Category Archives: My Life

Stories about my day to day life and my past.

The ramblings of a sober man

When we’re born into this life it’s a completely different world than the one we leave behind. Ultimately whether we realise it or not the world is changing rapidly every day. I see technology advance so quickly that it’s scary at some points, I watch beautiful pieces of land disappear under masses of concrete and glass and I see a human race who mostly don’t care.

I am by no means an environmentalist, I’m not a member of organisation that sets out to change the world. I am in fact a guy who mainly sits at home, reads comics, watches sci-fi and occasionally steps outside into the vast space that is planet earth. I don’t go all out to make a difference in the world and I don’t think any more or any less of people who do.

Over the years I’ve watched on countless occasions as wars and corporations and industrial effects have savaged lands and pushed the beauty of the landscape to the side. I often think to myself that I was born out of time, that I was never meant to be alive in this day and age and that my mentality would be better suited to the start of the last century. I look at images of streets with horses and carts, where everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and where men, women and children would pass each other in the street and make eye contact instead of updating their Facebook with “Walking down street, saw minger picking nose, ewww lol”

Truthfully, I think the world we live in has gone to shit and that’s not a naive opinion. This is not my attempt at slating governments or corporations or the people behind technology. I can’t say anything about technology because frankly I would be a hypocrite seeing as I’m currently using a popular piece of machinery to type this very blog entry.

The financial status of the planet is enough for me to sit here and write and write and write about and I could also do the exact same for the crime rates around the globe. I could sit here and tell you that I think within a hundred years we will be run by a totalitarian government and our right to free will completely revoked. I could sit here and tell you that society today has made life virtually impossible for the people down below and that it is causing so many issues that the hierarchy of the world appear to be blind to………..I could tell you all of that but I won’t.

We’re born, we live, we die. That’s the general rule of life and whether we like to admit or not, our existence is pretty meaningless. What are we supposed to do with life? I say we’re supposed to fill it, fill it with joy and hope and love and every other emotion. Fill it with what we enjoy, what we want to do. I say we take life and ride it from start to end and make sure it’s the best journey imaginable. That’s what I say, but sometimes that’s not always possible. Frankly, this day and age make it so hard to truly enjoy it. For me I think I would be walking around in the Victorian times right now, on my way to some rendition of Sherlock Holmes with William Gillette or something along those lines.

I’m not a man of any faith, I don’t know what’s waiting for us all on the other side but I know that we’re supposed to enjoy what we have here. I’m planning on trying my damnedest to do exactly that, whether that involves indulging my mind in 16th, 17th and 18th century literature or reading the latest 2000 AD issue, whether it’s watching Charlie Chaplin classics or the latest episode of Doctor Who, whether it’s taking a stroll up the hills and mountains or the scenic route to the supermarket I think it’s important that we make the most of the life we’ve been given.

I know that this isn’t my normal type of posting but sometimes it’s good to get away from the norm, sometimes in life something will shake you to your core and bring on some sort of epiphany and that’s exactly what’s happened to me. Of all the great writers of history at my disposal, I remembered a sentence that just clicked with me, it wasn’t from Twain or Shakespeare or anyone like that, it was from a TV show.

 

“The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it”

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Some reflection and closing thoughts.

After a sleep and some reflection I think I’m more downhearted than I was at 6am. As a country we made our decision, I’ll accept that but it doesn’t mean that I think it’s the right decision.

Throughout this whole process I discovered one thing, and that is that no matter what side of the fence people fell on, whatever their beliefs, everyone had a strong passion for this country.

We can sit here and say that those who voted ‘No’ don’t deserve to call themselves Scottish but that’s not true. They voted no because they felt it was the best thing for our country, the same reason that we voted yes (obviously we were right but we’ll never find out)

Whatever your emotions are today, just remember that we are all Scottish together, no matter how bitter that may sit on some peoples tongues at the moment (mine included).

We rejected independence but we don’t have to stop the fight for change. To all those who voted for the first time, keep voting. Don’t just not vote because you think it won’t make a difference, if as many people turn out to vote as did yesterday then we have a higher chance of being heard. Don’t give up on trying to change things for the better. We’re all crushed, I understand that. I sat earlier and actually thought I was going to burst into tears because this was such an emotional roller-coaster for us all.

One day the Kingdom of Scotland will live again, this just wasn’t our time. We can now either wallow in our own self pity or we can make sure that Westminster follow through on their promises, we can make sure that we make our voices heard. We can stand together, as Scotland, maybe not independent but damn fucking loud.

I’m nervous, are you?

As we all take our places, on this the eve of what will be the most important day in Scottish history, I wish each and every one  of my fellow Scots all the best. Whatever you mark down on that ballot paper, I hope that you base it off of what you truly believe is right for this country.

Make not your decision based on having had a bad interaction with an overly aggressive campaigner. Don’t vote “No” simply because you don’t like Mr Salmond and don’t vote “Yes” simply because you don’t like the Tories. Vote for what you see as the best possible future for you, for your children and for your grandchildren.

If you vote “Yes” then fantastic, if you vote “No” then that’s entirely up to you, it’s your decision and nobody has the right to belittle you for it. The most important thing is that we all vote and that we all vote for what we believe is the best option based on our own views and what reliable information we can get. 

With such a short time to go until we make our final decision and cement it in history, I’m nervous. I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been regarding anything politically related. Whatever we do tomorrow, it can’t be undone.

“I am keiching ma scants.”

The anger within

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” –Mark Twain

I have turned into one of “them” and by “them” I mean an angry gamer.

If you read my blog a couple of months ago called “Goodbye old addiction, hello new addiction” then you will know the story of how video games recently came into my life.  At first it was only really Grand Theft Auto but about a month ago I took the dangerous path into the world of Call of Duty.

At first it was just the zombies side of the game, I could handle that. My sister recently got her Xbox Live Account back up and running and so we would hit up a few games each night and shoot some zombies. After a while, I ventured into the realm of the real online multi-player.  You know the one? Where adults are actually children and children try to act as though they are adults.

As the games progressed each day I found myself getting shot A LOT and dying A LOT. It’s all par for the course, I’m a novice. However, it’s only a game and so I didn’t get angry, occasionally I would question how something was possible but never angry.

I don’t do anger, not anymore. After years of anger causing me too many problems I started to channel it in other ways. With this, it was only a game and so anger shouldn’t even exist when I play it.

A few weeks passed and still I got killed a lot. The more I played, the little my skills seemed to progress. I was averaging 6 kills to every 17/18 deaths per match. If I was one of those serious gamer types then I would be an embarrassment to the gaming community. However, I play games for fun, not competition.

Today things changed. I came across what I can only describe as the grand-master of COD. Every time I turned round, he was there. Every time he was there, I was killed. He didn’t seem to want to kill anyone else, he just seemed to follow me around. Me, little old me with no prestige and a gun that isn’t even at its highest potential.

I cracked, I punched the arm of my chair, spat out some vulgarities and switched off the Xbox. I had turned, I had gone over to the dark side. For a moment I was engulfed in red mist, all caused by one game and one player.

Afterwards I sat and was more annoyed with myself for getting angry. A game is a game and it’s meant to be fun.

I shall now go and give myself a good talking to in the mirror.

 

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The most important question in all of history

We are nine days away from one of the biggest dates in Scottish history. The day when I, along with the millions of people in my country take ourselves along to the dingy little community centres scattered across the nation and choose one of two words “yes” or “no”

It wasn’t an easy choice to make, this doesn’t just make a small and subtle change to our country, this is huge. It’s not like voting for a contestant on one of those nonsensical reality television “shows”. For millions of people this is the chance to decide if we want change or if we want to stay the same.

I’m not going to bore you with my points of view on why you should vote one way or another because quite frankly there are thousands of blog posts scattered around the interwebs. There are valid arguments from both sides and then there are the people who just want to become mighty warriors for their chosen side.

The amount of aggression and threats of violence that I’ve seen directed towards both sides because of this referendum is insane. I get it, we’re Scottish, we like to show our warrior side but this isn’t a civil war. This is one country trying to make a decision that will stick with us forever.  When I read some of the comments it makes me wonder if I want to live in a country where “if you don’t vote no, I’ll f***ing slash you” or “vote yes or you’re not a real Scottish person you wee c*nt”

I want to live in a country where we can rationalise our future based on the pros and cons of both sides of the debate. I’m not going to be forced into voting one way or another through violence. Just because someone is voting differently from you doesn’t make them an idiot or whatever other name you wish to call them. This referendum is all about choice.

I’m Scottish and I’m damn proud to be Scottish, there’s no better country in the world as far as I’m concerned. Come the 18th of September, when all the votes are counted and the future of our country has been decided then I’ll accept it no matter what it is. I might not agree with the outcome but I’ll accept it, I’ll have no choice.

On a more colourful note, I saw this posted this morning on the back of the news that there’s a new “Royal  Baby” on the way and it made me laugh. Or to use some vernacular borrowed from the youth of today “I lol’d so hard at this”, you see I can still be down with the kids! I’m only in my late twenties, I’m still hip!

scottishpreg

 

On the 19th of September, Scotland will wake up knowingone of two things, either we remain the same or we move on and become our own independent country. The choice lies in the hands of the Scottish people. The excitement in Scotland is high, you can smell it and feel it as you walk down streets. Signs in all windows, flags flying in the wind, campaigners on the streets and everyone discussing the same subject.

On the 18th of September we’re faced with one question and one question alone, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

I’m voting Yes.

Ghosts of days gone by…..

Sometimes I do things without any reason and those things baffle me. For example, recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Alter Bridge, a band who, for all intents and purposes, I detested 5 years ago. Recently however I’ve been appreciating their music, now that I think about it, I’ve been changing my tastes in a lot of things recently. I suppose that part of getting older is changing your tastes and preferences. 15 years ago I was making my ears bleed and listening to the likes of Slipknot and Mudvayne, 10 years ago I had moved on to Drowning Pool and Saliva, 5 years ago I was all over Joshua Radin and City and Colour like a rash and today my playlist is about as long as an Adrien Brody Oscar speech.

The mere fact that I just used the Adrien Brody Oscar speech as a comparison to the length of something cements just how fast I’m ageing.

Recently my mortality has been playing on my mind quite a bit.  I don’t mean that in a macabre way but more in a “time has flown so quickly” way. I’m not even sure why but I’ve been sitting watching an old film or a wrestling event on the WWE Network and thinking “I was 12 when this was on” or “I was only 10 when I first saw this” then realising that such a long time has passed and yet it still all seems so fresh in my mind. Then I think that if I fast forward the same amount of time that has passed, I’ll be into my 40’s. I don’t really look forward to my 40’s and especially if it’s going to come as quickly as my late 20’s came.

Life passes far too quickly, I know that everyone says that at some point but until recently I’ve never really paid much attention to it. My daughter turned 5 a couple of weeks ago, I’m just astounded that so much time has passed. I remember sitting in the labour suite in shock and frozen to my seat overcome with emotion, it doesn’t seem like 5 years ago, it feels like 5 days ago.

I remember when I was younger, I always dreamt of the future. I always pondered over what it would be like and I couldn’t wait to get there. Now all those years that I dreamt of have passed. My 16th birthday, passed. My 18th birthday, passed. My 21st birthday, passed. My first holiday without parents, passed. My first relationship, passed (and many more have passed too). Now I don’t look to the future, I have a tendency to look to the past. I know that it’s a bad trait, I really shouldn’t. You can’t move forward if you’re stuck in the past but I think that you get to a certain age and you realise that in a couple of years you will be of the age where you start to guide the next generation. Just now I sit on the cusp of that stage of life. I’m out of the teenage years, I’m out of the early twenties madness and I’m not yet in the “must be sensible” thirties.

I suppose, and I hope I’m not the only person who feels like this, that when you get to this point in life you once again resort to the “Peter Pan” phase. Not wanting to get any older. It’s inevitable but part of you doesn’t want to keep on that ever quickening road to Mid-life.

Perhaps this is why I’ve been listening to a lot of Alter Bridge, as much as I hated them 5 years ago, they remind me of a time when I was slightly younger. I’ve also been listening to Lange quite often (yes I have very eclectic taste) and that takes me back to the summer of “Kevin and Perry Go Large”

Whatever the reason, all I know is that I’m not getting any younger and I also know that there was no real point to this blog entry. There is no special meaning or profound epiphany at the end of it. I’m not even going to go back over it to check for errors because the chances are that I’ll end up deleting the entire thing. I do have a habit of writing blogs and sitting for 30/45 minutes on them and then just deleting them. Maybe that’s why life feels like it’s passing so quickly? I spend so long wasting time and leaving empty handed…………….I change my mind, there was a profound epiphany….

Warrior

They always say that you should make the most of life because you never know when it’s going to end. I don’t think that’s ever been more true than in the case of one of my childhood heroes over the weekend, the Ultimate Warrior.

My first real memory of wrestling is watching Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan one Saturday morning while my mother was doing the weekly ironing. I have no idea whether it was the full match or whether it was just highlights from Wrestlemania but that’s the first image that I have in my head from wrestling. I remember turning to my mum and asking her “Do you mind if I watch this” to which she replied “no”. At that age, I didn’t understand the question that I had just asked and so her telling me “no” caused me to take it that I couldn’t watch. I remember sulking until she explained to me what it meant and so with renewed happiness I turned back to the TV to continue watching and have been captivated ever since. Ultimate Warrior not only got me hooked on wrestling that day but also helped me learn something new, he was a man of many colours.

Over time the Ultimate Warrior slowly faded from public conciousness and it wasn’t unexpected, many old school wrestlers do fade away from the public eye. However, Warrior never stopped putting his name out there and with regular YouTube posts and tweets in recent years, it was easy to keep up with what the legend was doing.

For many Warrior fans, the dream was to see him inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame but for many many years, that looked like nothing more than a pipe dream. WWE and Warrior had seemingly destroyed all bridges and there appeared to be no chance of rebuilding them. It was sad but many of us came to terms with the fact that we would never see Warrior anywhere near WWE again. Then something magical happened, in 2013 WWE released a trailer for their new video game WWE 2k14 and right there, right in the trailer, was Warrior promoting the game, dressed in full Ultimate Warrior gear. It was one of those rare and unexpected moments that just was so exciting that I don’t think I’ve ever watched a trailer as many times over in my life.

Earlier this year WWE announced that FINALLY the Ultimate Warrior would take his place in the WWE Hall of Fame. If ever there was a collective cheers from a group of fans heard around the world then it was at that moment. There are a lot of people who don’t have a lot of good things to say about Warrior but he was a legend and he deserved to be there.

This past weekend came and on Saturday the Hall of Fame aired live on the WWE Network. Being in the UK it didn’t start airing over here until 2am (yes I know it’s not launched over here, but I wasn’t going to wait until next year for it so I had to be sneaky sneaky) As I do with most wrestling events I sat up late waiting for it to start, I then sat through all the speeches, not complaining about it because all the inductees deserved to be there but the one I was waiting for was Warrior. At around 4.45am he finally took to the stage, walked out arm in arm with his daughters and the man looked happier than I think he had ever been. He gave a speech that at times bordered on rambling but it was still fantastic all the same.

On Monday he appeared on RAW for the first time in almost two decades. As soon as that music hit, I felt chills going up my spine and excitement pulsing through my body. Ultimate Warrior was back in a WWE ring and I was as happy as any other Warrior fan. The obligatory rope shake occurred and at that moment, I looked at Warrior and thought to myself that he didn’t seem the same but then I chalked it up to his age and his not being an active competitor any more so I brushed it off. As he spoke I felt like a child again, Ultimate Warrior was in a WWE ring and I was watching it and it wasn’t a repeat, this was happening and this was happening right now. As he left the ring I found myself looking forward to his next appearance, he had recently said he signed a multi-year deal with WWE, and I couldn’t wait to see him again. However, there wouldn’t be another appearance.

Yesterday morning I woke up to a Facebook message from a friend which just read    Capture

It was a crushing blow, like being punched in the gut. I never met Ultimate Warrior, I didn’t know Ultimate Warrior but I was inspired by Ultimate Warrior. Without him I doubt that I would have been as captivated that Saturday morning all those years ago, I doubt that I would have discovered my love of wrestling at such a young age. I’m a grown man and I know that wrestling is pre-determined and there’s no competitiveness to it but I also know that I don’t care about that. I watch it because the storytelling that can be done in the ring is tremendous. I watch wrestling because a very young me sat cross legged on the floor watching a man in face paint captivate my mind.

Load up the spaceship with rocket fuel Warrior because wherever you’re going there’s a ring set up waiting for you with all the greats. You will have one more match and your legacy will live on forever.

Time and the Cynic

In 1898 H. G. Wells wrote his most famous novel “The Time Machine”. In the novel, for those of you who haven’t yet read it, a Victorian man invents a machine that allows him to travel into either the future or the past. As such, he travels 800,000 years into the future and while there he finds a society completely different from the one he has become accustomed to, a society inhabited by the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi, on first appearances,, appear to live an idyllic life, but the time traveller makes the discovery that there is in fact a horrendous price that they must pay.

Looking back to some of the greatest novels every written and you can see that writers such as Wells, Dick and Orwell commented on their own current society. They would question the trajectory of “current” trends of the times, question what reality actually was and they would subtly disclose their fears of the future.

Stephen Hawking himself at one point suggested that time travel must be impossible, for the sole reason that if it were possible then we would have had visitors from the future. Since we have therefore never seen a tourist from the future he concluded that time travel indeed must be impossible.

There are many arguments to this point of course, many different ways of trying to refute Hawking’s argument. Some people say that if tourists did come from the future then they simply may not interested in us. Others say that perhaps they know the ramifications of letting themselves be known to others as being from the future. My personal theory (and this is a huge hypothetical “if”) is that in this day and age, where scepticism and the need to cry insanity is but second nature, would we openly accept that someone is from the future? That’s a question that only you yourself can answer. For all I would love the idea of time travel to be a reality, the possibility of seeing days long gone,  I know that deep down if someone claimed to be from the future that I would in no way believe them, I would want to believe them and I would try my hardest to do so.

Where do we draw the line between reality and fiction? Why are we as a planet so cynical of everything that is placed in front of our eyes? In C.S Lewis “The Last Battle” there is a point where the dwarves don’t believe that what they are seeing are flowers and grass and birds, instead they think it’s all just faeces, even though it is directly in front of them. As a planet, we often find ourselves being just as cynical of what we’re seeing. Is is down to years and years of media manipulation? Or is it just a natural evolution? I can’t answer that, I don’t think anyone can answer that.

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde

Cynicism masquerades itself as wisdom, but in reality that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cynics don’t learn anything and that’s simply because cynicism itself is a self-imposed blindness. It is a rejection of this world and it’s because we are afraid that it will in some way hurt us or let us down. Cynics always and without fail say no. This is because they don’t realise that saying “yes” causes things to begin. Saying “yes” is how to make things grow or that saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people and old people, it’s for everyone.

I think that part of my unrelenting quest to never let myself grow up comes down to a fear of cynicism. I just don’t think that I’m quite ready enough to let the youthfulness inside of me die. Not if maturity means becoming a cynic, not if you have to destroy the part of yourself that is naive and idealistic. That should be the part of you that you treasure most of all. Surely living life with the hope of idealisms is a good thing? Is it not better to die young but with your humanity intact?

So as I mentioned earlier. If someone met you randomly and told you that they were from the future, would you believe them?

One Less Gruff Billy Goat

The idea of fairy tales is one full of intrigue and mystique, almost all of us will have read a fairy tale at some point in our lives and without question every one of us knows of a fairy tale character. With the smallest amount of legerdemain the entire premise of a story can change, heroes can be either unlikely children or charming princes, villains can be witches or trolls. The possibilities within fairy tales are endless and the message is always one of hope.

The very first fairy tale that I can remember from my childhood was ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’. The premise is that three goats, discovering that where they live no longer has any grass for them to eat, set out to find new pastures so that they can become fat. However, their journey must take them across the river, where dwells a troll under a bridge. The first goat passes over the bridge but gets stopped by the troll who threatens to “gobble him up” (gobble him up is one of those lines that makes me laugh for no apparent reason) however the goat persuades the troll to wait for the second goat because he’s bigger and more of a meal so the troll lets him pass. The second goat comes along and the same thing happens as before and so then the third goat enters. I’ll stop it there, because I think that most people know how ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ ends, if you don’t then go and Google it.

Of course all fairy tales end with the standard “happily ever after” although recently I read “Arabian Nights” which is a collection of Asian fairy tales and they end with “they all lived happily until there came to them the One Who Destroys All Happiness” which I found odd yet poetic. ‘The One Who Destroys All Happiness’ meaning Death, the Grim Reaper as he’s also known. I was slightly taken aback at first, here were some fairy tales full of hope and suddenly they were cementing the fact that nobody lives “happily ever after” because death catches up to everyone.

The very first fairy tales are attributed to Aesop who lived in Ancient Greece around 620–564 BCE (slightly before our time I imagine). The power of fairy tales is so strong and so resilient that over two thousand years later some of Aesop’s’ tales are still being told to this day. I’m sure you will have heard of at least one of them, the main one that I can think of right now is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. That story became so popular that two hundred years after it was written it became one of Zeno’s paradoxes (Google them, extremely interesting and thought provoking, the Arrow paradox is my personal favourite)

The Brothers Grimm famously wrote some of the most celebrated fairy tales in our history. Two German brothers, who were academics and even lexicographers, crafted some of the worlds greatest imaginary and magical characters. Although The Brothers Grimm did centralise their fairy tales on more darker hues they still resonated through the years with so many different people, even psychologist who felt the need to analyse them.

The fairy tale is an escape from reality, like most forms of entertainment. I do believe however that fairy tales give more power to the reader and open the imagination slightly more than any other form of literature and I’m saying that as an avid science-fiction fanatic. Whether it’s something written by Alexander Afanasyev or Hans Christian Andersen, fairy tales have the power to take you to a place where good almost always wins. The fairy tale is a door to the unknown world of endless possibilities where life feels good, Walt Disney realised that and that’s why he cashed in on so many popular fairy tales.

Nowadays people don’t write fairy tales, it’s somewhat a thing of the past which saddens me. My Dad used to make up fairy tales for me each night and they always made me so happy. They were tales of a young boy called Billy who lived in a house with a green roof. Billy went swimming with sharks and had magic powers, he loved ice cream and was my hero. My Dad doesn’t remember how any of those stories went and I was too young to retain the proper memories of them which is a crying shame because I would love to remember them in full.

The power of fairy tales will live on because they should live on. Albert Einstein once famously said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Can anyone really disprove that? Fairy tales are more than just true and not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Every fairy tale has meaning and every single one is based on the same idea, the idea that peace and happiness can exist no matter what stands in your way.

“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”Charles Dickens