Escapism

Every day, for 10 to 20 minutes or so, I like to play on a little game called Animal Crossing. Well, it’s not a little game, as such… it’s well known across the whole world. But I play it on my DS, so it’s all “little”…

I don’t know why I still play on this game. Really, it’s a game that makes a game out of doing absolutely nothing at all. Ever. All you do, every day, is go on it, talk to animals, collect fruit and sell it, clean up the town, plant stuff. In other words, apart from the talking to animals bit, it’s a rather odd version of real life. Though I suppose I talk to animals in real life too. Well, my dog, anyway.

I’ve done almost all there is to do on this game now. A few things elude me, such as a massive bank balance in order to unlock the last few rewards, and getting the pictures of all the characters, but otherwise I’ve seen it all before. Everything all the same, every day. The characters have completely worn out their admittedly extensive phrasebooks. That just goes to show how much I must have played on it.

And still, I come back to it.

15 minutes a day isn’t much. And, of course, as someone with way too much time on his hands, I suppose I have to find ways to use it up somehow. Indeed, whenever I have been busy for the entire day, I tend to forget to go on it, and that causes much weeping if the consequence is that a character leaves the game without me getting their picture. Oh, what a life I lead.

But maybe the real reason why I like to keep coming back to it is just a simple form of escapism. My life is frequently dull and boring. These days, because of where I live and the fact that all my former friends around here have either moved away or I’ve lost touch with, I’m living quite a sad existence. If it wasn’t for my football hobbies, I would barely get out the house, such is the bad state of business at the moment. But of all the people I meet on my hobby, I would count almost none of them as friends.

So I’m living almost without friends right now. Sure, I keep in touch with my old friends from university on Facebook, but it’s not the same. I knew I’d miss the university life.

Perhaps then it’s little wonder that I find myself drawn to a simple game like this. For 15 minutes every day I can forget about real life and “live” an incredibly simple existence. Oh, how wonderful it would be to not have to worry about where my next piece of work is going to come from… and instead live out a life in a friendly small village where everything is just so… cosy. I think that’s the word I’m looking for. And there’s always stuff to do.

I think I’m going mad.

Advertisements

Mother’s Day

When you look closely at a word, it tends to seem more and more ridiculous the more you pay attention to it. “Mother” is  a fine specimen of this genre. It looks stupid. Maybe because it contains a flying insect. And maybe because the addition of “er” at the end of “moth” somehow changes the pronunciation of the O vowel. English is weird.

Of course, the purpose of this post wasn’t to criticise the English language, but to stop for a moment and pay a little tribute to my own mother. Here in England, yesterday was Mothering Sunday. But since we’re not religious any more, we know it as Mother’s Day. We haven’t yet got to “Mum’s Day”, and maybe we never will… perhaps it’s a step too far.

So we tried our best to make sure the day was as good as it could be. There were presents, and much celebration, and I baked a celebratory huge sodabread. It was gigantic. I never intended it to be so huge, but it was… and it was perfect. I tell you, there’s no finer way to start a Sunday than to come down to the smell of bread baking in the oven and fresh coffee being made in the coffee machine. We were able to treat my mum to that yesterday.

Sadly, though, there was a little disappointment, as I realised that the presents I bought for my mum were an extraordinary rip off. I was foolish to think that this was more than just a thin face cloth. Somehow I misread it and thought it actually smelled of strawberries too. I wouldn’t have bothered paying so much – I could have bought a pink flannel down the market for a fraction of the price. And then there was the box of pink hearts… I thought they’d be bigger than they were. The picture makes them look huge. Don’t be fooled.

So mother’s day cost me nearly £15, and there wasn’t a single decent present off me. I felt rather bad, so I think I’ll go and buy a bottle of wine or something to make it up. But not today, it’s too windy…

Anyway – so my mum got lots of nice presents (except mine) and lots of attention. She seemed pretty happy. She then went out for a meal with her mum while we sorted the house out. I did all the washing, lots of cleaning and even ironed the school uniforms for my brother and sister. She was very happy with that one.

I’m sometimes a bit too impatient with my mum. She’s a little slow at times… and it gets me frustrated. But I do love her. She’s kind and patient, warm-hearted and caring. And, to be frank, she’s gone through a lot of shit in the past 30 odd years bringing up her five children, and coping with the stress of becoming a grandmother at the age of 36 (courtesy of my elder sister). And, the thing is, it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier as the years go by.

That’s why I do my best to help out around here, because she needs it. I often wonder that if I moved out this house would go to rack and ruin. One day I will have to move out… it’s just too cramped here.

But for now, I will carry on honouring and loving my mother in the best way I can. Thanks for everything, Mum.

Simmering

Life has taken on such a rather intriguing state at the moment that I think “simmering” is the best word to describe it. It’s that state of being gently on the go… but at any moment the right sort of pressure will turn that into major action.

If only. I keep getting little jobs for work, helping fix computers here and there, but nothing major. Yet, I sense that there is a breakthrough just around the corner. Maybe this is more hope than expectation, but I really think that now I actually have a computer to sell, and a business model revolving around shifting cheap computers, we might actually be getting somewhere. The test now is to see whether Google Adwords really works…

Meanwhile, the football season draws to a close. It’s not been a good year for my youth team, they haven’t won a match yet. They’ve drawn a few, but they just don’t seem to have the bottle to see them out and get the win that they deserve. It’s not that they’re rubbish, well there are a few who are, but I think it’s been so long since they won that they just don’t know how to any more.

But this season has been useful for me. It’s given me a number of ideas for how we can go forward. And now I’m at the helm of this humble organisation, I intend to make a lot of changes to make it bigger. So there are some exciting times ahead. We just have to get around the sheer incompetence of the FA first, who have deleted my dad’s record from the club systems because they thought he was the same person as me. Thanks for that. And now their system has been broken for over a week.

So that one’s simmering along too. At any moment, it could burst into life.

Oh, if only it would. If only I had lots and lots to do. But then again, I’m not sure having lots to do on the youth football is necessarily a good thing. After all, it doesn’t pay me anything. In fact, if I were to use my A-Level business studies for once, I could even say that it has an opportunity cost in terms of the time I no longer have to pursue my business interests.

Not that there’s much to do right now. But, oh, there could be!

There’s even talk that one of my former customers wants me to get involved with his business idea. Well, they always say to have a number of irons in the fire. I could well do that too. I have the time for it. After all, these days I get up early every day, around 6:30am… and the mornings seem to drag if there’s nothing to do.

But if there’s nothing to do, I generally find something. And, in the theme of the subject of this post, it is almost always cooking of some kind. Yesterday, I baked a so called healthy flapjack. Healthy meaning no butter/margarine, no syrup and low sugar. I used two bananas and raisins, skimmed milk and an egg to stick it all together. And it tastes pretty good actually – very much like one of those breakfast cereal bars. Or like a Tracker. I haven’t had one of those for years.

My talent really does have no end…

Killing Me Softly

On Monday (yes I’m late), I went to see The Killers at the MEN Arena. I haven’t been to a concert in a long time, and I’ve never been to the MEN Arena either. So I didn’t really know what to expect, though I had heard that The Killers always put on a good show…

The day itself didn’t exactly go smoothly. Inbetween trying to cook my family’s dinner so that we could eat it early and leave by 5:30pm, I was being pestered by a customer on my mobile phone to try to fix his problem. Trouble is, I really needed to get in front of his computer to do so. He was that desperate to get it fixed that he offered to come round to my house, give me a lift, and even bring me back. I, of course, wanted to do it, to make some money, but I was busy here, and worse, it was my nan’s birthday, and I’d promised to go round their house. 

Being unable to do three things at once, something had to give. Sadly, money came first, and so I did the job. In the process, I had to lock the house, because no one was in. Little did I know that that would cause a disaster as it later transpired that neither my mum, or dad, or brothers and sister, had a key to open the door. 

So while I was out working, my family couldn’t get in. They had to sit in my nan’s (who fortunately lives locally) while they waited for me to return. And my return took a while, as the problem was a little more complicated that it first appeared…

Eventually I got back at 5:15pm… I’d left the dinner in the oven on slow cook, but three hours cooking a pasta bake is a bit too much, so it was extremely crispy. Never mind.

We frantically raced around the house getting ready, leaving at about 6:10pm. The show started at 7:30pm, so the ticket said. We knew there would be a support act, so there wasn’t a big panic, but there was always the traffic to contend with. Oh, and the usual wrong turning, which happened again. 

Eventually we got into the Arena at 7:40pm.  I expected queuing to get in. None. I expected security searches. None, other than a token scan of my sister’s handbag. In fact, the whole thing was smooth and easy. Except the fact that The Killers didn’t come on until 9:15pm. Wish we hadn’t rushed so much now.

Amidst all this you would be forgiven for thinking that the concert was unnotable. It wasn’t. It was fantastic. We didn’t have the greatest of seats, sitting in the upper tier, the furthest away possible, but I guess that’s why they were the cheapest in there. I remember sitting waiting on the Ticketmaster website to buy them, hoping we’d get lucky. We did. And it was worth it. Oh, except for the idiots sitting (standing) in front of us, who were drunk, and shouted a conversation to each other throughout the performance. The usual anti-social behaviour that I’ve come to expect from things like this really. It’s why I don’t bother with cinemas, concerts and other public events now. Unfortunately, society has now disintegrated so much that someone always ruins it for you. We asked them to be quiet, but as usual we got nothing but abuse back.

The Killers (I could just about make them out on the stage miles away) were awesome. The singing was spot on, the music sublime, and they hit us with all their top songs. They are my favourite band for the simple reason that, of all their singles, I like all of them, loving most of them. And then there are album tracks that I love too. Superb on every level, they can do no wrong. There were plenty of pyrotechnics and lighting trickery that we certainly could see, and they were great. But we really were so far away that I could see the drummer hitting the drums before I heard it…

Like I said, it was the first time I’ve been to the MEN Arena and I was impressed. It was bigger than I thought it would be, and the facilities were excellent. Prices inside were scandalous, but I knew they would be and so didn’t buy anything. I was also delighted that we didn’t have to queue to get in (unlike previous concerts I’ve been to), and I think next time I would try to go on the train because I didn’t realise that it’s right on top of the station. 

All good stuff, though my bad experience with the people in front puts me off doing it again. It would have to be another awesome band to justify the risk of there being louts near me…

A Slight Explosion Between The Legs

My grandad once told me that if you look up the word “fart” in the dictionary, the definition will be as above – i.e. “a slight explosion between the legs”. 

Being young, small and naive at the time, probably aged about 7, I believed him. It was all a good laugh, after all, and why would I want to ruin it.

It stuck in my head, but some time after that, as I started to get more inquisitive about what adults told me, I decided to look it up. Try as I might, all the dictionaries I ever found didn’t define the word. I guess it was just a bit too rude for them.

Then I came across one that was old and tatty, didn’t have a cover any more and the spine was starting to break. But inside came the proof that my grandad was lying all along. The new definition: “emission of gas from anus”. How boring. 

But something happened the other day that could very definitely have been described as a slight explosion between the legs. Yet, in this case, it wasn’t a fart – although after reading this tale you may be thinking that it would have been excusable in the circumstances.

There I was in the kitchen, minding my own business, making my dinner. I’d decided I wanted something different than what was going to be on offer from my mum. She was during the usual “quick tea” of burgers, waffles, beans, whatever she could lay her hands on that would feed the masses in this house as soon as possible with the minimum of fuss. Fair enough – she does work.

So I’m standing at the cooker, stirring my pasta, and my mum comes along and prepares the oven, lighting the gas, taking all the baking trays out, and gets all the stuff out the freezer ready to go. Not even remotely interesting. I might have even stepped out of her way to allow her access to the cooker. Still – very dull.

She left the kitchen while the oven pre-heated for a few minutes. I carried on with my pasta, which was now boiling away nicely. Now, I decided to move the pasta from one gas ring to another, for the simple reason that the one I was boiling the pasta on was very good for heating the water up but not so good for leaving to simmer. I turned off the one I was using and lit the gas on the new, smaller, gas ring.

I pressed the ignition, and from just below me, at the top of my legs, came an almighty bang.

Worse, the oven door flew open and closed again (spring mounted, you see), causing another slamming sound.

Needless to say I somewhat shat myself, making a rather alarmed cry at the bizarre circumstances going on below me.

Then my rational brain kicked in and realised that the panic was over, that nothing serious had occurred, and then began to work out what must have happened. 

Our oven is a little temperamental. If you want to light it, you have to hold the ignition down for ages. It seems, in this case, my mum didn’t. Instead, she turned it on, pressed the button, and nothing happened. But she thought it did, then leaving it to pre-heat. 

Meanwhile, the gas built up in the oven. So much gas that it must have filled the whole thing, but fortunately did not leak out. If it had I would have smelled it. Then, when I went to light my new hob, I pressed the ignition. Of course, the ignition creates a spark on all of the hobs and ovens simultaneously… so while I thought I was lighting my gas hob, in fact I was lighting the oven too…

And bang.

The consequence: a slight explosion between the legs. It may not be the definition of “fart”, but it is now even more permanently etched into my mind as something that really did happen – not just an invention of my grandad’s comical mind.

Who’d’a thought that all these years later I would actually find a use for his joke…

On Death Row

There’s a certain something to be said for Sunday mornings. Sitting here, waiting. I’ve done the usual Sunday morning chores: which is almost always washing all the dishes from last night, because on Saturday night, no one here can be bothered to clean them. Fair enough, it’s my job. I don’t pay any keep, so I pay it in other ways.

But in reality it’s just a distraction. Something to keep my mind off the inevitable defeat that lurks around the corner. Yes, it’s football time again. And to complement it, despite it not having rained all week, it’s now pouring down outside. It’s as if the weather wants to join in with the overall feeling of melancholy.

Because it’s been the same every week this season. We haven’t yet won a game. We have come close to winning them, but we’ve either lost our nerve or failed to take our simple chances when they fell to us on a plate. We have drawn a couple, but a draw’s not good enough. We simply have to win. 

There’s no good reason why we haven’t won, in truth. We are as good as half of the teams we’re playing. I just think we don’t know how to win. We don’t have the mentality to cut teams apart and then protect our lead. We have to be made to work ludicrously hard in order to score just one goal, and then sometimes the opposition gets the benefit of a lucky bounce or a fluked deflection and they get a result with breathtaking ease.

Suffice it to say that it’s somewhat annoying by now. And it makes Sunday mornings such a depressing time. The inevitability of it all is what’s so frustrating. We get all our gear ready, get ourselves mentally prepared, and step out the door on the way to other thrashing. It is the unspoken truth. There are normally five of us, me, the manager, and three players. We don’t mention it, but we know what’s coming. 

It’s all so disappointing, really. And on top of all that, we’re now stuck in the middle of a petty political wrangle between the management of our league and the management of the local county FA. It’s not a nice spot to be in. It might all get resolved amicably, but even if it does, the bad blood is now so much that we wouldn’t want to be part of this league. 

If all goes how I hope it would, then there may be another opportunity around the corner. A rather more exciting one. I’ve decided that what my life is missing is a big project. I want to be tested with a large scale piece of work, something that I can work hard on and dedicate my present existence to. I was hoping that would come with my business, but so far it’s not happening. Maybe in a couple of weeks, but not yet.

There is a chance that my league will fold, giving an opportunity to form a new one. A much better one, with proper organisation. I want to do that. I know I could do a much better job than the rubbish they throw at us on a regular basis. They’re all so incompetent, the kind of people that football tends to attract: brutish idiots who think that just because they can kick a ball they know all about the game. But they lack the critical organisation and intelligence skills that are necessary in order to administer a big project like this. 

If it happens, if the window opens, I will jump through it. But there’s still a lot of ifs, buts and maybes on the road ahead. We’ll see.

In the meantime, there’s a game to be a lost. The trapdoor is waiting to open. The noose is tight. Might as well get the obvious over with.