As Easy As ABC

James Proclaims (4)

As my output on this blog is currently quite prolific, I thought I might partake in another blogging challenge. Specifically the A-Z blogging challenge, in which the purpose is to write 26 posts in 26 days throughout April (there are admittedly 30 days in April but you you get four Sundays off so it all works out mathematically) , each focusing on a different letter of the alphabet. I did this challenge in 2016 and I found it to be more than a little taxing. This was partly because I hadn’t really understood the rules and just leapt into the challenge without any real direction. I did succeed in writing 26 posts, focusing on each of the letters in turn, but without having any kind of theme underpinning my efforts, it all got a bit boring very quickly and I persisted through to ‘z’ out of sheer stubbornness, with all the joy long having abandoned me by the letter ‘u’. Genuinely it was probably the nadir of my whole blogging journey to date. You can check out my abysmal efforts here.

Frankly I thought the whole thing was best avoided in 2017, but, as I’m currently in pretty good blogging-shape, I thought it might be time to re-join the blogosphere’s premier mass participation event for 2018.

Also I have a theme for this year, which should certainly help to keep things ticking along.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post, for today is officially the day when participants of the A-Z Challenge are supposed to share their chosen theme with the world.

And who am I to defy this fine convention?

So, with that preamble out of the way, I can happily reveal that, starting on the 1st April, my A-Z blogging challenge will be to write about a different character from a beloved cartoon of my youth.

They will predominantly be eighties cartoons, for that was the era in which I watched the most animation, but for the sake of a few awkward letters (I’m looking at you ‘x’!) I may need to borrow from the nineties on occasion.

So join me in April, when my usual staples, such as Magic Penguin, James Explains et al, will be taking a much deserved rest in order to make room for an A-Z festival of nostalgia!

Obviously feel free to continue joining me for the rest of March when I will continue to post my usual nonsense on a daily basis.





Thawed For The Day

James Proclaims (4)


I was struggling to think of what to write today, and almost didn’t bother posting. But I’m on such a hot blogging streak at the moment (this being my 133rd post in 133 consecutive days) that I was reluctant to not write anything. I feel the run is likely to come to an end soon, but I think if I can get over the hurdle of today’s apathy, that I’ve got a few more posts in me before I run out of steam.

On the other hand I didn’t want to just stare at a blank page for hours on end, waiting for inspiration to find me. I have better things to do than that.

Like eating the rest of that ice cream that’s in the freezer.

And watching the next episode of that box-set.

And preparing for that presentation I’m meant to be doing in work tomorrow.

Well I’ll do the ice-cream and the box-set thing anyway. I expect I’ll be employing my usual ‘winging it’ strategy for the presentation.

So, in the absence of any genuine inspiration, I’ve imposed a ten minute time limit on myself to write today’s post.

Why ten minutes?

Well that’s the optimum time from taking the ice-cream tub out of the freezer to allow it to thaw sufficiently to transfer it to a bowl without bending the spoon, but not thaw so much that it loses its delightful ice-creamy consistency.

So, while this may not be the best post I’ve ever produced, I will get to enjoy a bowl of ice-cream at the end of it.

And that’s got to count for something right?

There’s No Day Like A Snow Day

James Proclaims (4)


After the recent bout of inclement weather, caused by either ‘The Beast From The East’ or ‘Storm Emma’, which may be the same thing or might be entirely different things, I am happy to report that all appears to have returned to normal vis-a-vis the British weather. Or it has where I live anyway, which is really all that counts.

Not that things ever really got that bad here in Reading. We did have some snow last week, but not that much really. A few schools closed on Thursday, but sadly not the one I work in. Most schools closed on Friday, which, happily, did include the one I work in.

So I had a long weekend, which was nice. And there was snow, which is fun if you don’t have anywhere to be (though less fun if you do have somewhere to be). Fortuitously I had only been planning to go to work on Friday so it was no great hardship that I couldn’t get there. And actually, I probably could have got there had it not been closed, but it was closed so I didn’t bother leaving the house.

By Saturday, when I did have places to be that were eminently more appealing than work, the snow had largely dissipated and I was able to travel in relative safety, so it all worked out rather well really.

But now the snow has gone. It’s raining instead. Which is less fun than snow, but unlikely to result in much disruption to my daily commute, so it looks like I’ll be in work everyday this week. Which I’m broadly ok with because they do have the decency to pay me, albeit not as much as I’d like them to pay me.

But I didn’t mind having Friday off.

Today I spent the whole day telling anyone who would listen that I spent all of Friday completing paperwork at home.

But, if I’m honest, I didn’t do that at all.

Then again, pretending I’ve done lots of work, when really I’ve done very little, is largely my modus operandi on any normal working day.

Il n’y a plus de poulet !

James Proclaims (4)



It’s the 26th February and before this week is out, it’ll be March.


The days will start to get a bit longer, the weather might be slightly less inclement, and winter will be over for another year.

Technically we have wait until March 20th for Spring to officially…er…spring? But I think we can start to shake off those winter blues as soon as we’ve seen the back of February.

Alas, that is slightly longer for me than it is for you dear reader, as I am currently writing this at some point last week in a bid to stay slightly ahead of my blogging schedule. As things stand, it’s very much winter and, if I may say so, it’s a winter of discontent.

For, at the time of writing there is very much a national crisis unfolding, as KFC has run out of chicken!

This does seem like an oversight for a business that seems, at least to me as a layperson, to be entirely reliant on not running out of chicken. What else are they going to Kentucky Fry? Sparrows? Hmmm, I could go for a Kentucky Fried Sparrow right now…

Actually, I’m not really a great patron of KFC so I’m not really too affected by the current crisis. I was known to indulge in fried chicken in my drunken youth, but I don’t think I tended to go for a well-established brand like KFC. It’d more likely have been one of the lesser known back street outlets that did the vast majority of their trade in the early hours of Saturday morning.

When I was living in Paris (a city I was often inebriated in) I used to frequent an establishment near the Moulin Rouge called Paris Fried Chicken. I don’t know if it was any good, but I never got food poisoning, which I always saw as a bonus the morning after. There was also a Paris outlet I did occasionally go to when I was sober, mostly because it was the only eatery on the street I lived on, and so convenient on the days I couldn’t be bothered to cook. It was called Ghandi Fried Chicken (or GFC). I presume it was so-named because it was run by a family who had the surname Ghandi, rather than being named after the well-known civil rights activist and strict vegetarian, Mahatma Ghandi, but I never asked.

I don’t recall Ghandi Fried Chicken ever running out of chicken though.

Anyway, at the time of writing the KFC chicken deficit is creating quite the furore. I hope, for the sake of fried-chicken lovers everywhere, that by the time this post hits the blogosphere, the crisis will have passed and people will once again be able to enjoy a calorific meal that is finger-lickin’ good.



The Valentine’s Day Monotony

James Proclaims (4)


As I write this it’s Valentine’s Day. If you’re reading this on the day it actually hits my blog then it isn’t Valentine’s Day anymore because I’m intending to publish this post on Monday. Specifically Monday the 19th February. If you are reading this on Valentine’s Day then it is almost certainly not the same Valentine’s Day that I’m writing on. It’s most likely a Valentine’s Day in the future. Possibly Valentine’s Day 2019, but potentially a Valentine’s Day even further in the future than that, and you’ve more than likely come across this because some search engine has mistaken the fact that I’ve written the term Valentine’s Day eleven times (including the title) in this post as being an indication that this post is about Valentine’s Day.

Which it isn’t.

It’s just that today, February 14th, 2018, I have a reasonable amount of time to kill and I’m trying to get a little bit ahead with my blogging. Because I’m on something of a hot blogging streak at the moment. This will be my 112th post in 112 consecutive days and I’m rather keen to keep the momentum up. But equally, time is a rather precious commodity at the moment and I really don’t have enough of it to dedicate to producing a daily post of even dubious quality without sacrificing some other commitments. And many of those commitments relate to things I need to do for the institution that pays my wages, which in turn I use to pay my mortgage provider, who, as a result of receiving said payments, allows me to keep a rather shabby (and in very inclement weather, leaky) roof over my head. So I’m trying to make the most of those rare occasions when I do have a bit of time on my hands to produce as much content as possible, so that I can continue with the relatively futile and pointless goal of producing something new everyday. Because we all need something to aspire to and this, frankly, is all I’ve got.

And today I do have time on my hands because I’m waiting for someone to knock on my door and collect something. It’s like a kind of reverse delivery. Ironically I wrote about the frustrations of having to wait in all day for stuff in the form of a poem recently. It’s ironic because when I wrote that poem I wasn’t actually stuck at home waiting for something, I was stuck at work, meeting with the parents of the children I sometimes deign to teach (or, y’know, stand in front of and say things at) and I had time to kill between appointments. I thought a poem about a school’s parent’s evening might be a bit niche, so I changed the focus of the waiting to another frustrating waiting situation (am I revealing too much about my writing process here? Because that’s pretty much how I produce most of the rubbish that makes up this blog). Anyway, just a week on from writing that poem, it’s half term and on one of my precious days off  I am actually stuck at home.


But like I say, I’m waiting for someone to come and pick something up.

So after all the waiting I won’t even have a delivery to enjoy.

So far I’ve been waiting for seven hours. The window closes in another two.

Fortunately Mrs Proclaims bought me some rather nice salted-caramel chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

There aren’t many left at this point.

But if it wasn’t for this interminable waiting, I’d never have produced this.

Although after seven hours of sitting around with nothing else much to do but work on this piece, you’d imagine it would be better than it is.


Winter Wonderland

James Proclaims (4)


I don’t much understand the Winter Olympics – we didn’t get to do much skiing, snowboarding or speed-skating when I was growing up in South Wales. Then again we didn’t do a huge amount of rowing, dressage or modern pentathlon round my way either and I like the Summer Olympics quite a lot, so maybe my disinterest is less that the winter games are full of sports I’ve never played and don’t understand and more the fact that not many of my compatriots are very good at them either.

Time was, of course, that British medal hopes in both the Summer and Winter Olympics were minimal, but thanks to a ruthless funding campaign, abusive and bullying coaching strategies, and questionable interpretations of the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) to legitimise the use of performance enhancing drugs, we Brits have become serious medal contenders at the Summer Olympics. Alas those same strategies aren’t going to make the UK more snowy and mountainous so success in the Winter Games will always be more elusive.

Norway seem to be pretty good at winter sports. Maybe as part of our Brexit deal we could join forces with the Norwegians, who already find themselves outside of the EU, and then I could enjoy the Winter Olympics a bit more.

Although a Norwegian style deal seems to be off the table and instead we’re hoping for ‘Canada +++’. I don’t actually know what that means, but the Canadians are also good at winter sports, so I’m OK with forming an alliance there too.

Then again, it’s not like we’ve never had any success at the Winter Olympics. We seem to be alright at curling, which is perhaps not the most exciting of the ice-based sports but it does make for strangely compelling TV, and there’s been some success in the skeleton, which seems to involve going really fast downhill on an ice-track supported by what is essentially a tea-tray. Which is madness really.

Historically, there is even a history of British success in figure-skating. After all, who can forget national treasures Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean? Well no-one can, because every Winter Olympics the BBC appears to be obliged to show footage of their gold medal performance from 1984. And obviously they’re involved in ITV’s Dancing On Ice, which is like a less popular and more hazardous version of the BBC’s flagship show Strictly Come Dancing.

We did have an ice-rink nearby when I was growing up. I remember ice-skating being a ‘thing’ people did for their birthdays during my teenage years. I went once with a group of  friends and, for the hour or so we were on the ice, I was utterly petrified. I never went again and so died that Olympic dream.

I fared better on my one skiing holiday as a teenager, in that I did actually enjoy that. Sadly though, in my one week of skiing I didn’t quite manage to hit Olympic qualifying standards.

Which seems like a missed opportunity on reflection.

A Second Referendum?


James Proclaims (4)


Since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, it’s barely been out of the media. The election of a racist misogynist billionaire to the White House has provided some light relief on occasion, but you can’t turn on a TV, listen to the radio or open a newspaper in the UK without encountering some kind of Brexit debate.

Ok, that isn’t strictly true, obviously there are myriad TV channels which don’t feature any kind of political debate, I can’t recall ‘Heart Radio’ featuring too much in the way of topical news shows, and who on Earth reads newspapers anymore?

But my point is that Brexit is kind of a big deal.

It’s a big deal because, it actually is, legitimately, quite a big deal – the economic, legal and security ramifications of Britain leaving the EU are confusing and will almost certainly mean significant change and long periods of uncertainty.

It’s also a big deal because not everyone voted for it. It was a pretty good turn out at the polls and 52% of voters were in favour of Brexit, meaning that 48% were not. That’s a pretty close call, and those of us who voted  to remain are rightly irritated by claims that Brexit is ‘the will of the people’. At best it is ‘the will of some people’.

But I’m ok with losing a democratic vote because obviously the proponents of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign had a plan. I might not want Brexit, but handled correctly I suppose, in the longer term, it might not be that bad. There may even be aspects of it that are quite good. Because they absolutely had a plan.

Except that , apparently, they didn’t.

And this is really why Brexit remains a big deal. Because, just over a year and half on from that fateful vote, no-one has the slightest idea what Brexit actually means.

Our beloved Prime Minister did coin a phrase when she first came to office, which was, if I recall, that ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

And I’m sure that is true but, and maybe I’m missing something obvious, it doesn’t actually tell us what Brexit means at all.

Some ‘Remain’ campaigners (hilariously dubbed ‘Remoaners’ by the right wing press) have suggested that there should be a second referendum.

Others have suggested that a second referendum flies in the face of democracy.

And I can see their point.

Because obviously giving people an opportunity to vote on the future of Britain’s relationship with Europe is all well and good, but giving the public two opportunities is completely undemocratic because…


…nope can’t see how that is undemocratic actually.

Having said that, I can’t see that a second referendum would go any differently to the first one. Indeed, such is the regular anti-EU fervour stoked by sections of the British media that I wouldn’t even be surprised to see a second referendum produce a result that was more emphatically in favour of leaving the EU than the first vote was.

But the problem remains that we still have no idea what it is that people did actually vote for back in the golden summer of 2016.

So perhaps a second referendum would be useful just to drill down into what it is that the British people actually want. Perhaps a referendum with a range of choices rather than the straight dichotomy of Remain or Leave.

Here are my suggestions:

Option 1: No Brexit – or ‘this all seems a bit too complicated and it’s better just to keep things the same as they are now’.

Option 2: Soft Brexit –  or ‘leave but don’t actually leave. Like say we’ve left so we can stick two fingers up to Europe, but actually stay part of the Single Market and Customs Union because actually leaving properly seems a bit scary.’

Option 3: Hard Brexit – or leave and cut all remaining ties. We’re British and we’re awesome. Even if it looks like economical suicide it definitely won’t be. After all a stiff upper lip and traditional family values will see us through any problems.’

Option 4: War – or ‘this has always been about hating foreigners and we’ve always been pretty good at wars. That’ll definitely show those European bastards who’s boss. Plus war time is brilliant – remember the good old days of the Second World War when everything was black and white and Britain was great? Let’s go to war again!’

There we go, a referendum to reunite Britain.

You’re welcome.



James Proclaims (4)


Do bloggers blog about the very act of blogging when they can’t think what else to blog about?

Perhaps so.

I know I’ve been guilty of that before.

And perhaps I’m guilty of that today.

I’ve got loads of things I want to blog about though, so this post is not entirely about a lack of other topics.

For example I could blog about the time, recently, that I won a massive cake in a raffle. Or how Mrs Proclaims and I survived in near arctic conditions when we thought our boiler had broken, but in fact our boiler was fine and it was our gas meter that had broken (oh the hilarity of going for three days without heating only for the wrong kind of repairman to turn up!)

Or I could brag about how I totally won an argument conducted through the medium of email in work today.

Because I owned that email exchange.

But today I want to blog about this very blog.

Because I have been something of a blogging machine of late. Yesterday I posted my ninetieth post in ninety consecutive days. Today is my ninety-first post in ninety-one consecutive days.

That’s a pretty good record by anyone’s standards.

And I’ve brought some new stuff to the blog too. Like my slightly rubbish film reviews. Or the genuinely perplexing ‘Magic Penguin’ stories. Or the utterly unhelpful ‘James Explains’.

But some of the ninety-one posts have, I think, been quite good.

Not this one obviously.

But some of them have been.

And now I find myself a mere nine days and nine posts away from hitting a century. A hundred posts in a hundred days.

Will I make it?

Who knows?

Who really cares?

I mean I care a little bit. But it’s not really going to change my life. I won’t even get a celebratory t-shirt.

Maybe I should make a celebratory t-shirt.

That would be cool.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because I’m not there yet.

Today I’m at ninety-one.

And ninety-one does not make for a cool t-shirt by anyone’s standards.


Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Batman!

James Proclaims (4)


At the moment I appear to be in quite a bizarre place health wise. The Christmas period certainly did very little to reduce my weight. And by weight I do, of course, mean mass. Weight, as anyone who studied science to a fairly basic level during their school days will know, is a force and is measured in newtons. We measure mass in kilograms, grams etc. (or stones, pounds, ounces etc. if you prefer the imperial system over the metric system. It’s your call, I make no judgements). But conventionally we refer to mass as weight.

And thus, talk about losing weight.

When we should be talking about losing mass.

Call me a pedant if you will, but I don’t want anyone thinking me to be an uneducated oaf because I refer to weight loss when I actually mean mass loss.

Nonetheless, for the sake of accepted convention, I’ll go back to calling it weight.

So long as we all recognise that that is technically incorrect.

Anyway, I clearly didn’t lose a lot of weight over Christmas. But I didn’t gain any either.

Because while I’ve been eating lots of bad stuff, I’ve also been exercising a bit.

And I seem to have struck a balance, whereby my Body Mass Index isn’t getting any better but isn’t really getting worse either.

And that’s fine, because even if I should probably try and lose some weight, I’m perfectly happy to just buy bigger clothes.

As far as I can see, my weight will only become an issue if that ceases to be an option.

And at the moment I’m happily able to buy clothes that fit me from most major retailers.

So, it’s all good.

But as I say, I have been doing quite a lot of exercise.

This is motivated partly through health reasons, because exercise is generally viewed as being a good thing, but it’s also motivated by a desire to be Batman.

Obviously, I’ll never be Batman, he’s a fictional character, and, even if we were to suspend our disbelief and imagine that Batman could actually exist, his alter ego, Bruce Wayne is super rich. So, while Batman’s crime fighting ability comes partly from his supreme fitness, agility and strength, it also comes from having expensive bits of kit, like the Batmobile.

Even if I can get as fit as Batman, I’m not currently rich enough to own a Batmobile. I do have nice little city car that gets me from A to B. It’s great around town, copes with motorways reasonably well, and is relatively economical to run.

But utterly useless for fighting crime with.

So mostly I exercise for health reasons.

But, given the recent world events it’s probably just as well to be in the right physical condition to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

But I do sometimes wonder (not enough to really do anything about it) whether my policy of exercising a lot but then eating what I want is better or worse than if I had a more sensible diet but did less exercise.

In all likelihood it’s  a moot point because the leftover indulgences from Christmas are nearing their end. I’ll soon be forced to make the decision to eat more healthily or buy more bad stuff in my grocery shop.

And Christmas has wiped me out financially until …er…next Christmas.

So, a sensible diet is probably going to have to be my modus operandi for a while, albeit for reasons of cash flow.

But I presume that will make me healthier.

So ironically, poverty might help me in my quest to be Batman.

But I still think the car is a bit of a barrier to achieving that goal.



I’m Not Being Racist But…

James Proclaims (4)


As someone of mixed race, it is, of course, technically impossible for me to be racist.

Except that it isn’t.

For, despite being a remoaning bleeding-heart leftie, I am capable of the odd moment of prejudice. I don’t want, or mean, to do so, but I have made judgements about people based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and various other attributes that may mark them out as different to me. For the most part these judgements are innocent enough. They don’t come from a place of hate, they come from a place of ignorance, of misunderstanding, of genuine confusion.

But they are prejudices nonetheless.

And when I realise I have been guilty of making snap judgements based on accepted stereotypes, I try to learn from the experience.

Because it’s actually ok to make mistakes, even mistakes that may have unintentionally caused someone else mild offense, if as a result of that mistake we become better, more rounded, people.

Because we can’t all be like ‘The Donald’ who recently informed journalists that he was the least racist person that they’d ever interviewed.

Which is a very bold claim to make and leads me to conclude that either Mr Trump:

  1. Genuinely is a paragon of virtue when it comes to racism
  2. Is perplexingly well-informed about every single person that those particular journalists have ever interviewed and has hard evidence that each and every one of them is definitely more racist than him.
  3. A liar

It’s not for me to judge.

Closer to home there has been the shocking revelation that the leader of UKIP has a racist girlfriend.

I was shocked anyway. I didn’t realise that UKIP actually had a leader at the moment. Indeed I’m a bit surprised to discover that UKIP think they even have a purpose anymore.

But apparently they do have a leader and his name is Henry Bolton. And his girlfriend apparently said some racist things about soon-to-be-royal Meghan Markle.

Racist things which are pretty horrible truth be told.

But it’s OK because, according to Mr Bolton, some of the comments have been taken out of context.

Although when questioned about the comments on TV this morning he did concede that the most offensive ones weren’t take out of context.

They were just really offensive.

But some of the other ones were taken out of context so really we just need to get over it

And to be fair, after being shocked that UKIP still exists and that they have a leader, I wasn’t massively surprised that he would have a racist girlfriend.

No more than his wife probably was anyway.

Apparently he’s got one of those marriages where it’s OK for him to also have a girlfriend who is half his age.

And racist or not, I find I judge him a little bit for that.

Which makes me prejudiced I suppose.

I’ve got so much to learn.