2013

New Year this year was slightly better than last year, but only just. We did manage to have a small family gathering, which was very nice, especially as my grandparents were able to make it, but the depression it fills you with for future years is not good.

On the first of the year, I like to set down some benchmarks as to the year ahead. Last year, I was spectacularly wrong. This year, I am going to be a bit more optimistic.

There is something in me that feels this will be a good year. I am not one for mysticism or other spiritual hocus-pocus, but my business head is telling me that, for a change, I should look upon what’s coming this year with a great deal of encouragement.

First of all, in the next couple of weeks, my household circumstances will change dramatically. My housemate is moving out soon, and when that happens I will finally feel like I have, at last, made it to my “own place”. Everyone wants a little bit of somewhere to call home. In my case, however, I am renting a portion of someone else’s property and calling it mine.

Semantics, maybe, but it doesn’t feel like mine, even though I’ve been there for 3.25 years. 3.25 years that have flown by, and yet it looks like I’ve only just moved in. The living room is full of boxes, and has no homely feel. The kitchen is full of work-related equipment. So is my bedroom. It’s like living in your office all day, every day.

Some of this has been because I have felt like it’s not good to spend money on someone else’s house. And also the fact that, while my housemate was there, it just didn’t feel like mine. The house is full of stuff that isn’t mine and constantly reminds me of that fact, or isn’t in the way I would like it. For instance, behind the front door is about eight pairs of shoes. None of them are mine. They all belong to my housemate. But I can’t be bothered any more arguing over things.

In a couple of weeks time, they will all be gone.

The house situation will ease a huge burden off me. But in the back of my mind I continue to worry that I should spend some time working out when, if ever, I will make an attempt to buy a place of my own. I really ought to. To some degree I think that this should be the year.

But business-wise, there are other considerations. On the 11th January I have a critically important business meeting. If it goes well, it will shape the rest of this year very strongly. It still may take some time to kick in, and in my head I am not really expecting much progress, even if the meeting goes well, but I am keen to feel that there is just a little bit of momentum building at the moment. Momentum that might, finally, make me feel like I have built something that will last.

So I am expecting a positive year from my business. A few decent deals in the bag will secure that. Sounds so simple, but it isn’t, and the work required will be immense. But I must remember not to neglect the customers that put me in this position. I do not want to throw away all the progress that I have made.

In my personal life, I have given up hoping on something good to happen. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but we’ll see. At the back end of the year I had a good conversation with someone, but it will probably go nowhere due to time.

And as far as the family is concerned, it’s yet another big year. Hopefully everyone will continue to progress well, with my brothers getting settled in work and university, and my sisters carrying on with their new family and college respectively. Hopefully my mum and dad will find great comfort from 2013, the year their mortgage ends. And my nephews all do well in their important growing-up phases. My biggest worry remains for my 13 year old nephew. I worry about what this society he’s growing up in is teaching him.

Last night I thought deeply about it. It is now 13 years since the celebrations for year 2000. That has flown by so quickly I can barely believe it.

But believe it I must. Life is so fast, and incredibly fleeting. I really must resolve to enjoy this year much more than I did the last.

Let’s see what happens…

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Where To Start

It’s been too long since I last wrote. Life goes in waves, and the past two weeks have been phenomenally busy. Let’s try to catch up…

Work has been dominant, of course. But not the normal kind of work. I’ve been doing a lot more web stuff, with awkward and sometimes useless clients. Overall it has been OK, except for the fact that it has almost entirely replaced my normal PC repair work, without me even trying. It’s odd, because at around this time last year the same thing happened: repairs slowed to next to nothing.

The good news in some respects is there have been no more funny “episodes”. I’ve tried to eat more too – because I’m convinced lack of energy has been making me feel weak. I think there has been success on this front, as in truth I need to put on some weight. I don’t think I have, but I haven’t lost anything, which is a start. So I feel a bit more confident about health, which is a relief.

The only downside on that front was last week, when I had to do some work in London for a client of mine. After work was over, we went for a drink, which turned into about seven. Now, I am not a drinker. In fact, I am a total lightweight. My excuse is that I had had very little to eat all day, the last proper meal consisting of a sandwich and some grapes at lunchtime.

Somehow I managed to stumble home, but much the worse for wear. I was violently sick on the train home, and indeed have a memory of starting to throw up as I was just about stumbling into the toilet. This continued for about 30 minutes. I don’t think the momentum of the train helped. It was highly embarrassing, not to mention deeply unpleasant. I never use train toilets at the best of times… but I had no choice!

The next day was a total write off. I had to cancel everything. I was still being sick well into the afternoon, despite my stomach being totally empty, and feeling desperately weak through constantly trying to throw up absolutely nothing. It was the worst feeling I’ve had in a long time. I generally don’t enjoy getting drunk; two or three drinks is enough to make me enjoy the evening… and if that’s what’s going to happen when I dare to have a little more than that, I think I’ll pass, thanks all the same. My housemate tried to say maybe I’d eaten something funny, because he thought it looked more than the usual post-drinking hangover – which I suppose is possible, but I think it’s more likely it’s because I hadn’t eaten at all…

Which, naturally, contradicts what I wrote above about eating better. But that day was a mistake. I was working too hard and forgot to eat. As usual.

This week has been busy too – but it has also had some bonuses. My sister, brother-in-law and two nephews have come to visit for a couple of days. Yesterday we went to Bournemouth for the day, which was really good fun. The weather has been stunning lately, about 10 days in a row of wall-to-wall sunshine and 20C warmth. My kind of conditions. Today, it is not quite so good, and I think we’ll get a cooler spell now.

But this has cheered me up significantly. Life is dull, generally, and I have nothing exciting to live for. When there are other people to enjoy it with, it becomes much better. So getting to do something different, even if I still have to field calls when I’m out from customers who don’t understand that a new computer has nothing to do with their printer ink running out, is much appreciated.

Anyway, that’ll do. Another month over.

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…

A New Addition

Last Wednesday night, my family welcomed a new addition, and I became an uncle, again.

Little Nathan was born a little early, but not too much so that it matters. He was a healthy weight, and has a full head of hair. That’s quite typical of our family, and our rather unruly hair genes.

I had predicted all along that it would be a boy. I don’t know why. It just seemed that way. Turns out I got a 50/50 punt right. But what’s also amusing is that I picked the name Nathan if it was a boy some months ago. It stuck, we all liked it, and when I heard the news it was with some excitement.

News first broke earlier on the Wednesday, when my elder sister was getting ready for the labour after her waters broke. The day went by slowly. I was in London, eager to hear some news, but nothing came. I had some meetings, none of which turned out to be of any consequence, but the day dragged on.

It was about 11:00pm when I thought it was getting a bit silly, so I text my mum for info. It was then I discovered that they had finally gone the hospital and the new baby would be with us in the next hour. Bear in mind that I’m about 200 miles away from where all the action was going on. It was slightly sad to say the least. I asked them to keep me informed!

The good news then came half an hour later. All successful. All well. And a name. I was so tired I couldn’t stay up longer, but I had a bad night’s sleep. I had horrible dreams about it. I felt like something bad was going to happen. I really don’t know why.

Early in the morning I couldn’t bear it. I thought I would have received a text with some news, but nothing. So I text again, and a reply came back quickly. All was well. The mind really is cruel sometimes.

Fortunately, I was going home on the Friday for a few days. I really couldn’t wait. I was so excited to see him. I’m already an uncle, but I am hoping to make a better job of it this time, although I do wonder how much I will see this particular nephew due to how much I’m away, and the fact that my sister now has a much more settled life.

When I arrived it was everything I’d hoped. He is perfect. He is small and very cute. As always, the fingernails, toes and ears fascinate due to their tiny sizes. His eyes are lovely and his hair is amusing.  There’s enough there for it to be spiked up, which his brother likes to do for comedy purposes.

I held him for a bit, and he didn’t cry once. Babies do tend to sleep a lot, but it was OK. Gave my poor sister a rest!

The weekend then flew by. It was good to help out, welcome him to the family, and make sure my sister was OK. She’s done so well. I know it’s her second, but you never quite expect what’s to come. My brother-in-law also seems to be ready for the challenge. He’s usually quite well prepared on all these things and this was no exception.

I left today, and unfortunately the nature of how I left meant that I didn’t actually get to see him before I went. I feel a bit upset now. These moments are only here once, and in two weeks time I’m certain he’ll look totally different. Babies grow so fast anyway, but a lot happens in two weeks.

But no matter what I’m absolutely thrilled by his arrival, and I look forward to – hopefully – being another good role model to someone else! Hopefully lots of fun times ahead too.

Here’s to you, Nathan.

Where Did It Go?

Looking back at my start of year expectations setter, I appear to have been a miserable failure. I knew that anyway, but since this is the first time I’ve considered what I wrote in January of this year, it’s actually quite a shock to me.

First of all though, the formal business. Each year I label the previous year with a verdict on how it went. 2008 was a Neutral Year. 2009 is most definitely a Bad Year.

That’s a major disappointment to me. I had said I wanted to sort my life out by the end of February. Didn’t happen. Still hasn’t happened. I’m still fucking about trying to see where it goes.

The big event of the year on a personal level, possibly the only one, was that I moved out. Sort of. It’s the most ridiculous moving out in history. So far it’s cost me nearly two grand, and it has been an outstanding disaster. I’m currently sitting in my parents house, and will be for another 12 days, having already spent the past two weeks here. I should never have let myself be convinced by my stupid housemate that moving out would bring the successful growth of my business that I thought.

I really don’t know why I fell for it either, because he has said many things in the past that have never come to pass, usually involving job offers, business leads and so-called joint ventures. Argh. What an idiot I am.

I made a prediction at the start of the year that something big would happen. That sort of happened. But I said it in a good way, like it would finally be the clicking into place of my life.

And as I know all too well, it hasn’t, and I don’t see any prospects for it in future. But that’s for tomorrow.

So my life has been a travesty this year. Some money earned, though not enough. Lots of time wasted. No life’s ambitions achieved. No progress. At all. Fuck.

Meanwhile, my family are getting on OK. One of my brothers is in uni, messing around. I don’t know if he’ll make it to the end, but good luck to him anyway. My other brother is in his last year of school, suffering the GCSE curse, and not really doing enough revision. I offer my help, but no one wants it. I get on a bit better with both of them than I did at the start of the year, which was one of my hopes for the year. At least something has gone right.

My younger sister is funny, and we get on very well. That’s very nice. My elder sister is doing OK, but she’s in a constant battle with the father of my nephew regarding access to him. Even though my nephew now wants nothing to do with his useless father. Court involvement will continue. Either way, it’s not been good for my nephew, who is now very different to what he was even three years ago.

As for my parents, they still seem fine, and we all get on well. I just wish my poor dad would get a lucky break and find a new job. He hates his current one, and has been applying for promotion for years in all manner of departments. Gets nowhere. I feel really sorry for him.

My mum continues to enjoy her job working as a teaching assistant, and has no ambitions to do any more. Though she isn’t that content about her life. Maybe no one ever is.

Goodbye 2009. It hasn’t been nice knowing you.

Axe The Family

In recent weeks, I’ve become increasingly despondent due to the relationship with my family. I know I love them really, but it’s just one of those things that really needs a bit of distance.

It’s not good to live with your close family all of the time. In the end, you just get frustrated with them. Their quirks, habits and annoying features all get under your skin. If I wasn’t living here, I wouldn’t be witnessing them on a daily, if not minutely basis.

The problems range from my younger sister who incessantly watches television, no matter how crap. From soaps to reality TV, from Hannah Montana to The Suite Life On Deck – no insipid dross is bad enough for her. It all just flows in. And then there’s the obsession with the Jonas Brothers, and her constant desire to talk about every last detail of what happened in school that day.

My brother in university is something of a joke. He should have gone away for uni, like I did. He’s trying to live his own life, trying to be different, except it’s being frustrated by living at home. Such a rebel. If he wanted to drink till all hours, come home whenever he feels like it and stay up all night watching shit on YouTube (or worse) then he should have found his own place. While he’s here, his anti-social behaviour is disrupting the rest of us.

Worse, it is a terrible example to my other brother. He’s still in school, but thinks he’s such a big, tough man. The language from him is absolutely disgusting, especially when he’s on the Xbox 360. I’ve never heard anyone filled with such bile, such bitterness, towards people he hasn’t even met. Stereotyping people on the stroke of a pen, my brother’s degenerate behaviour really has been something of a shock to me since I moved back home.

So, basically, I want out. My parents are OK, but they’re useless now. They’ve clearly given up on the rest of the family. There is no way that me or my older sister would have got away with the way this lot behave. And I recognise that my attitude towards life has become so down and negative simply because I’ve been the one having to tell my brothers and sister off if they do something wrong or inappropriate, as my parents just don’t seem to care any more, letting them get away with murder.

There’s just a slight problem with my master plan. No job. No money. Business is a disaster right now. Even if it wasn’t, I don’t have a reliable source of income. At any moment I could get work and then the work could dry up, and I’ll end up with nothing and still be left paying rent (because a mortgage is never going to happen).

So I’m stuck here for God knows how long. Stuck living with a family that I can’t tolerate for much longer. Depression is returning, I know that for sure, as I’ve been extremely down for more than a week now. I just wish someone would give me a break.

In Other News

As I sit here once more underneath a cloud-ridden sky, dumping shedloads of yet more rain onto the window above me, I feel like it is an appropriate moment to look a little bit wider than the very narrow focus of my life at the moment.

That is to say that my family deserve a look in. At this moment in time, things are looking up for the first time in a very long time for my older sister. She is about to start a new job, and she has finally put her foot down with the waste of space ex-partner who spends all his time engaging her in mind games involving my nephew. It’s a shocking situation, but one that had to end sooner rather than later because we’ve all become surprised at just how badly my nephew has been behaving lately – with compulsive lying being the number one development.

It’s all quite unfortunate just how long it has taken for her to settle down, but with her new house, new job, and passing her driving test, she may finally get the freedom and independence she deserves. And my mum and dad need. Because she has been a very large drain on their resources, both physically and emotionally, for a very long time now due to her endless stream of disasters. Fingers crossed that it’s on the up for her.

Meanwhile, my brother, the older one, is not having such a good time. He has been searching for a job all summer and is constantly being rejected. Or rather, not quite rejected, but he just never hears back from people. Even McDonalds haven’t got back to him, which has been a particularly bitter pill to swallow. He’s just looking for something to tide him over when he (hopefully) starts his university course in September. But for the immediate future, the real interest now is whether he gets the necessary A-Levels on results day next Thursday. I’d say it’s touch and go.

We don’t really talk all that much to each other now. I don’t quite know how that happened, but it has. We talk about football. But that’s about it. Not particularly convincing. He has his own life now, and is very sensitive to any comments about it, so I often feel it’s better not to say or do anything that might offend him.

My other brother and sister are both doing OK. The brother is a typical teenager, liking to pretend he is a tough cookie, playing up in front of his range of friends (who all do exactly the same) when in truth he’s nothing of the sort. This generally includes listening to a lot of black R&B and rap. Which really annoys me because I can’t stand hearing it. I hope he grows out of all this. To me it’s the ultimate expression of the success of the capitalist society – it’s all about money, violence (survival of the fittest) and girls.

Meanwhile, my sister tries her best… she’s still too young to be sure how she’s going to do in school, but as long as she stays out of trouble she should be fine.

Finally, my mum and dad could do with a hand. I help out around the house where I can, but my siblings do absolutely nothing, and actually make everything worse with the mess they make. I can see my mum and dad are getting frustrated with it. I sense in the near future there are going to be very cross words with my useless brothers and sister…

That’ll do for now. At least we’re all reasonably healthy and OK.

Views On A Nephew

I say “a” nephew, but I mean “the” nephew, because I only have one.

He is the biggest nuisance I have known, but at the same time he’s awesome. But, because his father is useless, I, as his eldest uncle, feel like I should take a bit more responsibility for him.

I would love to, I really would, but it’s not as simple as that. I do play with him. I play games, I play football. I sometimes take him the park. But I have nothing else to offer in terms of doing things. The kind of things a father is supposed to do.

The main reason for that is because I don’t have any money. I would love to take him to the cinema or to a football game or swimming or ice-skating or whatever… but all of these things aren’t cheap.

Furthermore, until now, I hadn’t been around all that often, thanks to university. But now that excuse has gone.

My nephew is now nine years old. He is starting to notice the fact that his dad is a waste of space, but at the same time he will never be able to admit that his dad is not the hero that he claims to be. His dad plays perpetual mind games with his mum (my sister) and the impact of this psychological warfare – and I can see it as clearly as night follows day – is definitely rubbing off on my nephew.

Thing is, I don’t really see him as a nephew. He is more like a brother. If my parents had had just one more child only four years after their eventual final one (and they easily could have done) then I would have had another sibling of the same age. The age gap is not significant enough to make me feel like an uncle (I became an uncle at the age of 13). Spare a thought for my youngest brother and sister, who became an uncle and aunty respectively at the ages of 5 and 4.

And so, not feeling like an uncle, my mindset is trapped in a brother mentality. And much as me and my brothers all like each other, we don’t tend to do an awful lot with each other. We give each other their own space and freedom to do what they want with life. We don’t do anything together, and though this is much more obvious now that we’re getting older, it has generally been the case throughout our lives.

So I treat him like a brother and do not much with him other than brotherly things, like playing with Lego.

I feel like I ought to step up to the plate. His dad is a non-entity, a worthless loser, who does nothing other than fill my nephew’s mind with rubbish about his mum and the rest of the family. My nephew still likes him, but maybe it’s just because he’s the only male role model that gives him some attention, even if it is only on one day a week.

Maybe I can do something about this in the forthcoming summer holiday.

Well, I would if I had some bloody money. And the money I’m owed from the council from a job I did is now delayed until I fill in a medical form so they can tell me I’m fit to do the job. Which I’ve already done and won’t be doing again. Bureaucracy…