Six Years Of Blogging

I’m actually impressed that I’m still here six years later. I often wondered whether it would just be a passing fad when I first started this up, but here I am, still plugging away at it…

OK, I know my posting frequency is in the doldrums compared to when I first started up, but better one than none. That’s mainly because, as I’ve observed before, I can be so busy during the day now that I feel guilty spending some time out doing personal writing. It was why I pulled the plug on the political blog I maintained for a year. I was amazed it lasted that long.

But there’s only so much of toiling in obscurity one can take. Back in the day, striking up a blog seemed like a great way to get noticed. It seemed like a marvellous way to bring your ranting to the attention of hundreds of millions, and maybe even get picked up by the mainstream media. I can’t say I ever imagined in a million years this would happen to boring old me, but I did hope that maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere would find some tiny level of curiosity in my writing.

Of course, that was when I didn’t realise just how difficult it is to capture people’s attention. It’s why I am filled with such admiration for the writers, creators, directors and producers of cultural fayre, from musicals to mass audience, mainstream TV. They keep us all entertained and diverted from our dull lives, and for that we salute them. They produce the prolefeed that keeps us from worrying too much about the true disaster that is Planet Earth, and what we’re doing to it, and what we’re allowing our politicians to get away with.

But I’m ranting.

I always feel better when I rant, though. Yet I don’t get the opportunity these days. My lack of friends and genuine social interaction these days means I don’t get the chance to hone, sharpen my ascerbic, cynical wit. It used to work so well with my true friends, the ones I picked up in university. And the ones I knew in Sixth Form weren’t too shabby either. I just wish it were possible to pick up where I left off with them. It never is. Friendships untended to wither and die. The inevitable reunions are just a string of “Remember whens”. People don’t keep in touch.

Blogging is an innately melancholy medium. That was one of the things I wrote in my dissertation. By that, I meant its very nature was to encourage people to write up, and then reflect on things that had happened, or that we hoped would happen. That attracts a certain type of person, people who are pretty insecure, seeking approval from others and rather neurotic in the first place. Maybe I could be accused of being biased, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark.

Perhaps, then, my lack of blogging in the last few months has been more reflective of the change in me. Because I do feel less bothered about the mere existence of life now. It passes by, unremarkable, unceremoniously. Relentlessly. Whether I like it or not, it passes by. Whether I comment on it or not, it passes by. It all adds to my general despondency at the pointlessness of it all. So why bother chronicling it?

So much for the season of goodwill. It is, after all, Christmas Day. And I have had a pretty good one, with family. OK, a few minor setbacks, but – as with everything – they’ll be forgotten by tomorrow and no one will care. It’s like there’s a big reset button being hit every day.

But when you sit in the back room, tapping away on a laptop, while the family are watching the accursed EastEnders Christmas special, thoughts will always turn to depression…

Merry Christmas to all. And to my future self, when you read this in six years time (you’re the only one who does these days!), as you did six years ago when you re-read the post that started it all: chin up, mate! It’s not all bad.

For Fine, Lifeless Hair

Whenever I’m in the bath (for we don’t have a working shower) I often consider which of the plethora of shampoos I would like to use today to wash my hair. When I lived on my own there was, of course, no choice. I would buy shampoo, invariably Tesco’s own brand, and the rest is history.

But living in a house with shared resources the decision becomes much more difficult. For starters, the addition of women means at least a quadrupling of the choice – because, for some reason, women seem to need lots of different shampoos. One for frizzy hair, one for dyed hair, one for dry hair, a mild one for irritated scalps, one for dandruff, and then repeat for bottles of conditioner.

Then my brothers like to wash their hair with the Lynx shower gel, so there are at least two of those around the bath. And there is always another one for my sister, a more child-friendly one even though she’s 13. Add in the liquid soap that we’ve currently got, and the bubble bath, and you can see how it can easily become confusing.

It makes me wonder – are any of these products actually what they say they are? Is there a difference between me using a shampoo “for greasy hair” and another “for frequent use”? I mean, how frequent is frequent? I thought most people would wash their hair frequently anyway. Have you ever seen a shampoo say “for infrequent use” on it? If not, why not? I want to see the shampoo that is so deadly to your hair that it can only be used every month. And surely all hair gets greasy, otherwise why would you wash it? So isn’t every shampoo for greasy hair?

Then we turn to the other claims they right on the bottle. As a man, I wonder why would I ever want to “add volume” – or some other marketing speak – to my hair? I hate my hair, as I have discussed on a previous occasion, and any shampoo that promises to make it look more full of life, thicker and glossier is one that I should avoid at all costs. Yes, I know I’m using “women’s” shampoo… but that’s just the thing – they are only women’s because the branding tells you to believe that.

In truth, it’s all academic. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any difference no matter what shampoo I use. The only factor in the equation is the smell. Some smell nice, some smell not so nice. And that, to me, is basically all the difference. Maybe on a technical level the cheapest shampoos contain more “agua” – to you and me we might call it that novel and exciting substance water –  and so you have to use more of it to get a good lather.

No. What this whole world is about is just about the same story you can apply to any aspect of modern, commercial life. It is the ultimate triumph of style over substance, of branding and image over reality. Beauty and hygiene are highly susceptible to the evils of capitalism for the simple reason that they probably figure in the minds of every person on Earth. And so we can plug away at those little fears and insecurities to sell you a bottle of miracle wonder that will transform you into one of the Beautiful People – gorgeous and successful – we see on the adverts and billboards.

Anyway, that’s quite enough moaning for one day. It’s supposed to be the season of goodwill to all men (and women)… unless they work for a beauty products manufacturer, of course. They can go stick their false science up their arses.

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.