January 2016

Yes, January 2016.

No, there isn’t one missing. The last Blog was November.

So, what happened to December?

November – November happened to December. Or rather, November happened so December didn’t. It had been a bad year on many levels but November topped it off. Or rather, Trump topped it off. In fact, I’m officially blaming him for my not achieving NaNoWriMo. Okay, I admit, it wasn’t going that well but November 9th just sucked all the joy out of me. It snowed in Sheffield on that morning which made it feel as though we’d woken to a nuclear winter. Everything I wrote, for days, descended into vitriol. I suppose I could have used it as part of my word count but that’s not really how it’s supposed to work, is it? It all resides in a folder in my Documents entitled Bile & Anger. And that folder was pretty full already.

I will hold my own NaNoWriMo at a later date. And, in all honesty, the Mo might well be plural.

bin

So, here’s a rather satisfying view of my old bin. I always think that, when times are challenging, it’s best to surround yourself with familiar and comfortable objects. I would have used a picture of a glass of gin and tonic in the sunshine but I couldn’t find one. I’m sure there is one somewhere. Maybe for  a different month. Anyway, onward and upwards.

We should have known something was amiss when we lost Bowie in January. I know how ridiculous that sounds but it had a real sense of unreality to it. By the end of June there could be no doubt that we were in a downward spiral. Britain’s vote to Exit the European Union. (I refuse to use the ridiculous portmanteau that our stupid media forced on us.) Now, I don’t intend arguing the point one way or another here, though I have to hold up by hand as one who voted to remain. But… and it’s a big but, months before, when we knew it was going to happen, I couldn’t figure out quite why the general population would be given a say in something so complex and so entwined in… well, in everything. I’m of average intelligence but there was no way on earth that I could ever understand the pros and cons of the situation. They must have a plan, I thought.

And I guess they did. But it didn’t work. For a start, the most unpopular prime minister since Maggie was leading the remain side and a bunch of Muppets were leading the Leave campaign. I can see why Dodgy Dave was so stupidly confident. He didn’t think for a minute that the population would believe the most elite of all elite members of our society. But he was wrong. He fucked it up. He tried to save his own skin, blindly confident in his own beliefs, and he fucked it up.

I still don’t know if staying in would have been economically better than leaving and I suspect that no-one does even now. But what I do know is that the vast majority of people I’ve met who voted to leave did so because they don’t like brown people. Sad but true. And the brown people don’t even come from Europe.

chipmunk

This is one of the nicest meetings I’ve had this year. Apparently, this little feller is unwelcome in the land he lives. There are signs everywhere warning people not to feed him or his kind with threats of fines and whippings. I watched him for quite a while and he was just going about his business, trying to live his life. He isn’t there to hurt anyone. He has no hidden agenda. And he made quite a pleasing little squeaking sound as he jumped from rock to rock. As far as I’m concerned, he’s very welcome. But then I’m a liberal leftie, so I would, wouldn’t I?

And then there was Trump. I’ve heard it said that the very same mechanism that delivered the leave vote also delivered the Trump win. People voting against the system. And I get that: voting against the system. I’m all for anarchy. But these twats are the system. Trump (named after a fart) and Farage (named after the stinking, insignificant sludge found at the bottom of a wheelie bin or an alternate spelling for the Malaysian word for vagina, faraj). Voting for these isn’t voting against the system, it’s voting for it, they couldn’t be more elitist.

Someone on the radio summed up the protest vote quite nicely. I can’t remember who it was so can’t credit them. If it comes to me then I’ll edit this. It wasn’t me. But they said, ‘Who, in their right mind, protests the rising petrol prices by divorcing their wife?’

door

Here’s a door that probably leads somewhere. I found it on a walk and I could have just bust my way in and dealt with whatever horror lay on the other side. I didn’t do that though. Call me unadventurous if you like but I prefer to stick with what I know unless the alternative is completely and utterly and overwhelmingly seductive. Or maybe if I’m drunk, or have taken the wrong drugs, or maybe if I completely lose my mind.

The deaths keep piling up. Someone tried to convince me that 2016 hasn’t been extraordinary as regards significant deaths (as opposed to insignificant deaths; those little fuckers are just irritating, aren’t they?) but I don’t buy it. The latest few: Carl Palmer; George Michael; Carrie Fisher; Liz Smith; Rick Parfitt… it adds up to a year that seems to have lost a great deal of our past, our childhood. And I know that many people find the mourning of celebrity death somewhat distasteful but I think my reference to our past stands as good reason to be sad. Palmer and Parfitt and Lemmy are very much a part of my childhood, as Bowie was part of my adolescence and Prince marked my steps into adult life. Each of these people have an individual memory attached to them that is precious to me and other people have similar experiences. No-one has the right to undermine that, regardless of how qualified in cynicism they are.

Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Caroline Ahern, Victoria Wood, Ali… they are people who have been around us for years. I get that there are people all over the world that are suffering and deserve our sympathy more but that’s missing the point: we’re not feeling sorry, per se, for the victims, we’re feeling sorry for ourselves (something my nan always told me I shouldn’t do but hey ho). So, in a sense, there is an insignificance to their deaths in as much as our lives are not changed by them. But it’s like losing a favourite book or old vinyl album. Sure, you can download another and listen to it fresh but, you know? There is something comforting in the knowledge that familiar things are still out there, still around us. And these guys are not around us anymore. They’re on tape or DVD or CD or hard-drive or flash-drive but they’re no longer physically out there. And that’s why we miss them. We miss our loved ones, though we still have pictures of them. And, unless your family is significantly different to most families I know, some of our so-called loved ones will be missed far less than our heroes.

November was a month that started with huge disappointment and ended with personal tragedy (which I’m not going into on here) and I was hoping that December would see an improvement. Well, that hasn’t been the case so, I guess we’re going to have to rely on that tired old cliche of January being a fresh start. That always works, doesn’t it?

Happy New Year Everyone.

Let’s stay positive.

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