Billions Returns

I cannot remember who first recommended that I watch the series ‘Billions’, starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis as rivals Chuck Rhoades, former NY District Attorney and Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a mega-rich fund Manager, but I am glad they did. The fourth series kicked off this week and I am really looking forward to seeing the new episodes.

The addition of Asia Kate Dillon in series three, who plays gender neutral character Taylor Mason, reflecting their own gender neutral choice in real life, added a new dynamic to the show. Another great dynamic comes from actress Maggie Siff, present from the start, who plays Wendy Rhoades, a performance coach at Axe Capital and wife to none other than Axe’s arch-rival Chuck. If you’ve not seen the show, please do. You have about 36 episodes to enjoy before you get up to date.

My other favourite shows of recent times are the now finished House of Cards with (ahem) Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly and Madame Secretary which features real-life couple Tea Leoni and Tim Daly. If you’ve not seen any of these shows thank me later for the near 300 hours of TV you are about to enjoy.

Back to my life. Today I made a bit of a mug of myself because there was a vote at the end of the last full council meeting which followed a very long debate (as well as various debated amendments) concerning the annual council budget. I noticed on next weeks minutes that my name was omitted from the voting record from that particular vote. Various enquiries later I discovered that I had left the meeting at 1.27pm. I was sure this was incorrect. How could this happen? Anyway, after speaking with a colleague I recalled that I had left the meeting because we had licensing starting at 1.30pm and we had members of the public waiting so we slipped out early.

Before I headed to work I sent out an email to a few people with my tail between my legs apologising for wasting their time!

Efforts redoubled

Like Finch in American Pie 2, where he redoubles his efforts to master tantra in an attempt to prepare himself for his presumed arrival of ‘Stifler’s Mom’, I am redoubling my own efforts to get fit. I have let things slip recently and the returning tightness in my jeans tells me that the weight has returned. It’s nothing to be proud or glib about, but I am where I am. I have returned to my healthy regime and focused on what I call the “traffic lights” system.

My “traffic light” system is as follows. When I eat at about 7.30am, I do not feel hungry at all until about 10.30am. Then I move into the amber phase, where I probably won’t cheat. After 11am leading up to 12pm this is my red phase, where I really have to concentrate to just get to midday, when I am permitted lunch. After lunch I am fine until about 2.30pm, where I used to snack upon returning from work. A brief red zone until pm. Then it’s green until 4.30pm, then amber until 5pm and red until 5.30pm where I then make tea. Then it’s basically green for the rest of the night until 11pm where I take my overnight insulin and hit the sack. At some point I’d really like to get someone to create a clock with these gradients of colour on it. It is only the red points of the day where I really must try to be good, where it hurts. The rest is alright.

Feeding Horses

It’s March already! Yesterday I went for a nice walk with a friend of mine which took about an hour. The wind was pretty biting and if it had just been about half as powerful as it was the weather would have been absolutely perfect. We found a horse and fed it some grass. I often forget I live so close to the countryside. I went to a football match in the afternoon and then just relaxed for the rest of the day. It was a quiet but good day.

I am trying to get back to my strong discipline of last year when it comes to my food. Since I split up with my ex I have found the motivation, the ‘why’, more difficult to find. I am absolutely determined, however, to get things back on track. I’ve gained a little bit of weight and I want to get back to where I was. This includes more regular visits to the gym and a keener focus on my health and well-being.

Next week Neil is moving back to the north-east to start a new job. I’m really pleased for him because I know that he hates living in Edinburgh. Now that he lives a lot closer we are going to try and get the photography business into shape. He will be working full-time hours but our plan is to continue marketing the business, arrange and execute more local photo shoots together and start a photography training academy. We will also be finalising our travel arrangements for our first wedding which takes place in May.

I have also been reflecting on what I do with my spare time. I want to go out for more exercise and take advantage of the time that I have to do so. This will also serve the dual purpose of reducing the amount of money I spend, thus meaning I can sustain my lifestyle for longer. Sometimes I wake up and think, for example, “I want to go to Willington” or “I want to go to Crook”. I’m quite happy to just hop in the car these visits and just enjoy the feeling of being there. It doesn’t mean that I have to buy a fried breakfast or chocolate every time I do visit these places though. Good decisions is key and it’s no longer acceptable to justify bad decisions because I feel depressed or under the weather.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

The Huge Mistakes I Make

I am absolutely shocking when it comes to building relationships with women. I make so many errors I watched a YouTube video by a guy who gives advice on these things alongside many other bits of advice with some amusement. I literally do everything wrong.

Because I have been single for so many years, when I get an opportunity at building what I hope is a potential relationship I tend to put every effort into the situation because, frankly, I don’t get many chances. Inevitably I come across as needy and desperate, which puts the woman on a pedestal and without suggesting scarcity, where they need to do at least a bit of chasing, I fail to capture their interest and in most cases, I scare them away. Not that I get many chances mind you.

I noticed it the other day at the wedding fair. A couple came over to our stall and the guy, who was not a looker by any stretch, seemed so incredibly happy to be with the woman that he just stood there smiling with his head lovingly tilted to one side looking at her. The woman was clearly less bothered, although seemed happy. He was sickeningly devoted though. It reminded me of advice I heard given by a former employee of mine, a woman, who told her younger female staff members that “the secret to a happy marriage is to ensure you marry someone who loves you more than you love them.” Obviously only one party can own that dynamic. But I think it’s broadly correct. The one who loves the other party more is always chasing, always nervous. The other party has the power.

So the answer is to be more aloof, but I find this weird. I want someone, but need to appear like I don’t. The problem is if I act like I don’t want anyone, none comes along. I’ve swiped every women I can on Tinder (being fair to both parties I do swipe “no” some of them), but considering I probably green swipe 85% of women I see on there, there is either a lot of fake profiles or, more likely, I get “no” swiped by almost 100% of women. That’s a lot of rejection. I’ve only had one match so far and one conversation which, so far, hasn’t led anywhere. Probably down to the many mistakes I make. If anything, women have almost unlimited choice online as most men will green swipe most women. I can see why it must be intoxicating for women on there. But it’s harder for more average-looking men to get a look in.

I hoped that being straight with a woman that I like her, I want a relationship, I care and so on might help us skip the crap and get on with it. It doesn’t. They don’t want you to be honest. They think they do but they don’t. Being kind and caring is boring to a woman who probably has the ability to get any man they want. So they do the picking. It’s like a sales trick. Say to a customer “Come back any time and it’s yours forever” loses out every time to  “There is one left and there is interest”. In short, I have to play the game.

My biggest hope would have been to have met someone aged 20 – 25 and have an amazing relationship with all the memories in place by now, settled and happy. It never happened, it was never even close. It’s a huge disappointment and a huge gap in my life and my past. All I got was a series of painful rejections. Approaching 40 I just want the box ticked, although don’t for a second think that this means I’ll accept just anyone. However, it’s counter-intuitive to me to act like I don’t give a flying fig because I hardly get anyone chasing me. But think about this. If I act like I don’t care they all have 50 tinder matches and other interest to go to. Why would they stick around? It all seems hopeless.

What I need to do is focus on the gym and make tough decisions when it comes to what I’m eating. Even if I continue to fail I need to do so as the best I can be. I need to lose weight and be more of a prick. Then I might get more interest. I’ve proven my natural approach is absolutely rubbish and leads only to more of what I’ve had so far. Nothing.

Wedding Fair and Nice Weather

Last Sunday Neil and I visited Rotherham to attend a wedding fair. It was our first fair and we took the opportunity to assess our stall against the competition and plan improvements for our next fair. We got plenty of ideas and we spoke to quite a few people about our services. We did not make any sales, however, there was not many people at the fair and I’m not sure any of the stallholders sold anything. The feedback we received was excellent and we learned a lot. It was a great day out.

The weather was absolutely perfect yesterday. I had arranged to meet a friend at 10:45 AM in Willington and the weather was so lovely that I set off early, parking in my usual place, rolling down the windows and enjoying an episode of Waterloo Road season 7 (episode 28 I think) and I waited for the clock to reach me.

After the meeting I had nowhere particularly that I needed to go so I strolled down the high street to the local Co-op where I bought some stuff for lunch and took a leisurely walk back to the car. I experienced one of those lovely moments where I felt like everything was okay and I just was living in the moment enjoying it. These moments tend not to last so it’s important to enjoy them as you experience them. As you know I live my life searching for these moments and trying to feel like that all of the time.

Fast forward to 3 PM and my fellow ward councillor and I had arranged to meet an officer from the council to discuss the placement of a new bus stand. Sometimes there is local opposition to a new stand being installed near their home so the officer wanted to illustrate to us in person exactly what was proposed. Unfortunately, the road that we had arranged to meet on was huge and we ended up at different ends of it.  Eventually we all met up and the meeting was informative.

Today I look ahead to an equally chilled itinerary. I meeting a friend for breakfast at 10 AM and then heading to work from between 11 AM until 2 PM. It’s a short shift today because last night I went to the parish council meeting to give a report and that lasted two hours. After 2 PM I don’t really have too much to do, however, I will create another camber for the wedding photography business and pop that onto Instagram. I am going for a haircut before 10 AM.

Have a great day.

Freedom Returns

Around 4 PM yesterday the dog was collected and after an hour of hoovering my house was back to normal and I was able to celebrate the peace again. Don’t get me wrong the dog is a lovely dog but having experienced what it is like to own a dog, at least for a week, I have realised that it is definitely not for me at this point.

Apart from noticing the piece in the house a lot more and being appreciative of it, today I am preparing for the wedding fair tomorrow. Before midday today our new leaflets are scheduled to be delivered and then it is just a case of checking the cars water, getting everything together and setting off. Our stand should look nice. We have a custom-made tablecloth, a pull up banner, some canvas prints, a laptop slideshow, leaflets, contracts, an example of our presentation USB box and we will be wearing branded polo shirts. We are told that wedding fairs are the best place to find business so we will see how it goes.

Normally on Saturdays I go to watch football but I must admit that recently I have lost interest in it a little bit. It seems that my ambition to become a non-league football manager has hit the skids and with that realisation has seen my enthusiasm to go to the games diminish a little. Football is another area where I could go really deeply into analysing why it is that I wanted to be a football manager in the first place, but for now I’m taking a short break. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Is Blogging Old

I’m not sure if the age of the written blog is over. Perhaps this is, as the kids might say “sooooo 2006.” But I will press on in the hope that someone, somewhere, reads it.

After caring for the dog for two days I have realised that I definitely do not wish to own a dog at any point in the near future. The dog himself is great, really friendly and affectionate. Unfortunately, my lifestyle means that my house is very quiet and I worry that the dog is bored, particularly because he comes from a household of five people. I have messaged his owner and asked that he arrange for someone else to for the rest of the week. I will press on if he doesn’t have anyone but it’s actually a very busy week for me and I’m hardly in the house. I feel bad that the dog is left unresolved long periods.

Each time I mention something to my family all I’m getting in return is “well, a dog is tying.“ I must’ve heard this about 15 times and it’s getting on my nerves. I had already made the decision not to have a dog before agreeing to take my friends so I knew very well that I did not want a dog and I knew very well that a dog is tying. I’ve got work today until 2:30 PM and then tomorrow I’m out until around 3 PM. Then Thursday I will be out until 2:30 PM again and then hopefully on Friday he’ll be getting collected, if not before. Before would be better.

Trial Run Solves Everything

A trial run of anything is a good idea. Due to the fact that I had started to notice my isolation a lot more recently my sister suggested that I should get a dog. It seemed like a good idea at the time but on close reflection I decided against it. Seperate from this I had arranged with the friend some time ago that I would look after his dog Bruno. Bruno is a large American Labrador, very friendly and very clumsy.

Although I had already made the decision not to get the dog I’ve used the experience as something of a trial and error exercise. What has surprised me is that rather than make me feel like I have company the reverse has happened and I feel more isolated. I think this is because I am conscious that the only company I have is a dog and then I realise that anytime I want to go out, and I often do impulsively, I feel bad about leaving the dog by himself and I’m also conscious of having to rush home when I go to work. I think this is because one of the freedoms I do have is to go where I want when I want and if I want to see someone or even just change my scenery I can do so. Of course, I still can even with the dog, but I notice this restriction more. The conclusion that I have reached is; I love dogs but not enough to have one of my own!

My friend Neil has confirmed that he is to move back to his hometown which is around one hour’s drive from where I live. We are already doing the wedding photography together so we are discussing ways that we can further integrate this hobby/business. It is a big move for him as he has built up a business in Edinburgh and I am sure it will feel weird to receive email from prospective customers when he is no longer in the area. I imagine that will feel like throwing money away. But I know he will be much happier with this fresh start.

I am hoping that if we can find photo shoots we can do them together. I have lost count of the amount of hours that I have spent noting that there are not many types of jobs that I would like to do. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I both want to work and don’t want to work at the same time. When I apply for jobs now I am very aware of the freedom that I will be giving up the moment that I accept a position.

I’ve managed to secure the next 18 months but I know they will pass quickly.If we can get the wedding photography business up and running this appears to me to be a good balance of my freedom and also hard-working short bursts that I can actually enjoy. The stress of wedding photography does not bother me as I know I can do it. The only issue that I can see is that if it becomes my career I would have to be prepared to go it alone if something either happened to Neil or we went our separate ways commercially. The same applies to him of course. This Sunday we have a wedding fair and I’m sure that I will comment more about this as the week progresses.

The last thing to mention is I continue to consider the acting industry but I am taking my time. My use of it as an illustration of me being aware of how time and people change is not a reason to start a hobby or make a commitment that I don’t want to make. More of that in due course.

Some Frustration

I knew this week that I had Friday off so I arranged to meet a friend who I used to work with for breakfast. Due to Valentine’s Day and her celebrating with the bottle of wine with her partner, our 8 AM meeting became 11 AM so I got up this morning and took the opportunity to have a shower and put my clothes into the washing machine.

Unfortunately, when I checked my phone it turns out that she woke up feeling unwell due to a cold and cancelled. I was look forward to our meetings as we worked together for many years in a fun job and we visit the places we used to frequent during those working years and it’s always fun to look back. We will do it again soon and I’m already looking forward to it.

Left with working out what to do with the rest of the day. I’m probably going for a walk later and then at about 5:30 PM there is a drop in for a local plan that a few residents asked me to go to. The drop in last for three hours but I’m probably going to go at about 5:30 to 6:30 as I think that’s when they’ll turn up. I will make sure to take photograph of myself there to prove that I appeared. Politics can be weird sometimes and if they don’t happen to see me there they will claim that I didn’t show up. The joys!

Have a great day.

Diabetic Eye Check

Yesterday I visited Sunderland Eye Infirmary so that the consultant could have a look at my eyes. As a type I diabetic unfortunately I have diabetic retinopathy. It’s not really serious at this point but it reminds me of the need to keep control of my sugar levels, my BP and my cholesterol.

With my appointment at 8:45 AM we set off really early to ensure that we arrived on time despite traffic. We arrived around one hour early and just sat around for a while. When I got inside the nurse took me into the room and I had anaesthetic drops placed into my eyes, then the eyes checked for pressure and then I read from a board to check my eyesight. I then went to photography where pictures of my eyes were taken and by now the dilating drops I had put in by the nurse before I went to photography were taking effect and things felt bright and blurry. I then went back to the outpatients department where was seen quickly by the consultant. I have to go back in four months and thankfully I don’t need surgery, I just need to keep on top of my diabetic control. I got home at around 10:30 AM which was way better and way sooner than I had expected, I had expected to be out for most of the morning.

I didn’t do much else yesterday but it was quite hard to do anything because the dilating eyedrops meant that I could not focus on my devices and for much of the day I could not read anything. Today I have a management board meeting at 9:30 AM and then I am free for most of the day. The only thing coming up is that I’m looking after my friends Labrador next week so will have a new routine of walks and caring for the dog for that week. I did consider getting a dog recently and it will be a good chance to see if my day-to-day routine is suitable to owning a dog.

I’ve decided to blog more regularly about what I am doing in my day-to-day life. If you don’t own a blog I strongly suggest that you give it a try. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking as a speech to text program so I have a bit of fun by speaking my blog post rather than typing them out. It’s something a little bit different but in some ways blogging about your life forces you to accept that people may be interested to read it and for me, this is confidence that I don’t usually have.

If you’re putting content out there on the Internet you are placing your work or your thoughts in front of other people where they can then give opinion, praise or criticise. I feel it’s really important that people put content out there and have your say because what you have to say is important. I am in the middle of watching a YouTube video by GaryVee, a very successful man, who says that you should be putting out eight pieces of content across around 10 social media sites in order to be successful and even that, he says, is not enough. Gary was very successful in identifying very early on many years ago that he should count all forms of non-online advertising and focus solely on Facebook and Instagram advertising. It worked and he has made millions. This pounding of content is brand building rather than affiliate sales marketing and I see the merit in it. Once I find a suitable project to focus on I will follow his advice.

It’s time to set off for work now so have a great day and thanks for reading.

Indulging my Favourite Topic of Thought

I have decided that whatever I’m thinking I’m going to share on this blog so today I would like to share that I further indulged my favourite topic of thought. I will need to explain it in full and in context so you understand what I am talking about.

YouTube are currently uploading old episodes of Waterloo Road, a drama set in a Rochdale school. The programme aired between 2005 and 2015. Due to it being a school drama it featured many young actors getting their first break in the industry and I’m sure that each and every one of them felt that they had achieved something really great by securing at part on the show.

I am fascinated by the acting industry. It taps into many of the things that I think would be fun to add to my own life, things like having a lot of variety that keeps my brain interested, being on television as I’ve always quite fancied being famous and, despite this being a perception, the chance to live with real purpose and meaning and to be part of something. In watching the productions many years later, I can also see vividly the outcomes of all of this work and then contrast the fact that everyone involved was fully in the moment but time has forced them to move on to other things. It brings home to me how fast things change.

I suppose what fascinates me the most is the fact that a lot of what I’ve just said can easily be contradicted when I assess my own life. I have always worried about whether I’m doing enough things purposefully because of a fundamental miss-presumption I made in my youth. My family was always focused on me getting to university. Looking back, I was the first member of my close family to go to university and therefore it is a reasonable presumption that my parents thought that if I did well in the education system doors would automatically open for me. This was only true to a point.

For anyone who’s been through the education system, particularly post-2000, you will know that having a degree does not necessarily open doors that it may have opened prior to 2000. I worked in many different jobs and I have been quite lucky that since the year 2005 I have been largely happy doing the work that I’ve done. But make no mistake, I would much prefer not to have to work and to be able to pick and choose what I do with my time. However, this is a double-edged sword. What I found is that with a little bit of free time, I end up doing very little. I find most of my time is taken up looking for things to do and, in the end, I don’t do much and feel unfulfilled.

This is why the acting industry looks so appealing. I find it very interesting to think about how actors are constantly searching for parts, are constantly moving around the country rehearsing, auditioning and filming and I contrast my own experience of life with wondering what it’s really like to be a jobbing actor, going from part to part with all of the uncertainty that that entails and it all seems far more exciting than my own repetitive existence.

But is this really how it is? I have read about many actors really struggling with the reality of the industry. Some of them work in quite menial jobs to make ends meet whilst they search for their next big role. Many are in debt and many have depression. When a role is broadcast on television we as viewers are totally in that moment whereas the actors themselves have long since recorded the part and moved on to search for and act out new projects. The fluidity of the industry both scares me and excites me.

For the last three months I have been very worried about the lack of progress in my own life. I feel like I just exist and when I contrast my life to the apparent excitement of, for example the acting industry, I feel like there should be more to life than what I experience. But the truly fascinating thing is that I would imagine that at least some of the actors would relate more to the struggles that I have rather than my utopian view of their life. I never consider that they may sit at home on a Sunday night wondering what to do with themselves and have a fairly empty diary that week to look forward to. I never consider that they also may wish to find steady reliable income instead of the existence of being a commodity in productions and sit waiting for the phone to ring to quash their worry.

Let’s go even deeper. I invite you to cast your mind back to 2010. You can probably remember the routine that you had, the people that you saw regularly and the aspect of your life that you identified most with that period of time. Then time carried on. Things changed. They always do yet we get very preoccupied with what we are doing on a day-to-day basis. I am currently a counsellor that is serving an electoral term of four years that expires in 2021. I don’t really look beyond this and even in 2019 it seems quite far away. So, you can see that I am contradicting my own view is that I’ve expressed in this article because if I apply the same approach to the acting industry, actors too may think ‘I have a two-year contract for this part so everything is fine.’

Looking at my own life again I would love to have what I consider these vibrant experiences one after the other. It reminds me that in the ever-changing world that we live in we must constantly be on the ball in terms of seeking out and optimising our experience of life. If we don’t, it’s very easy to do what I’ve done and fall off the radar. Time is merciless in how it ticks on and on.

I challenge myself every day to enjoy life as much as I can and I am always thinking very carefully about what I want to do. I’m considering trying to get back into the extra work that I dabbled in circa 2011 because I am always aware of the issues discussed in this article when I’m around this ever changing fast-paced industry. I invite you to consider these issues and think about them and strive to not to live by default. Identify, clarify and pursue your goals without fear or reprisal.

Otherwise we flatline and we know what happens when things flatline.

A New Start

The past few weeks have been pretty hard. I haven’t posted much on this blog because everything’s got a bit on top of me recently.

The split between myself and my ex-partner was very difficult. The one thing throughout my life that has always been missing has been a fulfilling relationship. I tend not to think about it too much because I find that to be very upsetting, but when I allow myself time to think about it I realise how much I’m missing out on and as I get older I know I won’t get that time back or those nice experiences that I’m missed out on that others take for granted.

My relationship wasn’t perfect. It was long distance for a start but what it allowed me to do was to dream about finally getting some of the nice things that I’ve only been able to watch other people experience. I find that when things don’t feel possible they don’t hurt, a little like if I was to dream about being a professional footballer, it was never likely so I don’t miss it.

Within the former relationship all of the possibilities that I’ve hoped for so long were suddenly within reach so to lose all chance of them coming to fruition, well, that hurt a lot. I also found it more difficult to do some of the activities that I used to do because now they feel really pointless. Things like indoor bowls for example, I just haven’t played it since the split.

Last year I did really well and managed to lose three stone. I didn’t do eating carefully and not much else. I didn’t really exercise although that would certainly help me lose even more weight. I’ve joined the gym but I haven’t gone as much as I intended to go and I need to put that right in the month ahead.

Without the relationship to occupy my mind I find discipline difficult. I really struggle with the ‘why’ I am doing it even though the health reasons are more than a compelling reason for doing so. That really should be enough, it is enough, but for some reason it doesn’t result in the actions I need to take to reach my goals, to be healthier and happier. As I write this I’m extremely frustrated with myself, but I know where it comes from. It comes from a feeling of being completely pointless, irrelevant and a failure. I can dress it up any which way I like but that’s how I feel even if I shouldn’t feel this way.

I must be balanced and take a moment to talk about what I do like about my life and about the plans for this blog. I watch football and I enjoyed being part of the club near where I live. I was manager for a little while but unfortunately it didn’t work out as the person who was running things wasn’t really willing to let us get on with the job. It’s an ambition that I still have but it’s not the most important one.

I’ve managed to secure funding for 18 months so I know that I will have a year prior to the election in 2021 where I will know where I stand in terms of the requirements to search for another job if I need one. Selection should be done by them and I should know where the national party stands and have a good idea whether I will get re-elected or not. I’m open to carrying on or finding normal work. I don’t earn a lot of money now but I have more freedom and I am happy about that. I don’t see the point of being well-paid but have no time to enjoy myself or feel happy. You have to like where you are working, the type of work and the business you are part of.

What about this blog then? I’m going to post what I’m doing and what I’m thinking. This will hopefully be the foundation of getting my health right and getting everything else right. If you read this blog, thank you! I hope you find the content interesting.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support.