So having bored those foolish enough to read to tears with my valedictory 2013 in review blog, I thought I’d go all in and try and crank up the boredom to 11 with my what is effectively a “New Year’s Resolutions 2014” post (NYR posts are the new holiday slides surely?). And sorry if the title has misled. I’m planning my actual 2014 assassination targets post later in the month.
I figure I might as well put this one in right at the top for the amusement of those of my friends, family and readers who have a slight bent toward an occasional bout of pedantry. I have no doubt that despite this plan for 2014, even at this early stage, I will let slip an enormous number of typos, spelling mistakes and heinous grammar crimes.
But, what with events in the latter part of 2013, I came to remember how much I enjoy writing. Now I’m not going to do anything so foolish as to pledge to write to any sort of a specific schedule or anything. Blogging becoming a chore was what kind of put me off for a bit in the first place. Having said that, I am planning on writing more frequently, insofar as I retain my current levels of enjoyment whilst doing it.
I am though a terrible, TERRIBLE, proof reader. Particularly when it comes to my own work (true to a certain extent of all of us I suspect). And as someone who is a massively hypocritical pedant myself (do as I say, not as I do) I really ought to do a bit more work on this area. Also I realise that spending a bit of time editing and re-editing your stuff immeasurably improves your writing. I reckon I have at least a wee smidgeon of skill in the area, but, I know I could get a lot better if I spent a bit more time subbing my stuff before hitting the “send into the Interwebz wild” button. So I’m going to try to say that 2014 will be a year in which I prioritise quality polishing over swift publishing!
Feel free to point out my “Deliberate Mistakes in the comments or better still publicly on Twitter!
Get some dates/Find love.
I guess I kinda need to cover this off. Even though I am getting a little bored of writing about it. I think the lesson for me from #GetRalphADate ought to be that however the actual Twitter campaign pans out (who knows maybe I have met Miss Right through it and I have just not discovered yet?) I ought to take something from all this.
It has been a kick up the arse. I realise that I don’t want to be perpetually alone, and whilst I’m never going to be some silver tongued Lothario, confidently approaching girls left right and centre, I can probably take at least some rudimentary steps toward meeting people.
At the same time I think I am going to have to make sure I don’t get too disheartened if things don’t work out straight away…. Schedule for the construction of Rome and all that! I need to be positive, keep an open mind, approach correspondence with a view to making friends and if something more develops then great. And if all else fails I can always try the normal stuff like dating websites huh?
Slay my inner hoarder.
Last night I had an interesting Twitter discussion with @SarahLouLouLou about the sinister nature of Dolphins. Now I obviously realise with hindsight, that the correct witty retort would have been something about “sinister” meaning left handed, and Dolphins being sadly lacking in arm/hand department. At the time it passed me by and even having slept on things my comedy chops can’t quite come up with a good gag…. (Answers on a postcard any reader funnier than I, so basically any readers! ;-))
I think dolphins look a bit sinister.
— Sarah McDowell (@SarahLouLouLou) January 2, 2014
But discussion went off on a tangent and got me thinking about my nature as an inveterate hoarder. My last house move was traumatic in the extreme due to the volume of crap I had accumulated. I was astonished at how much stuff I had to throw away. On the other had I was also astonished at how cathartic it was to rid myself of so much useless stuff.
So even though every instinct of mine is to keep that “Buckaroo box” with half the contents missing, I have in new gaffe periodically ruthlessly purged the stuff I don’t need. And with only minimal Gollum like gnashing of teeth!
In truth sometimes this is actually good fun. Unlike my gradual move up the clothing sizes, my gradual movement down them has utterly delighted me! Replacing a wardrobe with smaller clothes, and getting rid of all my stuff in “Medium family tent” size required very little effort on my part to throw the old gear away; I was basically jumping for joy.
But the Smaug in me remains, confined mostly to my cavernous “Big cupboard of crap”. Basically it has been a sink hole for stuff I didn’t want to chuck but wasn’t sure if I needed. My tools are in there and mostly unobtainable due to being under stuff. And all important documentation stored there in no particular order meaning it is impossible to find anything.
So I reckon this year I must conquer the cupboard, sort it out, organise the paperwork. Be once again able to access my tools. And throw away the rubbish I don’t need. This one will be tricky, but I’m going to have to do it.
Obtain more hats.
Now I realise that this is one will rather contradict a resolution about sorting out a hoarding instinct, what is the fun in consistency eh?
Earlier this year I finally got around to watching the wonderful “Miller’s Crossing” which I had inexplicably overlooked up to that point. As with any period piece I, as a massive hat lover, couldn’t help but admire the hats. And that a hat was an important plot device has been gnawing away at me. You see I find myself with not nearly enough hats.
I think wearing varied and silly hats whilst having a drink with friends is one of the great pleasures in life. A wee snifter of fine vintage port will always be improved if wearing a Deerstalker. Rye whiskey should only ever be consumed whilst wearing a Coonskin cap and pretending you are at the Alamo…. All sorts of possibilities. I currently no longer have a single comedy drinking hat. And that is a situation I fully intend to rectify in 2014.
And if you have not seen Miller’s Crossing then for pities sake watch it straight away. Unless you don’t like the Coen Brothers. If you don’t like the Coen Brothers then what the bleeding heck is wrong with you? I order you to watch The Big Lebowski on repeat drinking White Russians until you gain a proper appreciation.
Do a proper Triathlon.
Now don’t get me wrong I am really proud of myself having done a Sprint Tri last year. Coming “off the couch” when unable to swim, to completing a Tri in a respectable, if not a good, time in only 4 months isn’t bad. But at the same time I don’t think I will really have scratched this itch until I do a Tri that contains some sort of an open water swim.
I am realistic, whilst it is one thing swimming 400 meters in a 25m swimming pool, doing a full Olympic Triathlon right now is going to be beyond me. I just can’t see me swimming 1.5K, let alone doing that and climbing out of the water to carry on going for north of two hours. But I am sure I can do an open water Tri (750m) and then work toward doing a full one later in the year or early next season.
I also didn’t try to raise any money for “charidee” as I was only doing a titchy training wheels Tri last year. And in all honesty I was terrified I wouldn’t finish and would let people and charity down if I’d have got sponsorship. I do really think I’d like to try and raise some money for a good cause if I was doing a more substantial Tri next year.
With God’s help I’ll conquer this terrible affliction.
Now I have never taken Crack, Heroin or Meth. But I can confidently state with all the power and force of a polemicist powered by anecdote that my crippling lifelong addiction “Champ” is worse than any of them. It is also worse than “Clarkey Cats” and “Cake”. For those of you not in the know “Champ” is the street name for a terrible addictive drug known to the authorities as “Football Manager”.
Like most chaps of my vintage who combine an interest in both Football & video games I have devoted far more of my adult life than is healthy to, as my kid brother used to call it, “Playing spreadsheets”. I have actually been mostly clean for the last few years. Every now and again the addiction breaks through though.
So 2014 will be a year in which I don’t touch the “Champ”. Not even a little bit. No matter how low I sink, or how badly things go. I’m not gonna touch that shit ever again! 😉
Watch live stuff.
I recently went to see Stephen K Amos live whilst up in Bristol for a meeting and I was pleasantly surprised at how side splittingly hilarious he was (that sketch show he had on TV recently didn’t do him justice). As I almost invariably do after such things I wondered why I don’t watch live stuff more often?
I always have a great time, I always think I should do it more often. And frankly unless there is a lot of travelling involved it isn’t really all that expensive to be honest. Given that I am, through work and play, a reasonably regular visitor to both London and Bristol I can’t even use the excuse that Plymouth doesn’t really have a great deal going on.
So I’m going to try and pledge to myself that I am going to go to a music gig, or a comedy show or suchlike at least once every other month in 2014.
I Heart Vietnam
I often have little fads, where I get terribly into something for a while. But my fad for Vietnamese food shows no sign of dimming after a couple of years. I just can’t get enough of it. When in London for work I always want to head out east to Nathan Barley land so I can get some nice Pho. And I will during the day go hours out of my way to get some Bahn Mi for lunch (my current favourite place is Bahn Mi Bay on Theobolds road).
Unfortunately, for me and for the denizens of my home town, there are no Vietnamese restaurants down here. None at all. Gosh I hope that changes…
So I make a heartfelt plea to the people of Vietnam, the wider Vietnamese diaspora, and frankly anyone with a skill for professional catering who is good at coking Vietnamese food; Please, pretty please, open a Vietnamese food place in Plymouth. I beg you….
Now I can’t promise that Plymouth is the most happening place in the world (We don’t even have a Vietnamese restaurant 😉 !). And frankly thanks to the earnest efforts of the Luftwaffe the city is pretty plain. But we are near the sea, Dartmoor and most of Cornwall are beautiful and easy to reach, and we are home to the world’s greatest Football team. We even have a giant metal prawn.
On top of that Plymouth has a huge student population who would no doubt welcome a Vietnamese place, and I for one pledge to spend a significant proportion of my income at any Vietnamese gaffe should they be able to sell me nice Bahn Mi for lunch, Pho for dinner and Vietnamese coffee whenever!
So I’m thinking I need to get Donna to use her Social Media-Fu to launch #GetPlymouthAVietnameseRestaurant though I suspect the that ship might just have sailed…..
Failing this happening, and I suspect I shouldn’t hold my breath, I guess I had better make a pledge for 2014 that I am finally going to crack cooking Vietnamese food. Been trying to get the hang of it for a while, and got a pretty boss book about it just before Christmas. So hoping to become a demon at cooking it over the course of the next year.
So that is eight aims, with varying degrees of seriousness. At the very least should give me something to write about next year for my 2014 in review blog post! Looking at the word count perhaps “understand concept of brevity” ought to be something I am looking to do at some point!
So sometimes you have good ones and sometimes you have bad ones. 2012 for me had been a pretty crummy year. Not exactly an annus horribilus certainly not a vintage year.
My grandfather had died after a long illness; my Mum had been suffering from serious illness as had one of my Uncles to whom I’ve always been very close. I wouldn’t say I’d been exactly unhappy in work, but I had certainly been listless, directionless and not really knowing where my life was going. And to a certain extent this was true of my life outside of work. I think I was pretty unhappy about my perma-singleton status, didn’t really have a hobby I was keen on….
So I had been looking forward to a fresh new year in 2013 hoping that it would be good. And to be honest it really didn’t disappoint. Whilst optimistic about the coming year, I shall be sad to see 2013 go!
I’d had two resolutions for this year, and I had a 50% success rate. My first one was to maintain a healthy body weight. Through some disciplined dieting I had lost a load of erm…. Dough in later 2011 and through 2012 and I was determined not to slip back into bad habits. As it turned out I was more than successful in this regard. Bit more on that later.
My second one was a disastrous failure. Truth is I am terrible for getting into fads, in fact a cursory glance through blog history would show my “chuntey” phase (Insert own Chutney Ferret gag here), “food blogger” phase, my “wannabe Comment is Free contributor” phase etc.
So I had decided, basically from having been hooked on The Great British Bake Off, that I wanted to become an accomplished baker. I’d always had a wee bit of a blind spot about baking. I’m a nifty cook (If I may say so myself) but I have always had a pretty good appreciation of flavour, so my cooking style has always been a bit , fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I go. I see recipes in an impressionistic way rather than a photorealistic one.
Tends to work for the kind of food I cook, but let’s be honest baking is a bit more of a science. Now I was determined to crack it. I was really disciplined (well for about a month) but I have come to the conclusion that I have some sort of genetic defect that makes baking impossible. I think I exude an “anti-baking” field or something. I really ought to get onto the Randi foundation and claim my million bucks. An ESP superpower of preventing yeast from ever rising! Put that in your pipe and smoke it Superman!
Well one out of two isn’t bad eh?
First really good thing that happened to me in 2013 was getting a new job in the Union. I wasn’t exactly unhappy in my role as a Safety rep, and despite what the stupid Tory press will tell you Safety at work is an important thing, but in truth I was probably bored with it. It didn’t challenge me, or excite me, in the way the “coal face” of Trade Union activism does.
So whilst I was disappointed our previous Branch Secretary had stepped down I was absolutely thrilled to be elected into the post (un-opposed, my favourite way). Technically speaking my role makes me the “head honcho” in the Branch, though in practise it actually means that I am the “chief tea maker”. We have not had an entirely successful year, Royal Mail has been outrageously privatised (and sold on the cheap ripping off every single one of us) but I’m proud of the work my Union has done nationally and locally!
Next up was how I fell into doing a Triathlon. Whilst I had been pretty successful in shedding my Michelin Man look, and keeping the tub off, I was increasingly realising that puritanical dieting just wasn’t a long term solution. The truth was I firstly liked food too much, and secondly was bound to go through at some point a time when I just couldn’t keep the effort up. I was either going to have to accept I’d get big again, or….. do some exercise.
At work they do the excellent Cycle To Work scheme which allows you to purchase a pushbike and pay from your earning at work and save a load of wedge on tax and NI. It is a properly brilliant idea and I’d urge anyone to look into it. I took up this offer and got myself a nifty hybrid bike. And I started tootling around on it.
A few weeks later I was at my friend Mary’s birthday BBQ. I still can’t remember how it came about but the next day I awoke to a woolly head, and the knowledge that I had made a folding money bet with my mate Chris about who would win in a Triathlon.
Now I’d imagine anyone who has read this on the back on #GetRalphADate might be wondering if I am some sort of weird hard drinking idiot who regularly makes Dave Gorman-esque life changing bets whilst under the influence. Honestly readers I don’t do this more than a couple of times a year! 😉
Of course when I started to think about this I realised the plan had a slight flaw. I basically couldn’t swim. Sure I could doggy paddle and bit, and had a sort of breast stroke-ish type thing. But I certainly couldn’t do freestyle, nor swim for any great length. I’d got into a bit of trouble in a rip tide in Portugal earlier in the year and nearly drowned.
Decided I would go up to the pool at the Plymouth Life centre and try and teach myself to swim. When I got there I noticed the clear demarcation in swimming speed and athleticism. There was a “fast lane” with super fit athletes swimming faster than I could run, medium lane looked pretty daunting too. I didn’t really want to go in the super slow lane which seemed to be for the extremely elderly and those undergoing physical therapy so I jumped in the slow lane than was mostly filled will older people swimming along at a steady pace.
As I struggled the old dears made, at first at least, jokey questions to if I was alright as they sailed past me, questions that become increasingly worried as I splashed along. Eventually the guard came along and told me to get into the physical therapy lane. Oh the shame….
So I decided I needed some help. I joined the Plymouth Triathlon Club, got in contact with one of their coaches Alan Ward, and arranged some 1-1 lessons. I can’t thank Alan enough because without his help I’d never have completed a Tri. I doubt I’ll ever be a strong swimmer but in a short spell of time I became competent. If you live in Plymouth and need to learn how to swim you could do a lot worse than give him a shout. He is a bloody hard task master mind.
Despite getting injured the week before my first sprint Tri at Wadebridge in the autumn I was able to finish in a respectable (if a little disappointing 1:35, I got hammered in the bet mind. My pal was over 11 minutes quicker than I) and I cannot wait till the new Triathlon season in the new year! It really is true that getting fit makes you happier and healthier and I really have the bug for it now.
The next great thing that happened in 2013 was the wedding of my best mates Matthew and Jenna Travis. Myself and my entire extended circle of friends had been haranguing them to tie the knot for years. I was immensely proud, alongside my great mates Moz and John, to be asked to be Matt’s best man. Went to Estonia for a quality stag do, though “what happens on tour….” And all that means I have to respect the Omerta and not blog about it.
When the day came it ended up being one of those magical weddings that everyone agreed was one of the best they can remember attending as a guest. Getting to be a part of their day was also one of the proudest days in my life. And I’m certain they will have a long and happy life together.
So did I say there was an Omerta about Talinn? Hmmm…. well actually myself and Matt’s other besties were actually unable to stick to this. Truth was whilst in Estonia Matt (kinda forerunning my later International Media Celebrity) became something of a star in Estonia. I’d explain here but it is probably easier, like we did at the wedding, to show you dear reader. Even with you not knowing the people involved I’m sure many of you will have a chuckle at this video!
So the year ended for me with a really weird situation. After another life changing drunken bet my friend, the excellent Telegraph endorsed funny tweeter, Donna launched on Twitter the #GetRalphADate campaign to try and end my perma-singleton status. Which inexplicably became in international news event.
It was daunting, terrifying, exciting and probably life changing I’d say. I seriously hadn’t planned on being featured by Time Magazine USA for quite some years! And I actually went on a date, for the first time since Raquel Welch was knocking about with Dinosaurs. Not going to go on about this seeing as this blog post has already gone on far too long, and GRAD has been done to death in last four blog posts. But it topped off a great 2013 that I actually enter the new year hopefull that I might meet “Miss Right”! And Time Magazine USA (I might have mentioned that once or twice! They called me a “handsome dude” but wisely didn’t include a picture!)
So I have had a great year, and I enter 2014 full of optimism. I’ll do a resolution post tomorrow I think, if not too hung over. So to everyone who had a good 2013 I wish you more of the same, and those who are not sad to see it go I wish you a much better year!
Happy new year!
“When I was a young boy
My mama said to me
There’s only one girl in the world for you
And she probably lives in Tahiti”
There comes a point where any joke gets a bit old. It’s time passes. And clearly both #GetRalphADate and my self-described “International Media
Celebrity” are way passed. I’m not even yesterday’s fish and chip wrappers anymore! The glitz and glamour of Radio Humberside a distant memory….
Whilst I genuinely was wilting under the spotlight for a bit when it was going crazy, it has mostly been really fun. I made a whole metric shedload of new twitter friends; some really funny and interesting people who have immeasurably improved the fun of twitter for me. I rediscovered the fact that I like to write, and I’m maybe not too awful at it.
I had an honest to gods, real life, 15 minutes of fame. Something that I will no doubt boorishly dine out on for years to come! I think in years to come I will have real struggles to believe the last two weeks actually happened. I might have one or twice mentioned Time magazine USA in passing 😉
And crickey I even went out on a date. With a girl. Who was cool. It obviously didn’t work out “like that” but it was a pretty epochal event for me for sure.
That I was in a situation where Donna was going to be prepared to launch such an internet stunt on my behalf was because I clearly had “Sort out love life” on my to do list (become “Rockstar Astronaut” is still gathering dust unfortunately, I wonder if I can do a twitter campaign about that!). And for all I was terrified and overwhelmed I have tried to get down with the campaign to the best of my ability.
Trouble is I really had not given any thought, whatsoever, to how sorting “love life” out would work in practice. Let alone how I would deal with effectively getting propositioned (with I’m sure varying degrees of seriousness) by a load of girls in my mentions column. There was no real plan in place, this was a drunken bet challenge thingy, it isn’t like we storyboarded things! I’d forgotten all about it when it started going mental on Monday morning.
Even now when I have got over the whole shock of the situation I still don’t really know what to do about things. Let’s be honest unless you want to do some sort of “Take Me Out” situation, (I don’t, and Donna really objects to the Paddy McGuiness comparison) then I’m not sure how something like #GetRalphADate would work in practicality.
Three dates a night and me saying caddishly “Ere Sorry Dahhhlin you’ll need to eat up cause my seven thirty will be here in a minute”. And Twitter bios can be ace, but it often isn’t a lot to go on. And if you… you know…. Wanna meet a nice girl you like and you can chat to…. Well 140 characters is a bit limiting.
If only, someone would write a book about this shit. Most of my modern dating knowledge basically comes from fast forwarding through the trailers to RomCom films on DVDs. As far as I can see I basically need to turn into Matthew McConaughey, get in some awkward situations and then the insanely hot girl I thought I hated will turn out to be my soul mate. Not sure how that is going to translate to twitter and #GetRalphADate…. Maybe I need to ask someone I blocked…..
So anyway whatever happens it is now Christmas and I’m away “oop north” to see my Mam. I have obviously met a whole load of new people some of whom have expressed a misguided interest in maybe going on a date with me at some point. I kinda think the sensible thing is to you know talk to some of these people, get to know them, and let them get to know me and then if we like one another go out on a date. You know like they probably do on dating websites, or even in “Real Life”!
It has also crossed my mind, that it is just within the realms of possibility that just maybe potential future dates might not be entirely enamoured by the possibility of my blogging and tweeting humorous, highly fictionalised accounts of our dating process. Even if it is done pysuedonomously (Is that a real word?!?!?!?) Miss X was great sport about that but you know I can imagine it might just be a little bit off putting for some people. I suppose I’ll have to play that by ear.
So I think the overt twitter campaign, at least insofar of me asking out a random person has to end. I just can’t really do that. But you know I’m still hoping to find love. Anyone who wants to maybe chat and see if I am right for them feel free to drop me a line (DM me or leave a comments and I can get your email from that). Donna’s challenge was for me to go on three dates in six months. I’m one down after two weeks so hopefully I won’t let her, and those following down.
Now I have to get on with the important task of preparing from Christmas. Just got wrapping to do. I normally, after about three hours end up covered in selotape, carpet, bits of wrapping paper and bleeding profusely from gaping scissor wounds. With no presents successfully wrapped! I hate it and really struggle. I understand the key skill in wrapping is ensuring the last word of every sentence rhymes, then crossing your arms moodily! Never gets my presents neat though 😉
So assuming I don’t die of over eating or wrapping related injuries I’ll get on the case of not totally wasting #GetRalphADate in the new year. I realise that unless my next date is with Kim Kardashion, or this whole story gets made into a Sandra Bullock type Hollywood blockbuster then this is totally old news now as a media event.
I hope some of you have enjoyed following the events on twitter and here. And I’m conceited enough to believe that a few of my new followers and friends might be interested in what I say from now on. So have a merry Christmas and I’ll try to write something funny again in the new year.
A Former International Media Celebrity indeed!