Art, Film Review, life, lists, Live music review, Music, Uncategorized

My Cultural 2017

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After a pretty dull and devastating 2016 I became determined to make 2017 more interesting and engage myself with human life.  So far so good

I have been fortunate to meet a new and good friend this year via my yoga class; a woman, 12 years younger than me, just out of a 12 year same-sex relationship.  We’ve been great for each other and I’ve even found myself, recently, sitting in pubs on a Friday night with a group of men talking drunken nonsense and frankly enjoying it.  I’ve always been quite shy and introverted sitting in groups of other men, finding myself becoming detached and uninterested but now I think, what the hell, and join in, contributing my own slant and opinion on completely unimportant matters.

I’ve been on 2 dates; one in a new town to me; Hebden Bridge and the other in a beautiful old pub in Manchester called The Marble Arch Inn.  Nothing came of either but I’m feeling better for getting out there again.

At the start of 2017 I made a resolution to myself to visit the cinema at least once a month and read at least one book per month.  Progress is encouraging.  Not only have I made six visits to the cinema already this year I’ve been watching more films on the TV; here is my list to date:

Julieta (Cinema)

Whiplash (TV)

Deadpool (TV)

The Survivalist (TV)

La La Land (Cinema)

Venus In Fur (TV)

A Serious Man (TV)

T2 Trainspotting (Cinema)

Hail, Caesar (TV)

Fargo (TV)

Toni Erdmann (Cinema)

Raging Bull (TV)

Jackie (Cinema)

Moonlight (Cinema)

I’m on course with my books too, with 3 completed so far and a fourth on the go.  The first book read in 2017 (or rather finished after staring it in 2016) was Peter Ackroyd’s Rebellion, a book I was inspired to read after visiting The Houses Of Parliament in London last year.  After watching Paulo Almodovar’s excellent film Julieta, I then embarked on the series of short stories which inspired the film; Runaway by Alice Munro.  That was followed by John Hopper’s The Italians and now I’m reading The Lonely City by Olivia Laing.  The Italians satisfied my taste for all things Italian and Olivia Laing’s part autobiography, part biography helps me come to terms with the loneliness and feelings of being alone I have sporadically felt since I separated in 2014.

BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 4 are my constant companions; the former for great music the latter for excellent political commentary; ‘that talking shit‘, as my ex used to describe it.  6Music continues to be a great source for discovering new music and this year I saw the outrageous Cabbage in Liverpool and Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation at The Soup Kitchen, Manchester.  Honeyblood, Blue Oyster Cult and Radiohead already booked for this year and mustn’t forget Austra later this month.

When I’m at one of my yoga classes I often get asked what I’m up to and we talk about places visited, gigs attended, films watched.  People say I should write a blog about my ‘interesting’ lifestyle.  Funny, I don’t consider my lifestyle interesting.  Like social media, for every photograph we post of ourselves in smiling posture for the camera there are umpteen moments of boredom, ennui, trivia and outright dullness.  That’s pretty much how I would describe my life currently.  I envy those in relationships talking about their holidays and trips they’ve made with partners or friends. It makes me realise my life is not complete because I don’t have the intimate contact of a partner or lover.

I separated from my 2nd wife in April 2014 and last year discovered the guy she was having an affair with was my next door neighbour’s son.  It was a seriously devastating discovery which had a profound effect on my mental and physical health.  The next door neighbour thankfully moved house in January so that perpetual reminder is no longer in proximity and my pursuits in 2017 are have helped put that distraction behind me (again).  But what I have learned is that no relationship is better than a bad relationship.  I deeply regret ending my all too brief relationship with MFM in April 2015 but there is no mileage in believing half-hearted physical intimacy is a substitute for a mutually loving relationship; for me anyway.

life, relationships

St Valentine’s Day Blues

If you’re in love, great!  You have my best wishes, you don’t know how lucky you are.

The last time I was truly in love on a February 14th was in 2013 when my marriage to C was strong.  Twelve months later it was faltering, 14 months later we separated.

That was 2014, it’s two years on and I’m pretty much over it now.  I wish we hadn’t separated but we have; she now lives elsewhere with a child from another man, I no longer wish to be with her.

So, moving on, things should be better, they should be good.  Well no, they aren’t .  Not at the moment anyway.

For me, 2015, after a dreadful 2014, began with renewed optimism and a determination to get out of the funk of my failed marriage and move on.  I was on dating websites and actively pursued dates.  Things started ok and by the end of March I met the wonderful M who I utterly adored.  We would meet on Saturday afternoons in her home town of Manchester, drink, talk, laugh, mooch around and be great company for each other.  Then at 8.45pm I would have to catch the last train home and she would catch a bus home.  After all, our respective children needed to be looked after.  We had our moments, we were good for each other but living 50 miles apart presented its own problems.

In April last year, me very senior lady boss texted me and asked to meet.  We met.  She was leaving her partner although still living with him at the time but their relationship was breaking down and there was DV involved.  She pursued me, vigorously.  She was/is attractive, successful, solvent.  She did nice things for me, paid for me, bought me presents, we liked each other, we laughed and the great thing was, she was local.

I stopped seeing M.  That was difficult. LB was going through a tough time and liked a drink.  Liked a drink a little too much.  It was too much for me; I began to question whether I had made a mistake with M and found I couldn’t cope with LB’s super-charged emotional state.  I stopped seeing her; for a couple of weeks anyway.  Then we tried again.  She moved out, worked hard and drank hard.  I didn’t fare well with it and called it off.  I told her this wasn’t our time, that she had to well and truly move out, find her own place, move in with her kid.  I told her she should begin to love herself again, be content with her life and start again.  The way things were, LB was in a classic rebound situation.

In July 2015 my first line manager announced he was leaving the company.  I went to see LB and her boss and asked for the job.  I, along with 5 other internal employees was interviewed by my first line manager and an independent manager.  LB deliberately did not get involved with the recruitment process.  I got the job.

LB suddenly became my new first line manager, I felt we needed to rebuild our bridge.  We went out, chatted, drank in moderation and had fun.  It felt natural, normal and right for us to get back together, so we did.  I was still not 100% certain but after we made a couple of mundane trips out together I found myself really enjoying her company.  She had by now bought her own house, moved her kids in, cut the drinking down, was exercising and looked great.

Then, after about 6 weeks of me being in the role the rumours began.  The whispers; I had only got the job because I was sleeping with LB; people felt uncomfortable speaking in my presence in case it got back to LB.  I told LB about this and she called off the relationship immediately.  That was the end of September 2015, it’s now February.  What makes the situation worse is that my position is on a 6 month temporary contract so within the next couple of months I should know whether I have the job permanently.  In the meantime, LB cannot be seen to allow any decision she makes to be compromised by accusations of bias by being in a relationship with me.  She reports to some very senior people who hold the power.

I hold out the hope that I WILL get the job and LB and I WILL get back together.  But I don’t know, it has become a taboo subject.  And you know what?  It is utterly unfair.  I have been widowed and I have had a wife leave me but because of rumour, innuendo and jealousy(?) I cannot be with the woman I want to be with.

It feels like being in a movie but movies only last a couple of hours, this is lasting for months with the ending unknown to the cast.

And that is why I sit alone on St Valentine’s Day.  Frustrated and a annoyed.  I hope I get the job, I hope LB and I get back together.  I could date someone else but I can’t.  As someone said, first I need to mend it or end it.  Still waiting.

life

Monday Morning

It’s Monday morning I wake at 4.52am.  I make the cardinal error of checking my iPhone – a habit.  I check match.com then I check POF followed by Guardian Soulmates.  I put the phone down in the dark.  I get up to pee, go back to bed. I lie awake for a bit until something mildly stress inducing crosses my mind.  I hastily grab my phone and check Facebook.  The mildly stressful thought disappears.  I lie awake.

The alarm goes of at 6.42am, also on my iPhone.  I get out of bed, it’s fairly mild because the central heating has been on since 6.28am and the temperature outside is about 10 degrees C.  I pee, sitting down. I have a Prince Albert it saves making a mess on the floor. I grab my dressing gown out of my bedroom and wake up my son.  He stays in bed.  I go downstairs into the kitchen, put water into the kettle and switch it on.  I pour 2 glasses of orange juice and take my son’s into the lounge with a multi-vitamin pill and an Omega 3 enriched capsule.  I leave them on the coffee table.  The kettle has boiled, I pour boiling water onto my tea-bag inside my mug.  I drink my orange juice and make him a bowl of coco-pops.  They go into the lounge too and on my way back into the kitchen I give him a shout; he won’t get up yet.

BBC6 Music is on the radio and a DJ who’s name I can’t remember hands over at 7am to Sean Keaveney.  The Smiths are on.  I extract my tea-bag, throw it into the recycling bin outside, pour milk into the tea just in time for the toaster to pop.  I put the crumpets back in for an extra minute and grab some spread and marmite. Up pop the crumpets for a second time I spread spread and marmite on them, sit down at the breakfast bar and eat while simultaneously checking all the sites I checked overnight on my iPhone.

I put the dishes into the dishwasher and make my son’s lunch – a chicken sandwich, a small chocolate bar, an apple and a small carton of orange juice.  His lunch goes into his lunchbox the lunchbox goes into the fridge.  I drink my tea.  I make my lunch; humus sandwich with tomato and celery today.  It goes into the fridge also, I finish my cup of tea and put the empty mug in the dishwasher.  I go upstairs, turn my son’s light on and suggest he gets up.

I brush my teeth in my underpants and socks, remove them, turn on the shower and after the water has warmed, I shower myself, all over, after removing the socks and underpants first and place them in the dirty washing basket.  After drying myself I put on a fresh pair of socks and underpants and dry shave my face.  I tip the residue beard from the electric razor out of the window and disturb the starling nesting in my eaves.  I moisturise with Nivea cream.  My son is downstairs, I turn his bedroom light off and go into my bedroom. He comes upstairs and goes into the bathroom.  I dress. Trousers, shirt, tie. I decide to fasten my top button.  I don’t usually do that but it’s a new habit; it reminds me of Escape To Alcatraz.  Looks smarter with a tie.  I don’t wear a suit or jacket, just a navy blue pullover.  On go the shoes.

Put on my watch and ID badge, go downstairs.  Put my lunch into my bag and put the bag into the boot of my car.  Make sure the dishwasher is full and put it on, timed to start in 3 hours, for no particular reason.  My son needs £7.00 for a bus pass, I don’t have it, I’ll pay him back.  I check the back door is locked and I check upstairs the windows are closed and lights are off.  I put my iPad on charge, grab my wallet, put my coat on and put my phone in my pocket.  I find my keys.  I exchange banter with my son and fetch him the back door key.  We exit the house together. I unlock the car, he gets inside, I lock the front door and get in the car.  It’s windy.

I drop him off at the bus stop, we kiss.  A school girl arrives full of smiles in his direction.  I smile and drive to work.  I arrive at work at 7.55am.

life, Uncategorized

Filthy Lucre

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

It’s an oft repeated quote by Mr Micawber from the oft read book David Copperfield which I finally got round to completing last year. I find it very apt because no matter how hard I try I repeatedly find myself in resultant misery due to month on month over expenditure. I sat down with my Moleskine (an extravagant purchase?) last night and listed all my regular monthly outgoings.

Here’s the list:

YMCA Junior Football Club Subscription – £16.00
TV License – £12.12
Home Insurance – £37.74
Son’s School Bus Pass – £44.50
Mortgage – £109.08
Sky TV/Phone/Broadband – £111.02
Loan – £179.38
Bank Charges – £6.00
Life Policy – £35.40
Water – £37.07
Electricity – £40.00
Gas – £82.00
Spotify Premium – £9.99
Mobile Phone Subscription – £34.00
Contents Insurance – £15.76
Gas Service Charge – £20.11
Car Lease – £151.99
Council Tax – £136.00

Total = £1078.16

This total represents 65% of my monthly income although in May I make my final mortgage payment so that’s a reduction in outgoings of £109.08. My wife pays for all the food that comes into the house for our family of 4 (as well as my gym subscription). I’ve looked at this list and wondered where I can make savings. Perhaps looking for new insurance providers, cancelling my landline phone or even reducing my Sky package – but I would miss the football (why do I have to pay for so much crap from Sky before I get what I really want – the football or soccer for the benefit of my American readers?)
The rest goes on an allowance for my son, petrol amd mostly other miscellaneous spends which I don’t really plan for but tend to be made on impulse. The loan is going to last for approximately another 5 years after I finally decided to consolidate my credit card debts which I’d had for years but never managed to get on top of until recently.

The question is, how can I improve the quality of my life and the quality of my family life by adjusting my spending and outgoing? I’m not looking for specific answers, in fact I’m probably doing and writing this as a means of self-help to, like my debsts, consolidate my thoughts and find the solutions myself. I like travelling, near, far and wide, eating great food (which we largely do at home) and drinking great wine. I can see the Moleskine becoming a receptical for a flurry of ideas after this as the answer lises in lists, planning and not being lazy. The first list is what lies above, the second one will be the plan for the next adventure!

life

On becoming 50

On 15th April 1963 I emerged into the world by the hand of nurse Murray in the Parish of Keyworth in the house where my parents still live today on Laurel Avenue, Nottinghamshire. Dr Annesley pronounced me a boy and the boy is now me fifty years on. Well, at the time of writing, 50 years and 2 days…I’ve been busy! I don’t really feel like I’ve got to this age and done anything particularly profound, I haven’t achieved anything of worth either academically or career-wise and if I’m being honest with myself I’ve made a succession of wrong choices at some of the most pivotal times of my life prompted by laziness, indecision, fear, procrastination and ignorance. I am not by any means dissatisfied with where I am now because with my son, wife and family I am quite content and do what I can for them. However, as a teenager I had no specific vision of where I wanted to be when I grew up other than be a drummer in a rock band living out of the back of a van if it came to it but I allowed myself to be persuaded this was a non-starter and that I should strive to obtain a minimum of 5 ‘o’ levels at school and get a job. I did get 5 ‘o’ levels, failed my ‘A’ levels (I couldn’t be arsed) and ended up in office jobs dreaming of getting better educated, buying a Premier drum kit, travelling the world, moving to London etc etc without taking the slightest steps to achieve these dreams. And to this date I still do this sort of work and detest it. So much for dreams.

Of course I know in many ways my life is very good. I have a wonderful son and a loving wife – my second wife; my first wife and mother of my son died of cancer 9 years ago – and 3 super step-kids. I have a house which is paid for, a car I love and we do great stuff together like go on holidays, eat great food and love one another. But I just reached 50. I feel in fact as if I’ve reached a mid-way point. Not that I expect to live to be 100 because I would expect to be running out of faculties even if I did live that long but I rather feel that I’ve reached the end of the incline and now begin the descent into decline. Not immediate decline but a slow gradual decline which will ultimately culminate in death and whatever that brings. But for some reason I feel more optimistic now than I did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago because this is me now, this is who I am, I know and understand me now after all this time and although the opportunities are more limited to me than they were when I obtained my 5 ‘o’ levels more than 30 years ago I feel that I am sufficiently placed and confident to realise what dreams I now have or will have and achieve them. I am finally in control.

I have the Internet which is more of a guide, a source of education and inspiration than any teacher who ever taught me at school. And also, I have to be honest here, more than my parents who in spite of their loving well-meaning intentions directed me in ways that I was ill equipped to succeed in or prosper. If I had perused my own dreams of being a drummer I may well have failed but I would have failed on my terms but I allowed myself to fail on somebody else’s. Sometimes I can surprise me such as when I paid for myself to obtain an FA Coaching badge, pushed myself forward to coach a junior football team which I have noe been doing with great pleasure and (dare I say it?) success for the past 6 years. I have a blog, a Moleskine notebook a Wunderlist account and a wife who shares and inspires ambition in me to travel. When C (my wife) reaches the same aged milestone as me in December 2020, we plan to take a 12 month career break in 2021 and travel the world. I am yet hoping I do not suffer the heart attack my dad did at the age of 56 or the stroke he suffered 2 years later or the angina he developed 2 years after that or require the triple heart by-pass operation he had 2 years after that – although at 83 and in rude health he is a great advert for the National Health Service! Luckily my job is not stressful, I have not had a cigarette since my first wife’s funeral, I eat pretty well, go to the gym but do probably drink too much along with C at weekends. But travel is a wonderful goal to achieve and following our recent trip to Berlin we have so much to look forward to enjoying together because travel can be a walk down the road hand in hand or a far off journey to somewhere yet to be discovered. And my wonderful son who I can watch grow older, encourage him and nurture him to follow and peruse his dreams.

Life’s good and getting better. Here’s to the next 50 years!

 

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