28) 1secondeveryday video for February. 

Each day this month I have tried to capture something in either a video or photo which was either the highlight of my day or something which explained the theme for that day.

I’ve stitched those videos together and presented them here as a final post on my #28dayblogchallenge – it seems fitting somehow to present the entire month rendered down into one second blasts.

Until next time. It’s been emotional.

27) London Town

London, you’ve been amazing. Loved every minute even if my feet have not. Two days spent touring as much of the capital as possible and I still feel as if I have just scratched the surface. So much to see and do, sadly not enough time to see and do it all so had to be selective.

We stayed at a hotel on Tower Hill, within spitting distance of the Tower of London. Arriving late-ish on Friday we walked up the side of the Thames then settled on The Chophouse for tea. This was my first and only experience of Pretentious London, paying over the odds for a piece of meat. I expected more for my money, but thankfully it was a one off and things improved significantly after.

Saturday started with a trip to The Tower and a short guided tour from one of the Yeoman Guards. Amazing the amount of history there is about the place, from executions to barracks. We spent a couple of hours there being immersed in the history of kings and queens and rebellious scoundrels.

From there to St. Paul’s Cathedral which I wasn’t really bothered about seeing, ‪especially at a price, but i’m so pleased we did. Despite weary feet having to climb hundreds of steps, the views from the stone gallery at the top were magnificent. I’ve never been one for religion, and I can take or leave the works of art which were lavished upon the place. To me, beauty is in looking out across the city and taking in the view.

We then took a quick trip to Buckingham Palace. Liz was in but she didn’t ask us for a brew, before heading back to hotel to get ready for Wicked.

The Wizard of Oz is one of my first movie memories and it’s timeless in its appeal. I’d heard good things about Wicked and didn’t think we could visit London without taking in a show. Wicked did not disappoint and I loved the way it wove its way into the original story of Dorothy and Toto. It comes highly recommended. After a full day we were both shattered so went back to the hotel for an early night and a promise to rise early and have a full Sunday.

First stop Sunday was going to be the London Eye for the views over the Thames, but last minute I booked tickets for The View from The Shard. The 72nd floor viewing platform offers unprecedented access to the entire London skyline. It was stunning. The highlight of the trip for me. From there we headed to Westminster, the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Whitehall, Big Ben. Doing things the proper tourist way.

Trafalgar Square was next and the National Gallery. Here we noticed quite an interesting phenomenon. People taking pictures of pictures. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers hangs here and people flocked to see it and to shoot it with their mobile phones and cameras. Art reduced to I don’t know what. Pixels? Kilobytes? I think modern life and technology has stripped meaning from experiences. Rendered it down to actions not feelings. But that’s another tale for another time.

By this point we were all museumed out so spent the afternoon browsing Covent Garden markets, weaving through the crowds at Leicester Square, soaking up London.

There was still so much we wanted to do so we started making plans for what we’d explore on a return trip. Time was not on our side and it was soon time to return home to give weary feet a rest. London, you were amazing. I’ll see you again.

26) Why posting a #blogaday is a really bad idea

It’s exhausting. I’ve enjoyed the experience, but it has worn me out. Each day putting together a new post, often some research, proof reading, finding relevant images to attach. Then finally monitoring comments, replying where applicable.

Towards the end I was fast running out of ideas to write about. It became a struggle as writers block set in. Some of the posts (points at this one) were about the process of the process rather than contributory. I’m sorry about that.

The other thing that bothered me somewhat is that, because of how regular new content is being posted, older content is quickly lost. Some of the better entries quickly became consigned to the ‘older posts’ section. I wrote about cancer – it’s now two pages behind the front. I wrote about work – that too has slipped away. If you post every single day your work is quickly lost to history. When some of it is your best writing it’s sad to see it adrift so quickly. With a slower schedule your posts get more of an audience, more views, and more people have the opportunity to be affected and to comment on your work.

Would I do it again? Probably not. Once is enough. It’s tough, it’s unforgiving, and often you’re writing when you could be doing something else.

Would I recommend it? Oh god yes I would. Just as a test of your mettle, your writing skills, imagination, tenacity. Do it. Do it just once. Set yourself a target and get writing.

And if you do, be sure to let me know so I can be an avid reader.

Till tomorrow ✌️

25) Whatever happened to good old fashioned romance?

I’m currently in London and was struggling for something to write about. I’ll write about London when I get back. I turned to Twitter for suggestions, and in amongst ‘vaginas’ and ‘the future of toys’ was this honest gem:

25a

Interesting, right? Whatever did happen to good old fashioned romance? Or, to put it another way; was good old fashioned romance actually any good?

I’m old enough to remember a time when meeting girls was as simple as putting on your best shirt, rolling out to the club, and remaining on the periphery of the dance floor awkwardly trying to look cool whilst surveying the assembled females dancing around their handbags. If you were lucky one would catch your eye at a time when you were drunk enough – but not too drunk – to have the stones to dance on over and pluck her away from her companions, dance for a bit, and then buy her a Smirnoff Ice. Drunk, horny, you exchange (landline) numbers and the next day or the next make an awkward phone call in the hope that she remembered you at all.

You arrange to meet and days pass between the conversation you had and the date you’re having. You meet, you romance her, you get to know each other, you talk about family, friends, work, etc.. Arrange to meet again and onwards towards a bright future together.

That’s how it used to be. These days, entirely different. There are a number of key reasons why dating today is entirely different. One: mobile phones. Two: internet dating. These things have turned dating and the opposite sex into instantly accessible commodities. But it’s not all bad. Consider;

Mobile phones mean that our access to potential partners is persistent and instantaneous. Text messages, phone calls, FaceTime, all can happen at any time. The ‘getting to know each other stage’ isn’t limited to the first date after the first meeting. It’s a constant process of ‘good morning’ and ‘good night, sweet dreams’ text messages and flirty content in between. You get a much greater opportunity to find out about someone when you can talk to them all the time.

25bBut the main reason why romance/dating has changed is the advent of Internet Dating. Now, we’re no longer restricted to meat markets to meet victims matches. Instead, we can do it online and who isn’t online these days? Plenty of Fish, Tinder, Match, OkCupid, UniformDating, the list goes on. There are so many ways to meet people these days that going out to try and snare a date – in busy modern times – is an inefficient process. Consider;

Go to a bar, choose someone based on looks, interact drunkenly, take them home, one night stand. The morning after realise the mistake you made. This is not the person you were looking for. You have nothing in common. Instead rely upon internet dating. Answer a series of questions and create a profile. Allow a computer to apply a compatibility algorithm to your questions and match you to potential people you will have something in common with. View the suggested profiles, read all about a potential match, have a look at the photos that are attached and decide if you find this person attractive -without the aid of beer goggles. Send a message in a safe(r) environment, strike up a conversation, get to know someone before you choose to spend valuable time on meeting them. How is that bad?

Years ago there was stigma attached to internet dating. These days it’s becoming the norm. And I quite like that. I think it’s cool. I think it’s a much better way of doing romance. I’m all for it.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned romance? It got an upgrade, it became something much bigger than it once was. Embrace the new style of romance because, just like the internet, it’s the future and it’s here to stay.

24) My best blog posts

Fast running out of ideas and fast running out of days on my blogaday challenge. Today, in an effort to fill up a little bit of space I’m going to have a look back through the twelve year history of this blog and bring to your attention some of my best (in my very own extremely conceited opinion) posts.

1) The Announcement – READ ME

Where I talk about finding out about becoming a Dad:

I’m going to do my best to be the best Father, Parent, Friend, Confidant, Teacher, Entertainer, Companion, Provider, Supporter and Advisor that I can. I’m going to change my life, my goals, my focus for another human being. I am going to do my all to ensure that my child has the best possible start in life and is loved and cherished and protected to the utmost of my ability.

2) Let’s assume for a moment that God *DOES* exist – READ ME

Where I get on my high horse about Christianity:

The Christian faith worships God for the complete global annihilation of the human race and animal kingdom in the story of Noah and The Flood. We’re talking all creatures great and small, the young, the old, the frail, the mentally infirm. Babies in the womb who had no chance of life and were therefore free from sin were killed when their Mother’s were drowned by God’s flood.

3) ‘See you later, mate’ – READ ME

Where I write about my absentee – and now dead – father:

To say I’ll miss him is wrong. I missed him every damn day since I was 13. I missed him for 20 years, even for those brief two years we spent together when I lived in Nottingham. Even then he wasn’t the Dad that I wanted or needed. We were close, like I am close to other friends. But it was not what it should have been.

4) Life through a social media lense – READ ME

Where I write about putting your bloody phone down for a minute:

Standing there with my boy’s arms around my neck just watching the display I realised that this is what is important. It’s not about what we can commit to electronic memory to be forgotten as soon as it’s happened, it’s about what we can feel and remember. What we can share with those people who matter to us.

5) Fatherhood I – READ ME

Where I write about my experiences of being a dad:

I remember speaking to Tom about something, I can’t remember the details, but I’d said to him, “but we don’t live together anymore.” To which he replied, “Yes but you live in my heart and I live in your heart.” I was stunned into silence. What do you say to something like that? The kid is five and he grasped the very fabric of our relationship on a level which this bumbling old fool could not?

6) Spend time not money – READ ME

Where I write about the importance of spending time with your kids:

I think that sometimes if you don’t stop and think about it, you miss it. You miss the development of infant into child into young man. Driving along listening to him natter away. Pointing out cars he likes (“COOL FORD FOCUS RS, MATE!”) as we swing through Yarm. Telling me about getting detention two days in a row because “Peter is a grass”. He’s his own little person and I wasn’t paying attention to that.

 

 

23) BULLYING NOBBERS

Sometimes I think that Twitter is a bit like a school playground. A typical school playground, if I remember what that was like all those years ago, divided into factions.

You’ve got the cool kids, the geeks, sporty kids, the beautiful people, the successful ones, then there’s the amateur dramatic group, Manchester United supporters, Liverpool supporters, those who hate football, those that hate anyone different to themselves, and there’s the comedians, laughing at/with each other.

In amongst the obvious factions you’ve got your cliques. Groups of people who can belong to any of the above but who come together on account of some shared value or belief or just ‘because’. Linked by linkages. Friends by association. There are the ringleaders, the popular people, those who unite these disparate individuals into a unit.

It’s just The Way things are. We all strive for social acceptance to one degree or another. It’s what we – as a social species – are genetically predisposed towards. We are united in groups large and small for reasons too multitudinous to list.

But when you get groups you get rivalries. Sometimes friendly, other times ugly. And with ugly rivalries comes bullying. Another thing which twitter features just as you’d find in a school playground. Groups of people united in bashing another group or individual.

Now, if you wanna go bash a group that’s fine. You crack on. Either ideologically different to your chosen group identity or for any other reason. Hate feminists, hate capitalists, hate muslims, Christians, republicans, Tories, socialists, communists, Manchester United fans, whatever.

Collectively disparage and dispute any group you choose. Groups are bigger than the sum of their parts. Groups can take it.

But when you attack an individual, when you gang up and pester, prod, poke and provoke another human being; that’s when you’re guilty of being an utter cock. And a loser low life bully.

I’ve seen it and you know who you are, taking it in turns to abuse any number of individuals on twitter as you probably did in the school playground. It’s not big. It’s not clever. It’s just cruel, petty, and nasty. And, you adults indulging in such cretinous behaviour ought to be ashamed of yourself.

So next time you see your twitter pal bashing another do the world a favour and don’t join in. In fact, if you’ve got the cojones to do so, tell them to stop. I know some of you are sheep without a unique thought of your own. I know some of you have so little in your life that the only way you can feel better is to destroy others. But please, think before you tweet. Consider the consequences of your words. Many people are fighting a difficult battle. Some of you engaging in bullying behaviour have fought battles of your own and should know better. Consider the impact of your words before you broadcast. And, you pack leaders, consider how you influence others with your behaviour. Consider some are so obliviously sycophantic that they’ll do what you say without question. As Ben Parker said;

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Use your power for good. Don’t be a nob. x

22) Attention Seeking

Conversation the other day about attention seeking and people saying that when someone posts a selfie, that’s what they’re doing. Attention seeking; seeking attention.

6c47f1242827eaa7db90f38d2051f877And it made me think – dangerous, I know – aren’t we all attention seeking? When I write these words am I seeking attention? My primary reason for writing stuff down is to empty my head, but I could scribble on bits of paper and throw them away. Instead I present words in a format easy to read, add a pretty image, add a link to go out into the world via twitter, and hit ‘publish’. Should that button not be labelled ‘seek attention’?

There is nothing wrong with it. Understand that. When you say hello to a stranger in the street you are attention seeking. When you smile at a passer-by you are attention seeking. Each time you text, email, write, speak, sing, shout, gesture, it’s an act of seeking attention.

Every time you Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine or Periscope, you are an attention seeker.

I’ll accept, to some extent that there are degrees of ‘attention seeking’. If you post a picture of your tits or your ass you’re seeking – if not more attention, certainly a different kind of attention. But I’m okay with that. I’ll never go out of my way to criticise someone for posting a photo of them in an effort to gain attention. For some, sadly, it’s the only attention they will ever get. So go easy on the attention seekers, because each time you broadcast into the world (real or digital) you too are looking for validation, you too are looking for some acknowledgment, you too are seeking the attention that you criticise others for looking for too.

Be kind, because the path to hypocrisy is short and slippery.

21) My favourite quote

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil

I don’t remember where I first heard it. I know though that it was just the first line I was aware of initially and at first just thought it was pretty cool. I didn’t quite grasp the meaning.

As time went on, and as I took up my role in society all those years ago, the significance of the quote became apparent.

If you are a fighter of monsters there is a very real risk that you shall become that which you despise. Know thine enemy, if you will.

I spend my days fighting against crime and disorder; against the bad men and bad women who will hurt society and hurt the innocent. I am just one of many who stand as a protector of people. I am just one of many who stand against those that wish to cause others harm. We stand against monsters. It’s not just something we do, it’s something we are.

The quote reminds me every day that I must be conscious of the fight and the extremes I am called upon to win that fight. It reminds me of the requirement to use violence to defeat violence, of the necessity to use force to achieve a legal aim. It causes me to remember why I do what I do.

It tells me to be mindful of the risks I face. The risk that in dealing with bad people you forget there is good out there. The risk that you can become so engrossed in the fight that you become that which you are fighting against.

20) Life flashing before your eyes

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

Heard that before? The notion of life flashing before one’s eyes at the moment of death is something which is romanticised. It’s sentimentality at its finest. Make sure that you have lived a good life, a full life, and active life; so that when you get to watch that final show it’s worthwhile.

But what if I told you that your life flashing before your eyes is actually a defence mechanism? Its human nature – probably animal nature – to survive, to live, to exist. We fight death, we try to cheat death. It’s not possible to stop yourself from breathing, to stop your heart from beating, to the point where you cease to be. Existence and the fight for life is an automatic process which cannot be interrupted without the introduction of an external element.

When you are at the point of death your life does flash before your eyes. This is your brain, your fight, your ego, your id, searching desperately for the answer to survival. The urge to live is strong in us all. At the point of terminal, lethal danger, your brain searches your past for the moment closest to the one you are in right now and asks, “How did I survive it the last time?”

I hope you can find the answer. And if not, I hope you enjoy the show.

19) Turning forty

Turning forty is not something I am concerned about. Why should I be? An apology for the cliché, but age is just a number… Isn’t it?

There are many things said about being forty:

Life begins at forty.

Forty is the new thirty.

You’re not forty; you’re eighteen with 22 years’ experience.

*Roll* *Eyes*

I’ll be forty. My life is half way over. I will be dead within half a century – of that there is very little doubt. I’m over the hill, past the point of no return; it’s all downhill from here.

Or is it?

You know, I’m better now than I have ever been. I have more money, more responsibility, a better job, a future, prospects, options, opportunities. I travel, I go out, I have good mates and a fledgling ‘beautiful friendship’ that could ‘be something’. I have never been better off, better placed, better fed, better equipped, better experienced.

Forty is good.

The mess that is my twenties and thirties when I was directionless is behind me. My life is bloody good. And being forty does not detract from that, oh hell no. When I see people saying how scared they are about turning forty, how they are terrified of the Big Four Ohh, how they hate the idea of being one year older, I smile. The difference between thirty nine and forty is a millisecond or less. The different between thirty nine and forty is nothing. Al at thirty nine is no different to the Al at forty, and anyone who thinks there’s a difference between being thirty nine and 365 days and thirty nine and 366 days needs to give their head a shake.

Embrace forty because you’ll never be forty again. You’re over the hill, past the point of no return; it’s all downhill from here…