A Fair to Middle’un Year

Here I am again, sitting in my parents house with a computer, writing yet another assessment of yet another year.

The formal business is always to decide what type of year this was. In general, I think I am heavily influenced by what happened towards the end of it, whilst forgetting about happened earlier in the year. So, trying to avoid this, I will have to work this out carefully.

This year, more than most, would be a serious negative if I allowed the closing bias to shine through. The back end of this year has been particularly difficult. First was the death of my grandfather, which, although not unexpected in the end, was still a traumatic experience. This has been particularly difficult with my mum, as she is still struggling.

Then there was the nightmare that was the employee that the other business took on. I’d rather not relive that, but, in better news, this has now been all drawn to a close with the re-sale of the car I bought for his use.

But casually using phrases like “the other business” disguises the fact that “the other business” is a completely new step for me. This was not predicted at the start of the year, and has been a major change to my life.

When I look back at my expectations for the year I can see that I didn’t really know what was going to happen. No surprise there.

The only thing I knew for sure was that my household circumstances were going to change with the moving out of my housemate. This was a big improvement for me, and has made my life significantly better during the last year. I now have a much more positive feeling about my house. I still don’t feel like calling it my “other home”… it just doesn’t have that quality to it.

The other thing I didn’t predict, although during the year I have claimed to the contrary to people in Real Life, is that I had set myself a goal to get an office. I have told many people that it was all part of my plan for 2013, but, having re-read my post from the start of the year, that’s not quite true. I had in fact said that I wanted to buy my own house.

But whatever, this too has made a big difference to my life. It has made my house marginally more like a home. Now I leave my house and go to work, and I leave work and go to my house. This mental separation has been a great help to me in trying to achieve some semblance of a life balance. It’s not quite there yet, but I do feel better from it.

The other business referred to above also did not quite appear in the sense I’d hoped. This time last year I was predicting my “media” side of the business to take off. That didn’t happen in any sense, which… in hindsight… is no surprise really. The media business always did seem like it would never happen. It really is a poor industry.

But, instead, the green consultancy business has been a surprise success. However, it is very hard work, and is increasingly – already – looking like it may be difficult to sustain in the long run. It is starting to look exceptionally risky, and the margins are slimming.

In my own business, the one that started all of this, the workload is continuing, and the clients are sticking with me, and, in some cases, getting better. This is generally good, but a real struggle to juggle everything.

Family life, apart from the upsets, has been OK. So we’re all progressing… all doing something decent.

On the whole I’d say it’s been an Average year. The work has been OK, and the new office and improvements in the house are very good, but the external circumstances, the family incidents and the hopeless employee have really dragged things down.

But I’m happy with that. Happy with being average. Sounds good to me. Sounds like my life all over.

The title of this post is in honour of my grandfather. “Fair to middle’un” was a phrase he would often use when you asked him how he was. I think it might be from a film, or from some general 30s-50s phrase. Here’s to you, Grandad.

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Travel Hell

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the annual millions of people trying to be somewhere else. Me included. This post is written on a totally packed Cross Country train. And I’m running five hours late.

Overnight the weather was appalling. Yesterday was pretty rubbish. It had rained heavily an awful lot recently… But last night it was rainy and really windy.

It caused the usual devastation. I had booked my ticket home weeks ago. Last year it was smooth and pain free. This year there were no trains running until after midday due to trees falling down all over the place.

In any event I’m on my way home and should be back around half 5.

And this on the ninth anniversary of my blog.

Christmas is a special time of year. It really is my favourite. The only time I can genuinely tell people to go away… in the nicest possible way… and they accept it. It’s a shame it’s so damn cold but it does make me feel a whole lot less guilty about sitting indoors for days on end.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the family again. Most visits home are of a flying nature these days. But this is going to be a whole two weeks. OK it will go quickly just like all others… and I know I’ll start to feel guilty come the 2nd Jan that I should be doing some work. That’s just m nature.

But I know that will mean I feel like I’ve had the rest I so desperately need.

It’s been a long year. Here’s to Midnight Mass and alcoholic beverages.

Grandad’s Funeral

Composing on the train. Not easy.

At the moment I’m on my way back home to the real home to see my family. It hardly will be worth it… I arrive back about midnight and will be gone again 36 hours later.

But work calls and unfortunately work rules all.

It’s now been just over a month since the funeral of my dear grandad. It was held on November 1. He had been suffering from dementia for some time, perhaps eight years or so, and in the end the actual death was relatively short on mericful… Though traumatic for all concerned.

He had been put into a care home in the summer. My poor gran just couldn’t cope any more. No surprise there. She had done so well over the years to survive that long, looking after him at home.

But in reality he declined rapidly there. We will never know for sure how much the home contributed to his end of life but I think it did. Their so called care was appalling.

In early October he went into hospital after it was decided the home just wasn’t looking after his medical needs. For two weeks he was on a nil by mouth. There were times that it seemed he might improve but in the end he was basically starved to death.

I thought of this horrible demise a lot. My poor granddad, being killed off because we could do no other. In reality though… He died for me several years ago. Mentally he hadn’t been there for a long time. He hadn’t recognised me in years and even when he showed some level of interest he just got angry.

It was simply horrible to see such an intelligent man, one who I had so much fun with and had such respect for, dying in such an undignified fashion. I guess death is not dignified anyway… But dementia is so cruel. There in body but not in spirit.

The funeral itself was both excellent and very sad. I did not cry at any time up to his death and neither have I cried since. But at the funeral, which featured a great speech from my younger sister, we all had a good sob. I was distraught in parts. I don’t know… it was just so emotional. The worst was when he was carried out to the song Unchained Melody, the song my grandparents first danced to when they met. Seeing my gran upset… for the first time ever, was very difficult.

But it was him. It was a great reflection of his life. It was a fine tribute to a man who had such a huge influence across the family and no doubt will continue to do so.

The effects of his death have not yet been fully worked out the system by my mum. She is still very upset by it all. This has made life at home very difficult and I know my immediate family, including my elder sister who has become more and more distant as the years go by, are all starting to feel the strain. We all want our mum back.

These thoughts are just what have come to my head at this time. There have been many others. Some have faded with the passage of time. But I felt like I must write about them. I owe my grandad at least that.

Thanks for the great memories.