Back to the blog

3 months ago, I started a blog. It is now 2 1/2 months since my last blog post. That isn’t particularly good is it? It is dangerously close to becoming “I started a blog once. Yeah. Lasted two weeks”.

Partly, I didn’t find myself with the time to write a blog, but mostly it is just because I couldn’t think of anything to write. Or more specifically, I couldn’t think of anything to write that I thought other people would be interested in reading. I didn’t like the idea of just writing for the sake of writing, but then suddenly, several people (more than 2) in the space of 3 days pretty much told me that is exactly what I should be doing – just write and get some momentum up.

So, in the absence of having anything of global significance to say (yet), I’ll just update you on my ‘to do’ list.

1) Start a blog
Done. And nobody can take that fact away from me. I did start a blog.

2) Continue writing a blog
Hmm. Technically, I am still writing a blog, hence how you are reading me saying that I am technically still writing a blog. Fair to say it hasn’t been as regular as I’d originally planned but I am going to try again. I’ll probably just start telling some stories, mostly of my own misfortune.

3) Get a 6-pack
I don’t have a 6-pack. However, until about 3 weeks ago, I was probably as fit as I have been since running the Great North Run back in 2008, and definitely as strong as I have ever been. I was going to the gym at least 3 times a week, playing football twice a week and eating healthily. I had some fairly decent muscle definition coming through and although my abs still needed to make that final breakthrough, they were making real progress. Much like “Mushy” from Educating Yorkshire finding his voice thanks to the confidence and trust invested in him by Mr Burton. Then, both in the same football match, I firstly kicked the bottom of an opponent’s boot harder than I have kicked anything in a long while, causing my foot to balloon up and go snazzy colours. Secondly, after soldiering on, I then headed a ball I would have been better kicking, what with it being approximately knee height, and my clumsy, overweight opposite number fell on top of me and my beautiful fragile ribs. Because of these two injuries, and a week of exams, I did literally no exercise for 3 weeks. Not a sausage. Well, plenty of sausages actually. No exercise though. Anyway, it is quite amazing how quickly the human body forgets to be fit and strong. I’m running again now, but I can’t do any sit-ups because it feels like my ribs are poking into my lungs. Maybe they are, I’m not a doctor.

4) Become a qualified accountant
Since we last spoke, I have done two more exams. I find out in February if I have passed them. If I have, I will have one exam left. I don’t actually feel that great about the two I just did – one in particular I am bracing myself for the worst. Well, I’m bracing myself for having to resit an exam which won’t even slow down my overall progress, which I admit isn’t “the worst” when I look at the grand scheme of things.

5) Visit a new country
India is but 3 weeks away! After that, I should have enough air miles to go somewhere a little closer to home. Me and “‘Er Indoors” celebrate 5 happy years of marriage in March. Maybe we’ll go somewhere new as a celebration. Although the lure of another trip to the land of Franziskaner, Erdinger, Hofbrau et al is quite strong. For those uneducated in continental beers, I’m talking about the land of HOPSpportunity, Bavaria.

6) Win a trophy
We are out of two of four cups. We are currently sat in the top 3 of the league. It isn’t out of the question we might win the league and the remaining cup. Either would be fine by me.

7) Read the Bible
I have read some of the Bible. Less than all of it, but more than none of it. I still aim to read the whole of the New Testament before I’m 30. I’ll make sure I write a bit about what I read and what I think about it.

Happy Christmas!

Benj.

Life’s Too Short To Stuff A Mushroom

“Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom”

I was recently introduced to this proverb by someone whose anonymity I will protect by simply referring to her as KJ. Needless to say she is wise, certainly much wiser than her husband G.

I love a mushroom, maybe that’s why I’m such a FUN GUY [pause for laughter]..and if it can be combined with other foods that I enjoy, all the better.  Maybe a bit of cheese and some pancetta cubes (pancetta reminds me of another story that maybe I’ll come back to at a later date – it involves a vegetarian with a poor grasp of Italian). Obviously there should be garlic involved too. Mushrooms and garlic were made to be together.

Anyway I digress; life is indeed too short to stuff a mushroom. The reasons are twofold:

1) Mushrooms are perfectly fine unstuffed. I could eat mushroom with cheese, pancetta, garlic (obvs) alongside it on the same plate and the taste and texture sensation would be exactly the same as if the ingredients were stuffed inside it. By stuffing the mushroom you are spending a lot of time and effort for very little payoff. And you look like a pretentious show off.

2) There are professional mushroom stuffers (chefs) who could do the job much better than I could. If I was the sort of person who thought that a mushroom should be stuffed, I would presumably also have the money to spend on going to a posh restaurant where they do it for me.

A couple of years ago, some local youths stole the lid off our dalek compost bin when it was snowy. We suspect they thought it would make a good sledge. It wouldn’t, by the way – depending which way up you sit on it you would either have a protruding handle or a sharp edge, both of which would dig into the snow and act like a very efficient crampon, aka the anti-sledge. Idiots. Anyway, the other day I was making use of the September sunshine to travaille dans le jardin and I thought “it’s about time that compost bin got a new lid”.  I immediately set about collecting materials like it was an episode of popular 90s kids’ TV show ‘Bitsa’.

I found the following: bin bags, bamboo sticks, fishing wire (I have literally never gone fishing in my life, why is this in the man drawer?), more bin bags and some scraps of chipboard that I had previously bought to make shelves. There are still no shelves. I measured the bin, laid out my bamboo, pricked my finger on the end of the fishing wire, stood up, said “WHAT AM I DOING?!”, went inside, googled ‘compost bins’ and found that they a) aren’t that expensive and b) don’t necessarily need a lid.

Sometimes, we need to accept that we aren’t necessarily the right person for the job. Or maybe we are the right person but the required tools aren’t available. If I had made a bin lid shaped bin bag monstrosity it would have taken me hours and it would definitely have ripped the moment the friendly neighbourhood cat tried to sit on it, possibly suffocating the poor thing in the process.  So now I’ve got a really bad bin lid and a catslaughter case on my hands. Sometimes just leaving it to someone else is better for everyone.

Plus, if the bloomin’ thing doesn’t even need a lid then I’m just stuffing metaphorical mushrooms like a pretentious show off..

29 Years Completed

Yesterday was my 29th birthday.  It was the first time in approximately…29 years that I have not looked forward to my birthday.  Each year prior to this one I have seen the benefit of adding an extra year onto my tally.  I know, I know, 29 is very young, I have my whole life ahead of me, I still get asked for ID when buying Bavarian Weissbier in Sainsbury’s etc, but I didn’t like the realisation I am now closer to 40 than 18. It hit me hard. Luckily I had some Bavarian Weissbier in the fridge.

I’m over it now, of course.  Arguing with the passing of time is, in my opinion and experience, futile and unproductive.  Therefore I have channelled my energies and angst into drawing up a list of goals for the coming year, the last year of my twenties, which I have decided to call “a list of goals for the coming year, (which is the last year of my twenties)”.

A list of goals for the coming year, (which is the last year of my twenties):

 

1)      Start a blog.

DONE.  Advice: always start any ‘to do list’ with something that can be crossed off immediately.

 

2)      Continue with blog.

IN PROGRESS. I will attempt to write a blog post, on average, each week.  I will write about things that either suddenly spring to mind, or have been gradually growing in my mind for several years.  Some of the posts will be short, snappy and potentially pointless.  Some, longer.  Some might be interesting.  Hopefully most will be humorous.  Maybe one will be profound.  They will be about life in general, and updating you, my friends, on this ‘to do’ list.  Might even throw in a couple of video blogs in there if you’re lucky.

 

3)      Get a 6-pack.

And I don’t mean of Bavarian Weissbier – that is far too classy to come in a 6-pack.  I mean attain visible abdominal muscles.  If I press hard enough, there’s something under there, but it is protected by a decent layer of fat. “Benj, you aren’t fat, you are gangly with skinny arms and legs” I hear you cry.  Firstly, thanks for insulting my arms and legs, I’m working on them too. Secondly, yes, I know the rest of my body is skinny, but I do actually have a pot belly that I have been cultivating for many years (29). I am reasonably fit versus the national average for my age (29), but I am not as fit as I would like to be. I can’t get around the football pitch like I once could and that is my reason for “getting buff”.  It isn’t because I want to look good when I go for my bi-monthly swim at Dunston Leisure Centre (£1.50 with my new student card!) “Benj, you aren’t a student” I hear you cry. Yes I am, but more of that on number 4), stop distracting me. As I was saying, a 6-pack will be my sign that I have worked hard enough on regaining my fitness so that I can continue to play football for many years to come. Plus my wife might like it.

 

4)      Become a fully qualified accountant.

Fairly self-explanatory.  I have 3 ACCA exams left – two in December and therefore hopefully just one in June. Normally, an accountant would leave University and then spend 3 years doing exams, meaning they were done around the 24-25 mark, but I took the scenic route alright?

 

5)      Visit a new country.

The country only needs to be new to me, not to the UN. India is scheduled for January. They’re going to love my 6-pack.

 

6)      Win a trophy.

Last season, the Blue Army (Emmanuel Church FC) won 2 trophies.  This year, there are 4 to compete for.  I want us to win at least one of them, please.

 

7)      Read the Bible.

Specifically, I aim to read the New Testament in full during the course of this coming year. I haven’t read it all, and what I have read I haven’t done frequently enough. I know even by following realistic guides designed to get you through the whole Bible in a year I will be setting myself up to fail, so I’ll aim for the New Testament and take it from there.  If I can live more like Jesus in my 30th year, all of the above goals will pail into insignificance in comparison.

 

That’s all for now. 7 is the number of perfection and completion, so that’s why my list has 7 things on it. Nothing to do with the fact I got tired and bored.  Anyway, not everything has to be metric. Let’s see how we get on.

Speak soon,

Benj.

Can I call you Benj?

A funny thing happened the other week.  I was on the phone to an IT Call Centre in Manila (the call centre was in Manila, not me) and the following conversation took place:

–          “Am I speaking with Mr Benjamin W—?” (surname removed to thwart identity thieves)

–          “Yes, that is correct”

–          “Great, Hi Benjamin…firstly, can I call you Benj?”

–          “Umm…yeah I suppose so”

I like it. The hard J bookends nicely with the strong B at the start, it gives the name the glorious ending it deserves – like a drum solo at the end of a rock anthem.  Without it, it fades out or forces you to emphasise the N. No N ever sounded good emphasised.  Benn-nn.  I guess the same could be said about Benjamin, but whatever you do, don’t add a J to the end of that in polite company.

But you don’t have to call me Benj, you may continue to call me whatever you want.