Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Happy Xmas. War is Over.

 It's 41 years ago today since John Lennon was shot. I remember hearing the news on the radio as I was lying in bed and couldn't quite believe it. Double Fantasy had just come out and fans like me hoped that this album would be the first of many. It was not to be. Yet John Lennon's legacy lives on.

One of the sounds of Christmas every year is John and Yoko's 'Happy Xmas. (War is Over).' It was written as part of their peace activism and a wish for peace and that war be over forever. It's eminently sing-a-long-able (is that a word?) with a simple, overriding message of Christmas being for everyone and a hope that the coming year is lived without fear which is one of the reasons it does the rounds every Christmas season.

Ahh, that living without fear thing. That seemed like an easy thing to do pre-Covid. But with omicron arriving on our shores and doubling every 2 or 3 days, a government that is happy to gaslight the population, the NHS on its knees and living through climate change, it's not quite so easy to live without fear these days. Oh well, the song is still great. I love that combination of melancholy and hope in both the lyrics and the music. I will always wonder what music we've missed due to Lennon's untimely death.

Further links

Happy Xmas (War is Over) Wikipedia entry 

Happy Xmas (War is Over) lyrics

Lennon's death, I was there. a BBC reporter's account of what happened.

The Murder of John Lennon Wikipedia entry

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Art is good for you. Christmas Wrapped Up.

I was feeling pretty stressed today and it was getting me down. I always feel a creeping sense of anxiety as the New Year gets nearer and today wasn't a great day for various reasons. But I did have something to look forward to - a Zoom creative writing class. 

I haven't done any creative writing since I was at school so I was a bit nervous. I'd signed up for it on a whim but I'm glad I did. We started with a bit of freewriting and some sharing of our initial thoughts on the topic of Christmas. Hearing others read out some of their ideas really helped me shape mine. After that, we had some time to hone our poem. This is mine;

Decorations, tinsel, handmade cards

Christmas lights in the busy stores

Christmas Carols and Midnight Mass

I’m lonely in the crowd.

Everyone else with their families

Feeling the pressure to belong

Is that really the Christmas Spirit?

It’s simpler on my own

The glitz is overwhelming

Too much cash spent on nothing

Money can’t buy anyone’s love

No matter how much you have.

A Christmas wreath and Christmas lights

The Wizard of Oz, Morecambe and Wise, 

Nut roast and a mince pie

That’s my Christmas wrapped up.

It's better than I was expecting to come up with, even if it is a bit dour. Most of the group were a bit down about Christmas as it happens which I thought was interesting in itself. Anyway, Christmas will be done and dusted by the time of next month's session which is already in my diary. 

After a couple of hours doing something completely different, my mood lifted. Art is clearly good for you and I recommend you try this stuff. You never know what you might discover about yourself and others.

As a bonus, here are The Waitresses with their hit, Christmas Wrapping.

Stress and decision paralysis

I think it's fair to say, that most of us have experienced more than our fair share of stress over the last two years. What some of you may not know is the impact that stress can have on your life. It can trigger very physical responses (palpitations, headaches, gut troubles and much more) and mental ones (it can trigger clinical depression and make existing mental health conditions like ADHD, OCD, much worse).

The marketoonist has written about the impact of stress on decision making in a recent post from earlier this week:

"decision paralysis is particularly acute in the face of an uncertain future.  And decision making has been hampered even at the personal level as the pandemic reveals new surprises.

The American Psychological Association found that 32% of adults (and 48% of Millennials) are “sometimes so stressed about the coronavirus pandemic that they struggle to make basic decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat.”

The full post is worth a read here.


Monday, December 06, 2021

The Poetry Advent Calendar

Historically, I would have described myself as an ambivert - happy at times to be extroverted and just as happy at other times to be entirely introverted spending time in my own company. As I've got older, my introversion is overtaking my extroversion - not helped of course, by time spent in lockdown. It's now the norm for me to stay in and not go out at all, so I often have to be encouraged, or encourage myself, to go outside. And as for social stuff, that's been really very limited for the last two years, and was limited before that due to (willingly) spending most of my time caring for my Mum.

Staying in isn't all bad and it doesn't have to be about being alone. One of the lovely things that happened during lockdown was that my friend, Adrian*, hosted a regular quiz on Zoom. When I started doing the quizzes, I didn't know anyone except Adrian and his family, but soon, as I got put into different teams, I got to meet the other regulars which was a social lifeline to me. And that included the poet, Owen Collins. Sometimes, as part of the quiz interval, Owen would read one of his poems. We haven't done the quiz for some months as restrictions lifted, but we had one last week which was great. And it was during last week's quiz, that I found out Owen does a poetry advent calendar - one poem a day until Christmas Eve. What a great idea! It's rather good and you can find it here. Yesterday's poem alluded to this year's Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, hence the picture.

I know Zoom fatigue is very real, but Adrian's Zoom quizzes were/are brilliant. They kept me sane during particularly testing times. I look forward to meeting some of the other quizzers in real life at some point too.

* Adrian runs Minimum Ego and also writes and hosts quizzes online and in person for companies and charities. He's one of my Swan Youth Theatre chums from back in the day.

Benedict Evans' latest presentation is out - Three Steps to The Future

 I can't remember when I first met Ben - I'm guessing it was at least a decade ago, maybe even 15 years ago, at either a Mobile Monday event or one of my Swedish Beers parties. He always had great insight into the mobile industry and knew what was going on and could see the many of the trends coming way before the rest of us. 

That hasn't changed and he's published his latest presentation on future tech trends- Three Steps to The Future. He's clearly put a lot of work into this (as usual) and it's chock full of info and insights. It's well worth a read and a ponder. It's certainly something I'll be coming back to. There's too much to take in properly in one go.

Anyway, you'll find it on his presentations page along with some of his previous years presentations. And I also recommend that you sign up to his newsletter - it's always full of interesting things, as is his Twitter feed which is where I found out that Ben had published his presentation last night!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Not much to report, I'm afraid!

 I've not had the urge to write much at all this last few years. That's down to circumstances I guess - being full-time carer to my Mum doesn't lend itself to finding time and topics to write about. But it's been just over a year now since Mum died and maybe it's time to start writing again. I don't really have anything much to say today but I figured that saying something rather than nothing was a start.

One thing I've been mulling over is how to reintegrate into 'normal' life after an intense period of time as a carer to a close family member. There are a lot of services for carers if you have time to find them and the time to participate - which, if you're a carer, is not that likely in a lot of cases. But once you stop caring, you're kinda left to your own devices and seem to be expected to pick up where you left off before you started your caring role. Except, that's not so easy when it's been a few years and we're still in the middle of a pandemic.

Fortunately, as a former carer, I'm still eligible to participate in sessions organised by Carers UK so I'm taking advantage of their current online classes in Pilates and Yoga (which are great). But I think former carers need more than that and I'm putting some thought into what that should look like. If I come up with anything concrete, I'll let you know! 

Meanwhile, I'm (potentially) in the early stages of a project that, if it pans out, should be really interesting and fun to be involved in. It combines two of my favourite sectors - The Arts and Technology. I love it when two very culturally different sectors collide - magic can happen at the intersection. Creating the opportunity for different sectors to collide is one of the reasons I started hosting networking events. I've been collecting interesting people my whole life and I really like them to meet each other. I'm keen to revive my events, but it's still not the right time for me personally for in-person stuff - at least, not at scale. But maybe there's an opportunity to do something smaller, or online... we shall have to see.

Anyway, that's my first blogpost done in over 6 months. Let's see how many more I can write before the end of the year...