Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Hands upon my back again

Tomorrow is my last day at work for just over a week as I've taken some time off. It's a good time for me to take a break as the job is definitely more stressful than my last job and it's been 8 months with no break for me now. Plus I really need to use the holiday up before the end of the year.

It's just that I've been here before. So many times. I hate taking time off, I hate breaking the routine. Most people would be joyous and excited, whereas I am fretful and nervous. It's not just the break in routine but once more I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and travelling back to the place of my birth (only for the long weekend, the rest I'll spend back here). Further more I'll be staying with someone rather than staying in a hotel, and I don't do well in the constant company of others. What I'm wondering is if this "comfort zone" stuff is actually worth it. None of this stuff gets any easier the more I do it, so if it never gets any easier, and makes you feel uncomfortable, then is it worth it? Am I actually making things better for myself in the long-term, or just worse for myself in the short-term?

I just hope that when I get back I'll be blogging that I don't know what I was so worried about and that it was great and that I had a great time. We'll see.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A life half lived

When I was younger we had a board game called The Game of Life. Despite its facetious name I suppose it was fairly accurate. You went to school and got a degree, got a job, married, bought a house, had kids then retired. In a way that's what life is to most people. Now that I'm getting on in years I see that people around me are all in long-term relationships, or getting married, or having kids, or buying houses, or planning retirement…playing The Game.

When I was a kid we spent our days pulling pigtails and playing computer games. Now that I'm an adult it's kinda weird how everyone else is playing The Game but I'm still pulling pigtails and playing computer games. I don't dwell on it, but sometimes I think about all of the normal things I've never known, and probably never will know. Time is marching on relentlessly but I'm staying the same, getting more and more distant from my peers, never being able to advance beyond those first few squares. They're developing their lives while I'm treading water. Next they'll all be dying, just to make me jealous.

I suppose in a way my current abstinence from alcohol is simply a subconscious furtherance of this retraction from life. I was never the social butterfly, but when I was drinking I did at least have a reason to leave my house at the weekend when the sun was down. I wasn't socialising as such, but at least I was out among people. I wasn't diving from the high board, but at least I had my toes in the water. At least I was rolling the dice.

Every day when I go into work and hear about the lives of others it's dawning on me what "life" is supposed to be and the pleasure people get from it. If they knew the truth, my life to them would seem like the plot from some futuristic horror movie. They don't know the truth though, so instead each Monday they ask "What did you do at the weekend?"; faces aglow with fresh memories and enthusiasm.


Sunday, 9 May 2010

Lazy Journalism

For the last few weekends the supplements in the papers have carried articles on the "cougar" phenomenon. There are a few issues at play here... First of all the "cougar" thing isn't entirely new, it's been around in the world of pornography for some time, but what's interesting is the media's new-found fascination with it. Why now all of a sudden are the weeklies carrying articles focussed on "older" women who seek out younger men? Interviewing them, and lauding their way of life? What was the trigger? Television.

Is it a coincidence that the media have latched onto this only after an American sit-com on the subject staring Courtney Cox was aired in the UK? Now I can barely flick through a glossy without Trumpesque housewives pictured under headlines such as "I love younger men, so what?" with articles peppered with ubiquitous cliché such as "they're not exploiting me, I'm exploiting them". Are journalists really just sitting there as popular culture passes them buy, doing nothing but watching TV and when TV introduces them to something new they think they might look into it? I don't doubt for a second that they are.

Lazy journalism aside, the other issue at play here is the age-old one of the double standards that pervades most studies of the sexes. Aren't old men who chase young girls disgusting perverts and paedophiles? People to be hounded by the press, not celebrated by them?

There are even TV shows that do nothing but re-broadcast things they have found on YouTube. And other comedy-based shows are increasingly turning to YouTube clips to pad-out their running time.

Even looking at the output of respected journalists such as those who feature on the BBC's website, you can see reams of articles that are nothing more than passing on what people are saying on Twitter, or Facebook. Or "the blogsphere"…what a self-congratulatory term that is. Am I a journalist? Hell, no. But looking at what journalism seems to be becoming it probably wouldn't be hard to give it a go.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Fay Ripley wants me destroyed

I caught a re-run of Room 101 that had Fay Ripley as a guest and one thing she wanted to put into Room 101 was shy people. She was of the opinion that being shy was akin to being rude. She lamented diner parties and the like where people struggle to return conversation, exclaiming it was just a drain on her energies. It seems that we shy people were only put on earth to spoil her social occasions and act as a bar to the furthering of her pleasures, to such an extent that she would rather we just don't exist at all.

Luckily Paul Merton recalled his own childhood experiences, and so refused to consign us all to Room 101 saying that some people can't really help being shy and it doesn't make us bad people. If I ever appear on Room 101 I'll put 40-something women with breasts like Spaniel's ears wearing push-up bras into Room 101.