A Very Cold Ape

James Proclaims (4)
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As is the norm of a Sunday night (which is when I’m writing this, though, in order to allow time for the proofreading that I almost certainly won’t do, it will not appear in the blogosphere until Monday morning) I am somewhat apprehensive about the working week ahead of me. There is nothing especially onerous about the week to come, beyond the whole ‘having to go to work’ thing, which has always been something of an aggravation to me.

In two weeks, I will be at the beginning of a glorious 6-week period of ‘not having to go to work’, which I am very much looking forward to. It’s the main reason I became a teacher in the first place.

I wish I was joking. It’s such a cliché to suggest that people become teachers because of the holidays and in my experience it generally isn’t true. Most of the colleagues I’ve encountered over the years have been people who see teaching as a vocation. They genuinely love what they do. I wish I was one of those people, but alas it was vacation not vocation that lured me into the profession.

Not that I’m bad at my job. Despite my relative indifference to the field in which I operate, I appear to be quite good at what I do, but if I could have the same holidays doing something else then I would definitely consider it.

Having 6 weeks off work every year might seem like a lot. And that’s because it is a lot. It’s brilliant.

But I still have to wait two weeks for that to kick in, so currently, like every other chump out there, my only reprieve from work is through weekends. One of which I’ve just had.

Weekends are ok. I’d rather have a weekend than not have a weekend, but they really are far too short.

I currently find myself at the denouement of this particular weekend wondering exactly where it went and what I managed to achieve.

And the answer appears to be ‘not much.’

I did eat a lot of ‘Cheeky Monkey’ ice-cream though.

No, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to write ‘Chunky Monkey’. Much as I enjoy Ben & Jerry’s, I was not eating their famous ‘primate-themed’ ice-cream. I was eating an ice-cream from a well-known discount supermarket, which was very clearly an homage to a renowned Ben & Jerry’s flavour. But weirdly, ‘Cheeky Monkey’ ice-cream is not a rip-off off ‘Chunky Monkey’. Instead it appears to be a tribute to the masterpiece of dessert-engineering that is ‘Phish Food’. Which is a little confusing.

The ice-cream in question was delicious and given that it was less than half the price of ‘Phish Food’ it was a very credible facsimile. But if you’re going to go to the trouble of producing an imitation of a celebrated ice-cream, it seems strange to give it a name that is very similar to a different well-known ice-cream.

And I had I been in the mood for ‘Chunky Monkey’ I might have been a tad disappointed.

Fortunately, like the responsible consumer I am, I read the label and knew exactly what kind of frozen treat I was purchasing.

So, no harm was done.

Except to my waistline.

And to be fair, that ship sailed a long time ago.

 

 

 

The Re-emergence Of A Man Who Claims To Proclaim

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s been almost three full months since I last elected to post on these pages, over five months since the post that preceded that and, aside from a flurry of activity over the Christmas period, it’s been a little over a year since I can claim to have been producing content regularly, so you might be forgiven for thinking that I had given up on this blogging malarkey for good.

But, with literally tens of followers the world over, I was never going to disappear from the blogosphere forever. The world needs James to proclaim. And by James I mean me. I probably should clarify that, because James is not an especially uncommon name. And, if we’re going to be technical about this, it isn’t really my name. It is the second name that appears on my birth certificate, and it’s the name that everyone who knows me uses to refer to me, so I feel I have a justifiable claim in using it for the purposes of the witty appellation of this blog, but the point could be contended. Proclaims isn’t really my last name either, but that feels marginally less fraudulent.

Anyway, I haven’t posted much recently, but regular readers will know that I’ve had some valid excuses, not least the arrival of my eleven-month-old daughter. Approximately eleven months ago. In truth, had I been blogging regularly for the last year, it would have been hard not to make the majority of my prose solely about her. Because I don’t really ever have time to do anything that doesn’t largely involve her in some way.

Then again, my posts have never really been about anything, so to devote most of my writing to the trials and tribulations of being a first-time parent would be out of character for me. Other people do that sort of thing far better than I do. Plus, if I were to write about the feelings my daughter makes me feel then I might inadvertently bring some sincerity to these pages and we could all do without that.

Needless to say, she is an endless source of joy and sleep deprivation. I love her profoundly, but I am very tired.

She is asleep as I write this though, as is Mrs Proclaims (for I wrote this last night). I am watching footage of the Glastonbury festival , which I have been doing for much of this weekend, often while keeping an eye on my, now very mobile, offspring to ensure that she doesn’t put anything in her mouth that might do her some harm, which she seems intent on doing all of the time.

When last I posted I was in the process of not celebrating my 40th birthday. This was less because I was bothered by the landmark birthday and more because my birthday fell on a workday and several days before the dissertation for my MA was due to be handed in. My dissertation was, of course, the other reason why blogging has been hard to find time for in recent months. My lack of posts subsequent to my hand-in date might lead you to believe that I either missed the deadline or that I failed to achieve a passing grade. Neither is true. Although I was very much still writing the first (and as it turns out only) draft in the early hours of the morning of the deadline day, I did submit it on time and not only did I pass, but I did rather well. Which is a little uncharacteristic of me really, as I tend to specialise in underachievement and mediocrity when it comes to academia. Indeed, I did so well that I am, probably unwisely, considering pursuing a doctorate in the not-too distant future. This may be partly inspired by Mrs Proclaims’ academic endeavours, for alongside being the primary care-giver to our small-person, she is also pursuing a PhD. But then she is rather clever. She often gets questions right when we watch University Challenge. Indeed, she is the only reason I even deign to watch University Challenge, which might as well be broadcast in Swahili for all I understand the questions. But while I may not be as academically able as my wife, who actually seems to enjoy studying, I am, I think, capable of dragging myself through the rigours of a qualification that will allow me to call myself Doctor Proclaims. And it’s all about the title really.

But that’s for the future. For now, I am enjoying not having any deadlines. I still have to go to work unfortunately but working in education means that in a few weeks I will have a glorious six weeks of holiday to enjoy.

Which could well mean that I have time to start writing posts for this site on a more regular basis.

Whether I use the time for that purpose is anyone’s guess.

 

Blowing Out The Birthday Blues

James Proclaims (4)

Today is my birthday.

Which is usually reason for celebration.

But I’m not celebrating this year.

A discarded takeaway pizza box (which contrary to what my waistline might suggest, is not the norm Chez Proclaims) is perhaps the only visible sign that I’ve marked the occasion.

To be fair, it’s been quite a few years since I really pushed the boat out to celebrate my birthday. But I normally do a bit more to acknowledge the fact that I’ve survived another year on this planet.

And today is quite a big birthday.

Arguably the big birthday.

Today I turned 40.

Which is some kind of landmark age apparently.

It would be a lie to say I haven’t reflected on this a little over the last few weeks.

But turning 40 doesn’t really bother me.

I’m genuinely OK with it.

I don’t feel especially old.

I’m as fit and able as I’ve ever been.

This may, admittedly be because I’ve never been especially fit and able.

I probably haven’t achieved as much as I would have hoped I might have by the age of 40.

Nonetheless  I’ve almost certainly achieved more than my feeble efforts have really ever deserved.

And really, life in general is pretty good. Better, in many ways than it’s ever been.

Obviously I speak from a personal perspective. It’s been a while since the events that dominate the news have made me feel anything other than apoplectic rage or inconsolable despair.

But in terms of being me, things are going rather well in general.

I am happily married to the mother of my eight month old daughter. I own a house that is not entirely decrepit, and I earn enough money from my job to keep the wolves from the door every month.

Not that there are many wolves in Berkshire.

There are quite possibly foxes.

Indeed the Fox and Hounds is a place I frequent fairly regularly.

It’s exactly the kind of establishment that would be ideal for celebrating one’s 40th birthday in.

But I’m not celebrating my birthday this year.

This is because, while in a general sense my life is far from lamentable, my immediate situation is rather less ideal.

For starters I had to work today.

On my birthday!

This may not seem like the greatest of hardships, but one of the main reasons I chose to work in the field of education was the high probability that my birthday would always fall within the Easter holidays. There are perhaps more worthy reasons for choosing to work in my profession. Making a difference to the lives of young people and all that. But for me it was all about the convenience of the holidays.

So it is always an affront when my birthday falls during term time. It just shouldn’t happen.

I perhaps could have lived with working today if I could have had tomorrow off.

But I have to go in then too!

Ok, once tomorrow is out of the way, I do have two weeks off to look forward to and, even though my birthday will be but a distant memory by then, that would normally be a reason to be cheerful.

Alas, a rare, though fairly prolonged, effort at self betterment has meant that the first weekend of the hols will be spent furiously typing up the several thousand words I still have left to complete on my MA dissertation, an interminable undertaking that has kept me from posting very much on these pages in recent times, and which has resulted in the kind of stress eating which might well have lead to a decline in my health that means making it to 40 is perhaps a minor miracle in itself.

Come Monday, pass or fail, my MA will be done and dusted. Which will be a good thing.

Actually, if I do fail, I will be granted another 12 months to rewrite the bloody thing, so it is pretty essential that I pass, because academia really needs to be out of my life.

Notwithstanding the fact that I work in education of course.

So I’ve had better birthdays all things considered.

Not that today has been a total write off.

Mrs Proclaims has showered me with a perfectly pitched selection of gifts that have moved and amused me in equal measure. She also provided me with my annual giant birthday cookie, which I have already set about with the kind of glutinous abandon that has become my modus operandi of late. It is delicious though.

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The cookie before I set about devouring it

My family, though a fair few miles away, have provided me with gifts and messages aplenty and I’m genuinely touched.

And my daughter, who has never previously featured in any of my prior birthdays, what with not having been born, has been utterly delightful. Aside from when she vomited on me at 5 am this morning. It was fortunately prior to my morning shower, but the odour remains on the sofa, which also suffered in the incident.

I think my favourite moment of today though, was the video message I received from my father via social media, a forum he has only recently discovered. As he wished me happy birthday with what can only be described as childish glee, I was very much reminded that age really is only a number.

 

Mind Over Body

James Proclaims (4)

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As I’ve mentioned in one or more of my previous ponderous posts, I’m currently in the process of attempting (but not really succeeding) to write the dissertation bit of my MA.

In truth it’s not actually my MA.

Not yet.

I need to write a dissertation first.

I also have a full-time job, because I haven’t yet worked out a way of not having a job and still being able to pay my mortgage.

Even for someone who is motivated and academically inclined, writing a dissertation alongside having a full-time job is quite hard.

And it would certainly be a stretch to describe me as either motivated or academically inclined.

I’m not stupid (or possibly I’m so stupid that I don’t realise that I’m stupid) but academia and I have never really gotten on too well.

Occasionally I have shown the potential to be an academic. Throughout school, my undergrad days and even at times on this MA course, I have demonstrated that, when I put my mind to it, I can achieve grades at the more impressive end of the scale. However, these flashes of brilliance are all too often followed by mediocrity and in truth I’m far more likely to flirt with grades at the less impressive end of the scale. I normally do enough to pass, but quite often I do ‘just enough’.

Throw in a new(ish) baby (not literally obviously – I’m still a relative novice at this parenting malarkey but I’m given to understand that throwing a baby is not generally considered wise. Especially if bathwater is involved apparently) and time is a commodity I don’t have much of.

I do enjoy looking after my daughter. She can be a little demanding, often in the early hours of the morning, but she’s mostly delightful and for someone who hasn’t actually mastered the art of speaking, she has quite a lot to say, and she says it with such feeling and passion that I’m not sure actual words would add much to her soliloquies.

In order to be able to do my job to an acceptable (but rarely  exceptional) level and to be able to grind out a dissertation (that will achieve the minimum pass mark) by April, and to be able to enjoy the company of my daughter (and sometimes my wife, although in truth Mrs Proclaims are currently operating on a shift pattern with regards childcare and are rarely conscious and in each other’s company. We do enjoy a regular verbal exchange at around 3am when debating over who gets the honour of listening to our offspring’s latest early-morning orations) something has had to give.

And that has very much been exercise.

Not that I’ve ever been any more athletically inclined than I am academically inclined. But I generally do try and keep fit enough that my tendency to indulge in foods that might be considered insalubrious do as little damage to my long-term health as possible.

I’m not sure, even at my fittest, that I’ve ever really managed to get the balance of diet and exercise entirely geared towards optimum wellbeing, but in normal times I do enough good to at least mitigate the bad.

At the moment, though, the balance is swaying very much towards the bad. In attempting to secure a qualification that I don’t really need (and at this point I’m not even sure I want) I am sacrificing the short-term health of my body for the long-term benefits of my mind.

Although it’s not really clear that having an MA will bring any benefits to my mind.

Other than the fact that, assuming all goes well, from April onwards I’ll able to smugly boast to anyone that will listen that I have an MA.

When all is said and done, it’s not actually that much of a boast.

Nonetheless, and in spite of a total lack of comprehension as to what it is I’m bragging about, I’m sure that my daughter will greet the news with her usual infectious enthusiasm.

 

 

 

Definitively Depressing Democracy

James Proclaims (4)

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Today is Blue Monday. Apparently, this is what the cool kids now call the third Monday in January.

It’s supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

And it’s absolutely a real thing and not just some concept originally made up by a travel agent in 2005 to sell more holidays.

So, if you’re feeling depressed today, that’s absolutely fine and you don’t need to seek medical help.

Conversely if you woke up this morning in a relatively chipper mood, there is definitely something wrong with you and you should absolutely seek help at the first opportunity.

One would imagine that the premise of Blue Monday is that Christmas is now a relatively distant memory but we’re still all paying for it in terms of trying to shift excess weight gained during the festive period, with the added problem of having no money thanks to pay day still being over a week away.

And it’s Monday.

Which is always a bad thing.

But this January seems to have given some of us even more reasons to not be cheerful.

I’m vaguely aware of something called a Government Shutdown happening in the US, which is seemingly attributable to the normally even-handed and flexible Mr Trump.

It doesn’t seem like a good thing, but it hasn’t really been headline news over here.

This is not because we Brits like to mind our own business and don’t care about the comings and going of the POTUS. Indeed, such is the coverage normally that you’d be forgiven for thinking that he is actually president of here too.

Fortunately, he’s been largely kept out of our news because our own behemoth of badness has been rather dominating the headlines of late.

That behemoth is, of course, Brexit. If you don’t know what Brexit is, then I’ll refer you to an explanation offered by a number of its proponents:

“Brexit means Brexit.”

Hope that’s cleared that up for you.

The same people also regularly offer a definition for the word ‘leave’.

Which is:

“Leave means Leave”.

Indeed, if the exponents of exiting Europe ever release their own dictionary it will be quite a slim volume, bereft as it will be of any actual definitions of any of the words therein.

Which isn’t to say that it won’t sell well.

Because you can’t argue that Brexiteers don’t know how to market their crap pretty well.

I, of course, am a certified remoaner. I’d rather we hadn’t voted for Brexit. But don’t mistake me for something I’m not. I’m not especially a fan of the European Union.

To be a fan I’d have to understand how it all works.

And I don’t understand at all.

I think, on balance, I’d rather live in a world where we’re all a bit more connected and I think the EU probably represents that.

But I’m hardly an idealist.

If someone could have persuaded me that I, personally, would be significantly better off with Britain leaving the EU, I’d have gladly ignored my principles and voted wholeheartedly for Brexit.

But no-one could.

It was all a bit vague really.

And two and half years on, as we hurtle towards the definitive date when we cease to be part of Europe in an economical and political sense (although remain very much part of it in a geographical sense) it seems no-one has any idea what is going to happen.

Perhaps I’m being a little idealistic, but it kind of feels like we should have known what we were voting for (or against) back when we actually voted on it.

Some people are suggesting that, now we do know a bit more, we should maybe have another referendum.

Other people seem to be of the view that to have another referendum, which could potentially undermine the first vote, would be undemocratic.

I’m not sure another vote would solve anything, because I think we’re all still as clueless now as we were back in 2016, but I really would like someone to explain to me how another referendum would be undemocratic.

Because I’d have thought having another vote would be the very definition of democratic.

Then again, I’m probably using the wrong kind of dictionary.

 

 

 

 

Time Mismanagement

James Proclaims (4)

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Sometimes I wonder if I am the personification of procrastination. If I were to look up the definition for procrastination in a dictionary, I would genuinely not be surprised to see my own face grinning back at me.

If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would probably win the gold medal. If I ever got around to competing of course. Which I wouldn’t because I’d be too busy re-organising my sock drawer. I’m just that good.

If it were possible to make a living from procrastinating, I’d certainly consider getting around to one day applying for a role doing just that. I’d be a ‘pro’ crastinator.

Today (or rather yesterday, for that is when I wrote this) is absolutely a case in point. I have spent the last year or so avoiding writing the dissertation which will finally see me complete a MA course, which I have been doing for longer than is remotely reasonable. Because I’ve been doing it part time, I’ve been able to take my time, but I actually completed most of the modules several years ago and have been delaying the dissertation for as long as I could. Mostly because I didn’t want to do it.

But I couldn’t put it off forever and so, a year ago, I committed to starting it.

And then I ignored it.

Until it was really too late to complete it by the deadline.

I did have some mitigating circumstances – not least the arrival of my beloved (but very distracting) daughter.

There were other things too. Nothing massively interesting, but quite a few things happened last year to create a perfect storm, which prevented me from being able to give the dissertation the time it deserved.

The university agreed that I had a quite a few extenuating circumstances going against me and so they granted me an extension.

Which was nice of them.

But really, since December, I’ve had plenty of time to look at it.

And I haven’t.

And it’s getting a bit embarrassing now.

Thanks to the extension I still have ample time left to get it done, but my lack of progress is starting to get more than a little worrying.

My daughter remains the primary distraction. She’s genuinely adorable, but she’s quite loud, which can make focussing on academic literature quite difficult. Academic literature is rarely a compelling read and I can think of lots of things I’d rather be doing than ploughing my way through reams of journal articles on a subject I’m only claiming to care about for the purposes of getting a qualification that might help my career (but in all honesty might not). In contrast spending time with my offspring currently ranks as my absolute favourite thing in the world to do. It would take a lot of willpower to sit in my makeshift home office (aka the spare room) and ignore her if I couldn’t hear her, but if’s she awake, she’s generally making some kind of noise.

Mrs Proclaims, sympathetic to my plight, did take her out today.

Which left the house nice and quiet and gave me the time and space I needed to finally make a start on pulling some of my incoherent thoughts and ideas together and maybe write the few thousand words that I need to convince my supervisor that I might actually pull this off (he’s been remarkably patient thus far but I think he’s pretty much given up on me).

Instead I did lots of other things.

None of which needed to be done.

One of them was writing this.

A Month Of Mondays

James Proclaims (4)
piggybank-472298_640.pngToday is the 7th January, which means that we’re a week into 2019. It also means that we’re almost a quarter of the way through January, which is good because January is an awful month and needs to be over as soon as possible. It’s obviously not January’s fault, you can’t blame an abstract measure of time for where it falls in the calendar. And if you could it would clearly be December’s fault, because without the excesses of Christmas I wouldn’t now be obliged (for both financial and health reasons) to live such a meagre existence for the next few weeks.

But those excesses did happen and now it’s time to tighten the metaphorical belt and strive towards being able to tighten the actual belt again. I’d like to say that for the last seven days I’ve been living a more virtuous existence, but alas there is more than enough in the way of wine and chocolate to see me well into February. I hate to let it go to waste, so instead I let it go to waist.

In reality, therefore, it’s likely to be a while before any kind of regime kicks in regarding my long-term health. I have been exercising for the last few weeks so as to mitigate some of the damage, but alas my ability to consume calories far outstrips my ability to burn them.

Fortunately for my future health, the financial limitations of January do mean that I won’t be able to purchase any more bad food for a while. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to purchase anything else either. Which is depressing and makes me want to drink wine and eat chocolate. Of which I have an abundance.

The good news is that today I go back to work after the Christmas break. I mean it’s obviously not really good news. I hate work (to be clear I don’t mean I hate my job, which has it’s ups and downs like any job, I mean I hate the entire concept of having to work – retirement can’t come soon enough but I’m a few decades away from that according to my bank statements) so I’d rather not have to go back, but when I am in work I don’t tend to drink too much wine – it’s generally frowned upon to be inebriated in the world of secondary education. I can still consume chocolate of course, but I find that when I’m in work, people expect me to, y’know, work. Which leaves little time for snacking. So, I expect January will allow me to return to my usual state of being slightly less overweight than I currently am.

I may strive towards becoming ‘not overweight’ later in the year, but one step at a time.

In a metaphorical sense I worry about taking one step forward and two steps backwards but in a physical sense that would burn at least as many calories as three steps forward.

I think there’s a lesson for us all in there somewhere.

But I’ve got no idea what it is.

My Incredibly Ambitious Resolutions For 2019

James Proclaims (4)

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Happy New Year everyone!

Today is the first day of 2019 and, as is always the case at the beginning of any year, it is customary, arguably obligatory, to come up with a list of ways to self improve.

Because there is no better way to start January, that most miserable of months, than by listing all the ways that we’re inadequate and then committing to unrealistic goals that we have no chance of achieving, just to really ensure that our self esteem is really at rock bottom by the time February rolls around.

In previous years I have not take the notion of New Year’s Resolutions as seriously as I could.

And this year will be no exception.

Last year I set the bar particularly low and set myself some resolutions that were basically quite mundane things I was already planning to do.

However, I feel it is possible to lower the bar even further so this year’s resolutions will be less about changing things to make me a better person but rather committing to ‘not changing things’ so I definitely don’t become a worse person.

I am mildly optimistic that I will achieve all of this year’s targets.

They are as follows:

  1. I’m going to continue not drinking whisky, mostly because I don’t really like it. That’s probably a good thing though right? Although I will still be drinking plenty of wine and beer…
  2. I definitely won’t take up smoking.
  3. I’m not going to start actively using Social Media (aside from this blog, which barely counts anyway) and in particular I’m going to avoid using Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Mostly because I don’t really know what any of those things are.
  4. Thanks to Brexit, I’m going to continue to keep my carbon footprint relatively low by not travelling abroad for the foreseeable future.
  5. I’m not going to commit to a life of crime. Unless I’m certain that I’ll get away with it. 

There we go – I’m sure I can achieve all of those things.

I’m feeling more virtuous already.

The (Increasingly Traditional) James Proclaims New Year’s Eve Review Of The Year That Was

James Proclaims (6)

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It’s still 2018 as I write this. At least it is in the UK. In some other time zones it might well be 2019 by now. And indeed it will be 2019 here soon enough too. But before that happens, tradition dictates that it’s time, once again, for me to review the year that has just happened.

Although did anything of note happen in 2018? In last year’s version of this post I wrote about Brexit and Trump. And the year before that I wrote about Brexit and Trump. So I’m loathe to do that again this year, but that does leave me with not much else. Because those two horrendous realities still seem to be largely dominating the news.

Unless I’m mistaken, which is entirely possible because for me personally, 2018 was quite a momentous year.

In that I became a dad for the first time.

Which is quite a big thing.

And frankly the only thing I’m remotely capable of thinking about most of the time.

Obviously, it’s a good thing and I love Baby Proclaims more than I’m able to adequately express in words. She has literally brought joy to my life on a multitude of levels every single day since she entered in my life. I’m sure other stuff happened this year, particularly in the seven months of 2018 that preceded her arrival but I’m finding it hard to recall even the notion of an existence before my daughter.

Still, parenting does have its downsides. I wouldn’t object, for example, a night of unbroken sleep.

The chances of me maintaining consciousness until midnight in order to see the New Year in are not looking overly promising at the moment.

Not that I’m especially devoted to that notion in any case.

Mrs Proclaims and I have never been big on celebrating the New Year. A glass of sparkling wine and a nice meal is the best we normally manage, and, if Baby Proclaims allows, we might just manage that again this year, but we’ve never been likely to trouble a party with our presence, so our ‘bundle of joy’ is hardly cramping our style.

In my younger days I was more likely to be found heavily inebriated in a pub or a club, but honestly, I’m not sure starting the New Year with a massive hangover is an especially good way to go about things, but I was less enlightened in my youth. Probably because I was drunk.

I’ve just had a quick look at the blog resolutions I made on the 1st January and I seem to have achieved most of them. They were, of course, eminently achievable (apparently my ‘clever joke’ last year was to make them especially unambitious) but there was still a chance I would fail miserably. Actually, I’m not sure I did achieve the one about watching a film of Mrs Proclaim’s choice. To be fair she doesn’t really like watching films so I’m really not the worst husband ever and I am nice to her in all kinds of ways that she actually appreciates.

I did achieve the one about running a mile. Indeed, I almost made it to two miles before giving up. Don’t judge me too harshly, I did, as I’ve previously noted on this blog, run more than one marathon in my younger days, but I had more time on my hands back then. I haven’t been completely inactive during 2018, but it hasn’t been a vintage year for fitness and might be something I need to address in 2019. I don’t want to harp on about being a new parent, but I think it mitigates my relative inactivity slightly.

Anyway, the point of all this is that 2018 has now mostly happened and I can’t really remember any of it.

But it was definitely a year.

Of that there is no doubt.

The Fourth Annual Christmas Message from James Proclaims

James Proclaims (4)

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As it is now a firmly established tradition that I write a Christmas message on Christmas Day, I shan’t eschew that responsibility and let down the odd person who might actually care. It’s true that the person in question is exceptionally odd, but it feels wrong to disappoint them.

Normally I write this in advance of the big day and schedule it to go ‘live’ at the same time as the Queen’s Speech goes out to the nation. Which is 3pm the last time I checked.

This year I didn’t get around to writing it beforehand, because life has been a little more busy lately. Mostly because I became a parent for the first time this year.

So I didn’t get to go head-to-head with Her Madge this time. Which is probably for the best. She’s getting on a bit and she doesn’t need the added pressure of going up against me any more.

An upside of me writing this on the day itself is that I can actually tell you what kind of Christmas I’m having, as opposed to the usual speculation.

And, as it happens, I’m having a good one. As the time of writing I’m sitting next to the Christmas tree, wearing a paper crown and feeling slightly inebriated after drinking a few glasses of a sparkling wine that is Italian in origin but not prosecco. I’m ok with it not being prosecco, because I have no idea whether I like prosecco any more than I like any other kind of sparkling wine. As long as it tastes nice and leaves me feeling seasonally cheerful then I’ll gladly drink it and this stuff is certainly doing the job.

Mrs Proclaims and I have just enjoyed our festive feast. As Mrs Proclaims is a pescatarian, we don’t  have turkey. Instead I knocked up a side of salmon, which is a reasonable alternative, in that it tastes great but more pertinently, there are usually leftovers, which can be consumed later in sandwich form (this is an essential component of a Christmas dinner in my view). I presented it with all the traditional accoutrements, such as roast potatoes (which I normally do well, but I slightly overcooked them this year) parsnips (which I absolutely nailed) and sprouts (which you basically can’t get that wrong, although it could be argued that sprouts are, by their very nature, wrong). I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but it was a pretty good effort and I’m now feeling suitably stuffed. Like the turkey we didn’t have.

Baby Proclaims is enjoying her first Christmas. I mean she has no idea that it’s Christmas, but she seems to be in good spirits. To be fair she’s often in good spirits. Except, on occasion, between the hours of 1am and 3am. I find her less endearing at those times (but still pretty endearing). In Christmases past Mrs Proclaims and I would have long since opened all of the presents, but this year we’ve not managed to get to them yet. This is partly because having a four and half month old infant is quite the distraction, but also because most of the presents appear to not be for us, but for our darling offspring. They look really nice all wrapped up and Baby Proclaims appears to be in no hurry to open them so we’ve left them in their ornamental state for a little longer. In the background Chris Rea is singing about driving home for Christmas. He’s already done that a few times today. Slade, Wizzard and Wham have also popped up the playlist more than once.

I’ve no idea what the rest of the day has in store for me, but I imagine that Baby Proclaims will dominate much of it as is her way. She looks really cute in her festive outfit though so I expect I’ll be able to tolerate her. I might also have some Christmas pudding.

If you are reading this on Christmas Day, then I hope you’re having a great one. If you’re not reading it on Christmas Day, then I still hope you’re having a nice day, but I will need some pretty compelling evidence to explain why you didn’t make reading my blog the centrepiece of your Yuletide celebrations.