Aahhh – hello, January. In the midst of the dying enthusiasm many of us have left well behind, in the wake of the nuclear fallout we refer to as Christmas, the cold bleak weeks of January have snuck in un-noticed like a wedding crasher hiding behind the floral arrangement. Before we have time to break our first resolution of the new year, and while we’re still sweating candy, suddenly the lights and glamour of the celebrations are gone and we’re faced with the drudging return to work and the inevitable feeling that no matter what we wish for, here comes another year that will take all our hopes and dreams, our aspirations for newer and better things, and warp them into another minefield of loss, recrimination and unforseen hardship. And riding high on this wave of happy thoughts and boundless optimism….. I’M BACK!!!!
Firstly, let me welcome you all back by explaining my absence from the ethereal world of the internet for the last few weeks. As I touched on briefly at the end of last year, although I celebrate Christmas like (most) of you do, it’s not quite the same for me. As with many holiday periods and days of celebration, these are the times when my working life goes nuts. I worked all through Christmas, finally getting a day off on the 28th December, which ironically was the day my wife was away on the Big Island (mainland England) visiting her parents with the kids. I then worked through until January 2nd, including being at work until eleven pm New Years Eve, and back in to cook breakfast at seven am New Years Day. So my time with my family over what is traditionally viewed as a family holiday is, sadly, somewhat limited. However before this all sounds a bit oh-woe-is-me, here’s the flip side of the coin. Now we enter January my work goes quiet, and I’m finally getting more time off work as a consequence. Whilst this means a dip in my pay packet, it means that I’m also able to make the most of some quality time at home which I’ve been missing out on, and this is the reason I’ve been quiet for a bit. Don’t be offended, gentle reader, but I put my family first for a while.
But like that red wine stain Uncle Jim left in your white shag-pile carpet when he was hammered on Christmas Day, I’m a real bugger to get rid of, so I’m pleased to announce that normal service has resumed, and I’ll be here all year, thank you very much. Today’s post may be little more than some spare thoughts kicking around my head and a bit of an introspection on last year, but rest ye assured that I have several blog ideas straining to be set to paper (screen?) to keep us going for a bit. Spoiler alert – my next post will be my response to a challenge set me before Xmas by the lovely You’ve Got Sars, which I thought would be a simple thing and has turned into a far more difficult task than I first imagined!! More on that next time. For now I just want to briefly touch on some thoughts about last year and a look forward at the coming one.
2011 was not the greatest year for me but neither was it the worst. It included several changes of work for me, as the financial recession began to take its toll and the labour market here on the tiny island where I live became much less stable than it traditionally is. We rely a great deal on tourism here on the island, and the drop in the number of people taking holidays and so on saw our local unemployment rate rise to be the highest figure anywhere in England and Wales outside of London. Having risen to the top of my ‘food-chain’ so to speak, I almost overnight had to deal with the unusual feeling of taking a lesser position in what felt like a big backward step not once but twice in the last year in order to hold onto work and take care of my family. Whilst doing this took no decision at all, since nothing is more important than my wife and the kids, it was awkward having to deal with the nagging feeling that I should have been moving up, not down, as well as adjusting to not being the boss of my own kitchen any more. I say all this with the greatest of respect to both of the chefs I found myself working under (oo-er matron!) since they are both fully capable and lovely people, but it’s felt a bit like I’m driving the car but someone else is doing the steering – it’s workable, it just feels … odd. All of this coupled with the fact that for fourteen years now I’ve been working flat-out doing ridiculous numbers of hours each week in hot, high pressure environments all led to a bit of a wobble in my faith in what I do mid-year, as I questioned whether there were choices I could have made differently and so on. But in the end, it came down to the realisation that whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing the past is gone and the future is not here yet, so all we can do is live for the now and be happy with our lot. There is food on my table, a roof over our heads and we’re all healthy, and as long as that stays the same I’ll deal with anything else as it comes!
It’s also been the first full year since I got married. Although my wife and I have been a couple for over eight years now, we were married on 10/10/10, which is the reason, despite the many very interesting theories otherwise, that I have ‘XXX’ tattooed inside my left wrist. We waited until we had last Christmas (2010) out of the way before we went on honeymoon, so we started 2011 the best possible way, by buggering off to Jamaica for two weeks this time last year. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have had 12 whole months more time spent with her, still now finding new ways to love her, and being reminded in the darker times just how much we have come to rely on each other as each other’s support mechanism when we need a little something extra to get us through the day. Regardless of anything else life tries to throw at me, I know she’ll be there when I
crawl in grouchy, exhausted and irritable get home, and that one hug from her will drive all negativity from me like an emotional colonic. Emily, I’m looking forward to finding new ways to show you that I love you in 2012 baby! xx
Of course it was just this year gone by that I started this blog as well. To this day I’m still not sure why I did it, other than perhaps that I always enjoyed writing at school and missed having that creative outlet. I remember reading a collaboration my good friend Jody had written with author Marni Mann and thinking to myself “That looks like fun, I could do this!”. It sounds like a cliché to say this, but I honestly never expected this to go any further than a handful of my existing friends – I certainly never occurred to me that anything I wrote may lead me to befriend people all round the globe, and strike up new friendships with some of them. Now a scant 8 months later I’ve new friends in America, Austria, Australia, New Zealand …… I’ve won a blog award, taken part in an epic global rap battle or two, judged a beauty contest, received some comments that have brought me close to tears of gratitude from some of you – and had my life threatened by a redneck fan of Steven Seagal. Who, for the record eight months on is STILL a total douche. Suck it up. Some of you were even worried about me being missing from my blog for a couple of weeks and messaged me on Facebook to ask if I was ok!! (No names, you know who you are you soppy bitches!!). If that’s what the first eight months has brought me who knows what this year has in store for me!!
One thing I do know is that I will NOT break any of my New Years Resolutions. This is because I have avoided inevitable failure by not making any. I wholeheartedly agree with the legendary Oscar Wilde, who said “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account”. That having been said, there are a few things I have decided I shall try to achieve this year. The first of these is expand upon my writing a little. I’ve had a couple of offers in the last few months to try writing for a couple of other people in a more ‘official’ capacity, so I’m going to chase that one down and see where that leads. I’ll also be posting up a couple more pieces of creative writing mixed in with the regular venom-filled blogs and character assassinations, not as part of some grand scheme but just because I enjoy doing it and I’m interested in your reactions – so keep commenting and if you don’t like what you read don’t hold back – I love a good argument about why I’m right and you’re wrong. I’ll also be introducing some ‘local colour’ interviews with some of the carny freaks that I call my friends to try to mix up the content you’re seeing, and already have some fun ideas for unusual blog topics as well (but we are NEVER playing Truth or Dare again……………..). I’m also going to try to get my lazy ass back out there firebreathing again since I’ve let it slide over the last few months, and I’m missing the chance to practice some justifiable arson.
That’s about it from me today really – sorry it’s not a more funny or entertaining post – I was going to wait until I’d finished Sars challenge and make that my first post of 2012 but I thought I’d pop in quick and reassure you all I’m still lurking in the background like Peter Andre at a photo shoot, waiting for my moment to pounce! The next post will be up soon, but in the meantime let me know if there’s something that annoys you that you’d like to see me assassinate for you, or you want to set me a literary challenge. Until then, as Mark Twain famously said,