National Poetry Day

It is national poetry day today so I am going to post a cheesy poem that I wrote when I was a young teenager. It was published in a book of short poems and appeared on Ceefax (remember Ceefax?).

I made my mind to dance and play
People don’t respect the things we say
From the skin of your T-shirt
To the Crown of Thorns
A little boy with crazy dreams
A lot of goals… 

I then wrote a second part to it but I can’t remember passed the first 2 lines…

Dreams are written with woven thread
Imprints in a childs head
 
(blah, blah, blah, something, something)

It’s amazing the things we can remember off by heart. I still remember the song I had to sing when I was a Oompa Loompa in a school play of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The way my teacher put across how important it was for us to remember lines was by telling us the story of when she was in the second world war and all the children in her class had to remember the serial number of their gas masks and where it was at all times. If they didn’t know, and the bombs fell, they might die! I was five. That story put so much fear into me that I learnt my lines off by heart, just incase the bombs fell and I would need to sing to the enemy…

Augustus Gloop! Augustus Gloop!
That great big greedy nincompoop!
How long could we allow this beast
To gorge and guzzle, feed and feast
On everything he wanted to?
Great Scott! It simply will not do.
So what we do in cases such
As this, we use the gentle touch
And carefully we take the brat
And turn him into something that
Will give great pleasure to us all
A doll, for instance, or a ball.
Or marbles or a rocking horse.
But this revolting boy, of course,
Is so unutteralby vile,
So greedy, foul, and infantile.
“Come on!” We cry. “The time is ripe
To send him shooting up the pipe!”

 (please take note that I know that these are not the exact words that Roald Dahl wrote but they were the words that we learnt… Well, I hope they are the words we learnt… If they aren’t and the bombs do fall, I’m in trouble.) 

36 things about being Thirty Six

I turned 36 last month. These are 36 things I have noticed about being 36.

  1. Nothing really changes.
  2. I wonder how people much younger than me have managed to acheive so much.
  3. I’ve been on twitter for 3 years.
  4. Losing weight isn’t as easy as it once was.
  5. BBC Radio One is not for me.
  6. It’s harder to keep a willing suspension of disbelief when watching films and TV.
  7. Little things annoy me.
  8. Years don’t feel that long.
  9. My handwriting is still awful.
  10. Teenagers think you are old.
  11. Many people my age have children.
  12. Most of my clothes are over 10 years old, some are even 20.
  13. I have written an online blog in some form or other for 13 years.
  14. Music doesn’t excite me like it once did.
  15. I’m sure some of the girls I went to school with are now grandparents.
  16. I still feel like I am 16.
  17. Having to accept that I’m never going to be a spy/astronaut/ninja/pirate/robot.
  18. Realising that 18 is half my age.
  19. A lot of people expect you to act your age.
  20. I am still useless at spelling & maths.
  21. Bands I consider to be fairly new bands have all been going for more than 5 years.
  22. Things don’t impress me much.
  23. If I was an american I would old enough to be their president.
  24. My diet hasn’t changed.
  25. I am older than Tom Hardy, Zachary Quinto, & Michael Fassbender.
  26. I still look like I am 26.
  27. My short term memory is awful.
  28. I might be immortal.
  29. I am always tired.
  30. When I was 30 I tried to make a mental effort to grow up.
  31. When I was 31 I realised that I was never really going to grow up.
  32. I’m going grey.
  33. Some of the guys I went to school with have gone bald.
  34. I’m old enough to be Justin Bieber’s & Miley Cyrus’s dad.
  35. Being young at heart is better than being young.
  36. Things are always changing.

These are a few of my favourite things…

 I can remember years ago, the father of an ex girlfriend had a little note on his mirror which simply read…

“Remember how miserable it was”

He wrote that so whenever he didn’t feel like getting out of bed and going to work it would remind him of what it was like when he was unemployed and depressed.

I don’t need motivation to get out of bed, but I do like the idea of writing notes for myself. Notes that make me happy. So the other day I thought I would buy myself a blackboard so I could do just that. If I ever feel down or I’ve had a bad day I can just look at them and it will put a smile on my face. I wanted something magnetic that I could stick to the fridge, but I couldn’t decide on what to get?  A blackboard or whiteboard? …so I bought both. I also ordered some chalk pens and other creative things that I could use. The first thing I thought I would write down was a list of things that I am looking forward to. Seeing what makes my fiancee happy also makes me happy, so Sally has joined in too. So far things look like this…

The chalk pens haven’t arrived yet but when they do I want to start writing on the blackboard and instead of writing down things that I am looking forward I want to write down a list of favorite things. It’s going to be our new hobby. Every month Sally and I will write down our favourite things and it can be anything, a film, a song, a book, a drink, an event. It doesnt have to be in any order just a list of things that makes us happy. If I was to write a list now it would look something like this….

  • Sally
  • Snuggles
  • The idea of being married
  • The Avengers
  • White Knuckles by OK GO
  • Making lists
  • Dancing around the Kitchen
  • Sunny days
  • Playing guitar
  • Watching stuff on Netflix

…and what’s billiant about having a black/whiteboard is that it’s not permanent. If I think of something else, change my mind, or worse, the thing I wrote now makes me sad, it doesn’t matter. I can make a fresh start. I can almost literally, wipe the slate clean.

I am Runner 5!

If you have read my blog before you will know that:

  1. I am a bit geeky.
  2. I’ve been getting fit for my forthcoming wedding (I’ve lost 2 stone!)

So imagine my joy when I found a great running app called Zombies, Run!. It’s basically an adventure story that you listen to while you are running. You play the character ‘Runner 5” and you’ve got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by going out and collecting critical supplies.

I am Runner 5! (Me sporting the official ‘Zombies, Run!’ T-shirt)

When you start your run, your base (Able Township) will give you a mission (from what I’ve done so far most missions last about 30 minutes) and then the app will play you tracks from your own music playlist as if your base is broadcasting it from their radio tower, it will then briefly interrupt the music every now & then to let you know you’ve found something, “You’ve picked up a first aid kit”. After each track someone will update you on your progress and how the mission is going, and letting you know if zombies are nearby. They will tell you If you need to speed up, slow down, and more importantly if you are being CHASED BY ZOMBIES!!!

Once you have completed your mission you will be told to return to base and the app switches to radio mode. This mode is basically the same as the mission mode but the story won’t progress any further. Instead two DJ’s from Able Township (the base) will give you light conversation between tracks. This basically gives you opportunity to ‘collect’ more items for the rest of your run. Once you have finished running you can then use the items you’ve collected to develop your base and help your surviving population thrive. My base as gone from a population of about 60 to around 150. You can then post your progress on Twitter. With a bigger base comes more missions and some unexpected surprises!

I started using the app about a month ago on ‘Accelerometer’ mode while using my Wii Fit. So yes, I had been doing a lot of running on the spot, and the app would detect the motion of my iPhone and calculate my approximate pace. Yeah, yeah, I know, I was a bit lame, it’s not real running, but using ‘Zombies, Run!’ had made double the about of time I spend ‘Free Running’ on the Wii Fit and made me want to go out running for real. So that was my next plan, go out on the streets, turn on the GPS, turn on  the ‘Zombie Chase’ option, go for a run and see where the story would take me.

The first run I did was at night. I put on my black jogging bottoms and hoodie, and headed out into the darkness. I thought I was ready, I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t…

I turned out that running on the spot is NOTHING like the real thing (who knew). After about 10 minutes out I felt shattered, but I was scared. I was out on my own, and expecting zombies to attack me at any moment so I kept on running. A police car slowed as it passed me, so I turned the corner and started heading down a side road. I know I had done nothing wrong but the sight of the police car had given me a wake up call;

  1. It’s late at night.
  2. I am dressed in black with a black hoodie.
  3. I am running.
  4. If stopped, the police would probably not believe me if I told them I was being chased by zombies.

As the mission was over anyway I decided it was time for me to head home. I collapsed on the sofa, and started allocating my supplies. I had been out for about an hour. The next day I could hardly walk. I could hardly walk for a week. I ached all over. The next week I decided that from now on I would do more of a ‘Zombies, Walk!’ than ‘Zombies, Run!’.  So that’s what I’ve been doing. Walking.

I have being doing Chichester’s Wall’s Walk, starting off slow at first, just incase I need to speed up due to the threat of Zombies. As it’s easy to complete the walk in less than half an hour, I’ve got into the habit of doing laps or adding to the route. I normally go out for an hour, given myself around 30 minutes to complete the mission and then 30 minutes of ‘radio’ time. Sometimes i’ll jog, sometimes I’ll stroll but I will always be out long enough to complete the mission.

Hang on… Wait…. what’s that? Behind you! No!! No!!! It’s them! They must have broken through the barriers!!!  Zombies, RUN!!!!!!!

An ultra-immersive running game for the iPhone, iPod Touch, & Android.

Open Road Song…

Since I bought the VW Golf (RoOkar II A.K.A Rolf The Golf) I’ve had a bit of a dilemma when it comes to listening to music. My old fiesta had a cassette player and so it was easy to use a tape adapter for my iPod to listen to music and podcasts, and although I have a iPod FM turner, the sound quality isn’t as good so I have been mainly listening to CD’s (I know CD’s are so “old school” now aren’t they?!) . Now because all of my music is now on my computer and also because I don’t want to scratch or loose damage any of my original CD’s I have been burning my own compilation CD’s. So recently I have been obsessed with driving songs.

There are hundreds of songs out there that are perfect for driving to;

  • “Radar Love” by Golden Earring
  • “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf
  • “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC

…just to name a few.

But must of the songs which feature on the lists of “Top Driving Songs” are normally over 30 years old and as much I love listening to these “classic driving songs” I thought I would post the songs I would include on a list of great drving songs that rarely or never get a mention.

So here are 10 of my favourite songs to listen to while driving…

  • “Joy” By Gay Dad
  • “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei
  • “This is your life” by The Dust Brothers
  • “Step Into My World (The Perfecto Radio Edit)” by Hurricane #1
  • “Travelling Without Moving” by Jamiroquai
  • “My Favourite Game” by The Cardigans
  • “Stylo” by Gorillaz
  • “Jailbird” by Primal Scream
  • “Go With The Flow” by Queens Of The Stone Age
  • “Open Road Song” by Eve 6

Continue reading

Dawn

Dawn was one of my best friends at school. We were in a band together. Sophie sang and played bass, I played guitar and sang backing vocals, and Dawn played the drums. We were called ‘LizardSkin’ and were a lo-fi punk rock band. This was 1993 and Grunge had hit the U.K. We would always meet at Dawns house, whose parents didn’t seem to mind their daughter having a full size drum kit in her bedroom. It was a small bedroom and after the single bed, drum kit and a wardrobe you couldn’t fit anything else in it. As it was so small, Sophie and I couldn’t even fit in the same room. We stood in the landing and played our hearts out, recording our noise into a hand-held cassette recorder. We were as lo-fi as you could get.  We wrote songs about anything that came into our heads, whether it be a song that we learnt in our Chinese lesson (yes, we studied Mandarin at school) or a song about ‘Nuclear Chocolate’, named after the time that we bought a giant bar of Dairy Milk which we then constantly spilt equally between ourselves until there was nothing left, just one atom of chocolate. An atom which we would have to split between us. The chocolate atom bomb. Simple times.

We played lots of gigs in the local area, and even ventured up to London to do a gig at a pub in Camden. It was my favourite band. There was something so naive and innocent about us. We would constantly turn up to gigs without any instruments, borrowing kit from the other bands. I don’t think we would have gotten away with the stuff we did if we were band made up of egotistical pretentious young boys. But we weren’t, we were Riot Grrrls… Well Riot Grrls and Boy. Being the boy in a band with two girls was probably the best thing about being in the band. It was like I had two sisters. Two sisters who I loved very much and two sisters who could kick my ass if they wanted to. It was no secret at the time that Dawn had a crush on me. When she asked me out or got someone else to ask me out I would always say no. I would turn her down by saying that it would get too complicated with us being in a band. It was very flattering. I’ve never seen myself as someone who was attractive to opposite sex and I had no confidence with girls when I could sense that there anything more than friendship. I would never chase after a girl because If I did chase them, then they might know that I liked them. I was much happier listening to The Smiths in my bedroom, whimsically waiting for the day that the girl of my dreams would come along and notice me. Dawn was not the girl of my dreams but had noticed me. Dawn had confidence. She had broken that playground rule that it’s only the boys who do the chasing, and knowing that she thought I was good-looking gave me confidence.

After school, priorities changed. I was now in college and had other bands on the go. Priorities changed for everyone and although we were still friends rehearsals became few and far between until the band became just a memory. In 1998 I left Bracknell and moved to Chichester, in West Sussex. Years would pass but Dawn and Sophie were friends who were burnt into my heart. They were friends who to me would always be my friends and every time I saw them it felt like we had never spent a day apart.  But we had spent time apart and our lives had moved on. Sophie got married in 1998 and I got to be her Best Man/Maid of Honour. They have since separated and Sophie is now with Matt, and has recently given birth to little girl, Dawn had also got married & had two children. Everyone was growing up, everyone except me, as I seemed to living my life in a time loop.  

Earlier this year I went to see the film ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’. The film is based on a comic about a young man called Scott who has to fight against the seven evil exes of the girl of his dreams. This part of the story didn’t remind me of Dawn but the fact that Scott was in a lo-fi band with a female drummer with attitude, did. Dawn had attitude. Watching this film made me reminisce about the old days, and the good times we had growing up. I would chat to Dawn on Facebook now and then whenever she was on but recently I had lost interest with site and something that I used to use everyday a few years ago became a once a month occurrence. The last Facebook message I got from Dawn was on October 25th this year. She was wishing me Happy Birthday.

On Tuesday 16th November I came home from work and found several missed calls on my phone from my brother. There was also a message to say that an old school friend had left me a message on Facebook. The news from both was that yesterday Dawn had been murdered.  It was news that didn’t sink in. I was in shock. I looked on the internet for further information, but there was none, only that a Bracknell woman had been found dead. That could be anyone, sure the photo attached to the article showed Dawns house but just because it shows Dawns house it doesn’t mean that the woman was Dawn. Maybe it was a neighbour and as her house was shown in the article it had people jumping to conclusions. I looked at Dawns Facebook profile. She had only updated it the day before. The day she was murdered. Maybe she is staying at her parents house and she would soon update the page to show that news of her death was a little premature. I was still in shock. I need to phone Sophie, I thought. I pressed the ‘S’ on my phone and Dawn’s name was one of the first names that came up. I still had her down as Dawn Simms and not Dawn Clinton. Simms being her maiden name, and as Simms started with a ‘S’ it was listed in my search. I paused for a moment. Should I ring Dawn? What if I call and no one answers? I decided against calling her and called Sophie. Sophie didn’t answer but Matt did. I had never spoken to Matt before but explained my reason for calling. He too had heard the news but Sophie was out with their daughter and as far as he knew she hadn’t heard. I needed to speak to someone so I spoke Lynsey on the phone. She was the old friend from school who had sent me the message about Dawn on Facebook. I was still in shock. Lynsey confirmed that it was Dawn and that Jon her husband had been arrested for her murder.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I sat at my computer and tried to find more information.

http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2082315_man_arrested_after_womans_body_found

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-11763939

When I did sleep I had a dream that Dawn sent me a message on Facebook telling me she was ok, and that like I had thought earlier that she wasn’t at home and it was a neighbour who had been killed and she had only just managed to get online to tell everyone that it wasn’t her. This dream gave me false hope until they finally released the name of the victim. It was indeed Dawn.

http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2082434_suspected_murder_victim_named_as_dawn_clinton

Dawn has been in my thoughts ever since.  I had not seen Dawn face to face for almost 10  years but I have this huge feeling of loss. I don’t know how to deal with it, I assumed I would know her forever. I look at her Facebook profile and see messages from friends, and messages from strangers. Is my grief too much? How do you grieve for someone you haven’t seen for years? Someone who was such a big part of my life as teenager but who had little input in my adult years. I have been reading articles about her everyday since I heard. My thoughts going out to her family and friends.

Dawn was amazing. She is part of who I am and my life has been forever changed for knowing her. On Facebook she summarizes herself with these words;

“I will skid broadside into Hell, thoroughly used up and worn out, with a fag in one hand and a coffee in the other screaming ‘Whoa, what a ride’!”

 What a ride indeed. Dawn, you rawk. I love you x

Drum solo!

UPDATE :

 24th May 2011 – Jon Clinton has been jailed for life with a minimum 26-year term after being convicted of murdering Dawn and 2 years for arson, with the two sentences to run concurrently.

BBC NEWS / Bracknell Newsgetbracknell.co.uk )

Are you normal?

I wasn’t one of the popular kids at school, when I was growing up I just did my own thing . I couldn’t really relate to anyone who didn’t like the same things as me, especially when it came to music. In 1992 I was into grunge, metal and alternative bands. I looked the part too. I had long hair, so long that I could sit on it. I played guitar and was in a band, but as time went by the music scene changed. Kurt Cobain died and Definitely Maybe was released. 1994 was an odd year. It wasn’t a smooth transition for me. I loved the britpop music but I felt like I was being a traitor to my alternative ‘roots’. I denied britpop at first. All the popular kids who were into mainstream music liked britpop. Mainstream music was the enemy! But britpop was still classed as alternative. All the british bands I was into before britpop came on the scene got relabled britpop and lots great bands came out of it. By this time  I was in college and made new friends, I got more into britpop and my fashion sense changed accordingly. Gone was the long hair, the ripped jeans, doc martins and flannel shirts. In with short feathered hair, retro tracksuit tops and addidas trainers.

But britpop came and went, and afterwards I didn’t feel like I was a part of a scene anymore. I didn’t really have a particular ‘look’. As the years went by I guess I became more and more ‘Normal’. I didn’t feel the need to dress a certain way or follow a band religiously. It didn’t mean that music wasn’t as important to me as it was, it just wasn’t the be all and end all. I wasn’t a elitist. I still love meeting people who share my taste in music, who grew up listening to the same bands that I did. However do I feel like I have make some sort of secret handshake or something to find these people due to my ‘normal’ look. My hair has been it’s natural colour for over 10 years now and I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t think I really stand out in a crowd so how would they know that I know what i’m into. I do admire those who have stuck with a look. Everyone on SuicideGirls who have committed ink to their skin. Everyone who doesn’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks of them.

 In 1992 I looked like Cliff (Matt Dillon) in “Singles”… Now in 2010 I look more like Steve (Campbell Scott).

  I do find myself looking back at the bands and music I loved and listened to when I was growing up and falling in love with them all over again, digging out old band t-shirts. Newer bands seem to come and go and I don’t really notice. With music being so accessible and downloadable, gone are the days hunting down a rare single in the local indie record shop and more importantly meeting the people in there and finding new bands and music to listen to. I don’t realise how much time had gone by and the bands that I think are new are now considered old school. But I don’t question what music my friends listen to anymore. I find myself being surprised that some of them listened to pop music when they were growning up and have never heard of some of the bands that I listen to and made me who I am.  It’s scary to think that if I had met them back then I doubt we would have still ended up as friends. So who is to say what is normal? Am I normal? Are you normal?