Forty Five Years On This Planet

Two days ago I became one year older, reaching forty-five. Every year for the last decade I have been telling myself that I have, with luck, only come halfway through my life. I think those days are coming to an end, and now it is more a case of coming two-thirds of the way. If I can avoid poisoning myself to premature death with alcohol, getting run over or crashing in an airplane, or if I am able to keep any serious illness at bay, another thirty years or so sounds a plausable length of my lifetime.

So, my birthday came without any special need to advertise it, nor celebrate it in any more a complicated way than with the family and their presents for me. And this year they did very well in their choice of gifts, that were taken from my not-particularly-long wish list.

Needless to say, I was extremely happy with The cool vegan trainers, Harrington jacket, and Donkey Kong Jenga (that’s right, Jenga exists in video-game themed format). I was also taken by the Nintendo messenger bag (gold lettering, my friends). In the aftermath of my frugal celebrations, it is difficult to decide which of these I favour above all else. Of course, I do not have to make such a decision. All my presents were well received and much appreciated, and I look forward to (potentially) thirty more.

Zelda is ill. Hoorah!

Yesterday morning, Zelda awoke with a few spots on her body. Not so many as to be a worry: it looked more like a reaction to something, an irritation to the sofa she had slept on the previous evening.

During the day a few more spots appeared, and we continued to hope that it was chickenpox. She was likely to become infected some time before she turned eleven, but had managed to avoid catching it from the many cases that had occured at preschool. Better to have the pox now, in earlier life, than later on when the risk of complications is higher.

If it is chickenpox, she is doing well so far, and we keep our fingers crossed that too many more spots surface. It is early days yet, and the spots have not even become blisters. At least her sickness will most probably require being away from school until the spots heal. This could mean anything from five to ten days. To be frank, I would not mind a few more days away from work. We are coming to the end of our Christmas holidays, and I really do not feel like going back.

Chumbawamba and I

Today I received a delayed Christmas present through the post, in the form of a DVD of Chumbawamba’s last British concert performed in Leeds, 31st October 2012.

I first heard about Chumbawamba (I think) in 1986, when they released their first album “Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records”. Since then (except for a five year stint with EMI and substandard releases whilst on the label) they have continued to impress me with their intelligence, humour, and social/historical commentary. Even when their style changed from anarcho-punk to anarcho-pop to folk music.

When they announced that they were to retire, I thought that I would never see them live again – the last and only time I had seen them was in Southampton, circa 1992 – until they announced three last concerts: Leeds, Berlin and Oslo. At first I did not contemplate the idea of travelling to Germany or Norway to see them off a final time, but thankfully Jo was quite positive about it, and sure enough we ended up in Oslo for Chumbawamba’s last concert ever.

It was both fitting and bizzare that the concert was held in an anarcho-community centre called Blitz. Pretty much as one would imagine a squat to look like, yet well organised with its cafeteria and stage, the roots of Chumbawamba’s political views fitted in nicely with Blitz’s anti fascist flags and cheap vegan food: at the same time, Chumbawamba were now only five members, looking much older than the public they were playing for, and it was to be an acoustic concert. Not quite punk as Blitz knows it.

The concert was fantastic. Jo and I were at the front, and while the band seemed reasonably subdued, they played well and played some excelleent songs. And as I watched the DVD this afternoon, the same bittersweet feelings of happiness (that we had gone to see them) and sadness were constantly fighting each other. Jo was goosebumping all over through the one hour and forty-five minutes, and I was fighting back tears on a number of occasions. Thank you, Santa, and thank you Chumbawamba.


What’s In Store For 2013?

I cannot say that I am excited about the prospect, and I certainly have not made any resolutions, but there are a few things that I am looking forward to this year (in the same way that one might look forward to a birthday or going home from work).

A car –¬†Jo’s brother found a very tidy Volvo estate for us a few months ago. Since then, he has been trying to find time to strip down the engine to fix one of the only things that is wrong with it. By all accounts, when it is fixed we shall be the owners of a very nice-looking automobile. It cost almost nothing (around 4500 crowns), which means that we do not mind so much paying for the empty garage space that we hired in November. A car, of course, will give the family the mobility that we have missed since our old Volvo died.

Personality change – Over the last few years I have put myself through too much stress, and much of it unnecessary. Some of that stress has come from work, where I have been unwilling to realise that I am working with children between 3-5, and that I just need to chill out a bit. Despite demands from the school, and demands from the government to document everything (including documentation) I am spending my days with individuals that cannot use cutlery cortisons, or even know what the word “cutlery” means. This stress needs to be addressed, coupled with the fact that I must improve my health, and thus improve my chances of handling it.

A toilet and a bathroom – We now have enough money in the bank to afford purchasing two basic elements of the house in the north. I cannot say I am that excited about it as I write this, though I know it will make a big difference to our holidays up there, not having to rely so much on the family for our washing and eating requirements. At the moment the house is little more than a shell, and having access to making food and having a shower will help no end.

Excursions – One of the things that all the family enjoy, and have even talked about being one of the highlights of 2012, is going on outings, missions or staying in hotels. With the coming of the car, this will open up the possibilty of making the weekends more action-packed.

A Few Things About Computers

Sitting in front of the computer whilst on our holidays in the north of Sweden, trying to think of a post to break the ten month silence. Finally, I settle on the world of computers. To be exact, the current state of personal computers and the like in my vicinity.

The connection that Jo’s mum has is, at best, laughable. After a quick test, I am apparently running at a speed of 0.1Mbit. And it shows. And feels. Every page takes an eternity to load, and cause more frustration than I wish to experience from surfing.

Good news, then, that I took an iPad from work for the family to use over the Christmas period: Good news, also, that Zelda received a (second hand) mini PC from Santa this year. And well done, Dad, for forgetting that mini PCs do not come with a CD/DVD drive. In my defence, I had to order the product with just a few delivery days left, and did not think through what I was doing. Actually, that is poppycock: had I have had a month to send off the order, I would not have realised the obvious.