Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I can feed and dress and wash myself and sleep without the light on. Honey I'm a big boy now.

So I'm 33.

I didn't manage to live fast, die young or leave a pretty corpse.

Bill Hicks never saw past 32 but then again Jesus stumbled at 33 so I'm not out the woods yet.

I was born on April 14th, 1971. It was the anniversary of the Titanic setting sail. Somehow, I have never been able to shake the feeling its maiden voyage set the tone for my entire life.

If you've read recent posts you will by now have realised that the last few days have been less than fun. A combination of arguments with friends over the content of my posts, coupled with spending time in bed with flu, have left me in something of a fug. Irritatingly I have been able to shake this bad mood.


It's my birthday so I'm determined to be cheery.

And I'm going to smile if it kills me.

Actually my timing is out. I'm due to visit the dentist tomorrow after which my smiling pearly whites should be far, err, pearlier and whiter.

So, in the as an act of self boosting I will try and sum up all my positive achievements of the last year.

Firstly I set up my own business which was no small feat. I achieved this despite BT's best attempts to undermine my business with their inability to put in a broadband line that works. For eight to ten days read over two months.

But I managed it. I have my own website. Some nice looking stationery thanks to the brilliance of Logoloco and somewhere along the line I have picked up a handful of very nice people who are my clients.

It's been a little scary at time. Late bill payers have left me literally counting coppers to pay for a pint of milk. But I seem to have seen off the worst of it.

Actually working for myself has been a tremendous experience. For starters it has made me appreciate the employers that I have worked for before. In particular the small businesses. Juggling money-in and money-out has been hard enough on my small scale. I don't think I could handle the pressure if there was anyone else relying on me.

Feedback, with one notable exception, has been excellent and that, in itself, has been confidence building. To add to this I have been offered no less than four jobs in the past 12 months. So, someone out there rates me.

Typically the job that I was most tempted by was with a extremely friendly local business. I said no, then they offered me a little more plus a car. I said no again. They offered the job to someone else who accepted. Then my car exhaust died on me and I had to find £800. The phrase "d'oh was invented for such occasions.

My work hours are sporadic. And that is the way I like them. Just as I have worked entire weekends, I have also taken numerous days off in the middle of the week. I like what I call my Ferris Beuller days. I'll stroll a long Newcastle's Quayside, check out what's on at the Baltic , have a coffee in the Intermezzo coffee house and watch a film at the Tyneside Cinema.

It's a nice way to live your life. I am aware that it all wouldn't be so easy if I had to feed any mouth other than my rather large one, but I don't. So there.

On days like these I find myself rediscovering parts of Newcastle. A recent FB day with a mate also included a look around the Biscuit Factory (it doesn't make biscuits and it's not a factory) and a walk through Heaton Park that includes the amazing, if slightly sinister shoe tree.

As far as work goes I can honestly say that every last one of my clients are a force for good. Being self-employed I always promised myself that I would turn down anything that I felt was unethical. In the end I didn't have to, which was probably just as well, as it would have meant a difficult squabble between my head, heart and wallet when money was at its tightest.

And then came VSO.

I'll admit that it was my parents and sisters who first suggested it. I have never really settled from my travels in 2002. Those travels not only changed me but they also gave me time to think. It also gave me time to read and in many ways, educating myself about the world in general has been as beneficial as actually seeing some of it.

Anyway, maybe they were just trying to get rid of me, but my family thought it would be something work looking at. I dismissed it for a while. I thought it was for home counties types doing gap years. Later, when I was having a bad day, I checked out their website and I was impressed.

Since then I have been through an assessment day, followed by a training weekend. The more I learn, the more I think "I can do this" and more importantly, "this is what I want to do". VSO continues to impress me in its attitudes, its employees and its volunteers.

The start date for my two-year tour of duty looks likely to be September. No, I don't know where I'm going yet and no I don't know what I will be doing. But yes, I am very very excited.

The only other major piece of personal news this year was this blog. While recent reactions from friends to it have made for difficult situations, I have never regretted starting it. It has become a real passion. I was so excited when the Guardian first listed me among their "weblogs we like" and even more exhilarated when they actually put the Space Hardware url in print in Observer.

I'm constantly amazed that people want to read what I write. I find it incredible that I'm about to shoot through the 3,000 visitor barrier (made possible by CCC linking me in his most recent post).

I must be doing something right, somewhere. And, spending my days, as I do, writing copy for commercial purposes, it's nice to know that I can create something to my own specifications.

Finally, and I know this is a huge turn off to some of you, so I'll keep it brief. Newcastle United have had a dull, drab, uninspiring season. However, this evening we play PSV in the UEFA Cup. If we win this then it's the semi finals.

I have supported them all my life and for that loyalty I have been repaid with a cup-count of zilch. Despite their current absolute rank mediocrity there is still a chance that we could actually win something this year. If that happens then it will be greatest season of all.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.