term source of food. The lads tumbled ashore, exhausted. Pete the deck hand started sharpening his knife. I knew what he was up to but ventured asking him regardless. "What the fuck are you hoping to catch with that Pete?" He paused only to look defiantly at me with what he supposed was a cool, wise sort of gaze and went right back to sharpening. I loved it.

If you've never slept under an upturned lifeboat then you're really quite lucky. I haven't either. We dragged the canvas off of the vessel's seating, having figured that it might make quite an ingenious quilt. Not the most relaxing place in the world to spend a night but it'd do us for now. So we dragged the great thing inland and down behind a slight mound of grass where some tall trees stood. We then heaved the boat up against the trees as a partial windbreak.

"Back later" announced Pete, almost proudly, as he wandered purposefully towards the far side of the island. I knew he fancied himself a hunter but was now really the best time to be trying his luck? Exhausted from the events of the last twenty four hours, probably still in shock and clearly in need of some sleep. What the hell did he think he could find here anyway? I got under the canvas and shuffled uncomfortably on my jacket slash bed sheet. It was time to try getting some sleep.

Sunday 6 December 2015

#130 Can't complain

"Carry on bailing out the water!" the first mate yelled. The large ship had long since become a victim of the sea. All that remained visible was the mast, atop which I fancied sat a green Argentinian parrot.

The captain was hardly surprised that the rowing boat was also sinking. Ignorance in unforgiving waters was ignorance in unforgiving waters. He sat there, shivering in his coat. Go down with the ship? Fuck you mate, if I had that much honour, we wouldn't be here in the first place.

The rowers faithfully heaved in what they thought was the direction of the shore. It seemed unlikely that the crew were completely screwed. It was late but it wasn't that late. Dark but not pitch black. It was cold but not so treacherous as say the Arctic or the North Sea.

Thousands of feet above, a jumbo peacefully made its way across the sky. Its lights flickered as the lights of planes normally do in the nighttime cloud. "What the fuck are you looking at?" bellowed a deck hand, knowing well enough the limited emotional impact of his rhetoric. I put the bucket back down into the water and continued to shovel it out of the boat.

Saturday 21 November 2015

#129 Le pub

"So what do you think you'd want to do?" Lisha had been questioning me now for about half an hour. The head of our team at work had asked me the same question a couple of times lately too and I hadn't been able to answer it. Usually when you need a response from a magic 8 ball, you need to shake it, so that the little thing inside moves upwards to the surface. Maybe I needed a little shake. Or a big shake.

The reason I didn't write a blog post last weekend was that I would have written about how I broke into the house after locking myself out. I was worried that a burgler might read it and do the same. This was a stupid thing to think. I broke a window. Anyone can break a window. Aside from the shame of having done it, I was actually pretty pleased with the window that I got in through. Downstairs toilet. Barely bigger than a letterbox and twice the height. I laid a tshirt over the sill and wedged the partially broken frame against the outside wall by its latch to avoid broken glass. It fell down anyway onto my thighs as I finished into a handstand on the bathroom floor but the weight on the frame wasn't enough to push its remaining shards through my jeans.

The lady next door couldn't have been more helpful. I half made up my mind to break in while she was still surveying the situation with me but waited until she'd gone to actually do it.

Some good people turned out to Rich's birthday drinks on Friday night. I'm talking Phil Cole and John Twenty Two. I think he should get that number put on a football shirt. I won't forget to mention Ditch, his new bird or Sam Sugarman. Pleasant and entertaining company. I'm glad that Rich celebrated it with his friends. You only turn thirty once and as much as you might lament it, you've gotta admit, making it through another year is usually preferable to the alternative.

Sunday 8 November 2015

#128 A surprise discovery

Once upon a time, there was a little elf called Naomi. She lived in the enchanted forest where she went to school and played with her elf friends. Naomi's favourite elf game was a game called hide and seek. You might have played the people version of this game. Naomi was an expert hider. She could always find the best hiding places. One day, when she was out playing in the woods, she noticed the grassy mound next to the large bramble patch and said to herself "If I crouched down, I could hide behind that grassy mound". Over to it she went and crouched down behind it, giggling to herself. 

The minutes passed and the little elf became bored for her friend still had not found her yet. She looked around her surroundings. On the ground, next to the bramble patch, she saw a small wooden box. Curious, for Naomi was a curious little elf, she reached for the box, grabbed it and gave it a shake. Upon doing so, it felt disrupted in her hands, as though something was moving inside. Startled, she dropped it back to the floor and ran back to a nearby tree.

"I see you Naomi!" yelled her friend Marc, "I see you running! Hahaha". Naomi no longer really cared about the game. Relieved to hear her friend's voice, she hurried over and rejoined him. "I'm tired of hide and seek now" she said. "Let's return to the village and have milkshakes". Naomi knew that there was nothing Marc liked more than a strawberry milkshake. "That sounds like a great plan" he said. They picked up their shoes, for elves always play barefoot in the forest.

"Wait a minute" said Marc. "You must show me where your hiding place was. That's elvish tradition". "Behind the tree" she said casually. "No" said Marc, "you ran back to the tree but where did you run from?" "Ok" said Naomi "but there's something I found, near the big bramble patch. I'm a bit scared about what it is". Marc looked thoughtful for a moment. "Was it an object or an animal?" he asked. "An object" she said. "A small wooden box but when I shook it, something was moving inside as though I'd woken it up". "Would you like me to come and take a look at it with you?" asked Marc. "Yes but we have to be very careful" she replied, timidly. Marc nodded sympathetically, took Naomi's hand and together, the two friends crept back into the woods, in the direction of the large bramble patch.

Saturday 31 October 2015

#127 Turtle doves

Out in the suburbs of Chicago, a thirty year old guy with scruffy blonde hair and a slightly creased shirt collar crunches his way up the driveway to his home. We see him unlock his door and go inside. He pulls a vibrating phone out of his jacket. "Hey, it's me" says a female voice. "Hey sweetie, how're the drones?" Cut to a suited woman, early thirties, better kept than her boyfriend. She's at a work party. "Ssh, they'll hear you" she says "but they're fine, which is more than I can say about this weather. Actually that's why I called, honey the trains are all cancelled, I know I was going to come over tonight but there's nothing running and I am way too hammered to drive." The camera pans to him from around the room. "It's... ok" he replies, clearly bothered. Cut back to his girlfriend. She's being handed another drink and the music's a notch louder. "Listen so I'm gonna stay over at Suzy's" she says "are you sure you'll be ok?" "Can't control the weather" he says, a toughness to his voice. "Kevin... love you". "Love you Sarah. Ok. Ok bye".

He goes over to the couch and flicks on the TV. A movie. Changes the channel. A baseball game. Changes it again. A news reporter reading "...that not everyone will see this as a Christmas gift, the notorious wet bandits have broken out of the metropolitan correctional facility. News of the escape was released by the facility at 2pm.." the report trails off as the Kevin's phone shakes again and he answers. "Mr. McCallister, divisional detective inspector Brian Fomer here, we're not sure if you've heard..." "I just saw the report". "I'm very sorry about that Sir" offers the inspector. "While we're doing everything and I mean everything we can to locate them, I'm sending my sergeant over there tonight just as a precaution" "that won't be necessary" says Kevin. "Sir these men are highly dangerous and..." Kevin cuts him off, angered. "Inspector with all due respect, think about it. Me, the only person ever to have caught these guys, taking protection from you guys, the ones who can't even keep the prison door closed?... I don't think so." He hangs up the phone, looks straight into the camera. He's not smiling, just looking at us. For a second or two.

Saturday 24 October 2015

#126 The deficit

Earlier this week, one of my Facebook friends posted that she wanted to understand more about the deficit. How and when did it become a problem? Does it need fixing? This isn’t something that I know a lot about. In fact, I don’t know a lot about anything. I just enjoy blogging.

My first thought was to do some research and then write a blog post on the deficit and whether I personally felt that it needed reducing. I immediately ran into complications and then continued to run into them non-stop for about three hours. When people talk about the deficit, oftentimes, they’re not really referring to the deficit in a strict sense. They’re talking about government borrowing. The government does borrow to cover the deficit but it also borrows to invest. Borrowing does help to cover the deficit but so does a growth in GDP. 

The UK does have a government deficit but it also has an overall deficit in its cash imports and exports. The latter is consistently regarded as one of the main risks to the country’s financial stability in the Bank of England’s financial stability report. The former doesn’t feature in the report at all. All economists know things like this but when they are interviewed, some of them ignore it in order to propagate their own political viewpoints and some of them just won’t go into detail on it precisely because their account of the situation would quickly become more complicated than most people would understand, imagine or have time for.

The Wikipedia entry for the term “balanced budget" shows varied schools of thought among economists on whether having a deficit is good or bad for an economy. It also explains that in the US, there is some form of ban on running a deficit in every state except Vermont. This doesn’t necessarily mean that such bans would be right for the UK. One of the main reasons UK voters dislike deficit reduction is because it is seen as a justification of austerity. It’s difficult not to sympathise. Of course, reducing the deficit isn’t about reducing government spending down to zero. It’s only about spending less than the government is earning in taxes. As a long-term strategy, I think most people would agree that absent any other form of contributions to the government, this is sensible behaviour but given current austerity, it seems right to ask whether now is the right time.

Friday 16 October 2015

#125 JC

Where there's bitter on tap and the music's on, if there's people around then you'll find Jon. He cycles and runs and spends time in the sun, he's been going bald since about thirty-one. A father of two and a good friend to all, I look up to him even though I'm so tall. In a day he gets more done than most of us could, if you order dessert he'll want some of your pud. A musician a banker an athlete a dad, he cycles so far that they say "Jon, you're mad" Il parle Francais si on leur donne une demi-chance, we all met him tonight for a drink and a dance. It was great fun tonight, hope that you're not too pissed. Maybe soon we cross poetry off of the list.

Sunday 4 October 2015

#124 Various goings-on

Lately I've been drawing thought maps with coins. I put a coin on a piece of paper, draw a circle around its edge and write a statement inside it. Then I do the same, about a centimetre next to the first one, with a connecting line in between the two. Then I draw another one and so on. It's quite a calming way of writing down thoughts that follow on from one another because it slows the mind down and crystallises a sequence of points into a story.

On Thursday, we had a staff day at work, where we talked about 'building relationships', a topic which people seem to prefer over 'networking', despite the similarity between the two. We also talked about the book Strengthsfinder 2.0, which was the subject of one of my earlier blog posts. It's a book about how to do more of what you're good at. How fitting for me to be reading it the year that my sister and brother in law got me a sign, which now sits in the middle of my bedroom, which reads "do more of what makes you happy". I had just taken it to mean that I should eat more bacon and had no idea that it could ever have any commercial application.

This morning, Marc, MattChris and I sat in the lounge and I helped them click for Glastonbury tickets. It was kind of fun. MattChris is Marc's friend whose original identity in name has undergone a rare phenomenon of being merged together with another name, to form one long name. I might try and interview him (them? it?) one day about the experience. 

If Naino goes to New Zealand, I will be mostly responsible for Keira.

Having recently shown improvement at work when it comes to prioritising and keeping people up to date, I'm falling short when it comes to critical thinking, specifically, multi-dimensional thinking. 

Marc got the festival tickets and then we had fun reading all the tweets from people who have been trying for years to get them and never manage it.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

#123 Got milk?

Apparently the cereal cafe in Shoreditch was attacked this week. The assailants were a group that generally oppose the takeover of London by rich and/or foreign people, who in some cases displace those who would otherwise be able to live there.

The blinding irony that the cafe immediately received priceless publicity does not need acknowledging here. I do so purely out of my own need for some sense of completeness.

The Telegraph chose to focus on the angle that the attackers picked the wrong target. I wonder if that's true. Putting aside the question of whether vandalism can ever be right, if you're gonna slosh up a shop front in this kind of protest, is a popular new, relatively expensive cafe a poor choice?

I suppose if they'd spraypainted a regular restaurant, their antics would have gone less well noticed. The fact that not all of the cereal cafe's customers are public school toffs may mean that it wasn't an ideal target but it's not an ideal world. Plus, some of the customers invariably will be toffs. Who pays £4.40 for a bowl of cereal? You can get two boxes for that.

I find it breathtakingly beautiful that the media is allowed to cover such incidents. Before reading about it, I had no idea that there was this protest against gentrification. The price of free speech is that it is now known about by thousands of people.

The pluck of the angry mob makes me wonder about the hardship that they have, presumably, had to suffer as a result of the change in their environment. Still, the inelegance of the attack and the fact that the villains scared customers do little to enthuse the law-obiding public about the cause. It does make me feel like some Ricicles though.

Sunday 20 September 2015

#122 Hey, the Queen's back

About two years ago now, after the worst of the economic crisis had passed, our team at work started organising socials again. Being a business recovery team, we remained profitable throughout the crisis but I think maybe some other teams were feeling the strain a bit and so we cut back on some things for a while. This week, our team decided to go rock climbing. At around five o'clock, my colleagues packed up their stuff, flocked southward in their comfortably stretchy clothes and started doing some dodgy looking hand-clenching exercises to warm up. At the same sort of time, I put my own pen down, sneaked off down the stairwell and headed several miles in the opposite direction to a small restaurant, up the north end of Farringdon Road.

During the walk there, my friend and I had gotten rained on at least a medium amount but the place was incredibly warm on the inside, which created an almost sauna-like experience. As the waitress tried to light the candle, it broke off from its holder so she dripped some of the wax onto the stump and did some DIY candle-making whilst leaning across the table. It wobbled precariously for the rest of the evening. 

It was almost two years since the events of #44 The fellowship of the ring, which I noticed sat on her finger. She was down in the city for a VAT seminar. I somewhat rudely didn't ask her much about the seminar itself. In fact there were a few things I didn't really cover off all that much. The fact that I'd been happier lately. That girl on the edge of Peckham that I'd dated briefly. The house gossip (there's always some). Anyway she'd made it through the train journies, the seminar and the rush hour tube traffic. Was she a tiny bit out of her comfort zone here? Possibly although you could never tell with her, unless she told you.

We both ordered steak and chips, which was actually pretty good. Little Bay is a chain of quirky restaurants with annoyingy red, inca-style interior decor. At one point, I'm pretty sure it was actually the cheapest restaurant in London as I realised that I'd been there with my housemates before. I remember the desserts being something ridiculous like £1.50 at the time although the place and the menu had changed a bit since then.

So we chatted and had some laughs... harking back to some of the appauling non-endings at the bottom of the blog posts when I first started writin them, this one doesn't really go anywhere and just sort of drops off. I'm sorry it wasn't about rock-climbing but meeting up with my friend again had been long overdue!

Saturday 12 September 2015

#121 Utility

The following blog post includes a cynical, satirical, alternative summary of a religious text. It is not intended to be accurate and may not be particularly sensitive to your religious beliefs. If you are likely to be offended by this or to take it more seriously than it is intended then it may not be suitable for you to read.

We may not believe the story but we all know the story. A deity, some kind of cross between Gandalf and David Blaine, wakes up one morning and decides to create heaven and earth and all the trees and animals and a couple of people, who get thrown out of the nice garden. We say it's because they were eating apples but in the pictures they were both naked so you know what they were really doing.

So then later in the story the humans are still misbehaving too much so the omnipotent pixie makes this big flood and kills everyone. Nice. Except he perversely saves Noah and the best looking two of each animal and so they all start breeding like rabbits (two of the animals were actually rabbits so they set the example) and the population grows back and starts misbehaving all over again.

Now at this point the deity does something that nobody really expected him/she/it to do. Instead of punishing the people or destroying them, which wasn't really working because we're resilient and stubborn buggers, he incarnates himself as one of the people. A slightly odd and preachy sort of chap named Jesus and he kind of does ok. I mean he does some pretty cool tricks, some of which the Pizza Express magician waiter, if anyone saw the article on that lately, can explain how they are done. He also gets a cult following. Then he pisses off some people with his preachy ways, flips over some tables and so we kind of decide that actually we don't all want to be Christians cause it sounds like a lot of hard work and we don't quite believe all these stories even if the guy can do magic, so instead we nail him to a piece of wood and leave him there. This is what we used to do to people who were a bit annoying.

So anyway we know the story that he rose from the dead again, so that we could all have Easter Eggs and blablabla and then he just sort of said right, I'm bored now and beamed himself back up to heaven again. I still think it's a cool story. So people started writing about the story. They loved it. They told it all over town. They became hysterical about it, most of them very peacefully but some really quite violently, some were smug about their "faith" and exclusive about it. They took a kind of "holier than thou" attitude but many of them were and still are quite nice ordinary people. In fact even the pope these days is quite open minded about the tolerance and acceptance of non-believers.

One of the things that made the story so popular and worth believing in was the idea of this guy Jesus. This incarnation of God as a human. What would he do? You know? What would a supremely wise being say if he walked among us? How could he have the right kind of impact? He used to say things that people hadn't really heard before. He didn't say "love your friends and family but forget about that bitch down the street". He told us to love everyone. Even the tax collectors. The hateful. The killers. Love your enemies. This is what he said and how he tried to live. 

The son of God was not a fearful man. When the soldiers came to kill him, he asked for their forgiveness because he knew that evil in humans was more like a disease. More like an ignorance, than a true choice. He knew that the decision to do wrong was only taken by those who were incapable of properly, properly considering the consequences. That those who chose evil needed help and sympathy, not punishment. Indeed, he would rather take the punishment himself. His teachings on this, before the book Zero Degrees of Empathy, were thousands of years ahead of their time and they in many ways still are, if you look at how some parts of society talk about and treat criminals or those groups who seem to pose a threat to them. We may of course believe in the story, or we may not believe in it but we can all believe in the virtue of mercy.

Sunday 6 September 2015

#120 502

My old home town of Sevenoaks is, if you ignore ninety percent of the British climate and thirty percent of the British middle-class attitude, a more or less ideal place to raise a young family. Its safety, easy commute to the city and great primary schools are rivalled only by the often overlooked confidence that any child will inevitably develop from growing up in a country where you can look at a map of the world with the reassuring satisfaction that you're always pretty much in the middle of it... and up a bit. Sevenoaks also has some tremendous secondary schools. However, there's another town in Kent that has even more. Tunbridge Wells.

After six years of rolling out of bed at eight thirty and walking across the road to my Sennockian primary school, I wasn't exactly thrilled to discover that I'd be getting up at six thirty for the duration of my childhood and sitting on a dusty 1970s bus for an hour, just to get to the start of a morning, which was sometimes no more exciting or useful than Geography and double German. I was not on my lonesome though. Droves of kids were and still are ferried daily along the twelve miles of road between the two Kentish towns and so it happened that on a fresh, sunny September morning twenty years ago, I met Jim and Kev.

Our first few years' worth of interactions were largely confined to the journey itself. Then, at around age fifteen or so, we started heading out to the cinema or the bowling alley, along with other friends and a group from the nearby girls school. Later on, some occasional house parties and trips to the pub. During univeristy holidays, we'd return home and hang out again. When we got jobs and started working, we founded a six-a-side football team called FC Hammer, which played every Monday night for about six years, eventually winning the local league and the cup. Then Jim and Kev moved to Tunbridge Wells, I moved to South London and for the last five years, we've only really met up a few times a year for birthdays or special occasions.

To mark the passing of twenty years since we first climbed onto the bus as eleven year olds, Jim suggested that we walk the route that the bus took, from Sevenoaks to Tunbridge Wells. At first... and second and third... I thought he was joking but the nearer it got to September, the more it seemed like he was probably serious. "Why not just take a bus?" I thought. Anyway, so we met up this morning at 10am, having all travelled for about an hour already, to start our walk. "Off we go then" said Jim and started walking off, in the wrong direction. "The bus stop..." I said, nodding up the road. "Nope, we're starting at my house" he said eagerly. It turned out that the route he'd planned included each of our houses and each of our schools. He would be less eager later on, after we'd walked thirteen miles and had to continue on to my school. Neither of them had ever actually been as far as my school before and they didn't know exactly where it was.

Along the way, we took a couple of breaks for breakfast and drinks, as well as a lot of boring photos. Jim had surprised us both by bringing us muffins because he used to eat a lot of muffins. He also brought us some personalised t-shirts, which he'd made, showing the bus route on the front with dots where our houses and schools were. By the time we'd completed the half-marathon length walk, we'd decided that if we made it to the thirty year mark, we'd probably celebrate it in an easier way. Overall though, we agreed that the walk had been a good idea. We had a coffee, parted ways and I wandered off to the station. The train back to Sevenoaks was cancelled. Smiling, I walked around to the car park and hopped aboard the replacement bus.

Thursday 27 August 2015

#119 Idiots ārzemēs

I'd walked a long way. Riga's main beach, Jurmala, stretches out and out and out... and out along the coast and is somehow evenly populated with sunbathers along its entire length, despite most of it being nowhere near the main street.

All I was looking for was a quiet spot where nobody would really notice that I'd be swimming in just my underwear. After learning the hard way that not all airlines will let you check in at the airport two hours before flying without charging you, I was really hoping that I wouldn't screw up anything else this week.

The fact that I had no itinerary or plans was excusable. I was on holiday alone; who needs plans? What I did need though were some swimming trunks and a towel and I hadn't thought to bring either.

At first I'd walked along the beach for a few minutes, contemplating how unfair it was that the hardworking, intelligent 22 year old taxi driver that drove me there, who would probably never forget to bring a towel to the beach, was in the middle of a 24 hour taxi shift, while an incompetent ass like me got to take a taxi ride out to the beach and hadn't even remembered to bring one. Maybe I really ought to get some kind of therapy. Any kind would do.

Turning my thoughts back to the immediate situation, I came back off the beach and wandered along the row of shops that ran alongside it. For a shopping arcade next to a beach, there were surprisingly few selling swimwear. I reasoned that it was probably bcause everyone who comes to the beach wanting to swim has probably already brought some.

I decided that I didn't want to throw money at this particular problem, firstly because that would be frivolous as I already had two pairs of trunks at home and secondly because I might never learn otherwise. Instead I decided to pinch myself hard several times on the arm and torso as a punishment. It actually worked quite well and I instantly felt a bit better. I returned to the beach and walked along, along, along looking for a quiet spot. When I got tired, I stopped for a drink and then carried on walking.

There was no really quiet place. Jurmala beach is never ending, like that Tube station program in the Matrix where Neo runs into the tunnel to escape but ends up back where he started. I decided I'd gone far enough and trudged away from the water to where the sand started to meet some patches of tall, thick grass and weeds. There I lay for some minutes among the other weeds, hiding. Waiting.

Eventually, I took off my tshirt, wrapped my wallet, phone and key in it, left it in the grass and strode into the sea in my regular linen shorts. A couple of other people were wading there. The beach has a slightly uneven surface so in parts you can walk quite a long way from the shore without the water being that deep. I got to about thirty metres. The water was eerily quiet. No waves, surfers, shells or sand worms. Just a lot of still, semi-clear water and seaweed. I plunged into it, swam about a little bit, got out again, collected my stuff and walked all the way back along the beach again. Then I lay on the sand for about an hour, waiting for my shorts to mostly dry so I could walk semi respectably into a restaurant for lunch.

Riga is a quiet city. There are no skyscrapers, tube stations or traffic jams. Cyclists ride freely on the pavement. The climate, value for money and miles of sandy beaches attract tourists from neighbouring countries although your average brit would rather get their sunburn closer to home and has little taste for Baltic food.

The city used to be a top destination for stag and hen parties but since the millennium, the government has near enough eradicated all drugs and sex, the only remaining form of fun being to eat and drink yourself into a coma, which can be done for about twenty quid and in quite pleasant surroundings.

The guidebook had warned me that Baltic peoples don't do chitchat and would be just as likely to respond briefly as not at all to inquisitive foreigners and their polite smiles. This really made me want to bring my friend Tom Sellen here but I actually found the people quite chatty, in particular my taxi driver Kris. He told me that when his brother moved to the UK, people threw rubbish at him and asked me what I thought about foreign labour. I said it was nothing new and that people had been travelling to London to work for a long time to the extent that in any team, in any line of work, the nationalities are mixed. I might have been ignoring the scale of migration from certain countries into certain occupations and the effect it had on localised domestic unemployment but it seemed like a diplomatic answer to give.

Maybe that's the reason it seems quiet here; there aren't even as many Latvians as there once were. Still, it makes for a safe and peaceful trip.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

#118 Home

“How was your swim?” I asked, knowing that the answer would be followed by five seconds of silence. To be fair, my housemate did have her earphones in. “What?” She said, pulling one of them out. “Oh sorry, I just asked how your swim was” I said. “Oh yeah good thanks” she replied, letting out a small sound followed instinctively by “excuse me”. “So, what do you think about this” she continued. “We were out last night and we were just chatting, just normally and we were talking about clothes and I said do you like my tshirt and he was like oh I don’t really wear tshirts and I was like, hmm that’s a bit odd and I guess it’s true, like I’ve never seen him wear a tshirt but still do you think that’s a bit weird?” “and rude and it annoyed you” I added “Yes! Exactly!” she said, pleased that I’d taken the bait. I quite often don’t. 

“HI DAN!” called Marc ever so slightly louder than necessary but not as loud enough to provoke a reaction. I wondered why he never said hi to Naino. “How’s your evening?” I asked. “Right, so I ordered a pizza, ok?” he said, pacing into the room and perching on the side of Naino’s sofa. She kept watching her show. “and I ordered it at six cause I have to go meet my friend at seven so I wrote in the comments box, ‘please deliver by 6:45, meeting friend at 7‘ right? It’s 6:50 now, and they just haven’t got in touch. Nothing.” “Did you try call-” I offered “Yeah, I spoke to them a couple of minutes ago, they say it’s five minutes away and I was like well that’s not good enough because how am I going to eat a whole pizza in ten minutes, when your delivery time says 45 minutes and I wrote clearly in the comments box, please deliver by 6:45“. “Like, I know, I know sometimes things are late but they could’ve at least picked up the phone and rang me because then I’d know where my food was, so then I know that I wasn’t going to eat it until I got back” “Rrrrr... it’s just really annoying how they don’t even bother to ring” he said, frustrated. 

“How’re you?” Marc asked Naino, changing the subject. “How’re you Naino?” He said, slightly louder, looking at me to make sure I’d witnessed the fact that she wasn’t responding. Giving up, he got up off the arm of the sofa and walked back into the kitchen to look out of the window for the moped.

None of this actually happened.

#117 Work

This October, I will have been at PwC for nine years. It’s not a small amount of time. From that point of view, my first main job after university has gone relatively well. I think I am proud of that. I suppose I may as well be. Proud is a strong word though. Pleased might be a better one. A favourite movie quote of mine is from Ace Ventura When Nature Calls, where Jim Carrey’s character, after becoming a spiritually enlightened being, declares that pride is “an abomination of the soul”. I do like that quote.

During the last few years, my performance hasn’t really met the expectations of some, although not all, of my managers all that well. I enjoy certain elements of the job. Analysis. Technical writing. I’m less good when it comes to verbal communication and making decisions under pressure. 

When Autumn comes I might look at other positions within the company to see if there are any that better suit my skill set. I do hope though, over time, not just to change my role but through practice and awareness, to improve in some of the areas where I don’t do so well.

Sunday 16 August 2015

#116 Mouthwash

"Late notice but fancy a pint? I'll be at the Nell Gwynne at 18:15". It was about twenty to seven on Saturday and I was lain on the sofa as always. The fun of dating comes partly from the uncertainty. Sometimes she'll cancel. Sometimes it'll just be a regular date and sometimes it'll turn into the kind of night where all you're capable of doing the next day is lounging around eating cereal and blogging about the ingredients of butter. Until about twenty to seven.

I was starting to feel like a beer so I told John I'd meet him in about an hour. I got up, checked the bus times, threw on some jeans, switched Maria to flight mode to save some battery, brushed my teeth, grabbed a biro and headed out the door.

As I walked, I wondered whether regular mouthwash would have cleaned my mouth any better than the mixture of residual toothpaste and water that was swirling around in there. I rounded the corner before the bus stop, spitting the rinse out into the square of dirt surrounding the pavement tree. There's always time to gargle.

Saturday 15 August 2015

#115 Butter

I've been eating so much butter lately, I love it. I blame Liz. Switched from Flora to Lurpak almost overnight, you know what? I'm not going back. What does it taste good on? That's right, everything. Even value diet cola would taste good with butter on it. That stuff's not butter though. No. Potassium Sorbate. How is that butter? There's a lovely butter that has no preservatives in it though. That's right. Kerrygold. Also, their cows graze freely outside in the sunshine and roam around having fun before they get made to make their butter. I think Kerrygold might just be the most gorgeous and lovely product I've ever had the pleasure of throwing into my shopping trolley. Why not pick up a pack today?

So. The blog. The blog the blog the blog. You know I did a word count earlier today. A word estimate. About a hundred posts. About two hundred words a post. So that's... 3,764 words I've written in total. Not bad for two years' work. I was always better at English than I was a maths. I was a little bit disappointed at the twenty thousand though, not massively but you know, wouldn't it be nice if it was forty thousand? Then all I'd have to do would be to write another hundred and I've got a novel-length set of posts. It's not anything interesting that anyone would ever want to read mind you but then neither was the book of Chronicles and that made it into the Bible.

Sunday 2 August 2015

#114 Liz

It was a humble affair in the end that marked Liz's departure from the house this week. Her looming deadline meant that drinks on Lordship Lane were scaled back to a takeaway and us cleaning her room. This was then further scaled back, with a little divine influence, to eating a casserole of chicken thighs, chopped tomatoes and peppers and cleaning the whole house. At 7:45pm, I took my place at the table and quietly cracked open a can of Fosters to accompany the meal. We ate together for the last time as housemates, talked and made some jokes. Once we were done with the chicken, each of us took for dessert a brownie, from the pile I'd made the day before.

After she'd gone I had a quick peek behind the bed and the wardrobe, looking for the black mould, that unrivalled yet largely unseen measure of how good a housemate a person truly is. Just a trace, around the bottom of the skirting board behind the wardrobe. It could have been mostly dust.

I was slightly surprised actually, as it was clear that the girl was very dedicated in her work, one of the more legitimate excuses that a person can have for seldom having the time to do much cleaning. Perhaps she had spent most of her time in the lounge or kitchen. Maybe she had kept the room well ventilated. We don't know. What we do know is that she has left the house.

Just in case that wasn't clear.

Oh and we liked her. She was an excellent housemate.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

#113 Chairs

I ain't chose blogging. Blogging chose me.

This weekend marked a turning point in history. As well as making it to thirty one, I also discovered that my speakers, which I picked up for about £50 fourteen years ago, were old enough to look and indeed be "retro" so they're now stacked on top of my chest of drawers, near to an old but sturdy metal chair that I got from a charity shop. Hey presto, part of my room looks cheap and crappy. Cheap and crappy is all the rage at the moment. If you like that sort of thing. I do. Because it's cheap.

In the war against humanity, Keira, one of the animal kingdom's few remaining combatants, today ordered herself to deploy a homemade biological weapon on seat of Liz's wheelie chair. The chair, which had become, from the usual cat hair and furballs, too gross to sit on many weeks ago, was now completely toxic. It's pretty normal for Keira to launch small scale attacks from time to time but rarely is it where she sleeps. Liz suggested that maybe she needed the bathroom but was too lazy to get up. Another of my housemates has been known to articulate such a feeling from time to time but has, at least so far, always gotten up in the end.

#112 The tube

"Please carry a bottle of water when travelling". Boris Johnson believes in staying healthy and hydrated when you're out and about. I believe that somewhere there's a person so incompetent that they've passed out because he hasn't added "and occasionally drink some" to the message.

What would be more helpful, is a sign that says "The edge of the doors to this carriage are filthy and if you try to squeeze in at the last second and they shut on you, the grease will never come off your shirt".

At one point in my life, I used to take the central line across the city from East to West two or three times a week, usually carrying some unusual cargo but that's another story. If the carriage was quiet, it was possible to stand the whole way without needing to hold on to anything. I wonder what the wobbliest railway line in the world is.

Saturday 11 July 2015

#111 Books

Books seem to be ways of storing information externally so that it can be recalled and shared, a bit like memories. I'm not really that good at remembering information but I do enjoy writing it down. The last time I read a non-fiction book, I wrote down all of the key messages on one sheet of paper and grouped them into three categories. 

What I might do next is re-read another nine non-fiction books that I've read over the last few years and do the same with them. Without doing this, I might be able to say their titles but would really struggle to tell you what they were about.

Apparently there are about 130 million books in the world. So it's fair to say that nobody has read them all. Apparently there's also an old lady in Scotland that has read up to twelve books a week since 1945 and has read about 25,000 books in total. The article about her focussed on things like the town she lived in and the fact that she also likes to watch TV and read newspapers rather than how she felt about having read so much.

Saturday 27 June 2015

#110 Goose Green

Up the road from where I live, there is a row of shops. As you walk towards them, you can see the city skyline on your left. The roundabout near the main road has some kind of tree in the middle that looks just like a big pineapple or something.

If you carry on going past the shops, you come to the foot of Peckham Rye Park. There is a large grassy area. One morning, I got up at six thirty and went straight out there. It was foggy and by walking out into the grassy area, I got lost in the fog. Surrounded by nothing but fog, a small circle of grass at my feet.

There are often runners circling the park. Big ones, small ones. The faster runners go to Brockwell. It has a better running route, if you don't mind the hill. There's another park not too far away which is mostly a big hill. I think it has a small playground on the top.

There's a cafe on the way to the station that puts out a different message each day in chalk. They're always about coffee. The cafe often has tradesmen or labourers sitting outside. I wonder if they're having breakfast before work or if they already started their jobs and are on a break.

It would be interesting to have breakfast with colleagues. Perhaps.

Monday 22 June 2015

#109 Hoarding.

The first was when upon a trip to Tesco Metro I discovered it there, a solitary New York cheesecake in it's sturdy glass dish. No more than two or three inches in width and just as deep. Into my basket it went and home for a sampling.

Earlier in the month I'd seen a twin pack of creme brulees advertised in the Coop but looking more closely, mere space on the shelf and other things from the lines on either side as had found their way onto it.

It wasn't long before I was back at the Tesco Metro for more cheesecake. The larger stores didn't have it so there I was. Spoon in pocket. On the way to find the dessert again.

The second was the pack of two chocolate souffles which were on offer in the Coop. More delicate and harder to make than a brownie, they needed placing in the oven and baked for just the right amoubt of time, then cooled. I had them both while reading a book and talking to Marc about them.

By now a small stack had formed. The glass containers shimmering out of the dishwasher. Like the crown jewels I piled them, up in a top cupboard. Up away from the confusion of the shared glasswear. Out of sight. In the dark. I kept them.

The third were the two creme brulees, which eventually came into stock and were good value compared to the souffles. I had to wait for Marc to finish cooking his shepherd's pie just to grill one for five minutes. Then back in the fridge for thirty. The other one didn't get its singeing and was scoffed out of the fridge.

My collection of ramakins was growing.

Saturday 6 June 2015

#108 Waterloo

Joining several other thirty something men of East Dulwich who didn't get laid last night and wanted to feel satisfied and cool, I pulled on my sweat pants, wandered down the road and queued up for a breakfast burrito.

It's lucky I could find my way down the road. This week I was supposed to be meeting someone at the main entrance to Waterloo station and got lost. I think I was at what I thought but had temporarily forgotten was Waterloo East.

I can't see how ruining a bacon sandwich by using the wrong bread and putting hot sauce on it constitutes a business model but I'll probably go there again.

If you can think of a two syllable way of saying sweat pants without using American English and I like it, good for you. Good for me too.

I just downloaded Happn about two weeks ago. When it comes to dating apps, I'm always quite late to jump on the bandwagon. It seems like a decent enough rival to Tinder. The app'll let you know all the people that have it that walk within a certain radius of you. It hopefully means that, you know the cute person on the train once, who smiled back at you but you never talked to? Well maybe now you can message them.

The saddest news this week is that Liz is leaving the house. Being whisked away by some dapper young gent called Tom. Anyway it's all quiet unacceptable. I'm thinking of writing a short book to help me cope called Who's Not Stealing My Cheese Anymore?

Monday 25 May 2015

#107 BBQ

It had been a pretty quiet bank holiday weekend. After crawling quickly out of the wreckage of the working week with a full backpack, I'd decided against wandering off into the city to drink lager on my own and came back to the house to eat Chinese with Marc at the kitchen table while watching a shark documentary.

Apparently scientists are uncovering the utility of sharks.

Aside from watching part of series six of 24, I'd sent a holiday request to take four weeks during July and August, spent an hour setting up the software on my work phone and thrown out some of the older clothes from my wardrobe. I should probably replace them with new ones at some point.

Microwave a potato. Tear up a pepper, some chorizo or corned beef, slice a carrot, a small onion and some cubes of cheese. Cover the lot in chives and paprika. Fry it for about ten minutes. I'm telling you.

People were talking about running at the BBQ earlier today. It seems like a good way of developing discipline, clearing the mind and giving oneself something healthy to focus on.

Sunday 26 April 2015

#106 Imperfect perfection

Waiters in the waiting line, tripping on their toes
Secretaries so divine, underneath their clothes
Ain't no f****** party like we're throwing in this s***
******s sell your pension funds, cash in on this s***
Teachers with their ABCs, dosey f****** do
Nurses and the doctors all want some f****** more
Players and the *****s and the ******s Plc
Getting f****** burned when they try to burn me
Inspiration elevates, thirty fourth floor
Cash in on your s*** if you want some f****** more
Nominate the bar and we'll drink the f****** tab
Leave your dirty bra in the back seat of the cab
Inspiration elevates, thirty fourth floor
This is every week and there's plenty f****** more

Sunday 19 April 2015

#105 Ten small things

I don't know whether the ego generally does strengthen us. I wonder if it can. Everything can be seen from a cynical viewpoint and one of the main challenges in life is deciding what to question, from the real benefit of the two lie-ins that you had last weekend to the real benefit of the extra two sets of tennis that you played last night, after which you felt ill, realised that your ankle was twisted and wondered whether the decision to go on playing had been a sensible one.

You may question the wellbeing of a person who feels the need to make a blog post of some pointless things that they think they're good at. You might question it with pity or resentment or believe that you are somehow wiser than the author because you don't just realise but truly understand and embody the awareness that such a post would amount to nothing more than a glaringly ungrateful and embarrassingly lazy perspective on life. This post is not for you. Though I may believe it is for me, it is not either. 

Words and ideas, like viruses, have a life of their own. They spread from person to person. Sometimes they are met by the strength of opposing forces and perish. At other times, they find weakness or a home in their host and there thrive. Some thoughts need to be heard. Some don't. These ones might be. What follows is a list of ten small things that I believe I may do well.

Eat whilst walking
Read scruffy handwriting
Scale a fence
Record my life on paper
Drink fast
Staring contests
Recover stuck snacks from vending machines
Run down staircases
Spot differences between two images
Finding the compost in someone else's bullshit

Sunday 12 April 2015

#104 Do whatever he tells you

Tears rolled down the face of the overwhelmed bride. A small boy, one of two children at the wedding breakfast, who had several minutes ago taken a pause from their game of tag, cheekily tagged his little girl friend again, who retained her composure and shifted contentedly in her sandals. Creaking open, wooden doors gave way to the party guests. A reactionary wave spread through them as they realised that firstly, the newly-wed actually seemed quite happy for some reason and then somehow, the drinks on every single table in the room had been topped-up. It simply wasn't possible. Everyone knew that the booze had run out so where the hell had it all come from?

Excitedly, the son emerged out from the upstairs bedroom window at the back of the house, clambered down onto the flat roof, lowered himself into the side passage and quickly jogged round to the the gathering at the front, rejoining his friends. The news was just about to reach them. He tried hard not to start crying himself, an emotionally fragile young man as he was. His self restraint did him credit as, through tearless eyes, he spotted the blackberry juice all over his own sandals, hurriedly tore them off and lobbed them onto the roof of the building. "What was that?" asked one of his mates. The question was quickly lost as the word spread about the newly materialised drinks on the tables. "Thank God for that" Paul sighed, relieved. "The thought of having to get through another one of these things without any plonk was getting to be a bit much". The son smiled inwardly and remained towards the back of the crowd as they dutifully made their way into the room.

"Well whoever pulled this off is a bloody miracle-worker" declared a thirst-quenched uncle. The son didn't hear this remark and was by this time sat back in his chair, dipping a hunk of bread into the olive oil on his table, trying not to spill any on his robe. As he chewed, he relished the thought of how it had all come together. It had been about eighteen months since his buddy Mark had given him that concentrated home-made blackberry jucie to try. He'd never really been a fan of the stuff but having been given a bottle as a gift, decided to take it home regardless. After all, times were hard. Times had always been hard and probably would be for another couple of thousand years. In fact even when times became less hard, people would continue to moan about stupid little things like the weather or the trains being late... whatever trains were.

The son wasn't exactly the smartest guy in the world. A tad naive. No university. His father hadn't been much of an intellectual and Lord knows what his own career path would end up being. Religious preacher maybe. Spiritual guru. They both seemed a bit weird and far-fetched but then he'd always had some basic people skills and they complimented reasonably well his underlying religious faith, which he had been known to babble about from time to time. He certainly was resourceful though. He had that combination of practical intelligence and inner strength that tends to be developed partly through a life of some external hardship, self-sacrifice and the right kind of parents although to a lesser extent, is available to anyone who really wants to look for it. 

On this particular day though, he'd mostly just been lucky. The pantry, around the back of the wedding venue, contained a jar of common carub syrup, which he thought little of comandeering (he could always replace it later). As he'd found out a few weeks ago, the syrup mixed remarkably well with the concentrated juice. This could then be diluted to create gallons of a sweet-tasting drink, soon to become the latest cool thing to drink at parties, at least until people remembered how much they enjoyed getting drunk and switched back to alcohol.

"Oi mushty" came a hushed voice from the seat next to him, "I knew you'd pull something off". The son, mouth full of bread, turned to his mother and gave her a big fat wink, with near-perfect timing. They both burst into laughter as the band struck up, the waiters came forward and the hundred or so guests settled happily to joke and gossip into the night.

Sunday 29 March 2015

#103 Lazy weekend

Morning, how was your weekend and what did you do?
Oh you spent it in Prague, that's so nice, good for you
Yes you went to a restaurant and tried some nice fish
What about mine you say? Oh you know, nothing swish

Well it near enough started at six forty three
printing Aliya's slides out, up near IMT
after which, I got packed up and walked to the door
looking out for the mice that live under the floor

I went straight to that chip shop that does kebabs too
The kebabs aren't as nice but there's never a queue
and the portions are massive, which suits me just right
I was happy as Larry for the rest of the night

The next day I got up at a quarter to one
cause a really big lie-in is awfully fun
then I wandered around to the caf for some grub
and then later I went for a beer in the pub

In the evening I walked to that hill with a view
You'll know which one I mean, if I ever took you
I looked out at the world and I saw it anew
Rested eyes work much better than eyes tired and blue

Friday 20 March 2015

#102 Lisbon

"Do you think that's art?" she asked me. I sat and stared for a moment at the cheap picture on the wall. It was a long moment. Maybe several moments. I agreed that either her or I could easily have painted it. A moment longer. My friend had probably begun to turn her thoughts elsewhere. 

The painting was a rough outline of a young girl, stood next to a large bird, a couple of times her size. I think it was an emu. A moment longer. There must be a point to it. I never really understood art properly. I didn't know if it was supposed to invoke a particular feeling. I thought that it probably was. Like perfume for the eyes.

Suddenly something clicked. The daunting feeling of alivemess that the young girl must have felt to have such a large bird just inches in front of her. It wouldn't have been fear or curiosity or friendship. This was a picture of what it felt like to encounter an animal. It might have been all of those feelings mixed together.

The girl stood openly with her shoulders down and slightly back, her palms by her sides but facing the giant bird, whose head was pointed towards her shoes. One small girl, fascinated by life for an instant. I thought it might be art. I hoped it was.

Saturday 7 March 2015

#101 Let's go!

Da da da da da da da da Boom! I'm laying on the sofa listening to the Lemmings 95 soundtrack. I love how they "remixed" all those classical tunes, churned them around in some kind of 90s midi and spat it out all over the game. You get the feeling that they really had fun making it and can listen to the results here.

Last year I didn't go for the 'run loads' or 'date more' (I know... shut up) resolutions and instead made one to myself just to be happier. Worst. Resolution. Ever. I mean what does that even mean? That you have to be grateful for everything the whole time? How laborious. Then you have to try and figure out what actually makes you happy... I dunno... more cake? Cause the only thing I have any energy or enthusiasm for is more cake... so that had pretty much better be the bloody answer.

So this year, instead of wanting to be happier, I decided to try to be myself more. Now this makes even less sense because being yourself is not something that any one of us can avoid no matter how hard we try. You can't be David Beckham. You just can't. That's not how it works. So... where was I? 

This week a couple of times I decided instead of spending every single waking minute looking at a screen, before I went to bed, I'd take like twenty or forty minutes or whatever and just do nothing for a while... at about 9pm. It was pretty cool. I just sat in my room and let only two thin blades of streetlight come in through each set of curtains. So I did nothing for a short while... and then checked my phone a couple of times of course and went to sleep, at a reasonable time for a change.

The results the next day were astonishing. It could have just been the springtime sunshine. I felt normal though. It was as if my mind was fixed. No more constant stream of unmanageable and exhausing thoughts. No more underlying uncertainty and fear. I could talk to people a bit more confidently too. So I might try this again.


Sunday 1 March 2015

#100 Cool for cats

Ah the domestic cat. Not the highest of achievers, unless you count being cute as an achievement. I do. At times curious. At times cowardly. She can move when she wants to. Sleep when she wants to too. No sooner out than she wants to come home again. She is very fury. She has nice eyes. If she's loyal to you, it's probably because she wants something. Food. Cuddles. Your company. She can be a friend but likes to do her own thing at times.

The cat will not always listen to, or understand all of your points. In some ways, she is from a simpler time. Dogs are not her friend. Please don't startle her. She enjoys a good meal. She can eat when she wants to. She likes to keep things simple. To her, life is not about working all of the hours God sends. She is far too lazy for that. On sunny days, she likes to lie in the sun. The domestic cat is my blog subject this week.

Sunday 22 February 2015

#99 An applicably ending

This one might have the odd mistake in it and it might not. A train isn't an easy place to write a blog post. Not in twelve minutes anyway. Nobody said that writing a weekly blog was gong to be easy though.

I've read a couple of other people's blogs lately but you knw what? I just don't like them. I don't like reading blogs. I' sure that I could find one that I liked if I really tried but for me personally, most of them try too hard to use long words.

I know some long words.


Oh wait, excommunication.

The thing is though, that's not how people talk. Ok people might say excommunicate if they were talking about the occasional buggering bishop but how often does that actually... ok maybe it was a bad example.

Speaking of long words, this week an old uni acquaintance posted that whoever was in charge of education in the UK was silly because one of the spellings Year 5s have to learn is 'applicably', that she had rarely had to use that word herself and whether anyone could even think of a sentence with it in.

At first I replied to say given that whoever is in charge of education wasn't actually teaching year 5, I hoped that the teachers themselves when carrying out their roles could find a way to react to their discontent applicably.

Then I thought about it a bit more and wrote that that there would always be a gap between what was studied academically and what was used in the world of work. I explained that it represented the broad-mindedness of mankind's approach to learning and education and reflected the beauty and depth of our language and the world we lived in. I admitted though that it could probably be a pain in the ass too, which I think was my friend's point. She decided not to teach the word. After all, they could hardly sack her for it. They probably wouldn't even notice.

Sunday 15 February 2015

#98 Slow news day

By all accounts, this year's general election could go either way. The staff over at HM Treasury are not supposed to vary their internal budgeting pre-election based on who they think will win although I know a guy who will tell you that they usually have to do this to some extent and even he's not leaning to one side.

If I were to ask what could sway it, I'm sure I'd be pelted with enough issues so I won't ask. Instead, I'll suggest that there are going to be roughly equal voters on both sides of the fence when it comes to the economy, which is plodding along cautiously but not teetering. Ok there are what I'd call medium sized differences in policy on NHS, immigration, unemployment but nothing too unpredictable that's going to get people changing their chant. Trident remains an interesting debate around the pub table but most people know where they stand on it.

I don't know jack about politics so I scooted over to the BBC website to see what they thought. Interestingly to me, the environment didn't make it into their 'key issues' list. This perhaps says more about short-termism in politics than it does about climate change awareness, which will only keep increasing over the coming years.