Yesterday’s Men

Day 3: My mother in law has gone into hospital. The prognosis, from distance, is not good. She is in her 80’s, and a Cancer survivor. Whatever may now happen in the next few months, her legacy is significant and will be long-lasting. The world she knew at my age, over thirty years ago when I first met her son, has in many places vanished and in others altered beyond belief.

An awful lot has changed, on reflection.

This video has split Twitter, apparently. It’s an advert with a message embedded within it. If I believe half the crap being generated around the reception, this is the first true Horseman of the Apocalypse. Or, on the day when my Country is set to implode under the weight of it’s own fucking stupidity, it’s just another metaphor for how fast some parts of society shift compared to others.

However, this is significant from an advertising point of view for one reason alone: Gillette know better than anybody else the state of their business right now. It is VERY rare that such a company will embark on a project of this significance without full possession of the facts. This is not an advert aimed at Racist Dad, or any pompous wank-stain TV commentator who might hold an opinion on everything, for the sake of exposure.

This advert targets men who are already listening, and not those who embrace ignorance.

I get angry at those who will retweet the ravings of idiots as a means of pointing out that they’re wrong, because by doing so you’re giving that person the impression they’re agreed with and, by extension, popular. If The Orange Twat currently running the USA was unfollowed by millions of people as a protest, he’d complain to Twitter they were censoring him, not grasp that maybe the tide of social media use might be changingThere’s some pretty basic double standards at play here: we all have a responsibility to step up our games and make a difference.

Debate ought to be about being sensible, but caring. It should talk to us in a fashion that is fair and truthful, not condescending or unhelpful. Finding someone who cares is a rare and beautiful thing in the World right now, especially under current circumstances in the UK. Giving the time of day to strangers was always a thankless task to begin with, but now there is so much anger and frustration that we are reaching a tipping point. For us, the next 24 hours is crucial, and not for the reasons many might think.

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Extremism is our enemy, BOTH SIDES CARRY THE CAN. Too much one way, too much the other. It isn’t just the Far Right that is the enemy: I see you, Far Left people, and you’re doing nearly as much harm as good. Just because nobody talks about you and you’re not the target of as much airtime and tweets does not mean you don’t get to stand there and be smug. In fact, NOBODY right now is particularly covered in glory.

If you don’t want your future to be remembered like this?

time for ALL OF US to start making things better.

Point of View

DAY 12: Huel for breakfast, followed by an early session of PT. If you wonder what all of that looks like together, in a vastly more accurate visual than Fitbit can produce… there’s an app for that now.

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Amazingly, you can see the rest between sets here. The blue at each end is my walk to and from the Gym, which I purposefully pushed to be more aerobically efficient. There might have been some scoffing over this app, especially as the company has been fiddling with heart rate zones on a customer by customer basis. However, this undoubted level of accuracy is hard to ignore. I have a new favourite toy.

Maybe it wasn’t a waste of cash after all.


What you think is a great idea late in the day can become somewhat more panicky and ill-advised in daylight. HOWEVER, all the poems are together, in one place, all formatted correctly and now just require an edit. Oh, that sentence is so simple to write and yet so horribly complex to complete. No, it’ll be fine. There’s no need to build my part up, everything is doable. There’s also half a mind to shove a short story into the mix too. However, there’s a real and rather pressing secondary deadline looming that has had little or nothing done for it and which now needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency.

I do love to run fast and loose with my content.


History will remember that to reinvent oneself, there needs to be a kick-ass soundtrack. When you sing songs about battle, there is a reason: to celebrate victory, but be mindful of just how close you are to defeat. For every person who won it all, there is the loser, second place, the also-rans. For me, inspiration exists every day: self penned, fantasy created in my head that drives everything forward. You can be whatever you want to be, as long as you believe it enough.

One day I’ll explain the true significance of this piece of music. For now, this is the soundtrack, walkout music to the boxing ring.

Everybody needs a theme tune.

Sing Sing Sing

Sometime, the whole of your existence opens up, spring flower reaching upwards towards sunlight and promise of a new day.

Other times, everything is shit and you just want to die.

Welcome to the one where someone else’s enthusiasm finally kicked down a door in my brain before storming inside.


Julia and I have known each other for a few years now. She and I met thanks to a mutual love of that video game, which is a fairly good barometer of whether or not I’ll get on with you regardless. We had lunch a few weeks back, and sitting there it was genuinely satisfying to see her enthuse over my daily Short Story. You know the one, that gets told in 280 character bursts every day.

Short Stories are TOUGH. Doing them well is an art form even more shrouded in mystery and difficulty than poetry. However, I’m cracking that and therefore, by extension, short stories look like the next logical step forward. I’ve been bouncing an idea around in my head for the last week that, if this were a perfect Universe, I’d pitch as a Dr Who script. However, as this is as likely to happen as me being confirmed as the next Doctor, it is time to accept that maybe, that narrative could be used in another way.

Perhaps it is time to work towards a Short Story collection and mean it.

Hexa is Greek for six, obviously. I have a bunch of stories in various stages of Development Hell [TM] and thanks to this morning’s burst of light into a previously dark place, that’s four stories that are just asking to be finished. Having spent the last few days looking at the editing project I’ve scheduled for this month and, all things being equal, that should be finished by the end of next week. If that can happen, then I can write this.

It is an interesting challenge to see if I can complete. Six short stories.

I mean, really, how hard could it be?

Let Down

Next week, I start a new project on top of my existing workload. I have no idea how it’s going to go, but it gives an important space for my writing to evolve out of the place it now exists to become something better. I’ll be kicking off the site with the poems previously entered as contest work, but which failed to make an impression. After that, there will be photography, written work, music and art. It’s an online fanzine, which will be a combination (hopefully) of all the best bits of existence, as perceived from here.

It will also be unabashedly nerdy, but with a distinctly personal slant.

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It is time, I feel, to stop pretending my past never existed. Although I sure as fuck wouldn’t want to live there for any protracted period of time, there’s a lot to be said for having grown up during massive political and social tension, and then to have watched the last 40 years pan out from a female perspective. It is all useful and usable source material, which should give some interesting viewpoints.

This is something that I’ve wanted to do, off and on for decades. More importantly, I’ll be creating a physical version of the digital content, allowing an ageing brain to get to grips with new software. That part of things is still being worked on, plus there is some clever digital gubbins also on the page (as it were.) All of it will become clear starting next week. This time, I’m happy my plan’s gonna keep momentum going for a while. Plus, this year’s holiday becomes my opening subject matter.

No blagging whilst away from this influencer, don’t worry.

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I also have some serious aspirations with a camera, but we’ll come to that later.

Express Yourself

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Some days, I am incapable of communicating successfully.

When this happens, I force myself to go back to basics. Don’t tweet. Think before mouth is opened. Stop and take time to work out whether it is worth even starting a sentence. Only when all the criteria can be satisfied is it safe to go ahead and make your point. Believe it or not, this thought process happens with every blog post. Those who have been aggrieved therefore when they somehow decided I was chucking rocks at them? Just no. I don’t know how stupid you think I am, but if you’re dumb enough to take the piss out of someone in public, eventually it doesn’t matter how many locks and blocks are on your end of things, the truth gets out. 

That’s why you don’t do it, people.

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My bigger issue is making sure the point I want to highlight gets covered. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there, and I (again) have Mindfulness to thank for the step forward. The mantra ‘thoughts are not facts’ gets repeated quite a lot of late: just because it is in my brain does not make it some kind of insoluble truth. Searching for real meaning on the Internet is often a mug’s game, to begin with: I’ve had enough of being told what I should be thinking or be feeling to last several lifetimes. The only person who really understands what’s going on, in my head, is me and that needs to be communicated in far better terms than is currently the case.

That makes all this poetry and prose not simply entertainment, but education.

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I’m going to start taking a notebook everywhere, which used to be what happened before I allowed gaming to overtake everything. Now that is back in its proper place, words happen a lot more organically than would ever use to be the case. It is, like anything, a result of constant training: my physical muscles grow from repetition, and so is the case with mental exertion. I’m becoming quite proud with not simply the poems, but the leaps of deductive reasoning and analysis that can be made. Discipline is allowing other talents to surface, and it is not simply fiction that benefits.

Today, however, I’m physically exhausted: PT was a slog, thanks to a body still struggling to recover from last week’s blood donation. Things are definitely better than this time on Saturday, so (body willing) I hope to be back to what passes for a normal routine before the week is out. What is left of birthday money will go to an extra session on Friday to make sure I’m recovering properly. This week, therefore, I’m back on the calorie counting, taking care of myself and trying to get early nights where possible.

This healthy living doesn’t organise itself, you know.

Happy

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This blog is the equivalent of Internet tumbleweed: extremely localized, and only seen by a handful of people. Every time I hear someone lament that ‘nobody cares about what I do’ there is this sudden and overriding desire to point out that, for coming up for two decades that’s been my life, right there. Seven years of blogging and before that countless fan websites and online hangouts. Instant and stellar fame very rarely just happens, there is a phenomenal amount of work behind it. Only by pushing daily do you achieve any notion of success and then maybe, just maybe the fates will align and you’ll catch a break.

The true and lasting satisfaction gained from writing should be the understanding you were read by other people. Of course, the only way this registers is when that fact is passed on via feedback: good or bad, a hit is still just that. Most of us, like it or not, will not be J.K. Rowling. Getting your name in print is no guarantee of immortality, and many authors have only gained real critical acceptance after death, so what is popular now may well have been forgotten in a century (assuming of course humanity makes it that far.) Everybody, like it or not, is pissing in the Cosmic wind.

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Right now, this moment, what is most important to the majority of the Internet is themselves. Narcissism is that most human of traits: look at me, I’m special, why aren’t you watching my Twitch feed or buying my Redbubble items? Except, if you look closely, the successful people don’t say this stuff out loud. They’re not complaining that nobody subs, or how unfair it is that certain people do well. All those self-help guides which proclaim that the true path to success is self belief are absolutely spot on. The difference between making them work and failure isn’t the guides, its whether you choose to listen and act.

Undoubtedly, some things work for you and others don’t. However, the overriding difference long term between success and failure isn’t about how others mark that progress. Ultimately that will come from within. Age has finally demonstrated that there’s a fine line between listening to criticism and being dictated by it. Finding a balance isn’t just about listening and acting, there has to be thinking and reassessment too. If you insist that you can’t or won’t change, at some point in the journey, you’re going to end up in trouble. The true success stories combine determination with adaptability, and more.

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I love the fact that, in this part of my journey, I pretty much know every follower by name. I have made a promise not to forget the people who matter, but expect in return from them a measure of accountability and interaction. Friendship does not mean doing as you’re told and then expecting nothing in return. These days I’m also quite vocal if I feel people are being selfish or unreasonable, but only if there’s the chance they’re receptive to criticism. Sadly, many people on social media can’t hear you, however much they may claim to be listening.

When internet success is as much about an ability to get AI to consider you important by using the right keywords, organic growth can seem irrelevant. When you refuse to follow robot accounts or bow to other people’s perceptions of popularity, there’s a line drawn which dismisses the need for reassurance. You’ve the potential to gain far more out of life by looking to yourself for the answers: it is why meditation and introspection are now considered far more dangerous by some than beneficial. Often, the last thing some need is to have a mirror held up to their feelings.

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It seems the true reality of success involves hard work, introspection, understanding and luck. The key is that only part of this equation is an individual’s to dictate. That means making sure your part of the deal’s as solid and locked down as it can be. Then, you work hard, every day, and eventually you might, only might get lucky. The moment the process stops granting satisfaction? There’s a choice: reassess, or move on. After 50 years, this is the first time I’ve truly derived pleasure from anything that could be considered employment, and as a result you bet I’m gonna carry on regardless.

I don’t write for an audience. I do it to make me happy.

Hope for the Future

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I didn’t get my mentorship. It wasn’t a surprise. In good news, they sent the e-mail nice and early, so I didn’t have to stress about it all day. Not that I would have, of course, because I already know how this is going to pan out.


What mattered more this morning was bettering my own standard.

I woke up at 7am with a mission.

I’d written an essay for today’s Internet of Words site that, frankly, I was less than enamoured with, far too similar in tone and outlook to the one produced a week before. I realise now that what works best in my four week format is a general essay on the book, and then a more detailed assessment of a portion of the subject matter, but seen through a wider lens. I have tried since the weekend to get a handle on what that view would encapsulate, and yesterday morning it came to me: time travel. So this morning I’ve taken a day’s worth of notes and a week’s worth of general research and produced something new pretty much from scratch. I’ve yet to do my re-read but honestly, I already know it is 1000% better than what I started with.

Today therefore is a resounding success, because I didn’t just stick with what was good. I created something better.


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Talking of creating something better… Bond 25 had better not be Diamonds are Forever or Die Another Day.

PLEASE DON’T FUCK THIS UP, SQUIRE.


Last night, the Real World crashed the party on Social media, and today lots of people will be REALLY cross. Be nice, and accommodate discussion. If your mental health won’t support remaining in public places, leaving’s perfectly fine. There’s plenty of us left to give the alt right, extremists and anyone else with stupidity running through their veins a run for their money. A smart person might even consider capitalising on current events.

I think I’d pay good money to see that happen.