Smash Hits

See also: Found.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised these last few days, for two reasons.

Firstly, I see who “referrers” to the site are. Over time, I’ve seen the referrers start to include some of the main search engines. A couple of months ago it was google.co.uk, a few weeks ago it was google.com, their main site. So, ever so slowly, I guess the profile of the blog is going up.

Secondly, a couple of times over the last few weeks, I’ve seen an abnormal number of hits, probably 10x normal. Once, probably 100x. I see the demographics of these hits, though, and whilst most of the hits are from the UK, there are a noticeable minority from other jurisdictions like the USA, Russia and Israel.

I don’t mind this one bit – as long as my audience realises that I’m only really going to write in English, then if I can help anybody else get through their experience, that’s brilliant. However, it’s also raised my caution levels as well. In the past, people have left spam comments, “buy viagra here”-type comments. I really don’t like to censor things, but I do if I feel they run against the spirit of the blog. So I try to look at the comments regularly just to make sure…

Blogger helps me a little with this, it automatically rates comments and might put them in a kind-of “Junk Email” folder (where presumably they remain until I approve them for publication), but it does kind-of surprise me that anybody would feel this blog is an appropriate place to write such comments in the first place. But I guess the point is that they just don’t care.

Maturity

Part of me chuckles whenever some kind of sexuality-based issue comes up. LGBT, Pride etc. I mean, I have a broad notion that a couple should be able to behave as they wish, as long as it is consensual, but beyond that, it raises an eyebrow that it is such a big deal for people.

Actually, I should not be surprised because with any non-hetero situation, there has been an associated fight for equal rights, and equal rights is important.

There’s an issue currently with some schools in Birmingham. I have no school-age children so, as you might imagine, it’s not a topic I follow closely, so I might have this wrong. A group of schools up there are teaching kids about relationships. The teaching includes gay and bi relationships, and I’m not sure if all the schools involved are primary schools (4-11 years), but certainly some of them are. These lessons have sparked protests from parents, and I think the dispute is framed as the establishment (including local council and national government) versus the parents.

I think the interesting question here is the broader one of “at what age is it appropriate for someone to do x. X might be many things, from something like learning about non-hetero relationships to the criminal age of responsibility. We’ve had politicians over the last few years for expressing views when they were young grown-ups which are different to the views they hold today. (Invariably, the views they hold today are more pallatable.) I’d include this as well – basically anything along the road from immaturity to maturity.

Just taking a yardstick, I think that the current age of legal responsibility in the UK is twelve. So, presumably, somebody could be convicted of a hate crime aged twelve. Theoretically. So it seems to make sense to me to explain exactly what a hate crime is, before they hit twelve. Which would presumably include telling them about homophobia and non-hetero relationships.

I don’t say here that twelve is the “correct” age, merely that one event should precede the other. In fact, I think that twelve is a pretty arbitrary number. Frankly, eighteen is an arbitrary number, too, if we’re on the subject. I’d easily be swayed on these questions. Just as I would with things like the minimum age for smoking and drinking etc. In particular, that other example I gave – people changing their views on something – I have heard that there is evidence that our brains don’t finish growing until our mid-twenties, so maybe rather than talking about lowering the age to do something, we should be talking about raising it?

Incidentally, the reason I’m mildly amused is because, to me, somebody’s sexuality is totally unimportant. I mean, I have always thought this, but since the stroke (or rather, since the diabetes which probably also caused the stroke) it has become personal. So a lot of these prejudices go over my head.

It can’t just be an “age” thing, because some of the people getting so worked up on this issue are older than me!

Water Into Wine

I’m very good these days at turning a negative into a positive. Let’s face it there aew so many negatives!

I’ve run out of Pyrex bowls in which to cook my porridge. I’m just trying to wait for the dishwasher to be full before I put it on, so a couple of empty bowls are in there waiting to be washed.

Havever, I need breakfast, I NEED breakfast, and remembered some Pains au chocolat in the freezer, ready to bake. I mean, porridge may be good for my carbs but….fuck it!

I just need to train myself not to burn my tongue, and let them cool a while as I get them out of the oven!

Trapped

Meant to mention, lunch from hell last week.

4 hours, 10 miles from home (far too far away to just walk out). I wouldn’t mind, I’ve now kicked off my new development project so I had definite things to do once I got home. I don’t work particularly quickly these days but there is at least a to-do list, and I know that sitting in a pub all afternoon won’t cross anything off.

Still, made the decision for next time a no-brainer!

I ❤️ Paris!

I saw a nice surprise yesterday. Years ago I used to read a particular blog. In those days, I had no idea about platforms, I just signed up for emails when she posted. Her tale was interesting – she was an English woman living in Paris. I guess from her perspective, it was just “life”.

I used to love it in Paris, I’d have liked to have lived there myself, but my choice of career made that unlikely. IT is very English-language-focussed and France is, well, French! And by working in both London and New York, I was already in the Premier League, and France would have been a step backwards.

I must be roughly the same age as this woman, had kids at roughly the same time, etc. I think mine was a little bit older, but only by a couple of years. We diverged because while I was settled down by then, she was going through the shitstorm that is life – maybe that was partly why she was interesting, because she had a different life to me?

The woman wrote in an age when a good blog could lead to a book deal. Maybe it still can? And she duly published stuff. I read her first, but it was largely a re-hash of the blog. I think she wrote some more, but I stopped at one.

At some time, years later, I got myself a Facebook account. Maybe I re-read this woman’s book? But whatever the reason, I found her on Facebook., although she’d stopped blogging by then. I forgot about it until I logged on yesterday and saw a post from her, linking to a new blog she now writes. Lots of water under the bridge, and she now writes from the perspective of having bipolar problems.

With recovery, I think a big thing early on is what manages what. Do you manage the illness, or does it manage you? I found that with the stroke – some people could spend the day in bed due to fatigue, but I fought tooth and nail to get past that. And as I managed to get more control, my world got bigger, my horizons broadened to the point where I now blog about all sorts. With this woman, I scanned through the new blog yesterday and saw posts on what seemed like a variety of subjects – there’s certainly been a change over the last couple of years, and seems to have moved away from her health. I hope that’s an indicator of recovery from her perspective too, claiming life back for herself.

The posts are quite infrequent, so presumably there is a whole load of other shit going on, and the blog is just the stuff she chooses to share with the world. I don’t detect a lot of conscious “recovery” stuff, although I suspect that she, too, would define recovery as “getting your old life back”.



Incidentally…in the mid-nineties, I used to visit Paris maybe one weekend per month, before I went to the US, before marriage, before parenthood, before flying was bad!

I used to live in and fly from Southampton, and home-to-Paris could be as little as a couple of hours. The areas I knew well were those around the fifth and thirteenth arondissements, away from the centre a little, the area around the Rue Mouffetard, the Avenue des Gobelins, out to the Place d’Italie, if those places mean anything to you.  I used to stay in a tiny hotel on the Rue Censier, when not with friends.

I used to love going to the Louvre on Sundays before I flew home, first because it was free on a Sunday. and second, because the bus to Charles de Gaulle went from the nearby Opera. My wardrobe was mostly French, and I’d have places to myself when I shopped – Saturday morning was my favourite – because “real” Parisians wouldn’t get up until lunchtime!

But Paris was really my bachelor playground and after I got together with my wife, and certainly after my daughter was born, our stays in Paris were sparse. We tended to go to France still, but stayed outside the capital. I have a friend who still lives just outside Paris, so we would meet up occasionally, and children with very little language in common would play together for a few hours. Daughter and I did the obligatory trip up the Eiffel Tower etc. – if it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have bothered but it was worth it just to see her face when we came out of the metro and saw the tower for the first time.

The last time, 2008, we took a day trip there – Christmas shopping – from one of our new favourite haunts, Rouen, and had to fight our way through manic crowds by the big shops.

I don’t now know when, or even whether, I’ll get back there given my mobility these days. And, I’m reluctant to travel without money coming in. It’s one of a long list of places with very fond memories, but not really vital to revisit.