Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category
It has been an awfully long time since I’ve written anything personal here. I just haven’t felt the desire nor the need. Yet a few weeks ago someone surprisingly turned up in my dreams and then on Sunday I was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook on the iPad and I saw a link that my friend Anna had shared. It was entitled, They Wrote Down Their Confessions To ‘The One That Got Away,’ But Then These YouTube Comments Almost Top Them. The title of the story is pretty self-explanatory. The YouTube video is embedded below:
I watched this and over the past few days I have been mentally composing this blog post all about what I’d say to her and about how everything played out. It is a story not many people will know. I don’t talk about her or it because it was many many moons ago. I’m just not that open. A handful of people will know the story and I’m going to be deliberately vague on any identifying details but I think it is time that I want to write all about my one that got away.
As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, it was many many moons ago. I had been through a time of internal turmoil. I didn’t know where my life was heading and I felt helpless and adrift on the sea of life. I hadn’t been in any position to meet anyone for an awfully long time. Then I slowly found myself and a path opened up, one that would change a lot of things. A path that would very quickly mean meeting her.
Now like most people my age, I have met and talked to thousands of people in my life and yet this person is the only one where I could tell you exactly the first thing she said to me and exactly the first thing I said to her. I can tell you where I was, I can tell you where she was, literally I can recall that first brief conversation perfectly. That is both scary and cool in equal measure at the same time. I knew instantaneously that I liked her and I mean instantaneously. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, I don’t think I do but if I did, then I’d say I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. No-one before or since has had such an immediate effect on me but she did. I liked her and wanted desperately to get to know her.
Over the coming weeks we would get to know each other, we would become friends and I think it is fair to describe us as relatively close. There was a spark. A real spark. People had told me of this spark thing but I had never believed it as I had never experienced it. I wondered how you could have chemistry with someone. It was an alien concept and not one that I truly believed existed and then I met her and boy did we have sparks, it was a veritable cascade of fireworks. That might be slightly overusing poetic license but trust me, the chemistry was real – and when I realised that other people saw it then I knew it wasn’t just in my mind.
I found this out when a mutual friend one evening said to me, ‘So…you and (name)…’ and pressed her fingers together and raised her eyebrows. I would shoot her down and move the conversation on quickly before later in the evening telling her that, ‘we’ll see…’ and not saying anything else on the matter.
Now this chemistry thing is one that I need to speak of in slightly more depth. To this day no-one else has ever been able to press my buttons to elicit a reaction like she could. Not even close. It was like she had the cheat sheet to me and how I was wired. We would fight and it was so much fun. Like real fun. We would prod and poke each other and it was just fun. I know that sounds weird how fighting can be fun but it just was. I remember once a couple of mutual friends commented how they didn’t like it was when mummy and daddy fought. I just wrote that sentence and smiled as I recalled it.
So yes we have established that there was some real chemistry. I think in my head at this point I thought things were just going to work out between us and that it was only a matter of time. At this juncture I didn’t know there were other suitors for her and to be honest pussyfooted around somewhat, waiting for the right time to ask her out instead of just biting the bullet and doing it. This went on for quite a while before someone basically told me I had to hurry up because there was someone else out there. I would find out afterwards that there was in fact two other potential beaus.
So I asked her out. She said that she really liked me…but only as friends. Dagger. I was surprised in a way because I did genuinely think that things were going to work out. The chemistry was real and we did really get on. I had really liked people before but I was infatuated with them and put them up on a pedestal and there was no real prospect of anything ever happening with them because I was the weird creepy guy who liked someone so instead of getting to know them, I would obsess about them and not speak to them. She was the first person where those tendencies weren’t front and centre. I would go out of my way to get to know her, spend time with her, talk to her. It just felt so natural.
I would have to lick my wounds and I suppose try and understand what had just happened. She went out of her way to not make things awkward and I will always be immeasurably grateful to her for that. Over the next couple of weeks word got back to me that she was going down the road with one of the other guys. That in a way cushioned the blow somewhat because I could convince myself that it wasn’t me or anything I did, it was just someone else was a better option. Whether that is true or not is unknown but I like to think that I couldn’t have read things that erroneously.
Yet despite her going down the road with another person, I still didn’t officially know of his existence. It was like a secret that everyone else knew that I wasn’t meant to know. One day – several weeks later – I sent her a message to say I knew of him and what was going on and that I was fine with things and she didn’t need to hide it from me. She seemed to react with a mixture of shock and anger that I knew but I was like, I’m cool with things and so it became more of an open thing.
A few weeks later I got a message from a mutual friend who told me that this guy was going to around later and the girl was worried about how I’d react. Now I don’t recall whether she was worried that I’d twat him or that it’d just hurt me or somewhere in-between. I genuinely don’t remember the ins and the outs but I sent back word that I was still fine and then it was set up that I’d meet him. It was like a political meet n greet, you meet someone, shake their hand, make small talk and move on. That is exactly how it went down. Yet I can you exactly what he was wearing and everything about that minute or so and it is so many moons ago it is ridiculous that I can remember such a seemingly insignificant event to such a degree. The reason I remember is because it included one of the most profound moments of self-discovery in my life.
During this conversation that probably didn’t last two minutes, I glanced at the girl and I saw the way she looked at him. She was so happy and had these big wide eyes as she gazed at him whilst I was talking to him and I learnt a valuable lesson. I learnt that my heart could simultaneously break but for it also not to matter one jot. I was totally besotted with this girl and I knew there and then that her happiness was what was important, not mine. She was happy with this guy and that was all that mattered. I could be happy that she was happy despite being so deeply unhappy. I know that doesn’t make any sense but it was how I felt at the time and even in the subsequent months I stood by that. She was happy. That was all that mattered.
Over the course of the next few weeks and months our friendship would drift, which is pretty natural. I know from my side I tried hard to keep our friendship close but I know that being friends with a single girl is different to being friends with a girl in a new relationship, certainly if you a single guy. Some months later there was an occasion where we were going to the same place, at exactly the same time, so I suggested we go there together and that was shot down so rapidly and forcefully I knew that we were never going to be close or even that social any more. That saddened me a lot but still, she was happy with the way things had worked out and despite everything that had happened, her happiness was still the only thing that mattered in my eyes between us so I really did step back.
Still this blog has the premise of what confession I’d say to her or what question would I ask, well I’ll come on to that now. Our paths were about to naturally diverge. I was to stop doing the thing and going to the place that brought us together. The last time I was to be there was known to all including her. That day came and she wasn’t sitting in her usual seat, she wasn’t there, I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye and that was the only time she ever truly hurt me. Everyone else said goodbye including people who truly fucking hated my guts but she wasn’t there to say goodbye to. I wouldn’t have made a big thing or anything but just a simple goodbye and good luck with everything would have been nice. Maybe even say we’d try and keep in contact but nothing. On that little whiteboard that people scribbled their confessions on I’d have written, ‘I wish we’d said goodbye’.
Several months later I actually walked past her and another mutual friend on the other side of the street. I saw them but I don’t think they saw me and I remember thinking about whether I should go and say hello but I chose not to. That was the last time I would ever see her. I know she’d ask mutual friends about me every so often and I just wanted to scream that she should ask me herself. I couldn’t reach out to her because she had pushed me so far away that to make contact (that I won’t lie – I have thought about infrequently over the many moons that have come and gone since) would seem maybe a touch creepy so I always decided against it.
I don’t think I regret that things didn’t work out because things did work out for her. As far as I know she is still happy with the guy she chose way back when. I won’t sit here and type that I could’ve made her happier or that I was a better person than him because we don’t know, what I will type though is I would have done anything for her and put everything on the line to try and make her happy. Yet I type this and I fully believe that she made probably made the right decision. I have no idea if we’d have worked out. What I do genuinely think is that we’d have burned very brightly but for how long, that is a very legitimate question.
She was to this day the only person who I’ve instinctively liked and fallen for hook, line and sinker. There have of course been other people that I’ve liked and developed feelings for but with her it was just there and so bold and clear that I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew she was special. She was so smart, like way smarter than me and I like to think that I’m not exactly a moron but she was so intelligent that she could’ve done anything. Couple that with her deep work ethic that honestly she could be whatever she wanted to be and make a huge success of herself. It was part of what attracted me to her, not only was she breathtakingly gorgeous and we had this chemistry, I could see the potential she had in her to do anything.
Yet here we are. At the end of my tale of the one that got away. I wouldn’t even have a date or have real interest in anyone else for several years, not because I was pining for her or mending a broken heart but because I thought that there was little point chasing after someone unless they made me feel something like she made me feel. Weirdly enough the next person I would have interest in, a very similar scenario played out and she is now happily married to the other guy.
If I saw her again I’d just tell her that despite our time of being close being short, she had such a profound effect on me as a person. She taught me so much about me, both good and particularly bad. She made me want to be a better person. She showed me that I can have real strong powerful emotions and that I could be in so much pain and for it not to be important as my feelings can be inconsequential.
It has been so long but I can remember so many things about her, her accent, the way she said my name, her smile, her eyes, even writing this it has made me smile somewhat thinking about her. We may not have made it as it were but my life was enriched just by knowing her and had I never met her then I suspect I wouldn’t know myself half as well as I do. I just hope wherever she is, whatever she is doing, she is as happy as she can be but still, why didn’t we say goodbye…?
For over a decade this eejit was a slave to Coca-Cola and I can assure you there are better things to be a slave to than a giant American corporation who are keen on ruining my teeth. In 2010 I went cold turkey and having essentially not drunk anything but carbonated beverages I fought through the withdrawal and saw cherry coke in my rear view mirror. On the upside this change alone knocked off around 800 calories a day (yes I was drinking that much coke) and unsurprisingly this led to losing rapid amounts of weight. It also had other advantages such as the relaxation of night sweats.
Why am I writing about this now? Well a few weeks ago I slipped back into a routine of drinking more cherry coke than I had been. Not to the amounts of before but easily 2-3 cans a day and I had noticed that suddenly I’d become far more lethargic than I had been in a long time. My sleep pattern changed and I’d be going to bed far earlier than usual because I had less energy than I did before and in the afternoons I’d sit trying to work and struggle to keep my eyes open.
Last weekend I was out and I realised that over a 24 hour period all I drunk was coke and I sat there thinking that I was slipping back into old bad habits. So I looked at the cherry coke in the fridge and told myself that it wasn’t moving for a week just to see how my body would react. I haven’t had one energy gap since Monday where I was feeling that I needed a lie down in the afternoon, this is a distinct difference to the previous few weeks. I’ve also started staying awake longer and drifting back into my more regular sleep pattern. Now this does have one downside as previously I had been going to bed far earlier as I had no energy so fell asleep instantaneously, which was nice, but on the other hand I was waking up in the night and early. This week I’ve had solid sleeps every night albeit starting at a later point.
I also had just started to feel the mild headache that I remember from when I was really addicted to caffeine. I recall the days, certainly in the summer, when I’d think that lemonade would be a nice change from coke and then a few hours later having a harsh headache reminding me that I shouldn’t think like that and coke was what my body needed. After a couple of days without it I once more passed through that phase.
Caffeine is surprisingly addictive and whilst I broke the back of the nasty addiction in 2010, it was easy to slip back into old lazy habits and it didn’t take long for the body to notice that caffeine was coming in once more and when it didn’t get any for a day or so it started to remind me. For nearly five years I had found a happy medium, the odd can or the odd bottle here and there if I fancied it. This is how I need to go back to dealing with my relationship with the black bubble stuff. Coke should be a treat and a rarity in my diet and not something that becomes so usual that my body misses it when it is gone.
I’m sure many people have some form of mild caffeine addiction either via carbonated beverages or coffee. The amount of people who say they don’t feel human until after they’ve had a cup of coffee in the morning surprises me but then I look back and think that I used to get up and swing by the fridge to pick up a cold can before I did anything most days, so I can’t exactly say too much about it can I? Still all I’ll say is I am a healthier individual with caffeine broadly on the outside looking in, not just physically but also mentally. It is never fun getting to the afternoon and struggling to keep the eyes open knowing that you actually have work and things to do.
Whilst writing this my mind drifts back to days at a previous employment when I can distinctly remember afternoons, regular afternoons, when I’d sit at my desk and have giant energy gaps where upon I’d really struggle to do anything constructive. I wonder how much of that was down to diet/caffeine because I used to sleep fine and get 7-8 hours a night and I should easily have had the energy to get through the day but could it just be a legacy of the fact I have never eaten breakfast? I’d say no because I still don’t and apart from the past few weeks my daily energy hasn’t been an issue for years.
So for now cherry coke and I are on a break (and I hope it won’t be as dramatic and Ross & Rachel…). In recent weeks I have piled on the pounds so much that when I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years, my belly was the first thing he commented on (oh the shame…) will just cutting out caffeine stop the rapid development of my belly? Maybe, maybe not but I suspect it certainly won’t harm and if I can easily keep my eyes open all day then I think I’d be getting something worthwhile from knocking the cherry coke on the head.
I don’t talk about this much because it is really not much of a big issue in my life any more. When I was young the doctors, they weren’t sure that I’d ever really you know, walk. Yet I did and whilst I may have fallen over a whole lot I could walk and run (and fall over a lot) and I got on with things. I didn’t know any better or any different. My arm was just as bad as the leg but you can get by with one working arm far easier than one working leg.
In 1991 I had an operation to straighten up my foot by doing something to my Achilles tendon. I can honestly say I’m not entirely sure what they did but it worked. I didn’t drag my foot as much and my foot was straighter than it used to be. I would trip and fall over far less. The doctors called it hemiplegia but I’ve always thought of it as hemiparesis, which is a milder condition. I never liked to think of it as a serious condition when in fact it really is.
As I got older I became stronger and whilst my right leg was still dominant, my left leg was gaining some strength. With regards to the arms then my right arm is strong but the left is still pretty duff. If someone was sitting here watching me as I type this, they would be stunned by how quickly I type with just one hand whilst the left just hangs there doing nothing.
I’m writing about this today because a couple of weeks ago I caned my legs, not in a workout on the exercise bike way, which it is used to but the fact that I was on my feet for many many hours in a day. I must have walked 10+ miles in a day and whilst that doesn’t sound like a lot, for my legs that is an issue. I didn’t really think about it but for the next week I was going to bed hours earlier than normal just to stretch the legs out because they were aching and the ache was in both legs.
You see, when I walk I slam down on my right foot instead of walking evenly on both feet (woe betide me if I ever wear high heels – dang that would be dangerous) and so whilst my left leg is the weak one, the right overcompensates and if I overwork that then the right leg starts having issues as well. Having one bad leg is fine but if they are both causing me issues then sad times.
Sometimes I need to remember my limitations in a physical sense. When I put myself in a situation where I am having to lay in bed for several hours a day just to rest my aching legs then I’ve taken it too far. In the past few days my legs have come back to me and I can feel my right leg in its entirety and as for my left – well I’ve never been able to feel that but I get moments of feeling every so often, usually shooting pain or dull ache but still.
I’m all for pushing the limits of our bodies and minds, that is how we grow and develop as people but on a personal level sometimes I need to remind myself that my physical limitations are real and that I need to remember that. This has been the second time in the past year where I’ve spent the best part of a week without any feeling below the knees and just walked on instinct and muscle memory and its not good. Its not good at all.
Still as I sit here I can feel pain in my left foot. Pain means feeling and feeling isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to that limb…
I give off a bad first impression. I always have, I suspect I always will. If you were ever to somehow source my school reports then they all follow the same pattern, teachers generally thought I sucked and was lazy in the first half of the year but by the end of the year they would lax lyrical (well maybe not that far) but they would say I was much better than they had written a few months before.
Why this is I have no idea but I have always been slightly individual. I have rarely cared how I come across as I’ve been pigheaded and thought that how I come across shouldn’t matter. What clothes I wear shouldn’t matter and the like, of course the reality is significantly different. How you look and how you come across in those first few moments is actually really important. Not just in the dating scene or a work scene but in every day life.
On Saturday I was down in Guildford doing some politics stuff but I would only do delivery and I wouldn’t canvass. The main reason is ideally I want to help get Lib Dems elected and not vice versa and if I knocked on a strangers door, dressed in a hoodie, with orange headphones around my neck and what some would say garish (I wouldn’t, they are awesome) sunset coloured trainers then I think people would straight away go on the defensive and think that I was there for reasons other than what I was. As an aside to this I noticed how many stickers from Surrey Police were on doors in Guildford telling people that they wouldn’t buy anything off of cold callers and if they came twice then they were breaking the law, I thought this was a good idea. Anyway I digress.
Being defensive is not going to be a good start to any potential conversation about who someone is going to vote for so I remove myself from that situation. I get some stick in some quarters because I don’t canvass and that means that I apparently don’t know anything but we all have different strengths and weaknesses.
So because of how I come across I limit myself. Many moons ago my mum said I’d never get anywhere in life if I didn’t drive or if I refused to wear a shirt and tie/suit. Well here we are, I’m in my 30s and my clothing choices are still pretty bum like. I don’t own a coat and haven’t for a decade or more. I do own a pair of shoes but I only ever war them to walk over to my local shops (as they are slip on so its quicker and easier than putting on my trainers). I wear what have been described as ‘tatty’ jeans when the need arises but I’m very much a jogging bottom guy. I wear glitter in my hair. Basically I look like a strange combination of a bum and a weirdo. I think that sums it up rather nicely.
This is why I’ll never make it as a Liberal Democrat politician to any significant level. To be a success you have to not only work hard, be passionate, be all around amazing but you also have to be impressive and I’ll say this about me – I’m not an impressive individual. Give me time and I can impress but you often only have a few seconds to make a first impression and the current version of me doesn’t have that. It would need quite the turnaround to be able to project this.
I’d like to think in this era that we live in that first impressions aren’t as important as they were in bygone days but I think that is very much not the case. We are more impatient as a society. We make snap decisions and don’t give others as time as we might in previous generations. So giving off a good first impression is going to be all the more important for our children and our children’s children.
I’ve said all this but yet in previous guises I have done shop work where people said I gave off a good first impression. I used to volunteer at Hospital Radio where I’d interact well (I thought although others apparently disagreed) with patients and staff but politics and interviews are a different scenario entirely. You have to project a version of yourself that you want the other person/people to see and not the real you and that my friends is the key.
That is why all my political endeavours these days are done behind the scenes and come election day I’ll be holed up somewhere with a computer helping to coordinate that side of things. Sometimes you have to play to your strengths but even more importantly whilst working on your weaknesses as a person is all well and good, when you are doing things for other people and your weaknesses could affect them, then you have to avoid your weaknesses instead of working on them, at least in the short-term.
I would love to meet strangers and impress them within a few minutes of meeting them but alas that just isn’t my forte at this very moment (nor indeed has it ever). Will it ever change? Who knows but whilst it doesn’t cause me any real issues in my life, if I could go back and tell my teenage self to adjust how he thought about these things then I would. I know I could change now. I could buy a suit, I could wear shirts, I could wear proper shoes. I could go glitterless but you know what, that just isn’t me. It is hard to reinvent who you are and would I really want to at this point?
So the bum/weirdo hybrid combo will stay. No doubt the slight awkwardness will as well. I make myself sound awesome don’t I? Well give me time and you may well be impressed but make a decision early and I’ll just be a person you’ll forget about without blinking.
I often lay in bed or sit on the loo or wherever and think to myself things like, ‘what was I doing this time last year? five years ago? ten years ago?’ and the ilk. Mostly to ask myself would I swap what I was doing at that exact moment for what I was doing then. I did this last night as I lay in bed and I idly thought to myself, ‘what was I doing ten years ago?’ and for once I could actually answer that question very accurately. I was doing something that would significantly shape who I was today. Weird.
So then folks let me tell you a story. There was a girl (isn’t there always in stories like these) that I knew from the world wide interweb and I had gone to stay with her for a few days. I was in my final year at university and earlier in the week I had finished my dissertation and made my radio tutor cry and been threatened to be kicked off of the course (looking back this was quite the week) but those are merely footnotes.
So I met this girl, we got on ok, nothing spectacular but I was there for a few days (Mon-Fri) and on the Wednesday night I was doing some work and I logged into my Livejournal account and checked it and she had updated hers to say she was getting back together with her ex as she’d seen her other option and decided to get back with her ex. Yes I was the other option and I was still at hers and she’d forgotten to filter me out of this update (or maybe she didn’t care/didn’t expect me to read until I had gone home/hoped it would make me fuck off).
Talk about an awkward situation. Now I must’ve been what, 21? and with about as much knowledge and common sense as that of a gnat. I read this pretty late on the Wednesday and she lived a long way away from the railway station and I had no idea how to get there (these were the days before smartphones with maps) and I was a tight student, I wasn’t getting a taxi. What I should have done therefore was made my excuses on the Thursday morning and gone but what did I do? I hung around like a numpty and she wasn’t even talking to me. Yes I’m serious, she wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence. Like how dumb was I not to think to myself, ‘look Neil, even if you don’t know the way back to town, find out and just go’ but no I spent the day in someone elses house with them not even talking to me, good times…
That night she even slept in her own spare room to get away from me but even then I wasn’t fully clued up. Any logical person would’ve got up first thing and just left but I thought I’d at least hang around to say goodbye. She had thought of this and was so adamant she didn’t want to see me that she kept in the spare room with the door shut all morning and at 1ish I finally gave up and just left. I remembered the way we had walked from the bus on the way to hers so just walked in that direction until I saw a bus stop, which turned out to a the right one and got on a bus to the town with a railway station near where she lived, found the station and made my way home.
She wouldn’t even speak to me again for many months (to be honest I ask myself why I’d even want to speak to her again but back then I was a lot more naive than I am now) and we’ve not spoken in years but hilariously are Facebook friends so I see updates from her life whizz through my screen every so often.
In the opening paragraph I said that this incident significantly shaped who I was today and I’ll tell you how. I am hypersensitive to those who don’t want to be around me. Show me a flicker of the fact you don’t want me around/don’t want to know me and I retreat faster than (enter your favourite war reference here). On occasions I’ve been known to put up some sort of fight but those occasions are few and far between. Usually if you show me that you don’t want to know me/speak to me/see me then I’m gone and if their stance on me changes, they’ll have to seek me out.
If someone pushes me away then I’m gone. I often get told that this isn’t healthy, people – women in particular – want a man who’ll fight for their affections or friendship or whatever. I’ve often found that when somebody hints that they want you to back off/disappear then not doing that is deemed as unwanted, creepy or weird. The old, ‘can’t win either way’ issue.
Writing about this today, ten years on and at this exact point ten years ago I’m hanging around her house with her not talking to me. Fun times. It is amazing how things can stick with you and whilst seemingly insignificant it has helped mould how you react to situations in the future. I could point to several situations that whilst not identical, were broadly similar and if someone pushed, I’d not push back. Whether that is right or wrong I have no idea (there is one particular situation I’m thinking about here from many, many years ago now but that is one I would chose not to discuss).
All very interesting. Saying all this though I am actually in a very good place at the moment. I haven’t had a date for months, nor even the possibility of one if I’m being honest but I am just in a good place. I woke up one morning a few weeks back and felt good and that feeling hasn’t really disappeared. Maybe happiness just comes from within and when you are happy with yourself then you are in a better state of mind to take on the world. Maybe that is just where I am now.
So 2014 is in the rear view mirror. I’m not sure it will be missed too much but I’m sure I can find some positives as well so why not have a look back at what happened in 2014 and how I feel going into 2015.
One of the bigger stories of my life in 2014 was the end (either temporarily or permanently) of me being involved in radio. I won’t close the door on returning to it at some point in the future wherever I end up but it was a disappointing end. There had been some great points over the past what, eight years, but I have something that I live by and that is when it is made clear that I’m not wanted then I walk away from a situation, this is what happened here and therefore I walked away. I actually only walked away from being part of one show but by doing that it was decided that I should be gone completely, sad times.
This meant that after three years of commentating (no wait, I should correct myself) after three year of summarising, my football days were over as well. More sad times. This year (well Jan-May) I did loads of games including the FA Cup game v Hull where the commentary box was rammed and the great and the good of radio were all in attendance and of course the play-off game. Some fine memories and I thought I was half-decent at it but it was made clear to me that I was nowhere near as good as I thought and that I had too much of an ego so they wanted someone else (pretty much anyone else) to takeover from me. I do find it weird that I suffer from such low-confidence and such low self-esteem that when I find something I know I don’t suck at, that people will still go out of their way to make you feel like shit. Humanity!
Moving to and lets talk about a good moment, my sister got married. The trip to Hull was full of problems thanks to c2c but Hull trains were magnificent and we eventually got there. My sister looked so happy that even a grizzled grump like me was touched. She seems happy enough and that is what matters. Other highlights from this weekend was my discovery of air-conditioning and how much I want it in my home whenever I buy somewhere. I know it is expensive to run but it is amazing.
Politics wise and it was a strange year, a by-election that we nearly stole then coupled with a pretty woeful set of local election results. I have written before that I have zoned out of local politics as it were as I fully anticipated not living here by the time the next election came around, well that situation is still up in the air so it is a bit of a weird one. I’m not exactly on the pulse of local politics but I am keeping abreast of most of the issues. The whole issue of UKIP has depressed me greatly and I firmly hope that their bubble will burst come May but I fear that the whole ‘anti-politics’ and ‘anti-everything’ lobby have got their teeth into this and they’ll be about for a while yet. When UKIP voters say they vote for UKIP because they want people who’ll actually work and do the job and not just take the money and expenses and you point out UKIP’s record at the European Parliament, the voters just look at you like you are crazy or say that the European Parliament doesn’t matter. It is just so depressing.
Also in 2014 I have been on some form of personal journey of discovery and I have realised some things this year and the most stark one is clearly that I’m just not that great. Look I know that isn’t exactly breaking news but it was made clear to me at various points this year by various people. It is always hard in life to hear people being critical of you but you listen and you start to understand. I’m not going to say all the criticism of me was fair (it wasn’t) but some of it really was. Some of it was just linked to the type of personality I have and you can’t really change fundamentally who you are. I’m not saying I’m a bad person (I’m clearly not) but as for how good of a person I am, I think that is now up for more debate than I’d ideally like.
I could say many more things but I have decided to keep certain aspects of my life off of my blog from now on so yeah, this is it for 2014.
As for where I am now going into 2015, well I think at some point in the near future I’ll be packing up my stuff and moving on to pastures new. Whether a fresh start will bring many changes to my life, who knows, but I think it is probably time. I don’t exactly have much to stick around here for. As for where these new pastures will be, that has yet to be decided but we’ll see what happens.
Personally going into 2015 I find that I understand myself better than I ever have done. It isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows in my world but I do feel as though the more I understand myself, the less angst I have about why some things don’t work out the way I might like. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. A friend said I sounded bitter the other day, I think I’m more bitter at my own inadequacies than I am at other people or the world. Like I said though, the more I understand myself, the good and more importantly the not so good, the easier it is as I can either make strides on those issues or I can learn to deal with them and not get frustrated by them. I can’t change the past and therefore there is no point worrying about things I can’t change.
People may say I’m being too critical of myself (I am known for being way too critical of myself) but if I sit here and say that I’m great and it is everyone else that isn’t, that is just not right is it? My favourite definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If I carry on being shy and awkward then the same thing will keep happening so either I need to stop being shy and awkward or I continue being so – but know it – and therefore be comfortable with it.
So we’ll see what 2015 will bring. 2014 wasn’t great, it wasn’t awful, it was just a year. The only thing I think I know is that when I review 2015, it won’t be from where I’m sitting now. Now for everything else, who knows, that is the exciting part of the journey of life is it not?
So last night I was in bed watching an episode of Bad Education, as you do, and the episode was about the school football team and it got me thinking about the three years I actually played for my school. In Year 6 at Meadowlands and then Years 7 & 8 at Oaklands before we moved to the Isle of Wight and I attended Carisbrooke High and there was no cricket team there, boo. Hampshire and England spinner Danny Briggs went to Carisbrooke, I wonder if they had actually formed a team by the time he got there, they still hadn’t by the time I left but they might have sorted themselves out in the years since.
I laid back in bed thinking about all the games I played and you’d be surprised just how good of a recollection I have. At Meadowlands Middle they had never had a team before but the team was made up of both Year 6 and Year 7 pupils. Our first game was away at Denmead and despite being the youngest player on the team I took the bowl for the first over as no-one else had the guts to (or maybe I was our best bowler, one of the two) and my first over was dot, dot, dot, 2, wicket, dot. That isn’t a bad way to start. The wicket was clean bowled middle stump. Something I’d get used to.
You see I wasn’t a pacey bowler and at best I was military medium, however I knew exactly what I was doing and could move it off the seam both ways at will. At that age those types of bowlers weren’t the norm, guys with control who could bowl wicket to wicket and everyone thought they could slog me to all parts and no-one ever could. I would take wickets bowled constantly throughout my time. I think I had one caught behind and maybe an LBW but everything else was bails clattering to the floor.
We would lose at Denmead comfortably and lose again at Purbrook Park before our only win at Barncroft. This game was on an INSET day so we went into school in the afternoon just for the game. We smashed them but the biggest story from that game personally is that I hit my only boundary of my school cricket career and it wasn’t a four, oh no, it was a six. You see I was (and would still be) and genuine #11 but I hit one six at Barncroft (it cleared the boundary by inches at best) and that was my best performance batting wise.
So on to secondary school and I tried out for the team and made it. Again unsurprisingly I made it solely based on my bowling talent. We actually had a pretty good team and in Year 7 you’d play a lot of the schools locally before being split into A and B leagues from Year 8 onwards and we would go on to play in the A league.
In the last practice before our first game (at home against Horndean) I was bowling superbly and our teacher said that I’d be in the team and would be part of our bowling quartet. Good times. However when it came down to it whilst I did make the team, I didn’t bowl. Crazy. This isn’t me being big headed but more to do with the fact that there was no point me ever being in the team unless I was bowling as I couldn’t bat and with my dodgy arm and leg, I was never a great fielder. Having said that though I did take a stunning catch in the cover against Crookhorn I think it was, a cover drive creamed off of the bowling of Baker and I stuck out my right mitt and plucked it out of the air when it was destined for the boundary with maybe only one or two bounces.
Anyway we won both those games and then we’d do enough in Year 7 to make the A league in Year 8 (we lost at Warblington but were unbeaten elsewhere). I’d play every game and after that opening game I would mostly bowl out my overs nice and economically. Our set up was very simple. 20/20 games and Bennett and Baker would bowl the first ten and Harding and myself would bowl the second ten.
In Year 8 we got given the opportunity to go to Portsmouth Grammar School for a friendly as we’d impressed in Year 7. We lost at Warblington badly (just like we had done in Year 7 – clearly our bogey team). We were skittled out for 58 or so and we couldn’t defend it. In this game I got to bowl one over and gave up three runs and was given the hook because I was giving up too many runs. I distinctly recall how pissed off I was about this as I was our most economical bowler that day and that game would lead to a change, they decided to bring up a Year 7 bowler to the team to replace me in the bowling attack, I still played but again didn’t bowl, like there was any point in that but still.
The previous week we’d had our best victory, we went to City Boys and tore them apart. Bennett got five wickets and they were so arrogant they weren’t even watching their team bat, instead they were practising in their Sports Hall and batters weren’t ready to come out and bat because we were taking wickets so frequently. Baker took one, Harding took two in two overs and I took two in 1.5 overs to end things as we limited them to just 56. We would squeak home in a game we should’ve romped home with four wickets to spare.
We played PGS away and I played didn’t bowl. Again not amused because mainly there was no point me being in the team if I wasn’t to bowl and you know what, I was one of the best bowlers in the team and my record backs them up. Across middle and secondary school I’d average a wicket every 11 balls and my economy rate would’ve been well below three. That is a fine record. Although of note on the PGS game was the tea we got, seriously good food. Also the person who was doing the scoring was doing it as a detention punishment, I found that amusing.
Anyway we played Horndean again in the cup in Year 8 and I didn’t play, I was off school that day and we put in our worst bowling performance of the season, giving up well over 100 runs in the 20 overs but coupled with our worst bowling performance was our best batting performance. Champkin, Moss and Connolly all scored highly and we’d go on to play St. John’s College in the semi-final. That day had been wet and we all suspected the game was postponed but we heard nothing so went to the minibus at the end of the school day and waited, and we waited, and we waited. Our teacher didn’t come so after 15-20 mins or so a couple of us went to find him, the game was somehow on and we got in the minibus and went down to St. John’s playing fields.
When we got there, we saw no minibus and thought again the game was off because we were seriously late, yet a few minutes later Mr Marron came back and said they were on their way and we went into the clubhouse and got changed. Again the Year 7 kid was in the side (Sutherland) so again I was in the team only to bat (lols) and field. It was the perfect wicket for me to bowl, it was wet and I bowled it wicket to wicket nibbling off the seams, I’d have torn through that team but I digress (can you tell it still bugs me?)
We batted first and scrambled to 80 odd, which wasn’t a great score but defendable. We bowled well and had them nine down going into the final over and they needed four to tie and five to win. A tie would mean they would qualify for the final as we were all out in our 20 overs (I was out first ball, stupidly batting at #10, the fact someone was deemed worse than me at batting is quite something but I missed a full, fast straight one and off stump disappeared behind me).
Baker would bowl the final over and it went one, one, dot, one, dot. So the final ball and they needed one to tie and two to win. Full pitched delivery, dug out but straight back to Baker, he had time to turn and run at the non striking end and take off the bails but instead he turned and threw at the stumps and missed and we had no-one backing up and they scrambled through for the tie and we went out based on having lost more wickets. Gutting.
My last game and we went out to a posh school having been so close. On a personal level too going out having not bowled was just as gutting. Still wait, what is this? I’d suit one once more? So yes, the cricket teachers/coaches of Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 were asked to select the best players for the Staff v Students match and Year 8 got two players and I was selected along with Baker. So I was deemed one of the best two players despite not being called upon to bowl in many matches, yeah that made sense.
The staff v students game was on the last Saturday of the school year and it was a 20/20 game but the rules were slightly different, every player bowled two overs (bar the wicketkeeper) so I came in and bowled my first over, neat and tidy and then came my second over – and this one would be my last ever in a competitive match. I started dot, dot, dot and with three balls left in my career I took a wicket, nick behind. In came the headmaster, now the rules of this game were that first ball you couldn’t be out, so you could come in and have a big slog for a ball, so first ball to him, I hit middle and off and everyone cheered but of course he wasn’t out due to that rule, I just turned and trudged back to my mark (not that I had a mark, I just arbitrarily decided where I would run in from on a ball-by-ball basis – I never had the pace to worry about no balls, I was always way behind the line). My final ball I chugged in and pitched one up, he dug it out but it went low and hard to mid on where Baker was fielding, it was tough, it was low, but it was catchable and he got both hands to it but couldn’t hold on. I was that close to ending my career with a hat-trick and the headmaster too. Damn.
Somehow I was inked in to come in and #8 in this game and I actually scratched around and scored eight off of about 15 balls and it was a relief when I got out as we were in a run chase and we needed someone better than me batting. We went on to lose by one run. Gutting. The game though was changed somewhat when the headmaster was given out LBW but said that he wasn’t out and refused to go, he’d go on to score 50 odd when he given out for something like ten.
So yeah, a blog that no-one will read and no-one will care about but it was fun to write. That win at City Boys will always stick out because we as a bowling unit tore them apart. I’ll always be miffed that I was underutilised as a bowler in the team and that game at St. John’s…we should’ve been in the final. It is weird that I can pretty much remember the whole team despite having maybe only spoken to one of them in the past ten years. I moved school and my cricketing days were in my rear-view mirror. I wonder how the guys did in subsequent seasons and whether Sutherland kept playing for both his year and our year. Also it scares me just how much of this all I can very clearly remember.
So today out of curiosity I decided to take the Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test that was laid out by Carl G. Jung’s theory of psychological types. It came out that I was a type INTJ personality. So I toddled off to read up all about it and boy, you know what, it isn’t inaccurate in many, many ways.
An introduction to this personality type is below:
It’s lonely at the top, and being one of the rarest and most strategically capable personality types, INTJs know this all too well. INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population – it is often a challenge for them to find like-minded individuals who are able to keep up with their relentless intellectualism and chess-like manoeuvring. People with the INTJ personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.
So people of my personality type form just 2% of the population. I am apparently imaginative yet decisive, I think we can check that. I have many thoughts and I consider them greatly but when I make a decision on something, I progress. I’m ambitious but a very private individual. People may think that doesn’t add up because I write so openly at times but I only write what I don’t mind people knowing. There is so much that I don’t say – and I won’t say – because I quite simply do not want to. Curious. Well I think I can safely tick that box and I don’t waste energy on projects that I don’t believe are worth my time. When I think something is then boy I’ll attack it and give it my all and we’ll get to that later…
A paradox to most observers, INTJs are able to live by glaring contradictions that nonetheless make perfect sense – at least from a purely rational perspective. For example, INTJs are simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics, a seemingly impossible conflict. But this is because INTJ types tend to believe that with effort, intelligence and consideration, nothing is impossible, while at the same time they believe that people are too lazy, short-sighted or self-serving to actually achieve those fantastic results. Yet that cynical view of reality is unlikely to stop an interested INTJ from achieving a result they believe to be relevant.
A starry-eyed idealist and a bitter cynic. Ding, ding, ding. That is something that I could have etched on my tombstone should I never have one (which I won’t). Be it in my personal life or in my views about how we can get to a Utopian society, I have idealism flowing through my veins but also I am a realist and very cynical about whether we can as a society ever get there. Nothing is impossible, many, many things are improbable but finding things that are impossible is hard.
Strengths of an INTJ type personality:
Quick, Imaginative and Strategic Mind
Independent and Decisive
Hard-working and Determined
Interesting. I don’t tick all these boxes with a complete tick but there is a lot of ink next to all of them. I am surprisingly quick and imaginative. My mind is extremely strategic. I have high self-confidence with regards to what I believe and what I do for a living. I’m good at what I do. In my personal life I don’t have these traits but apparently not all INTJ’s do, in fact there is more to come on this later. I’m extremely (to the point of fiercely) independent and if I reach out for help or advice that either I truly value someone’s opinion and/or I’m in a bad place where I genuinely am lost at to what is the best course of action.
I can be very hard-working when something piques my interest. For example many moons ago I did American West in GCSE history. It interested me so I read all about it and obliterated the exam. When I was a Sports Editor I cared passionately about it and would often work many hours at home outside of office hours. Open-Minded…yeah I don’t think that needs any further comment, do you? As for Jack-of-all-Trades, that means that I can turn my hand to many things and I think I quite possibly could. When I took my current position I was no expert but I have developed the skills I need to a good standard.
Weaknesses of an INTJ type personality:
Loathe highly structured environments
Clueless in romance
Looking at the top two and it hurts a wee bit and I question whether they are accurate but you know what, maybe, just maybe they are. Here is the full breakdown of the Arrogant situation:
INTJs are perfectly capable of carrying their confidence too far, falsely believing that they’ve resolved all the pertinent issues of a matter and closing themselves off to the opinions of those they believe to be intellectually inferior. Combined with their irreverence for social conventions, INTJs can be brutally insensitive in making their opinions of others all too clear.
Really interesting. I suppose at times I do come across as insensitive. I like to think that I take the opinions of others to heart and don’t close myself off to them but looking back I can easily see multiple instances where I was (and still am) so cock-sure that I was right and other people were wrong. As for being judgemental, I like to think of myself as one of the least judgemental people around but there are certain lines where I will judge people. Those who are intolerant of others differences whether they be sexual, racial, gender etc. just doesn’t sit well with me at all. As an example, If you are someone who genuinely believes that British people have more right to live and work here than people from other countries then I’m not going to like that and I’m going to struggle mightily to like those people.
Overly analytical, loathe highly structured environments, clueless in romance. Well yeah I think it is safe to say the boxes next to those three are completely ticked. I analyse everything to the nth degree and at times I hate myself for doing that but I do. I not like highly structured environments, I have written before about how creativity and individualism is something to nurture and cherish and is the lifeblood of a successful society. I have also been that way in work environments, my opinion is you hire me to do a job so let me do the job, nudge me in one direction or another but don’t micromanage, it stifles me and frustrates me immensely. The good bosses I’ve had have let me have my head and they’ve been rewarded with good results. Clueless in romance. Lets delve into that one further…
This antipathy to rules and tendency to over-analyse and be judgemental, even arrogant, all adds up to a personality type that is often clueless in dating. Having a new relationship last long enough for INTJs to apply the full force of their analysis on their potential partner’s thought processes and behaviours can be challenging. Trying harder in the ways that INTJs know best can only make things worse, and it’s unfortunately common for them to simply give up the search. Ironically, this is when they’re at their best, and most likely to attract a partner.
*looks at the screen, shrugs and smiles*
INTJs are defined by their confidence, logic, and exceptional decision-making, but all of this hides a turbulent underbelly – their emotions. People with the INTJ personality type take pride in remaining rational and logical at all times, considering honesty and straightforward information to be paramount to euphemisms and platitudes in almost all circumstances. In many ways though, these qualities of coolness and detachment aren’t the weapons of truth that they appear to be, but are instead shields designed to protect the inner emotions that INTJs feel. In fact, because their emotions are such an underdeveloped tool, INTJs often feel them more strongly than many overtly emotional types because they simply haven’t learned how to control them effectively.
This is genuinely one of the most interesting paragraphs that I have read today on this issue. A shield to protect our inner emotions and the fact emotions are so underdeveloped that at times we feel them more strongly than many other people because we haven’t learned to control them effectively. I gotta be honest and this has hit the nail on my own head rather spectacularly. I am so unemotional it is scary but when I feel, whether it be positive or negative feelings then I feel them so hard and I struggle to deal with them. They overwhelm me to some degree.
INTJs are brilliantly intellectual, developing a world in their heads that is more perfect than reality. People entering this world need to fit this fantasy, and it can be incredibly difficult for INTJs to find someone up to the task. Needless to say, finding a compatible partner is the most significant challenge most INTJs will face in life.
Now you tell me world. Now you tell me. I am however enjoying reading about how intellectual I apparently am. reading all this analysis that I am it really bangs on about it. I am educated to a good degree but have never been academic. I was one of those straight B without doing any work students unless I found something interesting and then I went all out on it. I remember once I decided to answer a question that we weren’t taught in an exam – one of those ‘either answer question 3 or question 4’ type essay questions and we were taught the ecosystems sections of the syllabus but I decided I knew more about renewable energy as it had interested me personally so I took that question instead. I got an A. I once resat two module exams where I got high B’s as I thought I could do better, the teachers actually backed me, I repaid their faith with a 97% and a 98%. So yes I can be smart when I try and I have never failed an exam, at any level. I even got 76% in a three-hour Journalism law exam that I finished within 25 minutes. I read through the paper and my answers and walked out just after the half hour mark. Everyone thought I’d just spectacularly failed but I knew I’d done well. I had actually got full marks on every important question.
On the romantic notion of finding a compatible partner being one of the, if not the, most significant challenges that I will face in my lifetime then that doesn’t shock me. If I’m being brutally honest (and lets be real here – apparently that is what I do) then I could count the amount of people where I’ve genuinely thought I was naturally compatible with them on all levels on one hand and I wouldn’t need all of the digits. Those people I would’ve done nearly anything for. I truly would’ve done.
INTJs seek strong, deep relationships, and trust their knowledge and logic to ensure that their partner is satisfied, both intellectually and physically.
Yep. I think that is extremely fair.
INTJs will keep up with just a few good friends, eschewing larger circles of acquaintances in favour of depth and quality.
I can see this. I don’t – and never have – had a large circle of friends. Those I choose to have friendships with I will trust vehemently and would do most things for. In my dark times I have a handful of people that I will turn to. In dark times there are a handful of people I know will turn to me. I am one of those people that can keep a friendship close and heartfelt even if we don’t see or talk to each other in a long time. There are people for example from high school where I’d still drop everything if they needed me because I trusted and valued them then and despite time apart, they’ve never done anything for that trust and value to have eroded. I might not go to them with my problems any more but if they came to me with them I’d be receptive. In short those I value, I value extremely highly but it takes a long time for me in usual circumstances to value and trust someone but once I do, they have it all.
When they are in their comfort zone though, among people they know and respect, INTJs have no trouble relaxing and enjoying themselves. Their sarcasm and dark humour are not for the faint of heart, nor for those who struggle to read between the lines, but they make for fantastic story-telling among those who can keep up. This more or less limits their pool of friends to fellow Analysts (NT) and Diplomat (NF) types, as Observant (S) types’ preference for more straightforward communication often simply leaves both parties frustrated.
It’s not easy to become good friends with INTJs. Rather than traditional rules of social conduct or shared routine, INTJs have exacting expectations for intellectual prowess, uncompromising honesty and a mutual desire to grow and learn as sovereign individuals. INTJs are gifted, bright and development-oriented, and expect and encourage their friends to share this attitude. Anyone meeting these expectations will appreciate them of their own accord, forming a powerful and stimulating friendship that will stand the test of time.
True facts folks. Sarcastic, dark humour, I can tell a fantastic story and genuinely I am a very good storyteller. It is hard to become good friends with me, the amount of good friends that I consider myself to have is extremely limited. Yet I think I can say – hand on heart – that I don’t think I’ve ever fallen out with someone whom I consider a close friend. Obviously I have drifted from some of these people as life takes over but I have never fallen out with one.
I can also say that I can perfectly see why many people who are acquaintances or that I wouldn’t consider myself to be that close to end up not liking me. I am extremely easy-going but I get immensely frustrated at social conventions and bitchiness. I am pretty straight talking and if I like you then you’ll know and if I don’t then you’ll probably know that too. A couple of weeks back I was out and pointed out someone to who I was with and said, ‘see that girl over there, she fucking hates my guts and I have no idea why’. The person in question was someone I knew but not that well and then one day she slagged me off like anything and literally would walk out of any room I walked into with disdain. The person I was with said, ‘that seems to happen a lot with you’ and you know what, it does seem to. Reading all this personality guff maybe there are reasons behind it. Maybe I just wear on those who aren’t in tune with how I think.
Though they may be surprised to hear it, INTJs make natural leaders, and this shows in their management style. INTJs value innovation and effectiveness more than just about any other quality, and they will gladly cast aside hierarchy, protocol and even their own beliefs if they are presented with rational arguments about why things should change. INTJs promote freedom and flexibility in the workplace, preferring to engage their subordinates as equals, respecting and rewarding initiative and adopting an attitude of “to the best mind go the responsibilities”, directing strategy while more capable hands manage the day-to-day tactics.
Can’t argue with any of that. There is a time for structure but on many more occasions you have to gives people their heads and allow them to put forward their ideas and allow people the opportunity to get passionate about something. Many workplaces are too structured and in a structured environment you’ll always stand put or take small incremental steps forward. If you allow innovation and give opportunity to try other ideas or ways to work then you could see quantum leap steps. You have to have belief in those you employ are capable to do the job that you employed them for. I know that I have struggled when my ideas and creativity gets stifled and if you can’t take ownership of your work then you don’t care as much and therefore you won’t work as hard. If a manager gives you your head then you’ll care more, work harder and the likelihood of success and positive steps are far greater.
Few personality types are as mysterious and controversial as INTJs. Possessing intellect and strategic thinking that allow them to overcome many challenging obstacles, INTJs have the ability to both develop and implement a plan for everything, including their own personal growth.
Yet INTJs can be easily tripped up in areas where careful and rational thinking is more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, making friends, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or adapting to the unpredictable, INTJs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.
This has been a tremendous exercise for me. I feel like I understand myself more now than I did when I woke up this morning and I will continue to read up more on this subject in the coming days, weeks and months. I have often wondered why certain things happen the way they do and maybe in large part it is quite simply down to my personality traits. Maybe as the conclusion above recommends I need to work on my weaker traits and not just think they’ll come good because maybe they just won’t come good because I want them to. Maybe I have to actually work on being a better person. If you are close to me then you’ll probably think I’m a worthwhile presence in your life but if you aren’t then the opposite is quite possibly true. There are reasons my circle of friends is so few, there are reasons my forays into romance haven’t always been so fruitful, there are reasons I work from home and am more productive in doing so.
All in all though I feel as though I can understand myself better today than what I did yesterday and that is part of the journey of life, always striving to understand more and having that unquenchable thirst for knowledge, both of the world and about ourselves.
Well Saturday didn’t go quite as planned. I was woken up at around 4:45 by my body coughing and eventually I was able to hack out a blood-ball from my throat. Not pretty in prose let alone in reality. I have been battling what I thought was a throat infection for weeks, I first suffered it over Christmas but it cleared up but around three weeks ago it seemingly came back. This time I lost my voice and my throat was much more raw. Being a typical bloke though I ignored it all but the presence of coughing up blood for several weeks finally made me drag myself to the drop-in clinic at St. Luke’s on Saturday morning.
I’m not one for going to the doctors. Since leaving home I’ve been twice. Once was because I had blurred vision in one of my eyes and then on Saturday. I always think I’m just wasting people’s time. So anyway I get into see the doctor and after saying ‘I’ve been coughing up blood for weeks’ she was pretty much straight on to the phone to the hospital. She wanted me to have chest x-rays. Naively I thought I’d pop along, have a chest x-ray and be home in time for Liverpool v Arsenal. I got into hospital and found myself admitted on to the Acute Medical Unit. Guessing the doctor at the clinic was really quite concerned.
I sat around bored (my iPod battery had died earlier in the day and I decided not to wait to charge it back up – y’know the whole in/out thing I had planned meant I didn’t worry about it). The staff nurse did all the vitals, temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, all of which I aced. Go me. However the blood sugar test sent my body into shock. It always does when I have needles stuck into me. So about two minutes later there was literally a pool of sweat on the floor under the chair. Lovely.
An hour or so later I saw a doctor. He had a good look around my throat but he was happy with all my answers to his questions. He decided a blood test and chest x-ray just to be on the safe side but he thought it was probably complications from Tonsillitis or Laryngitis but he didn’t want to take any chances. So he went and took my blood. Cue more epic sweating and I went off for an x-ray. I felt perfectly healthy the whole time and looking around I really felt as though I was wasting people’s time. The doctor came past to see another patient and gave me the thumbs up and said I’d probably be going home but he had to refer something past a senior doctor. Guessing there was a small issue with either my lungs or my blood.
Doctor and senior doctor came down around 5 o’clock and said I was an extremely healthy young man. The key thing was my lungs looked in perfect shape and the issue was with my blood. However it wasn’t an issue that concerned them too much, not enough to keep me in anyway. Basically they think my body is still battling whatever infection it started fighting three weeks ago but the body is still fighting it. They recommended I talk as little as possible until I stop coughing up any phlegm or blood. Apart from that they were happy to see me be on my way. They said they could prescribe antibiotics but the blood work looked like my body was still fighting so didn’t want to add antibiotics to the mixture.
They did say though that I was right to see a doctor and that she was right to refer me straight to hospital, which made me feel a little bit better. I did have some of the main symptoms of either a blood clot or lung cancer, both quite clearly very nasty diseases. As is stands though I probably just have a secondary infection or something either in my throat or in the vocal chords. I should get better in time but if it doesn’t clear up totally within a few weeks I need more thorough tests.
So all in all extremely good news. I have been battling this for a while and apart from a few days and certainly morning’s when my throat was extremely painful, I’ve been in no pain whatsoever. It has just lingered and if it wasn’t for the constant throwing up of blood I wouldn’t have troubled anyone.
One other thing I want to write about though is the staff. I have been involved in Hospital Radio for several years, so I see a window into what the staff have to deal with but on Saturday I was a patient and saw first hand for several hours everything thrown at them. I was treated thoroughly and both the doctor and the senior doctor were truly first rate. The nurse who admitted me and did all my initial tests was great as well and I didn’t really have any dealings with any other staff. However I did watch the HCA’s closely as they get a lot of stick in the press for not being nurse’s and this one young HCA didn’t sit down between the time I was admitted at around 11:45 to the time she went for her lunch at around 2ish. She genuinely did not sit down once, not even for a few seconds.
I was extremely impressed by her considering the job she was doing was certainly not glamorous in any way shape or form. It included helping people to pee and poo as well as then clean them up. I didn’t see her roll her eyes once. I thought that was a miracle in itself. I know if I had to face some of the issues she faced in those five or so hours that I watched then I’d not be able to take it at all. So for all those rubbishing HCA’s for not being nurses then I think they should go and watch an HCA for a shift and I firmly believe their opinions will change mightily quickly.
As for me, I’ll live. I’ll heed the advice to basically only do essential talking until I have been cough and phlegm free for a good week or so. This of course means going on hiatus from radio presenting but I think it is the right thing to do. I have noticed that over the past three weeks my throat was at its worse following commentating on Southend v Hull and the two Wednesday night radio shows, so clearly whatever I have is effected by overuse of my vocal chords. So basically I am shut down from any significant social interaction for a while, luckily I’m used to that!
I’m sure within two or three weeks I’ll be able to talk for an hour or so without feeling razor blades in my throat and turning my sink a nasty scarlet red colour. Graphic to the end. Thank you to all those who have sent along their best wishes. I’m fine and it seemingly isn’t any of the real nasty things it could easily have been. I did think the treatment and performance of the staff at Southend Hospital was truly exemplary, not only towards me but what I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears.
I didn’t even tell you about the girl who had dislocated her knee whilst taking her rollerblades off, yes not whilst rollerblading, but whilst taking them off. She said everyone laughed when she told them, even the doctor. Internally I was laughing but did well to keep a cool exterior. That was an amusing wait for the x-ray.
Well here we are. A few weeks short of being middle aged and writing a blog post about virginity and how I still have that label. How did this happen? Well let me tell you and let me also tell you why it is a label that shouldn’t be placed around someone’s neck but let me first tell you why today I am writing this blog post.
It all stems from yesterday when I was Googling to see how strong my blog post about being a 29 year-old virgin was doing on Google. Yes this is the type of thing I do. This might say a lot about me. Anyway I was Googling it because I get a steady stream of traffic from people searching for ‘I’m a 29 year-old virgin’ and variants there of. A couple of spots below my blog I read a post entitled ‘It happened to me: I ended up in bed with a 27 year-old virgin and my blood kinda boiled reading through the piece. If you don’t want to read it then here is the premise. Girl was just out of a long-term relationship, was dating, met a guy, liked him then when they went to sleep together he said he hadn’t done it before and this is her reaction…
Internally, I was screaming at myself to not laugh, not make a face, not judge. He definitely didn’t need that — and really, he should get points for honesty, right? But outwardly, I was ultra-calm.
“I don’t think I can be the person you do this with. I’m not going to be your girlfriend, this isn’t going to be a relationship — and you probably should do this with someone who is,” I told him as placidly as possible. He just groaned.
I have bolded the bits that galled me the most.
Firstly why would anyone laugh, make a face or judge anyone who is a virgin? There are various reasons behind virginity and as a race we try not to judge on sex, on colour, on race, on sexual orientation and yet here is a seemingly well adjusted young women who is having to strain herself not to judge someone who hadn’t had sex for whatever reason. I genuinely despair but I have to say that whilst this story isn’t about me – it has actually happened to me in a similarish context.
I have never been about to have sex with someone and told them that I was a virgin and then they’ve stopped and said no. However I have had people stop talking to me and stop perusing romantic interests in me because they found out I was a virgin. I remember once someone Googling me and reading me talk openly about my virginity on this here very blog and sent me an e-mail saying basically ‘you seem like a nice guy but I have no interest in dating a boy but I’d really like to still be friends as apart from that you seem like a really great person’ only for her promptly to never speak to me again. Hilarity.
On to the next bit I bolded. Who is this woman to judge who this guy needs to lose his virginity to? He is a grown man and is surely capable of making his own decisions and knows his own mind. Just because said woman wasn’t journeying into sexual activity for the first time then does it mean she is the only one capable of making decisions on that front? It is a bit like when parents tell non-parents that they know nothing about children and never will until they have kids. One section of humanity telling the next that they are essentially inferior at making decisions just because they haven’t spread their oats and creating offspring. That is another of my bugbears.
The thing is there are two types of virgin when it comes to those that have made it through their teenage years without doing it. First of all you have the people that just want it over and done with for whatever reason and you have those who choose to not have sex until they feel it is the right person at the right time. I identify myself in the latter of these two categories. Even I have had plenty of offers in my years of circling the sun and lets be blunt here – none have even tempted me for one iota. I think that says a lot. Either I’m completely frigid or I’m strong willed and know what I want. I like to think I know the answer on that but heck you may have your own opinion.
I’m now going to tell you a story that I found sad – not sad as in ‘that’s so sad’ but as in ‘that is genuinely sad and a terrible indictment of our society’ type of sad. I used to work with someone who was a few years younger than me who was also a virgin and he got teased about it a lot. It made him depressed and feel like a second class man as it were so do you know what he did? He lost his virginity to an escort. See personally I find that sad that he felt he had to do that but I don’t know what was going on in his mind – he may have been very happy to just get it done and out of the way and has kicked on and is far happier now that perceived monkey is off his back.
See that is the point – society as a whole makes far bigger a thing about virginity and sex than they should. It seems strange that a virgin says such things but I firmly think that sex is a very personal thing and if people want to sleep around or choose not to sleep around then that is their own decision to make. It shouldn’t be societies. This is why I get annoyed at slut-shaming because if someone wants to sleep around and act like a slut then that is a decision they are fully entitled to make. Just like it is if someone chooses to be reserved when it comes to sexual activities.
In the situation linked to earlier the woman decided not to speak to the man again due solely to his virginity. She made a decision that the fact he had not yet had sex determine solely how she progressed in their relationship – basically it was something so appalling that she couldn’t bare to even know him any more. Now of course she was fully entitled to do this but I wonder how she would have reacted if the roles were different and she was the virgin looking to lose her v-card but the guy made a decision that he wasn’t the right person to take the v-card from her. Would she have thought that she was a grown woman who could make her own decisions? I’m pretty sure she would.
Also one other line from that piece. After he told her she said, ‘I went into caring stranger mode’ – why does someone being a virgin need someone to turn into caring stranger mode? He wasn’t ill. He hadn’t just lost a member of his family. He was a virgin. That was it. It really bugged me that she felt that was the correct default position to resort to.
Anyway back to me and my place in all of this. I write about this openly because I don’t think it is a stigma to be afraid of. I’m not saying I’m proud of it per se and wish to flaunt it all over the shop but it is part of who I am and I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. I like to think it is a footnote and is certainly not something that would appear on my epitaph should I curl up and die today. ‘Here lies Neil James Monnery. 29. Virgin.’ – Nah I just don’t see it and not just because I’ll be cremated.
Virginity and in turn their views on sex does not define a person – well it shouldn’t anyway. However I strongly feel that individuals are well adjusted enough when they reach adulthood to be able to make their own decisions on sex and what they want. No-one should feel that they need to make decisions for the other person in their best interests. If you know a virgin and they are happy then leave them be. If you know a slut who enjoys sleeping around then it is their decision and if they are happy then who is anyone to step in and tell them they are doing wrong?
Society dictates that women who sleep around are sluts but men who do the same are not. This again is totally wrong. Both men and women should be free to act as they please as long as they aren’t breaking the law and as far as I’m aware having multiple sexual partners or being in an open relationship is not against the law – neither for men nor women. So let people live their lives as they please do not feel sorry for me for being a virgin. I don’t and if I did I’d have lost it a long long long time ago.
Personally I am far more saddened by my inability to meet someone with whom I could share my life. There is no-one who I’ve felt I could have an ongoing emotional relationship with. Someone to share the good times and bad. Someone with whom I could create memories and a partner with whom I could share this journey that is called life with. That is far more disappointing than never having had sex and if at the end of my life I came to say that I never found anyone special to share my life with then that to me would be a far sadder state of affairs than my penis never having entered a vagina.
So if you are reading this and are in a similar position to me then don’t worry or fret. You are not alone. I know many people who are virgins and into their 20s and beyond. Some worry about it daily and some don’t. I would implore you not to worry about it and remember that you actually hold the cards in this situation. If you feel that for your own good being you need to just get it out of the way I’m sure you could find a hook up with a friend or an acquaintance. If you feel that you want to wait then remember that it is your decision and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that and if someone has a problem with it then it is their problem – not yours.
In those situations where people have dropped off all contact/romantic interest in me because of my virginity then I think it is their loss and move on. I don’t regret it for one instant. If someone else doesn’t have the mental capacity to get over being someone else’s first then it is their issue to deal with. Personally I could see some good parts to being someone’s first as you have a blank slate to play with and probably someone who is rather eager to please. A virgin won’t have developed any bad habits and is probably rather experimental but maybe I’m biased.
I did say in the introduction I’d write about how I got to this point. Well towards the end of the first year of university I realised that it wasn’t just a simple act of going to uni and then meeting someone and the sex would follow/be plentiful. So at that point I distinctly recall making a conscious decision that I would wait until it was the right time with someone whom I cared about and who cared about me. They were the three criteria. They have yet to be fulfilled and here we are.
When I meet someone and things get to a stage where I genuinely care for them and I believe similar the other way round then we’ll be there. I’m not talking love. I’m certainly not talking marriage but I decided that I didn’t want to have sex (not just losing virginity) with anyone just for the sake of it. That was (and is) my decision to make and one I’m comfortable with. When people say things like ‘come round here and I’ll fix you’ when hearing about my virginity then it reinforces my decision in my mind (yes this actually happened – those exact words).
So here I am. A few weeks shy of reaching middle age and I’m a virgin. Do I care? Not really and the important thing is neither should you. I’m sure that when the right person comes along they’ll deal with the situation appropriately and if they didn’t then you know what – they won’t be the right person. Simple as. However if someone awesome wants to walk into my life anytime soon then I would appreciate it…