Happy 38th Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me…yeahhhhhhhhh.  I find my birthday increasingly psychologically bizarre – it’s like a form of validation for myself as a human.

Despite Brexit, I generally think I’m a decent, funny and occasionally interesting person but I still have doubts about myself, and wonder whether I could be a nicer, happier, more interesting, etc, person to be around.  And then when I organise a birthday meal (or whatever I organise) I worry that nobody will turn up, or people will cancel.

So the weeks running up to my birthday I always have these very occasional paranoid, insecure thoughts that maybe everyone thinks I’m an arsehole – or worse, that I’m boring.

Weird, I know, but hey.  I do very occasionally have those thoughts.

Having a birthday in January isn’t exactly the most convenient of times – yesterday was cold, pissing down with rain, even snowing – many people are skint, on detox, diets yadda yadda.  So people have plenty of excuses to say no, and plenty of reasons to cancel. Not to mention that some of my closest friends are living in other countries (yes Scotland counts too), and many in another town.

Every year I go through the same phase from “I’m not organising anything this time” a month or so before, to waking up on the Sunday wondering if everyone has cancelled…one of the only times I was not excited about the possibility of snow!

And, of course, everything went fine yesterday and I had a really nice afternoon, as happens every birthday – despite the lack of beer, oh and not getting to sleep until 4am the night before – both of which made me socially slightly less capable than normal with stuttering introductions and jerky hugging.  Oh and the roast wasn’t great either, but sufficiently decent.

Thank you for those who are able to attend.  The effort and company was hugely appreciated.

My actual birthday is a Monday.  Yeah you’ve probably worked out that today is Monday already.  In hindsight I really wish I had booked the day off work.  I don’t normally – last two years were Friday and Sunday birthdays, respectively, but this year was a Monday.  I normally don’t take any time off before Easter, as I like to save my holiday for when it is warm…or should be.  And I only get 20 days holiday, so I didn’t want to waste holiday days.  But yeah, in hindsight I should have had the day off and done something I enjoy, maybe a walk around Regent’s Park, or explore somewhere…or a museum.

So instead, I woke up late so had to rush to get ready…trying my hardest not to be late to work any more from my own doing.  Had another bad night’s sleep last night so I was feeling really tired.

I was really looking forward to my salmon bagel at work (free breakfast on a Monday) – alas by time I noticed that it was served, it had all run out.  I stormed out of the office in a huff – I DESERVE SMOKED SALMON ON MY BIRTHDAY.  I ended up buying a chicken sandwich and a Red Bull (haven’t quite given up caffeine yet on the detox), came back to the office to find that they’d put out more smoked salmon.  Sigh.  6% of my remaining £60 budget for the month wasted on a half-eaten sandwich due to my strop.

On my lunch break I went donut shopping – first to Doughnut Time, which is a new place on Old Street – only to get there and realise that they are £4 each.  £4 for a fucking donut?  Not even on my birthday.  So I then went in the other direction to get a strawberry and cream Krispy Kreme donut (are you really still reading?) from possibly the most miserable and disinterested person I have seen outside of Sunderland.

Not the busiest day at work as I was waiting for projects to be signed off, so kind of doing quite bitty things, and testing, but a new project came through in time for my sugar high comedown.  I much prefer it when I can get my head down and code, but alas, today wasn’t one of those days.  The rest of the week should be.

What is the point of this blog?  Well today was just another day, punctuated by some very nice messages and a couple of gifts,  with a big fat completely unnecessary pie to end.  The pie was suitably average too – despite being from M&S.  I swear their food quality is going down quite significantly.

I spoke to my parents briefly, wrote my weather forecast and now am going to bed.  Early.

With validation.  I have had my required validation.  Thanks to all those that have sent me a tiny bit of love and validation.  It does mean a lot.

Now I just want one more birthday present.  A good night’s sleep.  Though I suspect I have a bit more fun to come this weekend.  Who really celebrates their birthday just once?

Cultural Adventures

It’s crazy to think of what people think of me as a Hullite now compared to a couple of years ago.

Prior to Hull being the UK’s City Of Culture, most people would have had me down as some kind of cultural oaf – yet now, Hull is synonymous with cultural offerings, and of course, being from Hull means that one is now highly regarded in cultural matters.

People from Reading are proud to have a new burger made in their honour.  People from Hull are proud to now be regarded as exemplary custodians of culture.

Whilst Hull may now be the centre of culture in the UK, London still has a few offerings, and I have been on my adventures recently.

Starting with Russian protest art at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea (thanks for the election wins, by the way).

It included features on Pussy Riot, Oleg Kulik and Pyotr Pavlensky, whom I am sure that you are all aware of – Oleg being the man who “artistically” acted as a dog, Pyotr being the man of stunts such as nailing his bollocks to the ground on Red Square in Moscow – ouch.

Alongside these were some rather defecating depictions of world leaders.



Jeez what the hell is going on with the layout?  That’s why I don’t start new blogs on Blogger.  Anyway…

There were also some cardboard boxes.  I like boxes.  Which is pretty useful working for a storage company.

Much better layout.  Speaking of design, I then also went to the Design Museum in Kensington.  In terms of the building, I really like what they had done – but it did seem quite a waste of space.

The actual exhibitions were rather crammed and badly designed – often with no logical flow.

It was of mild interest to see the collection of old electronics, but so, so much more could have been done with the exhibitions themselves.

Nicely designed toilet though.

A couple of weeks later I went to watch a pantomime for the first time since I was a young child.  In a caravan.  Oh yes I did.  It was really clever, 20 minutes long, amalgamating Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, around the modern-day theme of sexual harassment in the workplace.

I highly enjoyed it – and might go see their next performances at Vault Festival in February/March.

Then we went to look at a Gingerbread City – which was Instagram heaven.

The last one was my favourite as I just thought it represented modern life brilliantly.

These were all gingerbread buildings created by firms of architects, and on display at the “Museum” of Architecture – a very small museum consisting of one room that you could visit.

And of course, I did some culture in Hull.  There were 4 installations of robotic arms, programmed in different ways to represent communication.  Some communicated with each other, some communicated with us, some communicated with space – and the final one communicated with the statue of William Wilberforce.

Interesting – not overwhelmingly amazing but thought-provoking to an extent.

The Big Detox

So as of January 1st, I started a 3 month detox.  Well, technically January 2nd once NYE has been taken into account.

Though I was quite looking forward to a detox and could tell that I needed it, I didn’t want to do a 3 month detox.  My doctor is recommending it.  Yes, despite Michael Gove’s proselytising, I have not yet had enough of experts.

A year ago I had some general tests done – I had some slightly unusual symptoms – nothing especially worrying, nothing serious or life-changing, but thought given my previous 20 years of bodily abuse, that it would do no harm to go to the doctor instead of ignoring it.  Perhaps influenced by my father having had cancer the previous year, it seemed time to overcome my pretence that everything will be always be fine…as things normally do fix themselves.

Googling had also started to make me worried that I had diabetes, kidney failure or leprosy, so it seemed the wise choice to go see the doc.

He said nothing was probably wrong but did some blood tests anyway.

Everything came back fine.  Except for my liver which was overly fatty.  He told me to cut down on alcohol, lose some weight, and go back around May for another test.

I duly cut down on alcohol and I continued to lose weight.  The liver does repair itself if you give it chance.

Then summer happened.  And I found myself working in the centre of London with temptation everywhere.  I slowly put on 12kg, becoming the heaviest I have ever been – and drank a lot.  A hell of a lot sometimes.

So I had a month long near-detox in September, and went back for those tests, thinking everything would be clear.

No, my liver was slightly worse.  Though this doctor was easier to understand, and much clearer on what I should do.

I could ignore it, but the chances are that I would develop problems with my liver if I continued my lifestyle without giving my liver chance to fully recover.

So the options were 4-6 months with only 1 or 2 beers a week.  Or 3 months without.  Apparently the liver needs this long to repair damage – my annual month off is barely scratching the surface.

Fuck teasing myself with 1 beer a week, especially when the sun comes out in spring.  I’d rather go without.

I asked if there was anything else that I should avoid – energy drinks, perhaps?  Apparently they are fine, but he recommended that I avoid or reduce red meat if possible – though he did say he wouldn’t expect it as it isn’t a perfect world.  Which means cutting out beef, lamb, pork, pork chops, pork belly, bacon, ham, chorizo…you get it.  Sigh.  I’ve decided to cut out most red meat – once a week at most, ideally once a fortnight if I can.

So.  Three months of no alcohol, and only having red meat once a fortnight.

And that includes my birthday.  Yikes.

I’m cutting out caffeine too.  And cakes – maybe one a week at most.

Might have to keep chocolate in the mix though.

Roll on April 2nd.