Adieu, 2011…

Well, this looks set to be my last post of 2011, so before anyone makes the annual decision that the best way to greet the new year is to go and get paralytically drunk and loudly forget the words to Auld Lang Syne, I thought I might take a look back over the year (as an fyi, it’s just “For Auuuld Laang Syne” rather than “For the sake of Auld Lang Syne”- since Auld Lang Syne translates as Old Times’ Sake, the latter doesn’t really make sense). However, just about every TV channel and newspaper will be doing roughly the same thing whilst sitting behind desks wearing serious expressions and posh suits and complaining about Charlie Sheen and Syria, and if you wanted that kind of analysis the you probably wouldn’t be here. So instead, here is the world’s 2011 round robin letter*:

Hello all!

Well, what a year it has been! Our big happy family has got that bit bigger and happier and a few of the little ones have grown up really amazingly. The bigger ones have been having a few problems, but they should be old enough to sort out their own problems,
In JANUARY, our little Arabian adoptees started teething, and I must admit it was a difficult time for us all. Luckily our darling Tunisia went through her phase quickly, and her brother Egypt followed soon after in FEBRUARY- now they’ve cut their new Democracy teeth I think it will be easier for us all. Little Libya took a while longer to follow her siblings, but we saw the doctor about it and he identified a Gaddafi that was causing a major blockage. Unfortunately, two of the other boys, Bahrain and Syria, have had less luck- the doctor doesn’t think he should remove a similar blockage that’s afflicting Syria, but it’s a terrible burden for her and she’s been halfway for almost a year- I may seek a second opinion in 2012. In MARCH our daughters New Zealand and Japan both encountered some difficulties while at university; New Zealand struggled to get over the near-loss of her friend Christchurch, currently recovering from a nasty case of Earthquake, but when Japan found out she too had been afflicted she had to appeal to the family for support. The illness unfortunately lead to her losing her job at the nuclear power plant, which for a while looked as though it could turn into a catastrophic legal meltdown, and it may be a while before she can find a replacement post. Still, both are recovering nicely from their ideals- we breed ’em strong here! Big news for Great Britain in APRIL, as her eldest son William got  married! The whole family (well, about a third of everyone at least) turned out to watch it, and it was a lovely ceremony- they are now the darlings of the family! MAY, and America finally began to get over his feud with little brother Afghanistan. The rumours are that the whole business was somewhat orchestrated by one of Afgha’s friends (Osoma or something like that), but he moved away around this time- some say America may have even had a hand in this?! Can you believe some people?! It was Europe’s children (am I glad I left that man!) who had problems to deal with in JUNE- after the initial success of their family money sharing plan, they discovered that Greece was having some problems paying back his debts, and after they agreed to help both him and brother Portugal out, the pot was running dangerously low, especially after that incident with Ireland last year (that girl and her cheese…)- hopefully they can start getting things back on track soon, and maybe even get Britain back into the fold! JULY was a joyous month for our family, as we welcomed another little one into our lives. He was baptised South-Sudan (he looks so like his older brother that we had to link their names, although they don’t seem to get along for some reason), and we look forward to him growing up in the coming months and years. We got some more peace in AUGUST as Libya had her first Gaddafi operation and we began to see her first smiles and less teething tears- here’s hoping the other boys soon follow! SEPTEMBER was a quite month for most of us, but OCTOBER was far more exciting- not only was Libya’s Gaddafi finally got rid of, but ‘the Eurozone’ (as we like to call them- catchy, we think!) finally got their financial affairs in order, Spain finally had an operation to pacify her ETA (Expanded Tumour, Abdominal for those who don’t know!) after all the pain it’s caused her over the years. NOVEMBER and DECEMBER proved quite quiet and relaxing, perhaps to make up for all the excitement- even Christmas was quieter than usual! The only major family even being America finally making it up with Iraq- here’s hoping they stay close throughout the New Year and beyond. Happy New Year to all of you, I hope it treats you well
Yours,

Planet Earth

*I do not advocate the sending of real round robin letters, as they are a scourge on humanity and serve only to light fires. Please can anyone reading this who sends them regularly please go and find a bucket of hyena offal to hang upside down in. Other than that, I wish you a happy new year

Ah, Christmas…

…possibly the oddest time of year (humanly speaking), for it is the one time of year that a huge chunk of the human race suddenly and simultaneously decides to pause its regular imperative of large-scale self betterment, and instead starts taking pleasure in smiling, and giving people things, and spending quality time with their family.
Originally this could be put down to this as a function of Christmas as a religious festival, but in today’s secular times there seems almost no reason for it to continue in this way. Cynics will tell you the only reason we go on celebrating Christmas at all is because we cannot stand the idea of turning down an annual opportunity to receive lavish gifts, and they may be right. But if that is the case, why all the familial gatherings? Why the messages preaching goodwill? Why is this the one time of year so many people choose to go to church, breaking from the regular habit? Is it just tradition? I think (just my personal view here) that it is more than that- I think it is because of Christmas’ intimate connection to Jesus.
I should probably explain to all the angry atheists out there that I am not actually a Christian- I like the music, I like the carols and hymns, like the architecture and so on, but I am an atheist and do not believe in God. I could fill an entire post with my religious stance, but I said this blog wouldn’t be about my views so stuff it. However, like it or not, however much cynics tell us how commercial Christmas has become, it is still, technically, a Christian holiday, and one that all of us have probably been educated about to extraordinary depths while at school (although this is based only on my personal experience- if you have different ones, feel free to share below). And it is not just any old festival, not like all saint’s day or Easter, who’s Christian significance is all but forgotten, for this is one of few Christian festivals that is entirely about Jesus as a person.
To a Christian, Christmas is about the miracle of the birth of their Messiah, and is really about him and his life. ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ sings of how ‘like us he grew’, and his early life as a child, and the holiday reminds us of how God’s son was once a ‘weak and helpless’ little child, reliant on a mortal mother for support and sustinence. And this brings us on to Jesus himself, the epitomy of the perfect Christian and, in many ways, the perfect person in moral terms. He was generous, he cared for the sick and lowly, he cared not for class or creed, and he symbolises all that is good about Christian ideals. And so by basing a festival around him, and remembering his generosity by giving to others ourselves, we remind ourselves of how to be good people, and for this short time of the year we all try to be too. To me, therefore, what makes Christmas special is its link to this special man who (to misquote the great Douglas Adams) “was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to each other for a change”.
It might only be my theory, but I still think religion has one connection left with Christmas, and let it not be one we forget, lest the spirit of goodwill be lost. Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope you didn’t overindulge on yesterday’s dinner.

I hate boredom

Today I am bored. When I am bored, I think. When I think, I self-criticise. When I self-criticise, I get depressed. When I get depressed, I spend too much time online, write random stuff, and get unerring urges to stab people and listen to REM (although usually not at the same time).
However, one of the minor upsides of being on a downer is that anything I have previously written whilst being depressed ceases to seem mildly embarrassment, so I feel like I might use this opportunity to publish one of my better pieces. Hey, it might even be good:

The clock, ticks
Tocks, Ticks,
Ticking and clicking
Amidst an unhearing roar
Louder, stronger,
Sharper, clearer
And still no-one hears
Much less cares anymore
So softer, smoother,
Quieter, slower
Maybe it’s just
Something to be ignored

But each time it dulls
Someone screams they want more

The figure, walks
Step after step
Wandering through deserts,
Uncertain battlegrounds
Shapes shimmer
Sands shift
The landscape revolves
Its falseness around
He plods on
Scans the landscape beyond
Searching for signs
That his trail is sound

His unending search
For the mirage he once found

The beast, strains
Hauls once again
Weighed down by baggage
Of another life’s pain
A slip, a step
So much effort goes in
Such a treacherous surface
So little is gained
Eyes spot a prize
Is it leap of faith time?
Heart fights with head
Reason must win again

There is too much to lose
And yet so much to gain

A scream of frustration
Turns to silence and tears
Eyes remain dry
But the soul weeps its tears

Hope may spring eternal
I may be close this time
But still I must wait
To be truly alive

There you go, there’s my shot. Now that you have had the next few year’s guideline amount of metaphor to get confused by, I bid you farewell and a Happy Christmas

Now, to actually post something…

So many choices… and yet one falls instantly to mind. I must do my bit to introduce the world a little further to the genius that is Dr M von Vogelhausen.
Dr M is, nominally, an amazon reviewer. To me, there are usually 4 types of amazon reviewer. There is the perpetual optimist: “…everything runs perfectly and oh, I’m oh so happy and I know it could probably be a bit better if I’d paid some more money but oh, it’s so marvellous I must give 5 stars to this egg whisk”, the ‘I don’t have time to write this’:  “Good product. Worked.”, the ‘Not good enough for me (but really should have thought this through)’: “…ach, so pathetic. I paid £3 for this based on all these amazing reviews everyone’s been giving, and blow me tight if it sounds a bit odd and doesn’t run as cleanly as this £45 version I got next!”, and the doomsayer: “I took it out of its box and it blew up in my face, releasing a cloud of poisonous smoke that gassed the entire block of flats. Would not buy again”. Vogelhausen however gets a category to himself.
I won’t post an entire review here, as they are all available for you to enjoy, but anyone who is able to describe how “I had suffered a mutiny at the hands of my crew, thirty nearly identical automatons whom I had delighted in dressing up as characters from “Murder she wrote”, when describing this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kirstie-Allsopp-Craft/dp/1444737589/ref=cm_cr-mr-title, deserves a knighthood.  This is a man who has caused Gordon Ramsey’s book to be tagged under battlefield by describing it how “the starters, lightly armed but with the advantage of being the first into the fray, led by the bloodthirsty Captain Tempura” were pitted against “the main courses, a band of mercenaries from all over the world, urged on by their figurehead, First Lieutenant Rare-Beef”, the man who was surprised that ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ were of a reasonable size after all, and who managed to, in a review of a pencil case, make reference to how the inside of Vogelhausen Towers had stolen the outside. His blog, provided by the good people of wordpress, is, if anything, even better (although battles with his alter ego have left it barren in recent months)- his advice for parties: “Think of a theme for your party. There are the classics – condiments of the world; conflicted emotions; the 1870s in Luton; hair- or you could branch out. Why not dress up as someone else. Make it someone real as imaginary people’s clothes are expensive and itchy. Remember there is a very real risk that the clothes of a dead or famous person may begin to take over your mind.” will live with me forever. And this is before we get to the Spanish lessons… (for the record, he was a great teacher, but could ease up on the obsession with revision. Yes, I was actually taught by him. Who wants to touch me?)
If this man does not gain the place in history he deserves, I will have failed him. Internet, stand forward, and trumpet his name to the rafters. Google him, read his work, laugh until your sides disintegrate. LONG LIVE DR M. VON VOGELHAUSEN!

The word of Ix

My pseudonym is Ix- I was brought up to NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POST YOUR NAME ONLINE MY BOY, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO COULD BE READING- and this is my first foray into the world of blogging. Reason why … well it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I have spent a large portion of my life on the internet reading (and participating in when I lose my better judgement),   long arguments concerning other people’s views on things. Topics and venues have varied widely, from religion below an ill-judged facebook post, to why white people need a homeland below a youtube video (No, I don’t know why this is related to REM either). So, I don’t want to make a forum of my views for the assorted internet to rant about. This is just my way of having a laugh, and spreading the word of… whatever takes my fancy, really. Content looks set to range widely, from Douglas Adams humour (as the more perceptive may pick up from my ‘name’ and URL), to random outbursts of poetry- my mood has a habit of being rather cyclothymic, so expect a tone varying from uber-depressed to that of an excited hedgehog on acid.
But hey, it’s just meant to be something fun. If you come across this and enjoy it, great- I’d like to think I’m cheering somebody up as they trawl across the vastness of the web. If you think this is just random crap, then you’re probably right too, but you’re stuck with it so might as well move on.
To the world and all whom it may concern, good morrow. To everyone else, please return to the dungeon dimensions.