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I’m still not sure how I feel about going and standing in a busy venue, next to hundreds of other people, especially given the current (re-?)rise of COVID instances but given how many gigs I had booked that got rescheduled thanks to the pandemic, it’s something I need to figure out.
I have some time to get my head around it mind you, with gigs from 2020 being rescheduled to 2022 (and one in 2023) and whilst I’ve already missed one (sorry Elbow!) there are a couple on the list below that we will NOT be missing!!
- Skunk Anansie – 26th April 2022
- Pet Shop Boys – 29th May 2022
- Crowded House – 10th June 2022
- Brass Against – 23rd June 2022
- Hella Mega Tour – 29th June 2022
- Elton John – 17th June 2023
Of course we also now have the wonderful additional complication of Jack to consider too – I can see me dragging someone else along to Skunk Anansie – but by the end of May hopefully the wee man will be able to be babysat for an evening whilst Mum & Dad go out and have some fun.
I’ve missed live music, more than I think I even realise, and I am excited to get back to the venues as long as I can shake this unsettling anxiousness that remains. Part of me thinks I’m worrying too much, part of me thinks I should just cancel the lot of them and sell the tickets because I just don’t trust ‘people’ enough to feel safe. That said, many people I trust are back out at gigs, although the pervasive notion seems to be “double jabbed is good enough and sure I might get COVID but I won’t die so what’s the harm?” which doesn’t really set my mind at ease.
Equally I have a family to think about and, as a contractor, if I don’t work I don’t get paid and whilst we have a small buffer in place I find I’m more cautious these days about such things; sidebar to being out on my bike and almost having a very bad incident which was entirely down to my own folly, to which end I am now much more careful on descents and corners lest I end up skidding into another turning on the wrong side of the road and thanking a deity that there aren’t any cars there.
I know these fears and worries will fade, just as I know that as time goes by I find myself yearning to get back out into gig land. I know too that by the time these gigs roll around I’ll feel a lot more comfortable within myself about being out and about amongst the masses, as we unite at the alter of live music. Oh Happy Day!
In fact I know I’ve turned a corner in my thinking because I’m already keeping an eye out for other gigs, although I’m going to need to be pretty picky given the additional logistics to consider. And even if I don’t pick up any other tickets that still leaves Skunk Anansie as a ‘first gig’ back which might just be perfect; it’ll be rammed, hot, busy, and LOUD. Just the thing to finally shake off my COVID fears and get me back out into the world.
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Hello Jack, my son,
You arrived early, but safely, and the last few weeks we’ve been getting to know you, figuring out your needs and wants, and mostly just gazing at you in utter adoration.
You seem to be settling into life well, and I think your Mum and I are doing a pretty good job of keeping you happy, safe, warm, clean, and fed. The latter is all down to your Mum right now but that means I get to hang out with you, hold you in my arms and, so far, you don’t seem to be bored of my chat although admittedly it’s mostly been silly noises.
You’ve met the family already, Granny Morna, Grandpa Liam and Uncle Robbie were all thrilled to say hello, your Auntie Jen (keeping the family tradition going) had a special t-shirt to wear the first time you met, your cousin Lucy has had a squish and, well, your cousin Daisy is only 9 months old herself so it’s safe to say that neither of you were that aware of each other but that’ll change!
And of course Granny McLean was delighted to meet her first grandson, she’ll definitely spoil you rotten (although I think Granny Morna is up for the challenge). I am a little sad that you won’t get to meet Grandpa McLean, but trust me when I say he would’ve adored you every bit as much as I do.
I’ll roll out some cliches now because they are all true (or they wouldn’t be cliches); since the minute the nurse handed me to you, all swaddled up, I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I’ll happily confess that I cried, tears of joy streaming down my face as I looked at you, and I knew instantly that I’d do anything for you. Anything.
Since you arrived it’s been a whirlwind of feeding, napping, and changing. Ohh and noises and wriggling and smooshes. Lots of those. Cannot get enough of you, holding you, gazing at you… I may have said that already.
You are putting on weight well, feeding well (and often) and so far seem to be very chilled out, laidback little person. It’s fascinating to watch you already becoming a small boy, losing that newborn baby face, and those big eyes (just like your Mum) starting to take in the world around you. You’ve made friends with the dogs too, although right now they aren’t interested at all as you can’t play with them or give them food.
I’m your Dad.
What a sentence that is, so short but so utterly life changing in the most wonderful of ways.
I apologise now for all the bad jokes, but everything else is yours to discover. Your Mum and I will be there every step of the way as you grow, and we can’t wait to meet the adult you, regardless of what choices you make. We will be there for you, and just want you to be safe and sensible, although neither of us are sure how we will help you achieve any level of “being sensible” as, as you’ll find out soon enough, we are both a bit daft.
But we love you. More than I realised was possible.
My gorgeous boy,
Your Dad x
P.S. We have decided not to share many photos of you on social media. Only abstracts for the main part, as we want that to be your decision when you grow up.
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At present, I really only have three topics of conversation.
1. The dogs.
2. The baby.
And no, they aren’t in a specific order.
Of course, there is more to life than those three things (apparently?) – those on my Instagram can attest that I’m still treating myself well with delicious foodstuffs if nothing else – and yes I read the news, and yes I watch football and F1, and yes I read books (and yes some of those books are ones about bringing up a child).
I even watched a movie the other day! Tenet if you are interested, an interestingly baffling almost good movie.
Outside of that, with the baby due in 4 weeks, I’m trying to do the rounds of seeing my friends and making sure our home is as ready as it can be for when our child arrives. We’ve sensibly ‘retained’ our dog sitter and the dogs will stay with her for a few days so we can have that time, just me and Becca and the wee smush, to adjust to being home before team chaos return to investigate this small smelly noisy thing that will be turning their lives upside down.
We aren’t worried about the dogs and how they will react. Actually, that’s not entirely true, we do worry that Sasha will use her usual sign of affection and sit ON the baby which, I’m sure you will agree, is less than ideal. Dave we think will either be in protector mode and never leave the baby’s side or will be completely disinterested.
We’ve just finished our wonderful NCT course too and, between that and the amazing hypnobirthing classes, we feel as well prepared as we can be, with the full realisation that we will still be learning a lot as we go.
And there I go again, talking about the baby.
On the other hand, I haven’t mentioned my bikes, one of which has two new tyres and a new chain needing to be sorted, and the other is going to be out and about on Sunday for another FLAB Social Ride. I missed not being out on my bike this last week or so – I managed to hurt my back and was laid up for most of last week – so it’ll be good to be out in the fresh air.
I’m also harbouring ideas, now that the weather is turning, to get back out running with a long-standing ‘do a ParkRun’ goal possibly being realised before the year is out. All part of my secret ‘Fit for Fifty’ plan that is slowly (very slowly at times!) having a positive effect on my physical fitness and my mental health. Hopefully, that means I can take Dave out with me on a run now and then too, which will be good for him as well!
So there you have it, try as I might – I did mention I watched a movie, and I’ve been reading some books too, right? – the topics remain the same.
This makes sense, this is my life, after all, I am the one who made the decisions that brought me here. And I have no complaints, just the realisation that my life is beautifully focused and simple now, there is very little in the way of negativity that can creep in, and I spend the vast. majority of my time on things I love.
I guess my life can be seen to be simple and viewed through the lens of this blog and my other social media channels it certainly appears that way, but that is no bad thing. There are many things you don’t see, things I don’t mention, passions that I retain for myself, and my life feels all the richer for it.
I’ve blogged before about ‘minimalism’ and the like, but perhaps that’s not, or should not, best viewed through the lens of commerce and possessions, perhaps the simpler more minimal life is one where your passions and desires align and bring you riches of happiness every day. Perhaps this is what I’ve been striving for all along and the slow reduction of physical clutter (which needs to happen again soon) has maybe let me pause and breathe and relax into who I am, and what my life has become.
The fact I can boil it down to mostly three things, three things that make me happy every single day, is probably the most telling of all. This simple life.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t conclude this without mentioning the glaring omission, the one constant support these past few years, the one who encourages me, listens to me and is going to be the most amazing mother to our child. Without her, my life would be empty. I am very lucky to be part of her life and so so very grateful we found each other.
I’ve never been very good at praising myself. Achievements don’t land, or sit, for very long. It’s something I’ve learned the hard way, and whilst my tendency to just brush things off once I’ve done them is my default so in an effort combat that I’m just going to say this.
Well done me!
Yesterday I rode in my first ‘sportive’ event – a timed, closed road cycling event, not a race but not a ‘family fun’ ride either as there is a minimum time/speed – and whilst I wasn’t worried about being able to complete it, I did a lot better than I thought!
I rode the route on 1st August on a dry cool early morning, a few weeks later and the roads were slick with overnight rain and it was several degrees cooler, but thankfully it wasn’t pouring from the heavens so I didn’t need full waterproofs to survive. The start was a little chaotic, mostly because it wasn’t clear how to get to the start line.
Because there are a few thousand riders, the organisers used a field to funnel people at the start, with riders allocated to a specific ‘wave’ of start times. This was based on your estimated completion time (I’ll come back to that in bit) and is a perfectly good and oft used way to organise the start at an event like this. Alas not everyone, myself included, got information about how to get to that area and so a couple of hundred of us just headed down the road to where we knew the start line was thinking that there might be directions once we got there.
There wasn’t, so we had to wait around until the organisers sussed it out. It meant that instead of my starting time being around 7:45am, it was a full 30 minutes later. 30 minutes of standing around which wasn’t a great way to start the ride. We all eventually got going though, and with the start line a little way along the road from where we’d been waiting it’s not like we lost any time…
My starting wave, based on my predicted time, was the last one, wave E. However given that this ride was actually the one postponed from 2020, when I hadn’t really been cycling all that much, it’s safe to say that my predicted time when I submitted my entry – 4hrs – was a little off…
That said, it’s hard to compare times between when I cycled the route previously, and how it went yesterday – I started and finished in different places each time – but it was the official timing chips handed out and stuck on your bike that told the true story; for the 40 mile route I finished in a time of 2hrs 16mins and 18 seconds, and came in 97th place out of 589 riders.
I’m still not really sure how to process that as I didn’t think I’d even be in the top half of finishers let alone in the top 100. It’s not like I was pushing myself, we had wet and slippery roads to contend with, and I really was just out to enjoy the morning, gaining some experience of riding in a sportive, and just enjoying being out on my bike.
I’m already wondering what the next challenge is of course but, for a change, I’m going to let this sit a while, and be proud of myself because I should be.
As a sidenote, I was also gathering donations for Muscular Dystrophy and set an initial target of £400 (cos 40 miles). Currently I’ve raised £709 which is mind boggling and wonderful. So grateful to everyone that donated.
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