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Monday, 29 July 2013

Chapter 17 (Part 1) - A story about the Tube and catching up with friends

Welcome to the first half of Chapter 17 everyone (see a theme developing with split chapters here?). I’m going to start by pre-empting a somewhat inevitable question by continuing on from a theme in the first part of chapter 16 about films and what I’ve seen since then. So – Despicable Me 2  was thoroughly enjoyable (my favourite scene is the one with the fire alarm). The World’s End had very funny moments but unfortunately was a long way off the standard of the other films in the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and Pacific Rim was, well it was Pacific Rim - possibly one of the best looking films of all time with some very average acting thrown in for good measure. I wasn’t expecting that much of Wolverine – but if I’m honest I was pleasantly surprised (I was also very happy that they didn’t make a complete balls up of the source material)

Anyway - I want to paint you a little picture. So start imagining being on the tube at 11pm on a Saturday night.
The hustle, the bustle and the poker moments of working out whether someone is simply just looking at you awkwardly, or looking at you awkwardly because you are their vomiting target. Last Saturday night – the person being looked at was me. Now if anything I find the tube funniest in the evening (because you see a set of completely different characters than in the rush hour) and this was completely confirmed for me in a single moment when the train pulled into a station and a bunch of teenage ragamuffins jumped on. You’ll be able to picture them in your head as they are in every city (with just different accents). They come in all shapes and sizes, they have their joggers tucked into socks (still don’t understand that), they speak a language that only they can understand (which sounds suspiciously like it is just made up of noises), they wear some form of Nike Air MaxX 598 Max Maxes that are spotlessly clean (and look like they have been cleaned as some form of ritual) and a baseball cap that still (for some bizarre reason) has it’s sticker on and looks far too big for the little scallywags head. Can you picture them?
 Well – last Saturday night - 5 of them got on the train. And all was fine until the next stop.
The train pulled in (to one of the busiest stations in Central London) and one of the group jumped off the train and stood in front of the doors like a starfish with the intention of blocking people off from getting on (and just generally being a bit of an asshat). One of the group shouted at him to stop doing it (fair play to that one) – but he kept on going and the rest of the group just kept on laughing whilst the general public started dropping F-Bombs, and getting into the other doors. This teenager was making a bit of a nuisance of himself - but he had not managed to stop anyone getting on the train. People had got annoyed yes (especially a really small man who looked like he could be a Geography teacher), but everyone had got on ok. The next few seconds flew by – but what I witnessed was absolutely priceless.

The group started shouting at their “fearless leader” to get on the train. Meanwhile the chief scallywag either ignores their bleats - or has become so caught up in his own wonderfulness that he hasn’t been listening. The doors slam shut and the teenager turns around looking exceptionally gormlessly at the train. The only person he has stopped getting on is himself. Which in itself is an exceptional feat considering that he was on it in the first place. As the train pulled away from the teenager, his friends starting pointing and laughing at him (a brilliant turn around of events). But the best thing? The geography teacher man had placed himself into a starfish shape for the teenager to see as the train left the station. Payback complete.

Ok so In warning this is going to be a bit of a different chapter. I’ve done a lot of stuff over the last couple of weeks and I’ve come into contact with loads of people (some of whom I haven’t seen in ages). So what that actually means in context is that I’m going to mix this chapter up a bit - and my cast list is going to be the basis of the chapter and I’ll fill in some extra details about my activities along the way. It will make sense….I promise. (but that should also explain why the chapter is split). Anyway....

The Dedication
Nearly 7 months have now passed since the first chapter of 10 Resolutions and that means that my gorgeous nieces have now reached 7 months of age. It’s completely amazing (especially considering their journey into the world) and the best thing is that against all odds Charis and Joey are fine. You might be able to tell that I’m very proud of both of the little girls and their parents - but I also had no idea of simply how much I would fall in love with them. Yes that’s right people. I’ve become soppy (or soppier). But that’s all good.
A couple of weeks ago we went to Naomi and Sam’s church to see the twins get dedicated. Now before you ask what a dedication is compared to a christening – the very simple answer is that it’s quite hard to explain… I’ll duck out and suggest that you check this link out to explain it instead. But the service was great and I found that throughout the course of it I found myself being increasingly thankful about how everything with the twins had worked out. Personally - I find that it’s quite easy to forget the other routes that a situation could have taken once it has been resolved (by perhaps even convincing me that the alternatives were very unlikely). But the truth in this situation is that it could have worked out very differently – and I think that I almost needed to be reminded of that. I know that it sounds odd – but sometimes when you do look back and see some of the (sometimes desperate) situations (that we’ve all been in at some point) it’s amazing to see how they have worked out now. 
Oh – and at this service it was also a really nice surprise to catch up with someone who always has some amazing stories and testimonies to tell – Simon Guillebaud who is a missionary in Burundi.

Apryle’s Birthday
A couple of weeks ago we went to Apryle’s Birthday party. We had a great night and spent the evening listening to loads of old cheesy music, hanging out with Apryle, Wayne and the kids, drinking random drinks and spending some time with Apryle’s brother Dean and his wife Louise (as well as having magic tricks performed to us – but more on that at a later date……..). Anyway….

Dean Newbery
I met Dean on exactly the same day that I met Danny Clack many years ago - and he has known Cass for the vast majority of his life. There are a number of amusing stories about Dean drinking and it going wrong - but as I haven’t been present on any of those occasions* I feel it would be rude to tell those stories… (*as a small confession – I have been present at the start of one of those nights - and there is a small possibility that I could have assisted in the end result……) but what I will say is that I have never met anyone so powered by tea. It’s completely astounding. Anyway though – I’m digressing. I love spending time with Dean. He is blunt, funny, kind, caring, and is really protective about those he loves. And in my view – they are great qualities for a friend.

Louise Newbery
Now it’s fair to say that I don’t know Louise that well yet and that is something that I hold myself accountable for. Apryle’s birthday was the first time (I think) that we have had a proper conversation - and it was lovely. If I’m being honest - It’s funny how you can build up ideas about what someone is like before you spend proper time with them and Louise is someone that I had done that with (I’ll clear that up a bit as it sounds bad). The traits that I had tagged to Louise in my head weren’t bad ones (they were actually pretty good) by any stretch of the imagination – but they were nowhere near as prominent in her personality as I was expecting them to be and different aspects of her personality (that I wasn’t expecting) kept appearing to catch me even further by surprise. We all had a great night that night – but one of my highlights was definitely properly meeting Louise for the first time – and I hope that we can all hang out together again very soon.

Chris and Sam’s wedding
Now I’m sure that I have said this before - but there are very few things that I enjoy more than weddings. I love them. And I love them even more if there is a chance of reconnecting with people that I might not have seen in a while (Phil and Rachel for instance). Last Sunday was the wedding day of one of my childhood friends – Chris Cox – and he got married to the lovely Sam. The day was brilliant and I was uncontrollably pleased (and possibly a bit smug) that I was wearing a short sleeved shirt considering that is was one of the hottest days of the year (and let’s be honest here – the sight of someone’s pits soaking through their shirt is not a nice image.) But without any further ado… let me introduce to some of the people that we came across.

Chris & Sam Cox
So…..I’ve known Chris for years and I met him through Dan who not only went to school with but also lived on the same road as Chris and his twin brother Lewis (more on him in a minute). For years and years we were really close and we would do so much together - but then I moved away - and me not pushing hard enough for our friendship to carry on at the same level is still a big regret of mine. If I’m honest - I don’t think that I valued our friendship enough at the time. We kind of lost touch and in a lot of ways I guess kind of drifted away from one another. We would still see each other when I came back or for friend’s birthdays and stuff like that and when that happened it was great to see each other again – but it wasn’t really the same. Now don’t get me wrong here – I know that if I wanted to talk to someone or if I needed help with something that he would be there for me – but the everyday “click” had gone (probably because we didn’t see each other every day). But when Dan moved up here a few years ago I started to see more of Chris again – and gradually I think that our relationship (after playing some Call of Duty) is growing again. It’ll be different this time around obviously (for starters we are both now married) – but we’ve got a lot of time to make up for and I’m really up for it. I’ve been realising how much I’ve missed having him as part of my life and I’m looking forward to him (and Sam) playing a major part in both mine (and Cass’s) lives in the future. 
I’ve only known Sam for a couple of years (is that right? I might have messed that up?) and even though I don’t know her that well (yet) – I can see the massive impact that she has had on Chris’s life and that they have developed an amazing partnership between them. Relationship part aside though - I’d just like to mention a few of my observations about Sam……
She has a great, strong, selfless and quite cheeky character, immense inner strength and on first meeting her you can tell that very simply – she cares – and that it isn’t because she feels forced to. She doesn’t mock people when they gain wine moustaches (or at least she doesn’t to their faces – thankyou!) and she just seems to have an ability to make people smile and laugh when they are around her. I think she is great – and I can’t wait to get to know her more.

Lewis Cox & Lucy Bartholomew
Lewis is the twin brother of Chris - but I didn’t see as much of Lewis when we were younger. Obviously we were friends and stuff but I think that my friendship with Lewis probably started kicking in properly when we were about 15 - and believe me when I say that we have had some great times along the way (and I’m sure that we will continue to do so)…….Lewis is a man of integrity, he’s loyal, a fantastic friend and a great father to Skye.
I’ve known Lucy now for years - because in honesty I can’t really remember Lewis and Lucy not being together! Lucy is great. She’s funny, friendly, genuine and caring – and on top of that she is also a great mum to Skye. We love Lewis and Lucy (and Skye) to bits.

Rachel Slatter
Way way back (many centuries ago…..) in Chapter 7 – I said that I would tell you more about Rachel Slatter (Phil’s wife). As it turns out – I forgot (Sorry Rachel – my bad). But in a better late than never theory here we go….Rachel is without question one of the most supportive people I’ve ever come across. She will do whatever she can to help you and she will always try and push you forward. She’s always been great to Cass and I - and she never fails to make me laugh when I see her. Family means the world to Rachel and you can tell that in her actions. She’s a great friend and we love having her, Phil and Caitlin (their daughter) as part of our lives.

And Introducing……Paul Bradley & Sophia Drury
Now normally I wouldn’t mention people that I’ve just met in my cast list. That is very much true. My cast list is generally for people that have been in or around my life for a while or have recently announced themselves with flashing lights and explosions. But the reason I’m bending my own rule is because I’ve just met Paul Bradley for the 2nd time in my life. After the first time we met - we spent quite a lot of time together alongside Chris, Lewis, Dan, Phil and a ginger chap called Rob and I always got on well with Paul – so I’m now really looking forward to getting to know him again (and his good lady - Sophia). We had such a good time with them at the wedding – and I’m really looking forward to spending some time with them. I’m obviously not going to be able to go into a massive describing session about what they are like and stuff – so I’ll give you an initial word for each of them….I’ll let you know how accurate they turn out to be! Paul = Honourable, Sophia = Joy. 

Last Monday morning started for me with a very simple prayer and that prayer was “Thankyou for placing so many amazing people in my life”. You see prayers don’t have to be about asking for things. I had spent Sunday at a wedding with some fantastic friends – and then first thing on Monday morning I received a message from someone with a simple encouragement. But it was an encouragement that was so timely that it brought a tear to my eye. Timing is everything. But I’m sure that there will be more on that timing in the 2nd half of this chapter – and why it was so relevant……

The 2nd part of this chapter will probably emerge around the weekend and it will be featuring one of my old teachers, some colleagues (who are also friends), and news on a massive birth….(that isn’t Prince George) but for the time being can I just sat that I’ve actually run out now of your questions for me to answer about life, the universe and everything inbetween – so please feel free to ask away on Twitter, Facebook, over email or by commenting on this chapter. You can also subscribe to 10 Resolutions by putting your email address into the massive white box at the top of the chapter.

Thanks for reading. God Bless.

P.S - Only Andy Howson would celebrate passing his drugs and alcohol test - by drinking Cider......

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Chapter 16 (Part 2) - A story about holidays, summer and tennis

So – as promised - here is the 2nd half of chapter 16.......
Let me start by saying though that I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of you have had much worse date experiences than me (obviously because I find some form of pleasure in your pain). Please continue to let me know yours though as they make me chuckle – especially the story about fake tan (you know who you are). And for those of you who asked what happened when I saw her again – I’m sure that story will emerge at some point as well…. If you have no idea what I’m talking about – check out the first part of chapter 16. But anyway - I thought I’d start off by painting you picture.

Your alarm goes off. It’s early and it’s the end of the week. You fight the urge to press snooze as you have changed your alarm to the latest time that you can possibly get up anyway without being late for work. You know the situation. You have planned it precisely. You can get up, be showered and be vaguely alive and out of the house in the space of 23 minutes. On Friday morning – this person was me. It would be fair to say that I resembled more of a zombie than a normal person. 

I struggled out of bed by rolling over Wifey in some form of half-arsed army man attempt and landed firmly on my feet (which in itself was a bit of a surprise given that my balance at any time is not great). I left the bedroom without turning any lights on as I didn’t want to wake Cass (I used my hands to guide me – and on reflection probably looked increasingly like a zombie) and got to the bathroom. I turned the light switch on (and suddenly wished I hadn’t as I imagine that I looked like a vampire coming to terms with the light). My hand reached inside the shower and I turned the shower on (whilst still blinded). I got undressed (Waheh!!!) and stepped into the shower. 

I don’t know at what stage it was that my zombievampireness disappeared and a large number of expletives emerged from my mouth as replacement thoughts. It felt like a very slow motion process – like everything was moving at ¼ pace – and that my mind was slowly changing. But it didn’t matter because my skin was burning, the heat was rising up – and in all honesty my body was probably hotter than the sun. I had turned the shower onto the full heat setting and like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark – I felt like my body was melting away. So how did I escape this situation you may ask? How did I ensure that my near death experience didn’t become something worse?

A normal person would escape this situation by turning the temperature down – and in hindsight that seems completely logical. I however chose to panic. I spun round and tried to jump out of the shower – completely forgetting in my haste that the shower door was shut. So not only was my body experiencing heat similar to being placed in an oven – but I now had a bump to rival a small mountain emerging on my forehead.

I turned the temperature down to very much lukewarm and started to cool down. I started to relax and started to wash. I clearly wasn’t concentrating after my ordeal however as I had started to wash with Cass’s girly shampoo instead of my shower gel. Fearing that I could now potentially smell like a flower whilst looking like some form burnt monster I decided to step out of the shower and give up on making myself look pretty. But just to top it all off, I’d left my belt on the floor and without looking where I was going trod on the spiky bit of the buckle. My leg jumped up in reaction and my knee caught the underside of the sink catching right on the bone. Luckily the rest of the day went much better – but this just goes to show that Friday mornings are dangerous and working on them probably should be banned.  I’m all for a four day week – and I’m pretty sure that someone could work something with health and safety as a reason not to work…Is that person you? If it is….please make it happen! 

The Cast List
Danny Clack

I’ve known Danny for about 10 years now but Cass has known Danny for the majority of her life and he has been amazing friend (and housemate) to the pair of us. He’s a joker with an “eclectic” taste in music. He’s a chef that is not good in the mornings (or at least he wasn’t when he lived with us) and he is one of the most faithful and loyal people that you could ever meet. He’s also bagged himself a top lass in Charlotte (or Charmind to me) who has done an amazing job of calming down Danny’s lifestyle (he was a bit of a ragamuffin) and generally pushed him forward. She’s ace. He’s ace – and combined they are both ace. 

I have so many brilliant memories of spending time with Danny including playing Rock Band, evacuating on Code 9 alerts, wandering around the countryside looking for a cash point (only to discover after walking for 8 miles that the VERY FIRST shop that we stopped in did cash back), enjoying the snow / sun in Finland and so many more......But when you can tag so many fond memories to one person you realise that those are memories that will stay with you forever. It’s great to have shared those memories with Danny and to a larger extent with Cass and Char as well)

Nick Hunt
Nick is a legend. He makes me laugh, he’s a great friend and he will always be there for you if you need him. He also has a wonderful quiet wisdom about him where he takes time to think things through. Unfortunately though – he is a Sp*rs fan. I try not to hold that against him and I look past it (because I’m kind, caring and sharing obviously) most of the time unless it’s North London Derby Day (when the banter between us will start very early on.........). Nick has recently started a little business as a gardener – and he has just finished our garden. It looks amazing! – But more on that to follow….

So – without further ado…let’s get started!

Wifey and I went on holiday down to Cornwall earlier this month.
 I’d already been invited back to do another event in Falmouth (thanks Banwell and Danutia) so we thought that it would be a really nice idea to take a week out and to make a holiday of it. So off we went down to Cornwall for a week. We had loads of time together , ate a fair bit of steak, stayed in some amazing B&B’s and apartments, went to one of the most beautiful places that I’d ever been to (Sennen Cove), discovered Lands End, hung out with friends (including the amazing Fal Collective), drank some Cornish Ale, met some Penguins, got completely drenched and had one of the greatest cheeseboards EVER. I also returned with a new guitar. 

Oh and I knew that there was some gorgeous scenery located somewhere in this country (probably in the location furthest away from Slough) – and the Atlantic Highway (between Minehead and Land’s End) is a great example of exactly that. It rivals anything that I’ve ever seen in another country. It was absolutely stunning (something that can’t be said about Newquay).

Who have I been hanging out with?
I’ve had a few weeks of realising (yet again) that I am blessed beyond belief to have so many great people in my life. I could list everyone that I’ve hung out with over the last few weeks – but the list would be really I’ll tell you about a few highlights. Charmind’s birthday saw us not only having a great time catching up with Danny and Charlotte – but loads of other people that we haven’t seen in ages as well. It was a really fun night and it was great to see everyone again.
I’ve also seen Christine a couple of times over the last month as she gets ready to explode from babyness. We’ve been playing some Rayman – as well as finding excuses to go for some pub lunches.... (Something that I don’t normally need an excuse to do). But as I have a fair bit of time off in the week – it’s great to be able to catch up.
Last Friday we went over to Toby and Vicky’s new gaff. A house in the ‘burbs of Cheltenham – that might as well be in a tiny village. It’s a beautiful cottage with no network coverage. Thankfully though – my favourite Curry place in all of Gloucestershire does deliver there...and we got a free bottle of wine!
We invited Apryle and Wayne (and all of the kids) round on Sunday for a BBQ in our new garden...a BBQ that ended up being combined with watching the tennis final (the point at which I realised I had been converted), a debate about religion, some COLD red wine and some cider. A beautiful day with some great company - What more could you ask for? 
Last week – I met up with someone called Bean Baker. I’d never met Bean before – but it is almost surprising that our paths have never crossed before – especially given that we know so many people in common (and that a number of them didn’t put together that we both lived in Gloucester). Bean’s a singer songwriter as well as a worship leader for a local church. He lives on a boat and all in all is a pretty nice guy to spend a few hours with in the pub!
And finally – Matt. I have spent so much time with Matt over the last few years that a lot of moments have blurred into one. But I have so many happy memories – and with us spending an increasing amount of time in the studio in the run up to launch time...I’m sure that there will be many more to come!.

There are a number of people in the office who can’t believe how many weddings we are invited to. Not because we are horrible people or anything like that (or at least I don’t think so) but simply because of the sheer number of weddings that we are invited to. It’s an absolutely massive honour to share in a couple’s special day and in the last 4 weeks we have been to two weddings (with another 4 to follow in the next 3 months). I LOVE weddings. I love loads of people coming together to celebrate and party. I love the atmosphere. I love meeting new people. You get the idea. It’s just a real privilege. (Ironically enough – I can’t remember that much about my own wedding – but the thing I’ll never forget will be standing at the front of the Church looking down the aisle at Cass).

Holy Stuff
With weddings, work and being on holiday I haven’t been able to go to Church much on a Sunday morning recently. But that’s not to say that I haven’t been involved. Seek His Face – a cross Church monthly service that a few of us set up is growing (incidentally if you are around on Sunday – why don’t you come along?) and I had a great night leading with the Fal-Collective guys in Falmouth. I was also completely honoured to be asked to cover Padley on Sunday at Cheltenham Elim. It’s not only a really good experience to do something different – but it’s fantastic to be alongside a different group of people on a Sunday. In other news on this front I’ve been working through a Bible plan called “The Fire Within” which is really cool and I’ve been reading through the book of Esther again and again. It’s such an amazing story of courage – and highly recommended! 

The Garden / Jungle
About a month ago our garden was a jungle. As evidenced by this rather unflattering picture of me. For so long we had intended to do something about it but for whatever reason (in fact there are numerous reasons….one being that I’m not allowed anywhere near any form of garden appliance) we hadn’t gotten around to it. So imagine my joy when on checking the bookface one day I discovered that one of my friends (Nick Hunt) has recently started a gardening business! Great Success! Fast forward to today and the garden looks amazing and my secret plan to install a bar in our garden is now progressing quickly! (Although it’s not exactly a secret plan anymore…..) Still. If you fancy a bbq…or just to hang out…Come on round!

A piece of knowledge that is widely known about me is the fact that I hate tennis. But it isn’t because I don’t like the sport. Not at all in fact. The sad truth is that I hate tennis because  Wimbledon always used to cut into CBBC – and that memory has stayed with me for all of these years. I didn’t care about who was beating who or how epic matches were – I JUST WANTED TO WATCH THUNDERCATS! Well this week - I forgave tennis and in the same vein as a number of Man United fans....became a bit of a glory supporter as I got caught up with the Murrayness and thoroughly enjoyed it (even if I did feel like I was playing tennis on the Playstation). So tennis. You win. I’m in and I forgive you. If however you start to interfere with any other programmes that I enjoy might well find that we end up in this situation again......

A few weeks ago I had an interview for one of two jobs at work. I didn’t get either – but I’m really happy for the people that did as they had already been doing the jobs on development roles for 4 years! The right people got the jobs - and I can say that with no hesitation – and mean it as well. In a massive morale boost for our office as well.....8 members of staff have just been made permanent (including these two) – and that is great news – especially considering the clouded future that our office had previously been approaching. Congratulations to them!

Summer Is Here
I love the cold. One of my favourite times of year is when the temperature has a bit of a bite – yet the sky is bright blue and the sun is blazing down. That is without question my favourite type of weather. I have however discovered that I have a high tolerance for cold temperatures (not cold water though!) and that I am fairly unsympathetic to those that don’t. This however works both ways as I’m not a massive fan of the heat and have found on countless occasions that some people who crave the heat don’t really care / think about or understand the people who like the cold.
In glorious weather like we are having at the moment I love sitting outside in the shade. I love the weather – just not the temperature. I can completely understand the people however that bask in the sun (Cass is one of them) and get as many rays as possible. You must know people like that as well? Well next time those people inevitably moan that we never have a summer in Britain – remind them of this weather we are having now! I for one though hope that we have a lovely extended summer of weather like this....especially now that we have a garden (complete with umbrella for me) to enjoy it in. 

The Album IS coming
So would have thought it. Crowd funding works! And on the 14th July – my album will have officially been funded. Over the next two evenings Matt and I are finishing off the tracks before they head into the next phase of being mixed and mastered. The artwork is nearly done as all in all...It’s coming together! Two massive ways that you can help me though are by:

  1. Backing the album on Kickstarter (and telling others about it) Yes the album is already funded – but the more backers I get – the more the album can be promoted and the further it can go at this early stage. So please – if you haven’t done it already or got round to it or whatever....would you consider backing the album?
  2. Voting for my song “Fall on Me”. So – I’ve entered a song writing competition – I’d really appreciate it if you could vote for me....
As soon as I know the official release date for the album though – I’ll let you all know as well!

Right – I do believe that concludes our catch up. I’ve probably forgotten a lot of things...but they might come back at a later date. The next chapter will emerge in about 10 days – with hopefully a massive album update, some (probably) embarrassing stories from weddings, a report on my nieces dedication, and the next stage of the bar in my garden complete (The next part of which is quite literally knocking on my front door as we speak).
Can I just say at this point though – thank you all so much for your support, your prayers, your suggestions and your questions. Please keep them all coming via email, Facebook and the twitter. I’m off now to look at instructions and to pretend that I can do DIY (before leaving it for Wifey to sort whilst I’m in the studio later). I’ve also got to carry on taking the house apart looking for something for someone this week...If only I could remember the safe place that I put it in........Oh...and for those on resolution count...I’ve mentioned two (that you didn’t already know about).

God Bless


Monday, 1 July 2013

Chapter 16 (Part 1) - A story about epic films and an album to avoid

Hello friends! And welcome to the first part of Chapter 16! You might ask why this chapter is split into halves (and that would be a very good question) and I’ll get to the answer…. But let me start by apologising to you all - because I have no idea why I said at the end of the last chapter that I would be back in a week. I clearly wasn’t thinking as I knew full well that the weeks in-between these chapters would be fairly mental. But what have I been so busy doing you may ask? What have I been doing that has meant that I haven’t been able to ramble for the best part of 3 weeks? Well the answer is loads! And that explains why the chapter is split. I want to tell you about everything and to bring you up to date – but I don’t want to write something that will take you ages and ages to read…so I’m tackling your questions in this part and in the next part I’ll tell you all about our holiday, weddings, birthdays, gardens, suits and tactical dumps (or TD’s) So…here we go….

What has been your favourite blockbuster so far this year?
I’m guessing that After Earth will soon be propping up a number of “worst film of the year” awards, and normally I don’t pay that much attention to reviews – but this time around I did and avoided After Earth like I would normally avoid salad (by running the other way…very quickly). From speaking to people that have watched it – I consider it a bullet dodged. But the question was about the best blockbuster so far. And I think that to date that I’ve seen 4 - and in viewing order they are:

Iron Man 3
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Fast and Furious 6
Man of Steel

The first thing to say – is that unlike other summers loaded with blockbusters (and their inevitable disappointments) to some degree I have enjoyed all 4 films. I love comic books anyway and whilst Iron Man and Superman are two of my least favourite comic book characters – I have to say that both roles (and films overall) are superbly cast. Iron Man 3 was funny, loaded with action and pumped full of references to other characters and to the Avengers. Whilst it didn’t stick that closely to the storyline of the graphic novel (Extremis – possibly the greatest Iron Man story), its storyline was still great and it was a really enjoyable film – especially when you see Iron Man and Tony Stark at their most vulnerable.
Man of Steel on the other was simply epic in it’s storytelling and a complete contrast to Iron Man. Iron Man has countless moments of humour, whereas Man of Steel at times had moments of real darkness closely followed by flickers of hope. It’s certainly not a flawless film – there is a start and an end but only about 10 minutes in the middle which means that unfortunately character development suffers – and this is most evident in the later scenes between Superman and Lois where relationship stages seem to have jumped. It looks amazing but more than anything else my favourite thing about the film was the way that the origin story flicked between early life and present day. There are films that simply have to be seen at the cinema to help you grasp the scale of them. Man of Steel is one of those films.
Make no mistake about it, on watching the first Fast and Furious film if you had told me that there was going to be 6 (the 7th is already in development) I’d have been shocked to say the least (I would probably have laughed in your face). But Fast and Furious 6 is really good fun. It will not win any Oscars (or any other serious film award) and the amount of times Paul Walker says “Yeah!” gets frustrating but on the whole Fast and Furious 6 is just great entertainment – and let’s be honest – you go to the cinema to be entertained. And it did just that. I wasn’t expecting it – but I really enjoyed it. 
Star Trek: Into Darkness could well have suffered from 2nd film syndrome (there are a number of examples that buck the trend…but in general 2nd films are worse than the originals). The original rebooted film did so well and to such wide acclaim that JJ Abrams took on an almighty task when he made the sequel. But what a film he created.
Cumberbatch is phenomenal as a character that until the last few minutes you cannot tell whether he is right or wrong or if he is good or bad or even if you like him or not. And the rest of the cast are great as well (even if a scene from Alice Eve is a bit pointless). It looks great, makes you laugh at points, entertains and doesn’t feel as long as it is. One of the only criticisms I have though is that the twist at the end is very predictable – but by that point you are so drawn into the story that it doesn’t make that much difference. It will be interesting to see though how the films continue without Abrams at the helm (he's in charge of Star Wars now). But order: 

  1. Star Trek: Into Darkness
  2. Fast & Furious 6 (Yeah – I know)
  3. Iron Man 3
  4. Man of Steel
What albums have you been listening to?
Bastille – Bad Blood
Kodaline – In a Perfect World

Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
Mumford & Sons – Babel
Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday
Rend Collective Experiment – Campfire
Hillsong United – Zion
Worship Central – Let It Be Known

And the award for the most uninspiring album of the last few months goes to:
Paramore - Paramore
It's bland, lacks any of the depth of previous releases and is actually quite unoriginal. Very disappointing.

Incidentally – if you are on the lookout for some new music…check this out from my pal Tom Lynam

What is the worst date you have been on?
There could be any number of events to choose from here - but the one I'll tell you about took place 14 years ago (I was 15). There was a girl that I had been wanting to go out with for ages. The feeling was mutual (you'll be pleased to know) but thanks to secondary school two-week long relationships (you all must remember them), neither of us had been single at the same time...until a day in March 1999. I asked her out. She said yes. I set up the master date plan. It was going to be an amazing evening and she would think that I was amazing and fall instantly in love with me and we would live happily ever after and I would fulfil my (then dream) of becoming the new Jon Bon Jovi. Unfortunately though.........all did not go according to plan.
I took her to the cinema and that part went well (you'll be pleased to know). I even did the really unsubtle yawning / moving arm around her thing. The film finished (it was rubbish but that didn't matter) and we left the cinema to go on to the next part of the date. I was taking her to TGI Friday's - which (and I'm sure that you'll agree with me here)....for a 15 ear old boy was pretty classy. 
So picture the scene. We left the cinema together. It was dusk. The weather was perfect. TGI's was just a few moments walk away but i wanted to make those precious moments count. So i took her hand in mine and did the looking into her eyes thing that all women like as we were walking along. Unfortunately i probably should have paid a little bit more attention to where i was going as i walked (at full pelt) straight into a lamppost.

BANG!!! (went my head on collision). And for a all went dark.

A minute or so later I came around. I was on the floor and a few people had assembled around me. Missing though from this group of people however was my date. As i started to look around    though I saw her in the distance....walking away. And that was the last time I saw her until.........well that's another story. And no...I won t be revealing who the person is.... 

10 Resolutions will be back later this week with the 2nd part of Chapter 16. If you want to ask a question though please do so in the comments below, by email or by utilising the twitter.

God Bless