The Great Aberystwyth Fire, or Burning down the house

FI-Category-Autobiography

Today I’ve been thinking about fires, Ok that sounds as but scary to start of a post with but there is a reason. I’ve been reminiscing about the first time I went to university, and whilst I was there was a slight incident ‘allegedly’ [citation needed] involving arson that practically destroyed my halls of residence.

For those at the time ‘The Great Aberystwyth Fire’ or, as some knew it, “Yn brydio chan Saesneg efrydyddion” will not be forgotten for a long time. It was one of those events that seems to happen to other people, the kind you watch on the news and think yourself lucky you are not involved.

Except in this case I was, and I was also on the news.

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Play Lexicographer, or the meaning of Fleedership

FI-Post-Work

I am incredibly lucky to have good managers, I say that not just because they may read this (and end of year reviews are coming up) but because if I did have a gripe with where I work it is not with anyone in a leadership role. In fact through my career I have been blessed with good managers, which is handy as I’m not always the best managee.

Not everyone I know is so lucky (as I have a lot of teachers in my family), it seems that numpties have a habit of rising through the ranks to hold positions of power and influence and they are not the right person that is needed or deserved. I have a term for these people…

Fleedership.

The key attribute of a fleeder is the ability to take zero accountability for anything that goes wrong but takes all the responsibility for when it goes right. You fail because you are incapable but succeed thanks to their support. This is annoying doubly because lack of support is another Key Performance Indicator of a Fleeder.

Action plans, development plans, performance plans, whatever you call them (and the fleeder will change them regularly) are meaningless because it is a list of your perceived faults and what you are going to be expected to do to change these flaws. Nothing about the “suggestions”, not that they are suggestions if you want to keep your job capiche, are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) and they are purely designed to make sure that the blame is yours not theirs.

And when you do fail, as there is no ‘if’ under a fleeocracy, it will again not be their fault. You will have been given no support, no backing, no fall back and it will not be a failure of their fleedership. On the contrary they told you that you could come to them with any problems. Yet it is brazenly clear that by doing  so you have identified yourself as a trouble maker and not part of the “Team Flee”. The lack of support is possibly the most demoralising aspect, you will feel that if a complaint is made you will be under more pressure to prove something that may not be the case isn’t true and you will be seen as “guilty presumed guilty”.

It is called Fleedership because this is what that person does, they flee from responsibility, they flee from criticism, they flee from accountability, they flee from conflict, they flee from solving problems.

Where I work I get the support I need, I get given the recognition and I feel that if I make a mistake but for the right reasons then someone will have my back.

I just wish that more people could experience that, rather than feeling like they leave their role. Especially when good teachers are made to consider why they are trying so hard when they are being chewed up and spat out.

This is maybe the defining mark of a fleeder.

They make others flee their jobs.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Play Lexicographer.”

Embrace the Ick, or The Joy of Mushrooms

FI-Category-Food

Texture, that is what it comes down to. I am pretty much happy to eat anything, but if it feels funny when I chew then it is mouth-verboten. This is a rule that has excluded many a food group from my digestive tract.

Kidney and liver is too spongy, cruciferous vegetables put me off with their leaves and bobbles and I’m not overly fond of nuts (especially coconuts and their strangely chewy innards). For all of these I am also put off by both the taste and smell. They complete the triumvirate of hunger suppressors that make me avoid eating them and as a result they don’t make my stomach turn.

Only one foodstuff can do this, mushrooms. I love the smell of cooked mushrooms and I love the taste of a mixed grill cooked with them, but that texture makes me squirm.

By all rights I should be a huge eater of various fungi, on the rare occasions I’ve inadvertently eaten tiny fragments I’ve been okay. Just like when we eat spiders in our sleep as long as I don’t know it is there when I’m swallowing then I’m fine.

Parts of a mushroom I don't like

Parts of a mushroom I don’t like

In the same way I hate olives but love olive oil, and have no issue with putting dehydrated sea water on my chips, mushroom flavour I can cope with as long as I don’t concentrate too hard on its original state.

This principle works for pate as well, solid liver has no chance of entering my gullet but as soon as it is mashed up and served with toast and a little side salad it is going to meet the back of my oesophagus faster than it takes to check how to spell oesophagus.

When cooking a full English breakfast it seems a shame to miss out the little button mushrooms but I know I am never going to eat them. The only possible way is to blend them to a paste but what point is that? All I am after is the mushroom flavouring to caramelise on the sausage skin but not to have the grey pieces of sponge getting the way of my egg (egg fried in the juices of the mushrooms is unbelievable).

I imagine that I would be an excellent truffle hunter, I have spent my whole life fishing little pieces out of pasta dishes, pies, and any other meal that contains a tiny sliver of mould. If only I could bare to chew it. Unlike the other foods that I cannot abide, mushrooms make me sick because I should like them and I don’t.

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Embrace the Ick.”

Free association, or the the rain at home

FI-Category-Autobiography

The back garden is getting very muddy, I couldn’t be happier. After the removal of 3 inches of sand and gravel I finally hit the clay soil to be confronted with the fact this had been compressed over a number of years and was as solid as concrete.

Rather than breaking my back I have decided to use the power of nature, and patiently watch as the rain hits the soil and slowly seeps in and hopefully loosening it up a little. As soon as it is a little less cold I will be out there with my spade to create a garden from the destruction.

It’s one of our home projects, some were completed quickly (painting the front room) while some took a bit more work (decorating the bedroom). One we never even attempted and got professionals in to redo  the bathroom (which is now finally completed). After two years at Casa G we are almost ready to say it is the home we made.

Except for that garden, if we are meant to have a home ‘project’ then it will be my Great White Whale. I have attacked it with wood and metal and water and fire and then some more water. I have dug holes and filled them in again. I have reduced the elevation and exposed the bottom of the fences. Who would have thought that three inches of aggregate would be enough to support a whole border demarker?

It did used to look okay, but it escalated quickly

It did used to look okay, but it escalated quickly

While the fence fell like an order from Reagan the ground stands firm and unmoved. It is the Thatcher of topsoil, it almost feels like it is made from iron. That is slowly changing, and it is thanks to that most unique of British weather systems. The “Drizzle”.

Mrs G scoffs at the idea that we have hot summers and harsh winters, afterall her native New York has it much worse, yet she does acknowledge that we have one type of climatic behaviour that can’t be matched. That damp, cold and light rain that seeps into every nook and cranny.

This drizzle is helping to transform my garden from solid slab of soil to malleable marsh,  and soon it will be ready for sod. Then at last we will have our home inside and out, we will have finally moved in. Then we can start to look to move house again.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Free Association.”

Enough is enough, or why not give up

FI-Category-Think

Being a great writer was never going to be possible, my life has been too stress-free. Songwriter, artist, these were also out of the question. How could I achieve greatness in these fields if I had nothing to rebel or get angry at. Nobody ever created great art when content and happy.

Nobody.

This is why the idea of “no pain, no gain” is so interesting to me. It suggests that the only way to obtain anything of worth is to suffer or struggle beforehand, it is not the destination but it is the journey. That just seems a bit too much…well effort.

Why does everything have to be hard? Why can’t things come naturally and be easy to do?

Things have to be hard because then they are worth it, just as those who inherit wealth never seem to appreciate it so it is with abilities. How many times have you heard of those with innate talents then proceeding to waste what they have been given (not that anyone gave them it other than a genetic or cultural lottery).

When you have to put the effort in your achievements gain value; the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell suggests you need can be quantified in terms of that which you could have done had you not been practising, studying or working. Just like the ant you are working ready for the harvest of your labours rather than coasting like a grasshopper.

Aragorn becomes a great king because of the trials he had endured beforehand, it is Hermoine who is the most essential of the trio of wizards and even the Avatar has to work at mastering all four elements. Where someone doesn’t have to work at their ability they tend to fall, take Anakin let’s his natural ability develop his sense of entitlement and finding the less lit path.

The pain is needed upfront because with any gain it will be there. It is just better for it to be frontloaded.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Enough Is Enough.”

Once upon a time, or The girl who was scared of her shadow

FI-Post-Angry Fairytales

Once upon a time there was a girl with a very vivid imagination. She imagined that she had an amazing husband (which was true), had a beautiful daughter (which was true as well) and also did more than her fair share of the nappy changing (which was not as true). More than anything the girl like to imagine scary monsters.

It is not that she particularly liked monsters, they were scary and she was scared of them, it was that her imagination was often out of control and she would get worried about them pretend attacking her. If someone told her that her shadow was a black hole and would swallow her up then she would spend her whole time shining a light at her foot to rid her of it.

Then one day The Girl went and saw a play about ghosts.

The Girl didn’t like ghost stories, they were scary and she was scared of them, but she went because her best friend was in the play. She asked her brave and fearless husband if he would accompany her, and he accepted the challenge. This was a wise move on his part because then he could see if there were likely to be any scenes that were going to cause him sleepless nights.

The amatuer mummer’s were doing a theatrical production called “The Exorcism” which wasn’t “The Exorcist”. There was no Mike Oldfield and zero compellings of Christ. In fact the scariest thing about it were the clothes (it was set in the 1970’s aka The Beige Decade).

Nice

In the absence of pea green vomit, it relied upon disturbing talk by two middle-class couples whose only interest seemed to be in talking and occasionally stopping because something happened. The Girl, being a playwright, was quite distraught at the characterisation of these proto-Russell-Brands while her trusty Husband was disturbed by the ratio of words-to-action (what with him being less cultured and all).

Ne’erless, as shows are wont to do it it played on. Climaxing with a possession, like The Exorcist but still not being The Exorcist, this is when The Girl started  to shift in her seat (although it could have been because she needed the toilet). Even though she was of rational mind her hand did grip a little harder her fearless fella, for the possessed reeled off that am-dram trope of:

Dead babies.

(It may be a well known fact that within the western world the infant mortality rate is incredibly low. Modern medicine and science have brought this number down, although it was much higher in the past. However in the world of plays the chances of a child reaching adulthood are around 50:50.)

Nothing was more likely to scare The Girl than talk of children dying, and despite the haunted pianos and strange noises it was this that was going to keep her awake at night. For this was a legitimate fear, and caused her great vexation.

So it was that night’s sleep was tawdry, she lay still to present a face to her dozing husband but it was not of good quality. When the sun rose to be hidden by the morning rain clouds, she sighed.

Morning has broken…

“What is wrong my love” should have been what her husband said, but being still early all he could manage was the grunt that meant “What”.

“It was the play, I was kept up all night thinking about it”.

“Hmmm” came the reply from face obscured by the bed covers.

“I mean, those children died because they starved to death. Why didn’t they go and seek help from the church or somewhere else. The mother could have found a job, then they wouldn’t have died.” she asked reasonably.

By reasonably I mean sensible, unreasonable in the sense then there would not have been any vengeful spirits and the basis of a play.

“I mean if something scares me, I don’t lie there worrying about it” she suggested after spending a while night lying in bed worrying about it.

With this she felt a sharp kick to the shins and a demand for a cup of tea.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Once Upon a Time.”

And exhale

FI-Post-Breathe in

Life is funny. Mostly it is funny ha ha, because if you didn’t laugh our existence on this spinning lump of elements would make you go crazy and a little dizzy at the problems it throws you. So even when life is looking like the rear end of a diarrheatic rhinoceros it still has the capacity to change.

It’s something to do with entropy, although that is the need for everything to descend into chaos in a closed system. Hang on I’ll need to check the science on this, let me just watch an episode of Wonders of the Solar System.

Cartoon depicting the entropy of sandcastles

The arrow of time, or something

Okay, back, the science is sound if the analogy is somewhat tortured. So even though I’m sitting here thinking that my metaphor is poor, I know that I can still try to save this post.

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Easy fix, or Lord of the Ring

FI-Post-Sauron

The Indian Ocean is 73,500,000 square kilometres and my wedding ring is about 2cm across, making it about 0.0000000000003% the size of the body of water we are staying in. So imagine how hard it would be to find if I lost said ring in the afore-mentioned ocean.

The Indian Ocean from Koomandoo Maldives

Be totally easy to find!

(I know there are some flaws with such an argument about finding it amongst the whole Indian Ocean as it is unlikely that I lost the ring anywhere near the Seychelles or Sri Lanka, in fact the area it could have been in was about the size of half a football pitch, but it ruins the dramatic intro).

After 30mins of snorkeling (with my factor 50 suncream and a t-shirt on) I suddenly noticed that my left ring finger was naked. Two thoughts crossed my mind, should it tell Mrs G and would she believe me. Well the answers to these are I did and she didn’t.

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Minecrack

FI-Post-Minecraft

Now that I’ve sorted out all my photos, retagged my music and rewrote a load of posts I find myself with a little free time. I have plenty of life improving tasks I could undertake but instead I am being drawn back to a game I promised I would never get into because I could see it was a time sink.

I already know what games like Football Manager or The Sims can do to a person’s time and did not want to get drawn in again. I still fight against the urge to play one more game or stop a digital avatar from using the toilet.

I see the icon there for Minecraft and think to myself, don’t build a rabbit hole to enter.

Me-Minecraft
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Fireside chat, or getting to know me

FI-Category-Autobiography

Everyday an untold story disappears without anyone listening, time is cruel to anyone wanting to tell their story while waiting for those who would hear it. There are seven billion novels of human life being written at the moment which is only just ahead of cat videos on the internet.

In some way this blog is my attempt to record my tale, it doesn’t help that I keep deleting or rewriting my own history. If I was not to be here tomorrow (which I am pretty certain is not on my to do list) what story would I wish to tell? I have spent a long time writing my own story but I’m not sure I have ever really told it.

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