Category Archives: Blogging

Good evening, and welcome to a very brief blog post!

 

Well, that’s all from me. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out this Friday’s Poem – the second in this years “Poem Challenge” series – where you get to choose what I write my poems about!

 

 

I’m joking of course! I’m still here!. The question is – are you? I do hope so.

I’ve only got thirty minutes to write this blog post, so shut up and let me get on with it.

I’m probably being paranoid, but I’m starting to get the impression that people think I’m a Mormon.

No, not Moron – I am aware people think that already.

Before I go any further, let me say that there is nothing wrong with being a Mormon, and I have no problem with them – other than being approached to discuss my faith. But I’ll come back to that later (As I told the Vicar).

Allow me to explain: I work in an office where – with the exception of ‘Dress Down Friday’, where ANYTHING goes! – my normal attire is black shoes, black trousers and a shirt. Many of my shirts are coloured but many are also white. I walk to and from work (I find getting to work helps me get stuff done), and I have a laptop bag that I carry with me. At this point I am aware that I am giving potential muggers a perfect description…….

Anyway, as I walk along with my bag, knuckle dusters, shotgun, and Karate Suit (including my three black belts), I have caught sight of my reflection in shop windows and I see what seems to me to resemble the standard dress code for Mormons – except for the little black badge they have with their name on it.

Incidentally, if this is no longer the dress code for the Mormons, I apologise and mean no offence.

So, I have noticed that I seem to be dressing in a similar fashion to a (possibly) outdated code of the Mormons, and therefore, my mind tells me that people are looking at me out of the corner of their eye with wariness. I mean they could be because, you know, it’s me but if not, is it because of the way I am dressed?

Now, as I said before I have no problems with Mormons – or any religion for that matter. But I don’t like people coming to my door to talk to me about my faith and why I should consider joining theirs. I think all religions should have the freedom to celebrate their religion, and invite others to join them – but don’t do it on the threshold of my door. In my opinion, I cannot see what the problem would be with circulating leaflets inviting people to an open day or a meet and greet type thing, and then letting people decide whether to visit or not. I’m not aware of any other religions knocking door to door to promote themselves, and I would not go and try to convince someone else in their home to take an interest in my religion.

For the record, I no longer go to church. I am a catholic, and believe in God – but I carry my god in my heart and my belief too. I ask god for help, and I talk to both my parents (who are deceased) when I need guidance. We have a Church of England church where I live, and I have gone to that church many times for various things (not services). I always find churches beautifully peaceful places and no matter what their denomination, the tranquility is calming and soothing to me.

Faith, and other Faiths do not worry me – we are all different. My only slight niggle is that I am uncomfortable being approached in the street or at my door about joining other religions. I am comfortable in my faith, and get all I need from it. That is not to say that I do not find other faiths interesting – but I have no interest in converting.

And let me be clear – I hate anyone coming to my door when I’m at home: politicians, charity collectors, door to door salesman.

I have not set out in this blog to upset or offend anyone. I apologise sincerely if I have.

Much love x

Advertisements

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

I was back to swimming today, with a determination to do better. I was not as nervous this morning before my lesson as usual, and although not buoyant about it (pun intended), I didn’t have as many butterflies as in previous weeks.

When I got to my lesson, I was met with a familiar face – though not the face of my usual teacher, whatshername. No, this week I was to be taught by Maria, the senior instructor. She greeted me, and told me I could get in the water for the few minutes before my lesson started, and do some widths of the pool to practice my breathing and get warmed up.

A couple of widths later, my lesson started. I was in the shallow end again. This week Maria encouraged me to keep my head on my arm when reaching forward in my stroke, and just turning my head (not raising it out of the water) when taking a breath. So I set off, and did better at keeping my head in position – but the rest of it was going to pot; my rhythm was off, and I wasn’t getting enough breath because I kept taking in water when I opened my mouth to breathe.

PopeyeMaria reminded me that I need to keep half my mouth closed and just breathe in through the corner of my mouth. “Like Popeye !” she called encouragingly. But that is easier said than done, and for the next several attempts I continued to get into all sorts of difficulty. I was now trying to concentrate on breathing out of the corner (and thinking that I must look like a real fool with just the corner of my mouth open), and remember to keep my head close to my arm, remember to turn my head and not lift it, AND remember to breathe out underwater and kick strongly.

In my attempts to remember all of this, my swimming was rushed and frantic and Maria had to tell me on several occasions to slow down. In the end we slowed things right down and that made things a little better. I didn’t swim a full length in this lesson. I probably could have done, but I still got anxious when I saw the deep end approaching. The problem I have is that I am impatient to improve, and that impatience leads to frustration, which leads to my rushing. And that of course, means that all technique goes by the wayside.

BUT…….I worked really hard again this lesson, but did not feel as worn out as in previous weeks. So I am getting fitter. I do still ache, but in comparison to my first couple of lessons, nowhere near as much.

I’ve now got a two-week break from lessons due to half-term holidays, but Maria has urged me to get some practice in if I can. So I need to get into water in the next two weeks without fail.

Look for me in your kitchen sink!

Pool

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

It was my third swimming lesson this week – and my third with a new teacher. Yes, I know that last week I assured you that I would see my regular teacher return this week, but for reasons not divulged to me, she has not appeared. So, today I had Maria – who is the head teacher of the swimming school. She isn’t a headteacher (Principal) just the main teacher – but from her demeanour she has the reputation of being a no-nonsense type of teacher and does not suffer fools lightly.

As you can imagine, I was nervous.

As a matter of fact, I have suffered terrible bouts of worrying before each swimming lesson so far. Anxiety, worrying, and a lack of self-confidence are just three things that I am learning to deal with in my life (the others are devastating good looks, a beard you can set your watch by, and a crippling sense of humility), so I could say that it is understandable that I might be nervous. But, I’m not sure why I am so nervous before each know lesson. I know that one of the reasons I am having these lessons is to overcome my fear of being out of my depth, and become a stronger thus more confident swimmer, but it’s not fear that I might drown that affects me beforehand. The fear of drowning only comes to me when I am in the water swimming and see the depth of the pool deepen and realise that I could realistically drown if I mess my stroke up or get too tired. It’s also not a fear of people seeing my un-toned, middle-aged body as I walk around the pool or swim in the water. Although II am unhappy with my fitness and body condition, I have no concerns when I am at the beach or at swimming if other people do. The cries of ‘dear God – my eyes!’ or ‘that reminds me, I must by a frozen chicken’ do not bother me.

I think I get myself so worked up about trying to do better than the week before, that the fear of failure makes me nervous. And so I fail.

This week’s lesson started with a vital piece of information being confirmed. Around this morning’s breakfast table, I was talking to my fiancée about my lesson, and how we had looked at breathing, and how difficult I was finding it. During the conversation I discovered that when my head was face down in the water, I was supposed to breathe out – so that when I turned my head to breathe in, I could get as much air into my lungs as possible. Now, before you all scream at me “well, obviously – you idiot!” please understand that I hadn’t considered this before, and it had not been passed on to me by my teacher. Except that it had; when my teacher last week, Jo told me to think “Bubble…bubble……breathe” she didn’t want me to think the word ‘Bubble’, she meant that I was to breathe out – creating bubbles – and then turn my head and breathe in. What I had been doing was holding my breath whilst face down in the water, and then trying to breathe out and breathe in, in the half a second my mouth was out of the water – which wasn’t enough time, so I wasn’t getting enough air into my lungs and was therefore unable to maintain an effective and calm routine.

You may now scream at me “well, obviously – you idiot!”

So, the focus of this lesson was (again) about breathing – breathing out underwater, and when to breathe in and the correct body / head and neck position. I spent the first 5-10 minutes just stood in the pool putting my face down in the water and breathing out, and then lifting my head out of the water and getting a good lung full of air. I tried breathing out through my mouth and then my nose – and to be honest I find breathing out through my nose more comfortable. Then we tried actually swimming and trying this new-found additional bit of technique. And of course, it was a disaster. I must admit I was frustrated by today’s lesson. It feels that I can only do one of the individual techniques that make up the entire technique of swimming properly. If my arm stroke is good, then my breathing is off, my legs are kicking properly, I don’t have floppy feet, and I’m not rotating my body enough to get my mouth out of the water. If I do any of the others right, then everything else is wrong.

So, we tried me swimming on my side. My leading arm (I swapped them when I turned to swim back to the side of the pool) would be outstretched and holding a float. The idea was for me to put my head resting on my leading arm, and then look down into the water to breathe out, and then twist my head up (whilst keeping it resting on my arm) to breathe out. At the same time, I had to kick my legs well to keep my hip up which enables my body to rotate when my face is in the water, and then rotate back when I breathe out. So, on my way out away from the side of the pool, my leading arm was my right arm, and I was breathing in from my left. On the way back, leading arm was my left, and I breathed in from my right. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde! My swim out was shambolic – I was all over the place; my head wasn’t on my arm, my breathing has horrendous, and my body shape was non-existent. The swim back, wasn’t much better – but my head was on my arm, I had more rhythm to my breathing, and my body position was better. I tried it several times, and each time it was the same. At one point, on my better swim back, I went off course and nearly torpedoed a poor two-year-old having their first lesson – so even my good work nearly went awry.

Maria told me that everyone has one side stronger than the other – but she urged me to really work on my weaker side, as otherwise I will end up with unbalanced shoulders. I assume the dangers of this would be like when you have a wind-up scuba diver as a kid in the bath – you know, the ones whose arms spin round to propel him through the water. One of his arms would always stop spinning, so whenever you wound it up it would just swim in circles because only one arm worked. That’s what swimming would be like for me; just swimming around in circles.

Like I said, today was a frustrating lesson. I am being way too hard on myself – after all, this was only my third lesson. But I’m frustrated at the fear and the anxiety which still holds me in its grip. I am prising the fingers open gradually, but in the meantime, it makes learning to swim hard work – both physically, and mentally.

But, I will not give up. I will overcome my fear, and my anxiety. I will work hard on my breathing out under water (a good friend of mine swears by practising in the washing up bowl), and work hard to relax when I am in the pool.

I can’t do anything about today’s lesson now – it is gone. I look forward to next week – if nothing else, for the lottery that is finding out who my teacher will be!

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Today was the second of my swimming lessons. This week I had a new teacher, Jo. And before you say it, my teacher last week has not resigned due to stress caused by my ineptitude in water. She is on holiday, and will return the next week.

I had to wait a few minutes to Jo to get to me for my lesson, so I had a quick go at “Sculling”. Sculling is where you lie on your back and control yourself in the water by moving your slightly cupped hands in the water in a motion that gently propels you (if both hands are moving in the same direction), or keeps you stationary (hands moving in different directions). Much to both my delight and equal frustration, I was happily able to Scull quite well this week – as opposed to last week, when for some unknown reason, despite my best efforts I was only able to propel myself in the opposite direction intended; if I tried to scull backwards, I ultimately would end up serenely moving forwards, which was very annoying.

It was good having a different teacher this week, because although Jo went over the technique just like last week’s teacher did (have you guessed yet that I can’t remember her name?), she also added some snippets of info that added to my learning. For example, I was taught last week that when kicking as I swim, my leg should be straight with the kick coming from my hips. There should be very little knee bend. This was echoed by Jo this week – but she also added that my feet should be floppy as if I was trying to shake off a sock. Nuggets like this will help my technique no end.

So, I did a few half lengths with the new and improved technique, and my swimming was indeed improved. I have purchased a pair of swimming goggles – at the exorbitant price of £20 (£20! For swimming goggles!) so I can now see clearer underwater. That is, of course, when my “anti-fog” goggles didn’t fog up. I have spoken to my partner about going back to the shop to complain, but she suggested rubbing my spit on them first. I’m not sure that is necessary; I’m quite capable of telling the shop manager how I feel without stooping to those depths.

Later in my lesson, we moved on to breathing – and when to breathe when doing front crawl. Jo told me that she has a way of remembering (apart from the feeling that your lungs are on fire) when to breathe, and that is ‘Bubble…Bubble…Breathe’. On the ‘Breathe’ is when to turn my head so my mouth is out of the water and take a breath. So it’s head facing downwards for the ‘Bubble..Bubble’, and then breathe. Now I’m sure that Jo is a very qualified teacher, but in my head, I did wonder if saying “Bubble” underwater was the best thing to do, as an open mouth lets in more water than a closed one does. In the end, I decided to think my bubbles.

I ended up swimming an entire length of the pool with my new technique. In fact, after a prolonged rest each time, I was able to swim a length back to the shallow end. But then the tiredness kicked in. I cannot tell you how exhausting swimming is when doing it properly (or as properly as an uncoordinated person can do). Remember that when I am swimming, I am trying to recall all the technique I have to do:

  • Stretch my body out to maintain a streamlined body position
  • Kick from the hips – maintain a straight leg, with minimal knee bend
  • Have floppy feet – like I’m trying to kick off a sock
  • Rotate my body as each arm stroke happens – but keep my head still, facing downwards
  • Keep my head on my arm when turning my head to breathe
  • Remember “Bubble…Bubble…Breathe”
  • Alternate my breathing from side to side each time

All of the above takes huge amounts of concentration and physical effort, and as I was pushed hard by Jo (I’m still the only one in my class, so no respite) I flagged – and flagged spectacularly. Twice!

The first flagging came as a result of my goggles. Wearing them, as I have mentioned before, gives me clearer vision under the water. So, as I approached the two-thirds mark of the pool, I saw that the bottom of the pool sloped away from a stand-uppable 1.5 metre depth, to a Jules Verne-esque 3 metre depth. Instantly, I was out of my depth – one of my biggest fears, and one of the reasons for taking up swimming lessons – to build my confidence in the water, and especially when out of my depth.But this was only my second lesson, so when I saw the bottom of the pool far below me, I panicked – and my tired body threw technique out of the window as I resorted to my default setting; head up, gasping for breath and thrashing about like a cat in a hot-tub.

The second flagging came as a direct result of my swimming shorts. I was at the deep end, clinging to the side of the pool like a limpet with abandonment issues. I was still recovering from my first flagging episode, but wanted to keep trying as I knew what I was learning was good for me on so many levels. In my lessons I have started my length swimming with a “push and glide” – that is where I push-off from the wall of the pool with my feet and glide for as far as possible in the stretched out, streamlined body shape. In theory, being just under 2 metres tall means that a good push and glide could allow me to cover a considerable length of the pool before having to think about technique.

So, with grim determination and still slightly out of breath, I pushed off from the wall of the deep end. As you might expect, my swim shorts are not streamlined and so cause a little bit of drag (I’m not ready for speedos just yet – and I’m damn sure the young families at the pool will never be ready for that image! Or you, for that matter). My tired legs did not give me the greatest momentum, and yet I immediately felt the effect of the drag on my shorts and they slipped to just half-way down my bottom. In amongst the techniques that my brain was recalling every nano-second, a small voice chipped in, “Your shorts are falling down Larry – everyone can see your bum. Best pull them up”. So as my right arm moved forward to help propel me forwards, my left arm shot back and began tugging at my shorts to pull them up.

Of course, less than a second later, my left arm was meant to be moving forwards to continue the stroke – but it was still grappling with my shorts. My forward motion was maintaining the drag on the shorts and holding them back, fighting the efforts of my left arm to raise them back to decency. So I had both arms back along the sides of my body – the right, maintaining the streamlined body position I had been taught, and the left frantically pulling at my swim shorts like a fisherman trying to haul in a full net by hand. All this meant, that my head didn’t have an arm to rest on when I turned to breathe, so when I did open my mouth it was still below the surface of the water, and I gulped in water and then stopped abruptly coughing and spluttering – thankfully just inside the 1.5 metre mark so I could stand on the bottom.

Fortunately, at that point my lesson was up. I regained my breath, and swam on my back to the side of the pool, and got out.

Jo said I had worked hard and had made improvements since the beginning of the lesson. I don’t know about the improvements, but I know I worked hard: my body aches from my shoulders, to my core muscles, down to my quivering thighs – and even the soles of my feet. But I’m still glad I’m doing it – it is such a good work out, and as I get better technically, my confidence will grow. And that must be a good thing.

Pool

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Today, I went back to school; Swimming school, to be precise.

I have decided that I want to have swimming lessons – not because I cannot swim; quite the opposite. Well, not exactly the opposite, because the opposite of me not being able to swim, is me being SO good at swimming, it would be as if the Man from Atlantis, and Michael Phelps had a ménage-a-trois with Flipper, and I was their streamlined bastard offspring. Sadly, this is not the case. I can swim, but my technique is poor. Don’t forget, that I was taught swimming when I was at school in the late seventies and early eighties, when I was literally thrown into the pool and forced to swim by my teacher. This was in the days when “Abuse” was pronounced “Character Building”.

But a desire to thrash about less as I move through the water was just one of the reasons for my resumption of aquatic academic activities. The other reasons were:

  1. To be more confident in the water, and especially when out of my depth.
  2. A recognition that I do not exercise anywhere near enough, am therefore overweight, and subsequently parts of me are now living in the shadow of my waistline – and as we all know, nothing grows in the shade.

So, at 11am this morning I started my first swimming lesson in about 38 years. I’m pleased to say that teaching methods have moved on considerably since the 70’s/80’s, as I could make my own way into the pool rather than be pushed in with a broom, which was then used to poke me as I attempted to swim. I was the only one in my class today. My teacher did consider putting me with a class of seven-year olds who were at the deep end of the pool, but then had doubts whether I would be able to keep up with them. Erring on the side of caution, I was directed to the shallow end where I had my lesson.

My lesson started with me swimming four widths in the swimming styles I knew. These were: Front Crawl, backstroke, and breast-stroke. My teacher watched me swim my three and a half widths (I am 47 you know), before I floundered breathlessly to the side of the pool, and she told me how appalling my technique was. I smiled inanely at her – which is my standard response to criticism of my technique – and then she began to teach me how to swim. She was very good in fact. She went through the mechanics, and I practised my body position, and using my body in a way which would help to improve my swimming, rather than my current technique of being rubbish. I did get to practise with some floats – but they didn’t have any armbands big enough for me.

My lesson was only 30 minutes long, but by the end, I had already made some improvements. Although, it was hard to remember all new information; body position, full leg kicking, using my hips, stretching out, head down, turn my head to breathe. For most of the latter stages of the lesson, I managed one or two of these things. At one point, I was concentrating so much on trying to remember as much as possible that when I did remember to turn my head to the side to breath, I forgot to take a breath in – and then very quickly spluttered to a complete stop. But still, it was an enjoyable lesson.

And my body knows about it – my thighs and my shoulders, and my stomach muscles all ache for being called into action after effectively retiring 12 years ago when I stopped playing football. But I feel good – I’m pleased I have done this, and am looking forward to getting fitter, healthier, and more confident.

I’ll keep you informed of progress.

(Obviously, if there is not update next week – I drowned)

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Well, today I was interviewed live on the Radio. In case you haven’t read any of my recent blogs or poems firstly, where on earth have you been? The Radio station was Abbey104fm, and the programme I was interviewed on was called “Folk Tales” and is hosted by Terry Bennett. Folk Tales is a bit like Desert Island Discs, where guests come on to talk about themselves, and bring with them five pieces of music or songs that they would take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. It has occurred to me that Desert Island Discs should really have been called “Desert Island Discs and a record player” because just taking five records with you to an island is pointless without something to play them on. Now I think about it, the proper title really should have been called “Desert Island Discs and a Record Player That Has Been Modified So That it can be powered by Either Solar Energy, Wind Power, or Energy from Waves” – because the record player would need to be powered. Although, many original record players were powered by a wind-up mechanism, and therefore would not need an alternative power source – thought it would be useful and a labour-saving device.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Today I was interviewed on the Radio. I haven’t heard the broadcast myself, but I know I was terribly nervous, and hope this didn’t come across too much. I will shortly be getting a link to the broadcast and will share it on here with you all, so you can listen and decide for yourselves how I came across. I really enjoyed my time on the radio and would quite happily have had longer if possible. We spoke not just about my writing, my poetry and my blogging but also about my life and how I came to be where I am in life

Fortunately, I won’t have to wait too long before I get to back on the Radio again, because I’ve also been invited to be interviewed on BBC Radio Solent. BBC Radio Solent is available in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and East Dorset on 96.1FM and 999AM, and in West Dorset, tune into 103.8FM and 1359AM. You can also listen to it on the BBC iPlayer radio website. I’m going on BBC Radio Solent in the morning of Tuesday 17th April, on their “Breakfast in Dorset” show, and the ‘slot’ I am on is from 07:50am to 08:00am. This interview will purely be focusing on my poetry, and my poetry writing service – where I take commissions to write poetry for special occasions, or for special people. I will be reading a few examples of my poetry too whilst on air.

So that is all very exciting, and I’m hoping that it will raise my profile somewhat.

Now, Saucepans – potentially the perfect murder weapon.

My Fiancée has recently purchased some Le Creuset cast-iron saucepans (second hand – we’re not millionaires), and as I was washing one up the other day I was surprised at how heavy it was in comparison to our previous saucepans which must have been made from tin foil or cardboard. Whilst marvelling at the weight I was reminded of a scene in the film “Master and Commander – the Far Side of the World” in which one crew member commits suicide by jumping overboard whilst holding a cannonball. You can see the scene here: https://youtu.be/xbutW_ouy60.

Anyhow, I got thinking whether the weight of the smallest cast-iron pan in our household would be heavy enough to drown someone with if they were tethered to it. The pan weighs 1.2kg which I suppose would be heavy enough to pull a non-swimmer under, but a confident swimmer would be able to manage okay I think – provided they were close enough to shore, because being tethered to a saucepan would make it hard work. I checked my theory out with my Fiancée, who suggested a possible better solution; clunk your intended victim over the head with a saucepan, and then wedge the pan onto their head. Not only would this drag the body down head first into the water, it would also look quite funny, which could take the edge of an otherwise very serious moment. Plus, in the cold water, the victims head would shrink eventually just enough to release the pan ensuring that both murder victim and implement of death would remain hidden at the bottom of the body of water selected.

The conversation with my Fiancée took place during a romantic dinner we enjoyed last night – and just after I had asked her if she had life insurance…….

Incidentally – I have no idea why the font size changes halfway through this blog post.

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

I hope each of you reading this are well, and I hope that life is treating you well wherever you are.

Where are you? I’ve often wondered where those people who read my blog come from. The analytical part of this WordPress blog will tell me the country that my blog traffic comes from – but that doesn’t tell me where in those countries you are. Now please don’t be suspicious – there is nothing to worry about; I’m not going to start stalking you – for starters, I just simply wouldn’t have the time to get round and stalk you all on a consistent basis, it just would not be possible given the geography involved. The only way that would work would be with one of two options. The first option would be that you, my blog followers got together and appoint a designated “spokesperson” who would represent the thoughts and feelings of all my blog followers. If that was the case, I could just stalk the spokesperson and they could feed back the experience to you all. The second option is that all of you, move to the same location – for example Waco, Texas – and then I can just go to that one location at stalk each of you at my leisure. I appreciate that the stalking may be a little unnerving, but at least you’ll have a close network of support.

But all of this is hypothetical anyway, because I’m not going to stalk you. However, I am curious as to where you all are checking my blog from, so could I ask you a favour? Could you leave me a comment on this blog post, just giving the name of the place where you live, and the country you are in. If you are uncomfortable stating the country, then just your town will be fine – I’ll just google it to get an idea of where in the world you are. I’m curious as to how far “W is for Duck” has reached, and if it hasn’t reached very far then I need to up my marketing game.

Right, on with this blog post, which is the familiar mish-mash of thoughts, experiences, and ideas that occur to me.

I have discovered a few things in the past few days. The first thing that I discovered that there is a spurious correlation between the amount of cheese purchased per capita in America, and the number of deaths that occurred as a result of people getting tangled in their bed sheets. In 2004 on average, 31.5 lbs of cheese were purchased per capita (per individual / person), and the number of deaths attributed to bed sheet entanglement was close to 700. In 2009, these figures increased to just under 33lbs, and approximately 750 deaths. This information, along with a host of other weird correlations can be found on a website called tylervigen.com. Did you know that there is also a correlation between the number of people who have drowned by falling into a pool, and the number of films that year that Nicholas Cage has appeared in?

Coincidence? You decide…….

If you could see me now, you would find yourself attracted to me, because I have recently had my monthly beard trim and treatment. But as you can’t see me, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, I was in the barber’s chair with my head wrapped in a hot towel before my cut-throat razor shave began and I was relaxed, and in a world of my own. I was aware that there was another client having a treatment two chairs along from me, and I was aware that he was having a conversation with his Barber, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Which is why my auditory system decided to tune in to the other conversation for just enough time for me to hear and register this phrase:

“It was a good night – but my girlfriend got my nan drunk”

Now, to some people having their grandmother drunk (smashed, hammered, pissed, w*nkered, off her face, off her head, off her t*ts, and several other ways of saying it) might be a normal occurrence. Its not to me, nor is the fact that someone young enough to be the old lady’s granddaughter was complicit in getting the older person inebriated. But like I said, I was unable to hear the rest of the conversation, and therefore missed out on hearing any possible explanation. And as I did not know the person in the other chair, I felt that a muffled “WTF!?” coming from me was inappropriate. However, I was left with many questions….oh so many questions.

On Tuesday 10th April it is my Birthday. I will not divulge my age – not because I am afraid to do so, but because the propaganda machine that runs the world and keeps us all scared has drilled into my psyche the dangers of identity theft, and how cyber criminals can find out stuff about you in many clever ways. So, giving out both my date of birth and the year I was born (via my age) is a security risk. Who knows how many dodgy people are out there just waiting to assume the identity of an overweight man with a beard, a weak sphincter and a low credit rating? What I will say, is that my age in numbers is just a little higher than my waist measurement, and both of those factors make me very depressed. Each of them individually would have a good crack at wiping the smile off my face.

I haven’t reached a milestone birthday yet, but it’s creeping closer. And what can I tell you about life for me right now? Well, I’ve spent two-thirds of my life without my mum, who died when I was only one third in. I’ve also spent also half my life without my dad, who also passed away. I still have no clue as to what I want to do for a career. What I do know is that I want to be happy in what I do – and by happy, I mean fulfilled. In every place I have worked, including my current employer, I love the people I work with. That has been a fortunate constant in my life. The fact that I met my best friend at work, and we this year celebrate 30 years of friendship (he likes me) is testament to that. In terms of me liking myself – we’re not their yet. It’s getting better, and the work I do with my counsellor is helping massively with that. I am firmly of the belief that as I get older, I get better as a person, and then when I reach 99 years old I will be amazing. But in terms of self-belief and recognising my own worth and stuff like that (like being able to accept praise and compliments), I’m only just sitting down at the table opposite myself, to start discussions about how I’m actually alright, and not crap at everything and have worth and value and all of that. The great thing is, that just stepping into the room and approaching the table has been a MASSIVE achievement for me, and knowing that I have come this far, means that the rest of the journey is within my power. What else is great is the love and support that I have from my family and my friends, I am very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.

One other thing about life for me now is that I’m trying to make small but significant changes to my use of my time. To that end, I (and my fiancée, and our children – much to their delight) have reduced the amount of time spent looking at the internet via our smart phone, tablet or computer. By the way, you know that APPLE advert where that girl is going around town taking pictures on her tablet/laptop thing, and then is lying on the ground in her garden using it when her neighbour asks her what she is doing? Every time I see her say “what’s a computer?” I just want to kick her in the face. I’m sorry, but I hate that advert, and I get so frustrated by it. In my mind, I see a long queue of people behind me waiting to beat the crapola out of that girl, each of us holding something that might be meaningless to her, but means something to my generation – a computer, a floppy disk, a Soda Stream, a cassette, a Littlewoods catalogue, a corded telephone with a round dial that took seven minutes to dial 999, stuff that middle aged people had growing up that lasted – not today’s throw away society where today’s fidget spinner is tomorrow’s Watch Phone. If you’ve ever seen that scene in “Airplane” where people are queuing up to calm that hysterical woman, you’ll know what I mean.

So, I am cutting down my use of devices, and so far – although it has been a struggle – I’m really liking it. It’s made me realise just how much time I waste looking at my phone (usually on Social Media). Now I’ve started putting down, I’ve been much better at picking up other stuff, like my Banjo; I’ve managed to practice almost every day for the past week and a half and am already seeing improvements. I also have more time to write my poetry and think up blog topics and have got around to some of those jobs that I have been putting off for far too long. Gardening is one of them. I hate gardening, but even so I got out for twenty minutes or so. I think it would be fair to say that I have been addicted to looking at my phone / tablet for far too long, but it is only since I have gone ‘cold turkey’ that I have realised just how much time it was sucking out of my life. Don’t get me wrong: the urge to look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or play games is still very strong. But I recognise the dangers and the harm involved. That being said, I do need to find a way to be able to continue to use Social Media to promote my blog and my poetry, so a balance needs to be found. But for now, let’s continue with having more time for better stuff.

Well, that’s it for this blog post. The next time you hear from me I will be older and (hopefully) wiser. Like I said at the start of this post, leave me a comment saying where you are from, I’d love to know where in the world you guys are!

And as always, thanks for reading this. x