The Third Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films – Door 1

James Proclaims (6)

3 days of the condor

And so it begins. December 2019 I mean. And with is comes The Third Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films.

And let us begin, as is only numerically cogent, with door number 1.

And lurking behind, what do we find, but Sydney Pollack’s 1975 espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor.

Starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway, it’s a film with a fairly run-of-the-mill premise, that somehow manages to be significantly better than it probably should be. Given that it’s loosely adapted from a novel entitled Six Days of the Condor, you could feel short-changed about the three days that didn’t make it from print to celluloid but, while I’m no expert in the optimum number of days one needs to extract full enjoyment from a Condor, in the case of this movie, three days seems ample and allows the narrative to move along at a reasonably compelling pace. The plot is, for the most part, entirely preposterous, but somehow seems plausible within the context of the film, which is really all anyone can ask from a movie.

Definitely one I’d watch again.

 

Score for Christmasishness

stocking 3

It’s definitely, quite visibly, set in the period leading up to Christmas but Christmas doesn’t seem wholly relevant to the plot. Or at all relevant. But there are Christmas decorations, and Christmas songs throughout the entire movie so it deserves to be considered quite Christmas(ish).

 

The Third Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films – Preamble

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As today is the last day of November, I’m quietly confident in predicting that tomorrow will be the first day of December. Obviously that presumption relies on the fact that the Gregorian Calendar is still in common usage. I haven’t checked, but I think I’m probably on safe ground.

The first day of December is, of course, the first day of Advent. Which means that those of us who have chocolate Advent Calendars can enjoy our first taste of Advent Calendar Chocolate. Which is sometimes of dubious quality but none the less exciting for that.

These days the notion of the Advent Calendar has been appropriated in a number of ways and many a blogger has utilised the concept to produce Christmas-themed content for their little corner of the internet.

And this is certainly a band-wagon that I have leapt aboard for the past two years, with the The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films. Which, as it ‘says on the tin’ is a daily dose of a description of a movie that has some, often quite tenuous, link to the season.

The 2019 edition begins tomorrow, but below is a reminder of the 48 films that have previously contributed to this annual waste of time and effort:

2017

Door 1 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Door 2 – Iron Man 3
Door 3 – Lethal Weapon
Door 4 – Reindeer Games
Door 5 – Ghostbusters 2
Door 6 – Batman Returns
Door 7 – LA Confidential
Door 8 – The Long Kiss Goodnight
Door 9 – The Last Boy Scout
Door 10 – The Ice Harvest
Door 11 – The Nice Guys
Door 12 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Door 13 – Gremlins
Door 14 – The Bourne Identity
Door 15 – In Bruges
Door 16 – Trading Places
Door 17 – Eyes Wide Shut
Door 18 – Prometheus
Door 19 – Rocky IV
Door 20 – First Blood
Door 21 – Enemy of the State
Door 22 – 12 Monkeys
Door 23 – Brazil
Door 24 – Die Hard

2018

Door 1 – Submarine
Door 2 – Catch Me If You Can
Door 3 – The Life Of Brian
Door 4 – King Kong
Door 5 – When Harry Met Sally
Door 6 – Hook
Door 7 – Go
Door 8 – Behind Enemy Lines
Door 9 – The Ref
Door 10 – Jaws The Revenge
Door 11 – Jurassic World
Door 12 – The Hateful Eight
Door 13 – Red
Door 14 – The French Connection
Door 15 – The Lion In Winter
Door 16 – Stalag 17
Door 17 – The Royal Tenenbaums
Door 18 – Last Action Hero
Door 19 – Eastern Promises
Door 20 – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Door 21 – The Apartment
Door 22 – Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Door 23 – Ronin
Door 24 – Die Hard 2

But enough of past glories – ‘The Third Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films’ begins in earnest tomorrow. Who knows what surprises await behind each metaphorical door?

Well, obviously a bad film review awaits behind each door.

And unlike previous years, none of those films will be an instalment of the Die Hard franchise.

And they might not all be very related to Christmas.

But they will all be a little bit Christmas(ish).

T’isn’t The Season… But T’will Be Soon

James Proclaims (4)

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And so here we are, a month from Christmas and soon the traditions of the season will be upon us. Although, as is the case most years, I’ve been honouring one custom since around mid-October. Which is the eating of mince pies. I love a good mince pie, but in all honesty, there is far too much in the way of other festive fare available when we get to Christmas proper. So, I like to get my mince pie consumption started as early as possible.

In a similar bookend, I probably won’t eat much Christmas cake until January, but will then try and eke it out for as long as possible.

As I write this, my almost-16-month-old daughter is tearing around the room wreaking havoc wherever she goes. She’s quite the force majeure. For this reason, I’m not sure there’ll be a Christmas tree in the Proclaims household this year. At least I’m not sure there’ll be a Christmas tree for long…

I have already bought most of the Christmas presents I’m going to buy. I’m not an especially organised person in most respects, but present buying is generally something that I’m pretty good at. Either that or I have an exceptionally polite family when it comes to gift-receiving. But as some of them aren’t too bothered about letting me know my shortcomings in other respects, I’m going to say I’m good at buying presents.

Obviously with it now being ‘Black Friday Week’ I may have jumped the gun, having purchased all my gifts prior to this most traditional and heart-warming of wallet-friendly weeks. I believe that Black Friday proper is yet to come, although apparently some retailers, having just too many deals for one Friday, also incorporated last Friday. As I say, I won’t be joining in the fun, but I will, of course, sit down to enjoy the traditional Black Friday meal when the day does come around. The traditional meal being my own soul.

Anyway, the shopping is mostly done, which is good because December already looks set to be a fairly taxing month.

There is of course the forthcoming general election. Although that probably won’t take up too much time. I will vote, but at this point I’m voting for the least-worst candidate and really, whoever wins, it’s hard to be too optimistic. I’m not even sure who the least-worst option is. I think I know who the worst is though. And sadly, I think that is probably who will win.

December also brings its fair share of family commitments. In and of itself this is not really problematic. I’m not a fan of gatherings in general, but it would seem churlish to apply that sentiment to the people I’m related to, and to be fair they’re a decent bunch. But they all live approximately two hours from me and a two-hour drive is rarely fun. It’s worse still with a lively toddler in tow. She’s only mastered a few words, so we’re not in the territory of the “are we there yet?” chant, that I recall torturing my parents with on oh-so-many a car journey. But she has her ways of making an already challenging experience even more horrendous. Changing her nappy at the services on the M25 is an experience from last December that I’m in no hurry to repeat.

Not that she needs a long car journey to elevate my stress levels. Even as I was writing that last paragraph, she marched up to my pc and attempted to switch it off. I would have lost of all of this delightful prose in one act of infant insurrection were it not for my surprisingly considerate computer checking that I wanted to pursue the unfathomable undertaking of shutting down without saving my work before it carried out my daughter’s directions.

December is always a busy time in work. I’m not really sure why, but there always seem to be deadlines that need to be hit prior to the festive break. I’m not likely to hit any of those deadlines without ‘upping my game’. I’m never keen on upping my game. I prefer to operate a level of ‘doing just enough to get away with it’, but occasionally it pays to demonstrate that I am capable of more. For the sake of my own ego if nothing else.

In the unlikely event that my boss is reading this, I would point out that everything I write on this blog should be taken with a pinch of salt and clearly that last paragraph was written in jest.

In the more likely event that my boss is not reading this, then I can confirm I am a workshy waste of space.

One event in December that I’m really looking forward to is, of course the release of the new Star Wars film. Even if it’s ultimately quite disappointing I will still watch it multiple times. It can’t be worse than The Phantom Menace and I’ve seen that loads of times.

Speaking of films, all going well, December should also bring my, now traditional, blog offering, of The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films. I’ve already sat through quite a few movies with a vaguely tenuous link to Christmas so, if I can muster up enough time to actually write about them then activity on this blog is likely to go from ‘very little in recent times’ to ‘quite a lot actually’.

But it’ll all be badly written reviews of essentially non-Christmas films that might have a bit of an obscure link to Christmas.

As opposed to badly written posts about nothing much at all.

Once the advent calendar has run it’s course, I am also hoping to write my, even more traditional, Christmas Day message.

And I expect I’ll follow that with my equally traditional Boxing Day post, in which I’ll produce some sort of weak play on words referencing the sport of boxing.

So, if you’re a fan of this blog then there really is a lot to look forward to.

But if you are genuinely a fan of this blog, you may need some kind of help.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

James Proclaims (4)

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It is the 18th November, which quite possibly means that Christmas is nearly upon us. It also means that I haven’t troubled the blogosphere for a good four months. At least I imagine it’s been a good four months if you really don’t like my writing. But then I would hypothesise that you wouldn’t be reading this. And you wouldn’t have noticed my lack of blogging in the last four months. So, whether the last four months were good or not would have had absolutely nothing to do with my latest hiatus from this blog. On the other hand if you do like my cyber compositions then you might have been a little miffed that I haven’t produced anything for a while. Indeed 2019 has been rather sparse in terms of content for this plugged-in periodical.

I should probably begin this post with an ablogogy.

Ablogogy is a term I’ve just coined. It can be defined as follows:

ablogogy

[ uh-blog-uh-jee ]

noun, plural a·blog·o·gies.

An insincere written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having failed to write anything on one’s blog for a considerable period of time. Ablogogies are issued in the vain hope that anyone gives a crap, but with the knowledge that, in fact, no-one has either noticed or particularly cared that one hasn’t written an anodyne post about cabbages for a while.

 

Now that we’ve got that over with, I can perhaps try and write something of substance.

Although that would be quite a departure from my usual utterings, and I haven’t changed that much in the last few months.

As it is currently November, I’m suffering with my annual state of Novemberitis. Which is absolutely a real condition and not something I’ve just made up.

Many people choose to survive November by writing novels, others grow moustaches in an apparent attempt to raise awareness of something. I have considered, but ultimately abandoned, both of these ideas in the past. Occasionally I try to overcome the melancholies of November by producing more content for this blog, but aside from five posts in January, one in April and two in July I have written nothing in 2019, so producing any content this November would be an upturn in fortunes.

Although if this is the best I can do, then perhaps my extended absence was no great loss.

I expect much has changed in the world since my last attempt to kick-start this increasingly dormant blog into existence.

Although Brexit appears to still be a thing.

And there’s another election on the horizon and they’re always fun.

My own existence has largely been dominated by my increasingly mobile and intrepid daughter.

I am very much enjoying being a father but I’m also tired all of the time. Even as I write this my beloved offspring is tearing around the room, occasionally popping over to my workspace (which takes up a corner in what is apparently now her room, although it was very much my office until she arrived on the scene. I suppose it was always theoretically an office/guestroom but given that Mrs Proclaims and I have always discouraged guests it was pretty much my space. Now it’s very much hers and I am permitted the use of a corner on the basis that there is nowhere else in our tiny abode for my computer to live) to tamper with my keyboard and insert random symbols into my prose. I imagine I will have deleted her efforts by the time I publish this, but I suppose she makes a convenient scapegoat for any typos that may appear.

Anyway, I return to the blogosphere this day in order to proclaim my intention to return to blogging more frequently from now on.

But I’ve made such promises before and utterly failed to live up to them.

And really, whether I blog or not is of no great consequence.

So, this entire post is completely pointless.

Which, in fairness, is pretty much in line with everything else I’ve ever written.

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.