Yeah I know the title is a little odd, but when I was thinking about this post, the song Centerfold by J. Geils Band popped into my head. For those who may be too young to know what I’m talking about, I provide the video for you.
I was laying awake in bed the other night unable to get to sleep when I thought about how Belicia would think about my blog. She knows I have one, though she has never read it. I thought that it would be a good way for her to get an insight into her dad and his slightly odd sense of humour. I also though that it would be a good way to remember facts and events that happened to us as a family.
My dad recorded tapes of me and him for a couple of years, talking about Christmas and birthdays, and my first day at school. I like hearing them now, and listening to the things that were happening then. My memory of my childhood is patchy at best, some doctors have said is was the trauma of my dad dying that blocked out a lot of it, but I am sure some of it would have returned by now.
If I think back, I get a few images of dad and I playing football in the back garden, and of the games nights we used to have, but there is little detail about anything. I am amazed how some people can recite almost all of their teachers from when they were a kid, I have to say that I cannot remember any name at all. I remember my science and PE teacher at secondary school, but only their faces, no names.
There is actually only one teacher I remember, Miss Stop. I think the reason I remember her was because of an unfortunate event that happened in her class at junior school circa 1979. I remember sitting there in the lesson and asking her the totally honest question “Are you pregnant Miss?” I never received a reply from her, I was just told to sit in the corner. I never did find out if I had offended her because it was too personal, or if I accidentally body shamed her. However, that event has forever sealed her name into my mind. If by some remote chance, a relative of Miss Stop, who worked at Kingsley Junior School in Croydon is reading this, I am sorry for the offence caused.
The year 2017 has been a year of firsts in many ways, some of them good, others not quite so much. However, one thing has remained throughout, is that family and friends are a vital part of survival.
On a personal front, 2017 has been the first full year without my mum who passed away just before Christmas 2016. It has meant that we have had to deal with events such as her birthday for the first time. I am conscious of the fact that she would have been proud of Belicia and how she has done this year at school and in her concerts and that gives me comfort.
Our daughter has started her secondary school this September, which was something my wife and I have been worried about for some time. She isn’t always good with change and such as big change as this we thought would cause issues. However, with the massive help of her new school, including a number of orientation days, she has started well and is loving the new environment. She has also been allowed to do swimming with us once a fortnight, which has given me the incentive to use the gym while my wife and her swim.
From a professional point of view, I have been trying to do more on my blog site as well as do the things I love such as writing and spending time with my family. Thankfully, I have been able to do both which I never thought would be possible a few years ago. I haven’t always done great projects, but they have given me the experience and portfolio to do better work.
So, what about next year? Well, I want to be more prolific in my blogging and aim to get my desire for better knowledge of mental health to those who can do something about it. One person can make a difference, and I know that there is always the opportunity to reach people, especially in our connected world.
I also want to continue this period of relative calm that my anxiety has found. Yes it is medicated, but it is still stable and that is the best its been for some while. I have also grown increasingly inclined of late to make my life and that of my family as straightforward as possible. One thing that has been most clear to me is that I want to do things that make us happy and give us positive memories. Of course, that isn’t always possible, but it means removing those things that upset us or have a negative effect on out lives.
It was Christmas once again and this year, we seemed more organised than we had before. My wife had spent her time scouring Amazon for presents and had done almost everything by the beginning of December. I had to keep asking her if we were ready as I could hardly believe it, we even chose a small turkey crown instead of something the size of an emu.
The last week was extremely hectic, with my daughters concert at Canterbury Cathedral, a singalong with all of us involved at church, and a present exchange party. It made the arrival of Christmas day even more welcome, after a nice Christmas Eve afternoon at my brothers house.
We had decided to buy our daughter PlayStation VR for Christmas because she had been wanting one for a long time. We managed to save enough to do it and her expression on Christmas day was worth the sacrifice. However, it meant that we didn’t get to see any Christmas TV that day as she was on it from 9am through to 10pm. The Christmas meal went without a hitch thanks to our decision to get almost everything pre-prepared and in its own container to save time and washing up. We also reserved ourselves to an individual Christmas pudding as we never manage to eat a big one.
The only show I did manage to see was Doctor Who, which was good although it didn’t seem to offer much in the way of Earth threatening alien action. I was also entertained by all of the Tweets afterwards from Neanderthals who proclaimed that they were never watching Who again now a woman was the Doctor. They seemed to genuinely think that the BBC would give a turkey what they thought.
On the 27th of December, after a leisurely Boxing day, my brother, our friend and I, went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You can see my review of the film here (now come on, that was a great link, worth a look just for that surely?) It seemed to wrap up Christmas nicely and lead us into that abyss that is the Christmas to New Year gap.
I know that for retailers everywhere, Christmas starts just after the last pumpkin has been carved, but this trend is now starting to spread. Driving down the road in my village, I spied a couple of houses that has started to put up lights; this being the end of November.
Now that we have officially be dragged into December, the number of houses with Christmas decorations has blossomed. It is like they have had everything ready in their hallways, just waiting for the strike of midnight on the 30th November.
Now I must admit to thinking about expanding my own array of Christmas lights outside the house this year. My rose bush draped in blue lights was certainly a spectacle last year, but I want to go a bit further this year. I won’t go as far as having lights around the gutter as I don’t think I can handle the height, so it will have to be something a little nearer the ground.
I have seen\ the newest decoration this year, the lights and symbols projected on the front of the house. Although it looks nice, I can’t help but think it will just make my house look like the venue for a Jean Michel Jarre concert.
I’m thinking that I might go a bit more tasteful and try a star in the window and two frolicking reindeer on the front lawn.
The one thing that will make its annual appearance is the front door wreath. It has adorned our front door for many years now and is still in good condition. It is funny how families have one thing that always comes every Christmas. For my mum it was an old bell with a music box inside that played ‘Silent Night’ at varying speeds every time you pilled the clapper. She also had an old cut-out Father Christmas picture made out of card, that I suspect was just an old Coca Cola advert.
At least with all the outdoor lights, the village looks really pretty. It will be something to look at until January the 1st when the hot cross buns go back on sale.
I kind of knew it as soon as I said it really, when I mentioned in one of my last blog posts: A Year of Reflection and Contemplation that my anxiety had been pretty good. It was just a few days after that when my anxiety started to flare up again. Was it just a coincidence? Was I just thinking myself into it? Well, whatever the reason, it has been quite challenging. In fact it got so bad that for a couple of days, I really didn’t want to leave the house.
I don’t think it was helped by the fact that I also lost one of my counter measures. Again this was probably psychological, but then I guess everything is when it comes to anxiety. It is one of those times when people really cannot see what’s happening on the inside, even when I forced myself to go out, I felt like everyone was watching me, even though I know they weren’t.
In some ways it feels worse when I haven’t had it for a while, I guess my mind forgets slightly what its like. Thankfully, I am starting to get back on track now, but this anxiety thing is not fun.
Now, I don’t usually like doing these list things, even though they are supposed to be popular with readers. The reason is that I don’t usually have a list of things that I want to write about, so I would rather write posts that interest me and then hopefully you. However, I heard a Christmas song while in Starbucks today that reminded me of a movie I have always loved. However, my wife wasn’t so enamoured with the song so I wondered what my favourite Christmas songs were.
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
My wife also hates this song (can you see a pattern here?), but even though it is basically a song about two people having an argument, it has a thread of hope from despair that I like. I also love the voice of Kirsty MacColl, she is so expressive in her singing and funny as well.
Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby
This was the song that I heard today, and though it is a good song in its own right, It will always be associated with the film National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. It is sung by the great Bing Crosby who also sung White Christmas. I think it was once voted the best Christmas song which surprised me.
I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday – Wizard
I’m not sure I would want it to be Christmas everyday, but I like this song. It always seems to get me into the Christmas spirit which after all the Christmas shopping is something I need.
Although these are three of my favourite songs, I also have a soft spot for others including Shakin Stevens, Merry Christmas Everyone and Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody. You notice I haven’t included any Cliff Richard in here!
Now, if there are any vegetarians out there, I apologise in advance, but this post is about bacon.
I have recently heard a story in the news about a national bacon shortage that was gripping the UK. I must say that I didn’t believe it, and thought that it was just fake news or someone looking to cause widespread panic. However, my initial thoughts were wrong, very wrong.
Just a couple of days later, I drove into my favourite fast food restaurant (the one with the clown), and found a frightening note taped to the drive-thru intercom. In so many words, it said that all food containing bacon wasn’t available.
After I had dried the tears from my eyes and gone through the whole gambit of emotions when mourning, I decided to go elsewhere. It struck me though how much of an affinity we have with some foods, whether it is because we have always loved them, or that we have recently discovered them.
Until such time as the bacon shortage is resolved, I will be sitting in a dark room watching bacon on my computer.
For the past two Christmases, we have somehow ended up with a kitten running around. In fact, last year we had siblings that were only a couple of months old. We thoroughly enjoyed their playing and chasing balls, but when it came time to put up the Christmas tree, things turned ugly.
Last year, we at least had the head start of being able to get the tree up and decorated. This year however, we weren’t so lucky. No sooner had we assembled the tree, then our kitten Cinnamon was climbing halfway up to get a good view of the proceedings. The lights were on and things were progressing well until the tinsel and baubles. As soon as my wife and daughter started to place them on the tree, Cinnamon stuck out a paw and flicked it off again. For every three they put up, she would flick two off.
I came back in from putting lights on our rose bush to see the two of them frantically trying to replace the baubles Cinnamon had thrown off. There was much laughing (from me) and exasperation from them.
It was at this point that one of the kittens from last year, Felix, decided to come home. When he saw the tree that he had so successfully dismantled last year, he was overcome with the need to try again. A lot bigger and now a year old, he made more of an impression on the tree than last Christmas, and was able to do far more damage.
We decided that it would be best to leave the tree for now, and start again tomorrow when they are all asleep.