After Midnight

Returning to WordPress and resurrecting my old domain name feels like pulling on a set of comfortable old clothes. It’s very strange.

Over the days and weeks ahead I’ll try to empty my head into the keyboard a little more often. Tell stories. Share thoughts.

It’s funny really – so many people have a niche, or a subject, or a target audience. I have never done that – I’ve always just written whatever came to mind while typing. I’m doing it right now.

I think it helps me, in a strange sort of way – this head emptying. It helps to organise my thoughts. To rationalise. It takes the edge off concerns, dulls the barbs, and flattens the bumps that life throws at me.

It’s somehow 1:30am already. I should be in bed. Instead I’m here – quietly tapping away at the keyboard in the dark.

The words only seem to arrive after midnight at the moment. I wonder why that is?


Walled Gardens and Bullet Journals

A message from a friend struck home today – encouraging me to stop trying so damn hard. To stop trying to spin so many plates all the time. To stop trying to be everywhere, doing everything, all the time. She was right of course – she invariably is. A whispered voice of reason, arriving at just the right time.

I guess this means retreating somewhat from the walled gardens of the internet, and just “being” for a while. Slowing down. Gathering my thoughts. Disconnecting.

Which leads me rather neatly on to the little paper book on the desk behind me. The bullet journal that I stopped using a couple of months ago – and which I started back-filling to bring it back up-to-date earlier today.

I’ve been playing with all manner of solutions that don’t really work over the last few months – clever software, apps, websites, and what-have-you – that promise a “second brain”. I suppose – if I’m honest with myself – I always knew the paper notebook was better. I wanted the clever doo-dads to be better than they are.

I think perhaps the failing of all the oh-so-very-clever productivity apps is that at some point you have to start using them – not just dick about with them – and that’s when they turn into work instead of fun.

Maybe it’s a character trait thing as well. Or a character failing?


For the next little while – maybe for the foreseeable future – I’m going to stop the cross-posting madness, and concentrate a little bit more on me. If you’re subscribed over at substack, or already able to whisper straight into my brain via Messenger, or Telegram – those are probably the best ways to reach me.

You never know – I might finally start writing that damn novel.


A History of Mediocrity

While sorting through old photo albums at the weekend, a big red album titled “This is Your Life” was re-discovered. My other half compiled it for my 30th birthday – twenty years ago now – and it has somehow survived hidden away in a dark corner of the book-case.

While flicking through the pages of the album, a small paper booklet fell onto the floor – titled “School Report”. I looked through it with my eldest daughter this lunchtime. She laughed a little bit more than she should have.


A good set of reports, Jonathan. Try to involve yourself with more noticeable enthusiasm in some subjects.

Miss Baston, Form Teacher

He understands the work quite well but shows a rather casual attitude at times.

Mrs Ball, Mathematics

He has tried hard to achieve quite pleasing standards and his rate of progress has been sound.

Mr White, Chemistry

Has worked very well in all aspects of the subject, and has attained a pleasing standard of work.

Mr Lloyd, Technology

Has worked steadily, and has maintained a satisfactory standard.

Mr Bradley, Physics

His examination revealed his poor appreciation for the concepts involved this year.

Mr Davies, Biology

After missing a large part of the energy topic, has worked well and should pursue science next year.

Mr Bradbury, Combined Science

Has made steady progress. He could consider as an exam subject – he is capable of obtaining a good grade if he applies himself.

Miss Baston, French

This pupil has shown some interest in the subject. In my opinion he would benefit from taking this subject next year.

Mr McCullagh, History

Finds difficulty learning facts. He knows the basics, but must revise in more detail. Excellent illustrations. Very quiet. A little shy. Must ask questions, and work faster.

Miss Foote, Geography

Produced a good term’s work and his examination result was exceptional. Has a great deal of potential for further study.

Mr Jones, Technical Graphics

Enjoys music and could gain some benefit from an examination course. However he would need to concentrate on listening skills.

Mrs Hawker, Music

Has had some success with his basic skill repertoire, and shown a limited knowledge of tactics, and the rules of play.

Mr Maskery, Physical Education

It’s amusing looking back. This series of reports – from the spring of 1987 – coincides with computers entering my life. I remember getting into trouble with the English teachers (who’s report is strangely absent) for “mailing it in” for the first half of the year – and having to sit with one of them and explain myself.

There’s also no art teacher report. I’m not sure why. Perhaps the year was broken into blocks in the run-up to choosing exam subjects? Art was the one subject I never had to try at – I could always just do it, and got good reports with no effort whatsoever.


Thought you might like to see these. I think it helped make my eldest realise that nobody is good at everything (apart from my other half, who get top marks across the board). I think perhaps I was guilty of doing “just enough” throughout school.


Nights Out and Coronations

It’s early on Sunday evening, and I just sat down in the junk room with a glass of wine. Somehow several days have passed since the last post – not sure how. I used to write regularly – like clockwork – almost every day. Not so much any more, it seems.

I have an empty wine glass next to me.

Somewhere in the house, our youngest daughter is sleeping off a night out – one of her friends turned 18. We’re hearing all the predictable stories one might about a village hall party turning into a house party, and several very delicate teenagers feeling a bit sorry for themselves in the morning. I’m just glad they all had fun, were safe, and hopefully learned one of life’s many lessons about enjoying their-selves a little too much. We’ve all done it.

Our eldest went through the same learning curve – one minute being the life and soul of the party, before waking up in the garden with her Dad sitting next to her in the early hours. I’ll never forget the walk home. It was new years – we passed endless people who stopped to share their own stories as I half held her up, and laughed with them. She hasn’t done it again (yet).

I think my favourite part about waking up the morning after a party, or a night out, is piecing together the memories – the laughter – the conversations – the moments that stay with us. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to cherish the friends I have made – and the relationships we have. I saw a coaster in a gift shop some time ago that made me smile – emblazoned with the words “we’ll always be friends – because you know too much”.

So true.

This weekend has of course been dominated by “The Coronation” of King Charles. I’m not a royalist – I don’t really have any opinions either way about us being a monarchy or a republic – but I do love the experiences that history has woven into us. When “Zadok the priest” started playing at the moment of Charles anointing as King, it all got a bit emotional – which is stupid really.


I must be the softest, most easily swayed person I know. Perhaps it’s just empathy. Knowing that a moment means so much to others.

The craziest thing? I’m not religious at all. I’ve become increasingly athiest throughout my life. Of course I respect other people’s decision to believe or follow whatever they want – but personally – I think it’s all a bit crazy.

The whole part about shielding Charles from public view during the anointing? That’s the “magic”. It’s the same as not seeing the shark in Jaws. If you could see it was just a man in a pointy hat splashing water on another man stood in pyjamas, the magic doesn’t work. To reinforce it, the Church enlists a choir and orchestra to play “Zadok the Priest” – music we have heard for most of our lives in repeated viewings of Elizabeth II’s coronation.


It was a good day. I watched some of the coverage later in the evening – Michael Morpugo, the author, was interviewed. He made an observation about those present – that a change had happened over the intervening 70 years since the last coronation. Back then, the assembled congregation in Westminster Abbey was assembled of “The Great” (lords, ladies, leaders, and so on). This time, the abbey was filled with the good – which made them great. People who had made a difference to the world – people who others look up to.

It’s Tolkien all over again, isn’t it – “I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay”.

Throughout the day, Penny Mordaunt trended on news networks all over the world. She was the stoic, strong, elegant woman that held the jewelled sword ahead of Charles as he walked through the abbey. She’s probably the best leader we will never have – because the corrupt world of politics put the knife into her at perhaps the only chance we ever had of her becoming leader.

A sliding doors moment perhaps. If she had become our leader, she would not have been taking part in a moment that will be remembered and re-watched for generations.


Taking a sanity break

I planned to write a blog post yesterday. I don’t know why I plan anything any more – suffice to say, the blog post didn’t happen.

I’m trying to juggle too many things at the moment. I think perhaps the word to take notice of is “trying”. I shouldn’t try to do as much. Invariably I end up chasing my own tail in pursuit of other people’s expectations – which nobody will ever thank you for.

It’s interesting how we judge ourselves based on the presumed expectations of others, isn’t it.

I worked from a café this morning – the one where my eldest daughter worked, and where my middle daughter now works. She threw in her job at the pub – fed up with being taken advantage of by everybody around her, and walked straight into the new job.

It took two attempts to leave for the café. The first attempt took three times longer than I thought, on account of the growing OCD within me that cannot leave the house in a ramshackle state. Then after walking perhaps 100 yards towards the cafe, I realised I had forgotten my wallet. Yes, my phone can do payments – but it’s sod’s law that the day I don’t have my wallet, my phone will stop cooperating. I’m pretty sure they’re designed that way.

I got there in the end.

You don’t realise how loud the ambient noise is in a café until you try to join a conference call. I need to get some noise cancelling headphones. Also – best not turn your laptop around to show the café to everyone on the call – everybody in the café then looks at the faces peering from your laptop, wondering what the hell you’re doing. You don’t need to know why I know that – it’s not important.

Given the effort required in transporting myself to somewhere else for a few hours, I’m not entirely sure it’s worth it unless meeting up with somebody. All I really achieved was adding more hassle to an already chaotic day.


The afternoon has been… non-stop. I’m stopping for a few minutes to empty these words into the keyboard to maintain some sort of sanity really. Everything seems to be non-stop at the moment, and yet I know it’s really not. A lot of the non-stop stuff is of my own doing. My own idiocy. My own attempts to be everybody, do everything, and be everywhere. I’m not good at it.

I need to slow down, and reach out to a few friends now and again.

I just need to get these bits and pieces done first though…


A bookshop, a café, and an unexpected night out with friends

I took the day off yesterday, and invested some time in our eldest daughter – who hasn’t had the best time in recent weeks and months. We wandered into town together, visited a bookshop, and had lunch in a café.

I picked up a couple of books that whispered to me while noodling around the shelves:

“The Enchanted April”, by Elizabeth Von Arnim

The Enchanted April: Von Arnim, Elizabeth, Bowen, Brenda:  9781784870461: Books


A notice in The Times addressed to ‘Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine’ advertises a ‘small medieval Italian castle to be let for the month of April’. Four very different women take up the offer: Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, both fleeing unappreciative husbands; beautiful Lady Caroline, sick of being ‘grabbed’ by lovesick men; and the imperious, ageing Mrs Fisher. On the shores of the Mediterranean, beauty, warmth and leisure weave their spell, and nothing will ever be the same again.

“The People on Platform 5”, by Clare Pooley

The People on Platform 5: A feel-good and uplifting read with unforgettable  characters from the bestselling author of The Authenticity Project: Pooley, Clare: 9781787631809: Books


Iona sees the same group of people each day – ones she makes assumptions about, gives nicknames to, but never ever talks to.

But then, one morning, Smart-but-Sexist-Surbiton chokes on a grape right in front of Iona. Suspiciously-Nice-New Malden steps up to help and saves his life, and this one event sparks a chain reaction.

With nothing in common but their commute, an eclectic group of people learn that their assumptions about each other don’t match reality. But when Iona’s life begins to fall apart, will her new friends be there when she needs them most?

Later in the day – while contemplating quite what I might fill the long weekend with – my other half wandered into the room, and said “Did you see the message on your phone?”


I fished the phone from my pocket, opened the messaging app, and discovered a conversation I should perhaps have been a part of. Idiot. I had put the phone on “do not disturb” the night before.

Ten minutes later we arrived at the pub with drinks waiting for us on the table accompanied by smiles, stories, and laughter.

Before we knew it “a quick drink and catch up” had turned into “another drink”, “some chips”, and then a call home to tell the children to get their own dinner while we ordered food to share at the pub.

The food was pretty rubbish (remind me next time to buy lots of bread!), but it didn’t really matter – there’s a lot to be said for ending the week spending a few hours with friends – unpacking the stresses of the week, listening to each other’s adventures, and laughing at our own fallibilities.


Time to go carry on with chores. While my other half takes the kids to watch England Ladies play rugby today, I’m washing clothes, dishes, tidying up, and trying to get the house somewhere near tidy – or at least acceptable enough that visitors don’t think we’ve been burgled.

How’s your weekend looking ?


Burning the Candle

We’re heading towards the final half-hour of the working day, and I’m not entirely sure how I’m staying awake. After going “out out” last night – on a work night – I then stayed up until 2am when we got home – fooling around with the YouTube channel.

The night out was unexpectedly wonderful. I swear I’m getting worse at setting foot outside the door, but once out I was fine. I know more than one close friend would raise an eyebrow at that admission.

We went on an organised magical mystery tour of restaurants around the town – with each course of the meal being at a different location. The restaurants were kept secret until we arrived at each one – walking around the town in co-horts of perhaps 30 people.

It was fun. And we drank far too much.

Our final destination was a famous restaurant on the edge of town – on the bank of the River Thames. We found ourselves on a huge round table with people we had never met before – but soon tore any walls down and filled the final hour of the evening with stories, laughter, and new friendships. One lady in particular – somebody of note I think – remarked that our table had been the best of the entire evening.

After wandering home slightly the worse for wear, I drank a gallon of coffee and sat down in front of the computer. Some time critical content had to go out on YouTube – if I missed the window, I would miss out on a huge amount of traction for the channel. I’m starting to understand how the machinery of the social internet works.

I finally fell into bed at 2am – and then woke this morning to stratospheric numbers in the overnight analytics. It was worth it.

I feel like hell though.


The wit of the staircase

I’m not doing so well at the “almost daily” part of this blogging lark any more. “Every few days” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “almost daily”. Full disclosure – back in the mid 2000s somebody else used the name “Almost Daily” for their video blog. Amanda Congdon.

Now THAT is a rabbit hole. The beginnings of the social internet – vlogging, tumblogging, and so on. I guess a lot of it coincided with the beginning of YouTube.

Anybody remember Digg before it was sold, asset stripped, and befell the same fate as Yahoo? If you’re not old enough to remember (and quite frankly, few are anymore), Digg was a much better, much more popular fore-runner of Reddit.

Let’s see how good my memory is.

Kevin Rose was one of the founders of Digg, and co-hosted the Diggnation video podcast along with Alex Albrecht. Cali Lewis (Luria Petrucci) hosted “GeekBrief.TV”, Leo Laporte hosted (and continues to host) TWiT, and of course – getting back to our jumping off point into this rabbit hole – Amanda Congdon hosted first “Rocketboom” and then “Almost Daily”.

Oh – let’s not forget Justine Ezarik – “iJustine” – who continues to report on tech from her own YouTube channel. She appears to have become ageless – part of the internet firmament.

I wonder where some of the other luminaries of the early years of the internet are now? I gather Matt Mullenweg is still at the helm of WordPress. Tom Anderson – “MySpace Tom” – is still out there, although has nothing to do with whatever is left of his creation as far as I can tell. I don’t think Craig Newmark still has anything to do with Craigslist either.

We won’t mention Mr Zuckerberg. Famously private Mr Zuckerberg.

I think I may be the last of “my class” still writing on the internet. Back when I started blogging I crossed paths with a number of people who became distant friends. We took part in challenges, wrote in each other’s guestbooks, added each other to blogrolls, and built our own network of sorts – this was years before “the social internet” happened.

One by one they have vanished off the radar. Some are still out there – getting on with their lives – sharing occasional updates. Some have died. Too many have died.

Death tends to focus people’s minds – causes them to re-factor what is important. And then slowly but surely they return to the way things were.

While dancing like an idiot with a friend at my birthday party the other week, a “fuck it” switch got thrown in my head, and I shouted across the dancefloor words to the effect of “I love you!”. Close friends laugh now when I’ve had a drink and my walls come down. I invariably become a sentimental fool.

It’s better that friends know how much I appreciate them though, right?

There’s a saying in French – “Avoir l’esprit d’escalier” – that roughly translates as “the wit of the staircase”. It means to think of something you should have said or done after the fact. Regrets. Wishes that you might have been a little more brave, perhaps.

Perhaps it’s time we were all a little more brave from time to time.


Friday night

Its Friday night – or rather, Saturday morning now – and you find me perched in bed with a fire tablet propped on my legs. My feet are not gripping the bed sheet – so keep sliding away from me. Who knew writing in bed would be so precarious?


Where did the evening go? Where did the week go? It feels like I haven’t seen anybody or talked to anybody outside of my small circle at work all week.

I’m becoming a hermit.

Tomorrow I will busy myself clearing rubbish from the garden while my other half attends a movie awards event with a friend. She’s a scriptwriter – the friend – and all sorts of talented. She started writing during the pandemic, and fell in love with it. I’m so proud for her – and of course very biased indeed.

In other news, the little YouTube channel that could has raced through 14,000 subscribers this week. I’m not quite sure what to make of it all really. Its now attracting the attention of marketers, which is quite amusing I suppose. They seem to think the only reason anybody posts anything online is to make money. They really don’t understand that for me it’s all about the connection with people.

I’m such a paradox sometimes. While happy in my own company, if left to my own devices I invariably gravitate towards others – to help, encourage, support and involve them in whatever it is they’re doing.

Of course sometimes I feel somewhat forgotten or ignored – but I suppose that’s the same for most people. Hell- there are often times when I wish for no more than not to be noticed. None of it makes any sense.

I’m getting tired. Writing on the tablet is awkward…

Good night oh mighty internet of a million voices. I’ll listen for your whispers.