Avoiding Halloween

In which I choose treat.

I’m still fighting against the creeping Americanisation of British culture, see I even kept the ‘zed’ (not ‘zee’) out of my spelling of Americanisation. It’s going to be an uphill battle as the plan is to raise The Feliciraptor and the ‘Plus One’ as Bi-Atlantic children, and this is going to mean somehow battling against the local apathy towards Halloween.

It is still a relatively recent import and has more of the contemporary aspects of Halloween (dress up and drink) than the classic (kids collecting candy…I mean sweets). It is still very much a treat occasion than trick, which is lucky because otherwise I would have a large volume of karma headed my way.

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Keeping out of touch

In which I’m a terrible friend.

As I scroll through Facebook I’m asked by Mrs G “who’s that?” often the answer will be “someone I was at school with”. This results in the follow up question “I’ve never met them”. It is unlikely that she has ever met any of the people I knew at school because it has been a long time since I have seen them in the flesh.

Whenever I think how long it has been between sighting old school friends I do feel bad, I spent nearly a decade with most of them and it has been as long since I was last in touch. This is not unusual for me because I am terrible at being a long term friend.

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Childhood : Um Bongo

In which I get poetical about my childhood snacks.

I became really excited about a packet of crisps (aka chips) in a local garage. They were stocking for a limited time Walkers Beef & Onion. These were my favourite flavour as a child until they were replaced by the more fashionable Steak & Onion. Like when Heinz added carrots to oxtail soup, it was too slight a change to be good.

Take all the reboots of children’s TV, the new versions are different enough that they don’t make you pine for the old version. If they had made one change it would have stirred the feelings for the old.

I guess in the end it is a question of taste. Some of the food I had as a child has either gone it is hard to find. Now there is so much choice that any flavour has a lifespan until it becomes unfashionable (looking at you Sweet Chilli).
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Childhood : The Bedworth Woolpack

In which I remember my old ‘legal’ local.

I don’t go out a lot now, a number of factors mean that I can’t be bothered to pop out to my local and have a few beers. Chief among these are the sheer hassle of trying to deal with the regular Sunday morning hangover I had while studying at college (which of course was technically illegal).

Most weekends we would head out to the pub we knew both served the cheapest drinks, and had the laxest policy on ID checks. At The Woolpack we would while away the hours until it was time to head home via the Chinese for a quick chips and curry sauce.

Now when I drive past my old haunt it looks a lot different. Where once my shoes stuck to the floor and you would be surrounded by a whiff of urea and bleach you now have this:

PIC-Woolpack houses

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Childhood: Television

In which I tune in to my childhood television.

Baby G is starting to hit the age where she can be parented by the television. The combination of noise and flashing colours is enough to hold her attention whilst I am busy doing other jobs. I could provide a great education by switching on TLC but instead she can sit in front of Sky Sports.

When I was a lil’ ‘un we weren’t so lucky as to have a bajillion channels, and children’s TV was scheduled for the hour long slot after we got home from school (to give our parents enough time to cook). With the multitude of channels at our disposal we have 24 hours of kiddy programming. Most of which is tripe.

To be a child again would be great, if I could be six years old again I’d sit in front of the television and rewatch all my favourite shows. Although if it was the 1980’s again I could only do this for a few hours a day, because there was a lack of Netflix.

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Multiple college dropout

In which being a failure never hurt me.

I’m a year and a half away from completing my degree. Well ‘completing’ in a very loose sense, mostly in the “I’m one year away from spending three years in higher education”. I’ve not yet technically completed one year of university at a level that could be classed as ‘passed’ even though I can count the number of times I have dropped out on one hand.

That may not sound too bad, as most people who have been to university or college can count the number of times they have attended with the same criteria. But most of these graduates will only need one digit. As for me, I only have the pinky finger spare.

I no longer have the itch to return to education, each time I have been it has been the law of diminishing returns and just not as good as I remembered.

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Toys in the attic

In which I find a treasure trove of Lego and wooden trains.

The advantage of living in a house is that I now own an attic. I had to find out if I have a loft or an attic, apparently a loft is an open area, and an attic is enclosed and generally not inhabitable. As it requires the use of two lengths of ladder, squeezing through the hatch, and then dodging all the roof beams I am fairly sure we have an attic.

What is pretty clear are the uses most people have for this roof space. It becomes a general dumping ground for all the pieces of your life that you know you should through but don’t have the heart to get rid of. There may be a twelve key Casio keyboard with 12 beat settings but what if I need to play Ode to Joy to someone, and you never know when you’ll need an old (but broken) suitcase, and the Christmas decorations…foil shapes will come back into style.

Grandma G’s attic is like a mini-Toys ‘backwards R’ Us. Brown boxes filled with the toys me and my sisters used to play with waiting to be used by a new generation. There is a wooden train set made by my grandfather waiting to be rescued from beneath a Christmas tree (one of those fancy modern ones, I have the family heirloom tree up in my attic). We could bring down a box a year and still have enough to last us till they are teenagers.

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Having a crush on a TV character

In which some cartoons caused my first stirrings.

One of the complaints about modern TV and film is that characters are needlessly sexed up. Just take a look at some people’s reactions to the modern My Little pony, you would think we now have stripper ponies whereas the 80’s version was much homelier.

Even though my childhood was during a time of big hair and a zero Photoshop there were still plenty of pop culture icons to have a crush on.

The interesting thing about this list will be that it is the first time I have ever mentioned them, so there may be an awkward conversation tonight with Mrs G (especially as she has noticed my fervent typing). So, as with all my lists, in no particular order:

My childhood crushes (Crushii?)

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I don’t need no education

In which I plead with teachers to leave me alone.

Mrs G is currently signing up kidlets for their A-levels and it got me thinking that when I was sixteen and making these curriculum choices I had no idea what I wanted to be so how could I choose the right course?

Three times I’ve been in further education, three times I’ve dropped out. I’m a non-graduate in a graduate role and one of the few people I know or work with of my age that doesn’t have a degree. Then again, in a complete lack of modesty, I’m also one of the smartest people I know.

Unless by smart you mean actually sticking at a course and getting qualified so I can use that certification to its fullest.

When looking at moving to the US one of the key problems I will have with immigration is that my education stops at A-levels and doesn’t reflect my actual skills and knowledge. If I could be sixteen again what course would I do?

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Late Review : Jurassic Park

In which a tiny butterfly has a large impact on my life.

In 1994 I discovered a book that was to have a profound influence on my life. Prior to reading it I was still very much undecided about what I found interesting in life, I had spent the previous years devouring information from books but with no real focus. I was on my way to being a jack of all trades.

Yet one book was able to catch my attention and set me on a path that still has effects on me 15 years later.

It’s not a classic (although I think it is) that is studied by academics, it is not full of literary prose and characterisation. It will never be counted against the great works of man, but for me it the novel that has had more effect on my life than any other.

That book is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

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