Well Hello, Potential Audience

With my impending interview at Ruskin College Oxford for the part-time Creative Writing and Critical Practise degree course looming I nailed some boring domestic tasks early on and then intended to move into more serious pursuits like going through my in tray and clearing the simple things and writing a serious post. Un-bloody-likely. Though I woke up absolutely brimming with ideas I had no idea I’d end up hosting an ad-hoc male coffee morning.

My mate, who is a Senegalese immigrant to the UK and has the unlikely job of police officer, and I end up discussing the problems in Mali and the modern day roots going back to 1991, the arming of certain African states by – guess who – the Americans and the fact that many of the incumbent administrations have found that the way to get the Western powers interested and investing is to work an Al-Qaeda link into the mix of bad guys. We thrash out the problems and I end up lending him two DVD’s. He is also a Muslim and has had a glancing insight into the murky world of the war on terror by dint of a six-month attachment to a specialist counter-terrorism team. Nothing like a group where the bulk of folks haven’t really got an idea what they are doing and blunder round managing to cause more upset and division within the communities they are – allegedly – trying to bring on-side. Clint Eastwood had a word for it. That word was Cluster***k.

Then my brother rocks up ‘cos he is bored and has done his one work task for the day. Coffee made for him. He then starts showing more than a passing  interest in the sourdough bread I am baking. In the meantime he decides to have a swing on my RockRings (a strength development aid for climbing made by Metolius) and promptly breaks them. Huh? These are supposed to last a lifetime. Could have been v dodgy if one was fully committed in a hold and they had failed fast.

The policeman goes and eventually, when the bread is out of the oven, (that’s why he was hanging on)  dear brother departs with half a huge loaf of freshly baked bread having subtly delivered the innocent remark, “how will you and MFTS eat all that”?

It’s hard being a Domestic Goddess.

Sounding Off About Afghanistan

Me to MFTS: “I have had a great idea in the shower. I think I’ll write about the enormous waste of resources involved in prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. It is such a lot of money and apparently pointless human sacrifice – life or horrendous injury – then surely there has to be a better reason than ‘Keeping Al-Qaeda off the streets of Britain’ for this undertaking”? I further ventured that for the costs and apparent aim then surely we’d be better off letting the so-called fight come to us so we can fight it on our ground – the streets of Britain – and our terms rather than the opposite that seems to be the case now. I believe sportsmen call it Home Advantage.

MFTS to Me: “I am not familiar with the topic BUT, you’ll have to do some research about the historical context of this particular conflict the includes why people have fought over Afghanistan for such a long time, how it relates to the Iraq debacle (my paraphrasing) what the present literature and thought is. You realise that many pundits and experts will already have done this and produced works and more along similar lines?”

Not remarks designed to stifle but just accurate observation of the facts. Which is precisely why I realise I need to learn the research and thought methodology behind blatting my opinion out there. I do realise blogging has given anyone with access to a PC – loon or otherwise – the ability to publish rants, unfounded opinions, half-truths and the like. I don’t want to be another one of them. Lord knows I am able of ranting all day and have the post history to prove it.

I wonder if it is possible to produce a well-reasoned and thought out op-ed style piece in as few a words or do my whimsical thoughts in the shower need far more space devoted to them?

And why are the Canadians as deep in as they are? I thought they were peace loving folks that generally kept out of others quarrels? At a guess I’d blame NATO, an organisation formed to fight the Cold War and now being used to blackmail countries into participation in a fools-errand. IMHO…

A Long Time Coming

As I now live with a terribly intellectual person in the form of MFTS my mind has turned back again to something that has nagged at me for 20+ years. And that is the fact that I didn’t go to university. I haven’t got a single set of groovy post salutation letters to my name. That saddens me. Really, the letters are everything 😉

At traditional time that everyone normal goes to uni to do a degree I was crippled by some heavy enough burdens.

To whit;

  • at 18 I was extremely fortunate insofar as I KNEW EVERYTHING. What could uni possibly teach a young and obviously gifted person like me? Strangely, as I get older I seem to know less and less. Most puzzling. MFTS manages to highlight this without ever trying to specifically do so.
  • I don’t think you could have met a less secure or emotionally mature individual if you’d run a specifically focussed and anthropologically guided investigation. I was so impressionable I’d be in jail by now, no doubt.

So what does a newly separated and shortly to be officially divorced 43y old male that is currently unemployed and flailing about for some direction in life do?  Thankfully I live in a country that despite all its niggles, faults and other things I’d change (the scandalous mixture of Church and State for starters) has this phenomenal institution for people like me. It’s called the Open University.

I think I’ll do a degree. Primarily this will be so I can learn to think in a structured way, make cohesive and less rambling arguments and learn the tools to methodically analyse and interpret information. It’ll take 6 years assuming I stick at it and is damn good value.

Watch for updates. I imagine that as the workload goes up they’ll become less frequent.

Back To Life, Back To Reality

A few things;

  1. A massive Happy New Year to all my friends.  A bit late but I’ve been on planes.
  2. Home from Canada, all de-aeroplaned (read nicely showered), changed, Radio 4 playing, proper coffee ingested, fire lit and people I have never met being properly surly and dismissive at Heathrow. Ahhhh, home at last.
  3. News broken face to face with my dear mother. Can be open with everyone now without the fear of it getting back via a third party.
  4. Lucy and I are separated and the paperwork is in for the divorce.  Why are people so amazed that we are civil and unprepared to enrich the legal profession ? We are adults and can sort things out in a civilised manner. Sure there are differences and things that grate – hell, we are getting divorced – but nothing that can’t be discussed and agreed. We are both relieved to be shot of the annoyances and frustrations that each brings the other. Lucy has been kind, helpful and supportive when I needed it and for that I will be forever grateful.
  5. I have been in another relationship since mid August and I now live with Rebecca. We met long after Lucy and I decided to separate and Lucy and Rebecca have met and get on, which is very nice for me and Héloise.
  6. I had a great catch-up with my 94 year old Grandmother. She is doing extremely well and it is very pleasing. If I make it to 70 like she is at 94 I’ll be a happy bunny.
  7. 2012 hasn’t been a stellar year. I have been getting divorced, writing sweary ranty blog posts (I promise to try and make it less offensive in 2013), having really really bad bicycle crashes, got filled with surgical steel,  got a good job only to be made redundant 2.5 months after I started, moved house, nearly lost my marbles, had about 4 months of functional memory loss thanks to the painkillers blah blah blah.
  8. Resolutions – pah.
    • Get a job – Really, that is priority 1
    • Reconnect with some friends that I have not given appropriate attention to and try to rebuild the relationships
    • Go on a couple of good holidays with Rebecca (am thinking Canada and Italy)
    • Read more books (not having a telly is a definite advantage)
    • Get the metal out of my shoulder and start regular swimming
    • Cycle properly
    • See more opera

Here is to 2013 being a great year as it can’t be any worse!