Boing

One of the consequences of my sister moving house is that she has had to abandon the trampoline that she once had in her garden. It belonged to my eight-year-old nephew, but he can no longer keep it as the yard of their new house is not big enough.

This has meant that the trampoline is now here. Which is rather good news. I haven’t been able to stop myself wanting to go on it every day since we got it. The bouncing is strangely liberating, as is throwing yourself down into a crumpled heap from a great height. It’s also surprisingly good exercise…

Depressingly, we have now reached the end of August. The weather is now typically autumnal, and it’s a sure sign that the summer is officially over. It also means that my lengthy holiday is also drawing to a close. I think I may have decided that two weeks on Saturday may be a good time for me to resume my Hullness. This would give me a week before the semester begins, which allows me time to readjust to the tedious thought of going back to work again.

Thoughts of misery have been running quite high at the moment. The very idea that I will soon be back chained to a desk either in my house or in the university library doing research for my dissertation is just an appalling thought right now. In some respects I’m looking forward to seeing my old university friends again, and resuming my life again, but the amount of work I have to do in this final year is weighing heavily against the positive thoughts. Yet, I know it must be done. And it will be done. The next couple of weeks will be the process I have experienced and observed several times before: of resigning myself to defeat.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I’ve been a bit annoyed with my writer friend who was supposed to be doing some work on our script with me. He told me he would definitely be online every Thursday and Sunday night to do work on it, and ever since he made that pledge two weeks ago, he hasn’t. In fact, I’ve only seen him once in that time. I would have thought we could have made significant progress by now, but it hasn’t materialised. That’s been a real shame as the momentum we had built up is now totally out the window. I’m beginning to fear that this one isn’t going to be a goer either, just when I thought it would be a useful distraction.

What I believe has happened is that Real Life has occurred. My friend stayed at home to go to Uni, and all throughout he held a weekend job. Now he’s graduated, he has thrown in his hand at the weekend job and got himself a normal working week one. He’s now discovering that 8-6 (9 to 5 was always an illusion) actually takes a lot out of you, and while you may have great plans to do things in the evenings and at weekends, they hardly ever materialise as you just want to rest and relax.

And even then, as he has never lived away from his parents in his life, he doesn’t yet know the sheer pleasures of having to go food shopping, having to look after the house, having to do all the mundane administration that comes with it… you know, the things that sap you of life and kill away the rest of your free time. I think that might come as a shock to him when he eventually moves out, whenever that may be.

Anyway, these negative thoughts can go back in their box now. I would say I can go on the trampoline to cheer me up, but it’s been raining overnight. As usual.

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Progress Report

On Thursday my plans were scuppered. I was intending to go and visit the university I want to do my PGCE in. They were holding their open day, and I’d planned it all carefully. It was a short journey away, but public transport would see me through.

It didn’t. A train cancellation, and farce with the buses meant I just turned around and went home. What was annoying was that I knew there were problems anyway, and I’d legislated for them. Turns out it still wasn’t enough.

So I missed my last chance to see the uni I might go to, as they aren’t holding another open day before October, and I will be back in Hull by then. The other university I was also considering don’t seem to be holding their open day until after I go back either, so it seems events have conspired against me. Again.

After all these annoyances I had a good think about whether I should go back to Hull now. It might make me sit up and concentrate on my goals again. I feel I’ve drifted a little bit since the summer holidays properly began at the end of July. It happens every summer. The break is so long that you feel the mind starting to shut down. Though I do think I’ve kept more active than past summers. I’ve been planning a script with my friend, I’ve been away to Cornwall, I’ve been doing a lot of exercises, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the internet for a project I’ve got really involved in, and I’ve been helping with my sister moving house. Plus, I’ve been playing on “More Brain Training” every day, which “could” help to activate my prefrontal cortex, so Doctor Kawashima keeps telling me…

The other sideline has been poor old Harry Potter. I’ve been reading the book for a month now. Well, I had been reading it. I finished it yesterday. I couldn’t bear to finish it. Having caught onto the Potter franchise very late (courtesy of my journey to the USA, as irony would have it) when book 6 was published, I only had to wait just for book 7 to see the journey concluded. I was reading it at just a chapter a day as I didn’t want to rush through it. I’d managed to avoid spoilers of all kinds. I won’t write anything about the contents here, but suffice to say I enjoyed it a hell of a lot, and it was a fantastic finish to the series. I can confidently predict that we will never again see such a hoo-hah over a book in our lives. Or maybe even ever.

Next Wednesday sees the beginning of my football team’s season. It’ll be interesting to see how much we have regressed over the summer, as seems to happen with us. We have some new players, and some of the dead wood has been shed. We’re quite confident we can improve again this year. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, back to helping with the house moving. It’s going to be a bit odd… my sister’s going to be living a mile away again. So we’re going to be seeing less of her and my nephew. This has its benefits (as it forces her to get on with pushing herself forward in life: she’s starting studying to be a nurse soon) but obvious drawbacks. We’re going to have to see how this one plays out…

Beam Me Out

Right now the bank balance has just received another indentation. It is the results of a direct debit for the rent on my student home which is waiting for me in Hull. It serves as a little reminder that I am paying for something I’m not using. Fortunately, it isn’t too expensive, certainly compared to London. But it’s not a good use of resources in any case. I just don’t want to go back yet, though. I can’t think of anything more depressing right now.

This has also been enhanced by the fact that I have reignited an old hobby. Recently I’ve been back in touch with a friend of mine from school. He and I used to write scripts together. They were spoofs of Star Trek, usually pretty vicious ones as well. We both liked the show, but there was so much comedy potential in its quirky ways that it was too much to resist. Back in the day, we wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of dialogue across six “episodes”. They progressively get better as they go on, but a large chunk of it is complete rubbish when I look back now. Though its entertainment value is still there in many ways, if not to laugh at the things we used to write.

But what’s happening now is that my friend and I met last week to discuss whether the idea could be resurrected. I have long since fallen out with the idea of being a writer. I find it a too solitary pursuit, one with little feedback or any prospects for reward. But I have always enjoyed co-writing. It answers everything: it gives instant feedback, which is itself its own reward. Sure, it may never, and probably won’t, get anywhere in terms of film/TV deals. But when I’m there co-writing, the time seems to fly and I’m enjoying myself.

So we convinced ourselves that it’s a good idea. And came up with a pretty impressive story from nothing. We’ve been working on tightening it up in the last few days, not to mention throwing in lots of complexity for added tension. My friend has just completed a degree in creative writing, so he should know what he’s talking about.

There is one problem – how do we carry on writing while I’m away in Hull. We tried MSN application sharing the other day, but it’s not ideal. We needed a way a document could be open on both computers to which both could access.

Step forward: wikis. Wikis are the ideal solution in the circumstances. We can put everything online, so it’s accessible all the time, editable by both of us, and all changes are tracked. One could also work while the other one is busy, so we don’t need to sit around waiting if either of us has some comedy gold to put into the plot or the eventual scripts.

It’s not perfect… it would be great to see the changes in real time, but it’s the best solution we’ve got. And I just hope we can try to make it work as it will be a fun exercise. I’m a bit worried that it’s given me yet another diversion I could probably do without in my final year (the dissertation is now looming on the horizon) but I have to keep myself sane somehow.

I’ve probably got one month left here now. It’s flown by, but I’m sure when it comes around I’ll be looking forward to it. In the end, all this down time gets to you…

Crocked

Two years ago, when I was off gallivanting in Colorado, USA for the summer, there was something of a craze sweeping the nation, and they were quite proud of it there in CO because it had started there. All around, people were extolling the virtues of a new kind of shoe: soft, breathable, no socks required, and better than your normal sandals.

Yes, they were Crocs. I remember the assistant director of the camp I was working at telling me that he thought they were the best shoes ever. I couldn’t help but laugh behind my back: he looked ridiculous, both because the colour of the shoes clashed horribly with his pants, and they look like something a five year old might wear and get away with it… but no older.

The reason why all this has come back to me is that, now two years later, I have noticed that the age of Crocs is suddenly upon us here in the UK. Why it has taken two years for the fad to reach these shores, I don’t know. We don’t normally lag behind by that much.

It seemed that everywhere I turned while I was away in Cornwall, there was someone else walking round in them. Or more likely, they were a fake, cheaper version. Shops everywhere were selling such dodgy merchandise for a fiver.

You see, the thing is, we’re not really a country that suits open-toed shoes. Sure, maybe a couple of weeks of the summer we might see such nice weather that you can break open the flip-flops and waltz along the beach in them. But otherwise, like now (again), the rain will be so heavy that you might as well attach a bucket to your ankle and walk around with wet feet.

But never let the issue of functionality overrule the whims of fashion! Oh no. That would be too much like good sense.

So now we have people all over the planet, it seems, for whom the Croc is a necessity. And that “necessity” is driven merely by fashion. Just like most things in life: the goal of marketing is to turn something that you might having a passing desire for, into something that you must purchase as you couldn’t imagine your life without it.

What’s even more interesting about this though is that here, back where I live, no one would dare to be even seen dead in a pair.

Globalisation, combined with the groupthink mentality of both imagined and real sub-cultural peer pressure, moves in mysterious ways…

The English Ripoffiera

It’s been a short while since my last post, but at least there is a good reason. I have been away on holiday in Cornwall and got back last night. It was a coach trip down there which included a trip to the fantastic Eden Project, as well as a number of other excursions to some of the usual tourist traps. I had been staying in Newquay, a rather interesting town…

It’s good to be back, particularly as the return trip last night was an eventful one, culminating in a three and a half hour delay at a motorway service station. Ironically, I managed to get more sunburnt than I did on the way home than I did on holiday, but that was only because I had been laying on the sun cream while I’ve been away.

Cornwall… where to begin. It’s an extremely nice place. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I really like it. It has made me reassess my idea that I wouldn’t like to live in the South of England. Somehow, being tucked away in the south west, it almost feels distant enough from that “middle England” feel that you get in the South East. The locals are fiercely proud of their distinct identity, which is excellent. I love it when people come together, united in one community, even if it is all in the head.

So I wouldn’t object to living there in the future. But I would have to put up with the tourism. A hell of a lot of tourism. Newquay is the Blackpool of the South, except slightly less seedy. I was expecting something of a retirement resort, but it’s anything but. The town seemed to be in a state of perpetual conflict between its older residents (traditionalists), its younger residents (who are stuck in a surfer/skater sub-cultural mode), its older tourist visitors and the 20-30 year olds who visit for more sleazy purposes, cramming the town full to bursting point in the evening/night. The end result is something of an uneasy tension; there are plenty of truly horrible people there, but lots of nice ones too. It’s like that everywhere I suppose.

But the scenery was beautiful. The coastline immaculate, which amazes me… I really didn’t know we had conditions like that in this country. Last time I saw beaches as clean as that I was abroad.

The best part, of course, was the Eden Project. The best part of the trip, without a doubt. The word I would use to describe it is “inspirational”. So much great stuff there. The rainforest biome was very impressive, and all the work they’re doing there to educate people about the environmental consequences of our actions is fantastic. I would go again without a shadow of a doubt, as I didn’t even cover half the site while I was there.

The only downside of the holiday was the usual problem in Britain: the rip off prices of everything. One town in particular, Padstow, was an absolute disgrace. The tiniest ice-cream cone: £1. The smallest pastie: £2.65. All around shops selling tat for a fortune. The town centre packed to the rafters. And the number of things to do there? Well, I milled around for an hour, looking at the harbour and in the end decided to go home. Rick Stein has a fish and chip shop there. And?

Otherwise, I visited a couple of other places. Tintagel was nice, and the seafront down there was impressive. Took loads of pictures. And then there was Boscastle and Mevagissey. Lots of interesting places to walk.

But the holiday is now over. It flew by, just as this whole summer has. There’s still a bit more time left, but my attention is now beginning to turn to the upcoming university semester. Bah.

Time Less

The summer is fast disappearing. Here we are in another new month. In fact, this year is fast disappearing. I’m not quite sure where it’s going, but I can’t say I’m enjoying it at the moment. I’m hardly doing anything to make the days fly by…

It’s been a quiet few days. My family were all away last weekend so I had a bit of peace and quiet at last. This brought with it some unprecendented activity. Since the sun was shining, I decided to wear a pair of shorts… in my last post I said I never wear shorts, and that was true. I have always owned a few pairs but never had the bottle to put them on. So while no one was here, I decided to give them another try. And it wasn’t a disaster, as I thought it might be. In fact, I used the opportunity to give my milk-bottle white legs a bit of sunshine. I paid the price for it the next day, as it seems I got burnt just a little…

Anyway, now the parents are back, and the weather is staying good, I have been able to wear shorts again now that I have some confidence in them. This is great… particularly as we have all decided to go on a last minute trip to Cornwall next week. We managed to find a really cheap coach holiday, discounted probably because no one in their right mind is going on holiday in the UK during all this terrible weather. But maybe it’s turned a corner, and we might actually be lucky next week. I’m looking forward to it.

So I spent yesterday preparing. This involved, unfortunately, spending some money. I have been needing some new clothes for a while, so this is the perfect excuse. Once again, the internet delivered the goods, but I’m now a bit concerned that they won’t arrive in time. I’m leaving early on Monday morning. I love early starts, but the rest of my family don’t. Except my younger sister, who likes to get up ludicrously early sometimes. I’m sure that won’t last once she gets older. Meanwhile, my two brothers would sleep all day if they could…

The only thing that’s keeping me entertained at the moment is the new Harry Potter book. I’m half way through, and enjoying it very much. I’m only reading it a chapter a day… I don’t want to rush through it like some people do. Though if I did that, I would spend less time worrying that I’m about to see a spoiler somewhere. I’ve done well so far, but I’m sure that at some point someone is going to ruin it. I’ve stopped reading my favourite internet newsgroups for now just in case I spot something. There doesn’t seem to be any end of people out there determined to ruin it for those of us who just want the magic to live on just a little bit longer…

Finally, the one thing really bugging me at the moment is the fact that I seemed to have lost my watch. I took it off yesterday while sitting in the sun to avoid that nice watch shaped untanned patch that I always seem to have. And I haven’t seen it since…