Jan 26

It’s a busy time of it at work right now. It’s never quiet but for various reasons right now it’s so busy I’m starting to think I’ve slipped through some kind of dimensional tear and ended up in a West Wing universe where constant calls, emails and meetings conducted on the fly are the order of the day. The only things that are missing are the nice offices and Martin Sheen doing a good line in cool quotes and tough looks off camera.

That said, I never realised quite how busy things had got until yesterday when, just before the building closed, I checked my answerphone to be told by the electronic voice that I had “One…hundred…new messages.” That’ll teach me to let my voicemail catch my calls for a couple of days while I work through my email backlog, huh?

The story gets stranger this morning. After screwing up my courage and logging into my voicemail account, the electronic voice (think of a female version of Stephen Hawking and you’re just about there) says “You have…ninety…eight new messages.” What happened to the other two? Did the answerphone call them back? Did the cleaner, bored with her duties, decide to have a go? Do I have a voicemail guardian angel? Has some freak quirk in the system routed them somewhere else, leaving some poor sap in Venezuela to wonder what these people on his phone want? Or, more likely, have the two messages fallen forever into electronic limbo?

I mean, this system is surely the ultimate in design to combat workplace stress. Too many messages? Don’t worry kid, I’ll knock some off the top for ya. If this has been an accident on the system’s part then fine, I can live with that, but if this is a feature someone built in then they’re going to be a fucking millionaire before they’re 30, believe me.

Jan 23

I wrote this on my palmtop a few weeks back – thought it might be interesting to stick it up here and see what you think. Apologies for the longer than expected break: lots of stuff been happening, but I’m hoping to be able to get back into the swing of things a little more from now on.

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Tonight, as we sat in a café, my fiancé described me as being being a “resolutely glass half empty” sort of guy. Though she smiled as she said it, I’ll be the first to admit that it rings true for me: I am very pessimistic by nature. Which is strange because I’m luckier than most when you stop to think about it (which I’m hoping you will!). My parents love one another, I grew up happy, went to university, wanted for nothing as I grew up, had the usual crushes/disasters/successes in relationships, got a job, met my fiancé…while I have had bad things happen to me in my life (bereavement, upset, disappointment etc), on reflection the good far outweighs the bad. Like I said earlier, when you think about all the bad things in the world I’ve been remarkably fortunate to see most of them miss me.

All of which begs the question: where, in all of this largely positive life, with more going for me than not, did such a resolutely pessimistic point of view come from? Or to put it another way, why has long experience of good led me always to expect the bad?

The dime store psychotherapist in me (holding his battered copy of Gleitman’s “Basic Psychology” in one hand and his hand-written diploma, with the ink still wet, in the other) thinks it might be an expectations thing: the more my life goes okay the more I expect the other shoe to drop and for things to start going badly. Which really is, like most considered cogitations from dime store psychotherapists, a whole load of the most terrible shite when you think about it.

Another way of looking at it would be as some sort of defence mechanism: by keeping my expectations of people and situations low, it makes it more difficult for me to be let down. Or, to put it simply, if I always expect the worst, I can never be disappointed because things will always go better than I think they will. Which is fine until you consider my life to date: I’m a hell of a lot more fortunate than most and haven’t had any horrible experiences to scar my psyche and lead it to develop a defence system. Another one for the “shite” column if you ask me.

My pessimism could also be a by-product of my personality. I’m a worrier – I find it very difficult to relax, I always worry about consequences and never live in the moment. Maybe that’s where my pessimism comes from: a personality that is always thinking, never relaxing and often over-analysing things to the smallest detail. Perhaps worrying and pessimism go hand in hand: worry only comes about when you’re aware of negative consequences and it helps introduce a note of warning to an otherwise blithely unaware point of view. If that’s the case then it’s possible my lifetime of worrying has skewed my viewpoint, resulting in a pessimistic outlook: the warning light is stuck on, and now I’m stuck in the habit of only seeing the bad side of anything and anyone.

If I had the time to type them and you the endless patience to read them, I dare say I could come up with a million and one possible reasons for why I am the way I am. None of which would help me to find the real reason or to help me be in any way less pessimistic than I already am. Maybe I just need to accept that for me the glass will always be half empty…or maybe I need to take the advice of the woman I love, which boils down to one word, one single thing she thinks I need to do to start to enjoy life more: relax.

Sounds simple enough. Execution might be a little tricky though.

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Thanks for sticking with me, I really appreciate your patience. I know this place should be updated more often and I promise, I’m really going to try. Life just has a habit of getting in the way.

Jan 06

So much for my great new start to the year…I had great plans for the start of 2006. Get out more. Exercise. Update the boiled egg more often. Not resolutions exactly, but things I would like to put more emphasis on this year. All of which were sunk by a sudden cold which hit me the other day like a stealthy freight train. After a couple of nights of aches, pains, sweating, coughing and generally feeling lousy I’m almost back to normal, but I’m still taking it easy.

The interview with 2006 is coming, I’ve called her people and they’re fine with a delay so don’t worry, it’s still in the works. Until then I have an appointment with several lemsips, some cough medicine and plenty of vitamins.

Common cold? Bastard.

Jan 02

In a totally original move for this time of year I have decided to do something that no-one else will have thought of. That’s right, something that no blog, book, website, TV show, newspaper or commentator will have thought of. You saw it here first folks, the boiled egg is blazing the trail, showing the way, pointing to the future. I’m going to do a retrospective. That’s right, I’m going to have a look back at 2005 and have a bit of a think about how it went. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

I know. Take a moment to let it all sink in. The sheer originality. The boldness of the concept. The complete unadulterated beauty of a startling idea naked in the light of day, shining brighter than the sun. A retrospective blog entry in early January. I’ll bet you never even saw it coming. You might want to go get a glass of water, you’re looking pretty shocked.

All better now? Excellent. So, without any further ado, let me welcome our first guest for this evening: the year 2005.

**audience applause**

2005, what a pleasure it is to have you here. Welcome to the Boiled Egg. I think you might be the first calendar year we’ve ever had as a guest here.

Thanks, it’s really great to be here, I appreciate the invite, I really do.

And I love the decor! Very “basic blogger template” meets “too lazy to redesign” with a dash of “spartan but spacious”, I like it a lot. Kudos on all the white.

Why thank you, and may I say that while you might not be the only gregorian calendar year, I certainly think you’re the most gregarious.

*laughs and waves a hand* Oh, you. *giggles*

So, down to the business of the evening. 2005, what did you do for me?

Well, I think I did alright by you. You got engaged after all, to a pretty damn wonderful woman! What do you think ladies and gentlemen? Let’s hear it! Wooo!

**audience applause**

And that was just one of the things. During me you started this blog, spurred on by the efforts of someone you know. After his encouragement and a little dipping of your toes in the wider blogging world, you were good to go.

I’m still not too sure anyone should thank you for that one, but please go on.

Oh, you just worry that this thing is going to serve as the best argument ever for you never putting fingers to keyboard again. Mind you that’s not for me to point out, it’s down to you and my replacement. Another thing you managed to do with me is start to put work in it’s proper perspective. During my first half stress was starting to make you really miserable, wasn’t it?

I have to admit it was. I didn’t enjoy anything, felt I couldn’t get away from my work, that I was at my desk even when I wasn’t, the works. Bad times for me, now I look back on it.

Exactly, but about midway through you started to make progress. You left more and more of it behind when you left at nights. Didn’t that make a difference?

It really did. I started to enjoy things more, I relaxed more, and I got to spend more time with my partner. The sheer quality of stuff just went up for me, and I think it even helped me at work too – these days I feel a lot more focussed when I’m there. There’s still work to be done on that one, but I’m making progress.

You sure are. You started to play poker, and spent more time with your friends. You saw your brothers more, and I know how they make you happy. You watched TV, you read–

Not as much as I would have liked to.

–No, but you did make more time for it. You started to carve out a little more time for fun stuff, and that was good to see.

*laughs* Believe me, it was pretty good on my side of things too.

I suppose the main things for me were that you got engaged, you started to write more and you stopped one aspect of your life eroding the others, but there was more. You cancelled your gym membership…oh don’t blush, I’m sure we’ve all been there honey and you’ll walk off those love handles soon enough!

Yes, thank you.

Bet it’s the first time you’ve felt good about gaining fifty pounds every month eh? *giggles* You also turned 27 on my watch, leaving your mid-twenties behind you. You’re now on course for 30! You saw some bad stuff with me too – jury duty let you see some of the ugliness that can hide within some frighteningly ordinary looking people, but it also showed you that there is decency in a whole lot of others.

More important than anything else, I think during my run you gained a sense of perspective you had started to lose. You used to be a creative person, I knew that when I got your file from 2004 when I took over. I’m happy to see you’re starting to get in touch with that side of yourself again, even just a little.

*pauses for a second* Err…And there was the new Doctor Who. I gotta get some credit for that happening on my shift, surely?.

Indeed you do, but it wasn’t all about me, now was it?

Well I wasn’t going to be the one to point that out! *laughs*

You saw some pretty nasty things happen during your time in the big chair.

**quiet for a moment**

Yes, I suppose that’s true too. There were disasters and loss of life, both natural and man-made. There was ugliness, there was horror, there was loss, there was stupidity and there was fear. Some of the mistakes and mis-steps were very old and some were new. But you have to understand that I also saw that there is goodness, decency and humanity everywhere. People who can’t afford much giving money to relief agencies or charities. Basic kindness to one another. Picking up something someone has dropped. Saying “after you”. Helping someone carry something. Taking part in debate and making democracy work. Keeping in touch with a friend. Reading other people’s blogs. Giving something, anything, to others instead of just taking. Enjoying and appreciating the people we live our lives with.

From the small to the large I saw acts of compassion and integrity. I saw people stand with one another against the cold and the dark. Believe me if you focus on the negative it’s all too easy to lose site of the positive, but it does exist.

Just a matter of perspective?

In a manner of speaking, yes. All I did was have the watch, but it was you people who did all the work. Anyway, *claps hands*, there will be enough about me written in other places, and it’ll probably be a whole lot more eloquent than anything I can manage so I think I might shut up here.

Was there anything you would like to have seen happen?

I probably wouldn’t have minded a few days off! *laughs* No, things worked out the way they worked out. I got to have a few laughs and hand over to the new kid, which is pretty much all I could have asked for. I’ve enjoyed this though, as you might imagine this is a busy time for me. At least you let me sit down for our chat!

Well, thank you for your time tonight. Any news on future plans?

Well, I think I might do a comeback special next year! *laughs* No, no real plans. A few books might mention me, a few TV shows, but that’s about it for me. I’m ready to have a rest. Of course if those eggheads are right and time starts to go backwards at one point we might meet again, but I think we can say au revoir for now.

2005, thank you for your time.

*gets up to leave* And thank you hon. Bye everyone!

**audience applause**

And thank you for your time too, you’ve been a great audience. Of course, I say that to all the audiences, but you’ll never meet ’em so what’s the harm? Tune back in tomorrow, when I will be talking to the new kid on the block, 2006, and be talking about what’s in store for the year to come. Same egg channel, possibly not the same egg time.

Until then, to one and all, this is FawnDoo, reporting for the boiled egg of infinity, signing off. Goodnight.