James Predicts The Future

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s not like me to use misleading titles for my posts.

Apart from when it is.

And I fear I may have done just that today. Because this post is not going to be me attempting to predict the future in a humorous way, which is probably what the title implies.

Nor will it be an attempt to make any serious and thought-provoking predications based on the evidence of current world developments because this isn’t that kind of blog and I’m woefully underqualified to do that.

Being woefully underqualified is not always a barrier to me attempting to do things. It is essentially a trick I’ve been playing on my employer for many years.

Nonetheless, this post is an homage to a different post I wrote.

Because what is more compelling than a blogger blogging about other stuff he blogged about?

That question was rhetorical. I don’t need you to answer it in the comments. Unless you can answer it in a way that is funny. Then go for it. Often the best bit about my blog is the funny stuff that other people write in the comments section.

Anyway, the post that I’m referring to is the one I wrote on the first day of the year, which I cleverly entitled ‘So You Say You Want A Resolution‘. You should probably go and read that now.

Are you back? Or did you just not bother to go? I’m not the boss of you, you don’t have to go and read it if you don’t want to. It might help you to understand what I’m going on about in this post. Then again it might not. In summary, it was my tongue-in-cheek predictions for the New Year, but honestly it’s uncanny how accurately I predicted the horrors of 2020. Because how could I possibly have known about coronavirus back in January?

Ok, I know it was a thing even then, and some people were predicting it would become a pandemic, but I just assumed that being, you know, British, we were immune to such things. I thought it was written into our constitution. I know we don’t actually have a UK constitution, but it’s surely still implicit that Britain doesn’t take part in pandemics. I blame the EU. It’s just a shame that Brexit didn’t come sooner really…

Anyway, I didn’t predict an actual pandemic as such. But I did write the following:

“I mean it’s obviously only just begun, but I have a feeling that 2020 will be a year like no other.

Call it 2020 foresight if you will, but I predict that the year to come will be one that changes everything.

But obviously not in a good way.”

So, you know, I was pretty spot on if the popular media is to be believed.

Anyway my solution to the end of the world was going to be to get into shape “so that when Judgement Day arrives, I can be the grizzled, cynical, but ultimately kind-hearted hero that the world needs me to be.”

Now while that was obviously me just having a bit of (as it turns out quite misguided) fun, it was also a roundabout way of saying my New Year’s resolution was, as it is most years, to get a bit fitter. Not that I’m entirely a stranger to keeping fit, but I’ve always been a bit inconsistent with how committed I am to the cause. And I’m certainly no stranger to a pie. Or chips (you can interpret that as either the UK meaning for chips or the US version – I like both kinds). Or ice-cream. Or beer. Or pretty much anything that’s fundamentally bad for you.

So I could definitely have done with being a bit more committed.

Which, to be fair to me, I was for January and February. I went to the gym quite a lot in January while I was waiting for an ear infection to heal sufficiently to return to my swimming routine. And, in February I returned to the pool and as has been documented occasionally on this blog, I started running a bit.

Then the pandemic hit and the swimming pools closed. So I was only able to do the running, which I did stick to, but, as has also been documented, I’m not really very good at running.

Recently the pools re-opened, so I’ve been able to avail myself of mine for the last two weeks. And it has been going swimmingly. I’m still running, I’m still quite bad at running, but, because I’m swimming again, I don’t have to go running as often, which seems to have resulted in me being less bad at running on the days I do it.

So it would seem that I am ticking along nicely, if unspectacularly, in my quest to be a bit fitter

Except that…

…this is a bit awkward really but…erm…

…I maybe haven’t been as honest as I could have been on these pages…

Generally it’s in my nature to be a little self-deprecating. I’m not one for bragging.

And I really am bad at running.

But I haven’t just been running for the last few months.

I have actually been doing some other exercise. Stuff like press-ups and burpees and some quite horrible things involving a kettlebell.

And even though I did carry on working, I did have slightly more freedom with regards my working hours so I generally found time most days to fit in a workout.

And I appear to have accidently become genuinely quite fit. Honestly, no-one is more surprised than me that this has happened. I mean I still have a diet akin to that of an unsupervised toddler in a sweet shop but nonetheless, I do appear to be burning some of those excess calories.

And if the world does need a post apocalyptic hero in the near future, I’m definitely more qualified than I was in January.

I mean, it’s probably still better if we don’t have an apocalypse but I’m just saying, if I’m needed to save the world, I’d be happy to give it a go.

 

 

Wanted – Talented Writers Who Have No Personal Ambition And Are Happy To Give Away Content For No Remuneration Or Credit

James Proclaims (4)

A exciting opportunity has arisen for a creative, results focused and ambitious Content Writer who can take direction from written or spoken ideas and convert them seamlessly into quality content that is better than the stuff we’re currently churning out.

James Proclaims Ltd

James Proclaims is a multiple award-nominated blog based in the UK somewhere. The blog is quite possibly read and enjoyed by tens of people around the world, although this is based on some potentially misleading statistics. Nonetheless those stats point to a recent upward curve and so the time has come to consolidate that success by ‘employing’ someone who can actually, you know, write.

Content Writer

You will join us as a Content Creator and will draft all content for blog posts, ensuring it is of the highest standard, engaging, and will definitely get a lot of ‘likes’. You will be a valuable team resource in terms of industry knowledge, keeping abreast of trends and passing that knowledge on to the wider team. The wider team is, essentially, just one person, although that person does sometimes use the first-person plural to create the illusion that there is, in fact, a team.

Content Writer Responsibilities:

– Responsible for drafting all content and effectively marketing the content so as to generate lots of ‘likes’.
– Respond to comments on posts in a timely and, where possible, witty fashion.
– Research competitors to stay informed of what is popular on other blogs and, where appropriate, steal ideas and content.
– Make coffee for ‘the team’.
– Sometimes go to the pub with ‘the team’ and pretend to be his friend.

Content Writer Requirements:

Essential Desirable 
– Willing to work for no remuneration or credit – Proven experience of writing for web, email and social media
– Ability to write good, clear copy in a variety of styles and tones of voice with impeccable spelling and grammar
– Excellent proof-reading skills
– High level of accuracy and attention to detail


WE ARE AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES EMPLOYER AND WELCOME APPLICATIONS FROM PEOPLE FROM ALL BACKGROUNDS, GENDERS, ABILITIES AND ETHNICITIES.

Expressions of interest should initially be in the form of a message in a bottle. This is not a real job advert but all applications will nonetheless be considered before they are rejected.

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James Blogs About His Own Blog

James Proclaims (4)

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Though unintentionally, I appear to have started the previous two months with a kind of ‘blog update’. I suppose it’s an inevitable consequence of posting something everyday that occasionally my muse will lead me to ponder my own blog and indeed the concept of blogging as a whole.

And frankly I’m not alone in this.  You rarely have to delve too deeply into the blogosphere to find someone ruminating about their blog, giving advice about blogging or lamenting the state of their blog and/or blogging in general. It is, I suspect, the nature of the beast.

And so, as we begin August, in this strangest of years, I thought I might again write a little more about blogging. I have, after all, been at this for a while. This is officially my 732nd post on ‘James Proclaims’ in the 5 years, 2 months and 22 days since a younger and greener me took his first tentative steps into the world of WordPress, so now seems as good a time as any to share my wisdom and experience on all things bloggy. Well maybe not as good a time as any. Perhaps I’d have been better doing this on the fifth anniversary of ‘James Proclaims’. But that day I was busy writing about the 1978 ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’. I stand by that decision.

Perhaps I’d be better hanging on for my upcoming 750th post. That seems like a seminal blogging landmark. But I might have something better to write about that day. Although if I maintain my current daily blogging schedule then it would fall on a Wednesday, which currently, and rather arbitrarily, serves as the day on which I post my satirical ‘clickbait‘ posts. And they do really lend themselves to blogging about blogging. Because they aren’t really about anything else.

But I’m feeling somewhat introspective today and the beginning of the month makes sense by my (usually flawed) reasoning. Not least because it permits me to look back on the previous month’s ‘stats’, be that in elation or despair. And on that score, things are currently looking up. I began July 2020 by celebrating June 2020 as my most successful month ever, in terms of the stats that WordPress deems relevant. And this was significant because June 2020 was my most successful month since August 2015. But July 2020 has actually been even more successful, across the board. Not only that, but a mere seven months into 2020 and I’m already enjoying what is now officially my most successful year in blogging. This mostly speaks to what an appalling job I’d been doing in previous years. Admittedly the second half of 2018 and most of 2019 don’t really count because I was, effectively, on a kind of ‘blogging paternity leave’ for most of that time. I did pop up occasionally with the odd post here and there but from May 2018 until March 2020 I really produced very little content. Apart from my much ignored annual Christmas Advent Calendar of Films, which I doggedly stuck to, even though no-one ever reads those posts.

2017 was my previous ‘best year’ and even then I was pretty inconsistent with how often I posted, but I did spend more of the year blogging than I spent not-blogging. 2016 was a very poor year, because, while I did produce a reasonable amount of content, for some reason my posts weren’t appearing in the ‘WordPress reader’ which meant that any bloggers who chose to follow me were not being made aware of the fact that I had written anything. And most of my readers are other bloggers. That too is the nature of the beast I suspect. Because at the time I didn’t ‘follow’ my own blog I had no idea of the problem. I just assumed that people who had previously been quite regular visitors had just decided they didn’t like my blog any more.

I may have self-esteem issues.

Of course I have self-esteem issues. That’s why I have a blog.

Once resolved, my stats improved dramatically, and I now do ‘follow’ myself in order to be certain that my content is available to people who might like to read it. Or at least so they can click the ‘like’ button and give me a misplaced sense of self-worth.

Anyway, 2020 is now statistically my best blogging year. And this matters because I can now choose to not blog again until 2021. In many respects this would be the smart thing to do. If I keep going, then the eventual blogging slump when it comes (and it will come) might hit me hard in 2021 and mean that I can’t top this year’s stats. Whereas a blogging slump now would leave my stats fairly sedentary for the rest of the year and a reinvigorated blogging schedule next year could then theoretically help me to continue to ‘build on my success’. There’s no point in setting the bar too high.

However, you will be relieved to know (yes relieved is the correct word) that I am not planning on having an immediate blogging slump. Not least because my blogging schedule is really not well-planned enough to actively plan a slump. Beyond a notional ‘need to post every day’ at the moment, I have no particular idea of what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. Last time I had a blogging streak of this magnitude it was far more planned.

I had a proper blogging schedule.

And I had much worse stats.

These days though it’s just whatever I can think of, whenever I can think of it. Which seems to result in a lot of haiku. And some of those haiku have been about how I always write haiku.

I didn’t even really know what a haiku was when I started blogging. Now it’s my ‘go to’ strategy for producing content when I can’t think of anything else to write.

But endless underwhelming haiku do appear to be the foundation of my current blogging ‘success’.

Success, is of course, a relative term. For this blog to truly be successful I would actually need to have some sort of aspiration for it.

But all I really wanted was for some people who weren’t me to read my stuff and not hate it.

And on that score this blog has been a runaway success story since the day I realised that you need to ‘tag’ your posts in order for other people to be able to find them.

Which I admittedly did not know for the first few weeks that this blog existed.

So if I was to impart one piece of advice to any newbie bloggers out there, it would be to tag your posts. It doesn’t matter what tags you use. Etiquette would suggest that the tag should be pertinent to the content.

But honestly, the bots don’t really care one way or another.

 

Mouse

Welcome back to Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog in which I peddle the same material week after week in the hope that no-one really notices. The conceit is quite simple. I draw a picture, my very-nearly-two-year-old daughter adds a touch of colour and then I post it on here and pretend it’s art.

I’d probably have stopped doing this weeks ago but the comments section has continued to amuse me, as a number of people seem to delight in posting ludicrously intellectual reviews of the ‘art’.

Hopefully they’ll do that this week too, or I could end up looking a bit silly.

Anyway, without further ado, allow me to present this weeks oeuvre. It is simply called ‘Mouse’.

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Revealed: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee

James Proclaims (4)

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Hello, I’m James and this is my blog, ‘James Proclaims’.

I like coffee. I drink quite a lot of it and I’m something of a snob connoisseur.

But in all honesty I doubt I know ten facts about coffee that aren’t already common knowledge. It would be ludicrous to claim otherwise.

Regular readers will no doubt have spotted that this is, once again, my (now apparently regular) Wednesday ‘click-bait’ post. I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now and if I’m honest the experiment has rather run its course. I don’t really know why I’m still doing it.

Perhaps it’s because, when all is said and done, disingenuous, low-quality content is still content and given that most media outlets, even publicly-funded institutions like the BBC, allow some pretty low-brow and worthless content on their websites, I don’t see why I should rise above it.

I should probably provide a link to something trite on the BBC website to prove my point, but these days my understanding is that you don’t need evidence to back up the claims you make and also quality is subjective, so it’s really just my opinion rather than an actual fact.

Believe it or not, some people will really like this post and consider it the height of satire.

And who’s to say they’re wrong?

 

Important Information For Our Readers

This one

Dear Reader

Thank you for your continued loyalty and support during these past months, which we know have been difficult ones.

As life begins to return to some normality, we want to reassure you that we’re continuing to do everything we can to keep you safe while still providing the quality poetry and great art that James Proclaims is known for.

You will have seen some updates from the Government recently and I wanted to share our approach with you in light of this latest guidance.

FACE COVERINGS

From Friday 24 July, we’re asking you to follow the new government legislation on face coverings while reading our blog.

All readers, apart from children under 11 and those who have reasonable cause, such as a health condition, disability, physical or mental impairment, should wear a face mask, scarf or other covering. Not all exemptions are visible, so please be understanding of other readers.

You will also be pleased to know our writers will be wearing face coverings. These will be worn by all writers who are not exempt when they are in areas where two metre social distancing cannot be achieved or where other measures, such as screens, are not present.

 

SMALLER QUEUES

As readers return to their normal reading patterns, we’re seeing queues reducing, and no queues at all on many posts. If you do find yourself queuing, please try reading outside of the peak lunchtime and early evening hours when it’s quieter.

 

READING HOUR FOR THE ELDERLY AND VULNERABLE

At the beginning of lockdown, when some posts were in high demand and the blog was very busy, we created a dedicated hour at the start of each day for our elderly and vulnerable readers.

We know how much this was appreciated and so – although our posts are now less busy and we have effective safety measures in place – we will continue to keep the first reading hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays reserved for our elderly and vulnerable readers.

We hope these measures reassure you that we take the safety of readers very seriously. Thank you for your patience and support in these challenging times. I look forward to seeing you commenting on one of our posts soon.

Take good care,

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J Proclaims
Managing Director
The James Proclaims Partnership

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A Bad Poem About A Different Bad Poem

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Once I wrote a poem and it wasn’t very good
I put it on this blog though I wasn’t sure I should
It was quite well-received even though it was so bad
It got more ‘likes’ than better posts and this made me sad

I wondered if it was worth putting much effort in
If  my most ‘liked’ posts were ones I’d prefer to bin
On the other hand though, it gave me pause for thought
Perhaps I had been trying harder than I ought

And so bad poetry became a thing I’d write
When all my other musings seemed a little trite
I’ve butchered many forms, there’s not much I won’t do
Poor odes and awful limericks and vacuous haiku

But though they are all bad, I can still get much worse
For few horrors can compare to my attempts at free verse
And though this poem rhymes it isn’t any better
Though it is quite self-aware and possibly meta

James Explains The Mask Situation In The UK

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Although Raphael is wearing a mask, it is the wrong kind of mask. However Raphael is a mutant turtle and consequently may not be affected by coronavirus.

It is officially mandatory to wear face-masks in some places in the UK as of today. It was already mandatory to wear them on public transport but previously it was not necessary to wear them in shops. According to ‘man of the people’ Michael Gove, it was basic good manners to wear them in shops, but there was no need to make it obligatory. Michael Gove did not, however, deem it good manners to wear a mask in Pret-A-Manger, which is now also mandatory, unless you’re eating in, in which case it isn’t mandatory, presumably because the mask might get in the way of the actual eating. But if you’re taking your food away, as Mr Gove was, then you will have to wear a mask. But not because it’s good manners, because it definitely isn’t good manners to wear a mask in Pret-A-Manger. But it is now the law or something. I mean I don’t think the law, if it is a law, actually specifies Pret-A-Manger. Unless Matt Hancock has shares in Pret-A-Manger. Then it probably is mentioned by name. But other sandwich shops are available. And some of them might even be better. Given that most of the Government seem to have been pictured in Pret-A-Manger this week, all wearing a mask, including, belatedly, Mr Gove, who has clearly been told to get ‘on message’, then I’d be considering venturing into another sandwich shop just to avoid them. Or making my own packed lunch. Which seems eminently more sensible in these corona-times.

Anyway, the point is that today there are new rules on the wearing of masks, which previously weren’t rules.

Fortunately the Government has published some guidelines on the new rules and they did it a whole twelve hours before the new rules came into effect, so there’s no excuse for getting this wrong. The guidance is only 2,752 words long, and frankly I’ve written blog posts about Star Wars that are longer than that. So if you had time to read any of  my 31 posts about Star Wars that I wrote in May then you definitely have time to read the Government’s advice about wearing masks.

Then again, even by the relatively humble standards of this blog, my Star Wars posts were not, on the whole, particularly popular . And they were definitely more entertaining than the Government guidance on wearing masks. So there is a chance that people won’t read that either.

But there does seem to be some confusion over the whole mask situation, so maybe I should help to answer some of the more frequently asked questions. Or FAQs, as I like to call them (I should probably trademark that).

I don’t know what the FAQs are surrounding the wearing of face-masks, so I’ve had to make some up. Much like Boris Johnson does with facts.

So without further ado, here are some possible FAQs regarding the wearing of face-masks and also some answers.

Question 1

Why is it only the law today, when coronavirus has been around for ages, supermarkets have always been open and other shops opened up weeks ago?

Essentially, before today masks were definitely ineffective against Covid 19, and the science definitely proved that and even though countries where people habitually wear masks have had much lower rates of infection, there was absolutely no proof that this was because of the mask-wearing. It could just have been luck. But a few weeks ago in the UK we beat coronavirus, because of our bulldog spirit. We sent it packing good and proper, never to be seen again. But some people keep saying that it’s actually still here and even though it definitely isn’t, we decided to close Leicester for a bit, just to shut up the moaners. But they kept moaning so we decided that if everyone wore masks then we wouldn’t be able to see their stupid moaning faces any more. And today just seemed as good a day as any other really.

 

Question 2

What is acceptable to wear as a face-covering?

Anything you like really. Have a bit of fun with it if you want. Think of it as one big fancy dress party. But you can’t dress up as Batman because his mask covers the wrong bit of his face. Batman’s nemesis Bane would be fine but he’s a baddie. If you want to be a hero then Spiderman would be a good option. Personally I’m going to dress as Darth Vader. But that’s because I already do that most of the time anyway and the costume has a built in ventilator so there’s a bit of long term planning with my decision.

Question 3

Seriously though, do I have to actually wear a face covering, or it it a bit like all the other rules and completely unenforceable?

The law very clearly states that you do have to wear a face covering unless (and I’m quoting the actual Government guidance here) “putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress”. ‘Severe distress’ is quite hard to quantify so, in actual fact, you really don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to. Also the police have repeatedly said they won’t be able to enforce this so it really all comes back to Govian “good manners”. 

Also you can print off your own exemption certificate or just write yourself a note, like you used to do when you didn’t want to do PE lessons. Only this time you won’t have to forge your mum’s signature, because it is apparently easier to get out of wearing a mask during a pandemic than it was to get out of cross-country in secondary school.

 

Question 4

What will happen to me if I don’t wear a mask?

As most people probably will comply then you’ll likely get lots of disapproving looks. But there are no other consequences.

At all.

Right, I hope that’s cleared things up.

Now get out there and start spending your money!

 

 

 

Pig – Encore

Welcome back to Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog in which I pretend that fairly rubbish drawings are actually art.

Lately I’ve been posting the same sort of inept doodles as ever, but with the added twist that my almost-two-year-old daughter had been adding her own unique take using some washable felt-tip pens.

Last week we gave you ‘Pig’, a work that was genuinely described in the comments section as being “structurally simple yet rhythmically balanced” and a “stunning display of technical mastery”.

However, in what is a definite first in this series, Little Proclaims declared herself unhappy with the finished work and yesterday morning she elected to revisit it. I think you’ll agree that her new interpretation reveals an entirely different construal to the piece. But I’ll leave the specifics once again to the comments section. For now, please enjoy “Pig – Encore”

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Ten Reasons That You’re Underperforming And Five Ways You Can Fix It

James Proclaims (4)

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Just five years ago I was a mess, like you probably are. I was failing at life and I didn’t know why. Then one day I picked up a book by Dr Willhem Grimaldi and my life has never been the same. I realised that I had been making the same ten mistakes as all stupid loser people make and I decided I wanted to be a clever winner person instead.

Dr Willhem Grimaldi showed me that in five simple steps I could stop doing the ten stupid things and be a better me than I thought possible.

And now you can also be a winner person like me.

Except that I just made up Dr Willhem Grimaldi.

And I have no idea if there are ten specific things that would make people unsuccessful. It seems unlikely that there could possibly be ten universal truths that account for every single person being successful or not. And if there are, it seems utterly without credibility that there would be five solutions to these ten problems. That doesn’t make mathematical sense.

Hello, I’m James, and this is my blog, ‘James Proclaims’ and I hope you’re here because you regularly read my blog and you’ve recognised that this post is just the latest in a series of posts I’ve been writing for the last few weeks (for some reason on a Wednesday) that have ‘click-bait’ titles.

Because if you really came to a blog called ‘James Proclaims’ to find out how to make your life better then I really don’t know if anyone can help you.

 

Pig

Welcome back to Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog that, of late, has being playing host to some innovative collaborative art projects put together by me and my almost-two-year-old daughter.

If you’ve not seen our previous efforts then I would urge you to reconsider your life choices, but I will also condescend to explain, in rudimentary terms, our ‘method’.

Essentially, I draw a fairly basic cartoon of something my daughter has vociferously demanded. She then adds the colour.

This week Little Proclaims has been experimenting with some new washable felt-tips. They are essentially the same as her old washable felt-tips, but they haven’t run out of ink.

Prepare yourself to be challenged by this week’s powerful imagery as depicted in ‘Pig’:

 

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Then go to the comments section, which is where the fun really begins on these posts…

Remember Vincent Montcetti? You Won’t Believe What He Looks Like Now!

James Proclaims (4)

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Do you remember 90’s heartthrob Vincent Montcetti, star of teen comedy ‘Saved By The Prince’?

It seems unlikely because I just made him up. And I made up the show too. The photo above is just something I found on one of those websites that has royalty-free images. I have no idea who the bloke in the picture is. He could conceivably be called Vincent Montcetti but he probably isn’t.

If there really was a show called ‘Saved By The Prince’ and it really did have a star called Vincent Montcetti then I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to any genuine fans who clicked onto this post hoping to read about their favourite former teen idol.

Although, I’m not that sorry because if there were such a person as Vincent Montcetti, then the ‘clickbait’ title of the post could really only have enticed you here to see what he looks like now. And the implication of the title was that, if he once was something of heartthrob, then he isn’t any more. So shame on you for wanting to revel in someone falling off the pedestal that you once put him on.

I imagine most people are here because they often frequent my blog and they’ve worked out that this is the latest entry in my current ‘blog project’ of giving some of my posts ‘click-bait’ titles to see if more people visit my site as a result. This is my third week of doing this and frankly the last two efforts did yield more visitors than would be normal. I doubt this is actually a good thing, because I can’t imagine many of those additional visitors stuck around.

Still, I expect I’ll post a few more click-bait titles in the coming weeks.

It’s a flawed methodology for attracting new readers but the comments sections of those posts have been highly amusing.

Reflections On The Recent Lockdown By A Man Who Might Be Slightly Inebriated

James Proclaims (4)

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It will be Monday when I post this but, as I write, it is Saturday afternoon. Little Proclaims and I spent much of this morning doing our usual weekend daddy-daughter activities, which mostly consists of feeding ducks and jumping in puddles. I join in with the duck/goose/swan feeding as Little Proclaims, while content to hold a piece of stale bread and shout at the associated waterfowl, is rather less than proactive in actually dispensing the bread to the beneficiaries. I tend not, as a rule, to jump in puddles due to not possessing the appropriate footwear. And not being a toddler. It’s more about the footwear though…

As of the 4th July we have, of course, been permitted to return to playparks, so that too featured this morning. Little Proclaims has very much enjoyed this renewed relationship with the swings, slide and roundabout but by far her favourite activity in the playpark at the moment is to run around aimlessly while shouting excitedly. We go out early and are alone in the park so I try not inhibit this expression of unbridled joy, unless she looks as though she’s about to do something that will result some kind of mishap. Which does happen quite often…

Little Proclaims is now enjoying a much deserved afternoon nap and I am sitting in front of a televised football match that I have fairly limited interest in, drinking some very nice beer, which I purchased for a bargain price at the supermarket and which is making me question whether I will ever return to the pub. I suppose I would like to socialise with the small number of people that I consider friends again but frankly the beer is just as good, and significantly cheaper, at home and I wonder if I really need to go the pub to see them. Maybe the ‘new normal’ will present us with lots of new opportunities to get together, which won’t involve imbibing alcohol in a claustrophobic environment on a Friday evening. Probably not, the world does seem intent on making the ‘new normal’ as much like the ‘old normal’ as possible. Then again I’m sure the ‘old normal’ had plenty of activities that weren’t ‘the pub’. I just didn’t pay them much heed. Perhaps I should stop waiting for the world to change around me and just be a bit more proactive. That does sound like a lot of effort though.

I’m also feeling fairly reluctant to get a haircut. Having rejected Mrs Proclaims kind offer to trim my locks during lockdown, I now have quite the mop. If work, which in my case is based in a secondary school, were operating as usual I’d probably feel more inclined to sort it out, because teenagers can be quite cruel, but there are so few of them there at the moment that I feel I can hang on, particularly with the six-week summer holiday coming up. No doubt by the time September rolls around I’ll be desperate for a trim but I feel I can let things play out for a little longer – who knows, I may decide to opt for an entirely new look at the end of all of this. Maybe a new hairstyle is what I’ve been waiting for to kickstart my journey to being a new and better me.

Or maybe I’ll just be the same person but with different hair.

I expect around the end of August I’ll cave in just have my usual haircut anyway. The non-descript but easy-to-manage look that has served me so adequately for all these years.

I should at least be a slightly fitter version of myself as a result of all of this. My thrice-weekly run has now increased to four-times a week. The main result of adding an extra run per week seems to be that I’ve become much much slower on all of my runs, but as the notion of going for four runs a week was unthinkable only a few months ago, I’d still have to count this as progress.

The swimming pools are due to open soon. No doubt with lots of rules that make it far more difficult to access them, but I should still be able to add swimming back into the mix in some way. I’d like to imagine I’ll stick with the running too, not least because the gyms are also re-opening so there should be less runners about in general, which might mean I can stop getting up at 5am to avoid them.

That said, Little Proclaims does like an early start so it’s unlikely to be the end of my 5am alarm calls…

Being the parent of a small child and still largely having to go to work did mean that lockdown wasn’t the life-altering experience for me as it was for many. Still, I did acquire a little more time as a result of it and I wonder if I really made the most of it.

I’ll have to do better during the next one.

 

Snake

Welcome back to Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog in which I try to pass off rudimentary doodles as art.

For the last few weeks I’ve been posting the same kind of sub-standard drawings as was my way when I first started doing this back in 2017.

But these days I have a collaborative partner in the form of my almost-two-year-old daughter who has kindly embellished my drawings with her own artistic interpretations.

And the results have been astonishing. I mean they’re still quite bad drawings and the scribblings of a toddler do little to redeem them, but it has resulted in some of the most entertaining ‘comments sections’ I’ve ever seen on this blog.

So, people of the blogosphere, you are once again encouraged to channel your own inner art critics and share your pretentious gibberish in the comments section below as you take in the power and majesty of ‘Snake’.

It was originally going to be a frog. That’s what Little Proclaims ‘commissioned’. But when I started drawing the head, I felt that it looked more like a snake. So I finished off the drawing as if I’d meant to draw a snake all along.

Little Proclaims didn’t seem to mind…snake

 

 

Lose Weight And Feel Great In Three Simple Steps

James Proclaims (4)

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Hello, I’m James and this is my latest post on a blog I like to call James Proclaims.

It’s not really a blog about weight-loss or fitness, although occasionally I have used my own lacklustre attempts to improve my health and wellbeing as the basis for some of my posts, which for the most part are meant to be amusing rather than inspirational.

I can’t tell you how to lose weight and feel great in three simple steps. I doubt there are three simple steps. Assuming you have no underlying medical conditions, if you eat healthily and do a reasonable amount of exercise you’ll probably be fine. I don’t think there are any obvious short-cuts, but I’m no expert. I don’t wish to dismiss how difficult it is to eat healthily and do regular exercise either – I find both to be soul-destroyingly difficult. Nonetheless, I think that is the only route that will yield results.

Obviously if you’re a regular visitor, you’ll have probably worked out that the title for the post was a continuation of a theme I started last week, when I decided to write a post with an obvious click-bait title to see if it attracted more people to my blog. I mainly did it for a laugh, but I also learned a valuable lesson. Which was that writing click-bait titles that have little or nothing to do with your post does actually work, if your sole goal is to attract more visitors to your blog.

And to be fair, although I did acquire some new ‘bot’ followers, I also did get lots of comments and engagement from real people. I was unduly rewarded for my Machiavellian ways and it was a busier day than normal over here at James Proclaims Towers*. Certainly, busy enough for me to try the same trick again this week.

Last week’s click-bait title was specifically pitched at other bloggers, and ultimately, although my post did not help anyone to generate additional followers for their blogs, the post in question was at least about the whole concept of blog followers, so hopefully none of my new visitors left feeling hugely short-changed.

It would only seem fair, then, to dedicate the rest of this post to the topic of weight loss.

But that does seem a bit boring.

So, I’m not going to do that.

 

*I’m trying out ‘James Proclaims Towers’ as the new blog nickname for my home. You obviously don’t know what my house looks like, but if you did, you would know that ‘James Proclaims Towers’ is hilariously ironic.

James Complains About Seven Delicious Biscuits

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If you’re good at maths you will see seven biscuits in this picture. If you see eight then hang your head in shame.

 

I enjoy a good biscuit as much as anyone. Pre-pandemic, when I used to have to attend meetings in person, I always felt slightly less hostile towards the meeting organiser if there were biscuits available. Not that biscuits could ever truly redeem any meeting, but when they were available they could help to ease the pain a little.

And while I would never actively encourage visitors to Chez Proclaims, you can be assured that if you manage to dupe me into allowing you past the threshold of my house, then I will provide you with a biscuit. And it will be a nice biscuit. Something from the ‘Tesco’s Finest’ or ‘Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference’ range. Or maybe, if I’m feeling particularly generous, it could even be an offering from Marks and Spencer.

But probably not from Waitrose. Not any more. Not after what they did.

“But James”, I hear you cry, “surely Waitrose do some very nice biscuits?”

Oh yes dear reader. Waitrose do some exceptionally nice biscuits. Some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But you shall not find them in my house.

“But what have you got against Waitrose?” I hear you plaintively protest.

I have nothing against Waitrose. I like shopping there. Even during the pandemic, when going to the supermarket has often felt akin to diving for treasure in shark-infested crocodiles, only to find that someone has already taken the treasure and left some weird lentil-based pasta twirls in it’s place, I haven’t hated shopping in Waitrose. Apart from the cost, because it’s a little more expensive than other supermarkets. But I do like a lot of the stuff they sell, in spite of the mild inconvenience of not really being able to afford it.

But let’s get back to my problem with the biscuits.

It might seem like a little thing. I’m sure some people will call me petty. But those people would be wrong.

A few weeks ago I purchased a packet of chocolate-orange cookies. And they were absolutely delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were near enough biscuit nirvana.

The trouble was that they came in a packet of seven.

Seven!

What kind of inhuman monster sells biscuits in packs of seven?

OK, I’m sure I’ve already got the mathematicians on board, but it is possible that some people might be lost, so allow me to explain in greater depth, why I believe this be such a heinous crime.

Seven is far and away the worst quantity to sell biscuits in because seven is a prime number. It is only divisible by one and seven.

This means that if you buy a packet of seven biscuits, it’s impossible to share them evenly with anyone else unless you are sharing them with exactly six other people and you all have one solitary biscuit each. And when does that happen? How often are there exactly seven people in a room partaking in biscuit consumption? It’s quite a specific scenario. And if that ever does happen, then, as I said, everyone only gets one biscuit each. And surely no-one ever only wants one biscuit.

Any other scenario and you can’t divide the biscuits evenly. Someone will end up with more than everyone else. And I’m sure that marriages have broken down over less serious matters than ‘uneven biscuit distribution’.

The other option is to scoff the lot yourself. But whereas the smaller prime numbers, two, three and even five are acceptable numbers for solitary biscuit consumption (five I’ll concede is at the limit of acceptability but hardly hedonistic), seven biscuits is really too many for one person to eat on their own. Of course I could easily put away seven biscuits in one sitting, but I shouldn’t and I resent Waitrose for putting me in that position.

Biscuits should be sold in even numbers because then you can always share them with another person. I can, however, accept a packet of nine because that can at least be split three ways. Little Proclaims is too little to be given an equal share of the biscuits at the moment but one day I might be glad of a packet of biscuits offering a convenient three-way distribution.

Eleven or thirteen would also be quite bad quantities for biscuits to be sold in, but when you get to that amount then it’s surely implicit that you would need to save some for another day. And anyway, thirteen is permissible on the grounds of novelty value because it’s the traditional ‘baker’s dozen’, so it’s really twelve plus a bonus biscuit.

No, the worst number to sell biscuits in is seven.

And I am absolutely correct to be angry about this.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re All On A Learning Journey

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Lately I’ve noticed a tendency
For so-called celebrities
That I have never heard of
To apologise for things
That I didn’t know they’d done

I can see at face value
That it may seem appropriate
To say sorry
For insensitive choices
Made when times were
Supposedly less enlightened
Even if the aforementioned times
Weren’t actually that long ago
And the person in question
Should really have known better

Maybe I’m being cynical
But I can’t help but feel
That perhaps the apology
Is less about making amends
And more about raising the profile
Of someone who would benefit
From some free publicity

Equally though
I do understand
That the fear
Of being named and shamed
By social media
Is very real for some
So perhaps the apology
Is better issued in advance
It is, after all
Very important
To make sure
That Twitter likes you

And if we’re honest
Most of us could look at choices
We made in the past
And concede that some of them
Were not especially sensitive

And though I am not famous
And unlikely to ever be so
It occurs to me
That if I ever achieve this distinction
Then photos of me
At a fancy dress party circa 2005
In which I appear
To be dressed as Saddam Hussein
May well come back to haunt me
Because that could well be perceived
As quite insensitive

So, for the record
I would like to point out
That my costume
Was actually supposed to be Che Guevara
And not Saddam Hussein
But it turns out that
Within the context of budget fancy dress
They had a surprisingly similar look