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Monthly Archives: December 2020


About five years ago I was watching The Fault in Our Stars on an aeroplane. I reached the bit where Gus calls Hazel, and he’s breaking down because he’s realised he’s dying, and I couldn’t watch any more.

5 years have passed and I still can’t get through it.

I tried the book.



Today I watched the episode of His Dark Materials where Lee Scoresby dies.


Couldn’t watch that either.

I have read the book, and that scene broke my heart. I couldn’t go through Lee and Hester’s death twice.


My bed is collecting flotsam.

Currently, apart from the usual pillows and winter quilt, there is… a set of cheap headphones, two phones (one brick, one iPhone), a MacBook, a novel (two novels, actually, just found another) a brown inhaler, a bookmark, a spanner (!!) and my penknife.

It’s lockdown. Everything is crowding in. If it lasts much longer I think my world will implode.


*just checked. Flotsam is stuff that floats up from a sunken ship. Jetsam is the stuff thrown overboard to avoid sinking.

and, breathe…

Tried a variation of the Wim Hof breathing method. Instead of taking 30 deep breaths then not breathing for 90 seconds, I tried 5 deep breaths then not breathing for 30 seconds – x 3

I didn’t feel better for it. I felt as grumpy as you might feel if you were short of oxygen.

But it’s weirdly addictive and I found myself doing it again and again. Last night I dreamt I was swimming underwater. I think I was not breathing. I had to come up for air.

I need to stop doing it.


When the first lockdown happened, the streets were empty at night. Buses would swish by me as I walked my dog of an evening, empty, lights blazing, the driver the only human being on board. Every bus was like this. There were few cars. The streets were silent.

Then the summer came, followed by slight lifting of the lockdown, then Autumn and back to Tier 3.  Now it’s dead-winter and we’re looking towards maybe March before the lockdown ends, if then. But the buses aren’t empty. There are more cars on the road. Kids hang out in gangs where, a few months ago, they’d all be inside.

Sure, there are those who still wear a mask outdoors, alone, in the stiff, cold breeze of a northern winter, and shops are still asking customers to mask-up, but families are beginning to gather again and there’s a perception that the boundaries are blurring. The lockdown pressure feels about half of what it was back in the spring and despite the government attempting to ratchet up the fear, we’re becoming acclimatised to the risk, and the grip is weakening.

Chatting to Lishman about this whole thing on boxing day, we sort of agreed that some genii won’t easily go back into their bottles.


Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of hits from China.

So, assuming you’re not a bot, Hello!


I was a kickboxer a long time ago, did a few matches, won about half of them, enjoyed it. Couple of years ago I did a white collar boxing match and enjoyed that too but, despite offers of more matches, I thought I’d retire with my 1/0 boxing record intact. Besides, I don’t like punching people in the face for no good reason.

I tried judo a few years age and it was a blast but I quickly got injured, and injured again, and it became so painful that I stopped. Turns out that judo is more injurious than just about any activity I’d ever tried, including actual scrapping. But I’ve gotten quite fit of late, I’ve dropped about twelve kilos, with more to come, via the simple technique of not eating shit, so slamming onto the mat fifty times a session isn’t quite as painful as it was.

So thought I’d give it another go. I quite like grappling. Hope my knee injury clears up in time for the lockdown to end.

How To…

I began giving only books as presents a few years ago, and in return I tend to get a lot of books as gifts. So it’ a win/win situation.

This Christmas, I received some great books*, including an anthology of articles from The BBC Today programme, which shows what The BBC can do, when they’re not preaching, and a battered copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

They should be teaching that stuff in school.

On that topic too, I was talking to Lewey who commented that schools should teach money management.

Wouldn’t that be good – teaching inter-personal skills and how to look after your money. They’re such good ideas that you can guarantee they won’t be taught, or if they are it’ll be watered down to the point of irrelevance.


*Jas bought me a collection of 1950s ‘kitchen sink drama’ novels. So, along with the ones mentioned above, I’m all good right now.

eating peaches

I wrote the entry – below – back in March. The final paragraph is more true than ever:


I’ve talked about my love for Neil Young before, and how the opening minute of Oh Susannah, for me, is the epitome of creativity emerging from chaos.

When he’s recording an album, he doesn’t edit, he doesn’t hide the mistakes, he sets up his gear, he starts playing and his band Crazy Horse follow him.

He plays, and he records.

His album A Letter Home was recorded in one of those 1940s recording booths – the kind of thing people used to send talking messages to each other when they didn’t have access to telephones. He used one microphone and the songs were recorded direct to vinyl.

It’s not that I’m obsessed with retro/lo-fi analogue recording, but I love his commitment to his vision. He is single-minded, and I’m coming to realise that’s probably the most important quality a creative person can possess.

.50 Cal – free kindle download

See out the year with the first sequel in the Mark Barrett action/adventure series. Featuring a disgraced Army pilot turned courier who works in ‘that grey area between almost and legal’ follow the story as he relives the events that led to his dishonourable discharge from the army, following a three-day firefight in a remote valley in northern Afghanistan.

Free download 27-31 December.

.50 Cal:

Click image for link:


Boxing Day

The snow didn’t last beyond Christmas Eve so there was no white Christmas around here, though it did snow up in the high places apparently.

Today is one of those interim days, the slightly-less than eight hours of daylight were hooded with dark cloudy skies, and nothing much is expected, so I like to spend it thinking things that are usually out of bounds.