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Life

The Magical Floordrobe

The rest of the household are home at the moment – the schools are on “half term”. You might think this would mean chaos, noise, arguments, and running battles throughout the house – and you would be wrong. I’m as surprised as you.

There must be a turning point with teenagers – where they turn from battle hardened procrastinators into somewhat reasonable family members. I say “somewhat”, because I discovered an entire rugby kit stuffed behind the upstairs bathroom door earlier.

I’m pretty sure teenage girls think the workings of the floordrobe is a miracle of the natural world – where clothes magically vanish from whence they are thrown, walk themselves through the washing machine, dry themselves, fold themselves, and arrive ready to wear once again.

I guess the floordrobe works in exactly the same way as the fridge, and the kitchen food cupboards. By magic.

Don’t even get me started with washing up.

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Life

Seeking Solitude

I’m becoming increasingly fed up with being called upon to help others with stuff (outside of my direct family, obviously). While it feels good to be able to help, there comes a point where you just wish you had a little time to yourself, and wished others would take a bit of responsibility in learning how to do things for themselves.

I guess the real problem I have is those that take advantage of others. People who take, without giving back. It seems their entire existence is predicated on that which they can take from others, who they might use, and situations they might exploit.

Maybe my feelings are a natural “awakening”, from the point of view of somebody that has always been independent, and largely self-taught – realising that some people don’t so much “not know”, as much as “have no intention of really learning”.

I’m just tired. Tired of interacting with others when it’s not really an interaction – it’s a payment. I wish sometimes I was sought out just to see how I’m doing, rather than because somebody wants something from me.

Anyway. I’ll stop complaining. At least complaining to nobody in particular gave me something to write about, right?

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Life

Infinite Rabbit Holes

For the last two hours I have been sitting in front of a computer with the intention of writing something . Instead I have tumbled down rabbit hole after rabbit hole around the internet – either researching stories on twitter to find out if they are true or not, trawling through wonderful comic book cover artwork, or talking to distant friends.

(Five minutes pass while I make a coffee – and I’m only too aware that this is yet another method of distraction from actually getting on with writing anything. At this point, I could probably apply to join the Olympic procrastination team).

It’s already Sunday morning at the time of writing. Saturday vanished into history half an hour ago. In my book Sunday doesn’t start until I wake up in the morning. I could quite cheerfully fall asleep right now, but the temptation to stay up and extend the weekend is ever present. It’s a fools game of course – burning the midnight oil. I’ll never learn.

I suspect I may have become immune to the effects of caffeine.

Perhaps a good book, and a quiet half hour might be just the thing though – a break from the screen, and the infinite rabbit holes of the internet.

p.s. I’ve canned the personal blog at Medium. I suppose this means I’m back.

Categories
Life

Not Working

Today was the first day I have called in sick since the pandemic began. That’s about two years, isn’t it? Both of my younger daughters had gone down with something recently, and today I’m guessing whatever they had caught up with me.

It’s odd — working from home, but then calling in to say you’re not going to be working. In my line of work it makes no sense to do anything complicated if you can’t think straight — so it’s better not to try; you’ll end up spending twice as long undoing whatever you caused.

I sat quietly with the old laptop this afternoon and tried to write a few words for Medium. What might typically have taken half an hour took most of the afternoon. I fed the text through Grammarly and re-read it several times — and STILL ended up editing out idiotic mistakes after publishing. Quite how the variously famous authors managed to write anything while drinking heavily is beyond me. I tend to need clarity of thought and peace and quiet to string more than a few words together.

I’m already starting to feel quite a bit better — I don’t tend to get sick for long. I guess I should be grateful for that. Perhaps an early night might help.

Categories
Life

Psychopathic Cats

While waiting for the computer to download some updates, I’m taking the opportunity to empty my head into the keyboard. Hopefully you’ll forgive me if this post is a little disjointed.

It’s dark outside, and rain is falling. Earlier today it was raining leaves. Autumn is here, the nights are drawing in, and the temperature seems to be dropping every day.

The cats don’t like the change in weather. For the last few evenings they have wandered the kitchen, complaining to anybody that will listen. It’s quite difficult for them to communicate their frustrations, given their limited vocabulary. We’re not sure if they are cold, wet, hungry, or just angry at the world in general.

We have two cats. George is a huge ginger farm cat that spends 90% of his time sleeping — curled up on the sofa, the back of the sofa, or one of the kids beds upstairs. Kaspar is a (not so small any more) black rescue cat that lives outside most of the time, loves other cats, and keeps the hell away from all humans except our eldest daughter. We don’t know why.

Yesterday evening Kaspar wandered up to George to headbutt him in that way cats do, and sat alongside — gazing out at the rain through the patio door. George slowly and carefully leaned across and bit Kaspar.

They are psychopaths. They really are.

Categories
Life

Escaping the twenty four hour news cycle

Eleven minutes ago the clock ticked past midnight. It’s officially Monday now, but I’m going to go on pretending it’s Sunday at least until I fall asleep.

We went out for dinner yesterday evening — the first “proper” meal out with family since the pandemic began. My in-laws came over and we walked into town together — eating at the pub where our middle daughter now works. It was great to see the place filled with people after so many months empty — although the conversation happening on a nearby table was one of those conversations you wish you couldn’t hear. I think some people just like the sound of their own voice.

While reading the various accounts of “normal life” shared by friends around the world via the internet, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the UK is quite a long way ahead of many countries now in terms of dealing with the pandemic, and emerging from the other side. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the vast majority of people have been double vaccinated so their chances of being hospitalised are reduced enormously.

I saw some official statistics recently that of the people admitted to hospital with coronavirus, 97% were not vaccinated. I just wish more people would stop believing the various social media mouthpieces they subscribe to, and start reading and listening to professional journalists working for national or international news agencies. A huge proportion of people seem to seek out the news that best fits their world view — and then the social graph kicks in, presenting them with concordant views. Little by little their views match the increasingly narrow, marginalised, and extreme content they are subjected to — which only gets worse, because that’s all they ever consume.

I’ve always been something of a fence sitter. My default position tends to be “there’s probably more to a story than most people have bothered to find out”- and I purposely browse a variety of news sources as a result. Perhaps the most frustrating observation is that it tends to be older people — those we are traditionally expected to respect and defer to — that have become the most easily radicalised by social media.

Anyway.

Tomorrow is another day. Before it arrives I’m going to sit in bed and read for a while. It turns out books are a very good escape from the twenty four hour social media news cycle.

Categories
Life

It Only Takes One Idiot

At 9pm this evening we walked into town — to the pub where our middle daughter waits tables, to meet her from work, have a drink, and walk home together. A quiet end to a busy week.

On approach to the pub we didn’t quite know what was happening — there were large groups of teenagers standing on all sides of the road junction adjacent to the pub and the nearby park. We estimated somewhere between fifty to a hundred of them milling around. We walked through them without issue and found a quiet table in the almost empty pub.

Moments later our youngest daughter (never one to miss out on a free drink) spotted police in the road outside, and ran to the pub window — breathlessly reporting on events unfolding outside. The police were talking to the group, who were beginning to walk away from the park. Now the police were entering the park. Now a lot more kids were coming out of the park (emerging from the darkness). It was all very exciting.

My other half glanced out of the window, and her eyes widened.

“There’s hundreds of them!”

We tried to figure out what might be going on — was it just one of the schools pupils meeting at term end? Surely there were too many children. Was it a social media gathering that had gotten out of control? Perhaps. We had no way of finding out, and our daughter emerged from the kitchens anyway — joining us to hear all about the excitement outside.

A few minutes later we began our walk home, and a sizeable group followed us — perhaps fifty yards behind. Given the glacial speed my other half tends to walk, they rapidly caught us — shouting conversations across the road at each other, swearing, laughing, and creating the kind of mayhem you might expect a group of teens to create.

We spotted the police we had seen earlier standing in the doorway of a late night store, talking to the owner. We imagined the police might have been called to help deal with the army of teenagers who now fell mostly quiet as they passed behind us.

It was all fine. And then it wasn’t.

A little way further on we heard a bottle smash behind us, volleys of shouting, and footfalls approaching rapidly. Moments later two teen boys ran past, one throwing a bottle at the other. It exploded across the road, the footpath, and up the legs of the intended target. I’m still not sure how his ankle wasn’t broken. I stopped dead, as did everybody else in the road, and the boy that did it probably realised he had instantly become the biggest asshole in the street — and tried desperately to vanish into the crowd.

I stopped and warned a motorist in a parked car preparing to drive down the road that he might want to go in the opposite direction, given what had just happened.

We exited stage left — taking a back road route, rather than continue on in the same direction as the teenagers. Our youngest daughter was pretty shaken, but I made light of it and tried to change the subject. When we got home I messaged a friend with teen children nearby, wondering if she had any clue what might have been going on. No clue.

I guess we’ll never know. Perhaps it really was a social media organised gathering that got out of hand. There were far too many kids to have originated from one school, or one town — given typical year numbers, and the proportion that might head out to meet friends in town.

I do wonder though — if their parents will ever learn what happened this evening — or if the first they learn will be stories on local Facebook groups and newspapers.

Categories
Life

Cutting Most of my Hair Off

I downed tools a few minutes ago for the first time today (read: pushed back away from the work laptop), emptied the washing machine, filled the washing machine again, hung washing on the line, made a sandwich, and then cut most of my hair off. Yes, you read that right — I cut most of my hair off.

I started cutting my own hair after we went into lockdown. After a careful perusal of the various hair cutting implements available on Amazon, I chose a fairly cheap set of clippers with lots of half-decent reviews. It’s worked so far. The joke offering to cut other people’s hair — particularly my daughters — is rapidly establishing “Dad Joke” status. Given that I only know one style (“all of it off”), I very much doubt I’ll be going into business as a barber any time soon.

I did manage to cut my head with the hair clippers. Don’t ask me how.

While writing this and sipping coffee I’m listening to Jazz on the big speaker in the junk room. I expect my late father-in-law will be looking down smiling at my continuing interest in Jazz — he was a life-long fan. We went with him on several river-boat cruises with live bands over the years. I blame a blogger friend for this current escapade; she pointed me towards a rainy day jazz channel on YouTube some time ago.

In other news, our middle daughter is working again this evening — waitressing at one of the big pubs in town. I’m already wondering if we might wander down for a drink when she finishes her shift.

I suppose I should get on with some work…

Categories
Life

The Journey to the Middle

person using MacBook Pro

For the last several months I have been experimenting with Substack, WordPress, Tumblr, and Medium – trying to figure out what works best for me.

Keeping a long story very short, I’m going to carry on with Medium, which I’ve been exploring for the last year. This doesn’t mean my writing will vanish entirely behind a pay-wall – I’m keeping the blog posts “free” in a new publication called “Jonathan Wrote This” (https://medium.com/jonathan-wrote-this).

If you would like to continue reading about my idiotic adventures, you can receive them by email via the link below:

https://jonbeckett.medium.com/subscribe

For those that have followed my escapades here, commented, liked, and messaged along the way – I’m not entirely vanishing – you’ll just see less swathes of inconsequential verbiage emanating from my account for the moment. I’ll be back soon enough.

Good talk.