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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

My favourite album.....of all time


So I thought that it would be great if along the journey of my 10 resolutions I stopped off for a few little insights along the way. So last week I looked at the Oscars and my predictions for them (I’m secretly hoping that a few of you took my advice and placed a few cheeky bets....I know someone especially who made a fair bit of money from my vaguely educated guesses - not that I’ve seen any of their winnings) But anyway - today I want to talk to you about my favourite album of all time. 

As I've looked at before - music is so special because it is its own language. Music has the amazingly powerful ability to evoke memories when you hear a certain song. It cannot fail to remind you of where you were when you first heard it or of a special moment that it has attached itself to. In a piece of music you will find that memories come flooding back and the album that I want to look at has an immensely powerful hold over me.

My favourite album of all time is the debut album of a band that I’ve seen live (and they were just as amazing then). This album was recorded in a front room. Technically and production wise it is a long way from perfect but the songs contain stories of such hope and such pain....that it is impossible not to be drawn in. There are no filler tracks. Some of the tracks (make no mistake) will take longer to grab hold of you than others....but when they do....once the songs, the refrains and the melodies sink their teeth into your heart - it is impossible to let go of them.  You can feel the vocals and every single emotion that the writer is projecting and has gone through as he has written these songs. The harmonies will leave the hairs on the back of your neck stood completely on edge and whilst immensely simple at times - the music will leave you breathless and with tears in your eyes. This album may not grab you on the first take...but make no mistake it is an extraordinary record. 


Buy it here
Please take the time to give it a listen - and when you're done there...I thoroughly recommend watching the live version of my favourite track - "Round Here"


Remember to ask any questions that you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com or by asking on facebook. You can now also subscribe to 10 resolutions by email – simply fill in the big white box at the start of the chapter. 10 resolutions will be back as normal next week – and believe me when I say that I have a lot to tell you.....

I’ll leave you with this video. I challenge you to watch it without welling up. I (for one) found it completely inspiring.


God bless

Thursday, 21 February 2013

My thoughts on the Oscars 2013......



Ok – so just after publishing chapter 6 I was asked about my “educated” guesses for who would win each academy award. So here are my thoughts:

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees:

It’s a list of stars – of that there is no question. All have been nominated / won Oscars before so there are no newcomers. Amy Adams is a (more recent) regular nominee (yet has never won anything) whilst Helen Hunt and Jacki Weaver (although putting in great performances) will be too far off the pace to win this time around. That leaves Sally Field and Anne Hathaway - and with odds of 1/33 Anne Hathaway is clearly the category favourite for her role in Les Miserables (she has already won the Bafta, the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award for this part). I’m not going to disagree with the odds on this one. The Oscars regularly spring surprises – but I don’t think there will be one in this category. It could however be the only major award the Les Miserables walks away with…..

Winner: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees:

A very hard category to call because of the pedigree of the actors and because of the vastly different roles played. All have previously won Oscars – and all have been regular (ish) nominees throughout their careers. Robert De Niro has been deservedly nominated for his role in Silver Linings Playbook – yet I’d be very surprised if it was an award winning performance. It’s worth mentioning though that the kind of role De Niro plays in Silver Linings is not dissimilar tonally to the award won by Alan Arkin for his role in Little Miss Sunshine in 2007. The Baftas and Golden Globes crowned Christoph Waltz as their winner, whilst the Screen Actors Guild (which more often than not is a major pointer to the Oscar winner) awarded the prize to Tommy Lee Jones for his role in Lincoln – so there isn’t a clear nominee like in the supporting actress category. As you’ve probably worked out – I’m torn in this category. I want Waltz to win….however…….

Winner: Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees:
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Flight (John Gatins)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola)
Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)

It’s very hard to look past Quentin Tarantino with his original screenplay for Django Unchained for this award. The bookies think that Django will win and Tarantino has already won the Bafta and Golden Globe in this category. And who am I to say otherwise……
As a tip though - it’s also worth keeping an eye on Mark Boal and his screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty (which won this category at the Writers Guild Awards last week).

Winner: Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees:
Argo (Chris Terrio)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin)
Life of Pi (David Magee)
Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

Terrio won this category with Argo last week at the Writers Guild Awards whilst David O. Russell picked up this award for Silver Linings Playbook at the Baftas - so this is very much a see saw category. I might be wrong – but I can’t see the other nominees having much of an impact here – its very much going to be a fight out between the two - but I’m going to stick my neck out and say…..

Winner: Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

Best Directing
Nominees:
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

The most interesting thing about this award is its 3 big absentees – Ben Affleck (for Argo), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) and previous winner Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty). With that taken into account – it actually becomes much harder to try and figure out the winner. It becomes even more difficult when you realise that in actual fact Affleck has won the vast majority of awards leading up to the Oscars in this category (even the Director’s Guild Award). So the winner of this category is probably likely to feel a bit awkward. Anyway – I want David O. Russell to win (for the fantastic Silver Linings Playbook) – but he won’t. Ang Lee is a good wildcard bet (and he has previously won the award) but I doubt he will walk away with the trophy this time around.

Winner: Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)

Best Actor
Nominees:

The bookies and most (if not all) of the award ceremonies leading up to the Oscars have Daniel Day-Lewis running away with this award for his role in Lincoln. I’m not going to go against them – but if you are a betting person it might be a shout to have a small “just in case” bet on Denzel Washington for Flight or a cheeky punt on Hugh Jackman for his role in Les Miserables.....(both can be picked up at very good odds)

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

Best Actress
Nominees:

Bar the best picture category – this is probably the most hotly contested award because the run up ceremonies have all pointed at different winners. The bookies favourite and Screen Actors Guild winner (as well as the Golden Globe Winner for an actress in a musical or comedy) was Jennifer Lawrence, the Bafta in this category went to Emmanuelle Riva and the Golden Globe winner was Jessica Chastain (read my thoughts on that in Chapter 4 of 10 resolutions) so who do I think will win? I’ll have an outside bet on Emmanuelle Riva whilst my vote goes to…..

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

Best Picture
Nominees:

Make no mistake – Argo is the front runner in this category. It might well have initially been a long shot but now nearly every form of common sense would say that Argo will walk away with the coveted award. It has won pretty much everything in the build up to the Oscars but the one thing which could suggest that the award may not be as clear cut as everyone thinks is that it is rare for a film to win best picture if the director hasn’t been nominated for best director. That therefore raises the question of alternatives. Life of Pi could be in with a shout, as could (what I secretly hope wins) Silver Linings Playbook. My money would be on Lincoln as a 2nd bet though. Never write off Spielberg (unless he is involved in Indiana Jones......). 

Winner: Argo

Remember to ask any questions you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com – and you can also now subscribe to 10 resolutions by email – simply fill in the big white box above the chapter. Right - I'm off to pack to go to Falmouth!.....Until next week.....























Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chapter 6 - A story about changing the world and being romantic




Can someone please explain to me where the start of this year has gone? I know that I’ve written about a lot of stuff and that a fair bit has happened…..but it certainly doesn’t feel like we are a month and a half into the year. I wouldn’t normally panic about things like this – but this year I turn 30 years old and as much as that shouldn’t phase me – I had my hair cut by my Iraqi friend last week and I couldn’t help but notice a worrying amount of grey hair falling down my body. So - either I’m going seriously grey – or the Iraqi man was attempting to be funny by dropping grey hair on me at the same time. On top of that – my wife (despite being a bit older SHHHHH) looks a fair bit younger than me. It all adds up to one simple truth. I’m getting older and no part of me can still argue that I’m in my mid-twenties. One thing I can guarantee though is that I’m not going down without a fight (even if I require a walking stick by the end of it). Until this point I never believed the people who said that life began at 30. Whereas now I just hope that rumour wasn’t created by a greetings card manufacturer…….
Still – I’m lucky enough to be excited about an awful lot at the moment. Welcome to Chapter 6.

I thought I’d start this week by answering some of your questions / some questions that I’ve been asked this week)…..

Do you have a set list? (Asked by new band member Joe in advance of playing in Bristol)
Initially I laughed when I received this question – before realising that I should try not to scare new band members through what could initially be perceived as me being disorganised. After all – asking for a set list in advance does seem like a reasonable question…..So I responded. And sent on a set list (which I actually nearly stuck to. Sort of)

What inspires you? (Asked by Terry over the Twitter)
This is a question which you would think would be answerable instantly – but I have had to think about it as I didn’t want to launch into a massive list without providing any explanations…..

  • The world. It’s hard not to be inspired by a world that contains such beauty but also contains Slough.
  • People. You will inevitably find that people around you (or that you see on the news or read about etc) inspire you in one way or another. However whether it is in a positive way (as in agreeing with their stance on something) or in a negative way (like thinking that their viewpoint or actions are wrong) is always down to you.
  • Friends. I’m lucky enough to be able to count my friends as people that inspire me – I like to think that I’ve opened up more to what they have to say in the past year or so as well. A lot of my friends can say some things which may seem amazingly profound yet in truth are incredibly accurate. The more your relationships with people build – the more you will discover about their heart. The better you know someone – the more they will open up – and this in turn means that they will be more confident in speaking into your life – even if it is just in passing conversation. There have been countless occasions in my life where my friends have said something to me that hasn’t just been inspiring – It’s been life changing. What they have said might not have been directed at me – but what they have said has hit you like a lightening bolt. They just might not have realised that what they said in that moment carried so much weight (note to self – tell them). As a test of this – think of your closest friends and try and think of your most memorable conversations with them. I’ve just done this and realised how much of a positive influence my friends have had on me.
  • Films and TV. I love both of these things – so to suggest that they don’t inspire me and that I’m not influenced by them would be crazy. I love the journeys that I’m taken on by Films and TV shows and I adore being transported to another place to see life through somebody else’s eyes.
  • Music is an amazingly powerful tool that has the ability to inspire more than anything else as it can convey emotions without someone needing to understand a specific language for it to make sense. Music crosses language barriers as music IS its own language. 

  • Games. I’m also inspired by games and I completely agree that games should have age restrictions as some can be completely immersive.  I don’t however buy into the fact that games can be solely to blame for some of the violence issues being experienced around the globe (please note the word solely). A short investigation into the media outlets that first reported this theory in the UK will show you that they (one in particular) quickly followed up their console slating reports by starting Friday articles reviewing new games that were being released. Games can be violent – but isn’t it funny that this is the information picked up by the media and not the fact that in so many games now you are actively encouraged to be a character with good morals that will stand up against injustice. Characters like this inspire me and further more they encourage me to stand up for people that the world treads on and calls unlovable. I do however have the occasional urge to attempt free running up walls……
  • My wife. Without much doubt the person that inspires me the most is my wife. She’s so gracious - and despite all of my faults still loves me. She takes the time to understand me even in the moments when the focus of my attention changes more quickly than British weather. Her patience and grace astound me – even when I do wind her up. She is nothing short of amazing and I’m blessed to have her in my life.
  • My faith…..without question my faith. But for more on that - see the next question…….
I find it hard to have faith. I find it hard to believe in anything. I used to believe but now after so much tragedy around me I don’t know what to think. Do you truly believe that God has a plan for us all? And how do you know when he wants you to put that plan in to place? (Asked by Lisa over Facebook)
Oooohhh. Hardcore question! Ok. I'll answer the end bit first...Yes I truly believe that God has a plan for us all. I've found that quite often when I need to be reminded of this I look back at some of the most difficult situations in my life and how the situations have resolved. More often than not these situations have been resolved in ways that I could never have imagined and although I might not have realised it at the time - I've pulled through stronger.
As far as you putting the plan into place? You don’t do it. It can be frustrating not to see what is happening but when doors start to open for you that you wouldn’t expect or when things start popping into your mind randomly - you begin to glimpse at what the plan may be. That’s actually how I ended up moving here (Gloucestershire). That’s how I met Cass. That’s one of the reasons why I started writing 10 resolutions. All have been little sparks that have made me more aware about what is going on.
There's a story which goes like this:
An epic flood hits a town. A car drives past a house where a man waits outside on his porch. A person shouts out of the car "Jump in - we will rescue you". The man in the house replies "Don’t worry, My God will save me". The car drives off. The flood continues. The water rises so much that a boat goes past the front of the house. Seeing the man (now in the house) he shouts "jump in - I'll rescue you". The boatman replies "Don’t worry, My God will save me". The boat leaves. The water continues to rise and as the man climbs upon the roof a helicopter flies overhead. The helicopter drops a ladder down but again the man refuses aid. "Thanks. But my God will save me". The helicopter flies away. A few minutes later a massive wave hits the town. The man dies.
The man gets to Heaven and asks "Why?? I had faith. Why didn’t you save me???" God then replies "I tried to. How many chances did you need?! I sent a car, a boat and a helicopter!"
How many times do we look away from obvious help? We look for a divine intervention - yet at the same time we have no real idea what a divine intervention is. A lightning strike? Or given what we know already – wouldn’t God use people to help us along our way - whether they knew it or not?
Faith is what it is. It's Faith. It's believing without seeing (at least initially). But it's like a relationship - the more time you spend with someone - the more you understand. I believe in Jesus and I believe that he saved me and has rescued me countless times - whether I can see how or not.
For something further on faith – give this a read (whether it happened or not is up for debate – but it still serves as a great explanation of faith).
If you have a question that you would like to see me answer - ask away on the Facebook page or email 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com

The Cast List

Flik Hargreaves


Great fun to have around – Flik has an uncanny ability to make me smile and is highly proficient in all forms of banter. Flik has an amazing heart for others and also has an astounding voice (and is growing in her confidence using it). Flik is a regular member of my band and will also be featuring on my album. Interestingly – Flik is getting married in April (Congratulations) at which point her surname also becomes Foster. We haven’t quite figured out how to explain that on the CD….the current suggestion is writing NOT RELATED in brackets…..give me a shout if you have a better idea……that doesn’t involve the entire history of the name Foster

Jon Munson
I’ve known Jon for over 10 years (since he became part of the Faction at the age of 16) and since then he has without doubt become one of my closet friends. He is one of those friends that you have so many memories with that you could simply write and write about them without stopping. A favourite memory however is getting him to eat a daffodil in exchange for me buying him a pint. Now that might sound like exploitation…..but it was quite funny and he (eventually) found it funny as well
(it took more than one pint………….)
Jon will always have my back - and no matter how long it is between us meeting up I know that he is there for me. Hopefully he knows that I’ll always be looking out for him as well….and if he didn’t before - he does now. And in a reference that only a few people will get – “What it is to burn”.

Terry Leach
Terry and his wife Lu (more on her at a later date) are like rocks in my life. They are always there for me to talk to in everything that I may be going through. Terry has an ability to always manage to cheer me up and he has a superb sense of humour. He is also (and I don’t say this lightly) one of the best sound engineers I have ever worked with. If musically Matt Mortlock is my right hand - Terry is my left hand. It’s an honour to know him and a pleasure to hang out with him.


Tuesday 12th February
Tuesday was spent in the studio with Matt and Flik. Flik had never been in a studio before and was understandably nervous. But we waited for her to get into her comfort zone and then..... Well then she absolutely smashed it. Not an easy task at all considering that I haven’t done my main vocals yet..... I’ve now got an epic task on my hands to match Fliks' vocals! To congratulate Flik we played her a super secret mix of a track that will never ever see the light of day. Flik laughed at my dancing. Matt just laughed at me....... (In a pitying yet loving fashion – personally I think that he secretly loves the track)

Thursday 14th February
Now for those of you who think I’m not romantic......As well as cooking a steak dinner for Wifey on Valentine’s Day....I also wrote her this:

You say I’m not romantic
But what you cannot see
Is that every day I struggle to say
Just how much you mean to me

I know it should be simple
To say what’s on my heart
But in truth – words come more easily
In times when we’re apart

Yes that may sound crazy
I’m aware of how that sounds
But I find myself just mesmerised
Whenever you’re around

You always make me smile
You never fail to make me laugh
I’m astounded by your beauty
And that is just the start

Your heart burns bright with kindness
Your eyes show deep sincerity
You accept me just for who I am
You bring out the best in me

These words express my feelings
But the as yet unsaid truth
Is that every single moment
I fall more in love with you

We actually had a great evening...and I even got to go round ASDA later than night giggling to myself at the guys running round manically trying to find their girlfriends / wives / dates / blow up dolls last minute presents! For once I could be smug that the last minute husband wasn’t me!

Friday 15th February
Friday night saw me cooking for Cass, Dan and Christine (and yes – they all survived) whilst we all relived memories from the past by watching Kerrang’s “greatest” floor-fillers. I find it increasingly amazing that one song can have so many shared or completely different memories for people. What songs do you associate with different people?

Saturday 16th February
Saturday night saw me unexpectedly catching up with someone that I haven’t seen in far too long – Jon Munson. Despite having regular text conversations....it’s been ages since we’ve actually caught up. And it was amazing. And for the first time that I can remember – Jon bought me dinner! Jon works for Blockbuster...so does anyone have (or know of) a part time job opening?  

Sunday 17th February
On Sunday evening I headed down to a youth service called “Kainos” in Bristol with my (quite fantastic and loaded with banter) band (including Flik) and a couple of other people including one of my major partners in crime – Terry Leach to lead worship and to speak on the subject of “Changing the World – One Life at a Time”. I’ll happily make all of the notes available to whomever wants a copy of them – but the message itself is very simple and no matter what you believe is something you can take away. Love your neighbour. That means being there for your friends at all times. It means helping those who need help. It means standing alongside those who are ready to give up. It’s actually really simple – but far too often we drift away from people in the times when they struggle and we are drawn closer to them in the times when they are fine and there are pink fluffy bunnies all around.....Loving your neighbour shouldn’t be part time. It’s should be a long term, full time commitment. It’s a learning process to get to that place – but hopefully I’m on my way there.


Out and About
I've got a few stories to mention this week - so we will start with the idea that to aid electric car sales - the Government have decided to create more charging points around the country (I'm genuinely terrified about how many committee's it took to come up with that common sense idea.....


In something that has got Andy Howson (and most of Gloucester) worked up...check this story out which was today followed by this....


And has anyone else seen that the manager of my football team had a bit of a rant yesterday.............


Right - that's it for this week in what has actually been quite a serious chapter. I'm sure next week I'll make up for it as I'll have spent the weekend in Falmouth....Oh and for those of you on resolution count....I've mentioned 4....

Remember to ask any questions you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com – and you can also now subscribe to 10 resolutions by email – simply fill in the big white box above the chapter. Right - I'm off to give myself first aid after having an accident with a wireless keyboard and my head.....Until next week.....





Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Chapter 5 - A story about foreign call centres and a chap called Lukas



Hello! And welcome to the chapter 5 of 10 resolutions. As I know what my resolutions are – and you don’t….I thought I’d just give you an update and say that most of them are going well. Some of them aren’t…but they are also the ones which I knew that I’d struggle more with – and because of that (spoiler alert) they are also the ones which have a “by the end of 2013” clause attached to them. More will be revealed about them as the weeks pass by though I’m sure.


So – I thought I’d begin this chapter by answering a few of your questions (as always – you can ask away on the Facebook page or by emailing 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com)

Q. Why is yawning contagious? (Asked by Mo in the office)
I’d like to think that it is because when you yawn you are taking someone else’s oxygen so they need to inhale more…. But at these articles show (1 & 2) that is not the case at all….

Q. Why do paper cuts hurt so much when they are just really small cuts? (Asked by Jo in the office)


A very good question – and the answer involves something called nociceptors

Q. What annoys you? (Asked by Alex via email)
Ahhhh. This is a great question. You might well think that nothing winds me up – that I don’t get annoyed and that nothing makes me grumpy. Cass however will happily tell you that this viewpoint of me is unfortunately incorrect. Loads of obvious things annoy and frustrate me – things like difficulties surrounding world peace, Americans with their lack of gun control (not just Americans on their own), out of touch politicians and adverts (and this is by no means an extensive list).
Smaller issues wind me up as well – take our local post office for instance who recently employed a foreign lady with a smaller grasp of English than a slow developing toddler. You might well think that me saying this is rude and I admit that it might well sound that way. But I have no issue in foreigners working in our country – In truth I think it is superb that culturally we are at that place. However I do have a problem when I go to a Post Office and ask for a book of first class stamps and in return I’m looked at blankly accompanied with a shrug of the shoulders and some kind of hand gesture that in another setting could easily have been considered to be borderline offensive. Surely these companies need to create some form of lingo test before offering employment….. (Post office rant over) 

The Cast List
Adam Legge
Adam CAN border on being the most sensible person under 30 that I know. And that is not a bad thing….because having someone around that you can talk sensible stuff with is very helpful. Adam works as a youth worker and is a truly superb leader. He is also an amazing confidante. Adam also has a crazy streak – which I completely adore and he is also a film buff and a national water polo champion (I discovered after meeting him that it is not just royalty that play Water Polo – who’d have known!) He’s also recently engaged to the very lovely (and very hyperactive) Hannah Cooke.








Hannah Cooke (Soon to be Legge)
Hannah (Cookiemonster) Cooke – You know those people that without fail can make you laugh.  Hannah is one of them. Hannah is someone that will laugh and laugh with you until she will suddenly say something so profound and accurate that it really hits home. I know that if I pick up the phone that she will be there for me and annoyingly at times – you can’t help but find yourself opening up to her.


























Kate Livermore

I’ve known Kate for a number of years now after being her leader in Club 1 and I’m so happy that she is currently studying in Gloucester (even if I’m not sure that she could say the same thing at the moment) because she is amazing. Honest to the point of brutality (always good to have someone like that around) – Kate can be more half empty than half full at times but this makes for some very funny conversations. Oh – and do not get distracted by Kate’s eyes. I’m pretty sure that the phrase “puppy dog eyes” was created after someone met her. Kate is from a place called Urchfont which (despite sounding like a town name from one of the Tolkien novels) is apparently a real place......






So…… what have I been up to?

Tuesday 5th February 2013
Finished (yes – actually finished) writing the final track for my album and recorded the rough vocal for it…..

Wednesday 6th February 2013
Wednesday saw me escaping work early to go and watch Zero Dark Thirty. Having not eaten breakfast (or lunch) I decided to stop at the Burger King across from the cinema for a horse burger (to see what all of the fuss was about). After seeing that they had a “king of the day” for £1.99 I went inside to place my order – only for the clerk to charge me £3.98. I was fuming and started talking about the poster and how it was false advertising……you can probably imagine the picture and my reaction. At this point a queue is forming behind me and the person directly behind me has started giggling.
-At this point I should point out that the problem with working shifts is that it is easily possible to lose track of what day it is-
For 5 minutes I stood there arguing with the clerk before the person behind me (now laughing hysterically) taps me on the shoulder and asks me what day it I thought it was. “MONDAY!” I angrily snap back before in a very much slow motion moment realising that in actual fact it was Wednesday and I’d been wrong all along. I wanted the ground to swallow me up I was so embarrassed. “So – would you like a Whopper sir”? the clerk asked. Grinning sheepishly I said yes and then uttered the first of many apologies to the clerk. By this point the person in the queue behind me has told the person in the queue behind them what the hold up has been in them getting served. They both start laughing. I take my burger and leave - and then remember that I’ve never really liked Whoppers in the first place……….

Zero Dark Thirty is good - Perhaps even very good. But it had been built up so much by the people and reviewers that had watched it before me that I was actually quite underwhelmed. Jessica Chastain won a Golden Globe for her role in the film (something which is potentially a pointer towards the Oscar winner) – if she wins an Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty over Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (WATCH IT) or the Bafta winning performance of Emmanuelle Riva in Amour then something has seriously gone wrong. Chastain spends the entirety of Zero Dark Thirty with facial expressions not dissimilar to someone pouring water on her head. A cardboard cut out of Katie Price could have conveyed more emotion in the role. I just don’t see the appeal in Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty – or quite what she has done to become the front runner for such a coveted award. If someone does know – can they please tell me? On the positive side though – I was expecting the film to be American propaganda – when in truth it actually showcased American incompetence……

Thursday 7th February 2013
On Thursday evening I met up with Kate Livermore (codename: Bird) for a catch up over tea….and then beer. I really enjoy spending time with Kate because i find that its really easy to talk to her and to catch up. There is no “Oh life is amazing. There are hundreds of fluffy bunnies everywhere…..”No. The issues and worries come out – and we talk about them. It’s great. Once the sensible stuff is out of the way though….some random questions normally follow…..so I thought I’d share them with you and let you answer:

Q. If you had TWO superpowers what would they be and why?




Q. Think ahead – what does 50 look like in your life?



Friday 8th February 2013
Friday saw me ask the world of Facebook a question in preparation for a talk I’m doing at Kainos in Bristol on the 17th.



If you are ever feeling low – or down about your life – I strongly suggest doing something like this. Some of the responses completely blew me away – and in amongst the genuinely amusing comments were some comments so amazing that I started welling up. For those of you that did this for me....expect a reply by Facebook in the next few days.....and thank you so much.

Saturday 9th February 2013
Something Cass has always wanted from me is a really romantic poem or song or something like that (a request that for various reasons up until this point I have ignored). But after Dan and Christine’s wedding (see chapter 4) – Cass started “subtly” hinting that she would very much like something like a poem written about her. So we came up with a deal. With Valentines Day fast approaching (more on that in Chapter 6) we would have a budget of £10 and our present would have to be home made. I would write her a poem – and she would slave away in the kitchen creating me something. Anyway – on Saturday I wrote this poem for Cass......I’ll show it to you next week......

Sunday 10th February (rant approaching)

At 7am I was forced to call our IT  support (/hindrance) help desk which is conveniently located (obviously to be able to offer a quick response) the other side of the world. What should have been a quick 2 minute call rapidly became a 10 minute call loaded with frustration as each word brought another battle with the language barrier.  Only between 7-10% of communication is actually done verbally anyway – so after taking that into account you realise that communicating with a foreign call centre is only about 5% effective compared to speaking with someone in person. 
Continuing the thought about foreign call centres – I started to think about the bank bailouts and how my bank (at the time) was bailed out by the Government. It occurred to me that (especially at the time of the bailouts) there was a massive unemployment rate in the UK Why then had my bank then opened a foreign call centre straight after their bail out? Was my bank the only bank that did it? Surely the government would have said “well actually – as you are going to open a new call centre and as we are going to bail you out and as the country already has a high unemployment rate and we need to find jobs for people – if we bail you out – you must open the call centre in the UK”. Surely someone would have said something? I don’t even know if their main call centre is still abroad – but what I do know is that (in an amazingly self defeating move by the bank) their collections and complaints departments still are abroad. I can’t even imagine the thought process behind that move…..

“Hey boss – I’ve got a really good idea. You know those pesky people that complain about us and those people that are still moaning about this PPI rubbish. Well lets direct them to a foreign call centre where they can get even more frustrated!”

ANYWAY..........
On Sunday evening I headed to the Kingfisher Church in Gloucester (just around the corner from my house) for their evening service. I work quite a lot of Sunday mornings – so if I’m not doing Seek in Cheltenham I’m going to try and get along to a few evening services here. What followed was a superb message on the story of the prodigal son. I left feeling massively encouraged yet very challenged.......
When I got home – we settled down on the sofa to watch the only reality talent show that I actually like (and that we can watch together) – Got to Dance. What followed was amazing....



After that – Andy Howson came round for a few drinks after he’d finished work. We watched the entirety of the 8 out of 10 cats Channel 4 mash up series before he departed......

Monday 11th February 2013



I love that they have faith in me (personally I think it is to keep me away from the wine). But seriously...I’m very very honoured

The day finished with....well - perhaps a picture can summarise it better....


Shameless plug section:
Check out my friend Matt's new album (you can pay what you want for it) and this new clothing company


Out and About.....
Just something very simple this week. I wonder if the retirement of the current Pope could start a revolution in the way that the Catholic Church selects a new one....


I'll leave you with this really inspiring video.....



Remember to ask any questions you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing 10resolutionsblog@gmail.com – and you can also now subscribe to 10 resolutions by email – simply fill in the big white box above the chapter. Right - I'm off to stop the dog from assassinating the ice cream van driver (just why there is an ice cream driver when it is -1 outside i do not understand).....Until next week.....