The Arsenal Miscellany – Adam Gold

As long-term readers will know, one of the teams I follow & arguably ‘my team’ are Arsenal (though Northampton Town are also up there). It is no surprise that a football based book arrives as a gift every now and then. This is such a book.

Like so many such books it sat on a shelf, gathering guilt, waiting patiently to be read. However after a bit of a break from reading I needed something to just dip into in order to get my reading mojo back. This fit the bill perfectly (that was a while back so I’ve just re-read as a refresher).

Initially I struggled, taking several attempts to read the foreword by Arsenal ‘hero’ Alan Smith. But the memories returned and the reading became easier.

The title essentially says it all, a miscellaneous bundle of facts from Arsenal history. Intertwined amongst them are brief bio’s on a number of club legends.

Some of the facts were a little too mundane for me, I really didn’t need to know so many facts about the Emirates Stadium though the quirky ones such as the contents of the time capsule were OK. Better though were those concerning the clubs history, looks back at influential players & managers and the strange circumstances in which Arsenal returned to the top flight after World War 1.

Overall I wouldn’t say that this is a must read, not even listing every trophy. But it is was it is, a gift and a welcome one at that for an Arsenal fan.

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Running Resolution (1000 Miles)

Let’s start with a confession – I should be running (now). Instead I’m sat in my car, in the dark, typing a blog entry on my phone.

To be frank my New Years Running Resolution is not going well. That resolution is to total 1,000 miles run by 31st December 2017 a considerable increase on an estimated 800 for the past couple of years.

On paper it seems quite straightforward – An average of 2.74 miles a day or 19.18 a week. And yet here we are with a total so far that’s just shy of 30 miles from 18 days, or put another way 1.66 miles a day and set to fall to an average of 1.5 miles before my next opportunity to run on Saturday (which itself is in some doubt).

The plan is to run 3 times a week – Monday (Stafford Harriers club run), Wednesday (while waiting to pick up my eldest) & Saturday (longer run at early o’clock).
So far I’ve a record of 1/3, 0/3 & 2/2 so not going great.

In my defence a lot has conspired against me so far – visitors, cancelled events and a pesky Birthday (which I’d have enjoyed more if it had included a run). Tonight however I have to take some of the blame as I was nowhere near hydrated enough to contemplate bettering my current average, with the decision all but made I then promptly rolled my ankle & jarred my opposing knee while walking from work. Just hoping that all will be well to keep my 100% Saturday run record.

To compound this lack of consistency I’ve so far failed to hit any rhythm whilst out on runs and my second race (10k) of the year less than a month away.
Ironically race 1 (5 miles) on New Years Day was the only time I’ve been on target.

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Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness : A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques – Gillian Butler

Second trip to the Library with only a vague idea of what I was after (I didn’t find it) and my job at this time under threat, I hoped to find something that might be of use. I was actually looking for something that might spark creative thinking and with it perhaps open a door to a career change that otherwise may never have occurred to me – of course I had no idea what such a book might be called or indeed even which section to look in so any suggestions are welcome on that score.

As I circled the room I came across this book, and though I don’t overly suffer with anxiety – awkward conversations (or lack there of) with girls left far in the past – I’m not the kind of person bubbling over with self esteem either and that was also mentioned in the blurb. Being naturally shy any form of public speaking had been something I’d try and avoid and here I was facing the prospect of Interviews again for the first time in over 20 years – maybe there would be something that would help within?

Ultimately I’d say it didn’t help on that score but in fairness that was largely down to me and the length of time it took to find openings in the job market – and of course when it comes to Interviews everyone has their own 2 pennies worth of advice to throw into the melting pot.

It’s quite a while since I read it and memories have faded (so much so that I nearly claimed to have read a similar title by a different author). What I do recall is that some of the symptoms and examples did ring true, whilst on others I was grateful didn’t effect me. Similarly on the Therapy, I had reached some coping methods independently but couldn’t see myself using others.

In truth I ultimately let the library deadline be an excuse and did little more than think through the exercises included. What I should really have done is noted them and gave more time over to them, undoubtedly I would have benefited to some degree.

As the book went on I realised how crippled by social anxiety some people are, whereas others such as myself have muddled through into a more socially accepted comfort zone. I noted another in the series on Low Self-Esteem and that may be something that I may take a look at in the future.

Whether that or a more detailed re-read of this one it is an area in which the old adage – the more you put in, the more you get out – most certainly rings true.

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At the End of My Tether

Admittedly I am increasingly at the end of my tether these days but don’t worry this isn’t going to be an extended rant about government controlled media, how so many issues relevant to us all are quashed. Instead of rational argument holding them to account we have a fractured type of balance with airtime given over to dangerous mavericks (with devastating effects both now and for future generations). Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now and get back on topic.

The tether I’m actually referring to is my mobile phone. This, in combination with a longer lasting battery in my Netbook and time spent waiting for the kids to emerge from various clubs has resulted in something close to regular blog posts. It certainly beats wandering around retail parks and also gives my ears a break from podcasts.

So what do you have to look forward to? Well fortunately I have a number of posts to get through (mainly a backlog of book reviews), there also a couple of experiences from recent years that I intend to share, doubtless some rambling from the aforementioned soapbox and maybe I’ll share some lyrics that I penned in years past. Additionally I’ve invested/wasted money on? a number of tech gadgets this year so I’ll share my thoughts on them.

Beyond that? I’ll have to start thinking won’t I! Something else to do while waiting for the kids…

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HitchHiker : A Biography of Douglas Adams – M J Simpson

Browsing around the small local library I struggled to find much that wet my appetite, yes I could have ordered something in but I wanted to demonstrate my use of the facility immediately. Looking through the biography section this Douglas Adams biography caught my eye. If memory serves its author ran the Douglas Adams fan club and was said to know more about Adams than Adams did himself. What could be better?

I had previously read the Neil Gaiman book on Adams and had enjoyed the experience. It was alive and captured the larger than life character of the public facing Adams that I was and remain such a fan of.

This in comparison I found dry. Undoubtedly there was additional information and perhaps I learned more of the man but often stories were cut short referencing the source material and going no further. Also so many of the tales shared by Adams were debunked, maybe I got the truth but the stories I knew were so much more entertaining – To me Douglas Adams was an author, an activist, a pioneering technologist but above all he was an entertainer.

This entertainer seemed a little lost within the pages of this biography and the claims of a record company being forced out of business left a sour note. It wasn’t all gloom though, on the plus side I found the section on Adams forays into the computer game industry both fascinating and enjoyable.

Perhaps it was the fact that this was the first biography after Adams death that led it to be fact laden and dry? Or perhaps it was just that I didn’t want the memory of a hero of mine questioned? Either way I’d have to recommend the Gaiman book ‘Don’t Panic : Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ over this offering.


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An Explanation (of Sorts)

You may be wondering (though likely not) why a flurry of activity around August 2015 and then nothing much. The answer is Work, or to be more specific the lack of it. That may sound counterintuitive but it’s funny how things turn out.

Everything appeared fine, even the contract I worked on had recently been renewed “with some changes”. On reflection maybe that should have set off some alarm bells but for me the bombshell was still to come – those changes would involve the number of staff.

Despite the shock this was an opportunity, a chance for an out from the 90 minute plus commute and time to find work closer to home. Rather than fight to keep a job that would now involve some even longer commutes I volunteered for redundancy and after an anxious wait was granted it. That last month flew by and ironically was an especially busy one.

So now was the time to get my CV into shape, spend some quality time with my family and the small matter of running the Chester Marathon, this last one just a week after finishing what had been 20 plus years of continuous employment.

With Christmas rapidly approaching the job market (other than temp work) was eerily quiet. This had been somewhat expected and allowed time for some adjustment. I started doing the school run and even got to see the kids receive awards and perform in their XMas shows without the usual struggle to get time off. This was all nice but I have to say the school run is somewhat disruptive to any kind of routine.

A mixture of keeping an eye on the job market and embarking on some online courses ate away at the days and I’m afraid the blog was rather forgotten as any remaining time was focused on my Wife and Kids. Despite no longer setting out on a commute at 7am I have remained an early riser and gradually new routines have fell into place.

With 2016 underway a new emphasis on finding work was required. This highlighted just how much things have changed over the years, rather than scouring the papers it is now a case of scouring multiple job sites – this is incredibly frustrating as it becomes abundantly clear that the same jobs appear time and time again (even on the same site) and that in many cases location distance filters are often ignored.

Job agencies also appear to have changed. Where once I believe there was a balance to be found between the prospective employer and the prospective employee there now seems (certainly among those I’ve had dealing with) very little to help prospective employees find suitable roles. I’ve experienced a lack of response altogether from one agency I attempted to sign up with and absolutely no feedback at all despite repeated requests from one that did secure an interview. I guess the one thing that hasn’t changed is that interviews are as nervous as ever. However as Tom Petty so rightly said – The Waiting is the Hardest Part!

Gradually I clawed back some structure to the week and inbetween appointments, interviews and some unavoidable tasks I have found somekind of flow to ensure things get done. This is in some part down to reading the Motivational Hacker by Nick Wynter (more on that another day). Suffice to say I now have 15 tasks a day that I try to achieve which include exercise, learning, reading and the important one for any readers – writing. So no commitments to the number of blog posts I’ll be making but hopefully I’ll be clearing the backlog of potential Posts in the not too distant future. The online course I was taking included a WordPress section so hopefully one day I’ll also be able to give the blog a better look – You lucky readers!

Well all the above (now slightly changed) was some time back and I’ve been in full-time employment again since May. Needless to say routines changed again (and I ran the Chester Marathon again (quicker)) and the poor old blog took a backseat once again. Now…

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Chester Marathon – Fundraising for Epilepsy Sucks UK

I know, I know, nothing for months and here I am asking for Charity Donations. Hopefully this will be the spur to more regular updates (I do have a number of offline drafts) but I just wanted to get something out before the event which will hopefully help to achieve my fundraising target.

On October 2nd I shall be attempting the 26.2 Miles of the Chester Marathon to raise money for Epilepsy Sucks UK. This charity funds anti-suffocation pillows and has also provided a wealth of advice and support since our then 6 year old was diagnosed with Epilepsy 2 years ago. More details on the story can be found by following the link provided –

This is a great little charity that is committed to helping families like ours and committed to preventing unnecessary deaths amongst those with Epilepsy. If the provision of an anti-suffocation pillow can save a single life then this charity is worth its weight in gold. Please donate if you can.

Thank you x

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