Out into The Dark

I was up and out horrifically early this morning for an untimely 6.20am commute. An 8am conference call with a host of Antipodeans in both Australia and New Zealand awaits my office arrival.

But as I stumbled through my front door to start my short 10minute trudge to the station I noticed that my world felt strange. The suburban street scene that greets me every day seemed vastly different – it was so dark and empty.

Yes, the street lamps were still lit, but I have never noticed the effect that the sleeping world has on my quiet residential road. Every curtain was closed and there was no life, sound or light spreading out from inside. No hair dyers, showers, blaring televisions or beaming kitchens. North Sheen had died, it was nothing more than a ghost town – eerie and surreal.

And I enjoyed it. I almost felt guilty checking my phone with its small but powerfully bright screen. So I simply crept along, making every effort not to disturb anyone or anything, appreciating the difference and tranquility.

Sitting (comfortably) in a bright empty carriage, life has returned to normality. But I enjoyed my small peek into the quiet night.

I’m bloody tired though – time to order a big vat of coffee…

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Changing Perspectives – from Leicester to London

Last night something amazing happened…

…thanks to a hat-trick from record signing Jermaine Beckford the mighty Leicester City hammered local rivals Nottingham Forest 4-0 in an FA Cup 4th round replay at The Walkers Stadium. Apparently it was their biggest win over Forest since 1913 (according to a lcfc statto on twitter).

A fantastic result, and one guaranteed to send thousands of Leicester fans to bed extremely happy.

I was born in Leicester and lived there until I was 16. I was particularly proud of ‘my home town’ and I’m still quick to name Leicester City as ‘my team’. I cherished my season ticket for 6 years in the 90s, and I really cared about every result. A huge FA Cup win over the local rivals, under the flood lights with a powerful passionate atmosphere would have been a stunning experience and probably the highlight of the season; a season that would have been central to my life.

The problem is, if I am completely honest, I don’t really care. In 2012 I am nothing more than a token fan, occasionally checking results because I feel like I should. If we win – great, if we don’t – never mind. Football used to be the most important part of my life, but now it is not really a feature.

Living in Leicester there wasn’t much to do – life was pleasant, but slow. Leicester City FC was one of the few attractions that could drive your passion. Dont get me wrong, I loved living in Leicester and I have so many memories, great memories, of a full life. But now I look back at Leicester, its simplicity, lack of opportunity and small city status – I am now a Londoner.

It took me a while to adapt to London. I enjoyed my little city and detested this big one. When I moved here (2003) I was rigid in my hatred and had no intention of accepting this as permanent. How could I fit in with the rush, the anonymous commuters, the lack of engagement and the underlying arrogance? So in 2005 I quit my job in Hammersmith, stuffed some clothes into a rucksack and fled to West Africa, with the express intention of breaking off my London life and never returning to it.

But then something truly amazing happened…

In 2006, in a jungle in Ghana, I met a volunteer from London who would completely change me. She lived in Tooting, and the only way I could see her regularly enough was to move back to the city I was so desperate to leave.

But it was different this time, she opened my eyes to a new city. London wasn’t a faceless line of suits trudging to and from their daily, soulless, city offices anymore – it was the heart of The Country, awash with culture. It is the focus of every history lesson, the home of some of The World’s most dramatic and inspiring architecture and the hub of The UK’s political, economical and artistic brilliance.

I now work in Victoria, less than ten minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Parliament. The backdrop of my life is the most historical and current city in The World.

I’m still proud to say I grew up in Leicester, but now when people ask me where I’m from the answer is automatic.

Mind you, I bet it was great fun watching us stick four past Forest.

What are the blogging ground rules?

I feel I need to establish some solid ground rules – it’s important that I have a set ‘code of conduct’ to control my daily posts.

Two immediate topics spring to mind, both naturally linked and both very important.

The first is the question of anonymity; is this an anonymous blog or should I be open about who and what I am? I have put some real thought into this… but I have come to the conclusion that I have to open up.

This is largely because I don’t have enough time to properly construct an anonymous persona. Ultimately I want people to be able to read this blog and I therefore need the freedom to promote it, link to it and direct my family, friends and loose connections towards it. I don’t have the time, ingenuity or will to construct and populate alternative social media sites to market this largely pointless blog. So the only way I can inform my small circle that “I blog” is to basically promote it through my personal twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Therefore if you now look to your right you will see my twitter feed, which clearly states my name; follow the links and it is easy to find out where I work, what I do, and who I am. It’s a big decision, but I have reached the point of no return, I have linked myself to this blog.

This both leads to and answers the next essential element, namely how colourful can I be with my content… and by that I mean my language? Now I don’t want a stale, stagnant, dull blog, and will do my best with the glorious English language to write with sentiment and style. But I am not anonymous, so I need to at least hold back and not use my full “loose” vocabulary.

I do work in a nasty, male dominated office and occasionally, very occasionally, I have been known to utter the odd rough profanity. In fact our group swear pot for 2011 swelled into a sizeable fund, enough to provide a substantial, hearty Christmas lunch! But that language must not find its way onto this blog. Rule set.

I really hope I don’t update this blog when I’m drunk, at least WordPress make it very easy to edit!

A message?

If I was looking for a message from above that I should persist with the blog, maybe the sight of the stunning purple sky at North Sheen station this morning (my first ever morning of blogging) is just what I need.

20120117-074849.jpgWell my basic attempt to keep my blog secret failed desperately last night, as I cannot sit silently tapping (editing) on my laptop without my inquisitive wife ‘needing’ to know why. The problem is my wife actually is a journalist, a very good journalist, whose very nature is to both enquire and critique. But perhaps this is not such a bad thing, as not only have I acquired my first reader, I have also employed a trained editor (or perhaps I should say critic).

But she wasn’t too harsh, she actually seemed quite impressed. However she did make some valid ‘suggestions’:

1) I need to read more blogs. I need to understand what people write and more importantly why people read.

2) I must not try too hard. People who try to hard to be witty, interesting or intelligent all completely fail.

3) An honest, irrelevant blog could be readable, but don’t expect immediate success.

All very helpful, thank you sweetheart.

So thanks to my editor I feel like I have a little more direction. Perhaps I was too quick to dismiss my new father position and my stimulating career yesterday – both will naturally form part of my day-to-day observations. In fact this blog should be something like a twice daily diary, a vehicle to document what actually is an exciting, happy and interesting time of my life.

I could try and be clever, delete this blog and start again, writing in the first person as my little boy or as an anonymous controversial sports commentator. But I won’t, I will stick with this honest (if a little pointless) commuter blog. If nothing else it has certainly achieved the desired effect, my commute this morning has flown past, despite not managing to grab that illusive seat.

And I have achieved at least one other major goal today, I now know how to both take a picture and upload it using my iPad….I am a blogger in training.

Doing it

I’m doing it.

I am standing on the platform at St. James’ Park underground station, waiting for the tube. Officially I am both commuting and blogging.

The most immediate apparent problem is that it is difficult to stand, hold an iPad and type…and I’m not even on a squashed tube yet. It’s going to be tricky and I’m going to have to work on my standing iPad blogging technique. Evidently thumb typing is a skill I am going to have to strongly develop.

Time is not an issue. I reckon I should have enough time to write valid entries. My problem is content; what to write?

I am a “relatively” new father (13 months into it), but there are hundreds of novice dad blogs out there already written by considerably more talented and capable writers than myself. I work in sport for a reputable sports agency, but again I cannot stand out from the mass of journalists and ex-pros who have both reputation and worthy opinion on sport.

Frustratingly I am not uninteresting, I have had a number of notable experiences… For example I lived in West Africa for a year (Cameroon and Ghana) and have a host of observations, opinions and anecdotes from that reasonably rare life. But that was 6years ago, not exactly current. Similarly my single, lively, hedonistic (!) past is now a distant memory. I need to face the fact that currently I’m just not that interesting.

Therefore my only niche can be general “life observation”.

But it’s working. Whilst typing I have bumped my way onto the train, and even have a seat. My typing still isn’t great, I seem to be limited to either 2 index fingers, 2 thumbs or one complete hand. The latter seems to be the best option, so in the short term I will go with it.

And i’m enjoying it. I already feel superior to the Brickbreakers, Angry Birders, Facebookers, basic Tweeters and even the Standard readers. One commute in is still early days but I shall stick with it. Each of these distinctly average entries could be my last, but maybe I will experience something unique. Maybe tomorrow my life will become much more interesting…

Epiphany

I’ve always loved the word epiphany.

As an old Theology graduate the word itself has always conjured up images of heavenly rays of light arrowing down and ‘opening the eyes’ of a heathen unbeliever. It is a beautiful sounding word, ancient, almost onomatopoeic, full of Greek charm.

Well I have just had an epiphany – I have just been struck – I must start blogging.

There have been 2 major catalysts for my epiphany:

  1. Yesterday my boss, whilst proof-reading an email, told me,  “you write just like you speak”- I took this as a big compliment, although I am sure this wasn’t his intention.
  2. Then, on the same day, I hit 200 followers on Twitter.

With my tweets I am limited to just 140 characters and with such limitations I struggle to make my point. Yet I can link to a blog from my twitter feed (once I have written something interesting) and be free of all constraints.

I have a 45 minute commute to work (twice a day), largely on the tube where intermittent internet access is extremely frustrating. Despite owning an iPad I am limited as to what I can do underground, and I desperately want to appear more intellectual than the mass of gamers and metro rustlers on my carriage.

Therefore I am going to write this blog. I am going to use my hour and a half to ‘generate some content’ worth reading. Once I have done this I am going to announce the blog to the world (well, my 205 followers), and hopefully become a blogging sensation.

Now I just need to think of something interesting to write (twice a day).