2015

It still frightens me how quickly the days are sinking away. I woke up this morning thinking “wow, it’s a week since Christmas Day”. They do say that time seems to feel quicker the older you get, and there is something in that from a perception point of view. In reality, of course, time is constant…

2015 arrived in some small celebration. A member of our family held the traditional family party, and, for a change, no one else did. This meant that there was no competing party, and therefore no need to pick which one to go to. This made family politics a lot easier…

It was a good affair, with our traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne in the street. What has amazed me as the years go by is that no one else does it. I remember when I was young we’d either all join together, all the neighbouring families in one big circle, or there would simply be other people singing it in their own circles from their own parties. Just another sign of the fragmentation of society? Ironically, our version of it was rubbish this year as we seemed to split into two groups, singing at different times. That was probably just too much alcohol though.

I was, as usual, asked to get the guitar out. I still feel the pain in my fingers today. It was good, and everyone always says I should sing more often, but life just isn’t great for that. It could have been something I pursued, when I had oodles of time in University. Now, however, I have to just be content with what I have. I don’t actually think I’m that good. But we’ll see.

2015 will be an interesting year. The tradition in my New Year post is to project for the years to come. But first, even though, I probably say something like this every year (I could check really but I am lazy) it’s now 15 years since the year 2000. A new year celebration that I now can’t even remember. That’s bad. I remember vaguely the feelings around it, but I cannot for the life of me remember where I was and what I was doing. Only 15 years ago, and I was 15 at the time. I should be able to remember that.

My memory is not good at long term recall, but my brain has always worked a bit differently to others. I am, even if I do say so myself, pretty good at short term memory recall. I attribute much of my success in life to my ability to recall recently processed facts, figures, and even a whole line of argument. Luck, I guess. Certainly helps in exams.

I digress.

2015 will contain a number of significant events.

First, in business, which makes up 90% of my life, I should conclude my first land purchase, and, with a fair wind, also complete my first house sale. I hope it will be as profitable as we project it will be. It will be a challenging but exciting job, and I know it will be a big distraction at times, but I can’t wait to get started.

The “other business”, as I usually call it, will hopefully have a good year. It is certainly starting the year with a decent order book, which is the extreme opposite of last year. I am reasonably confident about this, but there is a lot of potentially difficult challenges ahead. I think we are up to them, but if the first new business project goes well we may be distracted from this.

My main business, my computer one, I hope will continue to tick along without me doing a great deal. I have almost no time for it any more, but I must continue to service it, which is crazy considering the amount of work it does bring me at times. I need the cash to live, but also to help me to grow the other businesses. Depending on how things go I may be stupid and think again about bringing someone in, but it would only be for someone I considered to be the right person. Someone with a bit of character and a bit of spark. Unsociable nerds need not apply. I say that knowing that that’s exactly what I was, and still am to some degree, but I’m afraid that I don’t have time to allow someone to mature…

From a personal point of view, I am extremely conscious of the fact that I will be turning 30 years old this year (188 days to go) and this as usual makes me think two things. One, is that, just like New Year, it’s actually just another day. There’s nothing too special about it.

But that’s usually the defensive statement of someone in denial. It could also be viewed as a significant point at which I definitely definitely cannot get away with being called “young” now. There is a new generation below me, one that thinks differently, and has its own ways and means. I don’t think I am young now, but 30 would definitely be the end of it. I worry significantly that I only really have another 5 years in which to do all the things I could possibly get away with whilst in the first half of life: i.e. while being biologically and physically able to do so.

So being 30 concerns me. I wonder whether I could pass off lying about my age for a couple of years. I think, when I’m clean-shaven, I can pass for a couple of years younger than I am. But the dreaded hair is starting to give the game away.

I hope for a better 2015 for my hair. Which seems a bizarre thing to say, but it’s true. I hope things aren’t as bad as all the woe it’s caused me this year. What’s really strange is that I have an uncle and a cousin, both of whom I saw only yesterday, who are 10 and 6 years older than me, who both have better hair than me. I blame my dad’s genes.

I predict I might do something a bit unusual this year. It might be just actually going away on a real holiday. Or it might involve an external relationship. Hmmm. Maybe not. It’s not like me, on either score…

More likely, maybe, is that I do that thing which I’ve always wanted to do around music: get some proper equipment and get recording. Maybe even put the results online. I think I could gather a small following. Who knows what could happen? Hmmm. Maybe not. The YouTubes are only interested in sub-21-year-olds with attractive features.

I worry about my family, who also aren’t getting any younger. I worry about my 15 year old nephew, who is totally confused about what he wants to do with life, but won’t admit it. I worry that he is getting himself into unnecessary relationships with girls at an age where the brain is completely unable to cope with it. He wants to do his own thing, and he doesn’t want to listen. I absolutely was not the same at his age. I made some mistakes, but they were not in any way risky or dangerous to me or my future. He needs to be careful. I respected my parents, and my peers and my extended family of aunties, uncles and grandparents. They taught me a lot. He doesn’t want that.

I hope that my younger sister can find some direction this year. I hope that my brothers work out what it is they want with life, or at least make some efforts to. I hope my mum and dad have a healthy year, free of trauma and unnecessary distraction. On that same score, I hope my grandma doesn’t have anything seriously wrong with her eyes.

A lot of hopes, and a lot of dreams. An awful lot of worries.

A lot can go wrong this year, but it can also go right. I am never the optimist, but I just have a sneaking feeling that maybe things will turn out OK.

Here we go.

2014

Happy New Year.

Last night arrived with all the pleasantries one associates with the New Year celebrations that this family holds. I would always prefer to celebrate New Year – arbitrary arrival of another day though it be – with my family. Some like to go out and spend hundreds of pounds in bars and clubs, and have a nightmare trying to get home in taxis. Takes all sorts, I suppose.

2013’s new year celebration was much better than 2012’2. This time the atmosphere, despite family traumas, was much more friendly, thanks in the main because the party was held at my aunty’s. There were quite a few people I didn’t know, but, once the guitar comes out, the frost seems to melt. I was surprised at how well singing a One Direction song would go down with the crowds… but children and parents alike were all singing along.

One rather sad aspect was that I met a small boy and girl, aged 6 and 3, who are currently being fostered by a relative of my uncles. I was absolutely saddened by hearing what they had been through. They were such lovely children, in spite of all the absolutely horrible things they must have seen. I sat talking to the boy for about 5 or 10 minutes, which, I was told by his foster parents, was actually a big surprise to them… since he is generally hyperactive in all aspects of life. He was really charming. I’m so glad that they are getting a fresh chance at life. There must be so many others who don’t.

The tradition now, though, is to project, rather than reflect. I look forward to this year. I genuinely think that, once again, it will be another crucial year in my life. Every year brings something new, some new challenge, and always something unexpected.

This year, I am hoping that both businesses do well. The new base of operations from the office is working out well, and I hope it will lead to further prosperity this year.

The big question for me will be whether to take the plunge regarding buying a house. It’s a determination I will have to make soon. I think I have been operating for long enough now to be able to get a mortgage as a self-employed person, but the big question will be whether or not this is a wise time to buy. Is the housing market already overheating and due another correction, or is it only up from here for at least a few years, making this, possibly, my last time to buy before prices go way beyond what I could possibly hope to earn.

Unless, of course, I am to achieve a big increase in income this year. I doubt that. I suppose the other business I’m involved in his a possibility of bringing this, but I am increasingly filled with worry about it. I am concerned that this year may expose the position I have taken in this business. If it does, I will probably come out of it with a small net loss.

That’s all the reason for me to keep my existing computer business strong.

If I’m having a really good year, I will consider taking on someone to help me with my computer business. This would be good for my home life and my sanity. I could do it now, but only if I was to accept a real drop in my income in the short term. Potentially, I would be left earning just a few thousand pounds. Some might say that that would be great, especially if you don’t have to do anything to earn it, but it would never be like that. I know I would always want to stay involved in the business I had created. So it would be totally insufficient. Not when Life (TM) costs over £1,000 a month.

So realistically, it’s likely to be a year to try and achieve stability. I recognise I’m coming to the end of my third decade… but I’m trying not to think about it. I’m trying to just keep enjoying my life while it’s here.

Here’s to 2014.

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.

2012

The new year brings its customary assessment of the year to come. And here it is.

After what must have been the quietest new year ever by my standards, it is time to look at where I might be going. What are the prospects for this year?

If I’m honest, I’m terribly worried. I have great concerns about the economy. If the Eurozone crisis finally bubbles out of control, it will have serious consequences for all. I’m expecting a pretty rough first six months of this year. I could already sense that I was getting less and less work as the year ended. New Year is traditionally a time to cut back after the excessive spending during the Christmas period. I fear that is what’s going to happen.

There is an answer. If 2012 goes well, it will set me on the right path for the next few years. There is a possibility afoot of large contracts, with big suppliers, in a new avenue of business. It is exciting but also unnerving as there’s just no way of guessing where it might go. I have a new business partner who is very keen, but also a shade unreliable. I am playing it cautiously. We’ll see.

On the other hand, if none of that happens, it might turn out to be a Ceiling Year. That is, the point at which you realise no more progress can be made, and you either have to accept it and live like a normal adult, or look, yet again, to unsettle yourself and take a risk. I don’t know, but I’m starting to get weary of wondering which way to turn.

In my personal life, I just don’t know what to do any more. I would like to see some development, but just can’t see how I can engineer circumstances to get involved with someone. But in reality I have to do something. I am not getting any younger. In secret, I would love to be a parent. Not that I have any useful genes to pass on, but from a selfish perspective I am starting to think it really is time I had a child. I think it would make such an incredible difference to me as a person. I know it would be hard work, but I think it would make me a more rounded, less self-centred individual.

But it’s all guff. It can’t happen without the necessary obvious prerequisite. And as I said, where that comes from I don’t know.

In a wider perspective, it is going to be a tough year for my family. My granddad is now reaching a point in his dementia that he is totally incapable of doing anything. He was here last night and cannot hold a conversation any more, though in his own mind he thinks he is. He doesn’t know who people are. My poor nan is being driven round the bend by him. She gets help, but she’s an extremely proud woman and doesn’t accept it easily. I know this is all going to place a massive strain on my mum. She was already pretty tearful yesterday.

Hopefully things will go well for my siblings and nephews.

Not much more to be said, really. Let’s see what happens…

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.