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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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