Most Melancholic Monday

James Proclaims (4)

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Today is Blue Monday and therefore officially the most depressing day of the year. This is based on actual scientific fact and not a slap in the face to those people who are actively campaigning to raise the profile and reduce the stigma of mental health.

I actually wasn’t feeling that bad when I woke up this morning but then I remembered what day it was and got my act together. I’ve been suitably morose since around 7:45 this morning and can only apologise for the inappropriate levels of good humour I was experiencing in the preceding 90 minutes or so. Obviously, the fact that 7:45 is roughly when I arrived at work is of no relevance to my sudden dip in mood.

Actually, all of the above is a lie. I’m writing this on Saturday and in a delightful mood. I’ve scheduled this to appear in the blogosphere on Monday morning because, after a poor 2019 in blogging terms, I’m attempting to reignite my blogging mojo by having a regular blogging day. And that day is Monday.

I don’t know why.

I’m not saying I’ll only blog on a Monday (last week I also posted a bad poem on Thursday) but the aim is to post something every Monday as a minimum.

Even if that something is a meandering post vaguely, but not really, about a made-up day, which serves no purpose other than encouraging people to feel artificially miserable.

It’s all content after all. And I hope, in some small way my content makes you feel content.

But if you’re feeling content on Blue Monday then you’re getting it wrong.

So, go away and do something that makes you feel unhappy.

Fortunately, by the time this is published I will be in work and, Blue Monday or not, it seems unlikely I’ll be in the most joyful of moods.

But rest assured, I will be honouring the day by not just feeling forlorn on my own, but actively trying to make others feel despondent.

It’s the least I can do.

The (Fairly Predictable) James Proclaims New Year’s Eve Review Of The Year That Was And Indeed The Decade That Was

James Proclaims (6)

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As this is very much the last day of 2019 it behoves me to write about the year that has just happened. But because 2019 ends in a ‘9’ it behoves me to write about the last decade too. There is always some debate that the new decade doesn’t start until the beginning of a year that ends in a ‘1’, but, even though the argument for that is underpinned by sound logic and fact, the reality is that we all consider the year ending in ‘0’ as the start of the new decade (or century or indeed millenium as appropriate). So to all intents and purposes, today is the end of the decade that may or may not have been known at the teens.

But since becoming a dad approximately 17 months ago, I can’t even remember what happened yesterday let alone recall anything of significance that happened in the last ten years.

It is, of course, customary for such a ‘review’ to focus on the wider world, but I’m not going to do that for two reasons:

  1. Other people will do a much better job of that than I could ever possibly hope to achieve.
  2.  It all seems to have gone downhill since 2010 and that decline seems to have accelerated since 2016.

So for those reasons, and also because I’m a bit narcissistic, this post will be all about me.

This is definitely the first decade in which I’ve been a proper ‘grown-up’ for its entirety . I was technically an adult for all of the noughties but, whereas I haven’t really been drunk on any New Years Eve throughout this decade, I saw in the year 2000 absolutely hammered and wandering the streets of Cardiff with nowhere to sleep until the first trains started running the following morning. And that was not unusual behaviour for the ensuing decade.

So I have made some personal progress.

Beyond no longer drinking irresponsibly (or at least not as often) there have been some other developments for me in the last ten years.

I started 2010 as an unmarried childless man. I was engaged to be married to the woman I am now married to, and we were living together, but we didn’t get married until August of 2010.

My daughter didn’t arrive for another eight years, but as eight years is less than a decade it is entirely accurate to say that the ‘teens’ (which I’m definitely calling them even if no-one else does) is when I became both a husband and father.

It’s also, just about, the decade that I went from being a directionless waste of space, career-wise, to having a definite career and indeed career-path. Admittedly it’s a career-path I don’t especially want to be on, but, having experienced the ‘wilderness years’ which largely describes the preceding decade, the wrong career-path is possibly better than no career-path at all.

It has allowed me to get a mortgage if nothing else. For indeed the decade to which we’re about to bid adieu is the decade in which I became a homeowner for the first time. Again, it’s not necessarily a home worth owning, but having been mistreated more than once by the rental market, I’m happier owning my ramshackle terraced house with all it’s dysfunctional plumbing than paying double my mortgage in rent for a tiny flat owned by a shady landlord.

As for 2019, it’s not been a vintage year really. I spent most of the first four months trying to complete my MA at the expense of pretty much everything else. Except my daughter who will not be ignored even for academic deadlines.

I succeeded in my academic endeavours, but have spent the remaining eight months trying to get back into shape after making some questionable decisions regarding diet and exercise during that feverish period of study. Since April I have been largely exercising at pretty much the expense of everything else. Except my daughter who will not be ignored even for a brutal and unforgiving fitness regime.

Nothing much else of a personal nature happened in 2019, beyond my daughter’s continued development which I notionally contribute to but to a much lesser extent than Mrs Proclaims and indeed the child herself whose desire to conquer each developmental milestone appears to be voracious. She had pretty much nailed walking by eleven months old and then subsequently attempted to destroy every possession of ours that wasn’t nailed down.

Talking seems to be her project du jour and she’s making excellent progress. She’s always been a chatterbox, but these days some of what she says actually makes sense. I expect she’ll have her own blog soon. And it’ll be much better than this one.

Speaking of this blog, it was halfway through the last decade that ‘James Proclaims’ became a thing. May 10th, 2015 to be precise. And 2019 appears to be the year I almost killed it off by barely posting anything.

But I appear to have rallied at the end of 2019 and December has actually been quite a productive month blog-wise.

It’s not all been good, but it has been something.

Which is often better than nothing.

And in 2020 I expect I’ll write more posts that are of questionable quality and worth.

But I can’t commit to that today.

Because that would be a resolution.

And we all know that resolutions come on the 1st of January.

So tune in tomorrow to see if ‘blogging more often in 2020’ makes the cut for my 2020 resolutions.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

It’s All Kicking Off

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s been a while since I last blogged. Possibly that is due to a certain amount of blogging fatigue accrued during the ‘200 posts in 200 days’ marathon of blogging that preceded this latest hiatus.

Or possibly I had nothing to say.

Then again, having nothing to say has never been a particular barrier before.

So maybe it was blogging fatigue after all.

Anyway, I appear to have been inspired to post something today.

I’m not sure why.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the World Cup started today.

I always enjoy the World Cup, although I’m not entirely sure why. I wouldn’t class myself as an aficionado of football, or sport in general for that matter. I’m definitely something of an armchair fan though.

I’ve always been a big fan of armchairs.

But I do like watching sport a bit, even though I play very little sport.

The World Cup has attracted some controversy this year, what with it being hosted in Russia, a country with a questionable human rights record.

I’m currently watching the opening game. Russia are playing Saudi Arabia, a country with a questionable human rights record.

It’s hard to know who to support really.

Then again, that sentiment could be applied to the whole tournament.

My own beloved Wales will not be there, having failed to qualify, which is not an unusual state of affairs.

I usually default to supporting England, but they never do that well either.

To be honest though, I generally enjoy watching all the matches, regardless of who is playing.

Mrs Proclaims does not share my enthusiasm.

In that regard we very much conform to stereotype.

I’d like to think that in other ways we don’t, but I’m struggling to come up with any good examples of us defying stereotypes.

It’s probably because I’m watching the football.

 

 

Multiple Milestones

James Proclaims (4)

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This post, the one you’re currently reading (if indeed you are reading this) is the 524th post to appear on James Proclaims. Which is not hugely significant in and of itself, but back on October 30th 2017, I had only written a measly 324 posts. On October 31st, I wrote a post about Halloween. Little did I know it at the time, but with that post I was embarking on a blogging odyssey. But I was, and I did and this, my 524th post of all time, is also my 200th post in 200 consecutive days.

It’s a journey which, as the mathematically more astute of you will realise, took me past the milestones of my 400th post and my 500th post, as well as my three year blogiversary. The end of April also saw me complete six months of consecutive blogging, which seems noteworthy for some reason, but probably isn’t.

It started out as me just trying to achieve the feat of writing 30 posts in 30 days throughout November, in an attempt to complete National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo). At the time I thought I’d struggle to even accomplish that, but now that looks like a miniscule achievement. As well as NaBloPoMo, I also wrote 24 Christmas(ish) themed film reviews in a sort of Advent Calendar  throughout December, and in April I partook in the A-Z blogging challenge, writing mostly about the cartoons of my youth. The other 120 posts have consisted of slightly rubbish poems, even more rubbish doodles, some lamentably pointless reviews of 90s era movies and a few short stories, which aren’t nearly as clever as I thought they were when I wrote them. I’ve also introduced two never-seen-before features to my blog – the utterly inexplicable ‘James Explains’ and the entirely self-indulgent Magic Penguin stories, which are just a bit weird.

And I will continue to post many more unfathomable utterings to these pages for the foreseeable future. This is not the end of James Proclaims. I will proclaim again and I will proclaim soon.

But not tomorrow.

Because while I’ve enjoyed the last 200 days, I really do need to stop posting everyday. I have other things I need to do. They aren’t really things I want to do. A lot of them are beyond dull. But I’ve been putting them off for far too long. About 200 days if I’m honest.

For this has been the ultimate exercise in procrastination.

In the event that anyone is disheartened by the news that I will no longer be blogging on a daily basis then I would like to point out that no-one in their right mind should be at all bothered that a mediocre blogger decides to blog a bit less. But if that news still fails to console you, then rest assured, I’ll still be pedalling my prosaic prose in the blogosphere, just on a slightly less regular basis.

But probably still multiple times a week.

If, by contrast, the news that I’m not giving up blogging is the thing that disheartens you, then I would also point out that you really don’t have to read this stuff. No-one is making you. Unless you’re Mrs Proclaims, in which case I admit that I do make you read it, but you knew what you were getting into when you married me.

Anyway, the point of all this really is that in order to produce my 200th post in 200 days I had to write something.

So I wrote this.

Which is probably something of an anticlimax all things considered.

 

 

A Triennium Of Proclamations

James Proclaims (4)

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Today is my third blogiversary. That’s right, I’ve been doing this blogging malarkey for three whole years now.

Which seems like a respectable amount of time to have maintained a blog.

It’s probably worthy of some kind of recognition.

I should at least get a certificate.

Maybe even a laminated certificate.

I’d like to say I’ve learned a lot in the last three years.

But I haven’t learned a thing really.

Still, after three years, you might think that the novelty would be starting to wear off a little.

But I still enjoy the satisfaction of writing a good post.

Obviously this isn’t a good post.

But I have written some good posts in the last three years.

Or at the very least I’ve written some adequate posts.

I mean they’re not all bad surely?

Anyway, as is customary when celebrating a blogiversary, I will now eat some cake.

It was ‘cake day’ in work today. Every Thursday is cake day. But I was in a meeting when the cake was being served so I missed it. All I got in the meeting was some water. Which is not the same as cake.

So I will have some cake now instead and celebrate my blogiversary.

Feel free to join me.

Although don’t actually come to my house because that would be weird.

 

Thawed For The Day

James Proclaims (4)

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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?

Ninety-One

James Proclaims (4)

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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.

 

Let’s All Just Take A Moment to Acknowledge My Momentous Achievement

James Proclaims (4)

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This month I have derided, mocked and otherwise made-fun of various November ‘traditions’. Many of my posts this month have been mock-ups of potential novels in an affectionate sendup of National Novel Writing Month, while I have also derided (at times with a touch less affection) such November notables as Movember, Black Friday (and it’s even stupider sibling ‘Cyber Monday’) and World Sandwich Day.

All the while though, I have been participating in the bloggiest of all the November novelties. For I have been ‘secretly’ participating in National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo) for which the goal is to produce a blog post for every day of November. That’s thirty posts in thirty days.

As a writing challenge it’s much easier than NaNoWriMo, but it’s still no mean feat I can tell you.

I haven’t been this productive on my blog since I did the same challenge two years ago.

Back then I swore I’d never do it again, because it’s really hard think of sufficient things to write about in order to produce that many posts.

Out of desperation I did stupid things during my 2015 NaBloPoMo challenge, such as writing a post on November 5th saying I couldn’t think of anything to write about. This was ludicrous for two reasons, firstly the ‘I can’t think of anything to write about’ post is all well and good later on in the month but using it up on day 5 was throwing away a potential lifeline very early on. Also, it was Guy Fawkes Night, so I should have just written about that. You’ll note I did not make the same mistake this year and Mr Fawkes very firmly had his place within my 2017 November challenge.

Anyway, today marks the day that I have achieved the thirty posts in thirty days challenge. It’s a day before the end of November because I posted on the last day of October.

Because that was Halloween, which seemed an obvious thing to blog about when trying to generate lots of content.

However, in the spirit of this being a November-specific challenge I will post something tomorrow too.

It will be an explanatory post about what will be happening on this blog during the month of December.

Because I’m extending this blogging party right up until Christmas and possibly beyond.

Do try and contain your excitement.

A Taxonomy of Chocolate Bars

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If you’ve clicked on this expecting a well-thought out classification of all the different chocolate bars available in the UK then you’ll be sadly disappointed.

Also, what is wrong with you?

Seriously, who needs to know about chocolate bars to that extent?

I mean I am reasonably well-versed in chocolate. I’m certainly no expert, but I know my Double Deckers from my Lion Bars and my Twirls from my Twix.

But this post isn’t really about chocolate bars.

Although if you’re in the mood for one you could do worse than any of the above.

But really this post is, as with all my posts, about not very much at all.

Normally I have no difficulty coming up with creative ways of writing about nothing, but recently I’ve been struggling.

Today I had a particularly bad bout of writer’s block

Indeed I have been sitting on my sofa for the best part of an hour starting, and subsequently deleting, various attempts at a blog post.

And even by the particularly low standards I set for myself, I was coming up with nothing that I considered acceptable for these prestigious pages.

And then Mrs Proclaims appeared.

I mean she came down the stairs, she didn’t magically appear in front of me like a genie.

Or someone off of Star Trek.

Upon her entering the room, I implored her to give me an idea to write about.

She looked at me suspiciously, as if having walked into a trap.

And rightly so, for I am not known to solicit suggestions when it comes to content for this blog and I can be more than a little ungracious when unsolicited suggestions are made. (This a particularly blog-specific failing on my part and should in no way be used to judge me in other areas of my life and is certainly no reflection on the state of my marriage…)

“I mean it,” I said in an attempt at reassurance, “I really can’t think of anything.”

Still with a slight sense of mistrust she pondered the situation for a moment.

“Why don’t you write a Taxonomy of Chocolate Bars?” she suggested.

I congratulated her on her brilliance and she returned to the upper rooms of our abode feeling pleased with herself.

Obviously I haven’t written a taxonomy of chocolate bars.

It’s too varied and controversial a topic for me to be able to do it justice.

But I did think it would make a good title.

And I have just eaten a chocolate bar.

It was a Lion Bar if you must know.

I’d have preferred a Double Decker, but we didn’t have any of those in the cupboard and the nearest shop is all the way across the road.

We did have Wagon Wheels in the cupboard.

I’m not sure if they count as chocolate bars, because of their shape.

If only someone had written a thorough and complete taxonomy of chocolate bars so I could find out.