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Friday, 29 March 2013

Chapter 9 - A story about sorrow and fighting through the pain

So - I missed a week. I’m sorry.  But for a number of reasons I can only hope that this is the hardest chapter I ever have to write. But before we get to the why that is – let me answer a few of your questions:

What is your favourite drink?
Ok. I’ll answer this in two parts....

Favourite NON – alcoholic drink
I love Rio (both the Florida one and the Tropical one) but as it isn’t sold in supermarkets – someone gets it from a cash and carry for us (yes I’m that fond of it). It gets desperate though if I need a Rio fix and we don’t have any in the house because I get so desperate  that I’m usually “forced” to get a dirty takeaway in order to have a can (for some reason takeaways always seem to have it....actually - on’s probably just for people like me. Touché takeaway owners….). I’m also really fond of smoothies WITHOUT banana and lime cordial with soda water.
Favourite Alcoholic Drink
Here is a question that opens the floodgates. Ok I’m not a massive fan of spirits on their own but I am very partial to a bit of Fireball Whiskey (it’s also lovely mixed with apple juice). I’m increasingly fond of red wine (I’m a “pick whichever bottle is half price” kind of guy) and as a confession I’m also a bit of a beer snob (cue jokes about my surname). And by beer snob – I actually mean a lager snob - as real ale instantly sets my taste buds and body onto a setting called “prepare to projectile vomit” – no matter how much of it I’ve drunk. I do really enjoy trying new lagers though – it’s just a shame that my two current favourites (Warsteiner and Smithwicks) are nigh on impossible to find on tap in this country.

Are you allergic to anything?
Yes. Nuts, mushrooms and some form of banana tasting medicine that makes me explode from my arse and mouth.

If you had a superpower – what would it be and why?
As a comic geek – this is a question that I have asked myself many times. Would I choose to fly? Would I choose to be invisible? (Cue inevitable comments) Would I want x ray vision? (Cue more inevitable comments) Would I want super strength? Or the ability to phase between walls? Or maybe even the ability to change into an animal? There are so many possibilities! How would I handle my abilities? Would I use them for good? Or slip like the guy in Chronicle? Obviously I’d hope the first...but who knows.....Would I want to have the powers of Hiro in the show Heroes? I’d love to be able to teleport and to freeze time....Not only could I see the whole world (and spend no time in airports – incidentally – I hate airports) but I could also cause a fair bit of mischief with time frozen (and yes I would also do good things like saving lives....bla bla bla). On reflection though – I think the power that Id most want is to be able to see the big picture and to see how things slot into place. So many things in our lives are subject to one viewpoint – or one part of the story. It would be great (and perhaps terrifying) to be able to see the whole story – or the whole truth in each one of these moments and situations. But at this point I’d need to ask if seeing the whole picture would actually end up causing more pain. It might sound like a bizarre power request and if this question had arrived at another point I’m sure that my answer would be different – but in this moment – as I’m currently writing this – that is my answer.
Before we move on I need to apologise for something. I have come into contact with so many people over the last couple of weeks that it would be pretty much impossible to mention everyone. So in this chapter – there is no cast list. In fact my life has been dominated so much by one event over the last few weeks (and the build up to it) that I’m not even going to date my entries in this chapter. But let me just say thank you now to everyone who has stood beside us, prayed for us and held us in their thoughts over the last couple of weeks – it’s been a tough time.

A story about sorrow and fighting through the pain
Something that someone actually picked up on and asked after reading chapter 6 was what I was doing in ASDA on Valentines Day evening after spending time mocking others who had forgotten presents for their loved ones / robots. In truth the question was completely fair – because I had included that little bit of information as a set up for a later chapter. I was running round ASDA on Valentines Day evening looking for a pregnancy test to confirm that Cass was pregnant. At this point let me point out that some of the looks I received from ASDA staff that evening whilst running around the store on VALENTINES DAY evening were slightly judgemental (or at least they were in my head). One of the looks read as a rather disgusted “He’s bold. What’s he expecting tonight” from an older lady whilst another read as “get in there my son” from someone that looked suspiciously like they were trying to be the Fonz. I’d built up enough of these looks in my head by exit time to have developed a rather sarcastic answer should anyone actually ask me what was happening. But they never did – so I never got to use my fantastically witty comeback. Anyway – as per usual - I’m digressing. Cass was pregnant. Fast forward a month.

*At this point DO NOT grab your phone to say congratulations to us….please read on…….*

We had our meeting with the midwife and discovered that we were actually further along than we thought - and because of this the midwife said that she would make sure that we were scanned “as soon as possible” as a priority. She even gave us her mobile number and said that if we had a problem at any time we could text her and she would reply. If she wasn’t available – the call or text would transfer to another midwife who would be in touch.

The weekend passed and after waking up on the Monday morning and writing about Wigan’s survival hopes I received a text from Cass saying that she had discovered some spotting in her urine. I didn’t know what spotting was – but for Cass to have mentioned it – she must have been worried (If I haven’t mentioned it before I’m really squeamish). So I quickly got dressed and rushed downstairs to check through the pregnancy pack we received from the midwife to see if this was mentioned anywhere in there and what we should do or who we should call for advice. There was no information about this in the pack - Nothing that explained this scenario or at what point I should be worried or even what I should be worried about. I called the midwife and left a message and then text her asking for help. I remembered her saying that we should contact our GP if we had any questions before our first scan – so I called our doctor’s surgery only to be automatically transferred to an out of hours line. An out of hours line…..AT LUNCHTIME! I spoke to the lady on the phone who explained that doctor’s surgeries had lunch breaks and that in those times calls were transferred to this out of hours line. I was told that I could request the emergency on call doctor to call us back – but that would take at least 90 minutes. I then asked the lady what she thought I should do - to which her response that she wasn’t medically trained and couldn’t advise me about anything (she didn’t even suggest that I called NHS direct……)

Dear NHS
To put less strain on your out of hours on-call doctors would it not make sense to have someone medically trained picking up the phone? That way they could actually filter the calls to ensure that only genuine emergencies are sent to the on call doctor when surgeries are closed for lunch? It would also mean that other calls are instead directed to the right place – wherever they may be? On another note – have you ever heard of staggered lunch breaks? It’s a crazy idea. Please don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful to the NHS and I don’t want to take you for granted – but I cant help but feeling that you lack common sense.

As Cass came home I was a frustrated figure. I couldn’t show or let on that I was worried - for Cass would pick up on that – and that in turn would make her worry more. In truth though – I was terrified. To think that there may be a problem with our tiny baby didn’t bear thinking about and with no return call from the midwife or text from her to either of us (Cass had text her as well) I decided that we should go to A&E. I just wanted someone to tell me that it was going to be ok. I needed to know that my child and my wife were going to be ok.
After seeing the initial nurse and having reached the conclusions from sitting in the waiting room that A) in the universe there are an abnormal number of ankle injuries and B) old people are really clumsy we were called through to go and see the nurse on duty.

Within moments of seeing the nurse I was left both gobsmacked and completely livid. We were told that Cass wasn’t an emergency and that we should have known better than to come to A&E. We were told that we should have called our midwife or spoken to our GP and not have come to A&E to waste their time. The nurse at this point had pretty much ignored me and was directing every part of her “you should have done” rant at Cass. With my frustrations from earlier returning and with every imaginable emotion colliding in my mind I looked at the nurse and looked at Cass. My wife was welling up and was being made to feel stupid by this clearly overworked yet power crazed dragon nurse. I could see the effect that she was having on Cass. In that moment - I snapped.

“Who ON EARTH do you think you are speaking to my wife like that?! We have never been in this situation before and your packs don’t tell us what to do?! We’ve tried getting hold of our midwife and our GP is on lunch. The out of hours doctor was going to take an hour and a half to get back to us and to be honest HOW ARE WE MEANT TO KNOW WHAT AN EMERGENCY IS?”

Cass put a hand on my leg to calm me whilst the nurse (clearly shocked at my eruption) took a step back. Her face changed and a softer voice emerged. She did a few tests and then called our doctor to make an appointment on our behalf. As we were leaving the nurse half- apologised “I’m sorry BUT….” – the moment I heard the word BUT I shut off. I didn’t want to hear anything else from her. I could feel myself shaking with a mix of both fear and rage and didn’t want to get into another argument with her (mainly because of Cass).
We left the hospital – and headed to the doctor’s. The doctor was in complete disbelief when I explained what had happened throughout the afternoon – but she then confirmed the guesswork diagnosis that the dragon nurse had provided. Cass had a urine infection and she didn’t think it was anything to worry about. But to make sure she called the Ante Natal clinic and asked them to give us a call the next day to give us some advice on what to do.
The next day came and sure enough the clinic called and asked us to come in for an appointment. I was feeling positive – buoyed by the knowledge that the doctor didn’t think it was anything to worry about. We got to the hospital again and saw a nurse. We explained again what had happened and the nurse reacted by saying that we had done exactly the right thing in our situation. She couldn’t believe what we had gone through and was shocked that the dragon nurse hadn’t sent us straight through to the clinic the day before. The nurse explained (again) that there was probably nothing to worry about but gave us the worse case scenarios just in case. We were to have a scan that morning that would act as our 12 week scan. I calmly sat in the waiting room awaiting the call to the scanning room.
I stood in the scanning room watching the screen and watching the scanning lady. I’d been told by so many others that this was the moment for them that they realised that they were going to have a child – that their lives were going to change forever. This was going to be the moment when the joyous (yet terrifying) feeling of impending parenthood kicked in. I carried on watching the screen and the scanning lady.

I can’t remember when it was in my life that I realised I was good at reading people and their reactions. I know that I’ve been able to do it for a number of years – and most of the time – very accurately. But this time I didn’t want to be right. The scanning lady had stopped asking questions and had retreated into an invisible shell – a bit like she was shutting herself off. I looked at the screen and the area that she was focusing her scanner on. The area of the screen was black. I knew what it meant but didn’t want to believe it. The scanning lady and her reactions had already given it away. As the lady started to give the news I held Cass’s hand. I didn’t need to hear. I already knew. Our child had not survived.
The reasons as to why this had happened didn’t matter to me - as nothing could change the fact that it had. I felt like a glass image of myself that someone had taken a hammer to and shattered. I felt like I’d been ripped apart. I felt broken. And for the first time in my life I felt completely and utterly helpless. I might well have thought that I’d experienced this feeling before. But this feeling wasn’t diluted like it may well have been at previous points in my life. I felt like part of me had been taken away. But I gathered together my strength and put on a brave face for Cass. I held her as we went back to the waiting room. I couldn’t understand why we were waiting to see the nurse for her just to give us the news again but this time in more detail. I wanted to run away. I wanted to hide. My mind started to slip to thoughts of what could have been – thoughts of what I thought our life was going to be like in 8 months time. I tried to stop thinking like this. I tried to switch off. But each minute we were waiting pulled me further into my mind and my vision of what could have been. The 20 minute wait felt like hours passed. The nurse explained to us that although Cass hadn’t miscarried yet, she expected it to happen in the next few weeks. Our child had stopped growing. We went home.

As soon as we were through the door we stopped for a second and I held Cass. It’s a moment that I will never forget because that moment acted as a reminder for each of us that we were a partnership – that we were going to be going through an amazingly painful time together. We would not be individuals. We would not be alone. It would hurt – of that we had no question. But we would be going through it together. It’s amazing how much power one brief moment can have. Cass called her mum, whilst I went upstairs and called the office to explain that I wouldn’t be in that night. As I spoke - all of the feelings and emotions collided and hit me. It became real. As I explained what had happened tears started falling down my face. As I hung up - my phone fell from my hand. I dropped to my knees and uncontrollably wept. Anger, heartache, pain and sorrow started rushing through my body. What had I done to deserve this? Why had this happened to me? Why did my wife need to go through such pain? I didn’t understand. I shouted at God. I screamed. I cried out. And when the tears returned I prayed for peace and prayed that my anger would be calmed. I prayed for an understanding of what had happened. I prayed that Cass wouldn’t need to go through two weeks of pain. I prayed for it to be over quickly. I made a promise that I would not leave her side throughout her suffering. I made a promise that whatever I could do to help – I would.

Putting on a brave face again I went downstairs – but seeing Cass brought all of my emotions flooding back. With tears once again streaming down my face I told her “I can’t be strong this time. I can’t put on a brave face”. Cass turned to me and simply said “don’t worry” and then held me. I started thinking things like “It wasn’t meant to be this way round. I was meant to be holding her. I was meant to be comforting her”. And at that point I realised that in a strange way I was comforting her – because by showing my emotion – by showing my true feelings we were able to share the burden and comfort each other. We found strength in each other - that's the truth of it - but I can say without any hesitation that I have never felt more love for my wife than at that point.

The miscarriage happened the next day.

A week of grieving, takeaways, Battlestar Galactica, our wedding anniversary (there will be a chapter on that at some point) and 80’s films followed……….

Over a week has now passed since Cass had her miscarriage and on the surface we are doing ok. If I’m being completely honest – I don’t think that either of us yet have completely processed what has happened. It still hurts and it will do for a long time to come. If I’m doing something I’m fine. If I’m active then I don’t feel it or I can push the niggling hurt away - but then my mind will switch to what has happened and I start to feel everything again. And even then I'm increasingly amazed at the strength of my wife.

I’m not stupid – I know that it is going to take me a long time to process and I guess in a way to accept what has happened. I’m a Christian - but that doesn’t automatically mean that I have all of the answers to life’s questions. I have questions about stuff like this as any other person would.  But I still have faith. I still believe. It's easy to have faith in the quiet times - but so much harder when the storm clouds start to rage. I know that those statements must sound crazy to some of you given the story that you have read – but I’m not going crazy. I can’t explain why any of this has happened and I might not ever be able to. But I’m sure that somewhere along the line some good will come from this – we might well even be able to help someone else through the same situation. 

What I have started to realise about this situation though is really interesting. Its information that I knew and have spoken about to to other people - but until last night hadn’t clicked into place. I zoned out when the scanner woman was talking. I heard what she was saying – but I wasn’t listening. The same happened with the nurse after the scanner woman. I realised last night that what they were actually saying was that the baby hadn’t survived because of where it was growing. What happened was one outcome. The other outcome would have been that the baby continued to grow (but potentially would still not have survived) but Cass would have been put through agonising pain for months. And that is something that would have completely destroyed me. I never want to have to write about anything like this again – but massive thanks to my wife Cass and to Bex Metcalfe in the office for convincing me not to take the easy opt out option in this chapter. You made me write about my feelings – and for that I can only thank you. 

10 Resolutions will return as normal next week with a special selection of questions from my family members as well as extra toilet humour and ranting to make up for this week’s somewhat sombre entry – but if you feel like this chapter has impacted you in anyway please let me know. Oh – and if you have any questions to ask – please ask away by emailing
I’ll just leave you with this – especially relevant as today is Good Friday.

I stood still. Terrified. The man had the gun pointed straight at me. I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to watch. I was petrified. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. The man squeezed the trigger. BANG! The gun went off. Then silence.
But wait. I was feeling no pain. I slowly began to open my eyes. The man with the gun had gone. All I could see was a pool of blood and a man – a different man - lying in it. I fell to my knees and held him in my arms – tears now streaming down my face. “Why!?” I asked. “Why did you save me?” His eyes slowly opened. He held my neck and pulled my ear to his mouth. “I died so that you could live” he whispered “Don’t waste it”. And with those words he died.
One man died to save me. Me! Why would he do that? I’m nobody, I don’t matter to anyone. But then I sat down and started to think. Weeping – the truth dawned upon me. I’d been given a second chance…………….I’d been saved.

Happy Easter and God Bless - oh and the midwife still hasn't got in touch with us......



Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Chapter 8 - A story about Weetabix and Simon Cowell

With my working hours this week, powering through writing football related junk, writing music and planning / booking events – it’s been a very busy week – most of which has been spent staring at a computer (there is also a small possibility that a couple of days did not see me progress any further in getting up than putting on lounge pants). So because of that - I’m not going to take you through what I’ve been up to – because the simple answer would be not a lot (that would be worth writing about). Instead though – I thought I’d try and tackle some of the questions that have been steadily building up since 10 resolutions began two months ago. In my answers – there will definitely be spoilers for a couple of resolutions though….so pay attention……

What does a typical day off look like?
I’ll normally wake up quite early (no alarm) and check the football news to see if there is anything worth writing about. I’ll then probably catch up with a few programmes in bed before putting on some lounge pants and heading downstairs to let Milo the destroyer into the garden. The next stage is the “T” junction in my routine and normally decides the fate of the rest of the day……Should I sit for 10 minutes and play on the Playstation (knowing full well that it wont just be for 10 minutes)? Or should I go back upstairs to work on some more articles and to write some music? I’ve now probably switched to being about 75% towards the latter option – a complete reversal on what I was doing before….
After a few hours of catching up with emails, being constantly amazed at how much I enjoy writing music, writing other various things, doing housework (don’t be shocked – I learnt how to use the washing machine the other day!) and catching up with my Bible plan (I like to read the Bible every day so I follow a Bible plan – pretty self explanatory really….) – I might well revisit the Playstation / sitting on the sofa option…but I need to make sure that I’ve done everything that actually needs doing first because I find it really hard to switch to anything else once I’ve switched to the Playstation option. I’ll probably then start cooking for the wife for when she’s home from work (which explains the obvious question of “where is Wifey in all this”? – and the answer is that we rarely have full days off together). Obviously each day off is different and one might well involve heading out and catching up with friends – but as this blog is a day late – and as I had a day off yesterday - I’ll let you work out how I spent my day off yesterday. In my defence though – the man flu that has been brewing in my body for months has now started to take hold of me. And yes– man flu is real

What is your favourite animated programme?
Even from a young age I loved cartoons. Thundercats, Ghostbusters, He-Man, MASK, Jace and the wheeled warriors, TMHT (or TMNT living in the US)……I watched all of them regularly…something that has continued into my adulthood – (although the list of cartoons that I now watch has changed a little bit). I currently watch Transformers Prime, The Avengers, New Thundercats (RIP), Family Guy, American Dad and the Cleveland Show – but my current favourite (and by a substantial distance) is Archer.
Archer is the tale of a womanising American secret agent called Sterling Archer and the fictional security agency that he works for called ISIS. Think of a character that mixes the stupidity of Johnny English, the suaveness and skill set of James Bond with a bit of American obnoxiousness and arrogance thrown in for good measure. Archer constantly has me in fits of laughter – and whilst it isn’t for everyone- it’s well worth checking out – even if it is just for some of the completely ridiculous scenarios Archer finds himself in.

If something changed and you had to become deaf, dumb or blind – which would you choose?
An odd question (thanks Kate) - but one that has actually been quite challenging to answer. I even had this answer nailed – until I asked Bex in the office today the same question and she completely changed my opinion…..

Originally – my answer was going to be that I’d prefur to be blind – but then Bex really threw me a curveball by saying that she would really struggle not seeing the sun coming up in the morning, not being able to see her nieces grow up and not being able to see the beauty of the world. I completely agree. I don’t know how I would cope being blind – but I can only imagine that it wouldn’t be very well. (Bex then went on to completely dilute her beautiful answer by saying that she would also struggle to paint her nails…….)

Bex also really challenged me about the prospect of being dumb. She was brutally honest about how she would struggle with not being able to communicate in the same way that she had been used to. My reaction was a struck open wide mouth. I was amazed by the thought and honesty that went into her answer and thanks to her reasoning – I completely agree. Bex however went on to “jokingly” suggest that she would miss shouting at her husband James – something which left me pondering which option he would choose if given the option…..

Process of elimination therefore led us both to the conclusion that we would prefur to be deaf. We could learn to lip–read and understand sign language, we could still communicate (although we’d need to adapt as to how), we could still enjoy seeing the world and because we would have already experienced the sounds – we would already have a soundtrack to go with everything we saw and experienced.

It’s certainly not a question that I had thought about before – but it has challenged me beyond belief. Whereas before I just had sympathy (probably through a lack of understanding) for people that are deaf, dumb and blind – I’m now hit with a new found respect for these people – a lot of whom live the most out of every single moment. That in itself sets an example for all of us (including me).  We need to make the most of and be thankful for whatever we’ve got – not get hung up on what we don’t have.

If you could change into anyone for a day – who would it be?
Ok – so to move away from the typical “I’d be James Bond” answer I’ve amended the question slightly (because obviously I would be James Bond). So the question now is “If you could change into anyone for a day AND gain an understanding of their knowledge – who would it be?”
I’ve decided that I’m allowed 3 answers here….so option 1:

Simon Cowell
No I don’t want to have trousers up to my armpits, the smuggest face on the tellybox or any understanding whatsoever of his social life. But being Simon Cowell for a day would enable me to bring down (or at least cause serious damage) to X Factor and Britain’s got talent. I’d also kindly donate all of his money to charity.
Arsene Wenger
In the first chapter of 10 resolutions I promised that I wouldn’t rant about Arsenal. Therefore I won’t. But I’m desperate to know what on Earth is currently going on in Arsene Wenger’s head and if he really is as delusional as he comes across. Or does he have a master plan?

Dennis Daugaard (or any senior member of the NRA)
The name Dennis Daugaard may not mean that much to many of you. But Dennis Daugaard is the South Dakota governor who in the last week signed a piece of legislation which allows schools to create “school sentinels” – (which in translation means) teachers, staff or parent volunteers that are armed to protect students. No part of me can see the logic in taking firearms into these situations. That’s why I wouldn’t mind seeing into his head to see if I could try and understand. To see if I could grasp the train of thought that could possibly have resulted in the conclusion that taking guns into schools was a good idea. I’m desperate to understand – because at the moment I can’t help but shake the feeling that someone has taken some insanity pills.
I also mention the NRA – because the National Rifle Association throughout all of these shootings hasn’t taken enough of a stand against those who look to use “their right to defend themselves” as a right to attack others. I can understand the owning a gun part to protect your family - but having small arsenals in their homes? What are they expecting? What do they expect to happen when something switches in someone’s mental state and they are surrounded by weaponry? The only way to stop gun crime in America is to kill it at the source and to have much more control over people owning guns. Parts of America are cottoning on to this – New York and Colorado for instance. But it took violent act after violent act to get to the place where it was finally accepted that change needed to happen. Some of the country has now accepted that this needs to happen. But I’m now terrified about what it would take for the rest of the country to follow suit. Change is coming – but far too slowly. Fair play to Obama for getting a move on with it – but on a personal level – I struggle to look at the US as a world leader because in a lot of ways they haven’t even got their own house in order. Don’t get me wrong – Blighty is far from perfect – but when you look at some of the issues that the US is encountering you quickly realise that in truth – we don’t have it that bad at all.

*Political rant over*

What would you like to do in your next job?
This is actually really simple – I’d love to be paid to write (and not something that someone has asked me to write about). I want to write about stuff that I’m passionate about and I’m extremely lucky to have been given a number of opportunities like this along the way already – so it seems like the natural progression. I’d also love to do more with music and the Church as well as writing a novel – so I guess what I’d be looking for is to be paid enough to write so I could spend a day a week NOT playing Playstation but spending time on the other things that I’m passionate about. Leaving my current company in the first place though would be really hard because I adore the people that I work with at the moment. I’m not that fussed about the actual job (don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad - but in context it is the people that keep me alive in the office on a day to day basis.) 

So I guess as a little side note – If you are reading this and I work with you – or have done in the past - let me just say thanks for making me chuckle on a daily basis – and for helping me not to wake up with a feeling of dread each morning. It’s an honour and a pleasure. Thank you.

What was your most recent purchase?
In small terms....a multipack of Weetabix. Now I’m very fond of Weetabix – but I don’t agree with paying 83p for 2 in the office canteen – so today I went to the garage across from the office and picked up 12 for the comparative bargain of £1.55.
In larger terms – last week I bought a new pair of running / gym trainers which are a rather swanky blue colour. I saw them in a shop priced at £80 and then went home to find them on EBay Daily Deals for £30. I like to think of that as me beating the shop...and before anyone else goes on at me about shopping on the internet when shops are shutting on the high response is very simple. Are you going to pay me the difference?

What do you do to stay fit?
In complete honesty - nowhere near enough (hence the new trainers). I walk a fair bit, drum and play football occasionally – but unfortunately that’s about it. I’d love to play more football and to play some badminton (maybe even handball after watching it at the Olympics) but until recently I was lacking the motivation to actually push on with making something happen. I’m not any more – I just need to find some partners in crime to play with. (So if you are up for it – let me know). And before anyone suggests the gym...I’d get really bored on my own.....

Tell me about a TV show that you are watching at the moment
Because I’m kind, caring and sharing - I’m going to tell you about 2 programmes that I love.
First up is the Last Leg. Originally running alongside the Paralympics providing an alternative take on the day’s events – the show returned for a special at New Year (cleverly titled “the Last Leg of the Year”) before being commissioned for a full (live) series by Channel 4. The name of the show also has special meaning as two of the hosts (Adam Hills and Alex Brooker) have Prosthetic legs and because of that the show manages really well to break down some of the stigma attached to disabilities - regularly fielding questions of “is it ok to ask” along the way. It’s genuinely funny and different to other panel shows – especially as it actually has a fair amount of integrity contained within (the episode after all of the stuff about Oscar Pistorious came out highlights this really well).
Next up is a show about a lesser-known comic book character from the DC (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman etc) Universe – Arrow.
Now the truth about Arrow is that I am completely and utterly aware that it is absolute rubbish – but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And whilst the scripts are created from cheese encrusted cardboard –the storyline is completely engaging and draws you in leaving you desperate for the next episode (something that previous DC show Smallville failed to do over its first few seasons). The acting from the leads isn’t great (or perhaps “not exactly taxing” is a better way to phrase it) - but it has been noticeably well cast because if needed – all of the cast are capable of acting to deliver an emotional punch (spoiler alert – one is coming). Something else that I find interesting about Arrow is that (for the time being at least) Arrow is based in the human world. There are no superheroes. They haven’t been ruled out.....but the only powers present at the moment are human powers - making it much more filmable (something else that Smallville struggled with and one reason why pilots for Wonder Woman and Aqua Man didn’t get pushed to series). The character Arrow is also is a long way away from being a boy scout (and he has a harrowing past) meaning that the story can shy away from real predictability. At the moment Arrow has little competition in terms of similar shows.  It’s been renewed for a second season with weeks to spare – but expect the competition and storylines to rapidly heat up should Joss Whedon’s fast tracked S.H.I.E.L.D pilot go (as expected) to series. For a geek like me though – I’m excited....
Arrow is very much a guilty pleasure show (that when lined up against Smallville looks strong). But I don’t mind – because if girls are allowed their own guilty pleasure shows – why can’t I have mine?

10 Resolutions will return as normal next week – but in the mean time if you have any questions you want to ask please email or visit the 10 resolutions facebook page. Right – I’m off to make dinner for the wife and prepare for Arsenal going out of Big Cup.

I'll leave you with this video. It completely ripped me apart - and then inspired me.

Until next week. God Bless

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Chapter 7 - A story about Falmouth and itchy trousers

Ok – so despite my little interludes – It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a full chapter. Please don’t think that I’ve gone back on my 11th resolution...I knew from quite early on that I’d be really busy around this time – so I didn’t want to “force write” something in an hour when I actually wanted to take the time to properly answer some questions and to briefly tell you about what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks. Does that make sense? Anyway  - lets get started…..

I’ll start this chapter by answering a few random questions...... (random being the operative word)

Do you chew pens?
As anyone in my office will happily tell you......Yes. I have a particular fondness for pen lids...meaning that I have a large number of lidless pens in my bag. I have improved though as I no longer leave my much chewed pen lids on the desk (check me out – and for those of you on resolution count – that IS NOT one of them.....

Are you a good cook?
In complete honesty...I think I’m part of a growing number of men that actually really enjoy cooking. Obviously that doesn’t automatically mean that I’m a good cook – but no one has died or got ill from my cooking yet (famous last words). I love making lasagne and Spaghetti Bolognese... Wifey still (without question) makes the best roast dinner though!

What is your most embarrassing moment?
In complete honesty - there are a large number of moments to choose from so I’ll select one.
A couple of years ago I was genuinely chuffed to be invited to join some form of think tank group for our company. At this point I can’t remember what the group was in place to actually do – or what the catchy flashy instantly forgettable name of the group was (like SWAT = stupid word acrostic things – something that our company is VERY fond of) but anyway....The date of the first meeting arrived....and I was ready. I was nervous because the chieftain of the known universe was going to be in the first meeting of this working group (translation = director of company) – but I was ready...I had ideas! I was prepared for action. I put on my best suit in preparation...I even shaved and attempted ironing clothes myself (before failing and begging Wifey to iron stuff for me). I made the journey to the venue.
On getting out of the car I heard a small noise - Nothing drastic...but something that sounded like a little rip. I didn’t think much of it.....but I thought it would be in my best interests just to go to the toilet to make sure that I still looked super smashing. I did the checks...... Shirt intact. No clump of facial hair missed whilst shaving. Hair still looking like Sonic. Nothing in teeth. Jacket clear of low flying seagulls – I quickly concluded that I still looked amazing and that the noise must have come from someone else. Unfortunately - as I ran my hand over the back of my trousers I discovered that this was not the case at all. Now I’m accustomed to rips. We’ve all caught a T-shirt in a tree branch or something stupid like that. But this was not a rip. Ohhh no. This was more of a gaping chasm that no number of safety pins (because there are so many available in an office toilet) could fix. This was a problem (to put it mildly) – but as I’m not one to panic (gulp) I decided to think rationally about my options....whilst realising (in a bit of an “it all makes sense moment”) that the reason everyone had been giggling as I walked passed them to the toilet was actually because they were laughing at me and the sight of my Superman boxers. Any hope I had of escaping this with my dignity intact had now slipped away. It was time for some serious damage limitation....

Option 1 – Find some duct tape (because as everyone knows – duct tape fixes everything). Unfortunately the only duct tape present in my bag was a silver / grey colour and my trousers were black. As I didn’t want to draw further attention to my trousers by creating a racing stripe down my arse - I decided against this plan.

Option 2 – Walk out of the office with my back firmly placed against the wall like some form of caterpillar – perhaps using a disguise (like a plant) to conceal my exit. As everyone had seen me come in to the office though leaving like this would surely show that I now knew what they already knew – and that hugely embarrassed was an understatement for how I was feeling.

Option 3 – Develop a Mission Impossible style exit plan using windows, high-tech rope and things which would help me stick to windows. Whilst this option had its merits – it unfortunately became unstuck at a lack of windows, high tech rope and things which would have helped me stick to the windows. Strangely enough – the fact that I hadn’t recently (and by recently I mean ever) trained for a manoeuvre like this didn’t come in to my thinking……..

Option 4 – Use the items contained within my bag to create an object or item that would instantly make everything ok again. As I had recently emptied my bag – I was fully aware that it contained a notepad, a number of lidless pens, some duct tape, a can of Rio and a Dairylea Dunker. As I am not Macguyver or (much as I might have wanted to be) a member of the A Team – I decided rather quickly that this was the correct solution.

Which left me with the rather uncomfortable Option 5 – Attach suit jacket around waist (because lets face it attaching anything item of clothing around your waist looks cool)
 and walk out of the office door like nothing has happened. Get into the (very close by) town centre. Buy new trousers. Get back to office in time for meeting. Meeting room door is right by office door so no one should see me come back into the office.
I attached my suit jacket and commenced my completely and utterly foolproof plan.
It’s worth me pointing out at this moment that in fact my plan was not foolproof (because plans conceived in office toilets always are). I’d gotten out of the office ok – that part was fine. But I hadn’t planned on the temperature. I’d somehow forgotten that we were in the middle of a bitingly cold winter and the only part of clothing that could have kept me warm had been placed around my waist. That was a small miscalculation. But for the sake of my dignity – I soldiered on. I also hadn’t really thought out though the actual logistics of my master plan. I say this because although I knew that the town centre was nearby – I didn’t actually know where any form of trouser selling shop was located. I also hadn’t taken into account the time….my meeting was at 09:30 – and at this point it was 08:45. I rushed into what I thought was the town centre to see an abundance of Poundstretcher like shops and shops selling pasties – but I could see nothing that would sell trousers. There wasn’t even a charity shop. I started to panic – the thought of walking into this meeting with Superman showing out of the back out my trousers did not bear thinking about. But then I saw a sign that I can safely say that I’ve never been happy to see before. A sign that gave me hope – M&S. I ran into the shop holding my suit jacket in place and quickly went to the mens clothing section. Trying not to look at the price tags (work trousers are normally purchased from Matalan) I looked through all of the trousers whilst trying to find my size. One pair in all of the smart trousers were my size and most typically – they were the most expensive pair. I grimaced as I paid for them and then put them on straight away. Not only were they expensive – but they were also made of the most uncomfortable material known to man. But it didn’t matter. I had fixed the trouser problem. Feeling quite pleased with myself – I started to think about how and why I had been worried in the first place as I made my way back to the office. I even managed to get in without anyone seeing me and sat down in the meeting room awaiting the rest of the “think tank”.
My friend was the first person to come into the meeting room and I jokingly told them all about my funny experience and about how relieved I was that my ordeal was over. The rest of the group then came into the meeting room (including the chieftain of the universe) – at which point my friend decided to share my story with the whole group as an ice breaker. I felt as if the ground had swallowed me up and all that was left of me was my amazingly itchy yet extremely expensive M&S trousers. Embarrased didn’t cover the feelings I was experiencing. My mind started to drift to the other options that were available to me. If I had taken another option – would the situation have worked out better (lets face it – probably not)? If I combined Dairylea and Rio would it create some form of master virus to give my friend the world’s greatest Zitnose in retaliation? I survived the meeting by saying very little and by sitting sheepishly in the corner. On the positive side though everyone laughed (even the chieftain) and after a day or so I even started to see the funny side of it all…..A feeling that quickly vanished when I went downstairs a couple of days later to discover that Milo the destroyer had put a number of teeth holes in my new M&S swanky trousers…….and had spent the night pretending that my new trousers were his girlfriend…….  
-Later in the week though I had to laugh – as I discovered that a seagull had launched a dirty bomb which had landed perfectly on the back of my friend’s head….

The Cast list

Ben Heppenstall
I’ve known Ben now for about 16 years and as my ex housemate – he knows all about what it is like to live with me (and he’s still my friend!). I’m really lucky to have Ben as one of my guitarists because not only is he is a genius with a guitar – but because he is also a lovely guy. Ben and Matt work so well together in the studio - and between them have probably been behind some of the best moments of my album (their payment is taken in lovingly mocking me and that’s fine because I do it myself) Oh – did I mention that he used to be in a (fantastic) band called Shockabuku and that his band-member nickname was Uncle Spanky? (He's also an amazing husband and Dad...)

Chris Banwell
Friend, confidante, joker and all around cheeky scamp – Chris has been my friend for a number of years and every time I spend time with him it feels like I have known him for so much longer. Chris is an encourager and has a great ability to be able to see truth in situations and in people that others may have missed. He invests his time in people and watches them grow. Banwell also has an amazing ability to inspire others and is one of the most humble people I have ever met.
But perhaps the thing I love and most admire about Banwell is his heart for the people that life has taken apart and chucked aside.

Phil Slatter
Big Friendly Giant is the very brief (yet surprisingly accurate) description that I would use to describe one of my closest friends – Phil Slatter. In a group of people making noise – Phil will speak and the others will silently fall to listen. He isn’t the loudest person (not a bad thing) and he is so calm and collected that you are fully aware that his head and heart are loaded with wisdom and integrity. I’m proud to be able to call Phil my friend and I’ll be forever grateful to him for being so dependable throughout my life. Phil is an avid Wycombe Wanderers fan and is one of the only people I know that I would consider to be a bigger film buff than me. Phil is married to the lovely Rachel (more on her at a later date) and is father to the beautiful Caitlin.

And Introducing (mainly so I can be smug and say that you heard about them here first):
The Fal-Collective
Tuesday 19th February 2013
I spent the evening of the 19th February in the studio with Ben and Matt working on some of Ben’s guitar parts for the album. I’m constantly amazed at how privileged I am to have these guys involved in the recording of my album and I’m still staggered at how much they believe in the project (and actually at how good some of it sounds). One of my favourite things about being in the studio is the banter (which on this occasion was mainly pointed at me) – and this evening was no exception. Above all else though – it’s just great to spend time with people that you really get on with.

Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th February
Location: Falmouth
Not relevant at all....just very funny
A number of months ago my friend Chris arranged for me to head down to deepest darkest Cornwall to hang out with him, his lovely lady Danutia (more on her at a later date as well) and a group of musicians called the Fal-Collective.
Friday evening was spent in a few pubs (with a brief trip to Pizza Express included somewhere in the middle) and just hanging out with Chris, Danutia and their friends. Instantly – I felt at home in Falmouth (even if i am a city boy) and I can’t quite describe how welcome I felt. I’d only briefly met Danutia beforehand – but it didn’t feel like that at all. You know how sometimes situations, conversations and relationships can feel a bit forced or even put on? Well this didn’t feel like that at all. Danutia is a truly amazing lady (Chris has done VERY well for himself) – and I can’t wait to get to know her more because she’s ace!

Saturday morning saw the members of the Fal-Collective (Sophie, Jamie M, Jamie B, Joff and James) and others descend upon the Tardis like flat where Chris (and others) live (I still have no idea who officially lives in the flat) for “meat sweat” levels of bacon, a chance to hang out and a q & a session on worship / a bit of teaching led (vaguely by me). What followed though was amazing – a simple time of “practice” for the evening session (service that evening) led into what can only be described as an immensely powerful time of worshipping God together (in a flat – in Falmouth). I make a point about mentioning that this was in a flat for two reasons. 1. Worship doesn’t just have to happen in a Church on a Sunday. 2. The flat window is on eye level with the top deck of a double decker close your eyes and imagine being on the top deck of a bus and stopping outside a building where you can see 10 people playing guitar (and other very odd instruments inside – NO RAINBOW STRAPS PRESENT THOUGH). On reflection – it must look so weird! Oh well...I digress.
The Saturday evening arrived (after a trip to a different pub) and after setting up the Church building (and after numerous power surges) the Fal – Collective and I led people from the Church in a time of worship (still no rainbow straps). It was a complete honour to be part of and I have the feeling that I have made some very good new of whom has started working on the artwork for the album and so looks AMAZING (thanks again James). I’m so determined to go and hang out again – that I’ve booked in a return trip in June – but this time taking Wifey away for a few days on our own first..........On another note...keep a serious eye open for the Fal – Collective. I might well be biased – but even from my previous industry experience I can say that there is a lot of potential there (Think Bon Iver meets Mumford and throw in a bit of Rend Collective)

Saturday 2nd March
Ahhhh. Stag – Do day. I spent the evening with 50 guys in Cheltenham having a curry for Adam Legge’s  stag – do. And what an amazing time I had! I think what astounded me most though was the sense of community. Everyone was together for one thing, for one reason and for one person – to see him into the next stage of his life. It’s a celebration of the time before – and a welcome into what is approaching. Stag-Do’s get a lot of bad press (some rightly so) – but some that I’ve been on have really surprised me as they have provided me with some of the most memorable moments of my life – and not even through doing stupid things – just through hanging out with a group of friends. I’m often asked what Church should be like (and far be it from me to be an authority on the subject) – but in some ways it should be very much like a stag do with everyone coming together for one purpose – to celebrate one person – whilst always looking out for each other along the way.
Later that night I met up with Andy Howson back in Gloucester for a late night drink whilst Wifey was off babysitting celebrities’ children (no joke). Meeting up with Andy certainly wasn’t by accident either – as I got to my front door only to realise that I’d left my door keys in the curry house. So I went to his house and Andy made me hot chocolate with marshmallows in (how sweet) – and even put up with my “after wine” snoring. Now there my friends is true friendship......

 Sunday 3rd March
Amazing morning at the Holy House followed by a trip with Cass to see my beautiful nieces, sister and brother in law, my parents, Phil and Rachel with gorgeous Kaitlin and my extra family – the Flynns (much more on them to come at some point).  A short summary for the day goes like this: “This day serves as a great reminder that I am incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people around me”.  I can’t really say more about it than that to be was just a great reminder.....and another day to bank (something that probably wasn’t the case for my colleagues on Monday morning as we picked up a curry on the way home and I had beans on toast for lunch).

I’m not going to look at anything else this week but check this story out which I absolutely adored.....

So – I’ve compared church to a stag do, mentioned bowel movements, retold a tale of ripped trousers and found community whilst being reminded about how lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family. My work here is done.

Remember to ask any questions you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing – 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 see if i've just missed the postman delivering my new swanky running shoes.....Until next week.....