Alan Rickman RIP – Image #14

Unfortunately there seem to have been a lot of deaths in the world of Showbiz recently, and I thought today I’d pay tribute to Alan Rickman.  Whether you think of him as Severus Snape or Hans Gruber, his intonation and delivery were very precise and made him such a good bad guy.  They also served him well in more light hearted roles, and today’s image reflects two of those: the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest.  In both cases, his presence and delivery, coupled with comic timing, contributed massively to the popularity of the films I think.  He will be sadly missed.

Remembering Alan Rickman
Remembering Alan Rickman
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Getting ready to rumble – Image #13

I’m very excited at the moment. I will have band news very shortly, as I’m off to meet some guys about that tomorrow, but in the meantime thought I’d share my two most recent purchases (one is a couple of weeks old, the other about three years ago) as Image #13 of 366 this year.

Top Ibanez Bottom Fender Squier
Top Ibanez
Bottom Fender Squier

The top one is an Ibanez Soundgear, in green with pearl finish along the edges.  It looks awesome, sounds great and it’s lovely to play. I bought it a while back on eBay and am very chuffed with it.  I’ve played quite a few gigs with it and I love the way it shakes the floor!

The bottom one is a Squier Fender Vintage Jazz NT 70 i.e. it looks like a bass from 1970.  I bought it recently from an online store (it took 3 days from order in Germany to delivery in the UK) and I’ve not played it “properly” yet i.e. I’ve not rehearsed or gigged with it yet, but I’m looking forward to doing both soon!

I think I must be part Boov

I have to admit that I’ve taken the phrase in the title image from the file “Home”, where an alien race called the Boov invade Earth.  One of the Boov is called Oh (that’s what everyone says when he appears) and he utters the phrase I’ve “borrowed”.

In many respects I feel that I “fit out”, in terms of what family, friends and  society may expect of me.  Admittedly I also “fit in” or conform to a lot of the norms, such as holding down a job, having a house and mortgage, paying my taxes and bills etc.  But am I “normal”?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  What is “normal”, and who decides what it is?  I don’t have the wife and 2,4 children that Western society expects – though since divorcing my ex I have a new partner and am stepdad to 2 children, so I guess that’s pretty close to conforming?

In the last year I’ve embraced spirituality, and have particularly found peace and purpose in Buddhism.  I’ve started mindful meditation and am trying to practice that every day, along with mindfulness in general. I burn incense every day at home, and can’t seem to pass a shop selling the stuff without buying some.  I guess that the upshot of all that is that I’m trying to slow down, to get off the rollercoaster of life and to enjoy every moment. It strikes me that this is not a “normal” thing to do and that it’s perhaps one way in which I fit out.

I’m also looking to spend some of my spare time volunteering or helping others in some way.  I’ve read somewhere that there are over 20 million volunteers in the UK – that’s about 1 in 7 of the population, so maybe that’s more like fitting in, but in the circles I’ve moved in in the past it’s definitely fitting out.  It’s all a bit daunting, but I’m looking forward to it too.

Again, in the circles I used to move in, with the friends I had with my ex, alcohol played quite a significant part.  Not only have a I cut down drastically on my intake over the last year, I’ve signed up to give up alcohol completely for all of January.  This is definitely not “normal” in my experience, and the last time I had two alcohol free weeks was when climbing Kilimanjaro several years ago.  (It’s going well though, thanks for asking.)

At the ripe old age of nearly 50 I’ve joined a band playing music from the 50s-70s, rock and roll as it should be.  This is a bit of a departure from playing in an originals heavy rock band (which was probably more fitting out than the new band) but it’s still a bit of an odd thing to do for someone my age I think.  Too old to be trendy but too young to be vintage!

Then there’s the type of music I listen to.  I’m still going to see my favourite punk bands from when I was a teenager (I’m so glad they’re still going / still alive) and there’s a real feeling of togetherness at those gigs.  The rest of the crowd are like me, of a similar age (generally) and I’m guessing all enjoying the gig for the same reasons as me.  But when I was in my teens, that style of music was not mainstream, and we were definitely on the outside looking in.

Do you know what though? I like my new life, I like being me, and I like fitting out.  And I’m not the only one.  Check this out on my partner Dee’s site, Helping You Sparkle.  This is what inspired me to write this post.

 

It’s feeding time! – Image #12

For the first time this winter I noticed a bit of a chill in the air, so I decided it was time to top up the bird feeders in the garden.  I’ve put out a mixture of nuts and seeds – this one contains sunflower seeds – and at some point I’ll also put out fat / suet balls when it gets below freezing.

Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds

I love watching birds come into the garden to feed.  There’s usually a good mix of sparrows and starlings (as one would expect), blue and great tits and robins, with more infrequent visits from coal and long-tailed tits, green finches, goldfinches, bullfinches and the exceedingly uncommon (for my garden) thrushes, woodpeckers and wrens.  One winter when there was a prolonged cold spell and lots of snow (very unusual for the south of England) the hedgerow behind the fence became home to fieldfares and redstarts.

From my vantage point upstairs in my study, I can watch the activity with interest (yes, I know I should be working).  I particularly enjoy the days when the red kites in the area decide to visit.  They’re huge and graceful, and I’ve been fortunate to count 5 at one time above the rooftops nearby.  They’re probably my favourite birds, and I count myself lucky that I can watch them from the comfort of my own home.

On days when bird life is plentiful, I find myself sitting back and thinking “Isn’t nature wonderful?”, and of course the answer is an emphatic “YES!”

Stonehenge visit – Image #11

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Today’s post speaks for itself I think. 3500 years old, still standing, and magnificent – that’s Stonehenge.

There’s a relatively new visitor centre which is really impressive, and a short bus ride to see the stones themselves. It was awesome, very magical.

We followed this up with a visit to Avebury, for lunch in the only pub inside a stone circle. Just a mystical, evocative day – I’d recommend it to anyone!

January Reading – Image #10

Maybe a shot a day isn’t that easy! I didn’t take any while out and about, so thought I’d share what I’m currently reading.

The Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh is a very easy to read, thought provoking and inspiring look a how choosing our words (both written and spoken) with care can make ourselves and others happy. I’m trying to adopt its principles and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald tells the story of how Edward Snowden’s revelations were published, by the journalist who wrote the articles. Really interesting and again thought provoking: I’m enjoying this one too.

January reading
January reading

Image #9

I think I’m getting the hang of this image a day thing! This is #9 of 366 this year, and was taken on today’s trip to London. The Imperial War Museum is a fascinating place to visit, and needs more than one visit I think as there’s so much to see. Today we walked round the Secret War (spies, SAS, codes and stuff) and the Holocaust exhibitions. Both incredible and moving, but in different ways obviously.

Imperial War Museum, London
Imperial War Museum, London

The guy that speaks his mind

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