Lessons learned?

Oh yes, I have a space for occasional musing don’t I?  I must stop forgetting this brain-dump zone exists!  So anyway, I was rummaging for something in my spare room the other day and unearthed a treasure trove of other random things.  I have to stay in the realms of vagueness because, well, I do – personal artefacts of the distant past, mementoes, things I must admit that I’d largely forgotten about.

Indeed, some so extensive that a fairly ruthless pruning of said artefacts took place awaiting the next bin collection day.  I’d actually managed to keep hold of (admittedly sealed) edible things from over 20 years ago – who does that, ha?  I really used to be an overly-sentimental twat.  But amongst the assorted things I found one was really intriguing – fond reminiscing and sadness all merged into one, and a warning for the future.

Without revealing anything identifiable (not that this is likely to be well-read, I’ve long since disabled cross-posting my blog to Facebook) I found a chronicle of a period of time from a significant other’s perspective.  At the time of receipt a deeply touching and thoughtful gift – and whilst spectacularly dated in terms of enduring sentiment, it’s something I’m glad I kept hold of and had an accidental reunion with, even if it made me feel a bit sad as well.

Reading between the lines and with the benefit of both hindsight and a couple of decades of built-up life experience and cynicism was really interesting.  I’m genuinely not sure whether or not it’s something I’ve read since the relationship that produced it decayed (surprisingly quickly after said chronicle was produced) – I probably did, to be fair, but given the lack of recall for some of the disposed-of artefacts it might not be surprising that I’d forgotten.

Unwittingly in the text there were plenty of signposts for things that were going not quite so brilliantly, and probably ultimately led to the relationship’s demise.  Of course, the odds these days of finding something enduring at the age we were at the time was pretty minuscule – and over time you kinda chalk it up to one of those things and either accept or bury what was at the time was what felt like heart-crushing pain.  Tis the circle of life.

But it was interesting how some of the between-the-lines themes might just’ve found themselves repeating themselves unwittingly, ingrained behavioural traits are probably default settings if left unchecked can creep back into your everyday if you neglect to stay on top of them – and sure is eggs is eggs, the pattern repeats, the consequences are remarkably similar yet you don’t make the connection.

Wow, that was vague wasn’t it?  Sorry for any incidental readers – increasingly I find this blog is a (very!) occasional mind-dump space, but this has been really useful food for thought for me.  I guess diary-writers might find similar insight in their old musings they made in private to themselves, but as I’ve never really done that I don’t have that luxury.  Whether I actually take such things on board or not or simply forget about them again until next time I go looking for something in the spare room remains to be seen.

But maybe committing the discovery to an insufferably vague blog post might just reinforce some brain synapses into making some connections that I’d clearly forgotten over the intervening years.  Or maybe not!  I dunno, more than a year since I posted anything and that’s what I came up with.  Haha!  See you in another few months…

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dodgem logoThis barely updated blog seems to be the preserve of mindless reminsces these days – this time it’s an old BBC children’s TV programme that oddly stayed in my head and periodically resurfaces.  I’m not sure what it is that one day makes you start searching for these things on Google but that’s what happened this last week.

My recollection was of a series where a lad runs away with a travelling fair – his dad was an artist, and his mum had recently died, and the scene that always stuck in my head was the lad drawing a picture of his mum for his dad – to prove he could remember her – only for it to look more like the girl who’d helped him run away (in truth, the picture didn’t look like either of them!).

dodgem roseSo armed with a few key words around children’s TV, running away to a fairground unearthed this thread – someone looking for the said same show, and finding the answer – it was called Dodgem, and aired on Children’s BBC on Wednesday evenings at 5:10 in 1991 apparently!  There’s more information about on this page too with a summary of the plot too.

Better still, all the episodes were uploaded on to YouTube – although I’m not sure I’d recommend sitting and watching them over the course of a couple of evenings like I did last week.  Sometimes things might be better left in the halcyon words of reminiscing rather than being revisited as an adult (reminds me of when I rewatched the Mysterious Cities of Gold! – I never learn!)

Should you have a similar urge, then you can watch them here:

Funny how your brain works isn’t it?

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Stem cell donation conclusion..

imagesI wasn’t going to bother writing this really, but it’s a conclusion of sorts to the bone marrow donation journey I’ve been on (hopefully it’s a conclusion anyway), and since I documented most of it on here it makes sense to finish it off!

As January came and went that marked two years since I underwent the procedure, which is a potentially significant date.

On the two year anniversary – depending on the slightly differing rules between different countries agencies – is when there’s the opportunity to open communication channels between donor and recipient.  I dropped an email to Anthony Nolan to see if there was any news on the young lad who’d been the recipient of my stem cells.  Of course, I know next to nothing about him, but he does cross my mind quite frequently.

I’d partly been hoping for the opportunity to be put in touch with his family – I’m a curious person, it would have been interesting to find out more about the person I was able to help.  More importantly though, I did want to know whether the treatment had proven a success in defeating the blood-borne cancer he had been suffering from.  A few email exchanges later and finding out more didn’t look very likely.

“I’m afraid the country whose register your cells matched have a zero contact policy”, the lady from Anthony Nolan wrote apologetically.  “But I will request a health update” she added.  So the primary mission was still viable, but there’s no opportunity for further information or further updates it seems.

However, a few days later when the letter in an Anthony Nolan envelope arrived it was still exciting – opening it revealed the same fairly straight-to-the-point language as the last one I received about a year and a half ago.  The upshot is that the boy is still very much alive, and they went as far as to say doing well.  Which is, frankly, the best news ever. On a selfish note I’d have liked to have found out more, but it wasn’t to be – and the most important information is there in that letter.

It was implied in the wording of the letter that this was the final update I’d receive – but I take heart that the recovery rate in youngsters from diseases like Leukaemia and Lymphoma is good if caught early and a suitable donor is found.  The only likely follow-up information I’ll receive now is if I’m required to donate again for him – which obviously I hope that I am not.

In a year so far that has been fairly unprecidently dreadful for my family so far it’s nice to have some really positive news to reflect on.  Out there somewhere in the world is a lad who has another shot at a future thanks to the wonder of science and a fluke of stem cell matching – it would’ve been nice to put a name to him, to know where he was growing up – but alas that wasn’t to be.

Despite that mild selfish disappointment I have no regrets whatsoever about undergoing the operation – it feels amazing to know that there’s someone out there who’s been able to best a disease that causes families so much misery simply down to something that was extracted from my body.  If you haven’t already, and you’re eligible, please consider signing up either with Anthony Nolan (if 18-30), or Delete Blood Cancer (if older).

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Gigs, geeks and getting older..

I’ve had a fun-filled time of late – plenty of awesome gig action, the Levellers were amazing in Buxton.  First up we got to see the film A Curious Life, a semi-documentary type film that Dunstan Bruce of Chumbawamba fame has put together.  It was a charming insight into a band that has been a fairly constant feature of my life for the last twenty years or so (wow, twenty years!).  This was followed by a mesmerising acoustic gig.

Before that I finally did the giving blood deed – it wasn’t remotely traumatic so I shall certainly be signing up for a repeat performance.  I was convinced for some reason I had blood type B (probably because my Mum does), but it turns out I’ve inherited my Dad’s blood type of A+ – no matter really, but interesting nonetheless!  It certainly made the relatively small number of beers I had before the gig have a quicker impact than they normally would!

Where Levellers tread in my gig-going life then Ferocious Dog are sure to follow – I’ve been writing about them in some detail over at Ferocious Blog.  The tour started at the Bodega in Nottingham which was a magically awesome day, and I’ve been lucky enough to head to Nuneaton and Barnsley subsequently to see their next shows – they’re on rip-roaringly good form so looking forward to heading down to Harlow on 27th when the tour recommences!

Team Holly!  Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

Team Holly! Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

After these last two gigs it was time for EM-Con – a sci-fi convention organised by one of my good friends Lee Wallis.  I’d volunteered to help for the day and he bagged me the awesome job of being an assistant to Hattie Hayridge for the day.  As someone whose childhood was played out watching (and quoting from!) Red Dwarf it was a great opportunity – and mercifully it turns out Hattie is a lovely lady to spend the day with chatting nonsense and reminiscing about Red Dwarf!

I'm officially a joy to work with.

I’m officially a joy to work with.

It’s true being busy working with her all day dealing with fans wanting her to sign stuff meant I didn’t get to take in much of the other attractions at the convention, but that’s okay – having been in Barnsley the night before I wasn’t exactly full of energy so sitting down all day and chatting with someone who played a significant role in a lifelong favourite show was a perfectly good way to be spending the day!


Arlo as a Ferocious Sprog

Then it was my birthday which I’d booked holiday from work for as is my habit – given the previous days gig-going and convention volunteering a quietish day was an appealing prospect, but I did get to go see my Granny, have a burger at Annie’s and have a lovely stroll around Colwick Park with the folks, Rich, Emma and Arlo – so it was all told a rather splendid way to spend the day followed by a resurgent interest in Red Dwarf on the media server!

Last things last Forest took on Rotherham last night and in a largely uneventful game two moments of absolute magic saw the Reds emerge 2-0 victors.  The unplayable Mikael Antonio set up a chance for Dexter Blackstock to delightfully lob the too-far-out ‘keeper who could only touch it into the goal, then the marauding winger picked up the ball in his own half and powered his way past three defenders before planting the ball in the bottom corner from 25 yards.  It was Collymore-esque.

The benefit of a couple of days holiday at the start of the week means that the weekend is already looming large on the horizon.  Tomorrow sees a more chilled gig to see the awesomely talented Paige Seabridge, a quiet Saturday will be followed by Sunday where there’s promise of seeing Ellie Keegan and Sam Jones’ open mic night at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Got to love music!

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Busy bee watch the world go by…

Phew. It’s been a busy ol’ time, it seems.

Forest briefly turned not rubbish before losing to Charlton, which gave a bit of much needed cheer at the City Ground under the stewardship of Dougie Freedman.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles this latest setback with the not unchallenging arrival of Middlesbrough at the City Ground this weekend, but the new manager has undoubtedly made a good start (much like his predecessor).  Doubts remain over his longer term future at the club so I remain a bit dubious – I hope he’s here for a while though, I’ve been impressed so far.

Now I half know what’s going on at work that’s been quite busy but really interesting too – it’s nice to feel like you’re actually able to contribute something useful having spent a few months acclimatising to a very different industry indeed.  Still lots to learn, but I at least feel like I roughly know what’s going on – it’s always a good starting point I find!  Certainly a lot of perceptions I had before working in a media-maligned industry have been proven rather inaccurate.

I’ve got a couple of days off now to take in the Levellers, followed by the Ferocious Dog tour kicking off at the weekend.  Whilst I mention Ferocious Dog I set up a separate blog about them partly for indulgence, partly because it stops me flooding this blog (hmm… maybe trickling this blog!) with writing about them, partly because I couldn’t resist the pun-tastic opportunity to register ferociousblog.co.uk, partly because they’re on a real roll and someone else would’ve done it sooner or later and I’d have kicked myself having been pondering it for ages, and well, because it’s a fun side project since I lost momentum on blogging about Forest!  So should you desperately miss reading about them – head over there instead!

The weekend should be great though – an opportunity to catch up with countless friends and hear the new line up for the first time and some new album tracks – what could be better!  The countdown to giving blood is nearly up too – that happens tomorrow before I hotfoot it up to Buxton to see the Levs – the dauntingness of it somewhat compensated for by a cunning plan to have a massive carvery just beforehand!

Ooh, and Pebble have announced a new watch they’re launching via Kickstarter again – which I’ve tempted myself into.  It’s called Pebble Time and there’s also a Steel variant – this time round it has a colour screen and a microphone, and my beloved original Pebble is a bit battered so I think an update is justified.  I shan’t be accidentally taking the new one into a mosh pit or on a climbing wall, that’s for sure.  Whether that does enough to quell the inevitable desire for the soon-to-be-launched Apple Watch remains to be seen – but I think I’d like to see them out in the wild a bit before deciding anyway.

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That keen sense of belonging.. that feeling that I’m home..

I mention Ferocious Dog occasionally, I know.  It’s an exciting time to be a fan of theirs though, indeed, it generally has been – but with a refreshed line-up and a recent announcement of a headline slot in the main room at Rock City in November it’s properly a case of the year of the dog, what with a new album coming in the next few months too (and the tour starting in 10 days!) it does feel like the dawn of a very special chapter for them, and I feel privileged to be able to tag along for the ride.

It was back in late 2010 I first saw them play, I’m sure I’ve told the story before here, because they’d arranged for Mark Chadwick to play up in their home venue in Warsop and were the support act.  I’ve been smitten ever since, and started going regularly to see them – skulking at the back normally taking videos.  Eventually I lured friends to come with me – and being the shy bogger I can be eventually starting to get to know the initially daunting pack of ‘hell hounds’ that follow them passionately.  I’d count myself as one of those now.

Sooner or later the lure of the mosh pit – observed so many times but avoided – became too much one night at the Bodega in Nottingham, an outwardly brutal but surprisingly considerate arena of pseudo-battle that is pretty much perfect for a work out for any latent aggression and enhancing the amazing music the band produce.

I already have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to my family and friends, but I’ve significantly enhanced that with the scores of people I’ve got to know and bonded with through regularly attending gigs.  It didn’t matter that the friends I’d previously lured were less keen to go to quite as many gigs as me, as I knew I could go to any gig pretty much anywhere and know people there – or get to know others.  Of course, Andy has taken to it like a duck to water too and doesn’t take much persuading to come along too.

After a few bouts of being bashed around the moshpit and due to the absence of the regular role-filler I found myself being hoisted horizontal at shoulder height at Bearded Theory to act as a surfboard for Dean when the band played ‘Freeborn John’ – a signal honour and something that’s happened many times since – and it’s always felt like a genuine privilege, even on the one occasion I got unceremoniously dropped on my head at Dogfest last year!  It’s a great exhibition of the camaraderie and teamwork that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye in the chaos of the pit.

Subsequently I’ve even had my first tattoo – a Ferocious Dog logo – on my calf inked by none other than its designer, and founding-member and frontman of the band, the incomparable Ken Bonsall last year in August.  Another landmark was reached on Sunday – a light version of the band, comprising of Ken on guitar and vocals and Dan on fiddle, played at Sam’s acoustic evening in the Brown Cow at Mansfield (a night you should most definitely check out – I’ve been to a fair few now and it’s a great way to round off a weekend, and Sam is a fantastic performer too).

Ferocious Dog draw quite the crowd these days so whilst perhaps the time of arrival a few of us chose might’ve been overly cautious (ha!) – it made for a lovely afternoon of chatting nonsense with people I’d never have known if it weren’t for the band, followed by a standing room only gig at which Dean was adamant we were going to do a role reversal – so I was to graduate from surfboard to surfer.  It was a daunting prospect in a packed pub with furniture and glassware not to mention people, but it was pretty clear that refusing wasn’t an option – plus, let’s face it, what an awesome thing to get a chance to do!

So once the song kicked in there was a bit of confusion when folk realised they were picking Dean up instead of me – a quick leg up and an undignified clamber and there I was, hunched under the deceptively low ceiling and trying to find my balance.  I loved it, and it felt like a real coming of age moment – and particularly nice as it’s my favourite FD song being a bit of a John Lilburne nerd.  I’m looking forward to the possibility of a reprise at a full band gig – and there’s plenty of those coming up at the Bodega in Nottingham, Nuneaton, Barnsley, Derby, Deerstock and I’m sure others over coming weeks and months as the dates on the tour become more difficult to resist!


I’m not one to take people for granted, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your daily doings and not take a pause and reflect on how blessed you can be thanks to random circumstance.  Being comfortable enough to go and see a band I love at pretty much any event they play and feel like I’ve walked into a family party is a very nice safety net to have no matter what else might be going off in your life – so to all of you good folk who create that, and there’s too many of you to list, I thank you very much indeed.

Oh, and the music is bloody amazing too from the nicest bunch of grounded lads you could ever wish to meet.  If you’ve not heeded me before and jumped aboard the burgeoning Ferocious Dog bandwagon then you bloody well should and get yourself a ticket for their gig at Rock City on 28th November when they go on sale on Friday.  Oh, and the support is Gaz Brookfield (whose lyric I mercilessly stole for the title) and Mad Dog Mcrae.  It will be immense.

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Far from home..

Once of the ‘perks’ of having a hefty commute to work means you have time to ponder – pondering whilst driving over the last few days is what has prompted this silliness.

Obviously over recent months I’ve been further away from my home town both in living and certainly in working terms than I’ve ever been, but will always consider myself a dyed in the wool Nottinghamian.  Of course, that I now live about 14 miles from that city and work a further 40-odd miles away would suggest I’ve not really spread my wings that far, but it still feels quite significant sometimes when I catch myself in ponderous mode.

So it’s funny that sometimes your habits or observations can echo life.

I shall explain what I’m yammering on about.  It’s been a habit of mine for years to listen to BBC Radio Nottingham on the way to work – indeed, it’s proven a most fortuitous habit really if you think about it – but anyway, I’m lucky enough in Hathern to still be comfortably in the range of my erstwhile local radio station so I still get to enjoy Andy Whittaker’s dulcet tones as I blearily drive to work.

However, as I hone in on Tamworth Services you start to get a bit of static on the airwaves (how many Levellers references can I sneak into here? 😉 ) and normally it will start to fade into nothingness around 10 miles out from Solihull.  Very occasionally, presumably depending on atmospheric conditions or something, I’ll retain a faint signal all the way to our overspill carpark as I pull up – and the signal is still tantalisingly available when I return to the car to head home, but usually it’s either died or bizarrely turned in to BBC Radio Oxford for some reason.

In my head at least it’s a neat metaphor from being further away from the familiar than I’ve ever been – of course, familiar is an interesting choice of word there as it derives from the same latin root as family – and that is probably what has kept me sane throughout all of the literal versions of these themes that I’ve been pondering over the last few months.

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Bloody hell..

As ever the weeks wimble on by and I don’t think of anything to add to the blog.

It’s the time of the year when people traditionally sit and reflect a bit and maybe plan for the future – I’ve never really been very good at the future planning part – although I’m very prone to reflecting.  This time last year I was lying awake in a ward in the London Clinic having foolishly nodded off earlier in the evening and thus being wide awake awaiting the next morning when I’d be of to theatre to be anaesthetised and undergo an operation.

And it all went bloody well – last I heard the recipient of my stem cells, a small boy, was still alive and doing well having obviously been in a very bad way indeed.

One of the things I’d idly planned for the future for ages was to start giving blood.  Mainly because it’s a good thing to do, partly because I’ve got it into my head my blood group is B which is relatively unusual (that may well turn out to be wrong – although certainly with blood groups in my family it is certainly a possibility).

So today I registered at http://www.blood.co.uk and made an appointment in March to do that very thing.  I’ve avoided it in the past because I absolutely hate needles and letting blood – I passed out when I had to give samples to Anthony Nolan prior to my donation (although probably because I did it early in the morning on an empty stomach as much as anything!).

You can’t donate blood until a year after donating bone marrow hence the delay, there’s also a time lag after having a tattoo or piercing so my awesome Ferocious Dog tattoo in August was quite well timed on that score.

If nothing else I’ll at least get to confirm what my blood group is!

Of course another Christmas and New Year has been and gone – it was great to take some time out and spend some time with family and friends whose generosity and warm spirit was as appreciated as ever, it was definitely good to get some down time, even if my immune system took a break and let a cold get me earlier in the month.

On the work front I’m finally feeling like I might actually know what I’m doing a bit more – still lots to learn, but that’s true of any job.  I guess the rest of the year is about sorting out all the other things that occurred over 2014 that’s left pretty much every area of my life fairly dramatically different and somewhat transient.

Maybe that might even be fun.  But anyway, I’m not big on resolutions but I think signing up to give blood is a pretty good one – if you haven’t then maybe you should too, it’s dead easy to register and find donation sessions near you online.

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Wax on.. wax off.. wax out!

I don’t think this really merits a blog post but since it’s been a while and I’m feeling good about something I suppose it will just have to do.

Today I went to have my ears syringed after three weeks of blockedness and frustration – and it is just so damn good to be able to hear properly again, and realise the extent to which it had become a problem.

I have pretty narrow ear canals and as such am prone to this – in the past I’ve been able to kick start any issues by administering olive oil based drops which – and this is lovely – softens the ear wax and lets your ear do its thang naturally in clearing away surplus waxy build up.  Sadly this wasn’t enough this time and I found that around three weeks ago I was pretty much deaf in one ear.

After trying the usual olive oil based treatment and convincing myself it must be some kind of swelling so hammering the ibuprofen too, I relented and went to the doctor after I saw no improvement who confirmed it was impacted earwax causing the problem, and that my ‘good’ ear was in pretty bad shape too.  Deep joy!  He prescribed some sodium bicarbonate based drops which I was to use for a couple of weeks to soften it up in preparation for a revisit to see a nurse to get them syringed.

It’s something that can come with horror stories attached – directing a reasonably powerful stream of water at something as fragile as your eardrum does have inherent risks but frankly I was in so much discomfort I was about ready to take a drill to my tabs to get some relief, so really the only concern I had was the two week wait before I could get some relief.

When still finding your feet in a new job and getting to know people not being able to hear properly is quite a hindrance, I found too that because it distorts how you hear yourself speak it means you end up speaking more quietly yourself, so not only was I having difficulty hearing others, they couldn’t hear me either and probably even now are thinking “Who’s that really quiet dude who joined the business recently?” – so I’m looking forward to being able to unleash my inner gobshite in the office tomorrow!

Anyway, the drops did their job and the consequence of that was both ears ending up blocked presumably due to the now more pliable gloop in my lug holes – lovely!  The stingy prescription allowance of 10ml ran out with a few days to go so I picked up some Otex, a Hydrogen Peroxide based pharmacy ear drop, from Boots just to keep the momentum for the last couple of days.

Then today, blessed relief, a trip to see the nurse who checked me over before blasting away into my ears by turn and giving me my hearing back – such a relief, and for your own relief you’ll be glad to know I resisted the fairly strong urge to take a photo of the surprising amount of detritus she was able to extract from each of my ears.

I dread to think how long this has been building up into the final problem I ended up with – so I’ve decided to be a bit smarter and use the olive oil based drops I already have more proactively to stop such a build up occurring in the first place – enjoyable though the process was, the reality is that this was only the case because it gave relief from such a frustratingly debilitating situation, one I’d rather avoid in the future.

Gosh, health care tips on the blog that no bugger reads and to think I left Boots nearly three months ago!

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Taking sides

It’s normally the case when Apple release some new tech. As an unashamed fan of their products there’s normally a queue of people waiting gleefully to try to derail whatever modicum of excitement or interest folk such as me may show. Who knew aluminium would bend under sustained pressure? Did you know that a Samsung something or other could perform that new feature x years ago? Yawn.

None of this really bothers me (although sometimes I bite on Facebook 😉 ) but it’s interesting and got me thinking more widely about such motivations, and how people still readily jump to polarities with little provocation or need.

It seems to me as a species we seem very prone to irrational polarities. Which has always sat rather uncomfortably with me, I’m a creature of comfort when people are in harmony. If someone especially loves whatever flavour of Android phone they have then I’m pleased for them – indeed, as a selfish consumer of shiny things the more the competition up their game then the pressure remains on Apple to keep improving too – and vice versa, of course.

At secondary school people were divided into liking Rock or Rave – before the needless subsubsubgenrefication of music took sway, I secretly liked a bit of both. On the tech front you either liked Commodore Amigas (naturally!) or Atari ST’s (urgh!). The meagre differences in their merits built up to gigantic gulfs during bolshy playground debates (I was pretty entrenched in camp Amiga on this one – although when networked up together the ST always seemed to win on Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 2!).

In the sixth form we were told we must either like Blur or Oasis by an overexcited Britpop obsessed media, I liked both with a slight preference for Blur, although Pulp were and are better than both. It’d be around this time that I’d begin an enduring affair with the Levellers of course which quickly resolved that ‘debate’ for me in a different direction – but even then (and still now amazingly) rather than focus on the frankly amazing music they produced (and indeed, continue to produce) instead people make snide tabloid-inspired remarks about dogs on bits of string or being a crusty.

This is a band who’ve endured 25 years of being, have a veritable string of hits so are even validated somewhat by the facile trappings of the music industry, and continue to tour to thousands of people every year and run their own festival as well as appearing at countless others. They must be doing something right! If you doubt me, grab their recently released Greatest Hits album and decide for yourself.

People who like similar music even fall into the division trap – I always imagine a continuum of folky-indie style music (now who is subgenreing?!) starting (this won’t be an exhaustive list!) with bands like The Wonder Stuff and 3 Daft Monkeys – plenty to say, but with a sense of fun and not taking themselves too seriously through to say, New Model Army who I’ve always found more serious and sometimes bleak (that’s not a critique, I really like NMA too!) – the Levs sit somewhere in the middle with aficionados of the former group finding them too serious, those of the latter too frivolous.

I guess being a football fan is the ultimate expression of our tendency to polarise things that are fundamentally very similar – being a staunch Forest fan obviously the city of Derby is the worst place in the world, and its fans are remorselessly moronic. Which is palpably absurd – I’ve had some great nights out in Derby and count a number of ‘sheepshaggers’ as my dearest friends. Obviously that all goes out the window for 180 minutes or so per season, but normally I can be pretty rational even on this most divisive of topics.

Politics of course is like football fandom taken up a notch – although because I don’t really feel much affinity for any of them – and vote generally tactically to try to thwart the one I like the least – but I see staunch supporters of either red or blue passionately debating what to me seem like minuscule differences between the policies, performance and conduct of their respective parties – whereas I’m left thinking they’re both a bit pants really.

I’m not sure what conclusion I was leading to here really – I’m sat in a hotel room having been on a course for the last few days and I’m bored blogging on my phone! But wouldn’t it be nice if – certainly for trivial differences such as these – people didn’t leap to create division and conflict?

Okay, maybe not for the football, as that’s fun (so long as it doesn’t lead to genuine abuse or violence). In truth though, even the footy ‘banter’ (god I hate how that word has been misappropriated!) is probably symptomatic of a fairly fundamental flaw in our collective nature which leads to cataclysmic consequences particularly in the political and religious spheres.

This is all probably a residual tendency from our more tribal past. Or something. It’s worrying though because it’s precisely these motivations that organisations like Britain First or even UKIP leap upon to exploit – fortunately for me my Facebook feed is relatively clear of such bilious content but I see plenty of folk complaining about theirs.

So what started as a covetous piece about my desire for shiny capitalistic consumerism has started to make me reminisce about manipulation of needs and other university time heavily left-leaning learning – goddammit, maybe I’d be less of a schizophrenic paradox if I had more of a proclivity to just irrationally pick a side and stick with it!

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