Farewell 2016 – You’ve Been Crap

December 31, 2016

I started this year with mounds of positivity. 2016 was going to be better. Things were going to be great. I remember my cheerful optimism and everything.

And then 2016 shit all over everything.

My job went. My dad went. And numerous child and adulthood heroes went as well.

And that’s before the Brexit and Trump madness kicked in.

For several months of 2016 I worked on a project, at work, which I genuinely enjoyed.

2016 is very much the year that took things. Mainly the piss. But a lot of other things as well. It took away and thin veil which may have hidden the racists from the world. It took away the sanity of a lot of people. And it just kept on taking.

2017 will be better.

It will.

I mean, apart from Trump being President and the continuation of the Brexit stuff and…

Oh boy!

 


Off Limits

December 30, 2016

Since the back bedroom decorating was completed, Peppa has basically been banned from the room. Not by me. I’m the cool dad in this scenario where a pet is our child. Carole is the mean mum. She’s set the rules. Peppa is not allowed in the room because Peppa will trash it.

Now, this is based on some evidence that Peppa is a huge vandal. When we decorated the hallway – a mammoth task which resulted in some of the most insane arguments ever held by a couple, countless late nights and a hell of a lot of swearing – Peppa, who was only a kitten at the time, climbed the wallpaper like a particularly furry Spider-man.

There’s nothing better, I can assure you, that investigating a noise you believe to be made by a cat only to find that the cat in question is currently above your eye level and clinging to the wall with every single claw engaged. If you visit our house and spend any time in the hallway there are areas that look as if Zorro visited and had some sort of epileptic fit. Slices and slashes abound.

It needs re-doing but it’s something neither of us can face after the last time.

Anyway, that’s by-the-by. That is Peppa’s past form and, based on that, she is now not allowed in the back bedroom.

I mean, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been in there.

Because, you know, Peppa.

She has a fantastic habit of sitting outside the door just as it’s about to be opened. She’ll sit in such a way that you can’t get out without opening the door wider in order to allow you to step over her black and white form. And when you do that, she nips into the room and rolls around under the bed.

Or she’ll hear the door open and bolt from wherever she happens to be in the house and roll around under the bed.

Or she’ll just appear, like she is prone to do, and roll around under the bed. Teleporting, which any cat owner will confirm is a thing, is one of the most annoying things that Peppa can do. You can be absolutely sure she’s downstairs and then bam! she’s right in front of you. Or, in the case of the back bedroom, rolling around under the bed.

So far she has not trashed any of the wallpaper. I’m sure that she won’t. There’s very little left that I haven’t damaged in some sort of clumsy rampage whilst fitting cupboard doors or whatever, but still Peppa is on strict instructions not to enter the room.

As, it turns out, am I. Presumably for the aforementioned damage. I don’t really know. I just take it as read now that I can’t go in.

Unless it’s to retrieve “my” cat. And then I’m allowed.

Carole’s mean.


Mind The Gap

December 29, 2016

As the year comes to a close it’s natural to look back and think of what has passed and what is to come. Obviously, 2017 should find me in new employment at some point, although I am in no rush to find this – not from a financial point of view, I am well aware that I will need to start bringing home the bacon at some point, but because not having a job has lead to happiness.

Which is something you are spoon-fed to believe shouldn’t be true.

I shouldn’t be enjoying this time away from targets and appraisals and whatever else. It’s not natural to have a life that doesn’t have work in it. Work is the thing. The be all and end all of existence it would seem.

I used to work with a manager who would proclaim that dinner was not for winners. It was seen, by him and some of his cohorts, that taking a break in the middle of the day to eat food and not be working, was some sort of weakness. You couldn’t be the best if you stopped to eat. The only nourishment you should need is the satisfaction of doing your job. I saw him a while ago and he’s piled on weight, so I can only assume that whatever work he’s currently doing it’s pretty high in calories.

It’s the same with these Hello Fresh boxes. A box of ingredients and a recipe card conveniently delivered to your door for an exorbitant rate. You’re too busy to shop and certainly don’t have time to weigh out ingredients. Let us do it for you and charge you the earth for some spaghetti specifically portioned for two people. You just cook the thing and eat it, and then you can feel smug about it because despite your go-getting lifestyle you’ve actually made a meal from scratch.

Well done you.

Being made redundant and – to a certain extent – having such a long run up to when it actually kicked in is probably the best thing that happened to me in 2016. It changed the pace of my life and has allowed more me time.  I no longer feel that I should stay up late just so that I have some time to myself before I have to go back to work the day after – getting home at 7 and leaving at 6 the next morning meant just a few scant hours of downtime before the process began again.

But now that doesn’t matter. I know it won’t last. It can’t last. But while it does last it’s blissful and has made our lives so much better. There’s less need to cram everything into a weekend, there’s more time to talk and laugh and chill out. There are no targets at home. No goals that have to met otherwise performance will be rated poorly against your peers. And yet, magically, things still get done.

I know when it comes to applying for jobs and going for interviews I will have to explain the period between November and whenever.  I will have to justify what it is that I have been doing in that time. I’ll have to come up with something comprehensive that explains my decision not to run into another job straight from my last one. Because who does that? That’s boarding the train to Crazy Town. To just step back from the working world. It’s unheard of. There’s not even a job title for that sort of thing.

So when they ask me what I’ve been doing since my last job, I’ll have to think long and hard about how I answer that question. Especially if I’m expected to give more than the one word answer I’d like to give.

Living.

 

 


Lurgy

December 28, 2016

As a couple it’s good to get things over Christmas that you can both enjoy. Maybe a present bought for the other half is a much a present for yourself. Maybe it’s a book you want to read, a board game you want to play or a video game you have an interest in. The gift of giving is the gift of sharing. It makes sense.

We’re sharing germs at the moment.

We’re not 100% sure where they came from. We have a list of suspects, sadly not on one of those big dry-wipe boards you see in cop dramas all the time. Carole is further down the germ-filled rabbit hole than I. Where I have the makings of a sore throat, Carole has a cold, sore throat, aches, pains and the constant need to say that death is coming for her. Possibly the riskiest thing you could say in 2016.

So we’re really living up the awkward gap twixt Christmas and New Year by sleeping during the day and watching TV huddled under a quilt the rest of the time. Not exactly the dynamic go-getting and winter walks we had planned.

Still, at least all this sitting about being pathetic affords us time to relax, chill, and generally take it easy.

And I’m sure Carole got a couple of books for Christmas that sound like they might be a good read…


2016 Can’t End Soon Enough

December 28, 2016

2016 is turning out to be an absolute dick.

The number of lives it seems to have claimed is phenomenal. In the bad way. I mean, if 2016 were a person we’d be branding it a serial killer and every law enforcement agency in the world would be on high alert. The general public would be advised not to approach, and celebs would be under round-the-clock surveilance.

Not content with whisking away my dad, the year has seen its way to snatch a number of heroes and inspirational people with, for many, the final straw being  Carrie Fisher.

There are four days left, this year. I suggest qw each take it upon ourselves to look into the well-being of someone we admire. For me, I know I’m flying close to the sun with the likes of Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden on my heroes list. But still, I’d love to keep 2016’s grubby mitts of them. And I suggest we form a human shield around David Attenborough…

… and yet, in this year of absolute insanity, we still have the likes of Trump and Farage happily breathing in the oxygen while visionaries and naturally charismatic people vanish from our radar.

It doesn’t seem fair, somehow.


Christmas Board

December 26, 2016

Last night we were, we think, hustled by my mother.

We decided, in an effort to not just turn into three people watching TV, to play a couple of boardgames. Now, mum’s boardgame prowess extends to the more traditional games – scrabble etc – and the amazing fill in the blanks chucklefest that was Winkle’s Wedding.

So we introduced her to Tsuro and Quirkle. Not quite gateway games when ir comes to starting an addiction but both are pretty easy to get on with.

The first game of Tsuro we played was teaching mum the basics. Carole won, I lost. Mum came second.

The second game mum won. She destroyed us. Completely and utterly destroyed us. And all with a “what happens if I put this here?” kind of innocence.

When it came to Quirkle she was a bit more lost. There was a lot of “So I can put this here? And this here?” all while feigning ignorance to the structure of the game.

She bloody won. Well, she tied first with Carole. I lost.

Basically, I have now reached a level of gameplay talent lower than my 69-year-old mother’s first foray into this sort of gaming.

I feel lower than when my advent calendar called me fat.

Daniel’s coming tomorrow. He knows how to play games. It’s probably the last round of the 2016 championship. I am currently, obviously, in last place.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more screwed…

… I might have to get mum to take my place.


Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2016

It’s been a tradition on Christmas Day to just write a quick blog. Just a couple of lines wishing you all a Merry Christmas and that normal service (if you can ever call it that) will resume tomorrow.

And it’s not really any different today.

Apart from the fact that I would like you all to spare a thought for me at this festive period. Blessed, as I am, by being in the same house as two people who:-

a) get up and go to do things when TV programs (or films) start. Even if they start manually by the pressing of a play button. Carole watched me set up Zootropolis for about 10 minutes yesterday before, as the Disney Ident was playing, getting up to make drinks.

and

b) have the uncanny ability to mean well when it comes to helping in the kitchen but just end up wherever you want to go.

Wish me luck!