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

James Explains Independence Day

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Happy 4th July everyone!

Today is officially Independence Day in the UK!

What’s that?

July 4th is Independence Day in the United States?

No, that can’t be right. Unless you mean the time that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved the world from aliens in 1996? Because I’m pretty sure that was a movie. And not a great movie if I recall. I mean the effects were pretty good, and the two leads were decent enough, but it was all pretty derivative otherwise.

I haven’t seen the 2016 sequel, but I’ve heard it’s eminently forgettable. Actually, maybe I have seen it…

Anyway, if we’re not talking about the movie then I’m not sure how anyone could claim that Independence Day is a US thing rather than a UK thing.

What’s that you say? It’s to commemorate the 1776 Declaration of Independence, when the Thirteen Colonies ceased being part of the British Empire?

Actually, to be fair, that doesn’t sound like something we would want to celebrate in the UK. Indeed, I can’t imagine we would have been overly keen on that development back in 1776.

But hey, water under the bridge and all that.

If something that happened 244 years ago is still worth having a party for then go for it my American friends.

But we’ve got an Independence Day that really is worth celebrating over here. Because today is the day that we’ve finally beaten COVID 19 and we can get back to normality and doing what we do best in this country.

Which is getting drunk.

Because the pubs are open again!

Except for where they aren’t. Which I think is Scotland and Wales. And the city of Leicester. Which could be indicative that the easing of lockdown in the rest of the UK is premature. But it definitely isn’t.

Obviously, we haven’t stopped getting drunk just because the pubs have been shut anyway, because we’re British and the second the rules were relaxed on going to the park more than once a day, we’ve been in out in our masses, enjoying the sunshine and getting absolutely hammered. But now we can pay more money to do that in the pubs, which is superb news for the British Economy.

So, on this most British of Independence Days, I urge all of my compatriots to head to their nearest alehouse with the utmost haste.

Unless you want to get a haircut first, because that is also now permitted.

And shops have been open for ages, so you can go and spend your money there too, as long as you are planning on getting absolutely wasted at some point today.

Oi, you in the Lycra – where do you think you’re going?

The gym? I don’t think so my friend. While it is an actual fact that we have beaten the virus to a safe enough level for excessive alcohol consumption in overcrowded bars, we still need to act with some restraint. Gyms and swimming pools are obviously much more dangerous than pubs. Yes, today is a day for celebration but we can’t afford to do anything reckless like indoor exercise.

Honestly, some people…

Oh, and in terms of meeting up with other people, just to clarify:

  • You can meet as many people as you like in the pub
  • You can meet up to six people outside unless you would like to meet more people than that.
  • You can go to another person’s house and stay overnight, but you must only go to one house at a time. Anyone caught simultaneously in two houses at any one time will feel the full weight of the law. Which is currently about 8.2 mg, the same weight as the average feather.
  • You still need to stay either 2 metres or 1 metre apart from other people unless you can’t or you don’t want to.
  • You must get drunk.
  • There was definitely something about bubbles. Possibly champagne bubbles, but I’m sure any sparkling wine will do.

Above all else, remember these simple rules:

 

Stay Drunk

Ignore The Facts

Spend Your Money

 

 

 

Throwing Stones

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The other day
I overheard two colleagues
Disparaging another colleague
(Behind that colleague’s back)
For being overweight

It irritated me
For several reasons
Not least because
Although I’m not above
The clandestine critiquing of others
I would like to think
That I would never do so
For reasons so shallow
And unkind
As these people did

But it also occurred to me
That while the person who was the subject
Of the condemnation
Is indeed overweight
The two people passing judgment
Could also stand to lose a few pounds
And ultimately were being somewhat hypocritical

But then I worried
That in disapproving of them
I too was being hypocritical
Because although I would be confident
In declaring myself healthier and fitter
Than either of them
It definitely wouldn’t hurt me
To cut down on the snacks

Then again, I only judged them
On the basis that they
Were judging someone else
So maybe I’m not as bad as them
When all is said and done

Of course, I kept my thoughts to myself
And didn’t challenge them
After all, how could they know
I could hear their every word
Just because they were speaking loudly
Outside the room that they knew I was working in?
It’s not like they were talking about me
And the person they were discussing
Was blissfully unaware of the conversation
So, I just left well enough alone

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is
Possibly there is no moral at all
Or maybe it’s something about
Glass houses and stones
Which always confused me
Because who would build a house out of glass?
Unless the saying is about greenhouses,
But then why not just say greenhouses?
Anyway, it’s probably best not to throw stones
Indoors at all
Because most buildings have windows

Dog

It’s that time of the week again, when I present one of my not-very-good doodles, which my almost-two-year-old daughter has subsequently embellished with her washable felt tips, and then I pretend it’s art. But the collaboration doesn’t end there, because by far the best bit of these posts for the last two weeks has been the comments section, as people try to out-do each other with their own interpretations of the ‘work’. So, no pressure people, but if the comments section isn’t full of more pretentious nonsense this week then I’m going to look like a bit of a fool.

Last week we offered you ‘Cat‘, a disturbing, visceral, yet poignant piece that, in many ways, presented a pessimistic view of the world.

This week, Little Proclaims has opted for a lighter more playful tone and, in many ways, a direct contrast to ‘Cat’ but just as one cannot have the light without the dark, so too we cannot have ‘Cat’ without ‘Dog’.

So here is ‘Dog’

dog

Massively Increase Your Followers In Three Simple Steps

James Proclaims (4)

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Hello, I’m James and you are currently reading my latest post on a blog that I like to call ‘James Proclaims’. There’s a chance that you already know this of course and that you came here to sample my latest offering because you generally find my output tolerable. However, if you’ve stumbled here by accidently clicking on the wrong link or some other internet-related mishap (we’ve all been there), then I still want you to feel welcome and appreciated. We at ‘James Proclaims’ value all of our visitors, regardless of the circumstances that led to them finding themselves here. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. I sometimes like to pretend this is a team effort, but it isn’t. This blog is entirely my fault and my fault alone.

There is, of course, a chance that you’re reading this on the basis that you were enticed by the ‘click-bait’ title I decided to give this post. If that is the case then I’m genuinely sorry. It wasn’t my intention to mislead you (well it was, but only in a misguided attempt at humour). In all honesty, there is very little chance that continuing to read this post will help you to get more people to follow you on whatever social media platform you’re currently operating on.

Because I don’t know how to do that.

Certainly not in three simple steps.

I don’t have that many followers.

Actually, at the time of writing I do notionally have something like 850 followers. Some bloggers would consider that a lot, while others would look on me with condescending pity as they bask in the glory of having thousands of followers.

850 is fine with me. It would be even better if there really were 850 people regularly reading my posts.

There are not. I think there are reliably about twenty people worldwide who actually read most of what I write and then maybe another twenty or so people who occasionally read what I write. I could be wrong. There could be more than that, there could actually be far far fewer than that.

The other 810(ish) followers either consist of people who did used to read my blog but haven’t for a while, other bloggers who followed me despite having no interest in my blog, solely in the hope that I would follow them back (I’m sorry to disappoint those people but I tend not to do that, although they aren’t actually reading this so it’s probably a redundant statement to make) and quite a lot of my followers are what we in ‘the business’ like to call ‘bots’. I don’t know what a bot is, but I do know that if I write about specific topics, things that normal people write about like health and/or fitness, then the bots go crazy for it. When I write about ducks and puddles, the bots seem less interested.

Anyway, the point to all of this, if indeed there is a point, is that in the month that has just gone, the month in question being June in the year 2020, my blog has enjoyed something of an upturn in fortunes. It was, statistically speaking, the most fruitful month I’ve ever had based on all of the different criteria that WordPress uses to measure the success of my blog. I had more visitors, more ‘likes’ and more comments on my posts in June than in any other month since I started blogging, way back in May 2015. And while you might expect a blog to get more successful over time, that generally isn’t how things have gone for me. My stats for June 2020 eclipse every other month by a considerable margin. The only month that comes close is August 2015 and that has always been an outlier, a beacon of shame if you will, reminding me that every other month has been a spectacular failure by comparison.

There are some factors which may have helped June, not least the fact that I’ve been producing content on a much more regular basis than I have in the past, but as this is my hundredth post in as many days, one might wonder why I didn’t enjoy a similar upturn in fortunes in April and May. Ok, May could be explained by the fact that I wrote exclusively about Star Wars for thirty-one consecutive days and April was fairly niche too because I mostly wrote about 90s indie music. But I’ve had blogging streaks before and they’ve never resulted in a massive increase in my blogging stats. Perhaps the pandemic has meant more people have time to read blogs. Maybe my particular brand of ‘whatever-it-is-I-actually-do’ has been more appealing during these coronatimes than it was when there wasn’t a world-wide health crisis.

Or maybe, somehow, I have finally nailed the art of blogging and June 2020 was the beginning of my humble little online journal joining the stratosphere of the ‘superblogs’. Maybe this time next year I’ll have 8000 followers rather than just 850.

It seems unlikely. But, while I’d like to pretend that I don’t care about things like ‘numbers of followers’ and ‘likes’ and that I’m really too cool for all of that, there is a part of me that has enjoyed this last month.

And I’d like it to continue for a bit longer.

So, I thought I’d get my July blogging stats off to a good start by writing a post with an obvious clickbait title.

Just to see how many more of the bots I could reel in.

Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 2)

James Proclaims (4)

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Last week we explored the efficacy of ducks (or more accurately geese, which aren’t ducks) at hindering my morning run, in comparison to puddles. That round went to puddles. Let’s see if ducks (and associated waterfowl) can level things up this week.

 

Prior to current world events, I would often take my daughter to one of the many playparks that we’re lucky to have within walking distance of our home. She’s quite an early riser, so we were often able to get to the park before other people and would frequently have use of the facilities for a good hour before anyone else arrived.

Which was great for me, because the one thing that has not been a hardship during the pandemic is staying away from other people. Little Proclaims is generally more sociable than her father but lacks any kind of boundaries or social etiquette (which I understand is fairly normal for a toddler) so she did enjoy having the run of the park without me constantly having to restrain her. She loved the swings, the slide and the roundabout, but her favourite activity, if it had been raining, which it does quite a bit in the UK, was to jump in puddles.

Indeed she loves jumping in puddles so much that, when we were adopting a pretty strict ‘stay at home’ regime during lockdown, she would often fill her little plastic watering can, from the sand and water table my parents bought her for her birthday, and create little puddles in our garden to jump in. Even better was when she could convince me to get out of the camping chair, I’d mistakenly thought I could relax in while supervising her, to get the big watering can and make some really big puddles for her.

March and April involved me being at home a lot more as I initially tried in vain to work from home for two weeks and then we had the Easter holidays, which were still observed notionally by schools, although ironically less so than in years when schools were open as normal. As a result, Little Proclaims and I spent a lot of time in the garden. And even though I returned to working in school at the end of April, I was only able to work on-site for the duration of the ‘school day’ which in reality represents a fraction of the time I spent in my office pre-pandemic so the garden fun was largely able to continue most afternoons. Things have slowly crept back to, if not quite normal, then ‘still quite busy’ at work and the hours I can access the site have increased as more of my colleagues and more students have also returned to the school.

But it has still felt important to continue to make time in my day to have fun with my daughter. Pre-lockdown I was in danger of becoming ‘the boring parent’, certainly on weekdays. I probably remain the ‘more boring parent’ because Mrs Proclaims applies the same level of intensity towards parenting as she does to pretty much everything, which means that Little Proclaims is phenomenally entertained by her mother, to the point that both are often exhausted by the time I get home. Nonetheless, I would still like to think that my daughter enjoys my company as much as I enjoy hers. Then again, if she enjoys spending time with me only half as much as I enjoy spending it with her then she’s still having a great time.

As lockdown has gradually eased (rightly or wrongly), though we’ve still been inclined to remain Chez Proclaims for the most part, the little one and I have ventured out for a walk most afternoons. We can’t yet access the play parks because, understandably while it is absolutely fine to gather in large numbers and drink alcohol in our local parks, it is clearly not safe to play on the swings, so Little Proclaims and I have had to make do with going to see the ducks. Some days, if we have any leftover bread, we even feed the ducks.

Obviously, as with ‘Round 1’ of Ducks versus Puddles, when I say ducks, I really mean the various associated waterfowl that frequent the bit of the Thames near where we live. But that does include ducks. And Little Proclaims does think of them all as ducks. Or sometimes canards, because as I’ve mentioned before, my daughter is quite good, for an almost-two-year-old, at speaking French.

But she doesn’t call them waterfowl. And never geese, despite the fact that the geese outnumber the other birds by a considerable amount. It’s almost as if a parental figure has taught her to call them ducks…

Anyway, she likes these little outings a lot. I often take her out when she wakes up from her afternoon nap. My child, much like her father, is not the loveliest of people when roused from slumber. She can be a little cranky post-nap and while I theoretically sympathise, because ‘morning me’ is best avoided by all, I’m never been sure how to help her snap out of her mood. But one mention of ducks and she’s a different child, straining at the leash to get out. It’ a literal leash too, because Little Proclaims is so mobile that I’ve long since given up on taking the pushchair, so she mostly gets where we’re going under her own steam. But because she has all the road safety awareness of a toddler, I have to employ the use of reigns. These come in the form of an owl-themed rucksack with a helpful cord for me to hold onto. She likes wearing the rucksack, so she doesn’t object to this limitation, and when we eventually get to a nice open field I let her run free, which she loves.

The ducks and associated waterfowl are always a source of fascination for her, and, unlike her pater, who would happily avoid the hissing velociraptor-like geese, she’s quite content to get close, unaware that there might be any danger, which apparently there isn’t, because the geese, seemingly realising that their bluff has been called, retreat more quickly at the sight of a small child in the afternoon than they do at the sight of a large man running slowly in their direction in the morning.

A couple of weeks ago I would have been quite confident in telling you that my daughter’s favourite activity at the moment is going to see (and sometimes feed) the ducks.

But then it rained for a few days and all of a sudden there were puddles galore on our outings, including a veritable ‘festival’ of puddles in a local, currently not well-used, car park that we happened upon. And I’ve never seen her happier than running and splashing in those puddles.

She still likes the ducks, but I’m pretty sure that she prefers the puddles.

There have been two key indicators:

  1. She happily walked through a pack of velociraptors – sorry flock of geese – the other day, completely oblivious to them as she made her way to, what wasn’t even that impressive, a puddle.
  2. When I coax her away from the ducks in order to return home, she sometimes objects a little. When I try and take her away from the puddles, I’m met with full toddler meltdown, the kind which draws judgmental stares from the general public, and I have to literally carry her kicking and screaming all the way home.

So, at the end of round two, the ‘entertaining my daughter during lockdown’ round, puddles are very clearly the winners.

Which means that in the clash of the titans that was ‘Ducks versus Puddles’, Puddles have actually won the series comfortabley 2-0.

And as I can’t think of any more rounds with which to assess them, then I can categorically state that puddles are better (or much much worse depending on your perspective) than ducks.

I imagine we’ve all learned something today.

 

Complacency

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Of course I knew the dangers
But, I’m pretty experienced
And most of the time
There isn’t anything to worry about

Maybe I just got careless
Assumed that the worst
Could never happen to me
A lazy assumption I now realise
Based on the flimsy evidence
That the worst hadn’t happened to me

Not for a long time anyway
Not since I was younger and more foolhardy
But perhaps since then
I’ve just been lucky
Never really taking the proper precautions
And just getting away with it

Until today that is
Until the worst finally did happen
And I proved I was no more immune
To overconfidence
To stupidity
To recklessness
Than anyone else

For today when I opened Pandora’s Box
Which in this case
Was a bottle of Coca-Cola
(Other soft drinks are available)
Unbeknownst to me it had been shaken

And as the refreshing
Albeit calorific contents
Washed over me
I’d like to beleive
I learned a valuable lesson
But in all honesty
I probably didn’t

Opinion Piece

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Though it is accepted wisdom
To equate success to fame
I’m really not that sorry
That nobody knows my name

Yes, I’m glad that I’m not famous
I’m happily unknown
Anonymity quite suits me
I’m sure I’m not alone

Of course, I would admit that
Fame might well have the odd perk
Being wealthy would be nice
I could probably give up work

But celebrities are different
To the likes of you and I
And I couldn’t do what they do
However hard I try

I don’t have the right conviction
Perhaps I’m out of sync
But I wouldn’t be much good
At telling others what to think

No fame is really not about
The composition or the art
It’s about which celebrity can prove
That they have the biggest heart

And there is no room for nuance
No time for quality debate
Celebs just need to tell us plebs
What to love and who to hate

 

The Beautiful Game

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Once in a while I like to put aside my own nonsense and compile the gibberish of others to make a ‘found poem’. In reality, I’ve only actually done this three times on my blog, and the last time was back in 2016, so it’s not a regular activity. The last one was in honour of the Rio Olympics and in particular an homage to some of the banal nonsense that the pundits and commentators would come out with.

But if there’s one sport, which has absolutely nailed the art of total banality within its commentary, it would have to be football (or soccer to my US readers).

I don’t attach a massive amount of importance to football, but I’m quite happy to watch it if it’s on the telly, and it is quite a lot at the moment, due to the return of the Premier League as the lockdown eases and the world stumbles towards a state of affairs currently being branded as ‘The New Normal’. Due to the lack of crowds at the games, some of the matches are being shown on terrestrial TV, for free, for the first time in the UK since the 1980s.

So in honour of football’s return, I spent a small amount of time the other night half watching a game while trying to get my ‘daughter who doesn’t like to sleep’ to go to sleep. And for a brief period of time when I thought she had gone to sleep (oh poor naïve fool that I was), I jotted down some of the commentary, which I’d like to present to you today in the form of a poem. Not so much a ‘Found Poem’ as a ‘Heard Poem’.

If you were to stop reading at this point I would not blame you.

If you’d like to persevere, then here it is:

The Beautiful Game

That was nowhere near good enough or acceptable
They’ve not won a tackle
There’s three points at stake here
You’ve got win your first tackle

Can he get it up and over
The goal keeper got a hand on it
An unbelievable save
It shows how much quality is on that free kick

That’s not an easy finish
Look how much time and space he’s got
It’s a good ball
Very very good finish

They look fit and hungry
It’s of massive importance
He’s probably been their best player
Some tidy touches

They’re not even getting on the ball
They’ve got to score the next goal
We spoke about the importance of a fast start
They just seem so pedantic
It’s too predictable
They need creativity
They’ve not even had a shot on target
The players need to look at themselves
They certainly need something
They need a spark

It’s one of them to be honest with you
He’s won the ball cleanly
We have actually seen red cards given for this
There’s no intention
It’s a very harsh one
He got a foot in

The referee has said no foul but that is a foul
And this is in a good position
He just needs to stay on his feet
If they can get one here it just might be the beginning of a comeback

The midfield’s absolutely ran this game
He used the ball very well
It’s gone the other way
He’s no stranger to a yellow card

Heavy touch
Short touch
Corner kick
Well they might get one
But I don’t think they’re going to get two
That’s for sure
Shake of the head from the manager
Injury time and the end of added time and then not much time

Got to expect more there
I can only put it down to tiredness
You had to fancy him one on one there to get his goal

The referee having a little glance at his watch
And there we are
A richly deserved victory
All in all the game was won in the first half
Very thorough professional performance
They’re always well organised
We mentioned that before the game

 

Cat

After the critical acclaim my daughter and I enjoyed last week with our debut collaboration, ‘Helicopter‘, we’re back this week with another of our artistic offerings.

This week, Little Proclaims was keen to show another side of her, quite formidable, talents and has offered a more aggressive, almost brutal, palette to complement the elementary template she commissioned me to produce.

I think this piece, which we’ve called ‘Cat’ is as stark a reflection of our times as you’re likely to come across.

cat

An Homage To The Now Departed Daily Briefing

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Hello and welcome to today’s update
We haven’t got anything new to say
Nothing’s really changed since yesterday
But it’s important, nonetheless
That we update you anyway
Otherwise you’ll realise
That we haven’t got any idea what we’re doing

We’d rather give the impression
That we do know what we’re doing
Even though we don’t
Because no-one wants to admit
That they don’t know what they’re doing
It’s not a great look
It’s much better
To create the illusion of competency
Aided where possible
By meaningless diagrams
And complex terminology
That no-one understands
Because we just made it up

And lets not dwell too heavily
On things we said in the past
Because a lot has changed since then
And it wouldn’t serve anyone
To focus too heavily
On our broken promises
Over-optimistic forecasts
And, if we’re honest
(Which we never are)
What can only be described as outright lies

Let us instead
Look to the future
And what we can achieve moving forwards
Because if we use different lies
To the other lies we told
Then some people will still believe us
And that’s the main thing really
And everything will probably be fine in the end anyway
If we just ignore the facts
And concentrate heavily on soundbites
And a bit of misdirection
And just blame everyone else

So today I’d like to announce
The latest thing we’re going to do
It’s brilliant
And better than what anyone else is doing
If you don’t believe us then just you wait
Yes you can quote me on that
But only today
Not in two weeks
When it turns out
That this was just more hyperbole
And in the meantime
Stop being so negative will you?
Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?

Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 1)

James Proclaims (4)

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A couple of notes before I begin:

  1. This post is notionally about ducks, but really it’s more about geese. And a tiny bit about swans. Essentially it’s about the birds that live on the Thames, or the bit of the Thames that goes through the town of Reading. I think the collective name for such birds is waterfowl. But I tend to call them ducks, even though only a few of them are actually ducks. 
  2. It’s also about puddles, so the above picture seemed an appropriate choice. But, even though cartoon ducks (and those plastic ducks that some people have in the bath) are often yellow, I’ve never seen a yellow duck in real life. Do such creatures exist?
  3. I’ve never seen a white duck either, like Donald and the other Disney Ducks. Or Beatrix Potter’s ‘Jemima Puddle-Duck’. In fact, to my mind, Jemima Puddle-Duck looks more like a goose, and I just assumed that ‘Puddle-Duck’ was an affectionate, antiquated, name for a goose. But I googled it and it’s not; there are such things as Puddle-Ducks and they are white ducks, I just happen to not ever have seen any in real life. Which brings me back to my question about yellow ducks. Actually I could just google that too… 
  4. Although this post is about puddles and ducks, it isn’t about Jemima Puddle-Duck. We’ve dealt with her and she won’t be mentioned again.

When I partake in my thrice weekly run, I go out at ‘stupid o’clock’. ‘Stupid o’clock’ can be defined as somewhere between 5am and 6:30am. Usually it’s before 6am. I go out early. I do this mainly because there are fewer people around at that time. Because they are mostly still tucked up in bed. Which is where I’d rather be. But my desire to stay in bed is currently being out-voted by my desire to get fitter. This tends to be a temporary state of affairs in my world and I’m making the most of this current inclination towards self-improvement, so I get up at ‘stupid o’clock’ three times a week and go out for what I refer to as a run, but what many others would probably refer to as a plod. I don’t like running when other people are around because I’m not yet at the stage in my running where I feel comfortable. It’s not a vanity thing, I don’t possess a lot of dignity when I run, but few people do. It’s more that I find running so utterly joyless that it’s all I can manage to keep going most of the time. I don’t need obstacles and other people do tend to get in the way. It’s worse at the moment, because with the gyms all closed, a lot of people have taken to going out running. But at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning there are only a small number of intrepid souls out and about. Including yours truly.

So mostly I get to run without anyone getting in the way. Sometimes I seem to time my run at roughly the same time as the man from the council is out in his little van emptying the bins along the Thames path. This is less than ideal as, obviously being in a van he goes faster than me, but he also stops a lot to empty the bins. So it’s a weird mile or so of me overtaking him and then him overtaking me. He never actively gets in my way so it’s more of an unwelcome distraction than anything.

No, it’s mainly an obstacle free course at that time in the morning. Except for the geese. They get in the way. A lot.

The ducks don’t, they mainly stay in the river. The swans are also quite considerate. But the geese, in quite large numbers, tend to congregate on sections of the Thames path, leaving me with something of a conundrum. Do I run towards them and trust that they’ll oblige and get out of my way? I’m not the fastest runner, but I’m a fairly large person. I imagine, to a goose, the sight of me running towards them would be akin to a tractor moving towards me. I’d have plenty of time to consider my options but none of those options would include waiting for the tractor to arrive at the space I’m currently occupying. But the geese, in general, don’t seem that bothered by my presence. Or at least not especially fearful. And I don’t know if you’ve ever met a goose, but they are quite frightening. They move around in packs (I suppose technically flocks) and they resemble, to my early morning eyes, the velociraptors off of ‘Jurassic Park’. And they hiss. Quite aggressively. They’re really not very nice.

So I tend to alter my course to avoid them. Which I can’t help but feel does throw me off my stride a little.

Recently though, the weather has been a little less clement. I’ve woken up at ‘stupid o’clock’ to find that it’s raining. On such days, any sensible person would decide that outdoor exercise is a bad idea and return to the comfort of their bed. But, as previously mentioned, I hate running. So running in the rain is not especially any less appealing than running when it’s not raining. I’ve completed a few runs in conditions that some would describe as ‘nice weather for ducks’. I’m not sure if the ducks really have a preference for the rain over other meteorological conditions, but the geese do seem to behave differently. I wouldn’t say the path is clear of geese, but more of them seem to remain in the river on such days. Which means I encounter fewer feathered fences to hurdle.

So you’d think I’d go faster on such days. But alas, in place of the geese, I find numerous puddles. And they are also a hindrance. Because, while some puddles are insignificant, some are akin to small lakes and it’s harder to run around the larger puddles than it is to run around a goose.

Or course puddles don’t tend to be quite as aggressive as the geese, and they don’t hiss at me, so I can run through them without fear of being attacked. But it’s easier said than done. I’m sure more able runners, those who are solely focussed on improving their personal best, would run straight through a large puddle without a care in the world, but I’m still at a point in my running when such disregard for common sense is alien to me. Because it’s human nature to avoid puddles. So where I can I do and when I can’t, and I have to traverse the offending quagmire, I do so as delicately as possible. Which rather slows me down.

And while none of my running times are yet worthy of any kind of boasting, I’d have to say that, on balance, when my primary obstacle is puddles rather than geese, I tend to record slower times.

So, in the category of ‘Hindering Me While I Run’, puddles would have to be declared the winner.

Puddles take round 1.

But it’s not over, ducks and associated waterfowl still have a chance to level the series.

Tune in next time (whenever that is) to see if they manage to do just that.

I Am Your Father

James Proclaims (4)

Don’t be fooled by the title of the post – unless you are my almost-two-year-old daughter, I am not your father. And I’m pretty sure you’re not my daughter because, precocious though she appears to be, she can’t yet read. To the best of my knowledge anyway.

But today is Fathers Day and, as of August 2018, I am a father, so I get to celebrate today. Celebrations appear to largely consist of ‘doing what we always do on a Sunday’. Which is fine. I generally like Sundays.

Obviously there is still, notionally at least, a worldwide pandemic, rendering many celebratory activities largely off the table.

Although my understanding is that the pandemic is basically over. I mean it’s obviously not over, but having made such a colossal mess of everything, the UK government appears to be in the process of sweeping the evidence under the carpet and pretending like nothing ever happened.

So I suppose we could do something to celebrate Fathers Day after all. But I’m still relatively new to all this – it is, after all, only my second Father’s Day and last year I was very much at the ‘rabbit-trapped-in-the-headlights’ stage of my parenting adventure so I can’t recall what, if anything, we did to mark the occasion.

So far today, Little Proclaims and I have enjoyed breakfast together, as is our way on a Sunday morning. Mrs Proclaims joined us this morning, but often on a weekend it is just  the little one and me, while my much-cleverer-than-me wife gets on with studying for her PhD. While eating breakfast we watched a bit of the Disney film ‘Moana’, but, as Little Proclaims currently has the attention span of a lively toddler, we only ever get through twenty-minutes at a time.

After breakfast, I was showered with Father’s Day gifts. They were notionally from my daughter, but I suspect she was aided a little by Mrs Proclaims. It was a good selection, and included things to eat that are bad for you, which is my favourite kind of gift. I did my usual Sunday 4 mile run this morning (as opposed to Tuesdays and Thursdays when I only run 3 miles – I really do go the extra mile on a Sunday), so I’m feeling virtuous and like I probably deserve to eat bad food.

I also got a card, and a really cool Star Wars T-Shirt (to add to my Star Wars T-Shirt collection) as pictured below:

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The card (outside)

 

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The card (inside)

 

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My new favourite Star Wars-themed T-Shirt

Helicopter

It’s been a little over two years since I troubled the blogosphere with one of my not-very-good drawings. But, though my artistic talents have not improved in that time, I have acquired a new fan of my doodles.

Little Proclaims is quite keen on drawing too, although much of her work appears to be from a more abstract school of art.

Lately though, she has been in a collaborative mood, or perhaps aware of the limitations of her still-developing motor skills, she has become frustrated that she can’t quite create the images she wants.

Her solution is therefore to get me to draw pictures for her. She seems to have far more faith in my ability than is merited, but as I regularly used to post my inane doodles on this blog prior to my daughter’s arrival in this world, I can hardly claim that I don’t also hold a slightly inflated view of my own talent.

Anyway, the game appears to be that she asks (or rather demands repeatedly until I cave in) that I draw something and then she adds her own interpretation to the piece. I expect this will be a ‘thing’ in our lives for some time, and given than I employ absolutely no quality control whatsoever in terms of what I’m prepared to post on this blog, it was always likely that I would use this daddy/daughter activity to generate content.

And lets be fair, it won’t even be close to being the worst thing that I post this week.

So without further ado, I give you our latest masterpiece, which is simply entitled:

Helicopter

helicopter

 

No Cats Were Harmed In The Writing Of This Poem

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It’s not that I don’t appreciate
Innovative ways of doing things
I’m certainly no advocate
For always doing
The tried and tested
I’m all for experimenting
Redefining what’s possible
Doing things differently

It’s not the methodology that matters
So much as the goal
And how ever many ways
There might be to achieve this
I’m still not convinced
That we need to skin a cat

Because aside from being an act
Of extreme brutality
I’m not sure what purpose it would serve
Cat skin doesn’t seem like a feasible material
To fashion even the most rudimentary of garments
And surely no-one wants to eat the meat
No I’m pretty sure those rumours are unfounded
No-one wants the meat

Yes I understand that it’s really just a metaphor
I just never really thought it was a good metaphor
In much the same way
That this poem
(If indeed this is a poem)
Could in any way be viewed
As a good metaphor
For the UK Government’s approach to…
…well anything really
But much like needless cat murder
It is a metaphor nonetheless
And I expect some people will get it
For all its clumsiness

An Overly Long Post About An Underwhelming Return To Running After Quite A Few Years Of Not Running

James Proclaims (4)

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Note – I started writing this on Sunday, but didn’t get around to finishing it until today. So every reference to ‘today’, with the exception of the one in the previous sentence, actually refers to Sunday. Not that it matters, but I’d hate for you to feel in any way deceived.

 

Today, according to my bottom-of-the-range GPS watch, I ran my second best time ever for a four mile run.

Of course one could deduce that I have, in fact, only run four miles twice in my life and today I was slower than the last time I did it.

This is not entirely true.

But it’s also not exactly untrue.

In my twenties, particularly a golden period in my mid-twenties, I could knock out a four mile run fairly effortlessly, and much more quickly than I managed today. Indeed, back in my twenties I used to run half-marathons on a pretty regular basis and on three occasions I actually managed to complete entire marathons. Technically the third was the day after my thirtieth birthday but, to be fair, the training took place while I was still in my twenties. I began my thirties in pretty good shape but it really was the start of a decade of my life when I mostly seemed to be committed to undoing all of the good work of the preceding ten years through a combination of poor dietary choices and watching too many box-sets. Although ‘The Wire’ was excellent. It’s not really relevant to this post but I can’t overstate how good that show was.

Even in my twenties I was never especially quick, but I could run for quite a long time. Nonetheless, I was almost certainly quicker than I am now.

Unfortunately, back then, I didn’t own a bottom-of-the-range GPS watch, so I had no way of tracking my performance stats when I was training. I don’t even know if such devices existed back then.

I own one now though and I’ve had it for about three years. I didn’t initially buy it to keep track of my running. Frankly, after that last marathon in 2009, I thought I’d pretty much given up running for good. It wasn’t my intention to give up but life just kept getting in the way, as life is often prone to do, and I’ve never been especially disciplined when it comes to fitness. I did briefly come out of ‘retirement’ in 2014 to run a half marathon. I did very little training and somehow completed the distance, in an admittedly lamentable time, through a combination of misplaced confidence and presumably an element of ‘muscle memory’ from my earlier endeavours.

That last half marathon was a grim experience though and I had no interest in doing it again.

But in 2017 Mrs Proclaims and I started doing quite a lot of walking. It started off relatively modestly, but we went out most weekends and we were pretty soon clocking up twenty-plus miles on our outings. So I bought the GPS watch to keep track of our progress. Alas, it had rather less energy than we did and it would frequently run out of charge long before we completed our perambulations so it was, essentially, useless.

However, in the winter of 2017 Mrs Proclaims and I had to curtail our ambitions regarding walking, due to the forthcoming arrival of Little Proclaims. Also it was winter and walking long distances is rather less fun in the winter. But we knew that, all going well, by the time the weather picked up, Mrs Proclaims would be in no condition to complete the kinds of distances we had been walking and, whether capable or not, was hardly likely to feel inclined to do so.

I have generally tried to maintain an acceptable, if not exactly impressive, level of fitness, so I’m certain I did still do some sort of exercise (albeit in an ‘on and off’ fashion, as is oft my way) throughout Mrs Proclaims’ pregnancy, but it did not tend to involve any kind of running.

However, it did occur to me that our forthcoming lifestyle change, and in particular the additional costs of having a child (which I still, even with my most pessimistic calculations, managed to woefully underestimate), might render gym membership a luxury I couldn’t really afford. So I thought about taking up running again. Because running is, if nothing else, free.

And, in April 2018, I went for a run.

I didn’t expect it to be especially easy, but I was ill-prepared for quite how horrendous the whole experience would be.

In the end I completed a mile.

A single, solitary mile.

Which would be all well and good. Not the most ambitious of beginnings, but something is better than nothing. Except that I didn’t run the whole mile. I actually ran about 40% of a mile. And then I had to stop because I was in agony. I completed the rest of the distance through a combination of walking and painful short-lived attempts to reignite the run.

It was a pretty humbling experience. I didn’t expect to be able to run a 10K on my first attempt, but to not even be able to manage a mile did seem a spectacular fall from the giddy heights of my youth.

I needed to urgently right this wrong.

For the next eight days I ran (or attempted to run) a mile every single day. And I did improve. By the end of those eight days, according to my cheap GPS watch, I was actually able, if I gave it my all, and didn’t mind collapsing in a breathless heap at the end, to run a mile at roughly the same pace as ‘most men my age’.

I’ve no idea how the pace of ‘most men my age’ was calculated, but I’d hazard an educated guess that it was ‘most men who decided to part with their cash to purchase a similar device to mine’, so it probably wasn’t the most accurate calculation. Still, I was quietly pleased, in eight days, to have improved from that pitiful first effort.

And in order to build on this success, I promptly gave up running again.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself spending a lot of time in hospital. The birth of my daughter, was not a straightforward affair and while Little Proclaims thankfully came out of the ordeal relatively unscathed, Mrs Proclaims was not so lucky and was in quite a bad way for a few days. My wife and new-born child were not discharged for the best part of a week, and while I did occasionally venture home to sleep, I was mostly there with them. But they were both asleep for quite a lot of the time, so I spent some of that time reading. And, although I mostly tend to read novels, my attention span was somewhat lacking during that week, so instead I found myself reading some of those collections of newspaper columns that comedians like to repackage as books around Christmas time. One such compendium was by Charlie Brooker and it was a pretty good way of taking my mind off what was a very surreal and stressful situation (my wife’s long term prognosis was actually pretty good, but she was really not well for those few days in hospital, which was hardly the ideal introduction to parenthood for either of us). Anyway, one of the recycled articles in Charlie Brooker’s book, was about how he, despite not being someone who particularly enjoyed ‘keeping fit’, had taken up running regularly by completing one of those couch to 5K apps.

And I thought to myself, if Charlie Brooker can do it, then so can I. Although he has also forged an extremely successful writing career on a variety of platforms, and I, despite often claiming I would like to do that, have never come anywhere close to making that happen. So I’ve no idea why I thought Charlie Brooker’s achievements should serve as a baseline for my own ambitions.

Anyway, once my wife and daughter had been discharged from hospital, and after we’d had a few weeks to adjust to life as parents, I downloaded the same running app and started running 3 times a week. And I really enjoyed it. As is no doubt the case with similar apps, the programme starts you off very gently so the first few weeks were eminently manageable, particularly for a man who could run a mile at roughly the same pace as most men his age. And after five weeks or so I was building nicely towards a regular running routine.

So obviously I gave up again.

To be fair, being a new parent is exhausting enough and there were a lot of other irritating things like ‘having to go to work’ and ‘thinking about but not actually writing my MA dissertation’ that were getting in the way too.

After a few weeks of complete inactivity, I did take up swimming again, which is a form of exercise I much prefer. Even that was a bit stop-start for a few months, but once I’d finally put my MA dissertation to bed I did invest quite heavily in the swimming and by the time my daughter’s first birthday rolled around, I was relatively fit again.

So much so that once again I started running. I didn’t bother with the app, I just decided to try and run 5K straight away, and although it was pretty miserable and painful and even though I was still pretty slow, my recently acquired swimming-induced fitness meant that I was able to do it. This time I kept up a routine of running three times a week.

And I lasted an entire three weeks before again giving up.

I stuck with the swimming, which I much preferred and that did seem to be enough to keep me in relatively good shape until November when a series of ear infections kept me out of the pool until the end of January.

If you’re going to stop exercising regularly, then the period between November and January is not ideal.

And although I was able to return to the pool, my GP advised me against swimming daily, as I had previously been doing, because she was obviously getting fed up with constantly prescribing antibiotics.

So in February I started running again, alongside a much reduced swimming regime. But after the excess of festive food and a lack of training over Christmas, I decided once again to turn to the app in order to try an establish a manageable routine.

And much like before I quite enjoyed the first few weeks because they really aren’t that strenuous. But, by around week five, I was starting to look a little shaky and was fairly convinced that once again I’d be ditching the running and risking further ear infections by upping my time in the pool.

And then a certain pandemic happened.

And suddenly the swimming pool was closed indefinitely (and indeed still is) and running was all I had.

So I stuck with it and completed all nine weeks of the couch to 5K app.

And on the last day, I expected the little voice in my ear, the one that had been encouraging me for all those weeks, to make a bit more of a fuss than she actually did. But there was no pomp or ceremony. The app gave me no closure. It was almost as if it was an emotionless piece of software.

However, I had achieved the goal of running three times a week for nine weeks.

But, during that time, the entire world had taken up running. So I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to continue. After nine weeks I didn’t really enjoy running any more than I when I started, and in any case, I particularly dislike running when there are lots of other people also running.

Nonetheless, I dusted off my GPS watch for the first of my post-app runs (having previously decided that none of the app-inspired runs needed to be recorded for posterity).  I expected to see a vast improvement from my August/September running pace and lo and behold, I discovered that I was , if anything, even slower.

But I suppose the app did instil a routine because I completed it some time in April and I’ve stuck with my three-times-a-week running schedule for a while now.

I’m a little bit faster but it’s certainly nothing to brag about.

The agonising pain seems to have gone though, which seems like a good thing.

I’m still a long way off even thinking about running marathons again.

But this morning I ran four miles for the second time in as many weeks. And four miles is better than no miles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renaissance

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It has been a difficult time
For everyone
And the world might have changed now
Beyond all recognition

It is more than possible
That things will never be the same
And as a species we will have to adjust
To adapt, to reframe, to reflect

But out of the ashes of despair
Opportunity rises like the Phoenix
Now is the time to innovate
To improve
To reassess our priorities
To think differently

Although the current plan
As far as I can make out
Is to do things exactly the same as before
But less well

Zooming Away To Another Meeting

James Proclaims (4)

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I’m in a meeting as I write this. It is, as most meetings are these days, a ‘virtual’ meeting. I’m currently using Zoom. I have also used Teams quite a lot. I don’t like either very much.

I’ve never written a blog post in a meeting before, however, as there are 42 people in this meeting and no-one can see or hear me, due to the fact that my camera and microphone are switched off,  I thought it would be a better way of spending the time, rather than actually listening.

I’ve also ‘left’ the meeting to make multiple hot beverages, while still, as far as anyone knew, remaining ‘in the room’.

The meeting has been going on for 45 minutes and is showing no signs of ending any time soon, certainly not within the advertised time span. Hardly any of the agenda items pertain to me. In fact none of them directly pertain to me, but there were a couple of bits that were vaguely useful for me to know about in an abstract way. Those agenda items have long since passed. However, in that respect, this is no different to how these meetings tend to work in ‘real life’.

I can’t write a blog post in the real meetings though.

But I can in this.

I’ve certainly found writing it more diverting than listening to the various people who have been permitted to have their microphones on during the meeting.

Except for the bit when one of the more senior members of staff was struggling with a poor internet connection and sounded a bit like a broken robot. Mainly because people were telling him they couldn’t hear him properly but he also couldn’t hear them so he kept going on and on and people were clearly getting quite vexed by the whole thing.

I enjoy the vexation of others as long as the source of their vexation is not vexing to me. Which this wasn’t.

But in general I do find meetings to be vexing, and virtual meetings are possibly more vexatious than real life meetings.

Some virtual meetings require me to be an active and engaged participant. They are the worst.

This one didn’t though, so I can hardly be blamed for not giving it my full attention.

 

Welcome To The New Normal

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Welcome to the new normal
It’s a bit like the old normal
But with a smidgen less freedom
A tiny bit less choice
And quite a lot less fun

On the plus side though
There are more queues
And more joggers
A lot more joggers
And there is more than enough fear for everyone

And there are more rules
Although the rules don’t apply to everyone
And they can be quite confusing
And most people just ignore them

It’s not all change though
Much like the old normal
If you’re not sure what to do
Or even what to think
Then the Internet can help

It’s still full of the advice and opinions
Of people who are a bit famous
And therefore better than you
And they are more than happy
To tell you how to live your life
And what you should believe

Lately though
A lot of them seem to keep going on
And on and on and on
About something called
‘The New Normal’
Whatever that is

Teams Spirit

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There is no ‘i’ in Teams
Although there is an ‘i’ in time
And when I am in Teams
I often feel like I am stuck in time
Sometimes I’m literally frozen in time
At least that is the impression
I give to others
I wish I were more like ‘i’
And not in Teams
So I could be free
Perchance to Zoom