Feb 28

Okay so this is the laziest of lazy-ass ways to add to my blog today, but sometimes you just have to bow and offer up the stage to someone with a good story. I was sent the following tale today, apparently posted up here in response to the question: what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Whoever this guy is, he has my sympathies: I thought my summer working as a postman was bad…

Without further ado:

“I had a sucession of crap jobs as a kid mainly to fun my weed habit. Did the usual paper rounds etc but in a dope induced year out I some how got a job at a local bacon factory. This place really was the seventh circle of hell. It reeked of death and shit and all the other workers were like some Mike Leigh/Ken Loach nightmares. As if all this wasnt bad enough my actual job was to stand in line on a conveyor belt for 8 hours at a time wearing a white boiler suit holding a mecanised circular razor (looked like a magnifying glass) whilst sides of pork wizzed past. My role was to grab the mobile pork and shave of its nipples at a frantic pace which caused them to ping off in all directions often into my eyes and mouth – kind of like Pac-man but with cold dead pig tits. This went on for an entire summer, however I still eat bacon.”

The strange this is that when I read “cold, dead pig tits” I imagined it in Charlton Heston’s accent. The line he’s been waiting for all his life, perhaps?

Puerile, I know. Childish. I promise less dead pig appendages in future. Interesting question though: anyone else got bad jobs in their past that would make for entertaining stories?

Feb 24

One year ago today I took my first shaky step into the world of blogging with this short little piece. Looking back at it with a year’s perspective, I can’t honestly say that I have kept up my promise – I suppose I can only keep trying on that score. Over the year I have managed about 116 entries, which averages out to about 3 a day when you do the (admittedly shaky) math. I’m happy that it hasn’t died on it’s arse, as apparently many blogs do after their first few months, but I’m conscious that I could have done better and tried to write more. Ah well, all things to do as I try to shepherd the egg to that second cake with two candles on it.

One curious note that I’ve been meaning to share for a while now is that I haven’t shared the existence of this blog with anyone I know: no friends, no colleagues, no family, not even the woman I’m going to marry know about this. Or at least if they do, they aren’t letting on. What has stopped me from telling them about it? I’ll flesh this out a little more in a day or so, but it’s a question that is starting to weigh on me more and more. After all it’s hardly fair: I write about things that happen to me, things that sometimes feature people from my life, and share it with the internet: and yet I won’t tell those same people that I’m doing so…ah well. Another ramble for another time.

One thing that blogging has taught me in the last year is to appreciate the small moments in life, and not allow my focus to be drawn to things I think are important (and if you know me from my writings, you can put the word “work” in there on your own) but really aren’t. Blogging allows us to peek over the shoulders of people from all over the world, and experience a moment in their lives through their eyes. In that regard, browsing through blogs is an awesome experience, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t always have to be about huge things. I’ve read about a mother falling in love with her daughter all over again when she smiles or shouts for Elmo on the TV. I’ve read about people going to the movies. Reminiscing about childhood. Cooking their first turkey dinner. Laughing at a silly joke. Small, unguarded, vulnerable, precious moments shared with us all, and I’d like to think I’m now paying more attention to those same moments in my own life instead of always worrying about what’s coming.

One moment is sometimes all it takes. Keep reading. I’ll have more for you.

Feb 14

Each day in February the BBC news site is commemorating that great British institution, the Public Information Film. Made to inform children about various aspects of modern life the films ranged from amusing, to cheesy, to outright chilling and they featured various celebrities (well, of the time, anyway) providing helpful hints on how not to set yourself on fire/get hit by a bus/run into an industrial grinder etc etc. Some were more effective than others, but they have a tremendous nostalgia value to them and I don’t think you’ll find an adult in Britain nowadays that doesn’t remember at least one from their childhood.

I do remember them being on TV when I was a kid, they always showed them in the ad breaks or before a favourite show came on. However I had forgotten about this one, called “Lonely Water”. Narrated by Donald Pleasance it’s a terrifying video about the dangers of messing about near water. The BBC page I just linked to has the video file on it: go have a look, but make sure you have the light on. This film was definitely made with a “terrify the little bastards into obeying” mentality.

By way of an explanation of todays title, every time I watch Alien (a film that still scares the bejabbers out of me now as much as it did when I first saw it as a mere slip of a boy) I like to watch some Next Generation immediately after. What can I say? I just find Jean-Luc Picard intensely reassuring. He’s nice, calm, would give you tea and he has a ship with enough guns to level a planet. Take that you facehugging, acid spitting bastards! *ahem* Anyway suffice to say, mister Pleasance’s turn as the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water seems to have had a similar effect.

And yes, I am a wuss.

Feb 12

One of my Christmas presents was a book called 2005: Blogged – Dispatches from the blogosphere. Basically a collection of posts from various blogs, put together in anthology form to create a review of the year, the book collects some fine writing from various sources and is a brilliant read. As I work my way through it I’m constantly amazed at the level of sheer talent out there: expect my list of blogs to the right to undergo some serious expansion in the days to come. If you have time and are so minded, I’d recommend you check it out…and this time, at least, the alien didn’t do it.

Feb 07

I’m just about to the end of a book called “Judas Unchained”, the second part of Peter F Hamilton’s epic “Commonwealth Saga”. Almost two thousand pages, five or six main story threads running concurrently and a nicely building mystery about to be solved…and I spoil it for myself.

There I was in bed (steady now) reading and I put the book down for a moment. This being my luck we’re talking about here the damn thing slipped and fell open at a crucial page and before I could stop myself, I had read a big spoiler. Seriously, if I were Martin Sheen I’d be calling it a yeeeuuuge spoiler. Then I couldn’t stop myself – I read the whole page and pretty much gutted the aforementioned mystery that I just spent 1500 pages getting into.

Damn my internal spoiler addict. Damn you to hell!

Feb 01

Tonight, I’m going to try something new with my blog. Instead of the usual rants, whines, shouts and moans, I’m going to try to use it as a means to introduce something into my life. One of my main regrets about 2005 was that I felt I didn’t learn enough. I didn’t feel that at any point in the year I had really pushed myself or extended my boundaries in any meaningful direction. Well, enough’s enough – this year I want to try something new. I want a new hobby.

That’s where you come in – I want any readers I might have to suggest hobbies or pastimes from their own experiences and I will pick one to try out. One simple requirement: that it be something you have enjoyed, and that it be something that won’t cost me the earth to try out (okay, two simple requirements, but hey it’s my blog and I’ll miscount if I want to). Sorry if that pisses off any international playboys or dotcom millionaires that might check this blog out, but I’m a boy on a budget and I got me a wedding to pay for later in the year, so I can’t suddenly splash out on a jetski, a fighter jet or an account at a high-price casino.

So what do you do to enjoy your free time? What would you pass on to me as an enjoyable hobby? I’m open to any suggestions: I promise that whatever I pick, I’ll give it a try. If you’re feeling generous, then pass this request on to anyone you think might be interested. Carry it in your own blogs. Devote some keystrokes to finding me a new hobby and expanding my horizons. Show me the wider world that’s out there, and prove to me it’s filled with kind people willing to help!

Oh, and try to make whatever you suggest legal. Okay, so it was three requirements in total at the end of the day. Don’t suggest that I take up maths class.