A minute here, a minute there

I continue to struggle finding time to write. A window of opportunity opened at lunchtime, but before I knew it one thing after another conspired to slam it shut.

I’m not sure I have much to write about.

I was programming all day again. Working on a project that will hopefully see daylight in the new year. I missed lunch again. I really need to start taking lunch breaks and going for a walk. Either that, or going for a walk either before, or after work.

When I worked in Germany I would go for breakfast as soon as the hotel restaurant opened in the morning, and then head into the city for a walk – watching the bakeries, cafes and newspaper shops opening for the day ahead. I would pass endless runners alongside the river – stomping out a rhythm as they passed me.

Perhaps I need to do something like that – breakfast in town. I wonder how much it might cost? Maybe not every day – but once a week?

We all know I’m going to wake up, look at the clock, and disappear back under the bedcovers, don’t we.

Listen to the trees

A scene from the first Narnia movie has been tumbling around my head all day – where the children are approaching Aslan’s camp, and the fallen leaves of nearby trees swirl in the wind to form a figure – waving to Lucy as she passes.

While it’s lovely to believe that magic exists – that the universe has a hand in the experiences we share, I wonder if we attach more meaning to the world around us than is really there. We seem to project that which we wish to see, and we’re good at it.

While listening to the trees, I sometimes wonder what they have seen during their life – and then remind myself that they have no eyes or ears. They do sense light though, so I suppose they record the seasons they have lived through within their rings.

Anyway.

That was all for today. I was up to my ears in programming throughout most of the day, and I can’t imagine anybody want’s to read about that.

A Piglet Moment

There’s a moment in the book “The House at Pooh Corner” that has always stayed with me:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

The House at Pooh Corner, by A. A. Milne

I had one of those moments last night, and messaged a friend I’ve not spoken to for quite some time. This is where those that know me will start to shake their head, and smile at the contrariness of it all. I could swear the universe was up to something.

For the last several days – in the quietest moments – it was almost like a whisper on the wind. A calling to reach out. I don’t understand it, and don’t particularly want to pick it to pieces too much. Sometimes it doesn’t do to reach behind the curtain – sometimes it’s better to just admire the magic.

Anyway. That was all really.

We all have our Piglet moments sometimes.

After getting up this morning I wandered into the kitchen and was immediately confronted with a bargain of sorts. If I went to the corner shop to buy milk, my middle daughter would make me coffee and a bacon sandwich. While walking to the shop, I smiled to myself – realising that these are the stories I should write down – the stories I should remember.

Finding Time

As a few might have noticed, I’ve returned to WordPress. This had absolutely nothing to do with platforms – more about separation of concerns. I needed to use Substack for something else, and would rather have something of a dividing wall between my personal blog, and other endeavours.

So what have I been up to in my absence?

I started a damn fool escapade on the internet a few weeks ago, and it exploded in popularity – turning from a few minutes of my time into a full time second job. I’m doing it of my own volition though, so I only have myself to complain to.

I was up until 3am last night trying to find out what was eating disk space on a web server – this after going round in circles trying to find out why on earth something was failing – before realising the software was lying to me.

Today I spent the majority of the day at my youngest daughter’s school – running a second hand book stall to help raise funds for the school. I ran the stall for the better part of three hours – greeting parents and children and attempting to part them with their money. While I sold books, my other half ran the perenially popular “lucky dip”, and “hook a duck” games.

While setting the book stall up a man approached with his daughter, and spied a collection of perhaps 100 issues of a popular comic – obviously somebody’s entire collection. He initially bought 10 issues, before returning later to take a second look. I offered him the entire collection for quite a small amount of money, and he said something that made me smile – “I’ll never get away with it”. He wasn’t buying them for his children at all.

Anyway.

It’s nice to be back. As time allows, I will try to catch up with some of the blogs I follow – to find out what you’ve been up to.

The End of an Era

Queen Elizabeth II was buried today. It seems fitting that I write something to mark the day. I’m not a royalist, and never have been, but I appreciate a life well lived, and a life that must have been constrained by endless rules, expectations, and obligations. A life in service. A life not chosen. I’m not sure I could have done it.

I’ve been watching the coverage throughout the day – of the procession through London, the church service, the journey to Windsor, and finally the service in the chapel.

While watching the various high ranked clergy carrying out the procedures handed down to them over hundreds of years, I remembered a moment recreated in the “The Crown” TV series, concerning the televising of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It was the first time any sort of coronation had been televised, and the church was dead against it. In their own words “it would remove the magic”.

At the end of the day, the monarch in a hereditary monarchy is a normal person. The leaders of the church – even back then – knew that all of the pageantry and exhibitionism on show is an act. None of it is real. They were petrified that pulling back the curtain would expose them.

You know the funny thing? Nobody cares. Nobody still cares. People believe that they want to believe, no matter how ludicrous it becomes in the face of the best level of education the world has ever seen.

I do sometimes wonder though – how much longer until people start to open their eyes? Perhaps they don’t want to, and that’s why they don’t.

It’s a bit like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. People know they are made-up, but they continue to go along with the act. I wonder if monarchy and religion are following the same path.

If not now, when?

Tonight (or this morning) I’m taking a leaf from a good friend’s book – and asking myself “if not now, when?”. I’m talking about the blog of course, and writing a blog post.

It’s 1am. We got back from a night out a couple of hours ago. Dinner out to celebrate putting up with each other for 21 years.

We went to a small thai place in town called “Giggling Squid”, which was filled to the gunnels with a very noisy birthday party populated with women between perhaps thirty and forty years old. Given the length of their table they shouted conversations at each other – which caused the rest of the restaurant to shout conversations too. Sitting at an otherwise intimate table for two, we had to lean towards each other and shout in each other’s faces to hear each other. Once the birthday group left, it was quite difficult to stop shouting – we had got used to it.

On my way out of the restaurant – which is housed within an old victorian building, the lady in charge of the serving staff wished us a good night, and seemed quite anxious that I might bash my head on a roof beam. As I unfolded from my chair, she exclaimed “and mind your shoulders too!” (I think I may have been a good deal taller than she initially imagined).

Anyway.

We had a lovely night out, a great meal, and then wandered along the high street to a bar we have often seen people sitting outside of, but never had a reason or the time to visit. We’ve never been in most of the newer places around town. It was… “meh”. I imagine if you went with a group of friends it wouldn’t make any difference – but being there on our own it was curiously without atmosphere. We wished we had stopped at an earlier pub that had cosy corners to sit in while drinking a night-cap.

Still Here

Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated (if indeed there were any). I can’t remember the last time I let so many days go between blog posts. It’s all slightly surreal really. It’s not like I even missed writing – I just didn’t think about writing at all – which is even more odd really, given that I’ve been writing pretty consistently for the last twenty-something years.

I’ve just been busy, I guess. Busy working, busy tinkering with projects, and not chasing my tail as I have for far too long. One good friend reached out to me this past week, to see if I was ok – and I was quite taken aback to think anybody really thinks about me – or my absence.

As I said – I’m fine. I’m doing good.

I stopped running this week, after pulling a muscle in my backside. Stop laughing. I told you I wasn’t as fit any more – and pulling a muscle pretty much proved it. It started hurting while I was running the other day, and has taken the best part of a week to get better.

I haven’t reached out to distant friends in quite some time, and I feel awful about it. I need to do something about that tomorrow – climb out of my hole, dust myself down, and wave in their direction.

It’s 1am while writing this. I should probably go to bed. I’ll write again tomorrow, I promise. It’s kind of like getting on a horse, this writing business, isn’t it?

Too Tired to Think

I’m not entirely sure where the last few days have gone. In-between chores, work, running, writing, more chores, more running, more work, more writing, and endlessly putting things away, two entire days have vanished.

I suppose the biggest news this week is that my other half is changing job. After something like 12 years working as “the lady in the office” at an infant school, she handed her notice in this morning. She starts her new job in about five weeks – working for a movie production company a few miles away. It’s all very exciting.

I’m still doing the same job I’ve been doing forever – magicking bits and pieces of website and intranet out of nowhere for corporate behemoths. It’s funny – when the writing comes easily I think “I could do this for a living”, but I only really play at writing. Nobody would want to pay me to empty my head each day – or at least, I don’t think they would. That said, I joined Medium a year or so ago, and tried out their partner programme – and made bank pretty quickly.

Anyway.

It’s getting late.

I thought I should at least write a few words before collapsing onto the sofa in front of some ridiculous movie or TV show. Whenever I miss a day on the blog it starts to eat away at me like a fungus. Actually – that’s not a very good analogy, is it – fungus grows on things – it doesn’t eat them.

I’m too tired to think any more.

Oh – I went for another run this morning. I’m glad I did it, but still shocked how unfit I have become. I used to be able to run 5 kilometres a couple of times a week. It’s going to take a while to get back to that.

Run Like the Wind, Bullseye

Alexa, the curious daemon that lives within an electronic gadget on the bedside table burst into life in her metronomic way once again this morning – filling the room with Ronan and Harriet from Magic FM as they wished everybody a wonderful day before playing the same twenty songs they play every day.

I really need to choose a different radio station, but it’s kind of comfortable. The presenters’ voices, their banter, and the stream of 80s songs are familiar – like a warm blanket of sound. Which doesn’t help much when you’re supposed to be getting out of bed.

I did get up though. And in a fit of stupidity, pulled some running shorts and an old t-shirt on. A few minutes later I found myself wandering out into the morning air rather apprehensively. I haven’t been running in AGES.

It wasn’t actually that bad. For the first kilometre or so I surprised myself – thinking “I can still do this” – but then all the little aches and pains that come with being enormously unfit came back to haunt me. It’s going to take some time.

I did it though. I went for a run. Go me.

By the time lunchtime came around I could have eaten the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards. I didn’t. I’m not allowed – on account of being “on a diet”. It’s not really a diet – it’s just “not eating entire bags of cookies from the supermarket”. Not that I do that, of course. Not THAT often. Ok. No more than once a week. Usually.

The second big change I made today was venturing out onto the green outside the house at lunchtime to sit on a bench with a book and my cup of coffee. I texted a few neighbours, and told them of my daring escapade – wondering if any might join me. Their days sounded much like mine – which explained their absence. I sat and read some more of “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but spent most of today realising “oh, I’ve already read that bit”. My memory has holes in it like a piece of swiss cheese at the moment.

Anyway.

I’m rather pleased with myself this evening. Small steps (or strides in this case). The route back to fitness is going to take a while, but I know I’ll feel better for it – and intervention was probably required before I develop my own gravity.

In other news, the entire day flew past – filled with a never-ending succession of worky-work things that I’m not going to write about here. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re not having fun.