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Gym Loser

Its not exactly a surprise that I like to start blogs at the drop of a hat.

Kingdom of Appetency was started and is now kind of … defunct.

A Wiltshire Garden was started and is now kind of … defunct.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest blog from the Flibberatic stable …

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Gym Loser is here to detail my ups, downs, successes and failures as I try to turn my health around.

I bought oat milk and chia seeds today, for chrissakes!

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Katy Brand > The Ting Tings

I like music, me.

I am also not ashamed that my taste runs toward the electropop/disco/house/dance end of things – but stops far beyond the horror that is dubstep …

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Consequently one of the websites I peruse on a regular basis is Popjustice. Recently they showcased the “comeback” video for The Ting Tings, which I’ll pop right here …

“I’m in the wrong club listening to this shit”.

Indeed.

But apart from the clear inspiration from Daft Punk’s recent album, it reminded me of this absolute gem …

For anybody not in the know, Katy Brand is an English comedian who had her own comedy sketch show a few years back which included various musical lampoonings – and the track she’s parodying specifically here is The Ting Ting’s 2008 ‘hit’ “That’s Not My Name”.

 

Money, Cash, Moolah …

As I have now been gainfully employed once again for over a week, I thought that I’d amuse myself with a little list of Things To Buy once I have disposable income again (which, given the way the invoicing system works, won’t be until the end of August).

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I’m not listing stuff like “Pay off credit card” or “Pay larger loan instalments” because that’ll happen anyway (honest!).

No, this is the fun stuff. Or at least the nice to have stuff.

In no particular order …

  • Garden bench
  • Retrieve data from old external hard drive
  • New external hard drive
  • Wireless printer/scanner
  • Driving lessons (dare I even dream …?)
  • Trip to USA
  • Various family history certificates
  • STATIONERY (it deserves the capitalisation in my head)
  • New bed
  • Bedroom dresser type thing
  • Guest bedroom furniture
  • Replacement washing up bowl (the curse of not having a dishwasher)
  • Gym membership (*cough*)
  • Dinosaur books
  • House insurance (*sigh*)
  • Fine rasp (you know, for zesting and whatnot)

Reincarnation

No, this isn’t a revisit to the subject I wrote about in January of this year.

It is, instead, something very funny by one of England’s all-time funniest people – Victoria Wood.

 

#sorrynotsorry

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball with the blogging lately, what with holiday, post-holiday pre-work paperwork and then week one at work …

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But now I have some time to myself (i.e. le weekend), I shall be writing and queuing some posts to get me through to next weekend. Probably here and at AWG too.

Writing 101: Loss – Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Generally speaking I’m a pretty phlegmatic guy. I take most things on the chin. If you hurt me I’m more likely to shrug and turn away. If you’ve decided on a course of action already then I’d rather focus my energy on something that’s more beneficial to me. Please don’t misunderstand – I’ll fight for something if I feel that it needs it, but something I’ve learned over the years is to not waste time on that kind of negativity.

During my teenage years I was introduced to the mantra of reason, season, lifetime – you know, the now somewhat hackneyed, and very 1990s, aphorism that some people are in your life only for a short time to fulfil a particular need, some are in it for longer to help you grow and learn, and the final bunch are there for the long-haul to help lifelong lessons and the building on emotional foundations.

At the time I was going through somewhat of a tumultuous time (okay, as a teenager most of it seemed tumultuous where in reality it probably wasn’t) dealing with my own sexuality and exploring various different spiritual avenues as well as trying to figure out who I really was, and the mantra resonated with me. It still does. I’m not a neo-hippie, or even a hipster, I just consider myself emotionally mature enough to see things for what they are.

But that’s all now.

Its taken me some time to get here, and losing people still affects me deeply. I may be able to accept it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I’m not talking about losing people through traumatic death. I’ve never been confronted with that. All my grandparents died (fairly) peacefully and/or when I was quite young – or at least young enough that I didn’t quite understand it all. I’m talking about the other sort of loss – that of somebody wrenching themselves away from you, the ones that tear and claw at your heart and at your soul – at your very core – and leave you wounded and breathless, grasping for sops and stubble where there used to be feasting and harvests of love and beauty.

The road was somewhat … bumpy, and I’ve lost my fair share of important people over the years – some of whom still affect me in odd ways and at odd times.

So buckle up … the next couple of parts will be looking at these events and people …

Keep your hearts away from your sleeves.

But maybe at the end we’ll all feel a little better.

Writing 101: Three Songs

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Twist: Commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

Important songs aren’t quite the same as favourite songs, are they? After all, the list of my favourite songs probably changes on a daily basis, depending on what I’ve listened to recently. But important songs are they ones that stay with you and resonate inside of you, that make your heart giddy and your mind swoop and soar.

I don’t remember the song that played when I had my first kiss – or any of my first kisses – or when I first had sex, or when I first made love (very different things), or when somebody died, or … just about anything. There are songs that are associated with me reading a particular book. There are songs that remind me of particular people, or times in my life that seemed to change me – possibly for the better. There are songs that I remember playing in the background when I was a child, or that I’d listen to with my mum, or that I’d sing along to (and with my voice … wow …), or that seemed to be soundtracks to a summer or a drunken night out … A song can be important for all sorts of reasons, I suppose.

It doesn’t particularly help when you have a memory that’s suspect at best and has a habit of dropping out on you with no notice.

One of my all time favourite (yes, yes, I know what I said about favourite vs. important) musical artists is Darren Hayes. Oddly, its his solo work – following the disbanding of Savage Garden – that has had the most impact on me. Perhaps its because as a fellow gay man I feel his music has something to say to me that isn’t about endless rutting or getting off your face or being a bitch or being faaaaaabulous. I should point out that not all gay artists sing about these things – I happen to think that Will Young’s album Echoes is amazing for all the same reasons that I rate Darren Hayes. Bright Light Bright Light’s Make Me Believe In Hope is also right up there on my eternal playlist.

Its not just the music. Its not just the lyrics. Its not just his voice. Its not just the emotion. Its all of it, I think, that conjoins to make one powerful whole.

There’s a certain lyric in the song Perfect taken from the 2012 album Secret Codes and Battleships that just floors me every time.

Cause I felt it; it cut deep.
It left a scar in my memory.
But your love was burned into me.

Second song … This is actually a song that I only heard a few months ago, despite it being a little older. I was chatting online to a friend and got talking about films and he recommended one from 2007 called Shelter. As its available on YouTube in its entirety, I checked it out and was sucked in, completely. Part of that was down to the soundtrack, featuring several songs by Shane Mack. One of these, More Than This, is fantastic in its simplicity.

If this is all, if this is all we ever were,
At least I loved enough to hurt,
Enough to hurt.

Final song … This is one that can make me smile or make my guts turn in on themselves. I guess that makes it important, right? Alanis Morissette’s It’s A Bitch To Grow Up appeared on her 2008 album Flavors of Entanglement. 

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
and all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’m not entirely sure how the twist actually fits in with today’s assignmet … But, yes, I commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day outside of blog posts.

Rugrats and Toadstools

Its Monday. According to my blogging schedule I should be artfully sculpting a writing-based post. But its also a national holiday so I’m going to make that as some kind of free pass.

Plus its my blog and not yours so I can do what the cripe I like.

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Possibly not that though.

In the late 90s a very funny British comedian called Victoria Wood wrote a very funny British sitcom called dinnerladies. I can’t go into details right now because otherwise I’ll never stop quoting bits and pieces and generally coming over all fanboy. Which I am, but there you go. Anyway, there was a scene where one of the characters is reading a magazine and another character is asking her what’s on TV that afternoon. She looks and says “Regrets.” Which cues a discussion about a TV movie called Regrets which is either about a woman who had a baby as a teenager, had it adopted and now regrets it, or about a woman who’s left it too long to have a family. (Possibly not as fun to watch as the film about this woman whose husband died and then a few years later found his sperm in the freezer hiding behind the arctic roll.)

It doesn’t matter either way as she’s not put her glasses on and its actually Rugrats.

Now, in my almost 34 years of life I’ve done a fair amount of things that other people have regretted. Such as kissing their boyfriends. Or kissing somebody who wasn’t my boyfriend. Or drinking too much (usually before the kissing). Or buying the wrong thing. Or saying the wrong thing. Or, upon occasion, simply being the wrong thing. But, at the risk of sounding like some kind of sociopath, or just an arrogant tosser, there’s nothing really that I regret.

I say “nothing really” because I could, if I had to, list a handful of things that, upon reflection, I probably shouldn’t have done, or maybe opportunities presented that I should’ve taken – but nothing on that list would really fill me up with despondency or make me want to live my life over. However …

There’s always a but …ProgPal_2014_600px

… This morning I was rumbling around my WordPress Reader under the “dinosaur” tag, getting very stressed out by the religious whack-jobs, when I found out about the Progressive Palaeontology Conference (via the very amusing The Dino Sirs). Turns out that Prog Pal is an annual get-together run by/with The Palaeontological Association for the benefit of early-career palaeontologists to enable them to network and show off their work and whatnot (grossly simplifying there). It also turns out that this year it was being held at the University of Southampton (i.e. not too crazy far from where I live).

[Incidentally, I also found Palaeocast – which, in its own words, is “an open broadcast of palaeontological information, a place where the beauty, diversity and complexity of the field can be conveyed and discussed in a digital format.” And is frigging excellent.]

And it got me to thinking and … yes … regretting. Not that I had a marvellous opportunity to become a palaeontologist and turned it down in order to become a cubicle farmer, but one of my dreams/goals I had as a teenage was to dig up dinosaurs, or at least in some way work in that field/quarry – arf arf. What happened to that dream? I’m not sure. Somewhere along the line I think it got shifted to “unachievable pipe-dream” rather than “acceptable life choice”.  I can’t give an answer that truly satisfies even me over what happened there. (Clearly, not going to university and then working for a large multi-national financial services company instead was a great and worthy undertaking.)

The purpose of sharing this is not to wallow in my own self-pity – quite frankly I find that sickening – or make anybody who reads this (is anybody there?) feel sorry for me and offer up pats on the head. Its just a story within my life. It is what it is. I’m now undertaking a university degree via correspondence course that has nothing to do with palaeontology. But …

… I can’t help but sometimes sit and think and feel slightly nauseous about that other life I might’ve lived.

When I was around 7 or 8 my parents decided that we’d move to the south of France (when I say “we” I mean my parents, one of my elder brothers and myself – my two eldest brothers would be staying in England). They found a house on the edge of a village called Capestang, sold their house in England and were all set to make the move. (Yes, I remember being dimly aware, in a far-off sense, that we’d have gone to school in France.) However, my father woke up on the morning of having to sign the last lot of paperwork and had a bit of a tit-fit and couldn’t go through with it.

But my other half and I have often talked about what my life would’ve been like had the move happened (and by “often” I mean once or twice). In a slightly sarcastic way I decided that I’d’ve gone to l’Université de la Méditerranée in either Marseille or Aix-en-Provence and become a slightly debauched writer-cum-journalist with a passion for vintage sports cars and young oceanography students, eventually careering my old roadster off the cliffs somewhere along the Côte d’Azur before my 30th birthday.

Grace Kelly & Cary Grant in "To Catch A Thief." Cast me as whichever one you like.

Grace Kelly & Cary Grant in “To Catch A Thief.” Cast me as whichever one you like.

Which, in a roundabout way, is kind of the point with regrets.

You can imagine your life all kinds of other ways, but you might’ve walked out of that meeting you missed, or away from that boy you never kissed, or out of that class you wanted to take and got hit by a bus. Or he might’ve turned into an abusive drunk. Or … or … or …

You  never know.

No matter how toadstools* you might feel your life has become, and no matter how many regrets might come wiggling out of their holes like lizards in a tropical evening, there are ways and means of making the change.

One day, perhaps, I’ll get my dream of digging up dinosaurs. Its important to not give up altogether.

Right?

 

*Another dinnerladies reference, I’m afraid … Victoria Wood’s character is searching for a word and says “… what is it? Not toadstools … Disenchanted…” It has now entered the personal lexicon of mine and a few friends.

Getting Back On Track

Currently my blogging schedule is somewhere between …

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… and …

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… so all I’m saying is that I’ll be back on track.

Soon.

Posting Schedule …

I’m (finally) trying to get to grips with some kind of editorial calendar for this blog and A Wiltshire Garden. I think I’m going to do some kind of ‘Ancestor Of The Week’ section on a Friday (purely because that’s when I introduced you all to the hair-styling that was Ernest Cartlidge), with writing update(s) on a … Monday (because that kind of suits TAC as it stands at the moment). Which leaves Wednesday and/or the weekend to update over on AWG, and other days for reblogging/random posts.

How does that grab you?