One-A-Day? Done

That’s it

A year of blogs. A year of trying to think of things to write about every day.

A year of things that have hopefully been entertaining, funny and poignant on occasion.

When I started back in January, getting to this point seemed such a long way away. When I made it to the halfway point of the year, a date which I’d worked out and then forgotten by the time it came around, it still seemed like quite a challenge to make it to the end of the year. Now I’ve got here I realise that, actually, it wasn’t that hard to do. I mean, yes, there were days when I had literally no idea what to write about, but I’d sit and force myself to write something because I had to.

But that sounds wrong. I didn’t have to do this at all. I didn’t have to sit at work every lunchtime, or in the kitchen at home in the evening, and put 500-odd words into a WordPress document. I didn’t have to do any of it. I wrote this blog for myself, first and foremost. If there’s anyone out there actually reading it, and who has been reading it since the beginning of the year then thanks for sticking with it but I didn’t do it for you. I appreciated when you told me you enjoyed the blog, though, I really did. I did it all for me though. I wanted to see if I could do it. If I could make myself write something every day.

I could have stopped at any point. I could have just stopped, just faded out. People would have asked what happened to the blog and I’d have said that I didn’t have enough time, or whatever, to carry on with it. It would have been fine. It wouldn’t have made that much of a difference to the people who read this. Maybe they’d have a few minutes spare every day to do something else in, but other than that it wouldn’t have had a massive impact.

But it would for me. Because I’d have cheated myself. I’d have given up this, like I have given up things before, with some lame excuse about it being hard or that I was too busy. But I never was. Whenever we went away, I’d write a heap of blogs beforehand, to fill the gaps, or I’d write blogs on the fly sitting in a hotel room in my pants. I didn’t want to not write a blog – as much as I might have mooched about in the kitchen desperately trying to think of a subject and getting cross with people.

It sounds stupid, but writing this blog has – in a way – increased my confidence. I can do this. I can write something everyday whether I have to or not. No-one forced me to do this and I still did it. And that’s something that I’ll carry over to next year.

This year has afforded me some excellent opportunities to meet some amazingly talented people who have encouraged me to do what I want to do. I don’t think I’d have had a crack at the CBeebies Get A Squiggle On Competition without some serious nudges from a lot of people and while that died on its arse this year at least I can say that I had a crack at it, and that – next time – I’ll do it better (and possibly not finish the final draft at 2am in the morning it was due in). This year I’ve heard words that I wrote come out of someone else’s mouth – something with makes me smile with immense amounts of glee. This year I’ve done a lot of things that I’ve either not done before or, probably, wouldn’t have had a chance to if I hadn’t done things.

Not because I had to.

But because I wanted to.

Roll on 2012

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Cat-ching Up With Some TV

Christmas is over.

It is. It’s all done and dusted.

The Christmas Tree, which we have so lovingly watered once and then watched dry out over the past three and a half weeks, has finally gone. I’d been wanting to take it down and dismember it for days, but I had been told that I must hold out until the New Year. It’s what we’ve always done – traditionally. New Year’s Day has been the day for tree dismemberment. Carole once had a nap on New Year’s day and I took the decorations down, cut the tree into bite-sized chunks and cleaned up and she didn’t even notice. She was just vaguely aware that there was more room by the door.

Getting rid of the tree will, hopefully, stop Pumpkin’s newest annoying habit of jumping up in front of the TV.

The first time she does it you can’t help but think “awww” while also thinking “I hope nothing on the TV startles her to the point where she attacks it.” I think this, mainly, because she once went for some computerised ducks in a game I was playing. The TV only escaped unscathed because the ducks flew off the side of the screen, and while she was trying to work out where they had gone she clearly forgot her original intended target.

But once the initial “aww” factor has gone, you find that – actually – you’re trying to watch television through a cat.

Now, while that sounds fine – after all, a cat is not a large creature (unless  a) it’s a big cat or b) you’re quite close to it) –  after a while it starts to get a bit annoying. She won’t lie down. That would be great. Lie down, then we could see. Yes, there would be an ear sticking up, but it’s better than the entire outline of a cat blocking the view of something. It’s hard to laugh at You’ve Been Framed when all the funny stuff is happening somewhere behind your cat. So she just sits there, looking about like she’s never seen things from that angle before. Generally getting in the way.

After a while you become resigned to this. You think about shifting her, but that involves moving. It’s bad enough you have to raise your arm higher than normal to adjust the volume on the TV because her tail is blocking the receiver, you don’t want to have to get up. So you resign yourself to the fact that, for a while, you’ll miss a cat-shaped portion of a show.

But then it gets worse.

You discover, whether you wanted to or not, that it is next to impossible to watch anything on TV while there is a cat, just in front of it, licking her own arse. You don’t want to watch the cat. You really don’t. Why would you? When she’s anywhere else licking herself you just think “Well, there she is doing things that cats do.” When it’s right in your eye line, at a height ergonomically designed to optimise the viewing experience, it’s impossible to look away.

You find your thoughts drifting from “Awww” to “I hope she doesn’t attack the TV” to “Surely that must be clean now? It has to be. Come on, it must be clean. If you lick it any more it’s going to squeak when you poo.”

 

 

2012 – The Year Of The Clear Stair

Stairs are great. There is, I think, no better way of getting between the different floors of your house. Well, there’s always a fireman’s pole type affair but they’re only good one way. That was always what troubled me about Batman – when Bruce and Dick slid down the poles to the Batcave, how did they get back up? Curiously I never had a problem with the fact that once they reach they bottom they’re changed into their costumes. I was always concerned with how they managed to get back up. In one episode they shot back up the poles on rocket-powered cushions (no kidding) and that was that particular mystery solved.

But stairs are amazing. They’re brilliant. They’re wonderful things.

They have a secondary function which doesn’t involve access to an upper or lower floor, though.

They’re quite handy for leaving things on.

I’m sure, when staircases were first invented, they were much narrower. Probably just large enough for a person to get up and down. Over time, though, they widened. Soon they were big enough to have sword fights on, and to carry sofas and pianos and other bulky things up and down them. And that’s when they came into their own as a place to put things that “you’ll take upstairs the next time you go up”.

You won’t though.

They’ll still be there after you’ve gone up and down the stairs a few more times.

And then things will be added to the stair. It will slowly become a pile of stuff that you will take upstairs the next time you go. The pile will grow and spread across  a couple of stairs. And it’ll still grow. And continue to spread. But you’ll look at it and think “Yeah, I’ll take that upstairs when I next go up.”

But you don’t.

At some point, though, the stair pile reaches breaking point. It will fall down. It won’t fall down of its own accord. It will usually be helped. Occasionally this assistance will come from the furry limbs of a household pet. You’ll know this because you’ll here a clatter of things falling down the stairs and then a streak of cat-coloured fur will rush past you as though, by her speed, she’s claiming she was somewhere else entirely when it happened. Like she’s building an alibi.

Sometimes, though, the stuff will fall because you brush against them as you travel up or down the stairs. If the items fall as you’re coming down the stairs what you do, in a way, is create a fun and exciting obstacle course for yourself as you try and dodge things that are now strewn across the stairs – the printouts from shopping deliveries, small boxes that are too good to throw away but you can’t come up with a use for, cotton buds, hair brushes and other items that seem to gravitate to the stairs but really should be taken upstairs the next time you go.

And when you’ve negotiated this deathtrap, you’ll pick the things up. As you’re picking them up you’ll think to yourself that you really should take them back upstairs the next time you go. And if not all of them, then a few things at least. Yes, if you take a few things at a time then everything will have gone in a couple of visits and the stairs will be clear. Brilliant.

And then you just put the stuff back on the stairs until the next time you go up.

They’re still there now, aren’t they?

Sales

We nipped into town today. I needed a new travel pass. Well, I didn’t until next week but as I’m frugal I needed to get a new travel pass this week before the price goes up next week. At least now I have bought myself a month of travel that doesn’t feel as painful as it could have done.

But, while we were out, we popped into various shops.

Is it wrong to openly weep that everything you bought for Christmas is now half price? Everywhere I looked there were things that I had bought that were now less than they were four days ago. Big half price stickers glaring at me, mocking me with their shiny font and joyous message. But I didn’t let it get to me. I couldn’t let it get to me. Because I was too busy trying not to be trodden on.

I was in Waterstone’s. I was looking at the bookshelves. There was a man who kept moving in front of me and then reversing towards me. It didn’t matter where I was standing, he’d pop up and try and walk on me for some reason. We were in the crime section, so it would have been quite fitting – as he continued to try and assault me with his feet – if I’d beaten him to death with the latest hardback by James Patterson or something.

While browsing the crime section I did notice that someone had placed a biography of Margaret Thatcher on the shelf. That made me chuckle, and pause to take a picture. Before diving out of the way of the man browsing books and not looking where he was going.

But as I proceeded to move through town that came to be the norm. People just aimlessly wandering. They had no purpose. No reason to really be there. They just wanted to be in town because there was a sale on. They didn’t want anything. They were just there, bumbling along with the crowd. They were just there because they were scared they might miss a bargain.

Well, from what I saw, they wouldn’t because the sales this year appear to be quite shit. This time last year I’d got games and DVDs from various places at a fraction of the price they should have been. Now I’m struggling to find everything. Everything seems to be half price, but that special kind of half price where it’s not half the price it’s been for the majority of the year, it’s half the price that it was just inflated to prior to being half price.

 

Say “Breaded Cheese Bites”

Where does all the breaded cheese go when it’s not Christmas?

In the run up to Christmas and, indeed, after the day itself for a short while, supermarket shelves and weighed down by vast quantities of breaded cheese bites. Triangles, circles and balls in a golden breadcrumb, ideal for dipping into some sort of dip or other which – if you’re very, very lucky – you get included in the box. We had a box of breaded cheese which came with a cranberry sauce. Which was frozen, so we just used cranberry sauce from the jar and ditched what they gave us but, still, it’s the thought that counts. The alternative, since you ask, was to heat the sauce in either the microwave or boil it in a pan – but who wants to dip cheese (already hot and capable of removing the skin from the roof of your mouth) into what would be, essentially, molten jam?

But outside of the Christmas period there’s hardly a breaded cheese item to be found. You try it. Wait until March then stroll into your nearest supermarket. Walk up to one of the slack-jawed youths that put items on shelves and ask them where the breaded cheeses are. They’ll look at you like you have two heads, although this isn’t part of the answer it’s just the standard response from the shelf goblins. They’ll disappear through one of those doors with the plastic flaps on them, hang around a while and emerge saying something like “We don’t have any of them breaded cheeses.” Or, possibly, “Sorry, what do you think it is? December?”

I like to think that the breaded cheeses come and go with the robins. You only see a robin in winter, and you only see breaded cheeses in winter. In fact, if we were to design a contemporary Christmas card which captured the current state of the nation, it would be of a fork in the ground of a snowless garden with a breaded cheese bite perched atop it, next to a robin. The robin would be gazing out, wistfully, remembering a time when there used to be snow and not just a wide abundance of mud. Or, if it’s nippy, frozen mud which gets stuck in the grips of your shoes and melts once you’re safely inside your warm house.

There are more breaded cheese in our freezer, I think. I think they’re somewhere past the sweet and sour money bags (spring rolls with ambition) and just on top of the tiny Aberdeen Angus burgers (complete with buns). We have to eat them before the new year, otherwise they’ll want to go back home.