Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 4 – I Read A Book A Week (But Never Dostoyevsky…)

James Proclaims (4)

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Here we are then at part 4 of my miniseries on stuff I used to be able to claim I did, but now I don’t really do.

And this one is on reading.

Books that is.

Because I used to read a lot of them and now I don’t.

Although, contrary to the suggestion in the title of this post, I never used to read a book a week. That was a little nod to one of my favourite sit-coms, ‘The Office’ (original UK version, although I am very much a fan of the US version too).

The comment about Dostoyevsky is a nod to the same episode, although it is true that I’ve never read any Dostoyevsky.

Judge me not though, for I can point to a great many worthy authors that I have read, thus proving my intellect. For I have read (and in some cases enjoyed) works by Dickens, Hardy, multiple Brontes, Stendhal, Flaubert, and numerous other authors that appear in the ‘Classics’ section of your local bookshop.

But don’t be too impressed, I’ve also read everything Dan Brown ever wrote, so I’m clearly not averse to an ‘easy read’ either.

In fact, my parents used to joke that I’d read anything I could get my hands on, even a cereal box if there was nothing else available. And in truth I have read some pretty good cereal boxes in my time. The Frosties box of summer 1987 stands out as a particularly good one, although the Coco Pops of autumn 1991 would run it close.

I jest of course, for while these days, as all sensible consumers should, I read the ingredients of cereal boxes to make sure that nothing contained therein is going to slowly kill me over time, I wouldn’t read a cereal box for entertainment purposes. Jars of Marmite on the other hand…

But I digress, for my parents made that observation about my reading habits (or one of them did and I’m not quite sure which of them to blame…) because as a child I did read a lot.

It might make me sound like quite a worthy child but I’m not sure that I was. It was the eighties and there wasn’t really much else to do. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 4 – I Read A Book A Week (But Never Dostoyevsky…)

Super Moodles

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Just as the working week was getting a bit too much to handle, Friday has swooped in to save us.

Friday is my favourite day for many reasons.

Well one reason mainly.

Which is obviously the weekend, and all the ‘not-having-to-go-to-work’ that that entails.

But I also like Friday because that is the day I’ve chosen for my regular foray into the visual arts.

And this week, like for the last seven weeks, I’m participating in Haylee’s (off of Aloada Bobbins) regular Moodle Army challenge.

This week’s challenge was to BECOME THE HERO OF OUR OWN STORY!

I think this could be interpreted in so many ways. Maybe I could have drawn something that represents my greatest strengths. Or a moment when I was truly the hero of the hour. It has happened. And not just metaphorically.

Well mostly metaphorically.

However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draw myself as my favourite superhero.

But who to pick?

Superman was always one of my favourites as a small child. I used to have a Superman costume and I loved the Christopher Reeves films.

Well the first two anyway.

Then again, Spider-Man was also great. I didn’t have the costume but I really wanted the costume. And if my love of Superman waned a little as I got older, I still thought Spider-Man was pretty cool well into my teens.

These days, though, it’s hard to get past Batman. I think I’d make a brilliant Batman. If I was a billionaire. And good at fighting . And had led a significantly more tragic life.

So which hero to portray myself as for the Moodle Army Challenge?

In the end I couldn’t pick so I chose all three.

So here is a picture of SuperSpiderBatJames. Evildoers beware!

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Poetry In (Loco)Motion

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I wrote this on a train
It was poetry in motion
The train was running late
Which filled me with emotion

The emotion, though, was joy
For I was late as well
My tardiness well-timed
I didn’t have to dwell

Better still, I got a seat
An unexpected perk
As I headed to my course
And an afternoon off work

I didn’t hold much hope
That my course would not be dull
But at least the journey there
Was semi-reasonable

So I took out my pen
And wrote this little ditty
While heading at high-speed
On a train into the city

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 3b: More mendacities on multilingualism

James Proclaims (4)

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So this is the second part of the third part of my series of posts on stuff I used to do. It might help to read ‘the first part of the third part’ for this post to make sense. It may, or may not, help to read parts 1 and 2. Then again, it could be quite optimistic to assume that any of this makes sense.

But let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that it does make sense. If you recall, at the end of the last post (part 3a) I’d just moved to Paris (narratively speaking of course, it was some years ago, in October 2002, that I actually moved to Paris) to begin my degree course in French Studies as a mature (but really not that mature at the age of twenty-three) student.

Starting my course wasn’t easy. Nearly everyone else on my course spoke French better than I did, through a combination of having only just finished their A-levels (whereas I hadn’t spoken French in any capacity for two years) or, in some cases, having French parents (which seemed like cheating to me but who am I to judge?).

The standard of accommodation I could get for my money left something to be desired too. I lived in squalor with a nightmare of a flatmate for the first year and in further squalor with a different but equally nightmarish flatmate for the second year. There’s no time to describe either of them in this post, but I’m certain I’ll circle back to them in future posts. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 3b: More mendacities on multilingualism

Heralding Another Moodle

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Another Friday, another ‘Artist’s Corner’. Once again the inspiration for this week’s masterpiece comes from the marvellous Moodle Army Challenge from Haylee’s Aloada Bobbins.

This week the challenge was to ‘Blow your own trumpet’.

I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I own a five-stringed electric guitar. I’ve modified it from the usual six-stringed instrument through a dedicated lack of maintenance and care, which has taken me several years to perfect.

I sometimes still like to strum it but aside from muscle memory enabling me to remember how to play the first few chords of Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’, a perennial favourite from my teenage years, I can’t remember how to play very much at all.

I sometimes think I would like to learn to play again, but to what end I’m not sure. I’m unlikely to be headlining Glastonbury anytime soon.

Or ever.

And if I can’t play the guitar, I certainly can’t play the trumpet.

But I can blow my own ‘metaphorical’ trumpet rather well.

I know what I’m good at.

Which is no small amount of things.

For example I can differentiate between the various remote controls which form part of my TV viewing experience these days.

I can usually put together flat-pack furniture on my own, even when the instructions advise that two people should be involved.

I can cook a mean boil-in-the-bag rice.

However, one of the things in this world that I’m less good at is drawing.

But I’d never let something like a total lack of talent and ability stop me from doing anything.

And so here is a picture of me blowing my own trumpet:

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And here is Green Day with the aforementioned ‘Basket Case’:

 

 

Con-For-Us

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The conference is a noble thing
A day when experts confer knowledge
In allocated slots
To us know-nothing mortals
Who have had the nerve
Up to this point
To work without their wisdom

Although in truth
There is little conferring of knowledge
Or new knowledge at least
Just a purgatory of PowerPoints
Regurgitating redundant recommendations
Everyone has heard before

But in amongst the allocutions
Of stuff we all already know
Sometimes we can dare to dream
For a keynote speaker
With enough charisma
To make the blindingly obvious
Seem like it wasn’t really so obvious

And if the conference
Is a sham
A lie
An illusion of innovative information
If it is indeed a con
It’s a convivial con

It’s a con-for-us

For while orating the obvious
Might be the order of the day
It is still a day
Away
From our average day

And if we’re lucky
A free lunch
Continuous coffee
And maybe some sweets on our table
Will help us pass the time

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 3a: A Prevarication On Polyglotism

James Proclaims (4)

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This is the third in my series of missives about how I used to do more stuff than I do right now. This one is about languages. I got quite carried away when I wrote this and even by last week’s standards, (which was a marathon post about marathons) this part was threatening to be too long. So I’ve cleverly split it into two posts, except that, as it was already meant to be the third part of a much longer series, splitting it into two parts and calling them parts 1 and 2 wasn’t going to work. So I’ve adopted the ‘maths textbook’ method of classification and I’m calling this part ‘3a’ and the second part will be ‘3b’. I hope that’s clear enough. I could just learn to self-edit and then I wouldn’t have these problems, but for now this system will have to do.

And so without further ado, let us begin…

In many ways I have all of the hallmarks of a secret agent and international man of mystery.

If nothing else I have the correct initials. For, and this may come as something of a surprise to long-time readers, my name is not James Proclaims. That is a pseudonym I use for the purposes of sharing my inconsequential ideas, meaningless meanderings and witless witterings with the literally tens of readers who visit this blog on a daily basis.

Indeed, my first name isn’t actually James. But lest you abandon this blog in disgust at my fraudulent forename, I should point out that ‘James’ does appear on my birth certificate as my given middle name. And, perhaps more pertinently, ‘James’ is the name most people call me. So it really is my name to all intents and purposes.

But I do have a different legal first name that I never use. It is a name of Indian origin. That fact is possibly pertinent to this post, but more of it later. Its only relevance now is that, like ‘James’ it begins with a ‘J’. And my actual surname begins with a ‘B’.

So my initials are JB. Well JJB if we’re going to be pedantic.

But much as I enjoy a bit of pedantry, now is not the time.

So we’ll dispense with the middle initial and state that my initials are JB.

And, in the world of fictitious spies, having the initials ‘JB’ is qualification enough to join the club.

A club which includes luminaries such as James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer.

Need I go on?

Obviously I can’t actually go on, those three are all I can think of. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 3a: A Prevarication On Polyglotism

So Sally Can Wait

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Welcome to another ‘Artist’s Corner’. Yet again the inspiration for this week’s oeuvre comes courtesy of the Moodle Army Challenge from Haylee’s Aloada Bobbins.

This weeks challenge was to ‘Look Back’.

I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic lately, not least because of the recent ‘Stuff I used to do but don’t do any more’ series of posts that I’ve been writing. Clearly the blogosphere enjoys a bit of nostalgia too because parts 1 and 2 are currently the most popular posts I’ve ever written for this blog.

Anyway, enough self-congratulating, (although clearly part 3 has a lot to live up to…) the point is that I have been ‘looking back’ quite a lot recently. Continue reading So Sally Can Wait

The Will Of The People

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Who is this ‘Will Of The People’
He that cannot be denied
And must be honoured, revered and obeyed?
I can think of many Wills
But none that strike me
As being ‘Of The People’

Not the Conqueror I’d wager
Or the one who liked Orange
And certainly neither Pitt Junior
Nor indeed Senior
And it really doesn’t seem
Like it was  Wilberforce’s thing

I doubt very much it’s
Shakespeare or Wordsworth
Popular in their own way
But less influential to modern ears
Than perhaps they were in days gone by Continue reading The Will Of The People

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 2 – I Just Kept On Running (Or I Did For A While And Then Gave Up…)

James Proclaims (4)

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Part 2 of my confessional about how I’ve become a less interesting person over the years and it is time to focus on a perennial lie on my CV – the claim that I enjoy long distance running. To reflect that fact, this is a longer-than-usual post. A marathon of a post if you will. Don’t say you weren’t warned…

I’ve never enjoyed long distance running. I can’t think of anything I’d rather avoid than running of any description to be honest.

I’m not built for it for one thing. Until settling in the town of Reading in 2013, I led something of a nomadic existence. I’ve lived in a few places in the UK and I even lived for a few years in Paris (more of which later). The one thing that moving around means is changing GPs. And every time you change GP you have to go and have a medical. Consequently, no-one is more aware than me that I am, according to my BMI score, obese.

It’s a horrible word, obese. I often wonder if it’s specifically designed to make you feel bad about yourself. Cos if someone describes you as obese, then you’re going to want to do something about it aren’t you?

And I would, but I think it’s fair to say I’m also quite fit.

I’m no Olympian but I do exercise a reasonable amount. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 2 – I Just Kept On Running (Or I Did For A While And Then Gave Up…)