Fisherman’s Friends

I watched the movie “Fisherman’s Friends” this evening – about the group of Cornish fisherman that recorded an album of sea shanties a few years ago, that unexpectedly stormed the charts.

I’m not ashamed to admit there were more than a few tears. I swear – as I get older, movies have found out all of my keys. It can be the smallest of human interactions within a story – and yet I find myself quietly falling apart.

From the “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, to “This Beautiful Fantastic”, and now “Fisherman’s Friends” – movies seem to have found all the keys to undo me.

I’m not listening to the fishermen singing now – honest – I might have been a few minutes earlier though. At the moment, while sitting in the dark of the junk room, Don Henley is singing “In a New York Minute”.

I’m writing this after jumping down an internet rabbit hole with my eldest daughter – telling her the story of Blondie forming a punk band in New York, and being picked up by a record label without knowing how to sing a note or play an instrument. I played her “Union City Blue” as an example of the “finished product”, and got told off for turning the volume up too loud.

Yes, my 19 year old daughter told me off for playing Blondie too loud.


Amy Lyon Smith – Bedlam and Daisies

This week on the podcast I talk to Amy Lyon Smith about her blog "Bedlam and Daisies" – how she got started, what she writes about, and where her journey might take her next.

You can find Amy at the following places online:

Click the link below to listen to the episode:


Life Expectancy

We have a rescue cat at home – named Kaspar, after the cat in a Michael Morpurgo children’s book. He’s small, black, and scared of everything. While not pretending to sleep at various covert locations around the house, he seems to be poised on a hair trigger – always planning escape routes from uncomfortably close encounters with humans.

I’m starting to wonder if I need to adopt the same outlook on the world around me – not just to aid in survival in the longer term – more to aid in surviving until tomorrow. I probably need to explain.

While cycling to work this morning, I was nearly killed. Twice in two minutes.

The first incident happened as I passed a junction in the rabbit warren of Victorian town-houses that make up perhaps a third of the town. The roads are narrow, and the town is ridiculously affluent – meaning colossal four wheel drive behemoths and weekend sports cars clog up every driveway, parking space, footpath, and un-marked piece of roadside. It seems the drivers of the four wheel drive tanks – usually used to transport trophy children to daycare – have a common sight defect – they cannot see huge software developers on bicycles wearing luminous rain coats and day-glo crash helmets. I am invisible to them.

As I approached the junction, in full view of the truck waiting impatiently to drop their clutch and bully their way through town, they did just that – dropped their clutch, and accelerated straight at me. At the last moment I’m guessing, they realised that all of the cars waiting in traffic around the junction would see them drive straight over my bicycle, so had second thoughts – skidding to a halt, and staring at me as I also skidded to a halt directly in front of their car.

After re-composing myself, I continued on – as did everybody else.

A little further along the road, where the Victorian part of town meets the high street, two small roundabouts lead to a narrow bridge – famously the prototype for the bridge over the river Danube between Buda and Pest. Crossing the roundabouts in morning traffic is probably specifically stated in the disclaimer smallprint of every life insurance policy ever printed.

As I crossed from the first to second roundabout, a four wheel drive monster truck just leaving the bridge (no doubt illegally – there is a three ton weight limit) – accelerated onto the roundabout, not really registering my existence at all. I turned sharply across the roundabout – looking for an escape route – which somehow alerted them to my impending doom. I would like to say they slid to a halt, but I imagine anti-lock-brakes kicked in – the nose of their truck diving towards to tarmac as they lunged to a halt.

It’s worth noting again – I was in the middle of the roundabout when they launched onto it – and I was wearing a reflective yellow waterproof, and a luminous crash helmet. I’m not small either.

Luckily, I’m still here to tell the tale. As I cycled away from the roundabout, I shook my head – leaving them stranded in the middle while everybody else probably admired what they had nearly done.

I am beginning to wonder how many more “nearly” moments I am going to get away with – before some ass-clown succeeds in taking me out.


Falling Apart

I saw a quote on Facebook a few days ago, commenting that once you get past a certain age, finding out what aches or pains you might have each day is something of a lottery. I laughed at the time, and scrolled past.

I really should have taken more notice.

While emptying the dishwasher at home last night, I felt a pain go up my left leg, through my backside, and into the small of my back. How does that even happen? For the rest of the evening I kept forgetting, and then wincing as the pain returned.

Today, while sitting at my desk in the office, my left foot started hurting – for no reason at all. It just started hurting. I stood up, walked around the office, and flexed my foot around – which seemed to resolve matters for a while.

I’m wondering which random part of my body will cease functioning next. Perhaps this will be the pattern for the rest of my life – semi-anxiously waiting for aches and pains to appear. At least it will give me something to talk about when I bump into acquaintances though – I’ll be able to regale them of all of my aches and pains, and they’ll wish they hadn’t asked. I’ll enjoy that.



I spent much of this evening recording and editing the next episode of the podcast. I used “Cakewalk” for the first time, using all the lessons learned so far about mixing tracks, volume levels, fiddling with graphic equalisers, and so on. If I do my job well, you won’t notice I’ve done it.

While the episode is ready to go, I’m going to hold it back until the weekend. I’ve kind of committed myself to releasing episodes on Saturdays – although I’m already thinking about sneaking it out on Friday night, to give Spotify, iTunes, and TuneIn time to update their listings.

Anyway. Somehow it’s already midnight. Time for a cup of tea, and then bedtime.


iTunes and Facebook

In-between picking away at change requests for the colossal business automation project I have been working on for the last several years, I have submitted the podcast to iTunes, and created a page at Facebook.

I’m not entirely sure I know what I’m doing.

The iTunes decision was an easy one – given that 50% of America supposedly use Apple products of some description. Quite how they afford them is something of a mystery to me. After wracking my brains to remember iCloud credentials, the little podcast that could was sent off to the ivory tower in my imagination for somebody to decide if it is worthy or not.

According to a google search or two, I have between three and ten days to eat all of my finger nails.

Creating a Facebook page for the podcast seemed like an obvious decision, but also a slippery slope. While inviting people to the page, I wondered how many of them know each other by their real names – and if that might introduce a stumbling block of sorts. I know a number of people that keep their blogs firmly under lock and key – wrapped in pseudonyms, and passwords. I wonder if they will keep the podcast at the end of a very long stick, even if they appear on it at some point ?

I’m also aware that adding all of these bits of periphery around the podcast means I have more workflow to churn through after recording episodes – updating Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and so on. I suppose I’ll just have to get used to that. Thankfully Spotify and iTunes will update themselves.

Anyway. The Facebook page is up. If you’ve not visited it yet, head to the following link, and click the like button:


Slow Puncture

For the last several days I have been cycling to and from work with a slow puncture in the front tyre of my bicycle. I pump it up in the morning, turn the pedals like mad to reach the office before it deflates, and repeat the process in the evening.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t fixed it yet. So am I.

I suppose in my head it’s become “one more thing”. One more thing that’s not ideal, but doesn’t completely stop me in the state it’s in. It’s becoming a metaphore for my life in a way.

If you believe the social internet highlight reel, you begin to convince yourself that everybody else lives some kind of 1950s nuclear-family life, with straight-A children that are seen but not heard, an unquestioningly supporting other half, a lego brick house, and a neighbourhood filled with friendly Truman-Show acquaintances.

I do my best to take no notice of the social internet highlight reel. It’s interesting though – when people share their latest boast-worthy exploits, they are usually littered with little heart icons – “hate likes”, as many have begun to refer to them. The more interesting thing is what happens when people tell the truth about bad days, or falling-down moments – usually an awkward silence, punctuated with one or two close friends trying to comment something supportive.

In recent years I’ve found myself sharing increasingly abstract moments – photos of things, or moments, rather than places, or people. A voice on my shoulder continually tells me not to be “one of those people” – and yet I’m not really sure who I mean by that. We all have excited moments where we want to share something, brave moments when we might reach out, and subdued moments when we just want to know we’re not alone. It’s easy to put people in boxes – to classify them – to generalise. I suppose it doesn’t help that we’re surrounded by a media that teaches impossible standards, and that castigates anything but perfect behaviour.

When was the last time you saw a celebrity admit to invariably staying in on their own, eating pizza, and watching a rubbish movie?

As an aside, I remember watching an interview with David Beckham a few years ago – where he talked about buying LEGO kits when he’s stuck in hotels. He can’t wander out to explore, or sit quietly in the corner of a restaurant people watching as the rest of us might – so he buys LEGO kits, and builds them in his hotel room. And yet he also courts publicity to sell his brand. It’s a strange kind of duality, isn’t it.

I’m not sure where I was going with this. Maybe it’s time to put the kettle on, then go read my book. I’ve started reading the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin.


Slowly But Surely

After the craziness of work, home, and idiotic escapades such as the podcast in recent days, I’m finally slowing down. There had been plans to visit a hobby store with Miss 19 this morning – which went out of the window when she didn’t emerge until a little before lunchtime. There had also been plans for Miss 16 to take part in a hockey match this afternoon – an email arrived moments ago informing us that the pitch is frozen.

Suddenly the afternoon has opened up before us, and we are relaxing into it with no plans whatsoever. A few hours of terrible television shows, internet surfing, and reading are probably just what the doctor ordered.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have all sorts of very important nothing to get on with.


Laura – Tumblr, WordPress, SnapChat and More

This week on the podcast I talk to my eldest daughter Laura about her attempts at getting a blog started at both Tumblr, and WordPress. We also talk about anxiety, depression, Snapchat, anime, manga, movies, food, and everything in-between.

Click the link below to listen to the episode: