Month: December 2016

Happy New Year!

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Yes: Happy. I know that 2016 has been a bit of a shitter in general for many of us, there’s nothing we can do about that anymore. Politics has become a horror show, beloved celebrities are dying left, right and centre, people are being killed in wars and worse all around the world… Do we really think this is going to just stop at 00:01 on January 1st 2017? Of course not. But look on the bright side: Now we’ve got a whole year of experience in dealing with the shit (expected and not-so) that modern life has to throw at us.

From a personal point of view 2016 has been a pretty good one. In fact, on balance, it’s been a very good one. We found out we were going to have a baby, something we thought we would have problems with for various reasons I won’t go into here. But no, everything went swimmingly and Aimee enjoyed (is that the word?) a very healthy pregnancy. On 15th December she gave birth to our son, Keir. It was what the midwives call “a normal birth” though from the business end, where I was stood for some of it, I found it hard to believe it was normal for something that big to come from there.

What has been a true “Annus Horribilis” for many was saved for us with the birth of our boy. It was the most emotional, most joyous and most frightening moment of my life. We are now responsible for the life of an actual human being. And not just any old human being, but the one that means more to us than any other in the whole world. I didn’t even mind missing Rogue One in the cinemas for him. That’s love, folks. True love. 2016 started wet and miserable for us – a leak in our roof that soaked our kitchen and living room saw to that – but ended with us happier than we ever thought possible, despite the lack of sleep.

So if you’ve had a shit year, welcome to the club. I don’t mean that sarcastically, or flippantly; we’ve all been through the ringer. I’m lucky that a nice end wiped much of the misery away for me and my family. 2017 isn’t going to magically improve things in the world, but now we have the tools to at least get on with things while other things crumble. Take time to appreciate your friends and family, your workmates, your pets and the people you meet, be it only once. They all have their own problems. You are not alone. But be kind. There’s nothing to be gained from mouthing off on Twitter about this or that, or arguing in pubs about the state of things. Life is something that happens around us and all we can do is make our little corner of it something worth giving a shit about.

Happy New Year, people say. They wish each other happiness. Unconditionally. And the reason is that they deeply wish the same for themselves, they sincerely hope it means something. So make it mean something. Be kind, be thoughtful, be patient and, above all, be careful. And have a Happy New Year, x

On January 2nd I’ll be “relaunching” this blog – in the same place, don’t worry – for the new year. I’ll be drawing a happy line under 2016. The resolutions I make every year are almost always forgotten, often because I make quite a few promises to myself. This year I am making just two:

  1. Read More
  2. Write More

I’ll be doing Number 2 right here, hopefully more often that I’ve managed in recent months. And by number 2 I mean… Well, you know… Oh, grow up.

So, This Is Christmas…

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Christmas with a new baby is an unusual beast. He kept us awake on Christmas Eve, refusing to settle – despite us employing every trick in the book – until around 3:30am. We opened our gifts to each other at midnight to “save time in the morning” and I’m glad we did because the morning was one mad rush to get everything packed, to visit my parents, to head to my mother-in-law’s for dinner, to make sure we remembered everything we needed for the baby, everyone’s presents, spare bowls, last-minute home-made desserts, etc. But it worked out okay.

This Christmas has been a wonderful one. It’s been quite relaxing, not heavy on booze at all, a pretty quiet, but no less lovely, affair. To be honest I’ve spent most of it just looking at our son, not quite being able to believe he’s really here. Oh, yes. I forgot to say: our son has been born. Incredibly, he turned up bang on his due date and, hours of discomfort aside, the labour proper lasted all of two hours. I’m so proud of my wife, she handled it like a pro. I know it’s not the said thing, but she made having a baby look easy! And I’m so proud of our son, too. We named him Keir William Bundy.

So now we have to look after him, to make sure he’s cared for and happy. We have to do our best to give him all he needs and much of what he wants. We’ve already promised him the best Christmases ever in the future. I’m sure this isn’t the last time you’ll see me talk about him on this blog but you’re just going to have to deal with that. I’ve turned into one of those boring social media dads who relate everything they see back to the experience of Being A Father. But that’s parenthood in the 21st Century – that’s life! And It’s A Wonderful Life!

The Mental Podcast

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Everyone knows someone who has suffered with their mental health. You may not yet know you know someone who has, but you do. You may suffer yourself. Again, you may not really know you suffer. It’s all very complicated, so says the creator/host of The Mental Podcast, comedian Ian Boldsworth. He’s the co-creator of The Parapod, the funniest podcast I’ve ever listened to, but his newest offering isn’t really a “laff-riot”. That’s not to say there aren’t laughs, just that they come between in-depth, often heavy-going discussions about mental health, depression, anxiety, treatment, etc. I’m not explaining it very well. As I said, it’s complicated. But it’s also very important and potentially life-saving. The Mental Podcast takes the form of a very frank narration from Ian interspersed with interviews with people who have – in one way or another – been touched by mental health issues, including Michael Pennington (aka Johnny Vegas), Richard Herring, Jo Murray and a handful of others. Their honesty and openness is so refreshing and a revealing mosaic is built that helped me better understand my own struggles.

Nothing I write will do the show justice: it’s something you have to experience for yourself. It’s also not for everyone. There are discussions about suicide and other traumatic experiences that some listeners may find too much to handle. But if you feel strong enough I urge you to listen. Allow yourself an hour to sit and listen, to take it in free of distractions. I found The Mental Podcast to be an incredibly positive experience, hugely relatable and very, very encouraging. It made me feel better about things to hear others talk about going through things I’ve gone through myself. The contributors are fantastic and Ian Boldsworth shows, instantly, that he’s much more than just a naughty boy (but of course we knew that).

This is a dreadful write up for the podcast, but it really is complicated. Mental health and discussion around it is something that varies in weight from person to person. This podcast may fall flat for some, or be hitting far too close to home for others. For me, and many others who have praised the series as a helpful and positive masterpiece, it was just what I have always wanted: a no-punches-pulled, open and honest exploration of a topic that is incredibly close to my heart, for many reasons. I cannot recommend The Mental Podcast highly enough.

CLICK HERE to find out more.