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Life

Turning into a Cat

I think I’m turning into a cat. You know how cats have favourite places to curl up or “be” that last for a few days at a time, before they move on to somewhere else? I’m like that with writing. For a while I was writing at Evernote, then a text editor for a little while, then Notion, and now I’m back at Google Docs, where I’ve been writing on-and-off for years.

Google Docs is the easy option for me. It satisfies the paranoid part of my brain that says “what if the computer goes bang in the middle of your Pulitzer prize winning blog post?” – because it saves every word as I write it. Of course this is predicated on the idea that what I’m writing has literary value (I’m humble enough to realise that I’m only a legend in my own lunchtime).

It’s Sunday morning. The clock is just ticking past 10am. I’ve been up for the last hour – emptying the dishwasher, clearing the kitchen up – the usual chores around the house. I didn’t have a shower this morning, and now feel grubby. I usually have a shower every morning – it helps wake me up. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything today, so thought “what’s the point?” – it’s not like I smell or anything. I will admit to washing my face with soap and cold water after brushing my teeth though – to try and wake myself up. It sort of worked.

I need to head out to the corner shop soon – we’ve run out of bread. It’s kind of difficult to make toast without bread – almost as bad as the time our middle daughter made a cup of tea for her Mum after we ran out of teabags. She didn’t let the lack of tea stop her – proudly delivering a cup of hot watery milk. She was only about seven years old at the time.

Anyway.

Time to go find my shoes and socks. At least it’s not raining today (yet).

Categories
Life

All Quiet on the Western Front

It’s been a remarkably quiet week in the Beckett household. I suppose the one stand-out achievement of the week has been gaining sight of the bottom of the clothes basket. It took two determined days of running the washing machine non-stop, but at least now I know there is an end to the clothes washing nightmare. I also know that the end does not last.

I’ve had the week off work. While not washing dishes, clothes, or putting things away behind people, I’ve been doing an awful lot of nothing at all. It turns out that while you’re locked down, there’s not much you can do to amuse yourself.

In the middle of the week my youngest daughter roped me into recording a workout with her for a school project. Five minutes of madness taking part in all manner of activities that could be completed in our living room. I learned a number of gravity assisted exercises, and wanted to die a few minutes later. Who knew that working from home for a year would make me quite so unfit?

I’m supposed to go for a run in the morning, but it’s below freezing tonight, and it’s due to snow tomorrow. I imagine the footpaths will be turned into ice rinks. I just checked the weather forecast – the snow isn’t due until 8am, so maybe we’ll be able to run before it arrives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and raid the cupboards for something to eat. I’ll probably end up eating cereal for supper – it’s my “go to” late night snack.

Categories
Life

Sixteen Becomes Seventeen

My middle daughter began celebrating her seventeenth birthday this morning. How did that happen? Where did all the time go? The last time I looked she was holding my leg at the infant school gate.

She dragged us all out of bed early to sit around the breakfast table and watch her open cards and presents. She has no idea a local pub will be delivering pizza to the house tonight.

Sometimes you feel like your life has been standing still for months, or even years – and then you look around and wonder what happened.

In other news, I somehow managed not to write anything in the blog for the last four days. I don’t know how that happened either. There’s a lot of things I don’t appear to know much about any more.

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Life

Nineteen Years

Almost exactly nineteen years ago, in about half an hour if memory serves, I stood at the business end of a church in Oxfordshire, waiting for the future Mrs Beckett to arrive. Several aunts stood outside waiting for a Rolls Royce to pull up, and didn’t quite know what to tell anybody when it drove straight past. It turned out the driver had just missed the church (it was very small, and my other half talks a lot).

An hour or so later – after forcing us through the rigmarole that Churches do (this was years before I stopped sitting on the fence, and stopped believing in any of it), I turned around and was quite shocked. While you’re facing the vicar, who is invariably quoting chapter and verse and being very solemn and sensible, you tend to forget that most of your family and friends are right behind you.

I’m just trying to think what we have spent the last nineteen years doing since. Before children arrived in our lives we visited quite a few places around the world – France, Tunisia, Corsica, Spain, North America, Turkey. We also visited the various corners of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and various places around England.

A little over fifteen years ago we started thinking about children and didn’t get very far. After a long and tortuous story that I won’t get into in this post, we finally became parents about twelve years ago – going from zero to three children overnight (four if you inclulde me as a child too). Suddenly I found myself living in a house with four women. Somehow I’m still lucid enough to tell the tale.

Twelve years on and the children are almost grown – leaving schools and colleges, getting jobs, and beginning to find their way in the world. I have no doubt their directions will vary, and that we’ll need to continually remind them that it really doesn’t matter where you’re going, how you get there, or when you get there – as long as you’re going somewhere that you’re not too unhappy about.

Has it all been perfect? Of course not. Has it always been fun? Hell no. Do I regret anything? Of course. Would I actually change anything though? No. I tend to believe we are a product of our journey – of the decisions we make, the things we do, the things we don’t do, successes, failures, and so on. Without the journey we have no story to tell – no wisdom to inform what we might do next.

Maybe the secret to putting one foot in front of the other is to not be too unhappy about where the next foot is about to land. Everything else follows.

Categories
Life

Ends and Beginnings

I visited the office yesterday – for the first time in four months. A flying visit to empty my desk, and collect a monitor and an office chair. The company I work for is finally following the example set by the likes of Automattic, and doing away with the office entirely – at least for the moment.

The convergence of ubiquitous fast internet connections, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Corona Virus opened everybody’s eyes to the realisation that we were able to carry on operating very much normally while working from home. I imagine the focus of the management naturally turned to the office, and the question  “why do we have an office?”.

I now have a much better chair in the junk room at home.

I imagine in time the company may end up hiring somewhere more suited to meetings – and we will perhaps gather every few months – mostly to remember what we all look like. While in lockdown I have been the instigator of several “Zoom Quizzes” – open to all staff, and their families. The next quiz happens in a couple of weeks time. After we all emerge from lockdown, I imagine the quizzes might turn into group meals – picking local bars or restaurants to catch up with each other.

It seems strange to think I’m not working in an office any more. I’ve been sitting at a desk most weekdays for the last twenty five years. I suppose I still will – just not in an office. There are already murmurings at home about finally decorating the junk room. If I have to sit here all day every day, it would be nice if it was a little more habitable.

I better turn running and cycling into a much more regular thing too – if I’m not cycling to work and back every day, my backside will develop its own gravity.

In other news, my middle daughter has started studying to become an air traffic controller. It’s surprised all of us. Since discovering the entire damn fool escapade while accompanying me on a virtual flight on the simulator, something switched on in the depths of her brain. She has already enrolled on a training course, and is studying books. Before long, I’ll contact London Centre, and be greeted with my daughter’s bossy voice, instructing me to “maintain flight level two hundred”, and to “put the kettle on Dad”.

Categories
Life

Stupid O’clock

It’s heading towards 1:30am, and somehow I’m still up – which is ridiculous, given that I’m supposed to be going running with my youngest daughter early tomorrow morning. Can I survive on six hours sleep? I’m sure I’ll find out.

After work this evening I spent an hour sitting outside with my middle daughter, painting undercoat onto miniature soldiers. I bought a Warhammer starter set for her earlier in the year, after spectacularly unsuccessfully setting out to find a new board game. I think I wrote about it on the blog at the time.

It’s surprisingly therapeutic – covering little plastic figures with paint. I’m not sure why. While we sat, and thought about nothing more than what we were doing, she told me all about them – they are “Stormcast Eternals”, and “Night-something-or-others” (I apologise in advance if you know anything about any of this). After dinner I did a little digging on the internet, and found some books full of lore about the universe the figures inhabit.

I can see the whole thing being a gigantic slippery slope – for me more than her. I might have ordered some base boards, and paint to make scenery late tonight – she doesn’t know yet.

What else has been going on around here ? Not much really. Running, chores, playing video games, working, painting little soldiers, watching movies, playing board games, and still not reading any books.

I’m still not missing blogging every day. There must be something wrong with me (or something finally right with me, depending on your point of view).

Anyway. Bedtime.

Categories
Life

On Call

It’s Friday, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, putting together another quiz. This evening the company I work for are having a “virtual social” on Zoom, and I volunteered myself as quiz-master. Although I have run several quizes recently, I’m putting together an entirely new set of questions, so the rest of my family can take part.

While I work on the quiz, the younger children are heading into town to get some groceries. I can’t really go anywhere today – even though I’m not working – because I have agreed to be “on call” for any support issues at work. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, so it’s not really a hardship.

While tidying the junk room up yesterday I fished the old iMac out, and powered it up. It’s over 20 years old now, and STILL WORKS. I keep wondering if I should give it away to somebody that might get some use out of it, but can never quite bring myself to part with it. I keep telling myself I’ll use it for writing, but I never quite get around to it.

I bought a game for the kids to play yesterday – a crafting and exploration game on Steam called “Starbound”. After not hearing anything from our eldest for a few hours, I checked in on her, and discovered her still playing it – so it can’t be that bad. If I make some time later, I might have a look at it myself.

Finally, I watched the movie “Midway” last night. I hate to say it, but it’s nowhere near as good as the version made in the 1970s with Charlton Heston. Yes, the new movie has got spectacular special effects (which look very fake), but it has none of the strategic maneouvering that is covered so well in the older movie. The dive bombing scenes were unintentionally hilarious – with the age-old “every time we cut back to see the ground coming, we’re still as far away from it as last time we looked”… I swear – some of the dive bombing runs fell through the same altitudes four or five times.

Anyway.

This post was a bit random, wasn’t it.

Although I’m only posting every other day at the moment, life goes on. We’re still running, and I’m still cycling fairly regularly. Work is down to three days a week at the moment, which strangely means that I’m struggling to figure out which day of the week it is. We’re all well though, so we can’t complain.

Categories
Life

It’s Life Jim

It’s been a day. After pulling the design together for a future project this morning, I wandered into the garden to find my other half sitting in a camping chair outside, hiding from the children, who were arguing about chores.

The chore argument was entirely predictable. A reward system had been introduced – you know – like you might have for 7 year olds – except our younger kids are 15 and 16. I was quite impressed with how quickly Miss 16 figured out how to take advantage and try to cherry pick the chores she was willing to do (mostly driven by laziness).

Rather than work through lunch once again, I decided to spend an hour in the garden, and got most of the grass at the back of the house cut. It still looked like hell, but better than it was. I spent another half an hour out there after work – it almost doesn’t look like jungle now.

We finally let Miss 15 join Tiktok this evening. She has been asking for months, and most of her friends have it. I’m just hoping we have done the right thing. I guess it’s time to start having some trust in her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so happy.

I’m running again in the morning, and then helping my youngest daughter call a journalist and ask about her work as part of a school project. I imagine she will talk on one phone, and I’ll record it on another – so she can go back through it afterwards.

This evening I may fall back into the clutches of “No Mans Sky”. It’s a ridiculously addictive video game where you get dumped on a distant planet, and have to MacGuyver your way off it, and then set out across the universe.

Or maybe I should go read a book, or watch a movie. Actually, something rubbish to eat, something nice to drink, and a terrible movie sounds quite persuasive.

This has been a very random post, hasn’t it.

p.s. I might have re-acquired the jonbeckett.blog domain name this evening, and attached it to the WordPress account. Does this mean I’m eventually headed back to WordPress? Perhaps. Very slowly though.