Moan, moan, moan – the British way

I think the one thing that every one of us has in common is that we each have something that we can feel bad about.

Emo Kids - get happy!
Some people never know when they are well off

In some way or other, life is unfair to pretty much everyone.  Well, okay, some people get better breaks than others.  However, a sense of perspective is something that few of us have.

At least I haven’t been born in a country where wrong doings are punished by public flogging.  Nor have I been born a girl to either be married and pregnant to a man old enough to be my grandfather while being still at the an age that is below the age of consent in European countries, or to be raped on the order of an unelected all male counsel for some crime committed by a relative.  And I’m not an elderly person facing starvation because I find it hard to do the only available but poorly paying work because my body is collapsing with age.

I could go on about the life of the majority of the World’s inhabitants, but I won’t.

I watch television documentaries and news broadcasts and see people moaning about their lot while all of the time I watch everything as if through the eyes of one of these people I mention.  They’d love to live on the benefits breadline in Britain if that meant that they lived in a house with a spacious enclosed garden, full indoor sanitation and warm clothes.  Sorry, with this image that I describe I am thinking about a particular family that I saw this year on BBC News.

…Okay, I won’t go into a full rant here.

I do listen to gothic inspired music. One of my five favourite albums is Pornography by The Cure, for example. I can relate to the words as bad things have happened to me in the past. But, I’m not unique in having a bad past. I have a right to feel depressed about things that have happened to me but there is a lot that makes me feel grateful and happy as well.

Let’s just say, caring about everyone else in the World helps you to appreciate the few blessings that you do have.

A year mostly absent of social media

Hmmm…I’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t I?  All of my internet stalkers must have hated me over the last year as I haven’t left much of an internet trail.

Yes, I’ve logged into my bank account and paid my bills (well, most of the time) but I’ve not done too much on WordPress, Google+ or Twitter.  In the last month I’ve done a little bit on Twitter and in the last couple of weeks a little dash on Google+ because the posts on these two places are only a few words (usually).

So do you want an explanation?  I won’t give too much in that regard; only that there was a big issue that I needed to deal with in the family and I didn’t feel much up to social media.  All of my posts would have been quite depressive – and that’s not the way I wanted to go.  I’m no Robert Smith or David Byrne – The Cure are quite good at songs of depression and Talking Heads are phenomenal with music describing about nervous breakdowns (“The Overload” from the album “Remain In Light” springs to mind).  Anyway, the good news is that I didn’t feel that I needed to listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon” that often.

My life now is…oh, I don’t know.  Remarkable?  Boring?  Insignificant?  Yes, all of those and a few other adjectives.

Financially, I don’t feel like I’m living hand to mouth so much any more.  What I mean by that is that it takes me the whole month to spend my monthly wages at the moment.  This is wonderful progress for me and for that I am thankful to God.

Chicken and Chorizo Bulger with Flat Peas
Chicken and Chorizo Bulger with Flat Peas

So, what has changed?  I bought a cookery book that specialises in simple recipes.  I cannot cook at all (remember my MyOpera confession that I set the smoke alarm off while making a salad?) but this book has enabled me to turn out things that are reasonably tasty.  All you do is slice ingredients up and through them into the pot in the right order and – like WOW! – out comes something really nice.  I suppose a quick plug for “One Pot Wonders” by Lindsey Bareham is in order.

My car, oh yes, my car famed throughout the MyOpera years.  My old Honda Civic became quite a feature of my posts for a time.  Unfortunately, it is no longer in my possession.  When I had my MOT in 2013, I was given a list of advisories that filled the page.  I knew from reading them that these repairs all needed to be done within three years at most if I was to continue driving the Honda Civic – and they all looked quite pricey.  Also, the last Labour government had increased the age that a car needed to attain before being exempt from road tax.  No longer would a car get that treat at the twenty five year old mark but now needed to be forty.  The last Labour government had, in effect, billed me over £100 in August 2014.

So, I bought a new car – sorry, I mean a newer car.  I trawled the basement priced used car adverts and telephoned after a cheap looking thing from a nearby dealer.  That car had gone but he said that I might be interested in something else that he had.  Where was he?  Well, down this side alley near the train station where a taxi firm traded from years before.  Their battered old sign was still hanging off the side of the building.  I turned up and was greeted by a locked gate that held back a ferocious barking dog.  A tough guy walked up and asked who I was.  He wasn’t the dealer but he called through to the guy who was.  The dealer was another tough looking dude.  He put on a tee shirt and showed me two well used motors.  I grabbed one of them that had a sunroof (yay! A sun roof!) and he then agreed to take my car the next day as part exchange.  I gave him £50 deposit and then went home and ran a check on the car.  If I was to pay for the car, I wanted to be certain I was not taking on something with outstanding finance or was written off in an accident years ago.  The car was legitimate and so the next day I was driving a green Vauxhall Astra.

Well, that’s enough excitement for today.  I know for sure that this bedtime story will help me sleep well tonight.

Seeing JLS at the O2 Arena and other December stories

As a number of you are aware, I am one of the last defenders of good music. (A bit less heckling at the back, please) Yes, I savour the delights of Talking Heads, Slipknot, Ryuichi Sakamoto and The Cure. And so, it seemed a big sacrifice when I agreed to accompany Gloria to see the penultimate performance by her favourite (boy) band JLS at the O2 Arena.

Well, the day arrived on the Saturday before Christmas. It started impressively for Gloria when I drove to the O2 Arena in London guided by the Navigation App on my ancient Android smartphone. I eventually slipped up to the carpark barrier where I had prebooked a parking spot – valid up until 10am the next morning – and the barrier greeted me by name and opened automatically. She was really impressed by that automatic number plate recognition thing. As I work in IT, I took it in my stride.

We were at the front of the queue waiting to get in and Gloria needed to go off to find a toilet. I had in her absence started speaking to a lady and her ten year old son. This was in spite of me being the only person in the whole of the O2 that day to be wearing a Slipknot tee-shirt. Being the wind up I am, when Gloria rang my mobile ‘phone to say she was just coming back I told the boy that it was Marvin from JLS ‘phoning me to say he had just finished his tea of sausage and mash and to ask whether I could still drive him home after the concert. He didn’t believe me, but the girl behind me – who I guess was fifteen years old – did!

There were three support acts – the best of which was a lady called Hatty Keane. However, she ruined it all with her scanty clothing and provocotive dancing. Predictably, she kept calling her act a show of girl power. Why do women dance in a come-and-get-it-boys way and then call it girl power?

Oh, check out what it looks like when a load of JLS fans hold up little lights that are not cigarette lighters! 20131221_201700

Well, I did enjoy the JLS show. In fact, I will say that had I never heard them before I would have enquired about them afterwards on the strength of ‘The Club is Alive’. The original single is very annoying but live it sounded fabulous. This was definitely a track that should never have been recorded and only ever performed live.

On Christmas Day, we entertained my stepdaughter’s boyfriend for lunch. He came bearing gifts of snacks as his mother decided that he should not turn up empty handed. I managed to set off the smoke alarm at one point making a Christmas Day cooked breakfast – I know that you’d all expect nothing less!

Saturday was babysitting with my Mum at my sister’s house and playing with my great-niece who was also there. I’m in my element with young children and I’m especially happy to have more nieces than nephews. Somehow, children talk to me on my level!

And how will I see 2014 in? With a glass of something alcoholic and Gloria, of course.

Thank you all for being my friends in 2013. Unfortunately, I’m still hanging around next year. You can’t get rid of me that easily.