Another Boring Week is Over: Rejoice!

I’m not usually so direct in my post subject titles, but this time it encapsulates my feelings so adequately that I’m going to use it. Yet, in some respect, it hasn’t been boring. A fair few things have happened, but they were so utterly predictable that it is tedious to think about them.

The first one is that my mostly depressed housemate decided to take the entire week off work in order to see the doctor, and then get himself back on track. I had a good talk with him on Monday evening, after yet another session on the Southern Comfort, and it gave me a bit of hope that he was intending to get his head sorted out this week. He point blank refused to discuss what the actual problem was, as he is patently too embarassed to talk about it to me, or even anyone he knows. He’d rather talk to someone he doesn’t know.

OK, I understand that. He did so. Within days the drink was back, but what’s worse is that he is now drinking on his own in his room. Before he was drinking openly. I know he’s drinking because not even a closed door can contain the fumes of Southern Comfort. And the fact that he’s still acting very weird. He clearly refuses to accept there’s a problem, and when I tried to tell him there must be a problem, he said it only “worries” him because other people are always so worried. Yet he needs to be worried, because only then will he accept there’s a problem. But I don’t want to be held responsible for pushing him to the brink of despair by explaining just how bad a state he is getting himself into. One day it will click in his mind again, and I’m worried that I’ll get a repeat of what happened last year.

But this was all so predictable. As soon as I finished my latest “therapy” session with him on Monday night, I thought maybe things would improve in the very short term. Then I predicted he would spend the whole week on Football Manager before getting drunk again. It all happened. He told me on Monday night that he was going to start working on his projects for this semester. The evidence of that happening is zero. A completely wasted week. The pun on the word “wasted” is very much intentional.

Meanwhile, in work, things ticked over as normal. I got some things done, which was good, but no sooner do I get certain events resolved do new ones come along to take their place, or conflict with what’s already down in the diary. The lack of focus is ridiculous, but, again, unsurprising. But at least it means I can finish early because I don’t have anything to do.

Never mind. It’s another week closer to the finish. Plus, this weekend, I’m going to Ipswich to watch another friend of mine’s football team (Swansea) play in the fourth round of the FA Cup. It’s nice to get out and about a little. I don’t think I’m doing enough exploration down here. I won’t exactly get another chance to live in (or near) London for some years. That’s assuming I would want to do that at all… which seems unlikely at the moment given my current assessment of the place.

The rejoicing begins.

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The Need for Brightness

Yesterday, a friend of my housemate, who, I suppose, is almost my friend because I get on with him, came to visit. Because my housemate tends not to get up at a reasonable hour, it gave me half an hour to talk to the new Friend, who has known said housemate for nearly a decade, about what we think the current state of play is.

As I have said in the past, my current housemate has some longstanding issues, which are somewhat psychological, but have now become entangled with the amount of alcohol that he drinks (isn’t that always the case?). We both agreed that there is a problem – but we both feel utterly powerless. He knows we are concerned, but whenever the issue is raised, normally after a lot of drink has already been downed… on his own… it just leads to the usual denial. The best alcoholic is the one that has convinced himself that he isn’t an alcoholic. And so the conversation goes in circles. To me there is no doubt he is an alcoholic. He cannot drink in moderation. He doesn’t drink socially. He drinks to escape reality.

His parents are aware, and they are worried. He has been the doctors over his original problem, which he takes the usual concoction of Happy Pills for, and has been to see a psychologist (who prescribed stronger Happy Pills as the solution). Whether they react to alcohol, making him even more strange (as he was only a couple of nights ago – ludicrously happy) is another matter entirely.

But what can any of us do? He seems OK at the moment, but I’m sure we’ll have another bout in the next couple of weeks. I even discovered that he’s now taken to lying to his friends in order to keep them happy. There’s something desperately wrong, but he is an adult making irrational choices. But we don’t have any right or power to stop him from doing it. His parents are hundreds of miles away, and they have already dropped everything and came out to his aid once before.

It seems awful, but all I can do is wait and help when he falls down again. This happened the other day, and I wrote about it then. But it is hard on me… I don’t have support here, whereas I did when this happened to me and my former housemates back in Hull – we all had each other to talk it through. But now… hmm. I wait for the timebomb to go off and I pick up the pieces.

This is quite a disappointing note to have to make in this blog, because, apart from this situation, everything else in my life is going pretty well. I’ve made some good progress on my university work, and I’m so “in tune” with my “real” job that it doesn’t bother me any more. The only thing that does bother me is the fact that I have to iron shirts and trousers all the bloody time.

Oh, and the massive hole that forms in my bank account on the 23rd of every month. I’m sick of thinking about money all the time, and the London rent really is starting to take its toll.

Roll on brighter days – for all concerned.

Upping the Ante

Last night was my first seminar for my university course since I came back after the Christmas break. Though I knew this moment was arriving, I still tried to put it out my mind so I didn’t worry too much about it. But now, I have to…

It’s the dreaded d- word – the dissertation. Last night’s seminar was a gentle reminder that we are supposed to be here in Westminster using the opportunities it presents us from a research perspective. I know that when I get back to Hull and start writing the dissertation I will be annoyed at the fact that I didn’t use my time here productively. The whole point of this jaunt to London from an academic perspective, as far as the university is concerned, is that it allows us to produce a much better dissertation than anyone else. So the expectation is higher.

The only trouble is that, between now and July, I also have three other pieces of work I need to complete. I knew about these assignments too, but I put them out of my mind for the entire first semester, always saying that “I need to get settled in first”. Yeah, right. Any excuse. Well, now I need to do something about it. I can already see my time slipping away. In some respects I am still wishing this year would go faster, but I know I shouldn’t be. I am in a unique position, and I really shouldn’t be wasting it.

So I’m going to have to stop accepting my own excuses. I am going to set myself some tough deadlines. It would be great if I could get my first piece of work done by the end of this month. That would release a lot of the pressure to think about how I can research my dissertation. Yes. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem, but I always manage to panic myself in such a way that I end up doing things too early. But when I look at the way my housemate deals with his academic work, which is often a night before, all-nighter, I think I know which way I prefer to do it.

Meanwhile, in “real” work, things are trudging along very slowly. I have much work to do, but my MP is so useless at the moment that he’s not doing what I need him to do, and consequently it leaves me with piles of work which can’t be completed, and in the meantime I get endless calls from people asking if my MP is coming to their event, or whatever. My job at the moment is effectively to stall the process until a decision has been made. Which may never happen, since my MP’s decision making capacity is almost zero.

Anyway, time to face up to the delights of the day. There has been much wind and rain overnight, and it still sounds terrible at the moment. It’s not filling me with much enthusiasm to see through the day. Sigh.

GI Matt

Of all the recent diet related fads, the utterance of the two letters “GI” has got me intrigued. I have no interest or need for dieting – at the moment anyway. But I have one small problem, which is the utter bane of my existence. It is the fact that I am hungry for many hours of the day.

I can’t help it. I can eat food, even a lot of food, and I will be hungry again within two hours. In the morning I can have three Weetabix for breakfast at 7:30am, and I will be starving and thinking about lunchtime by 9:30am. The record is when I’ve had Rice Krispies for breakfast… I was hungry again in just one hour. My problem is that if I ate at all the times I was hungry, then I would, without a doubt, definitely need to diet. I would be eating six or seven times a day. Probably less each time, but I am certain that the aggregate amount would be more.

There’s another problem: if I ate in a different way, I would probably spend double on what I’m currently buying to eat. I simply can’t afford to do that.

Something is going to have to give. Some people suggest drinking water to cure hunger pains: but it doesn’t work for me. So this is where GI comes in.

Allegedly, if I eat low GI foods, they will take longer to digest, releasing energy over much longer periods of time, so I should feel less hungry. But then I look at the suggested foodstuffs: and unsurprisingly, fruit and vegetables are in there. And yet, whenever I eat fruit, I don’t even notice it having an impact on my hunger levels. In the past I’ve had a banana as a snack at 10am… and it makes no difference. Apples, grapes, oranges, strawberries… nothing whatsoever.

Maybe I don’t eat enough of them. But then I look at other low GI foods, including pasta. I can eat a whole plate of pasta (and my servings are much bigger than the miserable amount I get in work) and I can guarantee I will be hungry within a couple of hours. I might feel full afterwards, but it’s a weird kind of “full”. It’s full, yet it has an ominous feeling that tells me it will be empty very soon. Completely unlike the full feeling after Christmas dinner… which is a feeling of full that says “I hope I never have to eat again”.

I hate having to think about food. But my stomach makes me. I need a solution: something that will fill my stomach that isn’t the usual junk food. A Snickers bar will often do the trick for me – now that’s a good snack. But if I ate four of those a day inbetween meals, well… it might solve the hunger problem, but I suspect I’d end up a slightly wider version of my usual self.

And yes, I feel guilty thinking about food and the fact that there are people in the world who don’t have any. Guilt seems to be a major part of my existence. I guess that’s the old Catholic upbringing. So many dilemmas and problems in life, and yet none of them seem to have any solutions. What’s the average human supposed to do to change things?

For The Sake Of

One of the advantages of being quite a deep person is that counselling others is almost quite natural for me. It can be a little awkward at first, and I don’t like to offer my thoughts until I know for sure that the other person needs help… but I always seem to be able to find the right words to say. I noted this last time my alleged talents were called into question, so I should stop patting myself on the back. Instead, I should explain that back then, the Housemate in Question is now the only person I’m living with. And now that the Housemate in Question has suffered a relapse, there was only me to help, unlike last time.

Last night I stayed up till about 1am, listening to the woes of my friend. He’s had a really tough time, particularly with a girlfriend who has never gotten over, who persists in trying to contact him, even though she has been told to stay away, because her actions are making him utterly unstable. Unfortunately, this particularly twisted individual managed to get in touch with my housemate over the past week, and it has sent him in a spiral of decline which has put him right back to where we were last time. Well, not quite so bad, but the end result was not far off. Thankfully, the staying up and talking things through seems to have done the trick – for now. He is like a timebomb, waiting to go off. To be honest, I had been half expecting it, and it amazed me how he had survived until now without something going wrong. But it didn’t make it any more bearable.

But I got through it. I offered as much support and encouragement as I could, with some wise words mixed with my frank comments about what needs to be done. It’s hard to know just how much of it hit the target, but given that things don’t seem so bad today, I think we may be able to cast this one off as just being a small blip on the long road to recovery. I hope so anyway.

Meanwhile, talking of roads to recovery, my MP is currently attempting to do the same. It’s been an exciting Christmas and New Year for him, and still it continues. He’s very much his own man, and all we can do, and what we’re paid (though some of us aren’t) to do is to support his choices. We can advise, but we can’t resist for long. There is going to come a point in future where things will have to change. Much of our real jobs is on hold at the moment as we focus on a new objective, but that’s a little dissatisfying, particularly as our real jobs require constant work to keep people happy, and stop the dreaded phone calls from people insisting that their whims are catered to.

And so, because my real job is in stagnation at the moment, I have decided to take tomorrow off. I would only sit there all day feeling my eyes getting worse by the hour, and checking BBC News endlessly in the hope that, one day, Tony Blair will just… go away. It’s not a productive use of time, so instead I’m going to have Friday off, and wait for the washing machine fixer to arrive. Then, at last, I’ll be able to do some bloody washing. If it isn’t fixed tomorrow, there will be a crisis by Sunday.

Which needs to be avoided for everyone’s sake.

Paintball

Though I’m now back to the drudgery of London after a long trip home on Sunday night, there is so little of note to write about here that I’m going to go back to Saturday and write about going paintballing…

I have never been paintballing before. It always sounded pretty cool, but I was a little wary of the fact that I was sure it would be full of people who would take it far too seriously. Then I would get annoyed because I had paid for the privilege. But I needn’t worry about that, because this time it was all being paid for by my brother’s football team (well, my football team technically, given that I jointly run it). Of course, they needed some adult supervision (any excuse) and so I joined the fun.

All in all, it was a very good day. As expected, there were a number of people taking it too seriously, coming already dressed in combats, and preparing their attacks with military precision. But the trick – always make sure you’re on the side of the crazy obsessos. I did, and victory in every event soon followed. That way, you will probably play for longer (I was a bit disappointed that you go out after one hit) and, of course, will win more often than not. There was the usual capture the flag goodness, and then having to defend a certain location from enemy attack, and then having to rescue hostages. It was a lot of fun, but being hit by a paintball hurt a lot more than I thought it would. Fortunately, I got away quite lightly, but a lot of the kids went away covered in bruises. It didn’t look good…

The whole day lasted about five hours, going from event to event and stopping for lunch inbetween. My favourite part was when I took someone down with a glorious headshot. I have no idea who I was shooting – since everyone looks virtually the same in the overalls they give you, and I just knew I was shooting an enemy by the blue armband they had. I was firing at someone who was sitting behind a board for defense, and they would look through a square hole in it to see who to shoot at. I thought I’d have a crack, but the wind was picking up and was taking all the bullets in a ludicrous direction. But just as I was about to give up and shoot at someone else, my final shot – fired to the left – was caught perfectly by the wind, bent to the right in a glorious loop, went through the hole in the board and hit the target smack in the face. Technically, head shots aren’t allowed, so the person probably didn’t go out, but it was still great to see. They probably got paint all over their face, as it gets through the gaps in the paintball mask. I’m hoping that it was one of the other silly group that were with us, a crowd of 16 year olds who were really thick. Made our group look like saints though, so it wasn’t all bad…

That was my Saturday. A fun day, but it would have been better, I think, if all of our group were just battling each other. We did get split in half onto the opposing teams, but we were also joined by lots of others from the other groups there. But it’s a team sport, and it’s rather difficult to communicate with people who you don’t know. We had about 12 others on our team who we didn’t know, and they just went off and did their thing while we did ours. We probably achieved little as part of all of our victories, but at least we still had fun.

Overall… I’m not sure I’d do it again. It’s a little awkward playing with people you don’t know, especially if they’re quite a closed group already. I suppose for someone with the ultimate social network they could put together enough friends to rent the whole facility for the day. That would be awesome. It’s still not easy to tell who you’re shooting at, which is both good and bad I suppose. Means you can’t pick on certain people you don’t like…

The sad thing was that the paintball, which did generate a good team spirit, didn’t help the football team to win on Sunday. We should have done much better, but lost 3-1 with just the usual bad defending. We’re still waiting for our first win…

Anyway – it’s now Monday, I’ve decided to stay off today, and there’s a lot of stuff I need to get sorted, including the still broken washing machine. So I’d better get on with it…

200

As Post 200 arrives, it is only just worth noting. So here it is: this is post 200. Not bad, eh.

Of course, my holiday is now drawing to a close. As soon as New Year is over, it’s always like that. The days race away and suddenly I’m preparing to go back to my other existence. But it’s quite a useful process really… it just gives me a little time to psyche myself up again, and in the end I come to accept it as a Good Thing.

I return to London on Sunday evening, which may be a slight problem if there are tube engineering works, otherwise I might struggle to get to Charing Cross so I can get the usual tedious trains back home. I’m prepared to put a lot of money on my train being busy, and if there aren’t the usual billion people waiting at London Bridge to get on my other train, I will eat my hat.

It’s the mindless monotony of these events that depresses me the most. It’s not the actual going back to work really. It’s the thought that I’m going to be back to ironing shirts and trousers again, wearing horrible suits, getting that same old 8:30 train… but this year I also have a problem in that one of my colleagues, the American intern, has now left. Me and him used to go for lunch at the same time, which meant that I could take the full hour without getting bored. I might find it a little difficult to do that now that I’ll be on my own again.

Still, like I had been saying, I had been waiting to get into 2007 because now I can see the end of this London experience. May is only four months away. I have even come up with an idea for a dissertation which I’m going to run past my supervisor when I get back. It’s probably rubbish, but it allows me to feel a little more confident about the future.

Plus, I feel like I’ve done a little more here at home. Yesterday I took part in my brother’s football team’s training, helping out as I like to do… and then I went for a quiet drink with some friends from my old college. I now feel like I’ve caught up with all the various things that I had been missing out on. Of course, there are other friends who I haven’t seen, but it’s better than nothing.

So, the depressing inevitability of Sunday has set in, but it has largely been accepted. Back to the boring existence living with one other person. But at least I’ll be able to get back to my music, which is on my computer, and my guitar and keyboard.

The odd thing is, within a few weeks of me starting back in London, I’m going to have to work out some way of getting some accomodation in Hull for September. Now that will be an even more depressing thought. Apart from the fact that at least it won’t cost as much as the scandalous prices I’m paying in London.

Here’s to the next 200 posts, filled with as much tedium as this one.

2007

I suppose I better had make my first post of the New Year. The 2006 end of year celebrations entailed another family do, which, to be honest, given there is nowhere else I’d like to be at the end of the year, is quite a good thing. I can’t stand having to think about getting home, getting taxis, paying a fortune for the privilege… we have a good laugh at our family do’s, and that’s enough to make me stay here.

I finally got to bed at 5:30am after the grand total of a bottle of Grolsch and an eggnog – which was a rather surprising drink. I didn’t realise just how thick it is. Nice, but somewhat disturbing in texture. Otherwise, alcohol just doesn’t interest me. My mum always says it’s because I don’t want to pay for it, which is a somewhat fair comment, but even when the alcohol is free, I don’t drink more than a couple. I see others being sick and making complete idiots of themselves, and I just don’t want to end up like that. I want to actually be able to remember the night, whereas most people seem to judge a good night out as being if you can’t remember it.

Anyway, enough moaning. 2007 is now upon us, which I am mildly excited about. I have been saying for ages that I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for my third year at Uni until I get into the year in which it ends. Now I have, and yes I can. May is now just four months away. Preparations will already be underway for finding my replacement. This is amazing considering I feel like I’ve only just got my feet under the table. But good too. It’s a fantastic experience, but I really have to move on. I’ve tried it; it’s not for me; it’s time to put the focus back where it belongs.

2006 was, on balance, a Good Year. That means 2004, 2005 and 2006 have all been Good Years for me now, according to how I noted them at the time. That is a remarkable series. Of course there are plenty of downs within that, and 2004 had lots given the boring job I was doing before University, and then the pains of the Evil Housemate. But that all seems so long ago now. I have already moved on and life is continuing on its merry path. I became 21 in 2006, but to me it felt as irrelevant as turning 17, and as irrelevant as turning 22 will be… only that it’s just another year of ageing. Urgh.

Otherwise, 2006 was a year of small achievements. I think I finally decided I want to be a teacher, and I did some work in a school to complement that. University went well in the first half the of the year, giving me results which put me on course for a 2:1. Then the second half of the year was spent in the extremely surreal environment of Westminster, seeing the political process at close hand. And the results are not pretty.

This year, this brand new, Happy New Year, a lot is going to fall very neatly into place. That is my prediction. I will make progress on my future. I will draw closer to graduation. I will move back to Hull for one final push. I may even end the year very happy indeed as a result of all the above.

The journey begins here…