Happy new year

Welcome to 2015, long live the new year!

My year in blogging started with a realisation that I only wrote 5 posts last year. That is a tiny amount, especially considering that I hoped my new phone would lead to me writing more.

Life is a funny thing. It can get in the way and take you by surprise. Last year was busy and there were a lot of things that made me think of blogs to write, but I never got round to them. Both Guardians of the Galaxy and the Lego Movie stood out as original mainstream movies worthy of comment (I’m a still a little unsettled by the Lego Movie’s condemnation of all who obey the instructions) but that I never got around to writing about.

I would like to write more this year, but I’m not promising anything. I just want to assure you that I am still here and will still be writing when I can.

I leave you with one of the positive things from last year. The headlines constantly spoke of the dire state of the world, but this video brought a smile to my face. There is no reason why the partnership should have happened, yet it did. The result is something completely silly and purely made for fun.

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Blogging versus real life

I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to post one blog post a week, every Wednesday. Last week, I failed to meet this objective and the previous week it was late.

The curious thing is that I’m not bothered about this. I had an idea which I could have written about (India still needs aid even though it can afford a mission to Mars. Suggesting otherwise is to say all Indian charity work is pointless and everybody there does not deserve our help, simply because the government are spending money on rockets) but life got in the way.

For some people writing is their life. They have to do it else they explode and find it hard to contain themselves. That is not me.

I have to think and process new ideas. This is one of the ways that I process them but there are others. This week I have not slept well and spent many nights tossing and turning, thinking over the busy week. My imagination has been very active, but writing it down and sharing my internal monologues has not been necessary. I’ve had a few deep conversations with close friends and spent the weekend discussing this and that with my girlfriend.

Blogging is important to me though, mainly because I want to share what I think. I don’t believe I’m always right, but I do stand by the fact that I have something new to offer. If you’ve followed me for a while, I imagine you think so too.

I want to keep this up and as previously posted, become better at putting my ponderings to paper, or print at least. I’m therefore going to loosen up on the day of submission, but aim for once a week. I hope to post again before Sunday, but if not, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Life goes on.

“Not bad”

Not bad is the only double negative I can think of that is acceptable in the English language. Despite the grammatical problems, this is a very useful phrase, particularly when being asked “How are you?”

I find this an incredibly bizarre phrase. It is simultaneously the most personal, intimate question and the most banal and bog standard one. How you are is a very complex question and covers all parts of a person’s life. It’s usage as an introductory statement is baffling. You may as well just say “Tell me everything”.

From now on, can we just agree to say what we mean? If you want to know everything and will listen, rather than interjecting with your own stories and anecdotes, please continue as you are. But otherwise, if you just want to hear me say I’m alright so you can continue to tell me what you did this week, then please just say something that makes this clear. How about “What’ve you been up to”, as this avoids anything about my feelings.

If you continue to use unclear sentences, then I will respond with an equally ambiguous answer and use poor grammar to boot.

Learning to ride a bike

When I was very young, thinking double figures was a long way off, I loved my trike. It was fun to rush round at a speed that I thought rivaled jet engines. In my old house the garden was on a steep hill, which meant I could stress test the brakes. When we moved, this was replaced with a smaller square arrangement, which to my mind was dull. It gave my parents the chance to develop some colourful and varied borders, taking full advantage of the better soil, but the bike (I’d upgraded) wasn’t as fun.

At this point I was ten and the stabilisers had always been firmly attached. Removing them wouldn’t make me go down the hill any faster so why bother? As the bottom had been occupied by concrete patio slabs, the risk had always seemed too great. I knew that a lot of kids my age had already mastered this, but peer pressure has never had much sway with me.

I remember there was one time after we’d relocated when my Dad tried to teach me with only two wheels. It lasted half an hour at most and I was not an overnight cycling sensation. I didn’t get it. Riding on the flat wasn’t as fun either, even when I didn’t fall off.

I never had another lesson. I didn’t want it and my parents were not going to force me to do so. I respect that choice, but it hasn’t been easy.

Just saying that I can’t ride a bike is still difficult. It’s embarrassing and comes with a sense of guilt. It hurts to hear people’s reactions, blaming either me or my parents for not doing what they clearly think is mandatory for everyone my age. I know they are trying to show they care, that they don’t want me to be missing out, but I still have to fight to not feel like a failure.

I know that if I had gone back to my parents for another lesson they’d have obliged, but I didn’t want to. That was my choice and I take full responsibility for that. My parents could have made me learn, but they didn’t and I know that was out of love.

Raising children involves making a lot of choices. Some things you have to do for your kids own good, like teaching them to read. There comes a point though when you have to back off and let them live their own life, learning from their failures.

It’s the same with God and us. He won’t make us do what is best for us; He loves us too much for that. He wants us to learn, to develop and mature. He’ll show us enough to work out how, but it’s up to us to do it.

Free will is a fantastic thing, but it comes with consequences. We don’t always chose to do the right thing, but at any moment we can make a fresh decision.

I’m 25 and I’m starting to learn to ride a bike. I made good progress in my last attempt and I will achieve this. I feel no condemnation for choosing not to do this earlier. I decided to do this now for a good reason; I was born for such a time as this.

Indian Monty Python

Last Tuesday night I was leaving a restaurant in central Bangalore and I saw a poster on a billboard that made me step back. I looked again to check it was what I thought I recognised and it was. A poster for Spamalot the musical.

I read the details an my mind was blown. It was a CAUSE foundation production, putting on their own version of the broadway show on Saturday night. Tickets cost between 200 (£2.50) and 500 rupees (£6).

I was shocked and amazed by this. Firstly, by the fact that a British comedy (though on seeing it, I must admit it was probably written for an American audience) was here, over 5,000 miles away. I knew that Monty Python was met with International acclaim, but with typical British cynicism I had assumed this meant in Europe and the USA. I didn’t expect their irreverent silly slapstick to have appealed here, though why it would be limited to our Sceptred Isle escapes me.

I also found it hard to swallow that it was being done for charity and at such a good price. I had believed the rumours and gossip about Eric Idle only doing it for the money and being a miser in real life. This is a failure on my part that I hope to now deter in others. This use of the official name, poster and screenplay stand as testament against those malicious lies which are so tempting to take on board.

The CAUSE foundation stands for Cooperation of the Arts for the Underprivileged in and Society & Environment and more can be learnt from this video. Their aim is to foster local creative talent with surplus funds going to local charities. This persuaded me to go and see this once in a lifetime event, after all, how often do you get the chance to hear some of you country’s most famous and most silly songs be sung live in a different accent and in a concert hall shaped like a violin?

Answers

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that we all want answers. I think Florence and the Machine sum it up best on their album ceremonials:

You want a revelation,
You want to get it right
But it’s a conversation,
I just can’t have tonight
You want a revelation,
some kind of resolution.
You want a revelation

I think that fourth line could be reworded to “I can’t have just tonight” and the meaning would stay the same. Too often we want short cuts, to skip to the end, but it’s a conversation. A journey we walk with God and not a moment.

Blogging

It’s once again been a while since I’ve last written and usually I’d make an apology for this. I have however come to a realisation that this is no longer the most important thing in my life as it is changing. I have many other writing commitments, social things and at the end of the day, this is going to suffer, so this week, I’ve prioritised other things.

I think it’s fair to give you a hint of what these other things are. One of which is writing a short story, and this is where most of my energy is being focussed. It’s the first short I’ve written outside of education and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I hope to include it in a short story collection with a number of other authors I know and its turning out to be a lot of fun.

However, I wanted to assure you that I will not be giving up blogging. Blogging is an all together different activity and is not going to conflict with anything that I can imagine. For one thing, as opposed to my other writing, it is non-fictional. There is also absolutely no limit to what I can talk about, something I have been keen to hold onto. I know some sites prefer to keep a theme but I was never keen to stick to that.

The thing with blogging that I have come to love is that it is only as strict as you want it to be. I started off wanting to make a website that had a very clear structure and theme, with reviews being the main focus. This has changed however and I have allowed the theme to be far looser. This was in part due to me new found love for writing about deep subjects and due to the time required to keep watching films. I always wanted the ideas to drive the writing and to keep on schedule, posting one entry every three days. On several occasions, I have failed to meet this goal, but I kept going and felt the goal was still achievable. It has however in recent times become harder and harder to meet this deadline, and seeing as I am the only one who is setting myself this goal, I think I will be dropping it.

That is another beautiful thing about blogging, the freedom. I am very clearly only writing to satisfy myself, though about subjects I want others to think about. I want to produce quality work, but I’ve not got any schedules or goals. Even within a piece I can write until I want and just stop whenever, even if it’s mid sentence.

So, I wanted to reassure you that although I may be infrequent in future, I will keep writing. I have lots of ideas to come, some you will love, especially