Writer’s (Un)Block

When I went to get my first covid jab last week, I had it in my left arm. My sister asked me why I chose to get it in that arm, seeing as I write with my left hand. I replied that I didn’t really mind as I’m not really writing anything at the moment.

I haven’t really written anything for weeks. My journal, which often has the odd messy paragraph or two of a blog idea in its pages alongside reminders of appointments and reminders to request my next prescription, hasn’t had an entry in for a few months. Even when I have had an idea for something, I end up either forgetting about it or losing interest in it before I get the moment to write it.

I thought that the various lockdowns would make me more productive on the blog front, being at home more. While it did do that for a time, come the third lockdown and the gradual easing of restrictions I had just lost enthusiasm. Not just for writing, but for other things that used to interest me.

I also fell into bad habits. I never used to keep my phone by my bed, because I thought that it would be the first thing I reached for when I woke up in the morning and therefore keep me from getting out of bed. Turns out I was right. I now turn it off and keep it in my sock drawer at night (it’s helped a bit). I’m also trying to use my phone less, turning it off for an hour or so during the day and sometimes leaving it at home when I go for a walk in order to prevent getting too obsessed over the number of steps I’ve walked.

The biggest habit I’m trying to quit though is Twitter. I decided to give it up almost a year ago as it was affecting me a lot and not in a good way. I did manage to stay away from posting on it until Christmas, when I then decided to dip in to post a message and then log out again. I went back on it properly with the aim of keeping my time on it per day to a bare minimum and not look at what’s trending. I have realised that I am once again slipping into the cesspit so I’m planning on getting out of it again before it overwhelms me like it did last time.

The Edge of 40.

I turn 40 tomorrow.

I did hope that I would at least be able to wander the non essential shops by the time my birthday came around, but I think we all knew that was never going to happen. I wasn’t thinking about doing anything big on my birthday even if were not in lockdown during a global pandemic, to be honest. I’m not one for wanting to mark my milestones with a massive party or some other big event. I was getting the “what are you going to do for your 40th?” questions from some quarters when I was 37, for goodness sake.

I wish that I had managed to get a bit further with the “Things I want to do before I’m 40” list before old Rona came along, but I suppose it just gives me more reason to try and work on them again when all this is over (because it will be, my friends). In the meantime, I will spend tomorrow indoors, in the warmth, stuffing my face with cake and watching more TV than I should be doing. However I might decide to go for a walk too if it’s not too cold.

(Also what is all this about people in my country sharing themselves walking in the snow barefoot on social media? Why would you do that?)

When is the cut off point to wish people Happy New Year?

I’m thinking it was at least a week ago, but this is my first blog post of 2021, so I suppose I can get away with it. Just.

I hope you’re all ok at the moment. Me? I’m Ok, plodding on as best I can. To be honest, I’d be spending most of January at home anyway so I’m not too bothered by being in lockdown again. I did hope that it would have been loosened a little by February, mainly as my birthday is next month (and it’s a milestone one). It’s also my friend’s birthday as well a few days before mine and we usually meet up for lunch. Just as with Christmas, we’ll be exchanging presents through the post (that was fun – and expensive). We’ve said we’ll go away for a weekend once it’s safe to. In the meantime, the celebrations will be safe indoors and maybe on the other side of a screen.

A Public Service Announcement for the UK

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, I’m making it very clear

I know that you might have to stay at home

It sucks that you might have to spend it alone

But don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas if you can see your fam

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, no fighting in front of your mam

Don’t moan about what you did or didn’t get

Don’t throw the remote at the TV set

Just don’t be a dick at Christmas, no matter what your tier.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, we know it might be tough

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, we’ve honestly had enough

Of you crying ”it’s all a conspiracy!”

”It’s all down to Bill Gates and 5G!”

Give it a rest, it’s Christmas! Shut up and have a beer.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, I’m telling you one last time

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, leave the mistletoe and whine

Don’t brag about the size of your present pile

Don’t share it on Facebook, that’s just vile

Don’t spend all day scrolling on your phone

Don’t have a drink if you need to drive home

Sorry that you can’t go to the pub

Or have twenty people round for your Christmas grub

But please don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year.

Spark Posted

One thing that I’ve found myself doing a lot since I downloaded Adobe Spark Post, is using it to put down my thoughts. Whenever I’ve felt stressed, or a random idea has come into my head, I’ve tapped it in the app, playing with all the various fonts and backgrounds until I’ve found one that suits the text.

Following the news regarding my home town of Manchester this week (as well as the government voting to not extend free school meals over school holidays), I made this. A simple graphic, with a message that is short and to the point.

You know he is. He really is.

Juvenile? Yes, but it felt so good to get it out of my head.

(If anyone in Greater Manchester or beyond wants to use the above graphic by the way, feel free to screenshot or save the image however you want)

A quick question

Does anyone still blog as a hobby anymore? Or is it more for business reasons?

I ask as it seems like the blogosphere has changed a lot since I first dipped my toes into its waters. When I began in the mid 00s, first on Blogger and then later on WordPress, with a bit of MySpace in between, many of us were using it as an online diary, as a place to talk about their interests, to have a rant or share stuff they created. Now whenever I see stuff about starting blogs, it’s about how to make it a career, how to make money from it and all the new blogs I see pop up reflect that.

I don’t see anything wrong with it. I have tried to see if I can make a bit of money out of this before myself, while still mainly doing it as a hobby. You can probably tell this from my “publishing schedule” (I’m working on it, honest). I just wonder if there are still people out there who are 100 percent doing it for the love of sharing whatever’s in their heads or what they enjoy. They’re on a free plan, they don’t see themselves as influencers, they don’t have brand deals or affiliate links on their blog. They don’t plan what they’re going to post ahead of time, they just go for it when they want to.

Brain dump

A.K.A all the things I was thinking about posting this week, plus anything else that comes into my head.

If there haven’t been enough reasons for me to feel old at the moment, it’s been twenty years since Chicken Run was released. Aardman announced a sequel this week, which they’ve partnered with Netflix for, which will likely premiere on Netflix. Maybe it’s a sign of my age, or maybe I’m being a bit of a snob, but I tend to view a film that goes on Netflix first as like the modern equivalent of a film going straight to video. Let’s be honest, while there’s a lot of good stuff on there, there is also a hell of a lot of crap. I am however sure that the film itself will be very good because Aardman never make a bad film (yes I do include Flushed Away in this)

I’m wondering whether a smart notebook would be a worthy investment. Sure I can see them as a good idea from an environmental point of view (reusable pages + ability to scan and upload notes = less paper needed), but they are pretty expensive. Then again, the price of one of the cheapest smart notebooks is probably the equivalent of at least 5 A5 standard ones and will probably last the lifetime of 50. I’ll think about it more.

I’m going to try and go a whole day without checking social media. I’ll let you know that goes one way or another.

Lockdown update part 4

Lockdown measures are easing a bit and many of the shops are opening again. While going for a wander around Primark or going to Greggs for my first cheese and onion bake in months is tempting, I think it might still be a while before I have the energy for a full on shopping trip. I don’t fear setting foot in a shopping centre, I’ve just become a whole lot lazier these last few weeks. I’ve also focussed more on getting the stuff I need rather than the stuff I want. Amazon, surprisingly has become a lifesaver for me the last couple of months, as I’ve found that things I would normally have got online from other suppliers have been much easier and quicker to get from them. I never knew that they sold certain toiletries until a near three week wait for a delivery from a well known health and beauty retailer at the height of the lockdown period forced me to source some of the more urgent items sooner.

I’ve been spending more time sorting stuff at the house, ahead of the final stages (hopefully) of the renovation. It seems like I find more magazines from years ago the more often I go. I mean, I did read a LOT of comics as a kid as well as anything that I could get my hands on bar the more grown up stuff. I’m just shocked we still had so many of them when I’m sure we were regularly recycling a lot of them up until a few years ago.

I found a sketchbook at the house from when I was about 13. Was reminded I did have a bit of drawing ability back then, even if it was mostly drawing cartoon and video game characters. My drawing skills are practically non-existent now (my sister was the real artist in the family), but I was always more into writing.

I’ve added more to my Spotify playlist because I was bored.

I’m looking forward to being able to go away again. Some might moan about “staycations”, but I love going on holidays in the UK. I admit I currently have limited options, what with having not renewed my passport yet. But even if I did have a valid one I’d still choose holidaying on home turf. It’s just how I am.

I miss my friends more than ever, but I’m feeling more hopeful that I’ll get to see them before the end of September at least.

I learned that another term for smartphone addiction is nomophobia. I’m not one to self-diagnose based on what I find on the internet, but…

My Life Story were a hugely underrated band. “If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” should have been massive, as should “12 Reasons Why I Love Her” but I think we already knew that.

And that is about it for now. Hope everything is well with you.

Lockdown update part 3

Since the last time I posted:

I have been going out for walks nearly every day. Just getting outside for even a ten minute walk around the block has helped me a lot, mentally and physically.

I’m having to get used to blogging on a smartphone since I’m unable to get my laptop back from storage at the moment (long story). I still find it a bit weird, but it’ll do for now.

I’m thinking about doing a course on using Adobe Spark. I know the basics, but I’d like to know how to master it so that everything I create on it (like the image above) doesn’t scream “graphic design is my passion”. Thank God it doesn’t have comic sans, not that I would use it.

I said to my best mate that I hope I get to see her before Christmas. She answered “what year?”. Well, exactly.

Same friend also asked me if I was doing anything for my 40th next year. Mate, I don’t even feel 39 yet and it was my birthday in February.

I was nominated to do a Facebook challenge and I did it, Wouldn’t normally engage in any of those kind of challenges but it was about books so I gave it a go.

Expanded my list of people who can do one. The latest addition is people who post photos of beaches on social media to complain about people on the beach. It’s got to the point where I don’t know, or care if the photo was taken today or is a photo from years ago that’s being passed off as today. It’s ultimately about getting people outraged for likes and RTs. Bit sad really when you think about it.

I made another Spotify playlist because I was bored. I keep adding stuff to it when I’m bored, which is still quite often at the moment, as you might expect:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/53c5uIE1GFLA4zMojy9Qpp?si=u9IL3HhiSeym_6WQqc9VCQ

Have come to the conclusion that TikTok is just an app for videos of people doing the same dance routines to Blinding Lights and some Dutch song about MDMA and having sex with your dad (????)

Anyway, I hope that you are all keeping well during this time. How has your lockdown experience been?

Lockdown update

As of the 29th April, I’ve taken to writing a post by hand and posting a photo of it rather than typing it all out. Mainly out of pure laziness, but also because I don’t have my laptop at the moment. Here’s what I wrote:

In addition to the above:

I’ve started to crave Maltesers, Salt and Vinegar Square crisps, Haribo Starmix and Strawberry Hubba Bubba. Not together, obviously. Yes, I know I could go out and get them but I’m reserving my time out of the house for actual essentials.

I listened to the radio show of The Mighty Boosh on BBC Sounds. Now I’m wanting to watch the TV series again. Remind myself of the nights when BBC Three was actually on TV and I’d stay up to watch and admire this work of crazy genius (and, ahem, Noel Fielding. Well he was weirdly attractive).

I rate my mood out of five on most days as a two. Moving to a 3.5 later on in the day.

I need to get off twitter completely for a bit. Even reducing my amount of time checking it isn’t doing me much good.

Here ends the update. Hope you’re doing good.