The post that appreciates the countryside

It’s been another mini blog hiatus after last night I got back from a long weekend in France.

My Dad owns a house there and he was using it as a base for a holiday with his wife and her sister and husband. I was invited over to visit and I had a good time.

I’m not the biggest fan of his wife but she could be a lot worse. She’s just a bit annoying to have a conversation with.

I think it’s heavily ingrained to disagree with everything you say. It can get very tiring.

But it was a nice break from work and the thing I appreciated the most was being in the countryside. I was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and nothing else. The nearest shop was five kilometres away in the next village, which I cycled to every morning for coffee and pastries.

It was via a disused train track and the scenery was gorgeous. All hazy sunshine, tall trees and fields full of sunflowers.

Since living in London, I appreciate this sort of thing so much more. Yes, we have nice big parks here but it’s not quite the same. This was so remote. It was the type of village where you don’t need to lock the front door. Seriously.

So now I’m back in London and I feel revived and reinvigorated.

There is something about spending time with my Dad that makes me feel empowered. I feel like things are possible again. And that the world is my oyster.

We talk about so many possibilities. Since he left the UK, his life has changed for the better by about a million miles and being around him, I don’t know, he just exudes possibilities.

I want to take up a photography course now.

I want to go to India.

We’ve discussed going to a Formula One Grand Prix.

I told him when my next trip was, which is a few days in Slovenia next week, and he said, yeah but when’s your next BIG trip.

And I was like, shit, yeah, when IS my next big trip?! (I haven’t got one lined up).

He’s said I can use his French house whenever I want to get away from London.

Again – possibilities. Fantastic possibilities and opportunities.

I’m so fucking lucky in that sense. I don’t want these things to be wasted on me.

What can happen though is you come back home, you get back to work and all the good intentions you have to do things go out the window. Or get put on hold.

Reality kicks in and you go back into your slump. I don’t beat myself up about this happening because it happens to everyone.

Let’s see if it doesn’t happen again.

N x

The post that is

It’s happened.

Thank you Granddad for all the times of fun, games and laughter I had with you.

Botch on the beach. Standing on the jack.

All the millions and millions of card games.

The games of pool.



These were fantastic times I wouldn’t change for anything.

I genuinely loved every minute.


Be kind to everyone you meet today, you have no idea what they’re going through.

N x

The post that doesn’t know what to say

Hi. I haven’t been with you for several days. Hope you’re well.

Over the last few days, the news has filtered through from home that my 82 year old granddad’s cancer has spread. There’s nothing they can do. They can only make him as comfortable as possible.

This is one of the hardest sentences I’ve ever had to write but there’s no other way to put it so I’ll just say it. He’s dying.

He’s deteriorating day by day at what sounds like quite a rapid rate and I may not get the chance to see him again. Since I am flying to France on Friday morning, it’s just too tight time wise for me to get there and back and ready for my little trip.

Should I squeeze it in anyway? Even if it means going across the country, basically saying goodbye, then leaving after just a few hours. I don’t know. But I’ve decided not to.

I have made plans to visit him next week even though I’m far from convinced he’ll be around by then. I really, really hope he is.

Should I cancel my France trip? You know what, I think I perhaps would have but I am going to meet up with my Dad, who I generally see once per year as it is.

If I went over and/or cancelled my France trip, I know the predominantly motivating factor would be to alleviate guilt. Again, not an easy thing to admit.

My granddad and I are not close. He and my grandmother (also lost to cancer about 3 years ago) lived abroad for my whole life so we’d see them once every couple of summers on holiday.

He is the heaviest smoker I’ve ever known by a long, long way and also a pretty heavy drinker. That he managed to make it into his 80s with the amount of tobacco and alcohol he consumed on a daily basis is nothing short of an absolute miracle.

He’s skinny and spent most of his life annoying people, shouting, arguing, being rude and getting angry at my grandmother.

Now he’s frail and helpless and so very ill. It all just seems so trivial now. Just so fucking pointless.

It’s strange to think that he might not be around for very much longer. He won’t exist any more. That’s it. Gone.

Like I said, we’re not close by any means but you only get 4 grandparents and so there will be a void when he is gone.

I think the saddest part of the whole thing is that his deterioration is having to be witnessed by my family members that are there and caring for him, specifically, my Mum and Uncle.

I couldn’t handle that. I didn’t want to be there when I was 17 and we had to have out dog put to sleep but I was there to see her getting worse and worse in the lead up t it and it was just the most horrible thing ever.

I don’t know what the say now.

I feel like there’s a lot in me to get out but I can’t express it.

I feel like I’m waiting around for the phone call. The inevitable phone call. Nobody knows when it’s going to happen but it’s coming. Every time my phone buzzes, I wonder if this is it.

This post has been bit of a mess but it’s kind of reflective of my state of mind at the moment.

Speak to you soon.

N x

The post that said no to the ice bucket challenge

Okay, first things first: I’ve stopped aching.

Second things second (that’s an highly underused expression isn’t it?), I’m not really keeping up with the 30-day fear challenge thing. But I have expanded upon it to include things that are productive.

Things you want to do but never get around to doing.

With that in mind, I started teaching myself how to use Microsoft Excel and I have to say I am already seeing the fruits of that labour.

And now on to the actual topic of the post, which is me declining the ice bucket challenge.

The reasons? I don’t have a bucket, any ice or anyone to video me doing it. I’ll donate money and raise awareness by posting something about ALS (which will mean going on Facebook and as you know I hate Facebook), and that’ll be me done.

I like having fun as much as the next man but I’m not a fan of silliness in the name of fun.

The real crux of it is this though. If I did it, it would be purely and simply in the name of peer pressure. It would be because I didn’t want to be that guy who people said didn’t do and was a spoil sport or a party pooper.

And that’s what this is really about for me. It’s an opportunity to show that I don’t give two shits what people think of me. Not two single shits.

Even my friends. Even over something that although is serious, is light hearted in its nature.

Maybe this is one of the consequences of getting older. Maybe this is one of the consequences of being alone.

Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

It’s not about the money. I’m happy to donate to a worthy cause. It’s about sticking two fingers up to societal pressure.

Something I don’t do nearly often enough.

So there you go, you can take your ice bucket challenge and… melt it. Or something.

Feels good.


N x

The post that aches

I played badminton on Friday night as part of operation “stop being a boring bastard and actually do things from time to time” and it went quite well.

It’s now Sunday morning and I can’t walk or sit down or stand up without being in some discomfort though. Such is the infrequency with which I exercise properly, I knew this would be the case.

In a day or two I should be ache free once again.

The badminton itself was good, I always play to a reasonable level that I’m happy with and the people there generally were friendly. But there were a bit too many of them for my liking and there are two reasons for this.

With three courts, only 12 people can play at a time and there was about 22 people there. What’s more, I found out that there are usually more!

Well, excuse me for not wanting to pay £7 plus travel (and an hour long round trip) to spend half the time watching others play while waiting for my turn.

That’s not unreasonable, is it?

For this reason, I’m reluctant to go back to that group again. I might, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

The other reason there were too many for my liking is that I’m not great with large groups. About 5 is my optimal number. Any more than that and things become a little intimidating.

Also, there were definite cliques there, who were sharing inside jokes all the time, which was annoying. We’ve all been there and know what it’s like to be so excluded.

It felt good to be active though, which is why I’m going to try another group either this week or next week. From what I can tell, fewer people attend so I’ll give it a stab.

Also as part of operation “stop being a boring bastard and actually do things from time to time”, I went to watch football at the pub yesterday with a mate. No big deal except also in attendance was his girlfriend, and their two friends, one of whom I’ve met once before.

We went out to a restaurant for a meal afterwards and then on to a pub for a drink. I know what you’re thinking: so what? This is just normal behaviour and typical of what normal people do on an average Saturday night.

Well, not for me it isn’t. It should be, but it isn’t.

Something as bog standard as this felt like some sort of special occasion! Wow, a meal, with bunch of people, in a new restaurant and then a new pub!

I mean, it almost seems pathetic. To them it was almost certainly no big deal. But it was a big deal for me and it’s all about perspective I guess.

For example, if I took you to your first football match and you were really excited, I’d be like ‘alright calm down’, because I do it all time. But you don’t.

The other day I came across this blog post about a 30-day fear challenge. I was intrigued and thought it was a great idea. In the two days that followed, I have done two things that fit the criteria.

More by luck than design, but still. (By that, I mean I didn’t intentionally do either thing for the challenge).

Remember, what’s fear for one person may not be for another.

Now, I’m not saying I will necessarily complete this challenge but even attempting it and championing what it stands for is a step in the right direction.

Now, I’m not sure what I’ll do today.

Let’s find out.

Have a good Sunday whatever you get up to.

N x

The post that is boring or bored or both

I think I might be really boring.

Like, really fucking boring.

I don’t actually do anything. Does anyone else actually do anything?

I think at least part of the reason I ditched Facebook was because I was sick of seeing people who were doing things all the time and seemingly having the time of their lives every single day.

I went on an 8-month round the world trip with four friends in 2008-2009 and when I got back I had a really difficult time readjusting to reality. The norm. So much so that I was only back for 6 months before I went away travelling again for five months.

The comedown from such a life changing experience was one I found incredibly difficult to accept. How was I supposed to go back to a normal life after seeing what I’d seen and doing what I’d done.

A lyric from the song “Sit Down” by James captures this feeling perfectly:

If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.

After reaching such a high, and that trip was amazing in every way possible, how can I carry on purposefully safe in the knowledge that life won’t ever be as good as that again?

I’ve experienced those riches, and now I have to live with being poor.

So to try to cope, I travel. I go on trips. By myself. I’ve been to 34 countries but it’s not helping me. I’m not getting what I want. It’s not giving me what I want.

But it’s all I have. It’s all I know.

I keep repeating the same action thinking that some day, one day, I will be able to reach those heights again. But it hasn’t happened yet. And maybe it never will.

I’ve been playing the game all wrong.

I sit at home all day working (or trying to work) then I sit at home all evening watching TV shows or football or doing anything to get the hours to pass as quickly as possible.

Because if I can get those hours to pass then I can go to bed where there’s no feeling that I could be doing something else. Then I get up the next day and do it all again.

Five days a week. Just wasting hours. Wasting life. I’m delighted when the time goes quickly during the day because it means tomorrow is not far off, which means the weekend is a bit closer. A weekend in which I will invariably do nothing.

Buy food. Watch football. Eat. Watch a TV show. Sleep. You’ve got to ask yourself, what’s the point in that?

Sure, I might meet up with a friend or two once or twice every month or two. But they’re all busy doing their own thing. Being married. Looking after their kids. Paying their mortgages. Saving up for, and going on, their romantic getaways.

I’ve been doing it all wrong though.

Rather than finding meaningful things to do a few times per week, I’ve been doing nothing. Then a few times per year, I’ve been taking trips. Sudden, concentrated binges of action in the belief (hope?) that I will be able to recapture the good times.

But these trips aren’t good for me because of the vast gulf of time that exists in between them.

I think it is better is to have things to do frequently, not major things, just little things.

I’ve been finding my work incredibly boring for the last week or so. I find myself typing away thinking, my God, I feel like if I have to type another word of this meaningless bullshit, then I’m going to put a bullet in my head.

Maybe a ‘little and often’ approach would make work slightly less boring and I could actually summon the motivation to do it.

With that in mind, today, I booked myself to attend a two and half hour badminton session with 8 other strangers at a local(ish) meetup group.

I used to go to one over a year and half ago but then stopped due to a few injuries. They’ve all cleared up now. In fact, they’ve been all cleared up for a while I just couldn’t be bothered to start playing again.

So, the session is tomorrow night and I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten how to be normal around people I don’t know due to the amount of time I spend alone.

I won’t be able to afford play every week but it’d be nice if I could make it a semi-regular thing. Once a every 3 or 4 weeks or something.

Right, I’m off to while away the time until I can go to sleep.

Hope you’re well.

N x

The post that doesn’t have anything else

So, the English Premier League football season started yesterday.

For me, this means spending ridiculous amounts of money on football tickets and my calender will become dictated, to a large extent, by when the team I support (Arsenal) have fixtures.

It’s great to have it back and I went to watch us yesterday. I realised how much I love the feeling of going to games, and when we scored the winning goal with virtually the last kick of the game, it was unbridled joy.

I mean, seriously, nothing evokes emotions in me like what happened yesterday. Nothing even comes close.

Truly, there are fewer better feelings in life than when witnessing a last minute winner.

I love going, I love the atmosphere, I love this feeling that millions of people are watching this event all over the world and I’m one of people lucky enough to actually be there.

It feels like you’re at the centre of the universe.

A large part of the reason I live in London is so that I can go and watch the team I love. To many, that is insane but this is a huge part of my life and when I can’t go or there’s no football to watch, I feel a void.

With increasing ticket prices, and the nagging feeling that I won’t be able to carry on doing what I love forever, comes fear. On some level, I wonder if it’s a ridiculous lifestyle choice.

With my life revolving around what is essentially a hobby.

I’ve set my life up in such a way that I can ‘do’ this hobby. It was what I always wanted. From the age of about 7, my dream was to live and work in London so that I could easily and conveniently watch my team.

And I’ve realised that dream. I’ve been living that dream for two years now.

But in spite of the life I’ve built, I feel empty.

Now that the season is back up and running, it’s made me realise that the thing a large chunk of my life revolves around, is finite. And once it’s gone, all I’ll have left is my 7 year old self.

It’s not healthy to be so reliant on something that you have no control over.

I think I’m in danger of becoming a recluse with crap social skills. I met up with my friend the other night, and we had a good time, but I wonder if seeing my friends less and working alone, is having a detrimental affect on my social skills – which were never brilliant anyway.

The problem is, I just can’t be bothered to do anything. I don’t have the motivation, the energy, the mental or physical resources to do anything about it.

Which means, I can’t complain. If I’m not willing to change then I should put a sock in it. I wish I did have the get up and go. Maybe I just need to literally force myself into doing things I don’t want to do.

After all, nothing in this life worth having comes easy.

N x

The post that’s quite happy

The work itself is the reward

This is a quote from someone who is something of a hero of mine (shut up, I’m allowed to have a hero at 29), Ricky Gervais.

Every now and again, I understand what he means by this. Generally, I try to get by doing as little work as possible but today I started at about 7:30am and finished at about 8:30pm and got so much done. It really does feel pretty good.

That’s not to say I worked for 13 hours. Those 13 hours included breakfast, lunch, dinner, checking emails, flitting about briefly on Twitter and things like that.

But it was still a highly successful day and you have to feel good after days like that because it’s all too easy to berate yourself after a bad day, that if you can’t feel content after a good one… well, then what’s the point?

I’m guilty of this sometimes. But tomorrow could be a disaster day waiting to happen. We just don’t know.

On another topic entirely, I made tentative arrangements to meet up with a former colleague of mine this week. She’s a really nice girl. I really like her, not in that way (although she is pretty), she’s good fun to be around and I haven’t seen her in ages.

The good thing is we can go several weeks without contact and it’s not weird. We’ll more or less pick up where we left off when we message each other or meet for a drink or go for some food.

We follow the same football team, we know a lot of the same people, have a former place of work in common so I hope we do meet up this week.

Last time we met up, I did briefly think about her in that way but quickly shook off the thought because she’s been my friend for nearly two years, it just doesn’t feel right.

I remember one time when I was still with my ex, that the three of us were travelling on the underground together. We were talking and stuff and then it was my ex’s stop to get off.

She got off and then I mentally, visibly and audibly relaxed and sighed and I remember feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I was happy that it was now just me and my friend left on the train. I enjoyed her company more than that of my then girlfriend.

How wrong is that!

I remember the smile we shot each other when she got off very vividly.

It’s a possibility that I deliberately keep a bit of a distance just in case I develop unwanted feelings. I don’t think I would but, subconsciously, it’s not a risk I want to take.

On that note, I’m going to watch an episode of Criminal Minds and go to bed because I’m knackered.

Hope you’re well!

N x

The post that hates Facebook

Today, I want to talk about Facebook.

I hate Facebook. I haven’t always hated it; I liked it up until about a couple of years ago but now I hate it.

It’s changed so much from what it was. It started off as people sharing anecdotes about their lives, taking pictures of what they were up to, reliving the previous night out with friends, and re-connecting with those they may have lost touch with.

But not any more.

Now, it’s all about the following:

  • People making political statements that are guaranteed to be divisive, generate anger and cause arguments.
  • Posting, whiny cryptic status updates that are a cry for attention and that make me want to slap the culprit. Hard. In the face. With a wet fish.
  • Sharing ridiculous quizzes that enable me to find out which Disney character/fruit/country/ice cream flavour I am. I mean, what the actual fuck is wrong with these people?
  • Boasting. Bragging. Oh look at me having a lovely time in Barbados on a Monday morning sipping champagne while getting a massage and Christ knows what else. Fuck you.
  • Photos of babies. Anyone who’s read other posts on this blog will know my feelings towards babies. They’re all the same to me and it’s not special that you’ve created another one. Nobody cares. Women have been doing it centuries. And the people that do care and that do matter sure as shit won’t want to find out about it on Facebook.
  • Inappropriate status updates about things like doctor’s appointments. Why are you posting that on a social media site?
  • Couples letting the world know how wonderful their life is together and the latest thing their partner treated them to. So? Why are you telling me? Why can’t you enjoy it yourselves without broadcasting it?
  • People living their lives like an open wound. What’s wrong with you – mummy didn’t love you when you were little?

I’m sure there are others but to come up with the above list would mean continuing to scroll through my feed and I would rather gauge out my eyes with a rusty spoon than do that any longer.

You see, I’ve abandoned Facebook.

When I went to see my family a few weeks ago, my Uncle said to me, “you’ve been a bit quiet on Facebook lately? What’s happened? Broke your computer?”

He was only half-joking. It turns out that he had been to the doctor a few days earlier for something and everyone in the room knew about it except me. Why? Because I hadn’t been on Facebook.

The connection being that my Uncle had apparently documented the entire thing on their. Updating everyone with each appointment and outcome.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a really weird thing to do?

It’s the narcissistic, ego-centred behaviour of everyone on Facebook that really drives me up the wall. The unquenchable thirst for attention. LIKE ME! COMMENT ON ME! READ ME! SHARE ME!

I just can’t stand it any more and I don’t want any part of it.

To finish my point, my Uncle explained to me IN PERSON what had been going on in what is a much better way to find out about something of that nature.

To compile the above list I had to go back to that awful site and I noticed someone had checked into an airport. Fair enough. They’d also checked into a specific gate. Well, okay, whatever.

Someone had commented: “Isn’t it enough to say you’re at the airport, what the fuck does it matter what gate it is?!”

And, this ladies and gentleman, in a nutshell is why I hate Facebook. A pointless, if innocuous, update responded to with contempt, anger and downright rudeness. And over WHAT?! What is the commenter getting so upset about?!

This is typical of what Facebook does. It incites. It wastes people’s time, energy and causes friction where there is none. Do you imagine for one moment that, had they been speaking on the phone and the gate had been mentioned, that the other person would have launched a foul-mouthed rant down the phone?

Attention seeking at its most abhorrent.

There are more important things in life and I just think it’s such a pointless drain on people’s resources. I find it depressing and energy-sapping to even read.

One more thing, my brother and wife feel basically the same as me about Facebook and changed a load of privacy settings recently. My Mum noticed this and got really upset: “why did they change their names? why can’t I see that information? Why wouldn’t they tell me something like this? I must have done something to upset them!”

If there’s no Facebook, this doesn’t happen. People seem to lose control of their emotions when it comes to this website and I haven’t the faintest idea why.

It’s madness.

Anyway, I’ve gone on much longer than my usual 500 word posts but this is something that I felt warranted the extra 300 odd words.

Please tell me, though if you are reading this, because I’d be fascinated to know – do you agree with anything I’ve said? Can you relate to it? I accept that I’m in the minority here but I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you.

Cheers for now and have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

N x

The post that doesn’t want to do that again

Well, I’m back. The wedding is all over, went down without a hitch, and my best man speech went… well, it went.

I remember my mouth was very dry and I was shaking. Most of it is a blur after that.

The first thing to say is that I am beyond elated that it’s all over. The second thing to say is that I didn’t think it went well, I got a few laughs and some awkward silences. The one I did for my brother’s wedding went 100 times better.

C’est la vie, I suppose.

I don’t want to dwell on it, even though I really wish it had gone better, because there’s nothing that can be done about it now and I want to move on.

However, I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy any aspect whatsoever of being a best man. It’s a thankless task, it really is. Not literally, obviously.

The groom, the bride, their parents and the people who go on the stag do all verbally thank you, but you know what I mean.

When I was asked to do it, just as with the first time, my heart sank. The whole process is a massive pain in the arse and it means the only part of the wedding you can enjoy is the getting drunk at the end.

I hated organising the stag do, chasing people for money, sorting a venue, worrying about transport, hoping the stag would enjoy himself and hoping all the lads on the stag do would enjoy themselves.

I hated being counted on to have special responsibilities on the stag do, performing more on the wedding day, coming up with material for the speech, and of course, actually delivering it.

I know I should be grateful and honoured to be chosen for something that means so much to the person who picks you, but I really hope that my best man days are over.

I think twice is enough for anyone.

It’s my own fault really for being such as bloody brilliant man, I suppose!

So, having finally been able to relax after the speech, I drank lots of wine, champagne and whiskey and felt unbelievably tired. It was like suddenly now that I wasn’t worrying about this thing any more, I was sapped of energy.

It’s the expectation people have of you that really annoys me. I’m neither a stand up comedian nor a public speaker, dammit! Everyone asks you all day “ooohh, is the speech ready? How’s the speech? Are you confident about your speech?”

It just piles and piles the pressure on until… you just want to punch everyone in the face.

So, there you have it. I think I’ve made my feelings quite clear on that one.

I don’t have dozens and dozens of friends, and I’m fine about that, but the ones I do have, I’m quite close with. Which is fine until they decide to get married and ask you to go through hell from that moment until the final speech has been spoken.

Maybe I’ll stop making friends or become estranged from the ones that I am currently close with just in case they get any ideas.

Anyway, I’m off to bask in the glory of not having this burden on my shoulders any more. Or, as it’s more commonly known – sleep.

Have a wonderful evening/day/morning, whatever it is in your part of the planet.

N x