The End of the Road?

Some uncomfortable truths

 

You are dying.

In memoriam

In memoriam

I am dying.

Your nearest and dearest are dying.

We are all dying.

Since the day we were born (some might say ‘since the day we were conceived’) we have all started out on our final journey.

For some of us the mortality end-game comes along a lot sooner than for others.

This year – 2016 – has seen a large number of departures from the field of popular culture.

The fields of TV, film, music, literature, and even pop-academia has seen many notable checkouts from this mortal coil.

Yet it is a sad fact that this unfortunate trend will continue in 2017.

When radio and television popularised itself in the 1960s, and drew in to focus the publicly-driven worlds of social and pop culture, the media was programming us (us being the population of the early 21st Century), for an upward, and steeply increasing, bell-curve of widespread, heart-felt losses.

I predict that 2017 will see far more checkouts from the world of popular culture.

And 2018 many more again.

We don’t know when we’re gong to checkout.

But a brush with the checkout desk changes us.

I have been told that I have become more self-centred.

I offer this without comment.

I acknowledge that I have become more emotional, in a ‘heart on my sleeve’ kind of way.

And I now look at things (people, situations, events) in much greater detail than previously.

This isn’t unusual, apparently.

A significant number of heart attack survivors report heightened, post-event, emotional and critical states.

I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring.

There are plans.

But plans are subject to change.

And I can’t share all of the plans here because secret.

But I can say that I plan on being here all through 2017.

And 2018.

And that I plan on being here far, far in to the future.

I have people to love.

And people to annoy.

And fast motorbikes to ride.

And many, many other plans.

So I’m going to be here.

A little emotional around the edges, maybe.

But I’m still going to be inhabiting this mortal coil.

And loving people.

And annoying others.

So yes, as this post started out saying.

Some uncomfortable truths.

Get used to them.

I’ll see you around.

Christmas films

I started thinking about a list of Christmas films a few weeks ago.

It’s been a regular visitor to my headspace, while driving to/from work, this list.

There are a number of ways of looking at it, and I couldn’t get my head around how I’d want to. For example:

  • The most awful Christmas films
  • The most awesome Christmas films
  • The most mediocre Christmas films
  • The most embarrassing Christmas films

There are so many candidates for all of those.

In the end, and after a lot of thought – about content and ordering the content – I’ve come up with my list of the top five Christmas films.

And in reverse order, they are:

At number five, it’s time to put on your Sunday vest (see what I did there?) and give it your best ‘Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!’ as a very young Bruce Willis takes on Alan Rickman (in stunning form, and a very smart suit) in the amusing action flick Die Hard

 

Number four on my list of my top five Christmas films is the financially bullish, pork belly bearish Trading Places. Eddie Murphy (for once) plays his character with just the right amount of charm, Dan Akroyd is perfect casting for his role and even Jamie Lee Curtis does a nice job in this role-swap with a twist:

Third on the list of my top Christmas films is the totally diarytastic Bridget Jones. There’s something about this film that makes it a very watchable – yet guilty – pleasure.

We’re on the home straight now, and in a flat-out sprint for the line – and coming second on my list of top Christmas films by the smallest of small margins – is the brilliant It’s A Wonderful Life. I agonised for ages over where to place this film in the list. It is brilliant. It makes me cry. It leads the viewer. It is a compelling story which embodies the higher values of the Christmas period

And the winner, by the most whiskeriest of whiskers, the number one on my list of top Christmas films is the brilliantly constructed, wonderfully written, beautifully script-edited and well-acted Love Actually. You might find it strange that I’ve placed Love Actually at number one, and It’s A Wonderful Life at number two, when, on my All Time Top 10 list of films, the order is reversed. The reason is simple; It’s A Wonderful Life is a better film. Love Actually is a better Christmas film. And this is a list of Christmas films.

Enjoy

Go on, tell me you didn’t start to tear up with that introduction? Those are powerful words from the fine Mr Curtis’ pen.

And fine sentiments.

Ho ho ho.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

A horse for one bin (again)

Bugger off Scott Mills and take your catchy soundbites that insinuate their way in to my consciousness with you. By the way, have you noticed that some enterprising person has registered it as a domain name? Anyway…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hi. How are you? How’s the wife? Kids? Husband? Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Hamster?

Our final Christmas present has now been opened and assembled. No, we don’t have massive self-control (quite the reverse!), but taking the still-boxed iPod docking station to Marrakech would have been a little… bonkers. Even for us.

What are you up to? Making resolutions? Breaking them? 🙂

We are listening to Chris Moyles whilst internetting like a couple of people who have been in a third world country for a week.

I’m trying to finalise the playlist for this weekend’s podcast but it’s difficult, there is so much top quality music and so little time to play it all.

So New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t really like the concept although I do love the notion that we attempt a little self-improvement each year. I just don’t like the shopping-list approach because it implies – in my head at least – an equal and opposite list of negative qualities, and I think we’re all far too good to be weighing ourselves down with even an unvoiced list of our negative qualities; it’s taking self-debasement just one step too far.

Although I do have some aspirations for 2009, they’re motivational rather than stick or carrot.

In 2009 I want to:

  • Make the podcast more ‘professional-sounding’
  • Market the podcast to a wider audience
  • Get the record label off the ground
  • Have a successful Eventing season
  • Laugh more

I agonised for ages over the wording of the last one. ‘Be happier’ implies I’m a miserable git, but no, I’m actually not. ‘Laugh more’ is a hell of an aspiration because I’m not sure there’s much more laughing to be had.

Sophie and I are like a couple of children; we giggle and hoot our way through almost all of our time together, but I think that ‘Laugh more’ is a laudable goal and brings so many things with it.

So there we are, so few words but so much implied.

How about you?

B.

Merry Christmas old Savings and Loan!

It’s now Christmas Day and quiet in this house
Nothing is stirring, not even a mouse
The kettle is on and Brennig makes tea
He’ll go to the bathroom, it’s time for a… shave.

The lights are so festive, they’re bright and they’re gay
The presents sit waiting, well-wrapped (in a way)
Sophie lies sleeping, she sucks on her thumb
Soon Brennig will slide in and cuddle her… back.

I really suck at poetry. 🙂

And as for the title of this post.. no, last night we didn’t watch It’s a Wonderful Life, we cuddled up on the sofa and watched Love Actually. And I still think Richard Curtis is a curse inflicted upon this planet to dissuade anyone with ambitions of becoming a writer, because he really is very, very good.

However…

I noticed a massive continuity error in Love Actually last night. It’s so massive that it has made Mr Curtis a mere mortal in my eyes. Lord knows how I’ve never noticed it before!

Yes, you’re still very, very good. But now I know you make mistakes. And that, Richard, is the best – and most inspirational – Christmas present you could have given me.

Merry Christmas everybody!

B.

Breather

I’m taking a quick break from wrapping one of Sophie’s presents. It’s winning by one fall and one submission but I’m confident that it’s weakening.

I really need a cup of tea. This is how the ‘not working self-employed’ amongst us spend our time; sitting around all day, drinking cups of tea whilst masturbating and listening to music.

Good times. As Justin Lee Collins would have said right there!

I’m also listening to a clutch of tracks by Sienna who are fast becoming my favourite NuMetal band. Hmmm… I must check out their gig dates.

B.

So this is Christmas

And so with the advent of Christmas Eve, the festive season is just about truly upon us. I’ve been scouting around my favourite blogs and it’s all very quiet out there. Hmm… There may be a task for the New Year in reorganising my blogroll.

But I wonder what everyone else is going to be doing this Chris…

Oh my God, Soph’s watching The Tellytubbies!

She’s just sat down with her bowl of porridge and channel hopped right to The Tellytubbies.

Where was I (he asked in a very distracted manner)?

Oh yes.

I wonder what everyone will be doing for Christmas?

Are you going away for a quiet spell (like Masher and his tribe), receiving family from afar (like Trixie) or inflicting yourselves on family (like Mya)? Or perhaps you’ll be having a quiet time at home?

Tomorrow (Christmas afternoon) we’ll be off to the wilds of Worcestershire for an overnight spell at The Inlaws, thence to a hotel near Gatwick for Boxing Day night and then to somewhere altogether more exotic.

Bognor, I hear you cry. Yes, quite possibly.

But feel free to let me know where you’ll be and what you’ll be up to.

I might be dropping the occasional post in here from wherever in the world I find myself, but if you’re catching up on stuff before you vanish to a world of food, television and dozing with the occasional bouts of whatever is your choice of religion…

Merry Christmas!

B.

Another fun day!

Today I have Christmas presents to wrap. But I am a simple, hamfisted male whose fingers and hands do not permit him to perform delicate tasks and therefore I am devoid of even the faintest speck of present-wrapping ability.

By the way… Helloooooo!

Anyway, my attempts at present wrapping always start out brilliantly. The first two – or even three – folds are clinical; display a level of precision rarely seen outside of a draughtsman’s office.

But we (my fingers and I) soon reach a point from where it all goes downhill. Quickly. And gets out of control.

As fast as that time when, as an eight-year-old, I rode my newly-painted (Maroon? How did that happen?) pushbike down that bastard of a steep, steep hill (King Street, Blaenavon) and by the time I got to the big right-hander halfway down the hill I was way too fast to make the turn in to Broad Street and the brakes were insufficient so I just gripped tightly and smacked in to the 6′ brick wall on the corner and knocked myself unconscious for a few minutes. And wrote off the newly painted bike. Wow! Where did that dusty little memory come from?

Anyway, I can’t wrap presents in pretty much the same way that I just can’t plait a horse’s mane. But with the latter I pay someone with less-fat fingers and with substantially smaller hands to do the job for me. With the former I persevere and, as a result, will shyly produce, when required, a gift that looks as though it was started off well but finished up being wrapped by an infinite number of monkeys.

Because that’s my style.

In other news… As part of my 2009 goal to beat this insomnia dragon that sits and smoulders away on my shoulder I have started keeping a sleep diary. It might not amount to much but I’m determined to try and do something positive for myself in the course of the new year.

So hey, I’d better get on. I mean, it’s 09.45 and I have so much time to fill. Yes indeedy!

B.

Scorching!

I am on fire!

Yessiree. I’m as hot as a hot thing from the hottest place you could imagine with your arse stuck in a big hot fire. Oh yes indeedy.

I am back home (obv!) having dropped the car off for its check-up. And I’ve been to the Dr for my in-hello-goodbye-out visit. And I walked – fucking walked! – in to Witney and bought wrapping paper. And went to Argos and bought a thing. And went to the health food shop and bought a Porkless Pork Pie. And got back home (I may have taken a taxi though). And I have taken a phone call from The World’s Worst Accountants (I really need to get shot of them right now!). And I’ve recorded next week’s podcast (which won’t be released until 27th December) which, on playback, seems to be the funniest rantiest thing I’ve ever done. But the music is the best – without a doubt!

All I need is the garage to let me know the car has been done and then I’ll go and pick up my company post from the sorting office en route.

So right now I’m going to prepare lunch (the aforementioned Porkless Pork Pie and a shovelful of Branston and a mug of hot chocolate which will all be consumed accompanied by a documentary recorded on to the digital thing a couple of weeks ago).

I’m not too sure how I’m going to fill the time between now and when the garage calls to say the car’s ready… but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

B.

It’s starting already

Umm… Where was I?

Oh yeah, it’s starting already. I’m losing track of time. And other things. Because my routine is shot to bits.

It’s that time of year, see? The time of year when I’m not compelled to get out of bed and struggle, against my most base instincts, in to work.

It’s the start of the enforced, unpaid holiday that is known as ‘Christmas’; and this year my compulsory break from my most mainstream work is a fortnight, two whole weeks of fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun. To quote the theme music to Red Dwarf.

And already I have that general feeling of ‘lostness’ about me because I should have got out of bed hours ago and right now I should be closing in on central Loondon (Loondon? If ever my psyche made me do a typo oh boy that was it!). Anyway, should be closing in on central London to do battle with the hordes of numpties and brain-deads who are unfortunate enough to cross my irascible path and get themselves lasered to death by the weapons of mass destruction that lurk behind my sleepy browns.

But instead of doing something that I enjoy but don’t want to do (who said I was straightforward?), I have the whole day to… Erm. Hang on, I have a list.

  1. Ring the Dr (08.00) for a routine appointment
  2. Get the car to the garage for a check-up (08.30)
  3. Get to Argos to pick up a thing
  4. Record next weekend’s podcast (review of 2008, could be a long one!)

So, four things to be done. And all day to do them in. Except, sure, things 1. and 2. have to be done in about an hour and fifteen minutes time. Then I could get straight on and do thing 3. And thing 4. And thing 1. will, inevitably, lead to thing 5. which is, of course, attend the Dr for said routine appointment. And thing 4. could take – including writing up of notes – up to 2-1/2 hours.

Of course I can’t go and see Vin because the car – see thing 2. – might not be in my possession all day. But I could, in theory, go and see him this evening because I’ll have it back by 17.00 at the latest!

But what do I do with the rest of the day?

I could write one of those five album reviews that I have to write. Or I could write one of those three book reviews that I have to write – I got a nice email from Sam Manicom the other day, gently asking when the review of Distant Suns will be completed. At least I think it was a nice email – he usually does write me such nice emails. I haven’t got around to opening it yet you see?

Or I could preview the new album that arrived to be reviewed last night.

Or I could check out today’s weather for the place where we’ll be staying between Chrimbo and New Year.

Huh, weather.com says 37F and 87% humidity but what the hell does that mean? What backward countries still measure temperature in F? Now I’ve got to go and find a converter!

Wow, 37F = 3c? I could stay here and get that cold! Note to self, take jumpers! And yet, strangely, another website is telling me that the weather there right now is 21c (70F for those from backwards countries). Go figure that disparity!

Also… better take some Pot Noodles too. Just in case. It’s difficult being a vegetarian in Third World countries.

Anyway I’ve used up almost 20 minutes of my day, sitting here, burbling away about… whatever it is that I’ve been burbling.

So I could have a shower, breakfast, cup of tea and then it would be time to ring the Dr and then it would be time to get the car to the garage and then it would be time to somehow get in to Witney and do the Argos thing. I haven’t got a handle on local public transport which, when you think about it, is slightly bizarre – that I know the public transport between here and London better than I know the public transport between here and Witney.

Oh well.

Time, standing still not at all for this man.

Speak later.

B.

A break but not broken (a horse for one bin)

Due to an overdose of Scott Mills on BBCs Radio 1 the phrase ‘A horse for one bin’ appears to have become not only my default phrase but also my default sentence. Sorry. But have you seen this website?

Because my employers have enforced a longer than usual Christmas/New Year holiday on me (I finish on 19th December and restart on 5th January – and no, that’s really not nice because I don’t get holiday pay!)  we’re taking a little overseas break.

The outward journey is logistically complicated and begins with (probably) going up to Soph’s mum and dad on Christmas Day evening, spending the night and Boxing Day there, driving down to a hotel near Gatwick airport on Boxing Day, getting up about 05.30 on 27th, getting to the airport, checking in, having breakfast and then flying out, arriving at somewhere just a little bit warmer at 11.15 local time.

We’ll travel back on the afternoon of 31st December and should arrive home just in time to celebrate the turn of the year.

Woo!

I’m looking forward to it immensely.

B.

p.s. Memo to self: get currency sorted!