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Unplanned Hiatus

27 Aug

Sometimes there just isn’t the hours in a day to do everything you plan. I just realized that it’s been some time since I last posted an article on my blog. I’ve had plenty to talk about, and also a few points to comment on.

But they’ve all fallen by the writing desk trash bin as I’ve recently started a new job. It’s a huge improvement, working with a high level of autonomy in a motorcycle dealership managing the website for parts sales…far more stimulating than endlessly staring at a computer screen all day and night….wait a minute. Nope still doing that.

The other reason for my lack of posts is that I’ve started another job, well a self-appointed one. I’m currently trying my hand at writing a novel. I’ve always felt there was a story to tell inside me, however it’s always been an intimidating prospect to get past the first couple of pages. Not this time. As I write this i am currently some 11,500 words into the story. And the path hasn’t strayed, the tale is still clear and the characters are coming to life

I’ve got a couple of close friends who are acting as proof readers, but I may post an excerpt from it once I’ve reached about the mid way point.

So please, accept this short update as an apology, I will return; just as soon as life slows down once again.

 

The rare chance of a rest.

25 Jul

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new piece, however it’s not for a lack of writing that’s for sure! I’ve taken it upon myself to have a try at writing a novella/novel. I’m not sure of how long this tale will be, but it’s developing nicely and I’m finding I’m not short on ideas or direction.

As a result I’ve found myself with little thought for points to rant about; ponder on or philosophise about. I’ve debated if I should perhaps post some excerpts from my w.i.p and allow my blog readers/followers to offer some opinions? I’ll admit I’m cautious of people plagiarizing it if I put it out into the web at this stage. I’m fortunate that I’ve some good friends and a patient partner who are acting as ongoing proof readers, so I’m not bereft of critique and guidance.

And the title? Well I recently had the good fortune of being offered a new job, one in an industry I have a passion for, so I’m no longer going to be a servant to the public for the governments agenda,a reformed civil servant. This for me is such fantastic news as my office life has been the cause of many health issues for me over the years, but my understanding GP signed me off sick for the last 3 weeks as I saw out my months notice-period. Good fortune does indeed come in a rush, and I’ve been using this time to try to heal, relax and prepare for a new time in my life, happier times.

Hmmm, happier times… that’s actually what’s been resonating around my mind a lot this last month. You see for the last 7 years+ I’ve worked a job I hate, living a repetitive life that on many occasions I’ve alluded to Groundhog Day, and nearly every aspect of my life has been one of compromise. Well this new job has been like having my shackles broken! I’m now going to be living with some element of unpredictability; I’ve no idea if my new job will be a success, of course I’ll give it my all, but I don’t know…
I’m also working closer to home, so I don’t have a 50 mile round trip every day. I can look at cycling to work! Something I’ll be doing each day it’s dry.

I’m fully aware how disjointed this post may read, it probably seems slightly incoherent, almost stream of consciousness…well that’s how I’m able to kick-start a new wave of happiness in my life no more endless days of repetition and dull predictability. And I wanted to share that with all of you.

I’m returning to what’s left of this rare rest period in adult life, and continue with my novella. It may be quiet here for a little bit, but hey; that’s just because I’m happy.

The Tao of Barry Black

14 Jun

For the first time in a number of weeks now, I’m feeling compelled to write a new blog entry. What on earth could have shaken me from my torpor?  TED. Or to be more exact, Psychologist Barry Schwartz and his insightful speculation on why we are so conflicted by modern life.

 

I suppose I should really explain my thoughts of late, you know, give you-the all-important reader-some catch to read further into this provocation of shared thought. I suppose I really should. And I will, but allow me to exact somewhat on this little sentence. Re-read what I just typed. That my friends is the crux of my everyday apathy towards what is happening in life, and also the turning point to why, as Barry Schwartz put it so eloquently; we have too much choice.

 

I’ve probably spent almost every day, consciously and sub-consciously since I was about 6 years old thinking about what I’d like to do with my life. I’m sure when I was a little kid I wanted to be an astronaut, an explorer and all manner of interesting and fantastical ‘careers’. But I can’t honestly remember back that far into the foggy abyss of memories. My mind goes back around 15 years clearly, and even then it’s in a patchwork of Polaroid moments where the details suffer an after-image effect like I shook the camera. Head traumas from my youthful follies I blame this on you. I tried to look up some academic information to back up the length of time for memory recall, but there are so many different classifications of memories, and most are measured in percentiles; I assume because of the variable uniqueness of each human. Anyway, as I was getting at before, careers. I’m a child born of the early 80’s and the crazed advance of capitalism, material gain and technological advancement. And choice. I, and many of my contemporaries have been born into a world where there is an endless amount of choice and possibilities. Heck we even have T.V. shows devoted to showing the fictional side of multiple parallel dimensions (Sliders, I will forever miss you.) The point in all this is along with the technological march, life’s choices expanded and so did the ease with which one could obtain knowledge, skills or simply accomplish a task.

 

Bare with me on this, it’s all going somewhere.

 

So it was, armed with all these great improvements in living standards, and ever expanding expectations of what was possible that I continued to grow, indulge and expand my experience base in life. I’ve been fortunate to be born to parents of the baby boomer generation. They were both in a comfortable financial place when I blessed them with my presence and thanks to them both being in their 4th decade of life, they had some valuable experiences to share with me. My early years were spent meeting a wide range of adults and children from all walks of life, and thanks to my parents occupations at the time (mother worked doing the books and behind the bar at a popular 80’s nightclub, and my father is a plumber and general fix it man) I got to be in places most children would only dream of or never be allowed. I would often be allowed to run around the dance floor of the nightclub with my earliest friend I can remember, the daughter of the nightclub owner. I would accompany my father on his many trips to the various characters he did business with. An arcade owner, local and well-known tattoo artist, properties in various states of repair, building supply yards, movie prop showcases (an amazing, but relatively short lived exhibition called “Movie Magic”. They had on site SFX artists, and original props used in most of the famous 80’s and early 90’s horror and sci-fi films).

 

And everywhere I went, there were many people who would look out for me and treat me. I felt like I was special. Whenever my dad was doing work in or near the arcade, I would be asked which machine I wanted to play on. Once chosen the local arcade mechanic would open the cash slot of the machine, and reprogram it so I had infinite credits. Think for a moment what that kind of special treatment would feel like to you as a child. This was the genesis of my view on choices. I didn’t have to go without anything wherever I was. No need to worry I didn’t have the funds, or the freedom to run off and see what was round the next corner. Whatever I could want to do, it was possible. Fast-forward through the years I would experience numerous paid for trips abroad, both with my family and with friends; Europe, the middle and Far East and America. I was exposed to all these different cultures and possibilities, often not just as part of the tourist trap experience. My good fortune didn’t end with that neither. Once I was of an age when I could obtain transport and further my own exploration of freedom, my ever-generous parents got me a scooter. This started my love affair with powered two-wheeled transport, and they further funded that with my full licence and a steady step up through the displacement categories of motorcycles. By the time I was 21 I had owned double-digit numbers of motorbikes, experienced all manner of legal and illegal escapades on them and seen speeds most people only witness at race tracks.

 

So far I’m almost certain most of you reading this will view me as the spoilt rich kid, and wonder where Barry Schwartz’s talk on too many choices comes into it? Whilst I was experiencing all this freedom, experiences and making choices, I was drifting along through my formative years absent from almost any form of restraint or discipline. And this led me to making some random and unfocussed choices when I was required to in life. Left school with no real goal or plan; just thought I’d head to college on a graphic design course as I’d done reasonably ok at school in this subject. That course then presented other choices, as the first year of it was an amalgamation of photography, illustration, fine art and graphic design. I was paralysed by choices. Me, being the free-spirited youth with no sense of discipline or responsibility couldn’t focus hard enough to choose or study for any single one of them, and as such left the course before the end of the first year. And after that I started a small bit of part time work, but didn’t stick that for long- a job held too many restrictions for me. I was hooked into my motorbikes by this point and thought maybe studying for a motorcycle mechanics qualification would be the path for me, so I returned to college. This however proved to once again offer me some choices. Did I focus on the motorcycle mechanics? The welding and fabrication side of the course? Or even the bodywork and paint shop? Choices, choices…choices, there were so many of them. And again I was struck with paralysis. So I passed the first year, but by this time was too old to get in with a garage as an apprentice, and as such left to consider my next choice. Further work experience and life experiences, all in areas of interest, yet none of them to provide a sense of purpose. So I chose to make an attempt again at education and head to university to study art.

 

Barry’s talk was trying to get at the way we in the modern age of a developed society have lost sight of purpose and self-worth. We have been raised, given a choice over everything, but too much choice leads to this constant feeling of regret and self-doubt. With all this choice we can never make the right choice, and every possible thing we didn’t choose to do is cast in a bright light that casts shadows over the choices we live with. In the simpler times of the past we would often inherit purpose from the family members we were born into; the class of society we were born into; where we were born. No more, we are told every step of the way that we can become whatever we choose to be. But this freedom is so vast it simply paralyses us with fear of the unknown. A fear that failure is all that awaits us as every choice we make-no matter how good-we could have made a better choice.

 

I’m a victim of this paralysis of choice. It has moulded me into the eclectic and educated individual I am today. And I know the choices I’ve made have been good ones that have coloured my life. But it’s left me haunted by the possibilities of what could have been and great difficulty in living in the now, something I’m getting better at. I will always wish my father had removed that choice from me and trained me to follow in his footsteps as a plumber, yes it may not have been my choice, but I would not have this overwhelming sense of expectation from life. Ah. The final link in Barry Schwartz posing philosophising on an affliction we all share.

 

Look back on this snippet of my life; not just my parents, to have such towering expectations of what life would provide me that I was setting myself up for disappointment, raised me to feel that every possibility was achievable and that I had no limits. I’m now facing a void in my life that needs to be filled, and no amount of materialistic gains will plug that gap. You see I feel, as I’m sure every human does, the need for a purpose in life. Something I can do that validates my existence other than to consume and feed the cycle of daily society, and something that I’m better at than the next person. I need to shrug this paralysis of with a volt of purpose to jump-start my next stage of life.

 

But that will require me to make a choice…

 

I’ve yet to make that choice, but I’m not making the same mistake of this cycle again. I’ll be setting myself some barriers, and placing restrictions on myself to break through societies trap of freedom of choice.

 

I’ll leave this article with a thought I have often; “We are all sold into a slavery of freedom the day we are born. We cannot buy our freedom from this, rather we must bind ourselves with restrictions to free our inner self”

 

Thanks to Barry, I think I get my thoughts a little more.

The Road To 30….or How To Have a Mini Mid-Life Crisis

21 May

Turning to my right as the light ripples across the sun streaked glass walls to the old abandoned car dealers, I can’t help but marvel at the gust of wind I have caressing my close-cropped hair; ZZ-Top strumming out the quick yet steady rhythm to “Tush” and the feeling of my heart racing to the whisk of my legs. It’s the closest I can get to forgetting my daily routine and enjoying the summer sun.

 

I recently got a new push-bike. It’s a purple single speed bike, very light thanks to the simplified components, yet sturdy. The goal? To gain some much-needed fitness that my under worked office corpse has seen robbed from it over the last 7 years and before I turn 30. No simple task when you live in the UK and the dream of English summers of old continue to evade the modern age. Seems these isles have two seasons now, autumn and winter. Add to that being on the husky side of the male figure with a few health issues and that task starts to seem both difficult yet a necessity.

 

So how did I choose to start my endeavour? Why cycling a BMX 5 miles from the nearest city! Time to back-peddle a little. This whole experience has been something of a long-winded torture process for me, heck simply getting the bike has taken me the best part of a month to secure funds and choose. And trying to decide on which bike to get, that probably cost me at least a years worth of good eyesight and mental capacity. I’m not the sort to just buy what looks nice, or if I walk into a shop and sit on one that I thought was comfy, I would have to check out it’s specs, see what components it had and also see some reviews on it. I need to make sure that my money isn’t going to be wasted on a piece of junk that’s going to collapse at the first crank of the pedals. Never used to be like that, I had an easy-going upbringing with a lifestyle bank rolled by my parents.

 

Now, well I’m in the wonderful world of being a homeowner with a regular job, and you know what, you don’t need to hear all the rest of it. But thanks to this, money has become something I can’t ignore. I’ve never had a fondness of cash, it controls too much in this world, shortens the perception of time as it becomes the all consuming waking thought of what to spend on and a dread of being conned. A fool and his money are soon parted.

 

So to that end, pass me the jester hat and my fool’s stick. I’d no sooner got my allowance courtesy of work, than I’d set about getting my order in! After teasing on an almost weekly basis the local bike shops, stringing the poor guys along with the temptation of a sale, I ended up purchasing my bike online. I’d tried, really tried to support the local economy, I’d run through all the available bikes they stocked, or could order. Heck one of them actually had a bike in I test rode-and nearly bought but I’d read too much, seen the insanely cheap deals online, and listened to my inner design tart.

 

I’d read up on bikes by a company called Charge. A small UK based company; they’ve been making small allotment of bikes for several years, and crucially for my taste, made a selection of single speed/ fixed gear bikes. Wait, why on earth would anyone in the modern day who doesn’t live in a completely flat area who’s sole occupation in life would be to cruise up and down the boulevard eyeing up the bikini clad babes, want just one gear? Simply simplicity.

 

I’ve got a motorbike, a nice, fast, modern once-it has all the gadgets and complex modern equipment I could need to propel two wheels down the Queens highway at highly illegal speeds. It has electronic steering dampening, dual stage fuel injector, a close range gearbox, 16 valves and an advanced CPU that tells the engine to do magic things on its way to a giddy adrenalin rush fun. This also has tyres; chain; sprockets and oil; petrol the list goes on. In short ongoing costs and maintenance that must be done or the rider runs a very real possibility of death and disfigurement, fun no?

 

So why on earth would I want to have a similar level of upkeep on a vehicle I want to be able to get some exercise and just go rambling on. Hence the single speed was decided upon. There’s some excellent resources out there that sing the praises of the single speed bike, and plenty who prove you can do distance and speed with one carefully chosen gear ratio. And then there’s the weight. One of the biggest must haves I wanted from this bike was lightness. I knew of the magic of carbon and titanium, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a push bike that could all too easily end up as a fancy wall ornament, so by ditching all the gears, derailleur and associated equipment, I’d drastically reduced the weight and expanded my choice of materials. Whereas I would have had to choose a cheap aluminium framed, poorly equipped geared bike, I could consider good quality steel frames, carbon forks and good quality wheels for the same money.

 

And this was why I’d become enamoured with Charge bikes. They specialise in steel framed bikes. They do make the odd aluminium and titanium bikes, but mostly steel. And Japanese steel at that! Considering my love of all things from the mystical orient, especially that from Nippon, they just couldn’t be beat! But sadly, as with most companies since the recession and “Age of Austerity” hit, they had cut back on the outsourced components and were making more in-house.

 

So to that end I widened my search online, and found a Charge Plug Freestyler 2011 model. The other thing with Charge is they tend to do a model for a year or two then change it, so new old stock is worth hunting. This one had all I wanted Tange steel frame (from Japan), Sugino cranks and chain ring (also from Japan-natch), Sanko cro-mo forks (again from Japan…notice a pattern). But the real pièce de résistance; hot purple coloured frame with white deep-v rims!

It pretty much felt made for me. Or would it? I couldn’t find one of these to sit on, let alone test ride and the bike I’d managed to get a ride on, although a single-speed was a very different geometry. But heck, I wasn’t going to let this chance pass up. Especially as it was only £350 in the sale! It was the best quality for the lowest price, and the pictures just seemed to whisper into my little bells atop my jester hat “buy me…buy me”

 

24 hours later and sitting in my living room was a very large box-with a very purple treasure inside. Fortunately I’m fairly competent with my hands, thanks to years of owning and fettling motorbikes, so the assembly was as straightforward as they come. Which brings me round to the ride.

 

Would it live up to my expectations? Like a child sleeping with one eye open on Christmas Eve, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa with his toy sack, not a snippet of Dad; face littered with mince-pie crumbs and clumsily stuffing presents under my bed I set off to test my purple people eater from Japan via England. With a good dose of summer sun, a calm air and a tenacious strike round of the pedals I was off. What a revelation! I’d rushed to spend my money on a slice of dream made real and I wasn’t disappointed. The bike was quiet, accelerated with almost instant urge and an agile and springy ride.

 

It’s been some 4 weeks since I first tasted that freedom long forgotten since the days of childhood had departed. I’ve since managed to get out for a ride at least 3 miles of a fast sprint ride around my local village to a personal best of a 28 mile round trip to see my folks. Almost every night bar a couple when it’s rained has seen me pounding the rubber into the asphalt or dirt, either heading into the nearest city, or taking the canal towpath. I’m still seeing Santa from the corner of my eyes.

 

I’m hoping to keep this up, and steadily lose some fat, gain more fitness and keep enjoying freedom that can’t be gained with motorised transport. To savour every moment of this sunny patch and use it to shake up my life a touch before I start the next decade.

Danny Trejo Saved My Life

25 Apr

Danny Trejo saved my life. Not literally; though that would have been one to tell the grand kids. Seems that the pock-marked, big chinned Mexican of Grindhouse fame decided to pay my dreams a visit. Oh and he brought Walter White from Breaking Bad fame.

 

The “plot” to my dream was Oscar material. Truly. When this news breaks, I’ll have Tarantino himself Tweeting me for a meet to bag the rights. Anyway, the scene was a city; think the steeply stepped hills of San Francisco rolling down to the harbour shore. The moon is out, the stars are sparkling and the street lighting is bathing the streets in soft focus shadows.

 

As an aside, to those of you not familiar with Breaking Bad, it’s a US made TV drama starring in the lead role actor Bryan Cranston as Walter White. The plot goes something like this: Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He then gets into the crystal methanol cooking business in order to provide financial security for his family after he’s gone. Cue an unbridled descent into rage as we watch a mild-mannered family man turn into a cold-hearted career drug lord.

 

Enough background check it out.

 

So back to my dream plot, and we cut to Walt’s wife, hanging from the tram line via a gaffer tape noose. Seems an unknown terrorist group have kidnapped her, I assume to hold her to ransom. I never did get to know why, Danny wouldn’t spill the beans.

No time to waste! The rescue plan is a cunning mixture of precision strike in and out grab with some old school dare-devil cunning, on our bicycles.

 

Wait.

 

Push-bikes?

 

Yes push bikes. You see dreams seem to have this habit; a special way to pluck from the subconscious your current obsessions and thoughts, worries and hopes, and play them across the zoetrope of the mind in dreams. Sometimes these are obvious walks into the dream theatre, the big budget 80’s blockbuster. You want a new car, so your dream is driving that car in an ideal location with the perfect weather. Other times, it’s just you, in a room with harsh lighting and a single table, two chairs and your having to justify your existence to the chilli pepper with the gavel.

 

The point is our subconscious mind knows better than the waking conscious how to ease the stress of those daily thoughts and wants that get stored into the fast repeat section of our brains for an endless loop; like a Ludovico. This is our Dreamtime.

My current waking obsession is a new push bike; ticket to some fun exercise and escape from the area and time to think. My current method isn’t the best as it’s usually when I’m on my motorbike, and sadly we have one to many 1984 style camera around waiting to slap my absent-minded ass with a speeding ticket. However at the present, the stress this wanting to purchase is putting on my subconscious is clearly a touch excessive.

“Why are you getting stressed?”

 

You may think that as I’m in a position to treat myself to a new bicycle would only be a cause for excitement and celebration.

 

But has anyone considered the countless time I’ll lose to indecision? Those conflicting opinions and reviews that we often turn to in order to help make a wise purchase and feel you got your moneys worth. I did mention I had an article to write on indecision, well here it is. It doesn’t help that I have an encyclopaedia of knowledge about the history of all cycling, and countless sites reviewing every possible configuration available, catering to each niche. And lets just ignore the countless shops available to tease. Alas I have access to the Internet. “Sorry to tell you this mind, but the brain just filled for divorce.” “Mental abuse was the cited reason your honour.”

 

And as all concepts of time ceases whilst my information hungry mind is engulfed in the electric fog, I’m beset with indecision. This can easily be applied to any current wants or obsessions and the result is the same. To my anxious prone mind and me, it would appear that ignorance is indeed bliss. The more knowledge we have armed out memory banks in our hungry brains with, the greater the likelihood we will face indecision. This comes about as we are faced with being conscious of all the merits and foibles of the intended purchase, yet had we ignored our self-abusing loud mouthed conscious minds, instead heeding the call of our snap-judgement primitive sub-conscious and simply gone “oh, so it comes in purple with a white trim? Great, I’ll take it” We would all but guarantee a calm and happy moment once we received it. That would be a bike in my case

 

Sadly a lifetime of study, information absorption; media bombardment and absence of bottomless wealth, have all precluded me from being able to tune into my primal mind when it comes to a new purchase or obsession. Especially on anything that costs more than chump change.

 

Think back; when you were a child you would have many wants. And if you wanted something you would ask mommy or daddy to buy it you, with or without a tantrum. And once said want was in your possession, bliss overload. Fast forward to now; you have a job, rent or mortgage, family or spouse, and countless other responsibilities. You want that new possession? Great, just go check the bank. Oh. So I’ve only got a few quid left, that’s ok I can stretch it. As you’re walking to the store till, or more likely in the modern age hovering the mouse cursor over the PayPal icon, and that’s when the cold sweats start.

 

That point, just as you’re about to be parted with your money and obtain the coveted fools gold, is when the subconscious, anxious voice comes to the fore and begins to chatter. “Do you really want this? Can you afford this? Will this really make you happy?” Indecisive thoughts take hold and before you know it you’ve backed away from the purchase and are left shivering like a caffeine fiend who’s been dried out for a week.

 

So what was once a happy moment of decisive action is now turned more often than not, into a cluster-fuck of conflicting mind drama. I’m not afraid to admit I’m suffering this very affliction. Right. This. Moment.

 

I’ll be writing more on the outcome of my bicycle purchase, and in particular any noteworthy adventures I have on the road to improved fitness. Hopefully, when the time comes to purchase, I’ll have gone for the purple with white trims one.

First Meet of the Season

6 Apr

First meet of the season

Sat outside gazing onto a shimmering, rippling sea. It’s glistening back at me like aluminium in the early evening light. It’s a cliché, how a gentle moving sea can evoke a calming sensation, yet as I sit the gentle wind that’s stirring my hair and chilling my hands; calm is how I feel.

This is at jarring odds to the soundtrack from the 80’s disco. Blaring out as I write we have “Bat Out Of Hell”, preceded by “White Wedding”. The sheepskin bomber clad fifty plus dad, sporting Saville-esq glasses is trying his best to promote some entertainment for the early season bikers who’ve begun their soon to be weekly pilgrimage to Knott End’s Wednesday night bike meet.

The season has been a late starter this year. Since November 2012 through to the Easter bank holiday 2013 there has been snow. White frozen rain has besieged this isle like an outbreak of dandruff plagues a Goth. The isle has been covered with it, sometimes blanketing the roads, other times hiding on otherwise innocent looking stretches of tarmac incognito as it’s silent assassin cousin “black ice”. Most bikers during this stint were tucking their pride and joys away, under heated brick supported roofs, waiting to square of their virgin track rubber in the safety of the summer sun on heated, sticky tarmac.

Me? I’ve been out on those harsh roads all throughout this arctic length winter, wresting my numb digits into service whilst suffering the torment the biting tundra winds were subjecting them to, Blue from a misplaced faith I had in a sunny day glimpsed from the safety of my warm house window. Summer gloves had no place worn this early. Rod Stewart and his Lucy in the sky with a girls best friend blasts across the air, over the sea wall and into my ears; God this music gets more dad disco clichéd by each turn of the decks.

I’ve come out tonight to begin my entries into a new notebook I’ve decided to keep about my person, a veritable travelling thought box; seizing momentary thoughts as they occur. The ulterior motive, as I’m oft reminded I have when I set out on these jaunts is to build a collection of musings to publish on this blog.

So tonight’s thoughts; don’t be so quick to judge a book by it’s cover. I pulled up to the meet, a smattering of bikes parked along the run up to the jetty. Including some police bikers. Damn. My heart invariably sinks at the sight of uniformed authoritarian figures, those public instigators of government laws, pigs to the everyman. However I thought to use this opportunity to strike up conversation with one of them. He was a stereotype of his breed, tall with a stern visage. This was, however, metered out with a peppery shot beard and upon meeting his gaze, youth.

I wanted to find out if my knowledge on bike parking laws was accurate, and if those bastards at the local city hall had a rasher of bacon to prop up on. I discovered, much to my chagrin, that Lancaster Council, a green party fanatical with as much in common with fascism as the BNP, had decided motorbikes could no longer park in the areas with push-bike stands, which we’ve all used for years, and never to any complaints. Now we’re being made to share the parking spaces of the four-wheeled cage plague blighting good ole’ Blighty.

According to my level-headed new-found friend, the law was, and still is, a motorbike can park anywhere so long as no obstruction is caused. He used the analogy of, on a pavement, enough space for a two-berth child’s buggy to pass unhindered. On the road it’s a fire truck. My friend in hi-viz yellow then went on to say I should check out a website called pepipoo, a place, in his words, where all the Bobbies and barristers hang out and will help you to argue that parking ticket miss-issued to you. He carried on to mention how not all the police have a ‘them and us’ attitude, and proceeded to lament the way the force was reducing the number of bike police, as two of his colleagues had been laid off that morning. His opinion was the forces were going to be centralised in the next city over; some 25 miles away.

I had to feel a certain barrier had been broken down during this chat; he was slowly dissolving the façade of authority. He was a biker first, like the rest of us, policeman second.

Funny, I’d come to the seafront meet tonight with intentions of writing an entry on indecision. Oh I often find myself suffering indecisiveness; presently it’s over a new push-bike. But, alas, that’s for another time. My fingers are suffering the telling numbness and indigo colour that says I need warmth. No indecision tonight, just a surprise encounter with an open-book officer.

One last tip; don’t believe the sun.

Bad Days

18 Mar

Bad days: that quintessential collaboration by anything and everyone to just make your day go wrong. I’d go as far as to agree that all gods or spirits must enjoy a laugh at the expense of us humans; but why must they choose a Tuesday?

I guess you could say I got out of bed on the wrong side, however that would technically prove impossible as to my right is the small walkway I have between a wall that cries and my bedside junk depository, and to my left is my darling muse, usually a sweet thing, but liable to flinch and swing with a sleep empowered strength impossible to come from one so dainty. So to say I got out of the wrong side would be to suggest I always get out on the wrong side.

Bad days can usually follow bad dreams or indeed bad nights. Now were getting somewhere- I had a bad night brought on by the realisation that a hobby and source of fantastical escape no longer held a special place in my heart.

I’ve played video games since I was old enough to hold a pad and realise which of the bright coloured dots on the television set had to be stomped on, shot at or raced past, and that initial foray into the fantasy land stored on those first few cartridges had me sold. As I got older and the years brought new advances from the land of the rising sun, I got sucked deeper down that green pipe, swept into cosmos where I was saving the world from the cyborg menace and getting to defeat the evil mastermind with a final dragon punch- uttering the immortal cry “ shoryuken”; the result was more time spent in these lands of fantasy, because what hope did reality have of offering me excitement on par with this? To an overweight yet hyperactive child suffering from asthma, what chance did reality have to entice me back into the daylight?

Zero. Sure I loved to run around with my friends (run, wheeze, stop, click, suck, run-repeat), I had a fearless nature as a cruel blessing so I always wanted to try out any new craze-roller-skating and roller blades, BMX and mountain biking- you name it, I was eager. But though the will was strong the flesh was weak- I tried all manner of different exercise: ranging from weight lifting and aerobics to martial arts. But these all brought me little in the way of a solution. To my mind video games were the answer!

I played them endlessly with my friends; all of who was into video games, so the habit wasn’t just a private thrill, it was a social experience. Multiplayer was where it was going to be at.

This love followed me like my asthma (and weight) into my teens and early twenties, still the games were played, new galaxies were saved or pillaged on my whim, or with the help of my close circle of gaming friends. Technology advanced at a rapid rate and the improvement of the visual L.S.D we were consuming got stratospherically high. Thanks to the rise of the Internet and online gaming services you didn’t even need to interact in person with your friends, you only needed the game.

From around 7 years of age to 29 years of life, I spent far too much of my free time in the fantasy zone, and the dawning of the online age broke that spell. It hurried in a rise of popularity in the games industry, and with it the corporations smelled money. Sure they financed and drove a boom in new technology, creating cinema quality stories, epic firefights and musical scores worthy of savouring in their own right, but they also homogenised the experience. It turned what was once the outcasts favourite respite from reality, once the elite club of space cadets of the mind: the excuse to socialise with friends, into a soulless and mindless ram raid on the senses. Television reinvented for the techno generation. You no longer had to learn any real skill or use your imagination to abscond from reality for a few hours, your now shovelled it to your ever twitching fire button as you rattle off your 8th consecutive hour on Modern Warfare 12. Oh did I mention that’s with your twenty-four hour friends across the globe.

Twenty-nine years of age I finally realise how much apathy I’ve been slowly festering inside for this once loved hobby, gestated on a decade of bitterness and nostalgia. I’m no longer the fat, wheezing (for the most part) and excitable dreamer, I’ve a passion for motorcycles that has been steadily nurtured into an all consuming addiction (don’t we all trade one addiction for another); I’ve a steady girlfriend of 9 years and a creative side to myself that won’t stay subdued any longer. But it still came as a shock last night. I’ve built a lot of my friendships around videogames, and now I need to take them forward with less emphasis on fantasy and more in reality.

Bad nights dreams always follow into bad days. So Tuesday has been one grumpy lurch after another.

Here’s to Wednesday-also known as ‘Hump Day’. Get over that and it’s all about the weekend baby!