Tag Archives: life

Look who’s back!

Hello! It’s been a while! Apologies for not posting for quite a few months, but I’m back for the moment. Since I last posted back in January, quite a few things have happened on a personal level. However, in good news, we actually moved house in February! We never thought it would happen, but it did! We are far happier where we are now, as we are on the edge of the City looking out on some lovely countryside- the smell of cows wafting in through the open windows… The only things that I still haven’t got round to unpacking yet are all my novels, as we don’t currently have enough shelves. That’s a job for over the summer. Archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, music, history, etc. etc. are all shelved, but not poetry or novels. Once everything is in it’s place though, I intend to get some shelfies up on here!

I’ve also been buying more books. I’ve definitely slowed down, so they are trickling rather than flooding in, but they are still slowly coming. As such, there’s too many to do new book posts for the past 6+ months, and I can’t recall what I bought when.

Any other news? Oh yes- we’re expecting a baby girl! Still trying to recover from the shock and take it in at the moment, as we really didn’t expect that it would be a girl, but we’re happy. Very happy. More on that later in the year!

Tagged , ,

Life update #16: Star Wars/Christmas/New Year

Hello! I’ve been absent from here for a while, haven’t I? Apologies for that. I’ve got a book post from September that should have gone up months ago, but it still hasn’t. However, I will get it up over the next few days, along with a combined Oct/Nov/Dec books post, and one highlighting a recent bookish obsession of mine. However, all to come in the NEW YEAR, for it is indeed the last day of 2015. No look back at this year of blogging, as I haven’t really done that much on here this year. Work has just been manic, and sleep/general lethargy caused by being emotionally brick-like and feeling shit has called me more and more often when I would usually be blogging.


However, this holiday I’ve actually managed to spend the nights reading, so I’ve got a good number of books to add to my ever-growing list of things to review. But it’s been good.


Now, I was going to do a post a few weeks back excitedly counting down to the new Star Wars film, but I never did. However, I managed to go and see the new film on the last day of term before Christmas, and loved every moment of it. I picked out a Sarlacc Pit of references to bits in the other films (Easter Eggs, I think they’re called*), and also a wonderful homage to the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark when Harrison Ford is being chased by a rolling alien creature down a ship’s corridor. I almost cried when Leia returned, and sat agog when [SPOILER]. I still haven’t quite got over it now. A nice point though was when Rey defeats Kylo Ren**, as the entire cinema of Y7-11 students erupted in whoops, cheers and applause. I didn’t expect that reaction. I like to think that it’s due to the school’s entire student body being staunch flag wavers for feminism and ‘girl power’, but something makes me think not***. A wonderful, wonderful film though. I didn’t dislike the prequel trilogy (they were my ‘era’ growing up), but love the way these build on the classic films in their aesthetics. Truly wonderful.

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

Image: starwars.com

 


I suppose I should also say a belated “Merry Christmas!” or rather that I hope anyone reading this had a good Christmas. I found on Christmas Day that a work colleague had died suddenly that previous week, so the joy was quickly soured. What a note to leave 2015 on.


*Appropriate in a film released at Christmas. I’ve already started moaning about the Easter chocolates that are out in the shops now, but at least I haven’t seen anything to rival the brazenness of the Tesco Metro in Summertown, Oxford, back in 2011. Crème Eggs on Boxing Day. I kid ye not.

**Autocorrect changed that bit to Roy and Kyle Ren. I think the whole film would be more amusing and yet somewhat less impressive if that were to be the case.

***Perhaps the fact that there was more wolf-whistling during scenes of Roy ascending a flight of stirs, filmed from below, than I imagine there would be if a builders convention had attended the recent Miss Universe 2015 awards ceremony and sat in the front row. I exaggerate, but not much.

Tagged , , ,

Life Update #15: Lost opportunities and new beginnings

I like sleep. I’ve begun to realise that over the past few months, as the ability to stay awake in an evening and blog or get work done has got less with every passing day. The dark nights aren’t exactly helping either. There’s been lots of blog posts that I’ve been meaning to do, but which won’t be that apt or relevant if I post them now. However, there’s just as many that are, which is nice. There are a few posts that I can mash up with this life update and the new book posts from the past few months as well, which means less random and very short posts. Anyhoo. I may as well get on and update, rather than witter on about how and why I will do things. Better to just DO.


The summer was a welcome break from work and the general stresses of the school environment, and gave me some much-needed family time. I also begun to realise over this time that my two eldest children are ever-so-slightly keen on ‘Star Wars’. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it did mean that every day of the holiday, I spent some time having a lightsaber duel with the two of them, using ancient Jedi weapons crafted from the finest K’nex. And invariably they beat me.


The summer was also meant to be the time that we moved house, but the best laid plans, as they say… We got to the point where we were so drained and down through all of the searching and failing to find anywhere (or indeed hear back from landlords) that we decided to take some time away from it and reassess things. We were hoping for the October Half Term as the position of the altered goalposts, but this isn’t likely now either, as we lost the perfect house that we were so close to putting a deposit down on. We’re currently still looking.


Work hasn’t been too kind at the moment either, as it seem to have been GO!GO!GO! from the first day back. What with travelling to Manchester and Birmingham one week for conferences, then two nights of parents’ evenings back-to-back the following week, and having to flit between the school and our new Sixth Form several times each day, it’s been pretty mad. I’ve also become a form tutor for the first time, which is fun but an extra thing to think about. At the moment, I need to write everything down or it won’t get done, as my brain is acting somewhat like a conveyor belt. I think there’s a ‘Simpsons’ Clip about that somewhere.


Sticking with school, our eldest began reception class this term too, and so this had added an interesting new dynamic. He seems to have settled in well and has made several new friends, so our fears about him starting have been somewhat calmed.


One of the conferences I attended was with a number of Y10s, and revolved around Russell Group universities. There was a speaker from Oxford there, and it was during her talk that I begun to think about my time there. I don’t ever think that I really took full advantage of the opportunities that were on offer, especially the Tutorial system. At Oxford, students meet once a week with their tutor either individually or in small groups, and discuss the essay or problem sheet that they’ve been given, and its associated reading. The lady at the conference suggested that these Tutorials were opportunities to discuss, debate and question the Tutors on the subject, and to throw ideas out in a process of scholarly tennis. However, I can’t say that that was ever my experience, as I always found myself too worried about saying something wrong, and so often didn’t say anything. I never voiced any real opinion, and failed to ask really deep, probing questions, as I’d often got too many other things on my mind. It really was an opportunity missed, and I think now if I went back I’d be far more vocal and inquisitive. I can’t alter it, so that’s just how it was and how it is, but it did make me think.

Tagged , ,

Life update #14.5

I’ve just realised after typing that last post why I’ve been feeling so morose. That bloody election result. It’s still bugging me, and it made me realise that I hate people. Five years of crap, and so what shall we do? Vote for five years of the same crap again. Why thank you very much.

Tagged ,

Life update #14

Why hello! Fancy you reading this! I suppose I’d better apologise yet again for the lack of blogging that has gone on this past month. For one, I haven’t had a lot to blog about, but also life, work (it’s GCSE time again!) and sleep seem to have taken over. We’re looking to move house soon (have I already mentioned this?), but are having real issues finding somewhere- in part because landlords and estate agents don’t actually seem to get back to us when we inquire. We did have a viewing arranged for last weekend at the most perfect house, but then it turns out to have been let before we even had chance to see it. To say we were (and still are) pissed off is putting it mild. This is dragging us all down at the moment, and sleep seems to win out over staying up late at night and worrying/fretting/typing on a temperamental keyboard that takes five times longer than it should to type a sentence on. However, it’s half term now (the joys of working in a school!), so this has provided a small window for catching up on some much-needed posting time. I’ve had to borrow a laptop from work though so as I can get some work done and get these posts typed up more quickly.

Talking of work- I may be going to Oxford next month on a conference, which should be pleasant, and which I’m secretly looking forward to. Neither my wife nor I have been down since my graduation in September 2013, so we’re both pretty homesick for the place. We’ve been wanting to go down for a few days every holiday, but haven’t either had the time or the train fare. I’d feel a bit bad going without the rest of the family, though. It’s bad enough for them that in July I’m going down for two days with work to stay at my college, St. Hugh’s.

What else is happening in my life? Oh yes- it doesn’t seem as though my poetry submission has got anywhere, as I still haven’t heard back and it’s been a number of months now. Is that how long it usually takes to hear back, or will this silence be a permanent thing? I s’pose I may as well bite the bullet and just send them on mass to as many publishers as I can, but I am still fearful of rejection. I know all wannabe writers go through it, and that I’m just being a wimp, but- my work’s shit, and I don’t need other people’s rejection to tell me that. I’d intended over Easter on beginning the next book of poetry (I’ve got the odd line, poem title and fragments scribbled down ready from when I wrote my first collection, but haven’t yet worked them into some sort of order), but despite buying a brand new notebook, I didn’t get anywhere. Not so much as a word written in it. I’d also planned on getting some more of those short stories and fragmenty/sceney/vignettey things down on paper, but to no avail. I’ve got these planned alright- I’ve got two novellas and a full-blown novel planned- I just can’t be arsed to actually write them. Okay, that’s not strictly true. It’s more like I’m scared to write them as I don’t feel as though I could write them either as well as they seem to be as they are at the moment in my head, or as though I will be able to write enough and quickly enough. It usually takes me a long time to write prose. I can bang out a poem (on a good day) in about ten minutes; some of my best are written like this. But prose has to be teased out at the rate of about a line a day. I think I need a big kick. And some coffee. That usually helps.

Anyway. Back to the blog. I’ve got a not-so-new-by-now book haul to post next and a few other oddments that I’ve come across, so hopefully I can get these up soon. I also intend on making headway with my book reviews soon, as I’ve got books that I read at the start of 2014 to still review…

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Where should I live?

I’ve just done a test on the BBC website to see where in the UK I should live, based on my personality, and the results were rather interesting. Firstly, here are my personality results:

Screenshot (19)

…I don’t know whether to be happy with those results or not. Here’s how suited I am to Stoke:

Screenshot (17)

The best place locally for me would be:

Screenshot (18)

I can’t complain- Newcastle-under-Lyme is a nice place. Nationally, the worst place would be:

Screenshot (16)

I’ve never been to Carlisle, so I couldn’t possibly comment on this one. However, based on my dubious personality, the best place in the country for me to live in order to be happiest would be (drum-roll please…..)

Screenshot (15)

Can I really complain at that? It’s true!

If you want to have a go at the test, here’s the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z3g487h

Tagged , ,

A bad week, World Book Day and other things: Life update #13

Nope, I haven’t blogged enough recently. I’m just too tired to, to be honest (the only time I usually get to blog is at night). This post is also going to be rather scattered, as I’ve a couple of things to say but no real need to make them into separate posts.


Firstly, my prat-fall last Monday. And I mean that literally. I was running for my second bus in the morning on my way to work when I slipped, fell and smacked the right side of my face on the paving slabs, knocking chunks off two of my teeth, splitting my lip and generally battering myself up. An ambulance came out, I was checked for concussion, and I ended up having to have two days off work. I’m now incredibly wary about rushing about anywhere, but at least the cuts and swelling are going down now.


That was the start of the week. To end the week, yesterday I managed to loose £20 by not looking what I was doing and managing to drop a note when I went to put it in my pocket- only realising afterwards. I think my head’s in a weird place at the minute, what with one thing and another.


The middle of the week, by contrast, seemed to go okay. Thursday was World Book Day, and at work lots of us staff dressed up as literary characters, with me going as Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Predictably, none of the students got it, with most thinking I was Bond due to my Tux and black tie. However, my eldest son came out with the best comment of the day. In the morning, he decided to tell me that I looked like Basil Fawlty, from Fawlty Towers. Fine, as my wife has likened me to John Cleese’s character once or twice. It wasn’t until I got home and he said it again that I begun to think about what he’d said.

“But Basil Fawlty doesn’t really wear a bow tie. He only wears a dinner jacket and bow tie in one episode…”

“No Dad, you look like other Basil.”

“Other Basil? Oh…”

It then dawned on me that “Other Basil” meant that lovable yet ever-so-slightly-stupid Spanish waiter Manuel. Harumph. Owned by a four-year-old.


I’ve still got about a dozen book review posts to write, with my reading from pretty much the past year, but I just thought that I’d mention that I’m nearly finished reading J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash. Let’s just say for now that it is certainly the most painful book to read that I’ve ever come across. I’m not cut out for that sort of thing…


I’ll leave this post with something thought-provoking. I can’t remember where I found it, so apologies for the lack of image credit.

10420097_930369630308653_7296785265202120092_n

Tagged , , , ,

Cartoon bandages: Life Update #12

I’ve got a couple of posts to get up over the course of tonight, in part to make up for my lack of presence recently on the blogging front. However, first I thought I’d share this:

Poorly toe.

Poorly toe.

I currently look like someone in a cartoon when they hit their thumb or toe with a hammer and it balloons up ridiculously. Since about October last year, I’ve had an ingrowing toenail that has proven impossible to wangle out, and I’ve been to the doctors several times for antibiotics and advice over the pat few months. I thought I as going to have it removed about a month back when I went to a podiatrist, but it turned out it was an assessment to see what needed doing. Then, I stupidly asked for them to make the appointment for its eviction in the half term rather than mid-term time, as there would have been no convenient time for me to have off work. However, in hindsight I should have had it done a.s.a.p., as it has been bothering me for weeks now. Thankfully, now is half term, and yesterday was the day for it to be sorted out. I’d never been under any kind of anaesthetic until this, so that was a novel experience, and the administration was more painful than the nail has ever been. Also new to me was the experience of having to wear sandals, as I obviously can’t wear shoes for a few days. I refuse to sit round and stick my foot in the air for three days, however, as if I do then my wife would be left with the same workload as she is when I’m at work, and she would get very little break this holiday. Let’s just hope I can wear proper shoes by next week when I’m back at work!

When I saw the size of the pieces of nail that were removed, it’s unsurprising that I was in pain, and I did ask to bring them home, but don’t think you need to see a picture of them…

Tagged , , ,

One resolution down! Life Update #11

Well, it’s often the case that resolutions made at New Year never seem to last much past January, and indeed it seems that the first resolution I made has already been broken. You may notice that this is only my third blog post this year, and I still haven’t got any more book reviews up. Sorry. However, there is one that I have already done- the tattoo. No I’m only joking. Last weekend though I did submit some of the poems from my completed book to a publisher. If you’ve been reading this blog since I started it, you will know that this is quite a big thing, as I have up until now never had the courage to actually take the plunge and do this. I don’t think I’ll actually get published, but still- I’ve actually submitted something, which is further than I’ve ever got with it before. Wish me luck!

Tagged , , , ,

Resolutions 2015

Image: facebook.com/lego

Image: facebook.com/lego

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I suppose these should really be made on New Year’s Day, but they’re not too late.

  1. Get more blog posts up on here! I’ve got about 12 book reviews to get written, so I’d better get cracking!
  2. Bite the bullet and submit my book of poetry to publishers. That’s the one I finished editing in January 2014.
  3. Finish writing the book of short stories and random prose pieces that I begun in early 2014.
  4. Begin writing the novel I have planned.
  5. Return to archaeology in my spare time- it’s become a bit neglected of late. It may help that we’re planning on moving to a different (nicer) part of the city soon, which should enable me to actually get all of my Arch & Anth texts (and my uni notes and essays) in some sort of usable order and actually on SHELVES, which they are still without at the moment.
  6. Get my ear pierced and have a tattoo. Okay, maybe I’m joking with that one…
Tagged , ,

Hello! A touch of class for the classroom: Life Update #10

Imagine this entire post being read in Stephen Fry’s voice for maximum enjoyment.

————–

It’s been a while. My first post for October, and we’re already plodding nicely through the month. Sorry about this. Life just seems to have been happening lately, and blogging has taken an unplanned backseat for a bit. I’m back now, though, for the time being. There’s been too much happening of interest into the world of archaeology for me to leave this any longer. That means there should be a nice handful of archaeology-related posts coming over the next few days, which I’ll try and fit in as best as I can around my work, and my body’s current craving for sleep. I think it’s this cold my family has got at present.

Anyhoo. Good job I haven’t decided to embark on that daily blog idea I had a while ago, isn’t it, as I’d have failed rather spectacularly by now.

Work’s going quite well, in case you were wondering (what am I saying. Of course you weren’t.), and I’m attempting to bring a touch of fanciness into the school through my rather snazzy navy waistcoat/black jacket/floral tie combo of late. It’s purely for utilitarian reasons though, you must understand- it’s very chilly at present where I have my desk. Well that explains the waistcoat. I’ll keep thinking of an excuse to account for the tie…

I’ll end here and get on with the archaeology!

 

Tagged

The best (slightly late) birthday present possible: Life Update #9

Hello. I’ve been away from the blog for a bit, but there is quite a good reason for it. My birthday was on the 29th of last month, and two days later, on the evening of 31st, my wife gave birth to our third son. I meant to post at the start of the month, but with him being here, little sleep, the start of the new academic year and intermittent paternity leave, I haven’t really felt up to blogging. But yeah- he’s here, and absolutely, sublimely perfect. I’d forgotten just how small and delicate newborns are, but it is interesting just how quickly you adapt to handling them and how quickly you treat it as second nature. It all comes back to you, and after a day or so it felt like he had been here for months. We’ve now got his feeding sorted, and this is proving a lot easier than I’d expected it would be, and even the night-times are fairly straight forward now, as he is only waking up a few times at fairly set intervals, and doesn’t really cry that much. When he does, he’s quite quiet. To be fair, we probably couldn’t have asked for a better baby. Then again, I suppose we are slightly biased in thinking that he’s perfect. But hey. I love my children, and if I think that they are perfect, then they are. I wouldn’t change them for the world.

Tagged ,

Marriage!!! Life Update #8

Well, after nearly six years together and (almost) three children, my partner and I finally got married last Saturday (16th).

wedding figures

We had planned to have both our current vicar and my family vicar to do the service as a symbolic way of showing the two of us coming together in a spiritual sense, but we found out a few months back that my vicar was to be with a group of his parishioners at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for the Feast of the Assumption, which was the previous week. However, we were able to use his church hall for the reception, which still allowed us to include the two, and we are hoping to have a blessing there in the coming weeks.

We didn’t have as many guests as we’d hoped, but this made for a more intimate and private affair, which was a joy (if rather nerve-wracking) from start to finish. The choir and organist did a wonderful job, and by the end of it my partner and I were married, which was the most important thing. I love her more than anything on this planet (except my children), and cannot put into words how happy I am that we are now married. It also seems to have been a long time coming, as we were ‘officially’ engaged in 2011, and had planned to have the wedding last summer, but weren’t able to for various reasons. I’d never have imagined a decade ago that by now I’d be married and have children, as to be honest I never felt as though anyone would want me, but I was wrong, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Now for the next chapter!

wedding ducks

 

Tagged , , ,

Coke is not for me (a sort-of ‘Life Update #7’)

I say sort-of life post, as this is just a few random rants and so forth, and there’s nothing of particular note in terms of key life changes- that’s for another post. Now, first off. It’s currently the start of the sixth and final week of the school summer holidays (one of the perks of working in a school- long holidays!), and for the past five I’ve had the best of intentions to stay up at night to get a fair amount of work done. However, despite having been able to keep myself up various nights over the past few weeks and getting a small way through my pile of jobs, I’ve got nowhere near the amount done I’d intended. This is partly because I’ve got side-tracked into doing other things, or because I have been awake enough to not sleep, but not cognitively awake enough to actually focus on lesson writing or anything more strenuous than researching William S. Burroughs on Wikipedia or posting images of chocolate Lego or toilet roll origami on this blog. I blame the 8 cans of this energy drink I bought a few weeks back and which I recently finished:

KX cola can

In the course of doing that, I’ve realised just how much I can’t stand coke (by which I mean Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or any other cola-flavoured beverage, which this happened to be. I don’t mean the drug). I used to like it, but now it just leaves me a bit “bleugh”. I still quite like the little gummy bottle-shaped sweets, though; they are still quite palatable.

Anyway- this all means that over the next 7 days before the start of term, I’ve got quite a bit to do and will need to inspire myself to have several late nights. I’m writing this quite late (or rather quite early), having just watched the first episode of the new ‘Doctor Who’, but still can’t bring myself to do any deep thinking. I don’t think the worry that we’ve got at the moment is helping, though, to be honest.

I mentioned in a previous post that my partner and I were expecting another child, and we had thought that he may have been here early, around the middle of the summer. It was even touch-and-go whether he’d make last Saturday awkward for us (see my next post), but as it turns out, we are still waiting, and are now several days overdue. We just really don’t want him to decide to come next week once I’ve started back to work, as I can’t have paternity leave off, as I haven’t been there long enough to get this paid enough to be viable for us. However, this added pressure really isn’t helping my other half, as you can imagine. All very stressful.


Also, is it worrying to find that at the tail end of being 21, you are slowly becoming more and more like Victor Meldrew by the day? I can see that by the time I (hopefully) reach pension age, I’ll probably go out raving and partying, and have the youth I’ve never ever wanted.


A VM rant coming on here. My other half ordered me several books off a well known auction website (eBay) for my birthday, and one of them- a silver Penguin Modern Classic edition of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids– came the other day with a note inside saying that it had a ‘minor flaw’, but as it was the only copy left, the seller had sent it anyway. Now, my idea of a ‘minor flaw’ would be a crease to the cover, a tear, or maybe a loose page. Not water damage to the three open edges, and a peeling spine. I’m hoping that they will replace it for me when a better copy comes into stock. Personally, I can’t help but feel that it would have been so much better if they had simply refunded us for that and said it wasn’t in stock, or if they had left it and sent a copy later when they got more. Anyway. Rant over.

 

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Life update #6 (several months late) and a look to the summer

You may recall that I put up a brief post a month ago advertising the fact that I’d got some EXCITING NEWS to announce in the following days. If you want to look back at it, then ta-dah. It’s here. Now, I think it’s about time I actually told those of you who are interested what that news is. Well: my partner and I… are expecting our third child!!!!! She is actually due in a few weeks, which just shows how late this post is, but better late than never, I suppose! We’re expecting another boy, which is nice, a we’d always envisaged having three boys, but didn’t imagine that it would have happened. We’d have been just as happy to be having a girl, I will add though- we wanted three children first and foremost. I’ll be sure to post when he is born, but sadly there won’t be any pictures.


Next life point. Working in a school means that I’m lucky enough to get the 6 weeks summer break off, and for us, school broke up today. This means that not only should we have the whole of the summer with a new-born before I have to go back to work, but also I should be able to get slightly more posts up and with some sort of regularity. Should be nice. Also, my partner and I are hoping to get our book-filed box room sorted tomorrow, so as we can clear out some of the crap that has been living in there since we moved in just over a year ago, and also so as I can finally get my books (poetry, archaeology, anthropology, music and novels- this last category are still piled high in our kitchen at present) sorted out onto cases and shelves. I’ll take a few snaps as we do this, so will eventually get a post up showing the transformation, allowing me in the end to indulge in some book-porn with a few shelfies.


Quick point about work- next academic year should double my workload (which is always fun) but will also see me teaching archaeology and ancient history to some knowledge-hungry Y7’s- which I’ve never done before. I even get my own desk- I’m moving up in the world! (Although after a couple of days at work scavenging desks when no-one was looking, eyeing up filing cabinets, and testing out comfy chairs, and then the influx of bookcases that should be coming our way in the next few weeks, I think I’m overwhelmed with furniture at the moment).


This summer also sees my partner and I FINALLY get married, which I’m ridiculously exited about. The only thing that puts a dampener on it is the attitude of certain members of the family, who don’t seem at all interested when they should be, and are happy to indulge themselves with all of the trimmings, and yet unprepared to help us with one aspect of our big day. It comes down really to them being too selfish and self-absorbed to give a shit. Then again, it would be nice if these same people cared about the fact that they will have a new baby in the family, rather than seeing our happiness as an inconvenience.

Anyway. I’m getting ranty. Let’s not forget that WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!! I really cannot put into words how excited I am about this, and cannot wait to hold him and keep him safe and never ever let him go. I never used to see myself as a baby person, or even someone who would have children, but after our eldest was born, I really couldn’t imagine not being a dad, an it just felt so natural and right, and all the other clichéd things that fatherhood makes you think.

 

Smile 1

Tagged , , , ,

EXCITING NEWS!!!!!

All I can say for now is that I’ve got some VERY exciting news to announce soon in a very special ‘Life Update’, which I should have really put out a few months back, but am going to post over the next few days. WATCH THIS SPACE!!!!!!!

Smile 1

Tagged

A busy time of year: Life Update #something-or-other

Hello. You haven’t heard from me in a while. I write the occasional blog post on this site, about literature or archaeology. I’ve been noticeably absent from the blogosphere (or whatever it’s called) for a few weeks now, and I can only blame this on work. Anyone reading this and living within the UK will know that this time of year is exam season, with the GCSE’s in full swing, and as such my days have been pretty hectic, trying to get as many 15- and 16-year-olds through their coursework and revision as possible. I’ve had every intention to stay up at night to blog, but after busy days of handling students and getting incredibly pissed off with public transport, sleep and the desire to recharge has often taken me by surprise, and left me groggy-eyed at half past four in a morning when I’ve been nudged awake, still fully-clothed and slobbering away where I sat. I haven’t forgotten those few of you who read this blog whenever I get around to posting things (I do appreciate it) and will endeavour to get a handful of posts up before this month is past. I’ve got book reviews to write up covering my reading from the past five months, as well as a life update or two, and a few images of my Penguin Classics collections that I feel I may as well share. Please bear with me- I am still here, and haven’t forgotten this blog. I’ll say hello again quite soon. Promise.

Tagged

2013- Electric Puppet’s first 5 months in review

2014

Well- it’s New Year’s Eve, and time to reflect on what has gone on over the past year. For my family, this has been a big year, as we left the comfort and splendour of Oxford to return to our home city of Stoke-on-Trent; I graduated from university; I got my first job; we decided where we want to go with our life in the near and more distant future, thanks to an American man and his family on YouTube; I completed my first book of poetry, which had been languishing prior to this summer; I took the plunge and begun this blog, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while; and have got back in contact with several family members that I haven’t seen for the best part of a decade thanks to Facebook. It has been eventful, and had also been emotional and tiring for all of us. Also, with any luck, next year should be just as eventful- beginning work; trying to get my book published; endeavouring to write the novel and short story collection that I’ve been planning for a month or so; and getting married. Yes: my partner and I are getting married next year!

———————————-

In terms of this blog, I will be getting up several ‘Thoughts on…’ posts for the books I have read recently- the first two Adrian Mole books, Penelope Lively’s ‘Heat Wave’, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, and Tove Jansson’s ‘Finn Family Moomintroll’- in the new year, and hopefully will get the first few up on New Year’s Day. For now, though, I thought that I would highlight a selection of posts from this blog that have proved popular, may have been overlooked, or are of relative interest for me.

I think that’s enough links to my other posts to be getting on with for now. Anyway- check some of these out if you haven’t already, or have a browse of the blog and see what you come across. Also, you can follow Electric Puppet on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/electricpuppetblog

———————————-

Lastly, here are a few fellow bloggers that I’ve come across in the past few months that you may find of interest:

Don’t Bend, Ascend

These Bones of Mine

Bones Don’t Lie

A Corner Of Tenth-Century Europe (written by one of my Anglo-Saxon lecturers from Oxford; he has since moved on to work at Birmingham University)

Museum Postcard

Prehistories

Interesting Literature

I hope you have a very happy New Year, and that 2014 will be good for you.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Political intolerance

Before I start this post, I will say that this is based on personal observation and opinion- so don’t moan at me for what I say!

The reason that I’m writing this is because yesterday I came across an interesting string of comments regarding a uni friend’s choice of political party, and found the whole episode irritating to say the least. This was for two reasons: 1) Their grasp of British politics was rather shaky, despite professing that they knew what they were talking about, and  2) I am now unsure how their staunch views affect my relationship with them, as I would be a prime example of someone their party wouldn’t like.  Now, let me explain.

I am a supporter of the UK’s Labour Party- I do not hide this fact. However, I can see that other parties leaders may have been decent in the past and done their jobs well. For example, I can see that for the most part, Churchill was a good leader and Prime Minister during WWII, but this would not make me instantly vote Tory or Liberal, even though he belonged to both of these parties at various points of his career.  I say this because the said Facebook rant seemed to take the line that because Margaret Thatcher had been an effectual leader and caused a change for the better in an Eastern Block country, then the party she belonged to would therefore be the best thing for the UK 20 years later. Just by reading that, you can probably see the flaw in the reasoning. It wasn’t that no knowledge of politics was exhibited per se, but it showed a lack of knowledge and regard for the country- any argument made against this view that tried to show the way people are worse off under the present Lib/Con coalition was ignored or attacked on personal grounds. Now, personal attacks are not okay in political debates or discussions and have no place in politics. However, the lack of seeming regard for the fact that many areas of the UK are in poverty, with families living on the ‘bread line’ and unable to find work or any form of help under the present government, seemed to me insulting. As I said above, the fact that a past Tory leader may have been good for another country does not mean that the present Tory party’s policies are good for the country now in the present. The cuts the coalition has made so far hit the people at the bottom of the social pile first and the hardest. Rather than cutting the bonuses that banks and the BBC are allowed to give to present and former, ineffectual and disgraced chiefs, the government would prefer to cut benefits to those worst off, or make people in council housing pay more rent by giving them less housing benefit if they are deemed to have too many bedrooms. They would prefer to pay several billion pounds on a high-speed rail network (‘HS2’) that is not needed and would only benefit a select few, and make it easier for big businesses to pay no tax through loopholes in the law than  give help to those millions of families who need it. For someone who has only ever seen the privileged, middle-class side of the UK and has only spent time with middle class individuals from the ‘Oxford Bubble’, the cuts by the government may seem to have no relevance or may not matter, but I can personally see the effect that such stupid policies have in an area such as Stoke-on-Trent. Which leads me on to the second point that I detailed at the beginning of this post.

As previous posts have alluded to, I have studied at Oxford, but come from a working class background in a dead city. It is frustrating that as a write this, I am currently without a job and my family is scraping by on several forms of benefit. I am not proud of this, and as I have said before, my partner and myself aim to make the most of our life for the sake of our own happiness and for our children’s future- we want to return to university at Oxford, and then write, lecture and be successful sociologists  and priests (my partner); archaeologists and poets (myself). However that is the state at present, and the current government are making the situation worse for us. Now, in posting the views regarding the Tories as mentioned above, and by ignoring the effect their policies are having on those less well off in society, I cannot help but feel as though my friend shares the Conservative view of people of benefits and those at the bottom of the heap. Am I in a situation of my own making? Should I have to carry out community service for every penny of my Jobseekers, which I could end up doing, instead of carrying out volunteer work at excavations to gain important skills that could give me the experience that allows me to apply for the jobs that I hope to do? I cannot help but feel that this is how they silently view me; as a chav with kids who’s arsing around instead of working, or as a scrounger who should help myself instead of being helped. Perhaps I shouldn’t have even been to Oxford, coming from a working class area. Here, I could start with the Labour propaganda, as it is thanks to them and their introduction of Student Loans that I was able to go to uni; in much the same way as the Facebook comments suggested Thatcher should be lauded for making it possible to reach the University of Oxford from Eastern Europe.* However, I had hoped that my friends knew my family and I better; taking us for who we are and not what the government may say we are. It saddens me, and frankly hurts.

I do not have a problem with people holding different views to mine, whether this be political or religious. I just don’t like it when it is ill-thought out and personally insulting. Anyhoo- feel free to comment on here or on the Electric Puppet Facebook page. I would love your input.

Thatcher cartoon

Image: Shooty/Caglecartoons.com

* I could also add that Labour’s Student Loans made it possible for foreign Tories to study here… but I won’t.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Life update #1

I haven’t really written anything on this blog so far about me or my life, other than my interests and reading updates, and so I thought that it is perhaps time that I put a bit of a ‘Life Update’ up. My partner, our two children and myself have recently moved back to our home city after a three-year stint at university, and are taking a bit of time now to reassess our life and what we both want for our family. However, this is thwarted somewhat by the fact that where we are living is just so damn depressing. I’ll illustrate. We’ve gone from spending almost everyday for the past three years amongst this…

oxford

…to suddenly return to this…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

That latter paradise (…) is Stoke-on-Trent, a once-great producer of ceramics known across the world, but now a decrepit, soul-less and polluted stain of its former industrious and ruggedly handsome self. It may be both mine and my partner’s home city, but it doesn’t mean that we love it. Sure, it has its good points, but the majority of these are in its past, and if it wasn’t for our lack of money and familial ties, we would most certainly cut and run. To be fair, the second photo above doesn’t make Stoke look too bad, and from where we live, we have a rather impressive view across almost the entire city from the window, but- the place just lacks ambition. The people here lack any sort of desire or hope, and seem in general to be content with a life that has gone and will go no-where. For us, though, that isn’t enough. Three years amongst the Dreaming Spires of Oxford have changed us for the better into the rounded, mature and aspiring people that we both now are, and it is there that now feels like home, and the place where we can reach our potential. It is the place where our children can be inspired and strive for greatness, as the makings of them and the cultivation that they need is all around them, and the place where our family really came together. It is in Oxford that our children have spent their whole lives, and in Oxford that they have become who they are. With any luck, we hope to be able to move back here within the next few years to work and continue to study, and where we can break away from this phase of our lives that is very quickly dragging us down a slippery slope towards mediocrity.

it also doesn’t help matters that there are family dramas unfolding in relation to my bloodline, which make the whole experience of being back all the more painful, drawn out and despondent. This comes down mainly to the fact that three years away have opened mine and my partner’s eyes to a number of issues, and has also matured us to the point where we have outgrown the trivialities of our families. However, being able to draw a line under issues and finding closure is made infinitely more difficult when those who have not matured and grown up in wisdom or tact decide to blinker themselves and hinder our process of healing and answering questions. They will learn- but I really dunno when.

However, we have also resolved while we are here to make the best of our present, and to plan to make the best of our future. This in part has come from a desire to give our children the best, and also through watching an inspirational man on YouTube whom I mentioned several weeks back in relation to an upcoming documentary film named ‘Vlogumentary’, named Shay Carl Butler. There are many self-help guides and motivational speakers out there, but this bloke is not one of them; rather, he is a normal bloke from California who decided to lose weight and concurrently improve his life to accentuate the positives and make the most of his time one Earth. We now strive to make our life as positive as possible, and aim to make our lives and our life together as wonderful, productive, and as simply amazing as we possible can- as long as we get out of Stoke…

Being a Christian (High-church Anglican [CofE]), it is also easy to see your life as being simply as it is, and I was in danger of falling into the trap of thinking that as a Christian, I should perhaps be happy with this life, as I am meant to strive not for this one, but for the next. However, I am now thinking that it is surely possible to do both- to embrace and live this life to the full whilst also anticipating the next. We don’t believe that Heaven will be like this life (as it was for example for the ancient Egyptians), and therefore there is surely no problem in making the most of this life and getting all we can from it t the same time as praising God and wanting to also reach that life which is before us. besides, I constantly waver in my views on the afterlife, and hypochondria often creeps up on me in a big way when I reach stressful patches, and so it is logical to experience and do as much as we can humanly manage. For example, my partner would love to travel to the USA (even though I am petrified of flying and really don’t want to ever get into a plane), and I would love to carry out the Coast-to-Coast walk across the north of England, as planned out by Alfred Wainwright. I want to get my current book of poetry (which is almost completed in first draft form) published, along with many more volumes and several novels. I would love to travel across America too (see previous comment regarding flying) to experience the America that is seen in those road trip films, down Route 66 and to see the Grand Canyon. I want to see the Northern Lights. And why should we not do any of these things (except: see previous comments regarding flying)? I’m sick of the defeatist, uninspired and unambitious views given out by Stoke and its people, and hope to make something of ourselves that will suggest three years at Oxford were not for nothing, and that can make our children proud in the years to come.

I’m sorry to go on for a bit, but just felt that I need to get some of this out to make myself feel better for one, as well as giving me something to look back on to remind me of our ambitions and our hopes.  Please forgive this life update, as you probably aren’t that bothered about where I’m headed and all that, but- normal service will resume with the next post!

Tagged , , , ,
Penguin Blog

Thoughts and ideas from the world of Penguin

Women of Mongolia

New Media Research Expedition Through Altai and Ulaanbaatar, Summer 2015

Triumph of the Now

How To Read, How Not To Live

Pretty Books

Fiction, Young Adult and Children's Books & Reviews

A Medley Of Extemporanea

Books, books and more books (and libraries too)

Great Writers Inspire

Learning from the Past

"Broken Glass"

Quietly contemplating female characters in English and American literature

Deathsplanation

n. 1. The act or process of explaining about death 2. Something that explains about death 3. A mutual clarification of misunderstandings about death; a reconciliation.

A Bone to Pick

by Scott D. Haddow

Asylum

John Self's Shelves

Anthropology.net

Beyond bones & stones

Tales From the Landing Book Shelves

The TBR Pile: Stories, Poems, Arts and Culture

bloodfromstones

A great WordPress.com site

SARA PERRY

The Archaeological Eye

Prehistories

Adventures in Time and Place

Don't Bend, Ascend

Something Different

These Bones Of Mine

Human Osteology & Archaeology amongst other things...

History Echoes

History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Technology, and Mythology

archaeologyntwales

archaeology in wales cared for by the national trust

The Feast Bowl

The Wordpress blog for the National Museums of Scotland

History Undusted

The dusty bits of history undusted and presented to the unsuspecting public.

Stephanie Huesler

My ponderings, research, tidbits & the nuts and bolts of good writing.

Nicholas Andriani

Adventure Travel and Gastronomy, Passionately Explored

Stoke Minster

The Historic & Civic Church of Stoke-on-Trent.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

Museum Postcard

Reviews and thoughts on museums explored

Bones Don't Lie

Current News in Mortuary Archaeology and Bioarchaeology

Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives

How can we use material traces of past lives to understand sex and gender in the past?

Grow up proper

A raw view on life

A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

Early medievalist's thoughts and ponderings, by Jonathan Jarrett

%d bloggers like this: