Categories
Thoughts

What makes Britain British

I’ve had several discussions recently about Britain and what Britishness is. What makes a Brit a Brit, and whether it is compatible with being English or European. Mrs G (an American) also must teach British Values (democracy, freedom of speech, respect for the rule of law) that are not unique to this island.

Other friends have commented on certain aspects of British life, is it that all our food is bland and boiled (both of which I refute, it’s hearty and fried)? What about the way we look at class, or is it the fact that as a nation we can laugh at ourselves (a trait that is shared by Canadians, Australians or New Zealanders – perhaps having the Queen as Head of State gives oneself a good dose of self-deprecation)?

What better way to look at it than with a list of things that seem to be Britannic specialties. So grab your warm beer and Union Jack bowler for, in no particular jingoistic order, my list of what I consider being our most famous institutions:

The tea interval at the first test of the summer at Lord’s.

Perhaps starting off with cricket would be unsurprising to those that know me, but how British can you get with tea, cricket and a private member’s club? I remember trying to explain how a sporting event stops for 15 minutes for (what was traditionally) a cuppa and a piece of cake (most likely a Victoria Sandwich). We always play the first test match of the summer at Lord’s, and in a sport that is quickly forgetting its traditions it is still one that shows no sign of being changed. Mainly because the game is run by the MCC, a member’s only group that are the custodians of the game’s laws and fairly resistant to change.

The last night of the Proms.

The Proms themselves are a pure slice of Britishness in themselves, but they litter the final evening of the season with ‘patriotic’ tunes such as Rule Britannia and Jerusalem. The sight of hundreds of middle class twerps in Union Jack waistcoats bobbing up and down to sea shanties and songs extolling the virtues of Empire brings a tear to the eye, both in embarrassment and the wish I was there.

The FA Cup.

The oldest cup competition in the world and (depending on the broadcaster du jour) “The Greatest Cup Competition in the World Ever”. Allowing any football team in the country to enter and dream of playing the final (or semi-final) at Wembley gives the cup a romantic feeling that means everyone tries that bit extra. Unless you are one of the big teams who are more interested in Europe of playing in Fifa’s mickey mouse world tournament.

The House of Lords.

Imagine living in a democracy with a bicameral government, whereby the lower house elected by the people then have to pass these laws to the upper house to amend. Then imagine that this upper house consists only of unelected members placed there by previous governments as a thank-you and long service awards. Or perhaps they are bishops there to represent less than 50% of the religious beliefs of the nation or have their seat because of the hereditary nature of the position. An upper house that is not he;d to account by the electorate or has to answer to anyone. Then has the power to suppress the will of those sent to parliament to represent the public. Congratulations… you have created the House of Lords.

The respect and lack of respect to those in power.

We still have a deference to those in charge, and will give a certain amount of respect to the position that they may inhabit. Whether you are the Prime Minister or a Policeman, the role you hold is treated as something that is deserving of the nation’s admiration and is protected and not abused. That is not necessarily the case for the people who fulfill those jobs, there is a long history of lampooning the person (if not the position) and some argue that this lack of censorship has given Britain a certain level of political stability over the past few centuries. Just because you hold the most powerful position in the land doesn’t mean we cannot mock you, in fact it is more likely that we will make you a fool.

Categories
Life

2010-2019 A decade in my life

If the last decade has taught me anything it is that a lot can change in a decade. Not just the tumult that has exploded around the world but in the complete overturning of my personal life in the last quarter of my existence.

2010 seems a lifetime away and due the nature of cell regeneration I am a different person to the one who rang in the Tens (or whatever we agreed to call them). As I begin the Twenties (as we all agree to call them) a reflection on the last ten years seems apt and consistent with the rest of the posts I am seeing on social media!

2010

  • Jobs: Two – Scrivens/Calor
  • Made redundant: Once
  • Relationships: None
  • Breakdowns: One
  • Holidays: Maldives
  • Moved House: To Birmingham
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,508

While the world looks at 2016 as possibly the worst year, the 2010s started off at the bottom. Directionless, made redundant and preparing for a lonely existence. Yet from this the seeds of the decade were born.

I started a job that would indirectly lead to marriage, I learned to cope with the stresses of life and I also started with this thing called ‘blogging’.

2011

  • Jobs: Three -Calor/HSBC/Legal & General
  • Relationships: One
  • Holidays: New York (twice)
  • Engagement ring: Tiffanys
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 895

Single, then in a relationship and finally engaged. All in the space of a year. I moved quick and decisively to lock that down. This is the beginning of the crazy period in life where everything began to happen at once. If 2010 had been the low point, this was the start of the rise.

2012

  • Jobs : ONE! – Legal & General
  • Holidays: China and Maldives
  • Months incapacitated with a stomach bug : One
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,122

A wedding! This is definitely one of the top 3 years of the decade, and one that was remarkably stable. No change of jobs, no change of address. The stability of life was balanced by the instability of my digestive system that couldn’t handle two major holidays in one month.

2013

  • Jobs : Two – Legal & General/nPower
  • Holidays: Kefalonia and New York
  • Moved House: To Coventry
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 686
  • Children: The Feliciraptor

If 2012 was the stable year, then 2013 was the year of mega change. New Jobs, new houses, new children. Also, the last time for years my life would not revolve around poo.

2014

  • Jobs : One – HomeServe
  • Holidays: Berlin, Corfu and New York
  • Ice Cream Whales eaten: Zero
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,066

Maybe it is sleep deprivation or perhaps the comedown from the previous upheaval, but the best I can say about 2014 is that it happened. It must have happened because 2015 came around but other than that there is very little I remember about the midpoint of the decade.

2015

  • Jobs : Two – Homeserve and M&B
  • Holidays: New York
  • Ice Cream Whales eaten: Zero
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,126

Another year, and a rot is setting in. Life is simple, life is easy, Life is boring (as it can be with a toddler). Is this how life will be from now on? It looks like it both personally and globally. 2016 will bring zero changes to everybody’s life.

2016

  • Jobs : Two – M&B and H&B
  • Holidays: None
  • Moved House: To Nuneaton
  • Disappointing Elections: Two
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,536
  • Children: A-Rex

The meltdown. Brexit and Trump. Meanwhile, our Home life is upended with Child 2 and another house move. In the 4 years since life has not calmed down. The previous two years are looking like peak 2010s.

2017

  • Jobs : Two – H&B and Elemis
  • Holidays: Crete
  • Shakespeare plays: Three
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,633

At this point I am grasping for the calming things, so the acquisition of a fancy BBQ and a new obsession is a bright spark. The house is getting full of poo which makes a nice break from the magnolia walls.

2018

  • Jobs : One – Elemis
  • Holidays: Rhodes
  • Where did time go moments: One
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 484

The sure sign that life is progressing is when milestones are hit. The Feliciraptor going to school was one such moment as she didn’t seem old enough to be wearing a uniform and learning to read and write. It is also the moment where I felt like I was a real parent as I had managed to prepare a bundle of bones and muscle for the next stage in life.

2019

  • Jobs : Three – Elemis, Citizens Advice and MRM
  • Holidays: Boston, DisneyLand Paris and Italy
  • Oldest Whiskey drank: 30 years
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,612

Finally we come to the end of the decade, and a year where it seemed to be all worth it. We were able to go on the best holidays of the decade, the house was in the best shape it has been and with the kids at their cutest (so far).

If the 2010s have taught me anything it is that you can be totally prepared for nothing and life is going to divert you from every course you imagine.

It will be full of despair and hope, and neither will last long enough to dominate. It is a decade of my lowest lows and highest highs and the first time I have felt like me.

It has been the best ten years of my life.

Categories
Thoughts

2020 Goals

It started with a resolution and ended with a whimper. I’ve spent the past few years setting myself a target for the following year only to spend December coming up with excuses why I’ve failed once again and how I will rectify the situation the following year.

With the start of a new year, and a new decade, I should think big. after all the 2010s may have been a car fire of a decade worldwide but ended up pretty well on a personal level. Yet big is scary, it is full of ambition and drive and if the last ten years have taught me anything, then it is that I have a finite reserve of this.

This year then will be no different. It will be one of incremental change and miniscule goals. Slight nudges into being a better person and more useful member of society.

I should read more

This has been a constant goal for the past few years and has met with failure every time. Then I went on holiday and something changed. For the first time in a long time I read. It helped there were no children around, but I sat and turned pages. Books on Chernobyl, stories about Greek heroes and a history of football. Since then I’ve reread trilogies and begun on the classics. Next year is the year I will be a proper reader again.

Make something

I spend my life with keyboards and pixels. By day I make charts and by night I do nothing productive. I need to make more in my life and fill an urge to create something corporeal. I have plenty of options. I could restart making models or maybe learn to sew? I just need to do something with my hands that isn’t pressing squares down to make a character appear on a screen.

Maybe write more

Saying that it wouldn’t hurt to knock out a few more pieces of creative writing.

Get under 30 inches

Although I have been fitter than I have been for a few years I could enjoy improving further. Along with Mrs G I ran a 5k race, I joined a gym and lost weight for the first time. Now it is time I really sped up the health improvements and gain some muscle definition along the way. The next step is fitting into some slim waist trousers.

Categories
Thoughts

Heroes : David Attenborough

Or the Wonder Of BBC Nature

As a child there was one job I thought must be the greatest in the world, you got to travel and see amazing things, entertain and educate others and seem to have an all round great time. As a child I wanted to have the job of Sir David Attenborough. Perhaps subconsciously that’s what led me to try doing both a zoology, and then a media production degree. After all surely learning how to make TV programmes and being an expert in animals is the right way to go about it?

David Attenborough has been on British TV screens for so long, and has played such an important role in our media culture that (even though not dead) he deserves some form of celebration of his life. Rather than try to convince you how good he is, I thought I would just let his actions speak for him.

Tonight I shall sit down and watch his latest. I shall feel sad that I spent my day in front of spreadsheets instead of in the wild. Think of the sights I could see rather than be in the dark windowless corner we are located.

Most of all I will be glad, glad that there is still television and presenters like David Attenborough. Of all the greatest achievements of the modern era being able to bring nature into our homes has been one of life’s greatest wonders.

Categories
Thoughts

I can’t join in with Movember

Or Peach Fuzz

Gillette and the shaving industry have me on a blacklist. My DNA could bring down the whole shaving industry in one swoop ruining their ‘cheap handles – extortionate blades’ model. I am the Anti-Remington.

It is almost impossible for me to grow facial hair.

I only really shave once a week, and that is just because I need to reduce the length of the hairs coming from any freckles or moles. I cannot remember when I put the latest blade in my razor, but I have a feeling it was when two blades was the pinnacle of face gardening technology. I don’t really need it to be sharp, a vigorous face wash tends to do the trick.

In fact my whole top lip seems to be a no-grow zone, the only attempt at a beard is a darkened line I get under my chin. If I was to attempt Movember I would end up looking like Worf, but with less frown lines.

Mrs G is particularly happy about this as she is not keen on the hirsute look, and only complains when the few hairs that grow get too ‘spikey’. I’m guessing she has exceptionally sensitive skin to feel that the bum fluff on my lip is scratching her.

But it’s that time of year when looking like the cowboy from the Village People comes back into fashion. When stiff upper lips get relief from the cold weather and froth related embarrassment increases.

That’s right it’s Movember, and for anyone not aware, a chance to grow a ‘tache for charity and raise awareness and money for Men’s health. Especially illnesses like prostate and testicular cancer.

Some of the facts about male related cancers are genuinely scary, and it’s great to increase people’s knowledge of the big C when it comes to men. For example:
* 10,000 men will die of prostate cancer this year in the UK.
* The occurrences of prostate cancer are comparable to the rates of breast cancer in women.
* 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK
* You are 2 1/2 times more likely to develop prostate cancer if your father or brother has it.

Last year Movember raised £22 million in the UK and £79.3m across the world. I would love to join in the Movember fun but I have one small problem…I can’t.

So I’m going to do my bit for Movember, I’m going to put out some useful links for any guy who has read this far, and ladies you can have a go with your significant other as well – you know just like us guys are happy to give you a hand with checking your breasts.

http://uk.movember.com/mens-health/health-checklist

[http://uk.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer/]

(http://uk.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer/)%5Bhttp://uk.movember.com/uploads/files/Mens%20Health/Advice\_From\_BUPA.pdf](http://uk.movember.com/uploads/files/Mens%20Health/Advice_From_BUPA.pdf)

and if you feel like donating to someone who is much better at growing an evil goatee than me:

[http://uk.movember.com/donate/]

(http://uk.movember.com/donate/)

Categories
Thoughts

Why Chilled Parents had to die

Or all things must end

It was going to be a new beginning. It was going to be what defined me. In the end it was another false dawn and the only solution was a digital fire.

After years of my digital identity being defined as a geek I was ready to move onto the next phase of life, being a parent. Just as though I refused to be 100% pigeon holed before I should have realised that once more I would balk at any classification.

I renamed all my accounts on social media, and even set up new domains. I was ready to begin anew but in the end my life as “chilled parent” was a summer night’s fling as once more I am living my life as Geek Ergo Sum.

So what happened?

Other than confusing some people as to:

  1. What Chilled Parent meant?
  2. What I was still doing blogging?

Well it was meant to be clever. Chilled as in:

  • Relaxed – because you should try to make parenting less stressful
  • Refrigerated – because some of the best drinks to cope with parenting are served cold.
  • Scared – because parenting is mostly terrifying.

As to why I was still doing this? That is harder to answer and not something I am sure I have a reason for. The simple version is why not? What else am I doing at night and why not try to eke out a space as a parenting influencer?

That was the reason it had to die. I chose a name with the aim of making something of writing, but that has never been the purpose for me jotting down a few hundred words. The moment you monetise a hobby it becomes a job and I already have one of those, but I struggle for activities to keep me occupied.

I quickly came to the realisation that I was never going to be 100% committed to just being a parent online, in the same way I am not 100% defined by my children in the real world. Yes they take up a substantial part of my life but I am more than just “dad”.

My old writing is what set me on a path to the life I lead now. It was the first thing Mrs G (much better than Mrs CP!) knew about me and survived weddings, house moves and childbirth. Now I’ve come to realise that I’ve not moved onto a new state of being, just evolved.

Chilled Parent never died.

I was never Chilled Parent in the first place.

Categories
Thoughts

We go again

Or starting over one more time

What brought me back? Was it the desire to reaffirm my place on the internet and once again spew my poorly written missives online? Maybe the creative urges spurred me into action. What if I told you it was something incredibly geeky, something quintessentially me.

It was being able use Google Analytics.

I’m meant to get angry being labelled a numbers guy, but it does something for me apparently because it has motivated me to write a blog post for the first time in nearly a year.

Well I think it’s a year, having once again razed this site to the ground I’m at post zero. In the meantime I’ve also gone through several rebrands (RIP Chilled Parents and something about tea) and some aborted attempts to make my writing more professional.

But this was always confessional not professional.

That was the case nearly 10 years ago when I first registered this domain and remained the case for so long. In that time I have become less miserable, less lonely and less likely to open a note and begin typing.

So why come back?

Why indeed?

Maybe it is because I spend so much time with quantitive data that I need something more qualitative in my life. Mrs G (remember her) has her hobbies but I’ve settled into doing stuff to fill up the time.

I parent.

I clean the house.

I then sit around waiting for bedtime.

The lack of a creative outlet is starting to eat at me, so I’m returning to the keyboard to start over writing again. Things are the same as they were but time has also changed me.

Since I last seriously wrote the world has been politically on fire, so I’m no longer as concerned with how aggressive my views are (while still being respectful and avoiding the nastiness of “telling it like it is”). I’m less upset with my poor grammar and phrasing, I write what I write.

Yet I’m more aware of the impact on my kids, I’ve become a little more sensitive to their depiction and appearance. This is true not just here, but I feel I have a responsibility for their privacy…to a point.

So here’s to the return of side notes in parentheses, to overuse of ellipsis and my regular use of passive voice.