The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for the ‘Random Stuff’ Category

I deleted my birthday from Facebook to see who actually knew my birthday…

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So yesterday I turned 31. A case for much joy and celebration (I had a microwave meal for dinner and fell asleep in the afternoon for the second day running whilst watching the closing minutes of that days stage of the Tour de France – damnit) so as you can see, I really lived it up.

Anyway about ten days ago I decided to remove my birthday from Facebook as an experiment. Every year 40-50 people, many of whom who don’t speak to me at any other point in the calendar year, will wish me a happy birthday, prompted by Facebook. So I wondered who would know without that prompt.

Usually I’ll wake up to a few messages but only my mum had posted on my Timeline. This continued throughout the working day although one of my best friends from school had sent me a text along with messages from both my sisters. I thought this would be it but then just after five o’clock I got a happy birthday message from someone whom I solely know via the internet. This means in all likelihood that this fabulous young lady actually had my birthday written down somewhere (bizarrely enough she is one of the handful of people’s whose birthday I actually know off hand. I think she is the only person whose I know who I’ve never met). This followed by another of my best friends from school leaving a message on my Facebook wall meant it started coming up in people’s feeds and they had a prompt and ten or so more happy birthday messages came.

I did this essentially to write a blog post to see how much we all rely on Facebook for something like knowing whose birthday is when. I’m as guilty of it as most. I know most of my school friends birthdays from memory (and the important landline numbers still) but go beyond my school friends then there are very few I know. Facebook has become essential to most people for knowing when there is a birthday.

Also I used to find it strange (still do) that people whom I’ve not conversed with since school will wish me a happy birthday if prompted to by Facebook. I only say happy birthday to those with whom I actually speak with from time to time yet some people feel compelled to say it to everyone if prompted to by Facebook, I’ve got to admit I just don’t get this. I know many of us are Facebook friends with many people we haven’t seen since school but I’ve found many of these people who have wished me happy birthday in the past on Facebook wouldn’t have done so at school when I saw them everyday!

Facebook at times is a bizarre service. I got a couple of messages last night asking if it was my birthday as I had posts on my wall saying happy birthday but Facebook didn’t say it was my birthday and they didn’t know who to believe. That is where we’ve got to boys and girls. I think that says a lot.

So anyway, I’m now 31, things are the same as when I was 30. My sister still thinks I look like a young Novak Djokovic (despite being older than he is) and the only person with whom I spoke face to face yesterday was one of my neighbours to tell her that the paint job on my balcony was fine and she could sign off mine as completed. That sums up my world pretty well. This is the fifth birthday I’ve ‘celebrated’ in this apartment and it is probably the last. Where I’ll resurface next in still very much up in the air but this 32nd year might not be exciting but it might very well be extremely significant in shaping the rest of my life as I look to move from a tenant to an owner. Scary times indeed.

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July 11th, 2014 at 8:35 am

Posted in Random Stuff

My story of being Catfished…

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Ah catfishing. For those of you who don’t have any idea what catfishing is then here is the word catfish as described by the urban dictionary, ‘A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.’ It came about because of a documentary someone made about someone on the internet and has spawned a successful TV show, although so far in season three it must be said it has been darker than the previous two season’s.

Last night we saw an episode where someone created a fake profile and promptly killed them off and it took me back to something that happened 18 months ago to me and having done some digging today I think it is time to write about it freely and openly.

There is a TV show called The Newsroom which is pretty fantastic. I would tweet about it whilst watching it and a friend of mine (who definitely does exist for I have met her despite her living in the US of A) also watched the show. She then introduced me to one of the characters on twitter, for fans of the show actually created twitter handles of characters of the show and would commentate on the show and real world events as these characters. Bit weird but all a bit of fun.

Anyway I was then introduced by both my friend and one of the characters to another women and we started to communicate. I wouldn’t say anything romantic but we just talked about each others lives. She was portraying a character from the show (albeit one that was never seen on screen) but we weren’t communicating with her in that character. Reading that back it sounds weird but heck, even at the time I found it weird but I have communicated with many a random person on the interwebs in the past 15 odd years so I just rolled with it.

Over the next few months we’d communicate more and started to move away from twitter to e-mail. Then suddenly everything went silent and that as they say was that. I thought it was strange but I suspected that real life events had become more interesting and thus she had decided to neglect random people on the interwebs. Makes sense to me and her account just stopped tweeting. Several weeks later she DM’ed me and told me that she had been in hospital. She had suffered from complications of the flu outbreak that had hit Florida. We picked up our communications again for another few weeks and then once more everything went silent.

As this had happened before I didn’t think too much of it and then one day I noticed her DM’s had disappeared from my TweetDeck. Her account had been deleted and that was that. Again I didn’t actually think too much of it and the year carried on before suddenly on Christmas Day I got a DM from the character from the TV show that had introduced us informing me that she had died due to complications from her initial bout of the flu. I was confused but something didn’t add up so I did some investigating.

I had her e-mail address and decided to do a google search the username in her e-mail and I found another twitter account, girl with the same name, looked very similar, so I looked through the people she followed and followed her and I found the same mutual character from the TV show. Weird I thought. Very weird. At this point I suspected that she had not in fact passed on so I did a search for death records in her state for her name – no-one of that name had passed away in 2013. At this point I heavily suspected that she was still alive but was trying to work out who or why I was informed of her ‘death’

Well I just consigned it to history in my head until last night’s episode of Catfish re-awoke my intrigue in the story. I saw her second twitter account had disappeared so I went on to the character’s following list and searched for her name and bingo – I found another account with a new twitter handle and this time it wasn’t locked. I could see that whilst it was quiet – it was certainly active.

Whilst writing this I just did a google for her name and the state she lived in and I found another twitter handle, which is her, this time the twitter header is a photo of her/someone is high heels and handcuffs dangling off her/someone’s ankle – surely I’m the kind of guy she’d want to know if that is what she is into? Having just read the tweets on that account and seen photos – I can confirm I am exactly the type of guy she’d want to know, makes this all the more bizarre.

So yeah, I have no idea who this person actually is. I think the name is accurate and the state she lives in. If she decided that our friendship wasn’t something she wanted to continue with that disappearing without a trace was fine but what was with the message that she died from our mutual contact, what the hell was that all about? Unless she has created several new accounts since she passed on then she is most certainly still living. I haven’t decided to message any of these accounts for answers and just thought I’d write a blog about it, it is weird and makes very little sense, but on the other hand it is both interesting and perplexing.

If she ever reads this and wants to rise from the dead and tell me the story then I’d be fascinated to hear all about it. If not, well, it has given a few people an interesting story to read.

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June 10th, 2014 at 7:58 pm

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16 long hours without the internet – I somehow didn’t cry

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In the early minutes of Sunday morning I was laying in bed and doing what I often do, I leaned over and picked up the iPad to look something up and my internet wasn’t working. So I got out of bed and rebooted the modem. I got back into bed and the internet still wasn’t working. Cue panic. Mass panic.

The next four hours (remember I had already gone to bed before this has all started) were spent trying to work out what was stopping my internet from working. You see I’m kinda, ever so slightly, you know, possibly, at a push…addicted to the internet. Not only that I work in websites and I work from home. No internet access means no ability to work. The ability to work is pretty important when it comes to my bank balance. Seriously I was not amused.

At around half two in the morning I picked up my phone and there was no dial tone. Cue even more epic panic. If there was a fault with the line then I knew I could be out of commission for a while. I eventually gave up and fell asleep. I woke up at around eight and heard my neighbour was already awake so went and asked her if her phone line was working. She checked and there was no dial tone. Cue relief on one hand knowing whatever fault was not just on my line but also a small bit of panic as my backup plan of using her wireless internet was also up the swanny.

So I used my 3G on my phone and searched twitter for ‘sky broadband’ and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I saw lots of people complaining that their internet was down in my local area. I checked Sky’s Help Team’s twitter account and it confirmed an outage that spread all across Essex and East Anglia. I knew it a large number of people were without internet and phone services that they first of all knew all about it and secondly that they would be attempting to fix it.

I went out and came down around midday and still no internet, I watched some TV, still no internet, went on the exercise bike and still no blinking internet and then after I finished my second 45 minutes on the bike (I watched the footy and took a break a Half Time for a drink) I was walking to my shower and saw the fourth light on my modem lit up, the internet, it lived, it lived again!

All in all I was without the internet for 16 hours. This should not cause the deep-rooted panic within me that it did. I think the mitigating circumstances of I work from home and in websites was a large part of the panic (I know it was a Sunday but I do plenty of work on Sunday’s) and if it was a problem with my phone line individually (or the line coming into this block) then I know from experience that these things can take a significant time to be fixed. Still after saying all of that, I should not be completely freaking out about not being able to go online.

The thing is, I suspect I’m not alone. I have been using the internet daily for pretty much 15 years. These days I have so many devices connected to the internet that whilst I can’t go online from the shower, I can pretty much be online doing anything else. Even when I’m cooking I take the iPad into the kitchen and stick on YouTube or Sky Go to watch/listen to something whilst I cook. The first thing I do in the morning is reach for the iPad to check my e-mails, then check the news, twitter et al.

I survived 16 hours without the internet but it reinforced just how reliant I am on it just to function. It is deeply concerning. With that I shall commit this blog post to the internet and go and watch an episode of The Apprentice from YouTube on my iPad that I have connected to Apple TV so I can watch it on the big screen. Technology folks. When I eventually join the world of being a home owner I wonder just what I’ll do but I can assure you of this – I suspect I’ll have one or two gadgets and I certainly want to be able to turn the heating on from my smartphone.

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May 8th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

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The clever angles estate agents take pictures from

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One of my friends and neighbours is moving. He works in London town and seemingly over comes home to sleep before going back into work the next day. So he’s selling his apartment. It is a beautiful apartment and if you have £275k and want to live in Thorpe Bay and be one of my neighbours then please have a look at it on Right Move

However this isn’t an advert for his apartment, I wanted to point out one of the photos used to try and attract people to buy the property. There are three external shots and two of our courtyard. One of them is embedded below.

Alexander Heights, Thorpe Bay

Alexander Heights Courtyard

Looks nice doesn’t it?

Well the thing is the angle is very clever as the photographer uses the plant in the bottom right hand corner of the photo to completely obscure my patio. My poor neglected patio with empty pots and soil over the stones after I pulled out all the weeds the other day. Other neighbours have always told me that my patio dragged down the value of properties and even the good people at Dedman Gray agree but ensuring it wasn’t seen in this photo.

It just made me smirk. It is genuinely a very nice apartment and would make a good home for someone. It is a lovely area with a railway station and The Broadway on your doorstep. However if someone having soil and empty pots on a patio is going to put you off then maybe it isn’t the best place for you.

Appearances are important not just in dating and interviews but seemingly in everything.

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May 1st, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Random Stuff


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The autumn is descending and the Neil starts reverting to type. The lesser spotted Neil (that blimin’ spot is still fighting for life on my chin – come on just die and let the beautiful pink skin win already) is a creature of habit. When the nights draw in and the sporting seasons get going then he’s rarely to be seen socially unless you happen to catch him between the apartment and a local takeaway establishment.

Unlike previous years this year the Neil has invested in fibre optic broadband and that has led to even more options for him to watch. With an iPad purchased coupled with an Apple TV box the odds of him not spending the whole of his weekend camped either on his chair by the PC watching sport or lounged across one of the sofas doing exactly the same is shall we say low.

People who have lived with the Neil will know all about this. On Sunday’s (and to a slightly lesser extent Saturday’s) it was known for him not to be seen at all bar forages to the fridge for a cold can of Cherry Coke. A common occurrence used to be doorbell ringing at some point on a Sunday evening and for a bemused housemate to answer it and see a takeaway delivery man or woman standing there. Luckily the housemates knew what this was and a shout upstairs would see the Neil sprint out of his room and bound down the stairs to pay for said food before swishing into the kitchen to pick up a bowl and a spoon before making his way back upstairs to dish out his dinner.

You see the Neil has an issue. That issue is he has no spare time on a Sunday from September through to the Superbowl in February. Yesterday it was noted that he made and ate his dinner during the build up to the Formula 1 as he realised that was the only time he had in the day to make dinner without missing some sporting action unless he wanted to eat dinner at around half past midnight.

We are lucky enough to have been given an insight into how the Neil spent his Sunday…

He was first seen at around 11 o’clock where upon he read his e-mails and read the Sunday papers. He then checked his fantasy baseball team and planned for the big final next week. At just gone midday he remembered the Grand Prix was on and quickly realised about a timing issue that he had. He made dinner just in time for the F1 to start but 25 minutes into the race he switched the F1 to the PC and put the football on the TV. He then remembered the Dundee United v Motherwell math was on BT Sport so put that on his iPad (there is a fellow Neil who follows DU but this Neil has been known to miss occasional sporting events to spend time with his wife – our Neil doesn’t have this option).

By 6PM the football was finished but then the NFL was on – a double header. However the live games did not grab the attention of our subject and whilst he put it on he was playing around on YouTube. Throughout the day the Neil was getting messages from a friend of his who was catching up on a week of Masterchef Australia and passing on her opinions. Come 7PM the latest episode was on TV and the Neil dipped out of sport to watch MCA and because of the terrible NFL games he would also watch The X Factor. At 9PM he returned to the NFL for the rest of the night but used the end of the early games to put his laundry on and then half-time to put his own clean laundry on his clothes horse. At the end of the day he filed some work but decided to record the early morning NFL game.

This is a rare insight to how the Neil lives. Some would say he needs a life and some would say he is living the dream. The one thing we know is that he spent nearly ten minutes trying to work out if he had had a shower that day and after the sniff test realised that he had not.

On the Saturday there was an early EPL game then at three there was Soccer Saturday coupled with a choice of live games via the fibre optic broadband route before the late EPL game. Due to TV regions the Neil was unable to watch the Penn State game live in the evening so spent it watching old Law & Order episodes.

Welcome to the life of Neil – not exactly the life of Riley but interesting all the same…

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September 23rd, 2013 at 5:45 pm

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Neil makes homemade burgers. Were they a success? Lets review the evidence…

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Last week I was sitting at this very PC talking to the only person from my first secondary school that I still speak to on a regular basis. We were doing one of the things we always do – discuss food. She was having Steak that night. I sure as hell wasn’t. I had some mince that I had to use and said I’d pop over the shop and get a jar of curry or chilli and make a simple curry or chilli. She said I should make burgers. I deliberated on this and then thought about it a bit after looking up burger recipes. I thought I could actually do this.

I had no eggs but she assured me that wasn’t a problem. Good I thought as I hate eggs and the smell makes me gag. I had onions, bread and thought I could empty the remains of a Jack Daniels Sauce bottle in. Ok I thought. I’m going to do this. So I went to the kitchen and the first problem was I didn’t have a mixing bowl so how on Earth was I going to mix the ingredients? So I opened the cupboard and lo and behold I had a mixing bowl. I don’t ever remember buying a mixing bowl but there it was. I suspect this is down to a former housemate who when I moved out of that place went shopping with me and told me all the things I needed to buy and just put them in the trolley. I assume this is where I got the mixing bowl.

So hurray. A mixing bowl. So I dumped in the mince and the onions and then my very roughly chopped breadcrumbs/large bits of bread before emptying the JD sauce bottle and seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. Then I mixed it all up. So far so good. I separated the mixture into five patties and put them in the fridge to chill. Now we get a problem. I was going to grill my burgers on the George Foreman but guess who had cleaned the grill but left the bits in the sink with a tap dripping? Yes that’s right. Me. Now I could of course wipe dry the grill bits but I didn’t. I made a late decision to shallow fry the burgers. This would be problematic.

So I shallow fry the burgers and put them in bread (I had no burger buns and cba to go and get any) and tucked into my burgers. They tasted ok but the insides of the burgers weren’t cooked properly and were pink. I thought to myself that it was fine and carried on but then Googled it and homemade burger patties that aren’t cooked properly can result in what they call ‘Hamburger disease’ or as scientists call it Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7. It is pretty bad. So I spent two to three days waiting for the food poisoning but happily it never came. I ate the rest of the burgers having grilled them thoroughly and they were cooked through fine.

As for the overall meal. Meh they were edible burgers but most certainly not anything to write home about. Too much onion and needed more seasoning and maybe some herbs. Would I try it again? Sure but next time I would actually plan it. The biggest moral of the story is I haven’t died and therefore no-one should feel any guilt over my potential death for suggesting I should make burgers…

Here is the photographic evidence:

Making Home Made Burgers 1

Mixing bowl of ingredients

Making Home Made Burgers 2

Mixture mixed up into a giant pattie

Making Home Made Burgers 3

Five home made burger patties

Making Home Made Burgers 4

Burgers in Pan

Making Home Made Burgers 5

Cooked(ish) burgers in pan

Making Home Made Burgers 6

Burgers on Bread

Making Home Made Burgers 7

Burgers in Bread

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July 15th, 2013 at 11:32 am

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Disney has sexed up Brave star Merida but at what cost to young minds?

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‘Individuality in people is what makes them beautiful’

Words of a very special young man, oh wait, no, scratch that, I said those words this morning. You see I was speaking (well typing) in response to the petition surrounding the ‘glammed up’ version of Merida by Disney as they have made her look more ‘beautiful’ as they prepare her for the US market. They clearly think that by making her look more sexual then they’ll sell more products but isn’t this yet again an attempt by a big money corporation to follow the dollar instead of standing up for what is right?

The creator of Merida – the star of the film Brave – is unhappy with the new version of her character. Speaking in The Guardian she said the following:

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value – to be recognised as true princesses – they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.

By jove she has a point. Now I’m a man so did not face half the issues that women – and in particular young women face as they grow up. Still I see all the magazines and read all the stories (ok that is a lie, I don’t but I know they exist). I know that we are spoon fed by the media what to look for in role models and alas looks is right up there. I was standing in the shower earlier working through this blog post in my head (yes this is the type of thing that I do) and I wondered to myself if we asked 1,000 teenage girls and 1,000 teenage men who they would aspire to be like (and for the men would like to share dinner with) – either Dame Helen Mirren or Kelly Brook who would get the most votes amongst both genders?

I think it is safe to say the vast majority of teenage men would be hot blooded and say Kelly Brook but I also fear that an albeit smaller majority of women would prefer to be like Kelly Brook than Dame Helen Mirren. This depresses me. The tabloid media will follow Kelly Brook’s (or anyone else of that ilk) every move so they can show a photo of her in an attempt to boost sales. Good looking women sell copies but photos of a respected, Oscar winning actress would not.

Michelle Obama is the most known First Lady of all time I suspect and is it a coincidence that she is the most glam? I had Carla Bruni shoved down my throat in both the written and broadcast media when she was the wife of the French President but I had to go and search for the name of her successor in that position. Valérie Trierweiler is her name for the record. Whilst I don’t begrudge the media presence of Michelle Obama as she clearly uses her position to further many great causes – it says a lot that other First Lady’s have done just as much good which were not as widely recognised due to being less in the media spotlight.

The media and society have a view on what is beautiful and they try to promote people who fall into that venn diagram of who they believe is beautiful. The media do this to make money (similar to what Disney have done with Merida) and society gets dragged along with it. You ask anyone who they think is the most beautiful person and they’ll say their partner if they have one and then if you say ignore their partner they’ll pick out someone famous. However they won’t all name the same person, in fact quite the opposite, if you asked 1,000 men and 1,000 women who they thought the most beautiful famous person was and I’m willing to bet we’ll get at least 100 names for both men and women.

You see the thing is we all look for something different and see beauty in an unending number of ways. If someone asked me what I thought makes someone beautiful then I would struggle to answer. This is just this je ne sais quoi that some people have and some people don’t in my eyes. There is no one thing that I could hang my hat on and say ‘that is something all beautiful people have’ because I just don’t think there is that one thing.

I would love to live in a world where beauty isn’t dictated by society or the media. I know as we all get older we start to see this for ourselves but when you are young and impressionable you don’t see this. When I was a teenager I saw what the media dictated as the most eligible bachelors – David Beckham and Jamie Redknapp – marry two pop stars. Every young women (ok not every young woman, that is a lie) but the amount of young women who wanted to be pop stars increased with this because they thought that is what eligible bachelors go for. A lot (although not as many as some in society would claim) of young women would like to be a footballers wife. Is this really an aspiration we want to pass on?

The best way to tackle this is to promote individuality as beauty. If young people can see that beauty is not just want society tells us it is then they would start to feel less pressure to conform to what society wants them to be. We are all different. This is what makes us a wondrous race. I’m lucky that I have reached a stage where I am comfortable in my own skin but heck in my teens and early 20s I had so much disdain for how my looked it was insane looking back.

If I had my way then schools would promote individuality far more than they do. In our education system you aren’t prepared for the real world. Instead you are forced into a mould to achieve the best possible exam results for both yourself and in turn your school. However whilst being academically successful is important, so is the process of discovering who we are and how we can be the best person we can be. I think our education system fails on this and is one thing I’d love to change. The more young people are allowed to explore themselves the more tolerant we would be and the more comfortable we would be with ourselves and others – no matter how different we were.

Back to the original point the petition is here and if you believe that young women need a vaster array of role models then I would implore you to sign. I don’t blame Disney for what they did because they are just trying to maximise their revenues but I am disappointed by it. They don’t have an obligation to any section of society but it would be nice to see them promote a larger selection of role models and not just do what they think is best for them in the short term profits wise.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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May 14th, 2013 at 1:22 pm

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One second can change your life – Zebra Crossing (near) accident edition

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Life can be a bit fickle can’t it? In the blink of an eye everything can change not only for you but also for many others. One small thing can lead to giant consequences and life altering situations. One of those situations happened to me today and to be frank I’m relatively lucky not to be in a hospital right now, at best.

Many years ago (2000 or so) I should have died on a zebra crossing. There were four lanes of traffic and the green man was all lit up and I was walking across. In lane three there was a double decker bus and therefore i could not see what was coming in lane four but with the green man all lit up I didn’t exactly worry but as I stepped into lane four a speeding car whooshed through. I was already a step inside the lane and I saw and heard it and put on the emergency breaks but as I did so my momentum was still travelling forward and my upper body kinda hovered over the car and then when it passed my feet moved to stop me falling into the road. It was most surreal and my phone went but seconds later and I remember answering it, ‘I should be dead.’

It showed me how one second can indeed change your life. Had I been one second earlier then the likelihood is I wouldn’t have taken another breath as that car was travelling easily at 40+ just going straight through the red light. Well today a similar situation arose. I have had instances where cars have just gone through zebra crossings before – even when I’ve been on them but this one was different – this one I managed to clock the driver and noticing that she wasn’t looking at the road saved me at best a trip to A&E and who knows what else.

Outside my apartment is a zebra crossing and I was off into town to do some food shopping. To my right a car was turning and to my left three cars were coming and they all decided not to stop for the person on the zebra crossing. The traffic to my left had stopped and I went to walk across the road. Then I flicked back to my right and there was another car and it wasn’t slowing down and I managed to glance directly at the driver. She wasn’t looking at the road. She was looking down the Broadway either at the car that had just turned left or the parade of shops. She had no idea I was there just starting to walk in front of her.

Luckily I had clocked this and I only took one step before stopping and letting her swish by. As she went by she finally swiveled her head back towards the road and still she didn’t see me with essentially half a foot out in the road. I’m perfectly fine but it made me think that by her not looking at the road/ahead for just a second or two it could have led to her life being dramatically altered as well as mine. I was lucky I noticed she hadn’t noticed me. She was coming from a long way away and had she been looking forward there is no doubt she would’ve seen me and had ample time to just cruise up to the zebra crossing and let me cross. Instead she was travelling at a good 30-40 and not looking at where she was going.

Just goes to show that small, what seemingly are inconsequential decisions, could lead to rather dramatic consequences.

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April 30th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

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If I could go back to (insert date here) would I…?

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It is a question I often ask myself when laying in bed or sitting on the throne, if I could go back to (and then I think some random date) would I go back and I ponder how happy I was at that time compared to how I am now etc. Well in the interests of a blog post I thought I’d look back at how I was at the end of April every year for the past ten years and see if I’d go back to that time or not.

Note: Obviously I’d go back in time and just before the huge EuroMillions jackpots were drawn go back and play the winning numbers so lets ignore that.

2003. I would have been coming towards the end of my first year at university in Farnham. I was happy where I lived and had made some pretty good friends. University was going along ok and I was cruising towards passing the first year. At this point in 2003 I had actually had a few dates with someone (cue SitCom studio audience going ‘ooooo’) but it would not go any further due to her meeting someone else (ahhhh) but I had just witnessed Pompey winning the league so that was good. Would I swap 2013 for 2003? Maybe I would but only because I would like another crack at the whole uni thing.

2004. I would be just days away from doing Jury Duty and I genuinely enjoyed that. I would be just a couple of days away from handing in my final assignment of my second year so I’m probably sitting at my PC trying to string together 3,000 words of cohesive text about some rubbish. No love interests at this point in 2004 and that I fear will become a recurring theme as I rack my brains. I’d swap 2013 for 2004 only because of Jury Duty and I’d be set for my last summer with my IoW based friends before never returning there on a full-time basis, which still shocks me now.

2005. At this point I was arguably at my most lost throughout this blog post. I was coming to the end of my degree and had fallen out of love with Journalism. I had no idea what the future held and the real world was actually pretty scary certainly when it became clear that I would not be able to move back to the IoW. No love interests at this point and certainly no reason to swap 2013 for 2005.

2006. I was lost in 2005 but by 2006 I had found myself. Volunteering in a charity shop had given me a large self-esteem boost and more of a purpose. At this point I had very few friends that I would actually see though and this I suspect was the start of my more reclusive nature socially. I didn’t really know where my life was going at this point but I was more comfortable with the journey. Wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2006 though despite being relatively happy at this point.

2007. Bizarrely enough despite being unemployed at this point in 2007 I was immensely positive that something good was just around the corner. I had got down to the final two for a job at The Sun which strangely enough a friend of mine actually does these days. Knowing that a large company like that could have some interest in me I felt positive something good was around the corner career wise. However yet again I wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2007. Notice no love (or potential love) interest since 2003, that has to change shortly right? Err…

2008. All change please. All change! Well for the fifth consecutive year on April 29 I was living in a different place and this time I had an exciting job to go with it. Hurrah! I was living in Aldershot working as a Sports Editor (right up my street) and was more than comfortable with my home situation. Smallest double bedroom ever but heck cheap rent, Sky TV and good housemates. Yep good times. However the job whilst being great on paper had one or two drawbacks, mainly stemming from essentially working solo on a project and having no one to bounce any ideas or just talk sport with in my office. When you work in an office full of people who genuinely dislike you then you struggle to stay motivated. Pompey are about to win the FA Cup but that is still a surreal day in my memory and not the exciting one I would have imagined it would be as a kid. Would I swap 2013 for 2008? Possibly but only because I have learned so much since then that I could make a bigger success of that project than I did.

2009. No more Sports Editor for Neil as I had moved on to become part of the SEO team at a well known company on a contractor basis. Still living in the same place and still happy with that situation although I was looking to move solely because I now worked from home and needed space for a PC etc… Still no love interests. What was April doing to me through the years? Had some good times though around this point and was pretty contented however I would not swap 2013 for 2009.

2010. In a stunner I had moved back home for a few months to save some dollary-do’s as it were. I was still working in the same position and low rent and no bills really does help your bank balance. Living back in an area where you don’t really know anyone my social life went to the dogs again. I doubt I’d swap 2013 for 2010 though.

2011. So I’d moved out again and into my own place where I still currently reside. Same employment situation but now I had finally thrown my hat into the ring and just joined the Liberal Democrats. I would be three weeks away from writing the blog post that announced this blog to a wider audience. However I see nothing of too much value or interest happening in my life at this point in 2011 so no swapping here.

2012. This was not a good time in my life. My dad had just passed away and I was fighting an election campaign that deep down I just wanted to get out of because my head was elsewhere. This is the biggest no to swapping years that I have come across on this little journey to how I saw life on this (or around this) date in the past ten years. I’d hate to go back to where I was at this point last year.

So in the ten years the only years I’d think about going back to would be the first two uni years as I wish I had made more of that experience and possibly 2008 as knowing what I know now I am pretty sure that I could have made that project far more of a success (and I have more self-confidence now than I did then) so instead of just seething at certain things I’d face them head-on and hopefully be able to change the direction that the project was heading in.

In those ten years from 2003 through 2012 there was just the one occasion (2003) where there was something going on in my personal life and in all honesty that had finished but I wasn’t aware of this at the time. April has not been a great month for my personal life (although as we all know no month has really been a stream of successes) but for the record I think December/January can hold the claim for best month on this front with both of them laying claim to three years where I’ve had some form of interest on that front in the past ten years.

What I think this shows is in the main I wouldn’t like to go back in time although I wouldn’t mind giving uni another go around and that project from mid 2007-early 2009 could have been so much better but such is life. On April 29 from 2003 to 2012 I lived at seven different addresses (although one of them was twice in two different stints) so I have gotten around a bit on that front but I have actually stayed put at my current location for just under three years now.

So all in all for this addition of ‘If I could go back to…would I?’ I think in general I’d say no, no I wouldn’t.

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April 29th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

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I became a man and I liked it…

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Ok there are some things that if you don’t actually know me that you need to know. Firstly that I adore takeaway food but hate eating in restaurants. Secondly I still prefer jogging bottoms to jeans (although I have learnt that jogging bottoms should not be seen at any social occasion or even just walking to the shops). Thirdly that I fully believe Sky+ is my most beloved gadget and I fully wonder how we lived before it got invented. Fourthly I have Care Bears and lastly and possibly most obviously I am in no way an alpha male nor manly in any of the traditional ways.

If you know me well you’ll know all this but whilst I couldn’t care less about owning all the ten original Care Bears (there is a legitimate back story behind this) the fact that I’m not manly still at times leaves me a little bit uncomfortable. Society still expects a man to be able to fix things when they go wrong and not have to call someone in. So we get to the tale of the past few days…

Neil v the blocked sinks

Yeah…my bathroom sink has been blocked for months but it wasn’t a huge issue. I live on my own and bizarrely I actually have more bathrooms than people living in my place so I use the en suite and could ignore the bathroom sink issue. I did try using drain unblocker as well as soda crystals/vinegar and of course the plunger but nothing worked so I kinda just left it. It does drain just incredibly slowly. For example if I filled up the sink it would probably take a few days to fully drain away.

So anyway last week suddenly my en suite started draining slower than Eric the Eel swims the 100m Freestyle. This was a problem. I wanted at least one sink working so again I tried what I had previous tried to little effect. Next I bought a wire thing that you can put down the plughole and jig it about and it pulls up gunk. This worked in a very small way so I was stuffed. It was either call the landlord and call out a plumber or do it myself. It was time for me to become a man.

So last night I’m there in the en suite and I unscrewed one of the pipes and I have a look inside. It was relatively clear. Therefore I knew the problem had to be in the trap underneath the sink. I had tried to unscrew this before but it wouldn’t unscrew. This was problematic. So I’m jiggling the pipes and the trap as by doing that the water seemed to trickle away and suddenly the trap came off in my hand. Water gushed out and then I saw what was in the trap. Wow. It was completely stuffed up with a hard plaster type substance. No surprise then that my sink wasn’t draining.

I scrape out the gunk and I do mean scrape it out. Then I stick my fingers up the pipe and clean out all the gunk and screw the trap back on. I turn on the hot water tap and it is draining so I put it on full blast and leave it to run for a minute or two to clean out any further small levels of gunk down the pipe. It drains well. I go to bed happy in the knowledge that I’d try the bathroom sink today.

Sadly though it was not that easy. My bathroom sink is hard to get to the u-bend (it has no trap) so I have to do it blind. I find everything I can unscrew at the back and finally find the two bits that connect the u-bend to the sink and to the pipe at the bottom of the system. This took me a while. I pull out the u-bend and it is exactly the same plaster type substance completely blocking it up. I must have some really hard water or something. So I run the hot tap through the disconnected u-bend (as I can’t scrape it out like the trap) and keep knocking it against the side of the bath. Slowly all the gunk piles out and I can’t believe how much there is. That is probably why it wasn’t draining.

I test the u-bend under the tap and it is clear and now I have to reconnect everything I disconnected. Again I’m doing it blind because it is against the wall and I can’t see anything. I get the top bit connected to the sink and find I have it on backwards. I unscrew it and turn it around and tighten it up again. Happily the bottom part is now lined up perfectly with the u-bend and I struggle to tighten it fully but it is tight. I run the hot water tap full blast again through the system testing both connections to ensure there are no drips and there are none.


Yes I logically and methodically fixed my two completely blocked sinks. I haven’t felt this manly in a long time and I’m immensely proud of myself. I’m pretty sure calling out a plumber for both would have cost my landlord a few quid and made me feel pretty stupid when I found out what the problem was and how easy (relatively) it was to fix once I had located where the blockage had to be. This has undoubtedly been a good start to the week and for a Monday morning it is pretty outstanding. I even had my March invoices paid into my bank account this morning. Good times.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 22nd, 2013 at 12:23 pm

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