Now Family Know

It’s been quite the start to the year.

When we got back I deliberately kept things orderly so that we could move quickly to the important discussion. This year I didn’t want any delay and nothing to ruin the momentum of Christmas spent with the family in (mostly) harmony.

So me and J sat for hours and I told him about my wish that this was the moment to tell my family about us. He was delighted, of course, and hoped that we could do it soon. I said I wanted it to very soon, and told him I already had the messages written. I discussed it and we agreed the best method was WhatsApp (how very modern) but the date and time was yet to be determined.

The days then passed. The work week was brutal, and J was getting restless. He kept pushing me but I wanted it done my way. I showed him the messages on Friday and they got his blessing with minor changes. Of course I needed his approval as he was being outed too.

Saturday arrived, and J was hoping it would be that day. I knew it had to be the weekend. During the week would be impossible. I needed time and space to decompress from work. It was going to be a hard Sunday.

I then came up with the plan. There is never a good time, but I think the best has to be first thing in the morning. At that time people have yet to get fucked off with the day. They might still be tired, but the distractions should be minimal. During the day phones are pinging constantly, and everyone is seeking attention. The evening people just want to wind down and watch shit on the telly. I would struggle to get everyone’s attention at the same time. It had to be Sunday morning.

But what about my siblings? I wanted them to be addressed with a single but separate message. I wrote it and sent it just after midnight. I knew my brothers would still be up but mum and dad would be in bed. But I would send the message in the middle of the night to mum and dad, so they could deal with it first thing.

It was a very anxious night. After sending it I thought it wasn’t a good plan after all. How could I sleep now? I was nervous to get it over with, and waiting wasn’t easy. I don’t think I truly thought the result would be bad, and I don’t remember being nervous about being rejected. The thought briefly crossed my mind, but it was so stupid. I’m sure all my family love me enough to live with this slight… weirdness.

My older younger brother approved, and sent a really lovely message. I was touched. It was about 3am, and it was weird, finally knowing that someone I actually cared about knew. I sent some messages back and we had a brief chinwag. As night owl, it all seemed quite normal for him but I was desperate to go back to sleep.

I had to commit to the rest of the plan though. I sent the message to Mum and dad, along with a special separate message to a friend of long standing too, as he knows my mum on social media and I didn’t want him to see third hand. This was nerve wracking, but it had to be done.

I then, somehow, got back to sleep. Later in the night I woke and saw my other brother had read the message and not replied. All a bit odd but he often was hard to pin down emotionally. I thought all would be well but I really had to get back to sleep. I had no idea how J was taking it, as he didn’t really say anything overnight, but I assumed he wasn’t sleeping well either with all the tossing and turning going on…

Eventually it got to a time where I thought it would be safe to start the morning routines. Coffee and bed, with some reading to distract me. It would probably not be too long till my sisters saw it, so at least things were now getting down to the business end.

I waited and waited, and in the end couldn’t wait any more. Breakfast was necessary. Then shower. We were now getting to 10am with no replies, though both sisters had now read the message.

They finally did reply, not long after each other, both saying all was well. It was expected news, but I still needed to hear it to get things over. Now just the parents left.,,

After another age (they don’t get up early if they don’t have to) during which I exchanged nice messages with my sisters, the parents finally replied. I have to be honest, I thought my mum would call but she didn’t. Instead she messaged and then dad. They said they were fine and that they want things to be as normal just like I do. The wait was over.

It feels weird, because it all went exactly as I thought it would. I knew there’d be no rejection, but deep down inside I still think that they are harbouring some sadness. I have chosen a path that makes my life more awkward and more difficult. I wish I had tried harder, but I just didn’t get into practice early on in my life. I was too focused on study, and work. I am a very one dimensional character for that. I wish I’d been braver. There were many opportunities when I think back…

I digress. It feels strange because I live so far away. My day to day is no different. I knew I would be back in on Monday dealing with fucking printers. I knew I’d be back to my usual anxiety stricken self, filled with stress and rage about my inability to change my life’s situation. And how awful the world around is. It’s very sad. If I’d actually seen my parents it might have felt different. I might have sensed true feelings, not just empty words on a screen that I never want to read again. So awkward.

But at least this phase is over now. I now have to be honest with friends and select individuals around here. I don’t think anyone will care, and I’m pretty sure my closest have already worked it out. Why wouldn’t they really, two adult men living together for years? It’s just never acknowledged. And why would I when I don’t want to be the centre of attention?

Soon however I have to face the most dreaded thing. The phone call. Will it be a bit weird? I will soon find out.

2021

Last night was stretching the regulations a bit. We had all immediate family round for our usual small drinks. I just about managed it past midnight, but at least it was nice to see everyone.

This year is going to be different to most. This year is going to be more predictable. Covid has ensured that. In spite of my four year old nephew’s demand that “we need to get rid of Covid” yesterday evening, there is no obvious sign of it happening. Short of a miracle in vaccine distribution, we are going to be spending at least the first half of this year in varying levels of restrictions, and all of it wearing masks. Nothing much wrong with the masks, they are a small inconvenience really, but they are a very obvious symbol of our restrictions.

This means I expect this year to be very boring. I usually expect this, but this time it’s obvious. I will spend many, many weekends working when I shouldn’t be, either through boredom, or necessity due to excessive workloads, and this will continue to cause a deterioration of my relationship with J.

But maybe there’s something that can save it. As I noted, there’s never a good time. But this year surely has to be the year where I accept in my own mind that I am “happy” where I am, accept my lot in life and the hand I’ve been dealt (there’s that fatalism again) and move things into formality with J. This means been honest with my family and maybe even selected “friends” in my home town. This will help both mine and J’s mental states and probably improve my ability to communicate properly with him. Maybe not.

Will I change anything in my personal life? I doubt it. We have a rubbish relationship these days when it comes to exciting things. Both he and I are poor communicators. I often wonder is there an app to help couples secretly enter their ideas and thoughts and if they match they get shared. I am not really sure what I’m getting at, but it just feels there’s something he’s not telling me any more.

One thing I am looking forward to this year is being able to donate blood again. By summer the rules will change allowing MSMs to donate based on risk history, rather than an outright ban. I could have lied and donated, as I know other people do, but I felt more comfortable just following the rules. I know I’m as safe as anyone, so it always felt mean that from 2015 I could no longer donate, as I like feeling that my life has helped someone. It certainly doesn’t help me. But I’m sure I also feel healthier in the week after donating. It’s a weird feeling. I also sleep so well after donating blood. I’m currently at 28 donations, so getting over 30 is a target.

As for my family, as always I hope they can stay healthy. I hope there’ll be no major health challenges, and that they start to see life progress. My poor Sister 2 was supposed to be getting married this March, having booked it nearly two years ago. This now seems unlikely. I’ve said to them they should try and get married anyway and arrange a party some other time, and I think they’ll try and do that as I’ve heard them say the same, but it might not even be possible. I was looking forward to it, but maybe with our family’s behaviour at gatherings it wouldn’t be very Covid safe…

Meanwhile the two brothers… maybe at least one of them will finally move out for good and give my parents some peace.

As for my business, I will continue to hate it yet continue to spend every waking moment in it. I need to grow a spine though. We don’t need half of these awful customers we have. They treat us like shit, expecting we’ll always be around for them. In spite of closing every year between new year and Christmas, at least two regulars called us “on the off chance”, and a third had an “urgent” entirely self inflicted issue that we had to solve. Bastards.

What more can I say other than let’s hope it won’t be worse than 2020.

One Of The Very Worst Years

I was writing this post, and ironically, it was a bitch about how bad this year has been. Then WordPress ate the post. It was my fault, but I genuinely didn’t think instantly pressing the undo button would not actually function.

I moaned, in my usual fashion, about how the year was fucking shit. Shocking. That much is obvious. We have been fucked over by Covid, and it has ruined my life, my leisure time, my relationships, and my family, as I sit noting how much anxiety my mum seems to suffer these days.

I conducted the formal assessment… referring back to this post – and linking up the post was how I somehow hit Ctrl+A and then pasted a link over everything. Who would have thought pressing undo wouldn’t then work?

The formal assessment was TOTAL SHIT. This was a bad year. Very bad. I didn’t predict Covid. But I did predict the death of Keeks. I knew she couldn’t last much longer. It hit me really hard, and J too. My parents were so depressed about the loss of their almost lifelong companion, and the sudden silence in the house. It was horrible when I visited in May. It is still horrible now. Every morning I wonder whether she’s going to dart out of the kitchen and I need to make sure all doors are shut behind me so she can’t run up the stairs. Then I remember. It’s awful. She was certainly missed on Christmas Day, when she’d normally be hiding under the wrapping paper.

Then there were various family matters. Brother 1 is mentally not well, and physically somewhat infirm for a 31 year old man. He also lives in the loft at home, playing games thinking he’ll be the next big streamer. Bad news, he’s too old. Brother 2 is in a crap relationship, going nowhere, with someone I don’t like, in fact none of us do. He seems to know that, and we all keep our distance. Sisters 1 and 2 are doing OK, but the nephews from sister 1 are as stupid as ever. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change… every year I hope they’ll get cleverer and smarter. They just get dumber, and more stupified by society.

But that really might be the total worst part of this year: my total and utter final acceptance that everyone is just fucking stupid. The world has made everyone crazy. Social media has turned everyone into egotistical maniacs, detached from reality and persuaded that everything they see in their bubble is either exactly right or the worst thing ever, created by evil, manipulative bastards. The political situation has us all at each others’ throats, and the rest of the world don’t care, caught up in trying to manage the train wreck of their existences.

I dared to hope at the start of the year that my toe in the water in the political world might lead to some more positive engagement in this side of life. It didn’t. In fact I’m more disconnected than ever. I am still a member, though I’m not sure why. Though I did predict that, in the end, I would find it a disaster. Seems like I can predict my own negativity exceptionally well.

I also failed on my minor personal goals. I hoped I would have more time for J, to try and talk, and try and listen better. I failed on this score, badly. In fact, we’ve grown even more distant. At times, including at least twice this year, I have wondered whether I should try and end things. But I think I’m wrong. I do love him, but living life with him is hard. He is now stronger and more independent of mind than ever, and that creates more tension between us. He makes things difficult. I’m sure I do too. But it’s starting to get worse. 5.5 years in, and I do wonder whether I’m right to stick to it for, potentially, the rest of my life. We need to find a better way of living apart, doing different things, as we don’t have enough shared hobbies (beyond watching the TV) to sustain us forever, surely?

As I write, I’m still breaking all the Covid rules, in my parents, waiting for the New Year. My sister has come round, and the nephews etc are here. There is something family going on, but it’s very muted. We’re not supposed to be doing it. But we have no choice. Life is too short, and we have to have some family time. This year has taught us that, actually, there might not be a tomorrow.

I don’t ever remember being so fatalistic. This is a very odd point to end a year.

The Year of the Scam

One think we noticed this year is that we have had so many of our clients contact us to tell us that they’ve got BT or similar on the line telling them there’s a problem with their computer and they need to put it right. Of course, something finally didn’t ring true for them so they made that crucial phone call, where we could finally rescue them.

Others were not so lucky. Some went through with the scam, being liberated of several thousand pounds. Some just had rogue software installed and we stopped things getting out of hand, which then ironically made us money in clean ups (though at least our efforts were honest). But others we have no idea about. Some will have lost money and been too embarrassed to contact us. When I saw the tell tale signs of a scam on a computer, when I raised it with the client they begged me not to tell their children… talk about confused loyalties.

The scammers have made an absolute killing from both naivety, and maybe boredom brought about by months and months in lockdown, where people have no real interaction with others. And using their computers more and more seems also to have encouraged people to be more available for being scammed in the first place…

But there is a deeper scam being perpetrated on us. By ruling classes that see citizens that are now too stupid to think for themselves, and too trusting of mysterious internet authorities, where it seems everyone and anyone can appoint themselves an expert in anything (epidemiology being a particular specialism this year) and opine from social media or comments sewers on newspaper websites. By businesses that see the opportunity in hustling unsuspecting customers into buying any old shite because the dream has been sold effectively by social media. And by mysterious agents of foreign governments, who could never have invented a more perfect tool to divide and conquer than social media.

Yes, this truly has been the year of the scam. Only this one is an exceptionally long con where we are all both marks and useful idiots, used to dress the scene. We all play our roles and we all think we are exercising our free will, but we are being very carefully manipulated. See the Social Dilemma film and Screened Out for some evidence of this…

This has been the theme of the year. Scams run by deeply cynical twats like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Scams run by the Russians. And scams run by fake tech support chaps named Rupert with thick Indian accents.

I don’t see it getting any better.

A Christmas like no other

I didn’t think I’d actually make it here.

It’s bed time, and I’m in bed, in the freezing cold loft. But it’s been an ok day. It was an early start, but we’ve been good as gold all week, getting things sorted and doing our chores. It made today’s eventual departure, in spite of all so called rules, a success.

J has been better than normal. He’s usually very resistant to the idea of keeping things clean and tidy, and planning things carefully. He likes to try and be spontaneous but it never works. Our lives are too regimented, and our clients are so dependent on us, that what little time we have left has to have some purpose assigned otherwise it just disappears. Many evenings are spent just watching crap on Netflix because that’s what we always do to relax. Even though I’m sure with a bit of imagination we could do other things.

But this Christmas we seem to be on the same wavelength. It was nearly cancelled thanks to fucking Boris, cruelly snatching it away after we’ve lived almost in perfect solitude all year. I know the virus takes no rest, but we’ve all been so good and I’m sure none of us have it (in fact, have tested negative) – why can we not use that to our advantage?

So we sneaked up despite the advice, and frankly given the road conditions I’m sure many others did too. But sadly others won’t have been so cautious, and inevitably the cases of the dreaded Covid will rise.

But today is not about that. It’s about triumphing in the face of adversity.

Yes, today is about this blog becoming 16 years old. Shit. I am old. I don’t know how I’ve managed to keep it going, especially with not really having anything to write about. No wonder I don’t write very often any more. I almost write now just because it would be a shame to stop now. I also know if I did stop I’d always look back on it as a missed opportunity. I have a poor memory these days. This is a nice reflection point. I sometimes read old posts with great interest.

From 19 to 35. I have changed a lot, but also not at all. I’m still introverted and shy. I will never change from that. But I’m definitely wiser about life. Wise enough to know when to keep quiet and your head down. Wise enough to know that life is hard and there’s nothing we can do about it. And it certainly won’t just work out alright. No chance.

Life is actually getting much worse. More complicated. More distant. More divided. More divisive. I on the other hand am learning to stay out of it.

maybe it’s called making peace with how things are and not worrying about how I’d like them to be?

I’m at peace with now. I’m here, with family, for the first time in a year. I love it, and I must hold onto it. It won’t be forever. I am very lucky to have it, and must hope for more but cannot expect it. This year of all years has taught me that.

it’s not quite been the Christmas Eve I wanted, but after this year any Christmas Eve is good.

A very Merry Christmas indeed. Here’s to the usual glass of Baileys.


Tier of the Year

It’s been a year where we’ve all learned about new concepts. Keeping people apart has been central to it, but instilling in people where they are in terms of their COVID tier has been vitally important.

Well, that is, if you are the government. In reality most people are winging it. We all make up little excuses and reasons for why we’re doing what we’re doing. Yesterday we went to visit J’s dad, and we went out for lunch, just a sandwich in a garden centre. Like most people we claimed to be in a bubble. We aren’t as we live 100 miles away. But you gotta go with the flow. There were plenty of others there, example groups of people all similar age, that I can’t imagine they were all from the same household. It’s all rationalised BS, just like old Dom Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle.

The next decision to make is whether to bother listening to the latest changes in rules. We have been good all year in observing them, very much the spirit as much as the word. We kept going to work, but it felt pretty safe to do so as it was our office and no one else was there. It’s got worse as other people sharing the same office have emerged, but that’s because estate agents are … unprintable.

So to suddenly be told that our plans to have a “normal” Christmas have to be scrapped because of COVID, and that having spent a whole year doing basically fuck all, because other people have spent the last few months being utter bell ends really sticks in my throat.

It’s hard though. We know it’s risky. We could be taking a big risk with our health and others… but at home they’ve all been good, and we’re planning on sticking together for the duration, like we always would do. It will be a bit boring, but at least it’ll be social. And really, with the way life is flying by, we’re not going to get many more of our family Christmases. Have to cram them in while we still can, especially as my Gran has been unwell of late.

But with rates rising, and new strains in the mix, the vaccine can’t come soon enough. We’re struggling to process all these different rules for different people in different regions on different days. We’re doing our best, but it clearly isn’t good enough. It very much looks like we have another big lockdown coming, but hopefully it’ll be the last one. I just wonder if it’ll be any less phoney than the last one to make a proper difference. Time to close the schools I think…

The Phoney Lockdown

It’s funny really. I was right in my last post that things were looking bad. But time has flown by quickly, as usual, and we’re staring down the Christmas barrel again. But at least now, whilst all around virus numbers are slowing, to me this lockdown has almost been no different to the first. My life, all year, has been work first, everything else never.

But out there, it doesn’t feel much different. In the morning the roads are as busy as ever, and in our town the shops are mostly open. It’s just no pubs and restaurants. Almost everyone else found some reason to declare their products essential and carried on. In the exact same way we did, and I don’t blame them for that. We have to try and earn money to eat somehow.

Me and J have done nothing all year, so being told by the government that, because of everyone else enjoying themselves a bit too much in late summer and early autumn, we all now have to suffer, really didn’t make much difference. I resented it, of course, as my lifestyle hasn’t been a problem. My work involves interacting with almost no one, and if we do, customers don’t set foot in the premises and handover their computers from a safe distance. The handwashing, and cleaning wipes, with masks and gloves, all seems to have done our part, and no doubt other businesses have done the same.

But the same can’t be said for the pubs (which I didn’t go to anyway) or the restaurants (which I frequent maybe once a month). They had some involvement, and so did people going to other people’s houses. But maybe people are being better behaved than I think they actually are, behind closed doors? I don’t know. I have no contact with real people.

For me, personally, there was no lockdown 1.0 or 2.0. I kept on working. Around me, the first lockdown was very weird. The second lockdown, not so. People are not afraid to go out and do things any more. That has put additional pressure on us, and we have been disappointed at the number of people who want us to come and see them at their home, just because we are allowed to as it’s work. We didn’t want to take the risk, and why should we? Also disappointing has been the amount of people saying “it’s a hoax” and “well, I’m old and have had my time anyway”. Really? The internet, and social media in particular, is destroying our society. It’s something I have worried about a lot, and have a lot to say about… but not at the moment.

All lockdown has meant for me is no slivers of fun outside of working hours. Otherwise, I have worked more, and been driven insane by endless phone calls to fix people’s printers remotely. Why do people still need to have printers anyway?

But it will soon be “over” and we’ll be allowed to do more stuff again. Though not really. I’ll see if I can arrange what had become something of a pre-Christmas tradition with my sister to meet up and say hello. That might be the most exciting thing all year. After Bombay Bicycle Club. And … erm, nothing.

2020, I won’t miss you.

Biden His Time

There has been nothing this year like the anxiety that the situation in America has caused me. After watching the polls all year look so good for Biden, I was confident he would win, and possibly even in a landslide. So for the election to be so close was a little embarrassing. How could I have thought the polls would be accurate? Sure, they were actually quite close last time, but whatever errors they made they should have now fixed. Shouldn’t they?

On election night I saw there was some bad news in certain key districts in Florida and N Carolina. That was bad enough to make me think those states were lost, and worse, the chance of a quick defeat as, for certain reasins, they would count quickly. So I knew I was going to bed and would wake up not really certain. In truth, I barely slept.

When I eventually saw the results in the morning showing Trump leading in so many states, but knowledgeable people I was reading on Twitter saying don’t panic (yet), I held my nerve. I said to my dad it’s close but I can see a path for Biden winning. We just have to wait and hold out hope.

I have nothing but sheer and utter disgust for Trump. The contempt I hold him in for the damage he has done to America, American governance, the institution of democracy and the image of America, and its position as hopefully a force for good in the world (not that it has been for some years now) is now shattered. China is ready and waiting, and has pulled many neighbouring countries into line. They are showing how it’s possible to have a successful economy and happy citizens (whilst being responsible for some terrible things behind the scenes) without democracy. Trump is driving the world to follow in that path. That path is incredibly dangerous. The man had to go.

After several agonising days in which I saw Biden gaining, and the crossover moment getting closer, I could feel the relief growing. I had always been confident that as long as the results were there Trump would in the end have to go, no matter what lies and further extra-constitutional destruction he would attempt to wage on the way out. I had read enough sane people to say his options to rule as a dictators were zero. And they all look to be correct. We have a real problem these days that social media and the news is filled with disastrous worry, and it feeds into people’s behaviour. We should be worried, of course, but let’s keep it in perspective and look at all trying to regain a mutual attraction into what facts are once more.

The trouble is, because of the above, the result almost doesn’t matter. There is nothing the Democrats will actually be able to do because of the country’s bizarre inability to pick one thing and stick to it. Instead of embracing the Democrats, they give them a nod as not quite as bad as the other lot, but don’t actually give them any power. So the lack of majority in the Senate will stop anything from happening. Biden will achieve nothing legislatively. But maybe he can change the tone. The last fellow who tried that (Obama) realised with about 1 year left to go that the other side were not playing with good intentions. It worked and they ended up with Trump. I suspect they will try the same. Biden needs to ignore them and talk directly to America in the hope he can cut through. But in this media climate, and the bubbles we now all live in, I don’t see how it’s possible.

So America is finished. Politically. Culturally, who knows? It won’t be long before China is so powerful that many will look to them for safety. They can wait. They measure time in centuries… meanwhile America will kill itself because a few million people feel like their freedom is under threat for having to wear a fucking face mask. What’s wrong with people?

At least, however, I will feel a little less nauseous about what Trump is doing today. Soon that anxiety will be gone. It will feel … normal? Isn’t that what we’re looking for after this year?