Que Sera Sera

James Proclaims (4)

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Having been largely dormant for much of 2019, my blog has enjoyed something of a resurgence of late.

This may be a natural consequence of all that is going on in the world.

Then again, although it is abundantly clear, even to an introvert like me, that social norms appear to have changed for most of us (or at least those of us who don’t work as special advisors to the prime minister) aside from having to queue to get into supermarkets, not much has really changed for me.

Because I am the father of a very small person. A toddler if you will. So I never got to see anyone or do anything anyway.

Obviously I’m being slightly glib. I think. I’m not actually sure what ‘glib’ means, but it seems appropriate to use it here.

Yep, I’ve just looked it up and it was the right word.

I’m being as glib as a politician who tells you that they are being guided by the science.

Obviously life has changed for me in the last few months, but not as profoundly, I don’t think, as it probably has for people who like spending time with, y’know, other people. And who don’t have an adorable yet demanding small person in their lives.

But, even though I have mostly still been at work (and yes, I actually have been ‘at work’ rather than working from home, for quite a few weeks now, since I established that, as no-one else was there, it was as easy to social distance in my office as at home and far far easier to pretend to be working hard there), my job has changed quite a lot. Because I work in a secondary school, not strictly speaking as a teacher (though I could if I wanted to, I have the relevant pieces of paper that permit me to teach children how to not fail exams, which has, essentially been the main focus of the British education system for many a year now, not least since, fairly early in the decade just gone, when Mr Gove and his special advisor, a certain Mr Cummings, decided that anything resembling a holistic education for children was a massive waste of time), but as someone who attends lots of meetings in which many things are discussed but nothing is ever resolved. And though I have had to attend a lot of the same meetings ‘virtually’ and complete lots of unnecessary paperwork that no-one will ever read, the absence of any actual children in school has been different to say the least.

I’ve still been busy, but there have been fewer distractions and so I may have had a little more time to blog. On the other hand, for the last two months I’ve been blogging predominantly about music and Star Wars, and I’d been planning on doing that regardless of ‘you know what’. The birth of my daughter in August 2018 resulted in the latter part of 2018 and most of 2019 being quite unproductive in blogging terms. Because it turns out that being a new parent is both time-consuming and exhausting. Who knew? Roughly 65% of the posts I wrote between June 2018 and March 2020 were the Christmas-Adjacent movie reviews I write in the build-up to Christmas. And no-one ever reads those. So I’d pretty much decided that I needed to have a couple of ‘blog projects’ that didn’t rely on me writing about movies that may have a tenuous link to Christmas. And I’d planned my April ‘A-Z of albums’  some time in advance of writing the posts. I planned the Star Wars thing a little less well, but notionally I thought it might be fun to do a long time before May arrived. And I was right, it was fun to do.

There’s no doubt that having slightly more time, due to world events, has helped my blog stumble back into existence, but I like to think I would have written most of what I have written without the need for a global pandemic.

But now we’re in June.

And I haven’t planned anything for June.

Except to write the same sort of stuff as I was writing before my extended paternity leave from the blogosphere.

And I can’t quite remember what that was.

I have vague recollections of writing something about soup once.

And I’m pretty certain there was something about the etiquette of waving on a boat.

And I expect I moaned about Brexit a few times.

And there was definitely a lot of bad poetry.

And some stuff was just plain weird.

Anyway, the point, if indeed there is a point, is that I’ve definitely re-discovered my love of blogging, which should mean that there will be a fair amount of content on these pages in the coming months.

But I offer no guarantees as to the quality of that content.

 

 

 

November Novelties

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Yesterday I wrote about how growing a moustache is something you can do to help you get through the atrocious month that is November.

But if moustache-growing is not your thing then another November hobby you could try is novel-writing.

For November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately known.

It really should be known as InNoWriMo, because it’s very clearly an international affair these days, but it started in one country, presumably, and the name ‘NaNoWriMo’ had already caught on before anyone realised that the whole world was playing.

Basically, the goal is to write an entire novel in a month. That’s a minimum of 50,000 words apparently and the goal is very definitely quantity over quality. The idea is to throw off your writing shackles, ignore your overly picky internal editor and just get on with it.

Unlike Movember, which leaves me a little cold, the idea of NaNoWriMo is totally the kind of thing I would do.

But I won’t be doing it this year.

Because failure is not something I enjoy and the two times I’ve tried NaNoWriMo I’ve utterly failed to stick with it beyond a few days.

And this year I’m struggling to keep up with the general stuff that life is throwing at me, so trying to write a novel, even a bad novel, in 30 days seems a little bit beyond me.

But everyone else should totally do it.

Even if those people who’ve misguidedly decided to also grow a moustache.

Because growing a moustache and writing a novel are not mutually exclusive.

Imagine how good it would feel to have written an entire novel and grown a moustache by the end of this month.

Less Is More. More Or Less.

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Sometimes, when I can’t think of anything to write about, I write about the fact that I can’t think of anything to write about. It’s a little self-contradictory but it solves a problem.

Equally, when I don’t really have time to write anything, I occasionally write about the fact that I haven’t got time to write anything, even though by writing about a lack of time to write anything, I am proving that I did have time to write something. Albeit something pointless.

The other solution would be to write nothing.

Which may be preferable in the short term but writing nothing on one occasion often leads to a longer-term scenario in which I write nothing for weeks on end.

Which is bad for me.

It may be less bad for you.

But this blog is an entirely self-indulgent affair, for the most part, so ‘bad-for-me’ is undesirable.

Then again, at the moment, I really am quite busy and being busy seems like a state of affairs which is likely to continue indefinitely.

Which means this blog is likely to take a ‘back seat’ unless I can think of a solution.

And one solution is to write shorter posts.

About not very much.

As opposed to long posts about not very much, which is my usual modus operandi.

So that’s probably what I’m going to do for a while.

Write short posts about not very much.

Like this one.

But maybe I’ll aim to make them better than this one.

Although they probably won’t be much better than this if I’m honest.

James Complains About Not Having Written Anything

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It’s the first Monday in September and like many teachers I’m obliged to go back to work after a six-week hiatus.

Obviously, I expect very little sympathy from the non-teachers out there. Clearly, it’s hard, if you don’t get six weeks off, to sympathise with anyone who hasn’t had to go to work for the best part of the summer (I mean it was definitely the best part of my summer anyway).

Fortunately, I know there are quite lot of teachers who read this blog.

So, it’s perfectly fine for me to have a moan about having to go back into work.

And regular readers of these pages will know I’m not a huge fan of the whole work thing anyway.

I’d much rather sit around in my pants all day watching box-sets and eating ice-cream.

But there are bills to pay.

And no-one is prepared to pay me to sit around all day watching box-sets and eating ice-cream.

So, to work I must go.

And to be fair, the education profession does allow me numerous holidays throughout the year when I can sit around watching box-sets and eating ice-cream.

Obviously, I don’t spend all my holiday time doing that. Mrs Proclaims tends to frown upon that kind of behaviour.

Also, it’s apparently not good for your health to spend most of the day sedentary whilst consuming large volumes of frozen sugar and fat.

Anyway, after a six-week break in which I haven’t exclusively sat around watching box-sets and eating ice-cream, I’m back to work today.

Normally I’d be dreading it.

And today is no exception

But it’ll be fine. I’ll struggle through the first few hours, as I remember that I’m contractually obliged to do stuff and not all of that stuff will be interesting, or even worthwhile. Some of it will, frankly, be a complete waste of time. At first, I’ll want to resist, but eventually I’ll settle back into the same, slightly numb, reluctant acceptance that this is my life until Christmas.

And that’s fine, because they pay me just about enough to meet my mortgage commitments, pay my utility bills, and do all the other essential things I need to do to exist.

Like eat.

And pay my Netflix subscription.

So, while it’s fair to say I’m reluctant about going back to work today, I do understand why I have to do so, and on balance, I can’t complain too much about having to work when I’ve just had six weeks off.

But the trouble with having to work is that it tends to get in the way of blogging.

It’s hard to maintain a blogging schedule and do all the stuff I need to get done in work.

Sometimes I manage it, but there are often times when I go missing from the blogosphere for weeks, even months, on end because I’ve got too much to get done in work.

So you’d think, with six weeks off, and an unstated but implicit understanding with my lovely wife that I would not spend all of that time sitting around in my pants watching box-sets and eating ice-cream, that I might’ve had time to pen a few missives for this blog.

To get me ahead of schedule.

You’d think I’d have at least written today’s post in advance of today.

And although I did technically write this last night, it was so close to midnight as to barely count.

And I certainly haven’t written anything else in preparation for the coming weeks.

I meant to get ahead during my time off.

But I didn’t.

So, this could feasibly be the last thing I post for a while

Which, when you consider the quality of this post alone, would clearly be a tragedy for all humanity.

So let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that I churn out another one of these soon.

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 5 – A Lack Of Prose Disturbs Me

James Proclaims (4)

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After a fortnight’s break from this ‘feature’, I’m back with more ‘Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Any More’.

It’s perhaps appropriate, after a two-week hiatus from the series, that this post is about how I don’t write any more. Although to be honest I’ve disappeared from this blog multiple times before (for longer than two weeks) and in any case, I have actually posted a few things on here in the last two weeks, just not a post about ‘stuff I used to do’.

Maybe I should add ‘writing about stuff I used to do’ to the list.

Or is that just ridiculous?

I think it probably is, but in the context of other stuff I’ve considered appropriate material for this blog, it’s perhaps not all that ridiculous. After all, I did once write this post Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 5 – A Lack Of Prose Disturbs Me

Outside The Comfort Zone

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It finally happened, after nearly three months of following a fairly consistent blogging schedule (longer posts on Monday, approximations of poetry on Wednesdays and a slightly rubbish doodle on Fridays) I’ve managed to fall behind.

I’m not worried, I regularly disappeared for weeks on end in 2016 and, nearly three full months in, 2017 is already looking like a significantly better blogging year. Not necessarily a better year in any other respect, although 2016 is oft much maligned as the ‘worst year ever’ and certainly Brexit and Trump made it a pretty bad year politically and lots of celebrities dying made it bad year for people who like celebrities, and I wouldn’t say 2016 was a vintage year for me personally because it wasn’t, but I’d be hard-pressed to say that it was manifestly worse than 2015 in that respect. So far 2017, while seemingly better on the ‘celebrities dying’ front (as far as I’m aware), is still suffering from the ridiculousness of Donald over there and the imminent triggering of Article 50 over here. On a personal level, there is much to be optimistic about but little in the way of the ‘realisation’ of any of that, so, while 2017 has not been significantly worse than 2015 or 2016, I’m not sure I could claim it’s been much better. But it’s early days and there’s the potential for some personal growth in the next few months.

But the last few weeks have been arduous and I’ve been maintaining a blogging schedule that is reasonably consistent against the backdrop of a job that is, at times, more than a little challenging. I like a challenge, I don’t want to be bored at work, but ‘challenging’ can be synonymous with ‘time-consuming’.

So missing a couple of scheduled blog posts is not the end of the world. Continue reading Outside The Comfort Zone

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

My New Year Resolutions That I’ll Definitely Be Sticking To

James Proclaims (4)

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Tradition dictates that because it’s the beginning of a new year, I must make lots of pledges to change my way of life, even though I’m perfectly happy with my life for the most part.

It’s mildly inconvenient, because while I accept that there’s always room for improvement, I’m not entirely certain that I’m ready to make any drastic changes to my existence. Continue reading My New Year Resolutions That I’ll Definitely Be Sticking To

I’m sure this post is about something but I couldn’t tell you what….

James Proclaims (4)

Alas Writing 101 has not gone particularly well. It’s the final week and we’re now on Day 16, but somehow I find myself still endeavouring to complete Day 11. I’m a full week behind, and unless I start to post twice daily I’m going to struggle to finish on time.

Which leaves me with a dilemma. Do I break my one and only blogging rule, which is to never post more than once a day in order to finish on time, or do I just accept failure and give up now? Continue reading I’m sure this post is about something but I couldn’t tell you what….

Why I Write

James Proclaims (4)

Hello readers of ‘James Proclaims’, whoever and wherever you may be. If you’re tuning in on a Monday then you’re probably looking for my ‘hilarious’ regular feature ‘James Complains’. But it’s not here. Instead there’s this.

But what is ‘this’?

Well I’ve only gone and signed up for another of those blogging courses that WordPress runs from time to time. This one’s called Writing 101. It lasts for four weeks. During that time I’ll be filling these pages with posts inspired by assignments from afore-mentioned course.

They may not all be worth reading, but I’ll do my best.

Today’s assignment was to answer the question :

Why do you write?

I write because I enjoy it. That’s definitely the main reason.

I do have this outlandish notion that someone one day might pay me for being a writer. Perhaps that it might even make me wealthy. And I wouldn’t be against that at all.

But if it doesn’t happen I’ll probably still write.

I write because I enjoy the ego boost I get when someone tells me they’ve enjoyed what I’ve written. It’s nice when someone recognises you for being good at something that you want to be good at. I need that kind of validation from time to time – I have a fragile self-esteem.

I can’t play a musical instrument (at least not in tune), I’m not especially athletic, and aside from a few rudimentary cartoons, I’m not at all able when it comes to the visual arts.

But sometimes I write stuff that makes people laugh.

And that makes me happy in my own little way.

Angry Artists

James Proclaims (4)

There’s this belief that anger and adversity produces the best art. I’m not certain who actually believes it, but it does seem to be a truism of sorts that is rarely challenged.

I have never achieved success in any of the arts apart from coming second in a short story competition of some repute when I was eleven years old.

I wasn’t massively angry when I was eleven – although I was a bit gutted that the kid who beat me was only eight. I must’ve beaten loads of other eleven years olds to come second but there was still some ignominy in being runner up to a much younger child.  She completely deserved to beat me; hers was a story of charm and precocious wit. Mine was an unashamed rip off of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.

My life after the age of eleven, my secondary school years if you will, were full of anger and adversity and I achieved next to nothing in that time aside from a reasonable, though mildly disappointing, set of GCSEs.

But maybe I was never destined to produce any art of note. I have clearly got ambitions of writing, but if I couldn’t produce anything in my twenties when I was angry about loads of stuff (mostly misplaced anger about stuff that was pretty much my fault) then apparently I have no chance now I’m in my thirties and for the most part, relatively content.

Although I do write a lot more stuff now than I did then, so from a productivity point of view, I’m actually doing much better.

The nature of my current job means that I do meet plenty of people going through fairly genuine adversity and most of them are pretty angry about it, but none of them produce much in the way of quality art, whereas the successful artists that I have encountered have seemed to my eyes to be quite privileged, with only a set of ‘first world’ problems to moan about.

 Perhaps the overcoming of adversity is a natural path to artistic greatness, and I’m certain there are some great examples of this. I’d imagine though, that genuine adversity is far too much of a barrier for art to be produced at all in most cases.