2009

2009 started with either an eerie co-incidence or an example of perfect timing. 

We rushed out into the street, me checking the time on Teletext with just 50 seconds to go. I don’t normally get ready so late, but I had decided to give the pre-midnight part of our usual New Year party a miss… instead choosing to sit with my brothers in the front computer room. It was actually nice to spend some time with them, I don’t normally do that. Anyway…

I looked at the clock, it was too late to synchronise my watch with Teletext, so I took a rough stab at it. At 20 seconds to go, I started the countdown and ran out to join the rest of the family in the street. 

At exactly zero seconds, a firework went off. That was pretty impressive. I think it was a co-incidence, but it was a nice one.

After midnight I joined the party, having a pretty good time. Not everyone was here, but there was enough people to talk to. But there was a surprising degree of very small children making a lot of noise. My cousins and an uncle have had children recently, and by Christ they made a lot of noise. A lot. Some of them are toddlers now, and bringing them all together is a deadly combination. Lots of activity. Too much for me, I wanted a quiet New Year!

Fat chance of that in this family. But it was all over by 3:30am, a much more reasonable time after the terribly late finishes of previous parties. After five hours sleep, I felt pretty good. It’s amazing how little sleep you actually need.

But now to consider the forthcoming year. 2009. It always feels weird writing the New Year, which is why it’s a tradition to name the first post of each new year after the year itself. It gets me used to it. 2009. Bloody hell. Was it really nine years ago when we celebrated the millennium? That’s frightening.

2009 is a make or break year for me. Now a graduate, a graduate with a damn good degree from a damn good department in an average university. I should really be able to do something with that. But, most probably, I won’t. Simply because I don’t want to. It just doesn’t seem the right direction for my life.

But what does? Well, that one has to be answered in the first few months of this year. I simply must either have a job or be properly self-employed by the end of February. That is my deadline and I can’t afford to let it slip. My life is going by and I don’t have any money to live it. That simply has to stop.

In general too, the time going by with me idle is not good either. That would be solved if I got a job, so I’m not too worried about that. But I need to be enjoying my life more anyway. I’m not right now, and that’s extremely sad. We only got one life after all.

But for the first four months of this year, I know I will have to live with the trauma of recent events. Until our injured player is walking around again, the burden of guilt, what ifs and sorrow of seeing someone suffering and being partly responsible, even in just a tiny way, will remain with me. For me, April can’t come soon enough.

That will occur naturally, which is a good thing. Unlike the job search, which needs me to get off my arse and do something about it.

I also feel that I’ve got something big in me this year. Whether that is the self-employment front, or some other thing, I feel the time is right for me to achieve it. Lately, I’ve been thinking seriously about my ambition to run a much larger football team. That would be a good challenge. There is a way I could do it too. Gonna have a think about that.

And in life, I could do with something different. Will I actually have a long term girlfriend this year? Hmm, that’s one I’m really unsure about while I’m living at home. Or maybe I’ll move out for good. Somehow I doubt it at the moment, but I’ve gotta say I’d like that to happen right now. 

For my family, I’d like to be better friends with my brothers. I’ve already started on that. We need to do more stuff together. I see my dad’s family, none of whom hardly ever see or even speak to each other. Maybe once a year for Christmas. It would be a terrible shame if we ended up like that. On a darker note, I’m really not sure what to expect from the rest of my family health wise this year. That’s going to be a constant source of worry.

So there is a lot on the line for me this year. I’m filled with a little foreboding about it. Yet the uncertainty is part of the excitement.

Here goes nothing.

(Some) Christmas Cheer

My mood is still fairly somber as the continuing saga of the broken shin is still playing on my mind, but fortunately there have been plenty of distractions lately. 

First, the good news. The injured player was home for Christmas, and now it’s a matter of waiting for nature to take its course and let the bone heal. It never ceases to amaze me how things keep reminding me of the incident though. All over this house there are miscellaneous football related items: water bottles, corner flags, the chocolates that I didn’t give out due to last Sunday’s farce… even the other day when I went to use my stopwatch and realised it was still saying “15:30” – the time during the second half at which I stopped the clock.

So with the events still running through my head, I’ve not been all that in the mood to celebrate the usual family Christmas gathering. Nevertheless, it has been good fun. The presents I bought have been well received (although one didn’t turn up, thanks HMV) and I got some good stuff: some books I wanted, lots of chocolate, DVDs, albums, a little money. All going to a good cause. I feel like I don’t do enough reading… but I suspect the next few months will change that!

But better still have been the presents my brothers and sister have got. My sister got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas; the inevitable Wii Sports came bundled with it. That has already provided much joy, much hilarity and sore arm muscles. Good workout though.

And my brothers got Guitar Hero World Tour on the Xbox 360. Now, we’re already pretty good at Guitar Hero in this house, though it had fallen out of favour in recent months. My brothers are better than me, but then again, they would be given how much they played it. But now, at last, I have found something that I’m far superior to them at, and they will probably never catch me.

Guitar Hero World Tour comes with an electronic drum kit, if you spend enough money on it. I play the drums in real life, and the guitar too. The real guitar and the Guitar Hero guitar have no similarities, so the skills aren’t transferable. However, real drums and the Guitar Hero drums are very similar. The only thing missing is a pedal to open and close the hi-hat. 

The result: I was able to start drumming on it instantly, and at medium difficulty, and hopefully will be able to try out hard difficulty very soon if I keep the practice up. My brothers have not proved so adept. Co-ordination is not their strong point. 

This present has definitely been a hit. In fact, the whole family have been having a go. Lots of fun has ensued, and lots of swearing. It can be surprisingly annoying when you make a mistake after keeping your concentration for so long, thus ruining a perfect attempt up until that point…

But there is one catch to the Guitar Hero present. Yes, when we went to help the now famous injured player home from hospital on Wednesday, we went into their house for 10 minutes just to have a chat with all the family. There, underneath the tree, I spotted Guitar Hero World Tour. Then when the subject turned to Christmas presents, it soon became clear that this was a Christmas present for the player from his parents. Only… he now won’t be able to play the drums that come with it due to his injury. Argh!

So now every time I play on them I have to count my lucky stars, and once again feel sorrow, pain and a little guilt for the injured player.

Meanwhile, back at home, Christmas in general was a success. My grandparents even came round for dinner, the first time we’ve done that in a very long time, meaning my mum and dad cooked for 10 people. Incredible. I don’t know whether I’d be able to cope with that. Anyway, it was very good to see them, and good to share in this family occasion. And Christmas Day TV was pretty good… Doctor Who, Wallace & Gromit, The Royle Family… what more could you want?

Things are now beginning to wind down, but, in order to prevent depression, I think of “Christmas” as that period from Dec 24 to Jan 2 inclusive. We’re only half way through it, so there’s lots more good stuff to come. I hope.

Here’s to family.

Houseson

In recent weeks it’s become very obvious to me that, as the job hunt continues to falter, I have taken on a new role in this household. My parents are out at work, my brother and sister are in school, and now even my other brother has a job and will be starting university shortly.

That leaves me here all day most of the time. Sure, I do the odd thing to get me out the house. But mostly I’m here. I do the washing up, I clean the kitchen and the bathroom, and I do the clothes washing too. Oh, and vacuum the house. Each day I do a combination of those things, helping the house keep ticking over. If I don’t do it, then it will be left to my parents (my siblings are useless), and they hardly get enough time to do anything in this house anyway. And that’s because my brothers and sister are always wanting taken places, to friends houses, and so my parents constantly act as a taxi service.

I don’t ever remember being that demanding when I was their age. But that’s probably because I was a bore. I did very little as a child. Never went anywhere. Never did anything. No wonder I’m so socially inept. But because of that I really didn’t ask for much at all.

For my mum and dad they don’t seem to get any peace. If it’s not the people living here then it’s my sister, who is extremely demanding on their time. And then it’s the rest of the family, who aren’t particularly helpful when it comes to looking after my grandparents.

So for me, and to alleviate my guilt for sponging off them for such a long time, I feel like I am at least making a contribution to the house by helping them out here. I know they appreciate it.

It puts a new perspective on the day though when you’re around here all the time. When you’re in work, the day generally seems to drag. When you’re here, it flies by. It is already mid morning. It will soon be lunch time, and once that comes around it’s almost time for my brother and sister to come home. When I shared this observation with my mum the other day, she said “Welcome to my world”. My mum was a housewife for over 20 years, from my elder sister’s birth right the way through to when she got a job a few years ago.

It’s a weird position to be in. You don’t feel like you’re achieving anything. And in a way you’re not. It’s not changing the world. But it does help calm the atmosphere in here. Plus, it keeps me from feeling too useless. I know that if I wasn’t doing all I am there would certainly be a lot more pressure in the house.And it’s not fair anyway.

We’re all getting older now. In theory things should be easing up. If anything, it’s going in the opposite direction.

Awaiting The Perfect Offer

At this moment in time, I suspect I’ve got it all wrong.

I am thinking carefully about the future. A future that should be bright and full of promise. But my problem is that I want to do everything. I want to keep my fingers in all the pies so I can keep every aspect of my personality going.

That’s just never going to happen. There are so many different fields which I could turn my administrative capabilities to. I don’t have to go into politics in order to be political. I could be political in any organisation in the world if I get the right job.

For instance, from left field is the idea that a) I love cricket; so b) why shouldn’t I look for a job in this area? Administering cricket teams, then onwards and upwards into the ECB. But that’s just crazy. I’m not remotely involved in cricket and so don’t know where to start. I wish I was playing it though. But now it’s far too late for me to be any use in that.

See – this is what I’m up against. A scattergun approach to my future. I don’t know where I’m going. But I could quite legitimately bring up any angle of the things I like and see what the possibilities are.

I struggle to let go – that’s the major problem. I want to do everything, yet I can’t. There is no job in the world that incorporates politics, music, cricket, football, other sports, drama, thinking strategically, thinking analytically and is mostly based away from a computer. There is no perfect offer on the cards. Ever. I think that’s probably why I got interested in teaching in the first place, because it does keep almost every door open for the things I like. But at the same time, it would be extremely superficial. A couple of hours playing cricket a year with the children. Not exactly much to write home about.

What I need to do is just pick one thing. Because, as I know full well, when I get down to work, and concentrate on using my time properly, I will enjoy it and forget everything else. It happened yesterday. I was exceptionally bored, doing nothing all day except musing about the future. But in the evening I was going to be involved in the football training of my football club, which is finally starting up again as the new season approaches.

It gave me something to do. It gave me a purpose. A purpose doing something I actually wanted to do. The time flew by, and I didn’t consider what might have been and what I was missing out on when I could have been playing badminton, playing cricket, running a cricket team, going swimming, going for a run, playing the guitar, writing music and all the multitude of other guilt trips that I put my brain through on a regular basis.

The day is fast approaching when I will learn to accept that I have to just get on with it. Decide and progress with life. That doesn’t preclude continued reflection, and I can always change. It still won’t be too late. There’s nothing particularly final about any choice I make right now. Just as long as I make a choice – and that will finally give me some experiences that I can use to fully inform my life.

I have an idea where I want to go, but it’s not solid enough because I don’t have enough experience. I have to resolve that situation very soon.

Relocation, Relocation

I am now safely back home. The journey was easy, having done it so many times now. Packing up was surprisingly simple and even saying goodbye to everyone was remarkably tear-free.

So, all in all, it went off without a hitch. And now I’m back home, where much has changed and nothing has changed. The nothing that ever changes is the family, although my youngest brother and youngest sister are getting progressively more moody and teenage-esque. That is mildly amusing.

Also, their computer exploded last night and died a sad death as the power supply blew up. A power supply that is just 14 months old. But old enough to be out of warranty. Piss poor, I’d say. This kind of garbage that passes for merchandise these days is a disgrace. We talk about trying to become more environmental, but you can guarantee that we’ll never succeed while the throwaway society, here today, gone tomorrow mindset is in operation.

Anyway – that means that I have to fix a computer, again. That normally happens when I go home. Boring but predictable.

The thing that has changed is that I now have a new place to live in this house. My parents, knowing I was going to be spending a lot more time here, decided to be very kind and spend a bit of their savings on converting the loft. I have to say, apart from learning to duck my head in various parts of the room, it is a pretty good job the workmen have done. I like it. Slowly but surely my stuff is being unpacked and I’m stamping my personality on the room. It is, basically, my own bunker, except it’s not in the basement. It’s much more like the student rooms I’ve been used to the past few years, which would have all my stuff in.

The money my parents have spent makes me feel guilty though. I can’t possibly afford to give them much towards it. I’ve bought a few pieces of the furniture to keep their costs down a bit, but it’s a drop in the ocean. My brothers are particularly envious. They would have liked to have been up here. And, we have to face facts, if I leave home next year then that will effectively be the end of its use because everyone else has their own room now.

So I don’t quite know how I can repay them. I’m hoping to get a job in the next couple of weeks which will perhaps provide a couple of hundred pounds compensation to them. Maybe I could get them a good anniversary present. Hmm…

Meanwhile, a foreboding letter has arrived from my PGCE teacher training course. That will have to be dealt with shortly. It’s told me what I’m going to be doing the next year, and, as expected, it is absolutely crazy the amount of work involved. Maybe they should make it two years long to ease the pain.

Oh, and the dog is still a moron. That’s something else that doesn’t change.