Surely Monday the 13th is as bad as Friday the 13th? Or worse? Cos it’s Monday….

James Proclaims (4)

cat-156520_640.png

It’s the second Monday in January and Christmas is now but a distant memory. Although my bank balance might disagree and pay day does seem to be a frighteningly long time away.

Also, my 17-month-old daughter, who is continuing to make impressive leaps in terms of her vocabulary acquisition and likes to make use of this skill at every available opportunity, is still regularly punctuating many a silence with a cheerful “Ho Ho Ho”. I taught her to say this in December and back then it was adorable, whereas now it is…

…no, it is still adorable.

Nonetheless we are working on new words and phrases and perhaps looking to phase out that little party trick.

Another of her favourite words is ‘Chocolate’. I suspect I taught her that one too. There is still a lot of it about and she’s decided that she’s a fan. Fortunately, she will be saved from childhood obesity because her father tends to scoff the lot.

To mitigate this inability to not eat the readily available calories that persist in my home, I am maintaining my gym regime. This is only a new thing insofar as I still can’t swim due to a much improved but still unresolved ear problem, but I have been attempting to improve my cardiovascular condition for a while now so no-one should be under any illusions that I am attending the gym in an attempt to fulfil a New Year’s Resolution. If that were the case I’d have definitely given up by now.

I’ve been back in work for a full week and I’m still keen to pursue early retirement. I just need to find a generous benefactor to pay for this. Currently none seem to be forthcoming, so the daily grind must continue.

Which means that any hope I might have had of reducing my caffeine intake is seeming increasingly fanciful. That is another daily grind that must continue. Although I appear to have recovered from my pretentious connoisseur phase during which I insisted on grinding my own coffee beans. There is no doubt that I enjoyed delicious coffee during that phase but it was somewhat labour intensive and, on balance, not really worth it.

Given that working for a living does seem to be a necessary evil for the foreseeable, I am considering changing employers. I have nothing against my current employers (well nothing that I would commit to writing on the internet anyway) but I would like an employer who will pay me more for doing my job. And January does seem to be the season for jobhunting when you work in the education sector. So, I am looking and indeed considering applying for several opportunities.

Whether I am successful in securing any of these opportunities remains to be seen. I tend to be quite good at getting myself onto shortlists for interviews but sometimes less good at getting myself onto the even shorter list of being the person who is actually offered the job. Although I do have a tendency to only put myself forward for jobs which represent an obscene pay increase so one would imagine that the competition is a little stiffer than it might be if I pursued more realistic opportunities.

Obviously if an obscene pay increase were my only motivating factor, I might be better off looking outside of the education sector, given that it is not a sector notorious for its high salaries. And maybe that would be a move worth considering. But I fear, at this stage of my career, I have rather put all my skillset ‘eggs’ firmly into the education sector ‘basket’. And I would generally feel happier doing a job I’m actually good at. It’s not a deal breaker though…

Call me hardboiled but, having just used the word ‘egg’ and having concluded last week’s post with some egg-shell-ent yolks, I appear to have poached the same idea this week. Perhaps because I’m feeling a little fried. I’m scrambling for ideas…

I’m batter than this. Omlettin’ you know it won’t happen again.

Please whisk coming back next week.

Xmas Epilogue or Yuletide Eulogy

James Proclaims (4)

chocolate-2696873_640

Today is January 6th and by any definition Christmas is now over. Except for all the masses of chocolate, wine and beer that appear to be in plentiful supply chez moi. This surplus is partly due to the fact that I was, for much of the festive period, quite unwell and indeed on medication, so I was less inclined to consume it all as readily as I might under normal circumstances. However, I did still consume a fair bit of chocolate and, once I’d finished with medication (circa New Year’s Eve), I also upped my alcohol intake so the remaining produce is partly still around because there was just a lot of it to begin with.

People that I know seem to be aware that I like all of the above consumables, probably  because I tell them this at every available opportunity. Consequently a lot of the gifts I receive tend to be of that ilk. And I receive a surprising amount of gifts for someone as curmudgeonly as I imagine myself to be.

It’s ok though; my New Year’s Resolutions, such as they are, did not include going on a diet. It wouldn’t work. I like food and drink too much to ever really be committed to not consuming it.

I’d rather exercise, which I am, once again, doing quite a bit. I’m not quite up to swimming, which is currently my preferred method of calorie burning, because a recent spell of consecutive ear infections has resulted in medical advice to avoid the pool for a few weeks. But I am going to the gym, which is fine. Not fun, but functional. Functional has the word fun in it. But they are not synonyms.

Today, though, I return to work after having had the last two weeks off.

As previously mentioned, I was quite ill for the last fortnight. As were my wife and child. We did our best to enjoy the festivities but my home was not a happy place. Still, I’d rather relive the last two weeks in perpetuity than go back to work.

Insofar as I have to do any job, I don’t especially object to my job but in truth I can’t imagine a scenario whereby doing any job would be better than not having to work at all.

Some people suggest that not having a job would be boring.

Those people are wrong.

I could happily fill my time without the need for a job. I’m not saying I’d contribute anything valuable to society, but I would be happy enough.

But for some reason my mortgage provider expects me to make ‘regular payments’ to them just because they once lent me quite a lot of money so I could buy a house. It’s extortion really.

But as no-one is prepared to give me money for sitting around in my Christmas onesie, eating chocolate and watching bad movies, I have had to pack up said onesie for another year and don a shirt and tie again. And it’s not even the ‘fun’ Christmas-themed tie that I ‘hilariously’ wore the week before Christmas.

But the chocolate-eating will continue. I have enough to last me until Easter and we all know what happens then.

And alongside the new influx of chocolate, there will be an eggs-cuse to crack lots of egg-cellent yolks, which I shell be egg-static about.

Too soon?

 

 

 

 

 

So You Say You Want A Resolution…

James Proclaims (4)

ninja-2335811_640

Ah 2020. What a year.

I mean it’s obviously only just begun, but I have a feeling that 2020 will be a year like no other.

Call it 2020 foresight if you will, but I predict that the year to come will be one that changes everything.

But obviously not in a good way.

There appear to be quite a lot of mad people in charge of the world at the moment. More than is normal or sustainable.

Nations appear to be divided and political rhetoric is becoming increasingly divisive and inflammatory.

Oh and according to the Extinction Rebellion, who in spite of their name, all seem to be quite nice middle class people that we can trust, the environment is shot to pieces.

So, it seems only reasonable to assume that the world, as we know it, is going to end in 2020.

In which case it seems fairly pointless making any New Years Resolutions.

At least not the usual kind.

I mean I should still probably commit to some kind of personal growth, because if my devotion to bad action movies tells me anything it’s that there will be some kind of life post the apocalypse. It’ll be a kind of dystopic wasteland but life will go on.

And, on the off chance that I survive the forthcoming Armageddon, I’m going to need to be in better shape than I am now.

So in 2020 I’ll be hitting the gym. But not in some vague attempt to improve my fitness and health as might seems sensible for a man of my age. Nor is it some misguided, vanity-driven attempt to recapture my rapidly disappearing youth.

No, I’ll be hitting the gym so that when Judgement Day arrives, I can be the grizzled, cynical, but ultimately kind-hearted hero that the world needs me to be.

But, on the off chance the world doesn’t end, I will at least have improved my health and fitness. And possibly prolonged my rapidly disappearing youth.

And while I’m waiting for the End of Days, I might try and blog a bit more often than I did in 2019.

And possibly cut down on my caffeine intake.

And maybe do a bit of decorating because the old homestead is looking a bit shabby.

And perhaps watch a bit less TV and read a few more books.

But all of that is academic.

Because the end is clearly nigh.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

Hoping For A Twixmas Miracle

James Proclaims (4)

the-draft-3058827_640

As we’re roughly in the midpoint of that weird period between Christmas and New Year, known to some as Twixmas (and this is not because the only chocolates left in the mostly-eaten tub of Celebrations at this point are the rubbish Twix ones), I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the festive period so far.

It’s not been a vintage year in the Proclaims household. We’ve all been ill since Christmas Eve. My ear-infection appears to be improving thanks to the antibiotics I’m on, but I have subsequently caught Mrs Proclaims’ cold which is quite horrible and seems to have floored both of us. The littlest Proclaims is also still a bit under the weather, although her antibiotics have certainly helped her to bounce back considerably from the tonsillitis that had me taking her to A&E on Christmas morning. Indeed, were it not for the regular snot that she delights in rubbing on my Christmas-themed onesie (a fashion choice I make only at Christmas and one which I carry off with all the dignity you’d expect of an overweight forty year old wearing an oversized baby grow) and an intermittent cough, you’d imagine she was operating at full capacity.

She certainly seems to be wreaking havoc wherever she roams which is normally par for the course. She spared us this destruction on Christmas Eve and the big day itself, but she did cover me and the sofa in vomit. On balance that was probably worse.

Most of the time I go a little feral during the Twixmas period but this year I’ve really let myself go. I had been planning on having a very different sort of Christmas break. I’d been planning on doing lots of swimming, which I have been doing quite a lot since I finished my MA back in April. But an ear infection means you can’t go swimming. So I joined a gym. But I’m currently too ill to do that either.

I can’t drink alcohol at the moment – apparently that would not sit well with my medication.

I suppose that is some mitigation for the lack of exercise.

But there is still a lot of bad food around.

And I’m eating it.

They do say ‘feed a cold’.

But now my cold is currently so well-fed it probably has gout.

And it seems to be enjoying the lifestyle because it doesn’t appear to be inclined to go anywhere anytime soon.

Still, I expect I’ll be better in a few days.

Just in time to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

One of which will to never be ill again.

 

 

Mind Over Body

James Proclaims (4)

brain-2146167_640

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.

 

 

 

A Month Of Mondays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’ve got no idea what it is.

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)

man-40925_640

 

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…)