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Posts Tagged ‘Blog every day in May’

  1. I miss my Mum

    May 12, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – What do you miss? 

    I’m not going to make this a particularly long post, because I already go on about my Mum far too much on here. But one of the main things that I miss in my life is my Mum before she got ill.

    I still have my mother around of course, as you no doubt know. But in many ways, and I don’t think she’d disagree with me on this, she’s a different person now to who she was before she got ill in about 2001. And I miss the old Mum, as trying as she could sometimes (often) be, and she misses her too.

    Mum used to be quite an active woman. She swam several times a week and used to enjoy riding about on this hideously womany folding bicycle thing she bought. She was also strong of character, confident and strong willed, and used to spend quite a lot of time making complaints to companies and shops and anybody who disagreed with her.

    The vestiges of my Mum’s personality are still there, but she’s no longer really like that. She’s no longer physically active (although she has started swimming a little bit again this year, which is good). And her lack of energy and state of constant tiredness and irritability mean she doesn’t have the inclination to try to change things that she’s cross about any more. She just feels stressed and anxious about them instead. I feel like her will has been broken and ground down over her years of disability and she doesn’t have any of the confidence she once had. If something unexpected happens, she can’t cope any more and needs someone else to prop her up, and that contrast with her former self makes me sad.

    So that’s it really. I miss my Mum.

  2. Me in 10 words (9 actually)

    May 11, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – Sell yourself in 10 words or less

    Intelligent, loving, careful boy who won’t let you down.

    That’s pretty much it. I can explain the deeper meaning of each of the parts I selected to make up that description, but, y’know, it said 10 words or less, not 10 words plus an extended essay on the subject.

  3. My most embarrassing moment

    May 10, 2013 by superlative

    My most embarrassing moment (or at least one of them) happened a few years ago. Just thinking about it now still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach actually.

    We have a friend called Zac who Chris used to work with. He lives in New Zealand now so we don’t see him much any more, but we used to go to the pub with him and his girlfriend and some other friends quite a lot. I used to have something of a crush on Zac. He’s attractive and very charismatic, quite flirtatious, and I didn’t let the fact that he’s straight and unattainable put me off – that just made it more exciting.

    One day a group of us played cricket in Brunswick Square and then went for some drinks afterwards. Chris and I had been clubbing a few nights before, and I was telling people how they’d had a face painter lady there who painted little motifs on our faces for us. I’d been particularly impressed with Sarah’s, and happened to have taken a photo of it on my phone, so while I was describing it I passed my phone around.

    This is Sarah with her fairy motif thing on her face:


    The phone reached our friend Rob (also straight and a friend of Zac’s), who said “Oh yeah, that’s nice.”

    And then he did something which you should never, ever do on a person’s phone. He swiped to the next picture. And got this.


    “Oh!” he said. “And a rather nice pic of Zac’s arse.” Which he then passed to Zac.


    You do not swipe on another person’s phone! You do not! You might find anything!

    It all went very quiet.

    Zac had been bending over during the cricket, looking particularly pert, and Chris had taken a photo on his phone and sent it to me to amuse me. It was just a bit of fun, you know, I wasn’t going to crack one off over it or anything.

    “I er…. I didn’t take that picture…” I stammered.


    I didn’t manage to infer that from the glare, so I just faltered a little bit more and snatched my phone back.

    Zac laughed and changed the subject, and the women in the group exchanged a few ‘Is this… OK? Is this normal behaviour?’ glances. I just kept my head down until we went home, but I was absolutely MORTIFIED and decided they must think I’m some sort of sex offender. If you switch the situation round so one of the men in the group had taken a picture of a different guy’s girlfriend bending over, it would be really bad, wouldn’t it? That wouldn’t be an OK thing to do? But it’s different with boys and gay guys I think – it’s not threatening to them, especially if they flirt and like the attention. Zac could beat me up if he wanted, so he’s not going to be that bothered by me thinking he’s fit – it’s only really likely to make him feel attractive. Isn’t it? (Actually I’d quite like him to beat me up, that would be hot. Wait, unread that, I’m making myself sound worse.)

    With the benefit of hindsight and a few years’ distance, I realise that I could have handled the situation a lot better. I could, of course, not have had a picture of Zac bending over on my phone, but let’s be realistic, that was inevitable. No, what I should have done was brazen it out and said something like “Yeah, well look at him bending over in those shorts like a slut, he was screaming for it,” and acted like I wasn’t bothered and changed the subject. By being visibly horrified I made it much worse and drew attention to how embarrassing it was.

    I’ve still got the photo, as you can see, so I obviously wasn’t bothered enough to delete it (I’m not giving up gold like that), but I can’t think about that day without wanting to pull my jumper up over my head and never speak to anyone ever again.

  4. A moment in my day

    May 9, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – A moment in your day

    I didn’t manage to write this first thing when I took the photo like I planned to – work got in the way – but the moment from my day that I have chosen is this one.

    My office

    This is what I see when I arrive at work every day, and sometimes my heart sinks a little bit. The amount of time I have spent sat at this desk doing pretty much nothing is terrifying. I have been in this job since November 2007 I think, and I’ve had this office for almost all of that. That’s more than five years sat on this chair, staring at these computer screens. I haven’t even got a proper window, just a window into the atrium with a view of a wall. It’s like a mock window, the sort of window that crushes your spirit even more than no window at all.

    And the worst part of my view when I arrive in the mornings is this:

    The horror

    That’s the lighter coloured circle of carpet where my chair goes, that has been worn down by five years of gentle trundling around on it. That’s pretty much the most important thing I’ve produced in this room.

    Sometimes my job has been very busy. But often it isn’t really, and I dread to think of the amount of time I’ve spent either doing a piece of work extremely slowly to make it last longer or just fucking about on the internet. If I think about it too hard, it gets a bit distressing, because I think bloody hell…  I’ve expended LIFE in this chair. Precious, limited, not going to get it back, life.

    And it’s not just me, I’m sure. It seems to be a symptom of lots of office work. Office work is just boring, and much of it is futile, and much of it doesn’t really require the full faculties of a human being. They should just breed meatsack clones or something and replace most office workers with them. I’m sure a sack of meat could stare at these computer screens just as well as I can, and no one would even notice the difference.

    “What do you want to be when you grow up?” they ask when you’re small. “A pointless sack of meat” is not what you’re taught to say. But it would be more realistic.

  5. Start now

    May 8, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

    I’m going to put down two pieces of advice I think, because they can both fall under the same ‘Start now’ heading. They also both fit in with my desire to prepare for things, or at least to feel like I’ve done what I can to prepare for them.

    Piece of advice 1 – Save for when you’re old
    Lots of young people don’t do this. They don’t have a pension, they don’t put any savings away, they don’t think about where they’re going to live when they’re old or how they’ll pay their mortgage or rent. It’s not surprising – it feels like it’s a long way away, and it’s not particularly exciting, and preparing for when you’re old can mean giving up some things when you’re young. You can’t start a pension, for example, without giving up some of your salary every month. Salary which could be spent on trainers and gadgets and shots.

    However, the reason my advice is to start now is because it’s much, much easier to save up a lot of money if you save a little bit, regularly, over a longer period of time. This is due to the wonder of compound interest. Compound interest is your friend, and it means putting away even just £20 a month over 20 years can give you vastly more money at the end than putting away £100 every month but only for the last four years of that period. Both of them mean saving £4,800 of capital, but the end result is quite different.

    £20 a month over the longer period, at an arbitrary interest rate of say 3%, will give you £6,582.46 at the end. That’s £1,782.46 of interest.

    £100 a month for four years results in £5,105.85, including £305.85 of interest. That means you’ve missed out on £1,400 of FREE MONEY. And what did you have instead? £20 extra each month, which doesn’t really buy a lot.

    Those are quite small amounts when you’re talking about saving for your retirement, but in reality you could have much longer than 20 years to save and you could save more. You could possibly get a better return than 3%, and if it’s a pension you’re talking about you can get additional benefits – you don’t pay tax on money you put into a pension, and if you’re lucky enough to have a pension fund where your employer also makes a contribution (like I do) when you pay money in, it bumps it up enormously. I think I pay something like 6.5% of my salary every month into my pension, and in return my employer puts in a further 13% on top. That’s LOADS. I also started my pension when I was 25, giving it 40-odd years to build up and mature.

    You can see a little graphical illustration of why you should save early on the BBC News website.

    I know this is quite a dry piece of advice, but I really do think it’s worth it. I want to be comfortable and live a fun life when I’m old. I don’t want to be poor. And it doesn’t mean giving up all your money when you’re young – it can just mean giving up a little bit of it.

    The only real pisser will be if I get hit by a bus when I’m in my late 50s and all this saving ends up being for nothing. But if I DON’T get splatted all over a windscreen, I’ll be laughing.

    Piece of advice 2 – Moisturise
    I saw someone in their 40s or 50s give this piece of advice in a magazine or on television or I don’t remember where. They looked quite good for their age, and when asked if they had any tips it was this: ‘It doesn’t matter how old you are, start moisturising now. You’ll be grateful for it later. I wish I’d started earlier.’ You can see how this is related to the saving for when you’re old thing – moisturising now when you’re young costs you very little, but you’ll be pleased you did when you’re old.

    So please, follow my advice. Save a bit of money and buy some face cream. Then come join me in 2045 and we’ll be loaded and gorgeous together.

  6. Fear

    May 7, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – The thing(s) you’re most afraid of

    Isn’t everyone terrified of cancer? I’m scared of getting cancer or my loved ones getting cancer much more than I am of other diseases. I’m not scared I’ll have a heart attack or a stroke. There’s something about the fact that cancer is long and lingering, that it sucks the life out of you, and that, even if you get over it, it might decide to come back at any moment. And although you can do your best to minimise the chance of you getting cancer, by eating well and not smoking and a million other things, sometimes you just get it anyway. That doesn’t seem very fair to me at all.

    I think about death far too much. I am scared of dying and of losing people, and even though it’s not healthy to think about it and upset yourself, and worrying about it doesn’t even DO anything to prevent it, I still do it. I hate the fact that there is a day at some point in the future on which I will die. There is a last thing that I’ll eat. There is a last thing I’ll say. And I particularly hate that there are loads of interesting things, technological developments and stuff like that, that I’ll never see. Because I’ll be dead. In many ways I hope there isn’t an afterlife, because at least I know then that once I’m dead I won’t be aware of anything. I won’t miss anything or anyone or wonder about anything. I’ll just have stopped. Mark Twain once said (maybe I should have put this on the favourite quotes post) “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it,” and I take some comfort from that. I wish I could think in those terms, and just make the most of the time I’m alive instead of wondering about the time that I’m dead.

    Erm… I don’t know that I’m seriously afraid of much else. Most other things I think I can either avoid or outsmart or prepare for. I suppose at its core it all comes down to the same thing – I’m scared of things I can’t control. That’s why I research things so thoroughly before I do them. I like to feel that I’m prepared and have a response in place for any eventuality. It’s a bit of a vain hope though; you can’t prepare for everything. But I don’t like the idea of being swept away by a current and having things just HAPPEN to me without the possibility of changing them.

  7. What I do

    May 6, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – If you couldn’t answer with your job, how would you answer the question, ‘what do you do’?

    Hmm, this is a tricky one. What do any of us do, apart from our jobs or being in education? I just added it up and going to work (including travel and lunch hours and things) takes up just under half of my waking hours each week. It actually feels like far more than that so I’m a bit surprised, but I suppose you can’t argue with a calculator. So anyway, if I eliminate those hours I’m left with sleeping and whatever I do in between sleeping and going to work. I’m not putting sleeping as my answer, so here are some of the things that I do when I’m not sleeping and not at work and that make up who I am:

    I eat
    I love eating, and I really love eating out. If I could afford it and it wouldn’t make me massive, I’d eat out every single day. I like eating with friends, and finding new and delicious things and then eating them as often as possible. I don’t really cook very much, but I bake a bit and I like that you get a nice cake as a reward for your hard work when you do it.

    I drink cocktails
    I probably drink a bit more than I should, but I do like a nice cocktail after work or at the weekends. We have a bar area in our kitchen and I get quite excited when I see Chris is doing something over there as it might mean I’m going to get a drink in a minute. Sometimes when I’m sitting on the sofa a Martini will just materialise over my shoulder (the kitchen is behind me) and I am informed that it is Cocktail Hour. Who wouldn’t love that?

    I learn bits of languages then stop and pick a different one
    Languages used to be my major passion, but I don’t do this one quite as much as I used to. I do still love them though, and I’ve started lots of different languages over the years. The beginners bit of learning a language is the easy bit you can do on your own, and I generally learn enough to be able to talk a little bit about myself and to get the gist of simple texts and to understand how the grammar works. The grammar is the bit I like best really, and once you understand that you only need a dictionary to be able to make your way through most texts, even if you have to go really slowly. I find there is only so far you can go with self study though, so unless I do a proper course in a language I tend to stall at this point and then just start another one a little while later. The only language I’d say I really speak properly is French, and I can sort of wing it in Italian as long as they don’t say anything unexpected. I don’t mind that I’m not brilliant at any of the others though, it’s the learning of them that I like rather than their usage anyway.

    I look after Chris
    This is a bit of a funny one, because Chris doesn’t really need any looking after. He’s very low maintenance generally. I try to make sure I look after him a bit though and I devote quite a bit of energy to considering what might make him happy. I help him with things, just little jobs and favours really, as much as I can, so that he thinks that I’m useful and worth having around for a bit longer. I’m the only one who knows how to work our washing machine, and I’m holding that as my trump card as I’m sure he can’t do without that. If they ever invent a voice activated washing machine I’m fucked.

    I support my Mum (and Dad)
    This takes up more of my time than it really should. If my Mum is stressed or anxious, she rings me up. If she needs something looked up on the internet, she rings me up. If she’s bored or bickering with my Dad, she rings me up. If her printer won’t turn on, she rings me up. I’ve tried to be as kind and helpful as I can to them, and to be a supportive son since Mum got ill about 12 years ago, but I’ve sort of turned myself into a crutch for them and that’s probably not very good as I don’t know how they’d manage without me now. Mum says ‘I don’t know how I’d manage without you’ to me quite often, so it’s true. They would just manage, of course, because people’s stress expands as far as the people who will listen to it. People come to rely on however much support is available to them. But if I’m talking about what I ‘do’, I do this quite a lot.

    I administrate things
    I look after a lot of the administrative things in our life, and I wouldn’t want to give up control of them even if I could. I sort out the bills, I did all the mortgage and legal stuff when we bought our flat, I research where we can get the best rate on our savings and then move them around when needed. I could easily steal all of Chris’ money if I wanted to, because he trusts that I’ll put it somewhere safe and give it back to him if he asks for it. I like putting things in alphabetical order and arranging books on shelves (the correct way is to pull them all forwards until they are all flush with one another – none of this some shoved in more than others business). I suppose part of me doing all this is related to the section above about looking after Chris, because his job means he can’t make phone calls in the day or look things up on the internet whenever he wants, so it makes sense for me to do it. But also I just LIKE it. I like order. That’s why I like grammar – it’s ordered, and all the words have to line up in their proper places or be executed by red pen firing squad. I used to work in a library, and after university I was an administrator for quite a few years, and it suited me.

    So what do I do? I eat nice things and drink nice things and sit with Teach Yourself Swedish on my lap. In between I file things and look things up and try to help the people I love by offering them administrative services. I don’t think I’ve ever summed myself up better in two sentences.

  8. My friend Sarah

    May 5, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your [blogger] friends

    I’m not going to write this about a blogger friend because if they’re a blogger it means they’d read this, and I think it would be a bit weird if I’m all like ‘URRRR I LOVE YOU’ and they’re like ‘Urkh, this is exhausting, you know? We are never getting back together. Like ever.’

    So I’m going to write about a real friend instead, because she won’t read this and then it won’t be weird.

    I love and am devoted to my friend Sarah. She’s just lovely, and beautiful, and leggy, and bold, and vulnerable, and a mess, and amazing. We have great nights out with Sarah and she’s so much fun.

    This is Sarah:

    Sarah hug

    Part of what makes Sarah fun is once she’s had a couple of glasses of wine she’ll do pretty much anything we tell her to, including getting in a bin:

    Sarah getting in the bin

    And posing with a strangely abandoned walking aid:

    Sarah uses a walker

    We met Sarah in quite random circumstances, and the universe obviously just decided that we should be brought together. We were at Worthing train station on the way home from an evening out with some friends one night (why did we go out in Worthing? God knows) and we were talking loudly and drunkenly about the relative merits of flaky versus puff pastry (an important debate). A girl on her own a little way down the platform started laughing at us, and Chris shouted ‘We can hear you laughing at our pastry conversation!’ at her. We got talking to her on the train back to Brighton and exchanged numbers, and she was duly assigned the name of Sarah Train, as that is where we had met her.

    A couple of weeks later we arranged a night out with one of my friends from work and his housemates, and Chris texted Sarah Train to see if she wanted to come. It turned out that she did and she said she’d meet us at the bar where we were meeting my work friend. When we got there, my friend said ‘Let me introduce you to my housemate: this is Sarah,” and IT WAS SARAH TRAIN. Our arrangement to meet two groups of people was actually an arrangement to meet one group but in a sort of pincer movement.

    So we decided from that point that it was meant to be, and we’ve been friends ever since.

    I love Sarah. I love that she’s scatty and she loses everything – she’s no longer allowed to carry possessions when we’re out, she has to give them all to me and then ask me for money when she goes to the bar. I love that you can be anywhere with her and still be laughing the whole time.

  9. Favourite quotes

    May 4, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – Favourite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it 

    This is a hard topic for me, as I don’t know that I really have any favourite quotes. I’m not into those inspirational quotes you see posted on Twitter particularly; most of them are a bit twee.

    I do however have this quote stuck up next to my desk, alongside two Dilbert cartoons and an X-Men graphic novel flyer.

    “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it” – William Feather

    I suppose I stuck it there because I know I worry too much, and I can sometimes let that get in the way of enjoying the moment. I expend an awful lot of energy worrying about things and planning for all sorts of eventualities, and then they rarely turn out as badly as I was expecting and the stress is rather needless.

    I did a quick search for William Feather while I was writing this just to make sure he actually said this quote, and I found a whole page of them attributed to him. I quite liked this one too:

    “No man is a failure who is enjoying life.”

    It seems he’s one of those people who said lots of quote-worthy things, like Mae West.

    The only other quote I like that I can think of is John Le Mesurier’s last words summing up his life before he died:

    “It’s all been rather lovely.”

    That seems like a nice sentiment. It’s not sad; it sounds contented, and I hope I’ll be able to look back as fondly when I’m old.

  10. Things that make you go HURK

    May 3, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – Things that make you uncomfortable

    Lots of things make me uncomfortable. I suppose there are many more things that make me annoyed – my resting state seems to be ‘slightly annoyed’ – but there are quite a few things that make me uncomfortable as well. Often it’s a bit of both, as there are times when I’m uncomfortable about something but too polite or inhibited to say or do anything about it.

    Here are a few things anyway:

    Being called quiet
    I am quite a quiet, shy person. I’m particularly bad in social situations if I don’t know the people around me very well, and much more so if I really want them to like me. Which is a bit unhelpful of my brain, as you generally need to talk to people to get them to like you, unless they’re interviewing for a Mute or something.

    But what makes me much, much, MUCH worse  is if someone says ‘You’re quiet, aren’t you?’

    Or ‘Why are you so quiet?’

    Or, and this is the worst one and I’ve actually had this said to me, ‘You’re quiet. I don’t like quiet people.’

    Well fuck you, bitch! I’m sorry if I’m not a gobby trout in a stupid jumper like you, but I’m SHY. (she actually did have a stupid jumper on in this instance, that’s not just an example)

    So yeah, being called quiet makes me very uncomfortable and causes me to clam up completely. It makes me very self conscious, and I always think ‘Yes I know I’m quiet – why would I need you to tell me? In what world did you think this would encourage me to talk?’

    People kissing their partners
    I don’t mean people giving their partner a quick kiss, or a peck hello, or a thank you kiss, or anything brief like that. I mean people snogging their partners on the mouth for more than a few seconds when they’re in a social situation like in a pub or in my living room. This happens particularly when they’ve just started going out and are still all loved up about it.

    It’s RUDE. There are other people in the room, they were speaking to you just a moment ago, and now you’re sucking each others’ faces. Where am I supposed to look while you’re doing that? I can’t look AT you, that’s weird. Am I supposed to look away? Do I pretend I haven’t noticed? Presumably I can’t ask you a question or anything or interrupt you. Should we talk amongst ourselves? How long are you going to be? Are you snogging for my benefit, to let me know you’re in a relationship and you’re soooooo happy and in love with your ‘babe’? I DON’T GET IT. I don’t know what to do with myself when this happens. Stop that. Stop it right now.

    Running for the bus with an audience
    Sometimes when you’re approaching the bus stop, you can see that a bus is there but you can’t quite tell which bus it is. There are people at the stop, or hanging around generally, and I can never decide if I should run or not. There’s something weird about an adult running in the street if they’re not wearing a jogging outfit. It makes people look at you. ‘Why are they running?’ they think. It attracts attention. And if you’re running for a bus (a reasonable excuse to be moving at speed), it would be much worse if you were to arrive at the stop and suddenly decide it’s not your bus after all. Do you just stop and look sheepish? Do you KEEP running and pretend you were heading for something else? You could end up anywhere. And if it is your bus and you miss it, you have to make some theatrical show of annoyance so everyone knows you were running for that bus and now you’ve missed it and it’s annoying. So that moment, when the bus is there and my knee jerks forwards as I go to run and then I think wait do I want to run for this there are people over there and they’ll see me and what if it’s not the right bus and what if it drives away and what if the bus driver isn’t even on the bus because he’s on a break and I get there and can’t get on, THAT moment of indecision makes me uncomfortable.