Blog Habits

Now that Christmas is well and truly over, and the unadulterated gluttony of the festive season is but a fond memory, everyone appears to be making the same mistake they made this time last year (and the year before that): trying to better themselves.

Very rarely do we stick to our New Year’s Resolutions, unless we set our targets extremely low (for example, I could vow to avoid eating tuna for a whole year, but bearing in mind the mere thought of it makes me want to retch, it’s hardly worth the gesture), and unless the resolution is something meaningful, well, what’s the point?

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Don’t get me wrong, if you have personally set yourself the challenge of losing weight, or giving up smoking, or learning a new language this year, then fair play, I hope you achieve your goals, but experience tell us that the majority will fail long before Easter.

For this reason, it seems many people are being drawn towards month-long gestures of betterment instead, led by a number of different charities up and down the country.

In recent years, we have seen the growth of campaigns like ‘dry January’ (which, having just checked online, now appears to have been adopted – rather appropriately – by Alcohol Change UK, although I’m certain it wasn’t their idea in the first place), but research indicates that a one month change to your alcohol intake has limited health benefits (particularly if you then spend the whole of February pissed to make up for it), and a more long-term alteration to your drinking habits is required.

Whilst I am all for these events in aid of charity, it seems you could now go through an entire calendar year of giving something different up each month, and the nation runs the risk of being swamped with novelty gestures – with the result that they could lose some meaning and significance.

For example, in just this opening month of the year, we Brits can choose to give up booze for ‘Dry January’; all meat, fish and animal products for ‘Veganuary’; and now women are being encouraged to stop shaving their body hair for ‘Januhairy’ (to name but three). As if January wasn’t depressing enough as it is, I’m now expected to make it through to February without any alcohol or meat, while married to Chewbacca*? No thanks.

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*for the record (because I value my genitals) my wife isn’t taking part in Januhairy, and even if she did, I’m sure she wouldn’t have that much body hair, and would still look lovely.

Anyway, that’s just January. We have eleven more months of this shit to get through.

My wife and children informed me the other day that our family will be taking part in ‘Dechox’ next month, which is the abstaining of all chocolate consumption for the whole of February in aid of the British Heart Foundation, and whilst they did say I didn’t have to join them (it is my birthday next month, after all), I have chosen to participate for a few reasons:

  1. I love a bit of chocolate, but feel I can realistically give it up for 28 days without too much trouble;
  2. I would far sooner give up chocolate throughout my birthday month than, say, alcohol (I don’t drink heavily, and not at all during the week, but turning 39 is going to require more than just a glass of wine or two, if I am to going to endure getting older without crying);
  3. The fact that the boys have agreed to take part makes me a very proud father; not least because Isaac, in particular, loves chocolate more than he loves me.

In truth, I don’t think either child fully understands the implications of going an entire month without any chocolate whatsoever; because I have since had to explain that this means no Jaffa Cakes for Isaac (he cried), and Ollie won’t be allowed brownies for dessert when we go out for my birthday meal (his immediate expression was very much one of ‘What the fuck have I agreed to?’)

Still, we have vowed to take part as a family, and complete the month we shall, because it is all for a very good cause: punishing Isaac (oh, yeah, and the British Heart Foundation).

That said, I do feel that some charities are perhaps jumping on the bandwagon slightly, and whilst I cannot deny their intentions are honourable, certain campaigns do strike me as, well, a bit shit frankly. For example (and because I would not want to upset any UK charities who may happen to read this), America is currently in the midst of ‘Walk Your Dog for January’. Now, call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t most responsible dog owners be walking their pet every month? What’s next, Feed Your Cat for February? Don’t Kick Squirrels for September?

Anyway, because the situation with these ‘novelty months’ is – in my opinion – getting a bit silly, and since I do enjoy a bit of silliness (you may have noticed), I have decided to come up with my own twelve-month plan for the year, in addition to the current Dechox the family and I will be embarking on next month. Feel free to join me for any or all of the following, should you so wish.

‘Jamuary’

I shall be giving up all jam products this month (including doughnuts and cream teas), to raise awareness of underpaid fruit pickers on their ‘gap yah’ from studying the History of Art.

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‘Webuary’

I can’t give up the internet, as I have a weekly online blog to write, but I can promise not to kill any spiders for the whole month (on top of giving up chocolate for ‘Dechox’), which will really piss the wife off, since she hates the hairy little bastards (which is also how we refer to Isaac sometimes).

‘Starch for March’

I originally contemplated omitting all starchy foods from my diet, but then I Googled ‘What food has starch in?’ and, frankly, there’s not a fucking chance. So, because little else rhymes with ‘March’, I have decided to only eat complex carbohydrates for the entire month, in a sort of low-budget Super Size Me remake. In hindsight, I could have just ‘marched’ everywhere, but my commute is a fifty mile round trip, so that’s not an option either.

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‘April Showers’

I shall be giving up all bathing and personal hygiene for the month of April, to save water in aid of Africa (wildly generic, I know, but I’m sticking with it). I would like to place on record that I am personally hoping for an unseasonably inclement April, because if it does start to heat up ready for a glorious summer, I will become highly unpopular (well, more unpopular) at work.

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‘Theresa May’

Throughout May, I shall dress as our Prime Minister and insist on being called ‘Theresa’. Bearing in mind both our boys have their birthday in May, and we have just booked a short city break as a family, this could prove interesting. I am also very aware that Mrs May is not exactly popular of late (or ever), and I may need to hire a bodyguard. Hopefully I can dance my way out of any potentially volatile situations, with some of her signature moves.

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‘No Prune in June’

Rather self-explanatory, I suppose, although I should reveal that I don’t like prunes, and cannot remember the last time I ate one. Essentially, I have decided to give myself an easier month in June, having giving up bathing and then dressing as an elderly crone in the two months prior.

‘Pie July’

To make up for going entirely without prunes the month before (yes, I am well aware that I have just admitted this isn’t really a sacrifice), I will be rewarding myself in July by eating at least one pie per day. To promote a balanced diet, I will try to alternate between meat and fruit fillings.

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‘Auguffs’

I was struggling with an idea for August, so my wife has suggested ‘Auguffs’ – an entire month without breaking wind. To be honest, this one might be my toughest challenge yet.

‘Selltember’

On the basis my wife usually commences Christmas shopping around this time of the year, I vow to sell one item from the house every day throughout the month, to make space for the imminent invasion of toys. I can’t promise any of the items sold will belong to me, however, and a fair proportion of my wife’s shoe collection may mysteriously vanish (as revenge for ‘Auguffs’, and for dismissing my original ‘Sextember’ suggestion).

‘Frocktober’

Not content with spending May disguised as our wizened Prime Minister, I shall once again be embracing my cross-dressing curiosity, by only wearing frocks. Interestingly, this was my wife’s suggestion for the month, which I think says more about her than it does me.

‘Mowvember’

To save electricity, and therefore the planet, I will refrain from mowing our garden for the penultimate month. Admittedly, grass doesn’t tend to grow much by this stage of the year, and in fact ours doesn’t grow at all as we have an artificial lawn, but I think the gesture will be well received.

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‘Deafcember’

To raise awareness of local and national deaf charities, I will spend the final month of the year ignoring anything anyone says to me (my wife believes I am well practiced at this, as I apparently ignore most of our conversations already).

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Feel free to drop me a line if you take part in any of my campaigns, by e-mailing the following address: thisisalljustajoke@middlerageddad.co.uk.

Thanks for reading x

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GroundBlog Day

31st December 2016 – 23:32

Happy New Year everyone! Well, nearly.

I’m starting this week’s entry, which is all about New Year’s Resolutions, shortly before the utter shitastrophe that was 2016 comes to an end. As I sit here, on my own (Isaac spent an hour-and-a-half in his own bed, before waking and demanding that my wife accompany him to ours instead – affording him plenty of time to adopt his now signature ‘kicking Daddy in the squishy bits’ pose, ready for my arrival), I have a little time to reflect on this year, before the next one starts.

To honour the occasion, I have opened our drinks cabinet in search of something suitably celebratory, since the large bottle of Budweiser in the fridge seemed a tad crass, and I’ll never get through enough of a bottle of wine, to justify opening one at this late hour.

To my delight, hidden among the whisky (too strong), champagne (too extravagant, especially when drinking alone in your pants), and Baileys (too, well, Baileys), I discovered a half open bottle of special reserve port. Perfect.

This joy was short-lived, however, as it turns out my knowledge of port is only slightly greater than my knowledge of, say, quantum-physics, or women. See, I was under the impression that port doesn’t tend to go off once opened, but I now realise that this only applies to certain types of port. What I apparently have here, is very much of the ‘goes off, then tastes like feet’ variety.

Why don’t they put that on the label? Surely a quick ‘don’t leave this until New Year’s Eve 2016’ wouldn’t hurt? In fact, I would go so far as to suggest this would probably improve sales, as middle-class people would quaff it quicker, if they knew it would perish once opened.

Then again, middle-class people probably already know that this particular port goes off, whereas plebs like me, who get given a bottle as a gift – and then gently work their way through it over the next decade – aren’t their target audience.

I was about to give up and open the Budweiser, when I spotted a long forgotten gift-set hiding at the back of the cabinet, containing three miniatures of port instead. Not only were they unopened, but a hasty Google search revealed they are all in the ‘this shit’ll last for years’ category. I am pleased to report that, having taken my first hesitant sip, they are indeed much more palatable – and distinctly less feety.

Crap, it’s 11.58pm. Have I really been writing about port for twenty-five minutes? I best get Big Ben on, ready for the fireworks. Bear with me…..

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1st January 2017 – 00:15

Ok, it’s now 12:15am – so, more officially this time, Happy New Year!

The London fireworks are always very impressive, but I can’t help thinking the exorbitant amount of money spent on them, could be put to better use – perhaps by funding the NHS for another 3-5 years, for example?

Robbie Williams is on now. Insufferable git. If he got paid for every word he actually sang, rather than getting the crowd to sing for him (while he struts up and down the stage, like a piss-poor Mick Jagger tribute), he’d have less money than me.

Where the hell was I? Oh, yes, New Year’s Resolutions. I think, considering I’ve strayed so far off topic, and even though I can assure you I am not drunk in the slightest, I might resume this entry when I’m a little more coherent.

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2nd January 2017

I genuinely wasn’t drunk when I typed those opening paragraphs – although I did discover a rather unfortunate ‘port sediment’ in my mouth, when I brushed my teeth before bed. For a few, harrowing seconds, as thick, dark-red gloop appeared on my toothbrush, I did fear that it was the end, but it turned out to merely be the aftermath of my unfortunate choice of drink earlier that evening.

Anyway, back on track. I’ve been giving some thought to New Year’s Resolutions, and whether I should break my personal tradition of not setting any, but so far I’m undecided. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment of trying to better oneself, by altering one or two aspects of your lifestyle, but the only thing I can be certain of, is that whatever target I set, it will be ditched by mid-March at the latest.

To my shame, I am not very resolute when it comes to resolutions, and that rather defeats the object. I have very little will-power or commitment when it comes to anything other than devouring chocolate Hobnobs. If there was a New Year’s Resolution which only required adherence until Easter, I could probably manage that, but sticking with something for a whole year is, to be frank, beyond me.

So, if I am unable (or, at least, unwilling) to alter the time over which I must adopt my new regime, perhaps I can select a New Year’s Resolution which doesn’t take much effort on my part to complete? It must still be something that improves my life, or those around me, so it can’t be anything as basic as ‘I will always wear matching socks’ (as I will anyway), or something as pointless as ‘I won’t eat tuna for the whole year’ (I fucking hate tuna), but so far I’ve not been able to think of anything.

For inspiration, I’ve decided to check out the ten most popular resolutions for 2017 (according to www.statisticbrain.com):

1. Lose Weight

No surprises here, as losing weight/getting healthy was always going to be the favoured choice among Brits. We’re obsessed with gorging ourselves throughout December, then immediately switching to nothing but water and celery in January.

It’s bullshit, it’ll never work, and I’ll never stick to it for a whole twelve months. Even if I did, the vicious cycle of life would ensure that I put all the weight back on next December, so I’d be in the same predicament this time next year.

I may try to shed a few pounds from the gut region, but losing weight permanently just isn’t for me. I’d rather be happy and increasingly rotund, even if that means I can see less and less of my penis when I look down in the shower.

2. Getting Organised

Tough one this. I’m quite an organised person anyway, so unless it means de-cluttering at home, I’m already there. And, if it does mean de-cluttering at home, my wife is far better than I am at sorting through junk, so I might as well set my resolution to ‘go to the tip when she tells me to’.

3. Spend Less, Save More

Sounds great in principle, but I’ve never been an extravagant spender anyway, and have always been quite good at saving. That said, we’ve already decided not to holiday abroad this year (due to a combination of now having to pay for Isaac on flights, and the fact that last time we went abroad, the boys behaved like rabid chimps), so I’ll tick this one off my list.

4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest

And how, might I ask, am I meant to do that, if I’m supposedly spending less? I can hardly travel the world (unless I do it solely by hitchhiking, but I think we can all agree I would be trucker-fodder within a week). Nope, I’ll stick with enjoying my life in moderation, ta very much. At least until the kids both leave home.

5. Staying Fit and Healthy

I can’t stay fit, if I’m not fit to begin with. This should be ‘get fit, then stay that way’. I am, however, going to try running again.

I don’t mean that in the sense of ‘I tried it once, and was shit at it’, because running is relatively easy to comprehend (‘I honestly don’t know what happened. I tried to run, but after jumping up and down twice, and then spinning on the spot for three mintes, I skipped straight into a ditch’), more that I used to run, but had to give up due to injury. Essentially, I now have the lower back and knees of an osteoporotic pensioner.

6. Learn Something Exciting

Now, does this mean learning a new skill, such as a musical instrument or foreign language, or just finding out something exciting? If the latter, I’m not sure I have any control over that.

Perhaps one of my readers can e-mail me something exciting that I don’t know about? I suspect it’s the former though, in which case I don’t have the time, the patience, the inclination, or the money (I’m spending less, remember?).

7. Quit Smoking

Easy. Never have smoked, never will.

Having said that, the resolution does specify that I must quit smoking, so ideally I need to start smoking, then quit later on.

Maybe this can be my ‘learn something exciting’? I could learn to smoke one month, then quit the next. Two birds, one stone, and all that.

8. Help Others in Their Dreams

What utter bollocks. Aside from my inherent dislike of most other people, I have no control over their dreams whatsoever. I’m not the fucking BFG. If some poor sod is dreaming about being chased by a psychopath, what I am supposed to do?

I guess I could help someone overcome a bad dream, but that would entail breaking into various bedrooms, and hoping I discover someone thrashing around in a cold sweat, mid-nightmare. The odds are against me, and even assuming I did find someone unconsciously suffering, I’m not sure them waking to find me looming over their bed will help. In fact, I would go so far as to say it might make matters worse.

Oh, hang on, I see what they mean now. Help others to achieve their dreams. Nope. If I’m not achieving mine, I’m certainly not assisting others. Unless they’re a lingerie model, and their dream is to sleep with a tall solicitor.

9. Fall in Love

Not sure what my wife would have to say about this one. Then again, she’s probably still angry from the end of the last one. Pass.

10. Spend More Time with Family

I spend most of my spare time with my family anyway, so unless I quit my job and follow them around all day, I’m not sure I can do much more to achieve this. Besides, I’m pretty certain most of them don’t like me.

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That settles it then. I’ll have to set my alarm for 5:00am every morning, then hang around waiting for my wife or one of the boys to have a nightmare, so that I can wake and console them. I’ll then go for an early morning run, followed by breakfast of a few cigarettes (I’m on a diet).

I won’t need to go to work, as I’ll quit my job in order to spend more time with my family, and because I’m no longer earning, I’ll also need to spend less. What little money I do have, will be going on my guitar and Spanish lessons, but I’ll only do these once a week, so I’m not away from the family for long.

Hopefully, either my guitar or Spanish teacher will be attractive, so I can fall in love.

Bring it on, 2017.

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A Blog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Happy New Year everyone!

Exactly one year ago today, I entered the world of blogging, and I have to say it is one of the best things I have ever done.

That doesn’t mean that I think my blog is great, far from it in fact, but it has certainly been one of the most enjoyable projects I have undertaken in my 35 (soon to be 36) years on this planet.

I’ve always loved writing, ever since school, and it remains one of my ambitions to one day write a book. Unfortunately, while I strongly believe that I have the determination and patience to see it through (and, in some respects, persevering with this blog for a year has proved me right), I currently have no clue what the book could be about.

Non-fiction is probably out of the question. The only subject I really know enough about is me and my life, and who in their right mind would want to read that? Ok, I know that’s essentially what this blog is, but it’s a big jump from getting a few people to read your weekly rants, to publishing an autobiography when you’re not famous.

So, fiction it is then. In particular, I’ve decided I would ideally like to write for children or young adults, but at the moment I am entirely bereft of any original and exciting ideas to help me get started. I’ve sat and thought about it quite a lot, but nothing is jumping out at me. In desperation, I recently turned to Ollie for guidance (as he currently enjoys reading the likes of Roald Dahl and David Walliams – whose style is very similar, if not quite as good), to see what he thought Daddy’s book should be about.

Sadly, his first suggestion, which was of a boy who wins a competition to go to a chocolate factory, rang some plagiaristic alarm bells in my head, and when I dismissed this idea and his next words were “Ok, there’s this school for wizards…..” I decided it was best to ignore his advice if I wanted to avoid any legal entanglements. Bless him though, he tried.

I’m determined to do it though. Just one good idea, and I’ll sit down and write a book. Even if, like this blog, the full audience doesn’t get past the hundreds, I would still have an enormous sense of achievement in having seen it through to completion.

For now, though, while that one brilliant idea continues to elude me, I’m more than happy to continue blogging.

I know I will eventually run out of stuff to write about, or start repeating myself as the senility sets in, but I would hope that I have the good sense to call it a day long before that happens. I did contemplate whether I should stop at the end of last year, in case it became tedious – both for me to put together, and for people to read – but if I ever get close to it becoming a chore, or literally no one is reading, I’ll call it a day.

It might be that I post less frequently in the future, but I still have some things I want to get off my chest, and life is always bound to throw something shitty in my direction, that I can have a little rant about in-between.

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(3 weeks later)

Ok, I wrote those opening paragraphs on 15th December (yes, I know I said ‘Happy New Year’, but I was planning ahead, ok?), and when I referred to life throwing something ‘shitty’ my way, I didn’t for one second suspect it would be actual shit.

You see, I had every intention of finishing off this entry by explaining my plans, hopes and dreams for 2016, and even though I knew my first week back at work would be busy, I was confident of finding some spare time in my lunch breaks to put the finishing touches.

Unfortunately, this plan (and, indeed, the first half of my week) was thrown into disarray in the early hours of Monday morning, when I was paid a visit by the ‘brown rain’.

I won’t go into detail, as you might be eating whilst reading this, but suffice it to say that, at approximately 5am on Monday morning, I awoke with a terrible stomach ache. I had been fine when I had gone to bed shortly after midnight, but I was now in agony. Thinking I was going to be sick, I dashed to the bathroom and knelt in prayer to the porcelain king, begging his forgiveness.

However, I quickly realised (almost too late), that the contents of my stomach would be making their exit via an alternative route, and I managed to get from kneeling to sitting in the nick of time.

Indeed, such was the violent force and velocity with which my body carried out Operation ‘Evacuate Stomach’, I promptly passed out on the bathroom floor. New low.

Over the course of the next few hours, this routine was replayed numerous times, and it became abundantly clear that I would not be going into work that day – my first day back after Christmas.

I therefore spent most of Monday in bed, unable to eat anything and extremely weak, and although I was back at work on Tuesday, the additional backlog (poor choice of words in the circumstances) of post and e-mails, was even worse than normal, thanks to my unexpected extra day of ‘holiday’.

As such, I have been working through my lunch breaks to try and catch up, rather than enjoying a bit of light blogging over a sandwich or Greggs pasty, and I therefore have very little else to offer you this week.

Fear not, normal service should be resumed shortly, both in terms of blogging and my bowels (note to self: Blogging and Bowels as a possible idea for autobiography one day), and I appreciate your understanding at this time.

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