When I was a kid, during those brief periods when the UK was privileged to experience interludes of illuminating sunshine often referred to as summer, I would lay in the back garden gazing at the crystal blue sky above, imagining that I was stranded on a palatial island in the sky like Laputa and that the sky above was in fact the ocean, cresting towards some far-flung land mass with rhythmic tranquillity. Airplanes were boats skirting across the great blue surface, leaving elegant crests of rippling water streaking across its deep oceanic beauty, like delicate brush strokes on a work of art. The turquoise covered tranquillity seemed to leer down on me with contempt, gleaming with restitutitive properties that aches to be disturbed, wishing that I could dive into its crisp nurturing fluidity. Surveying its pristine expanse for minutes felt like hours, hoping that gravities enduring grasp would relinquish, allowing me to fall into its watery embrace. It’s reviting to think what imagery the young mind is capable of cunjuring. At that age you’re a visionary, with a unique perception of the world that no adult could possibly understand. Insulated against the tyrony of oppressive society that revokes the fertile musings of a child’s aspirations. We covet the obscure, the absurd and the irrational, because they can’t be rationalised. And it’s these capricious sentiments of youth that help craft Rpgs, particularly ones affiliated with fantasy.
The notion of magic, goblins, swords and sorcerers is profoundly whimsical and a distinct component of the juvenile mind. Rpg’s are an extension of that, the yearning for wondrous worlds beyond our own. You embark on imperious adventures as some spirited youth, battling indistinct foes and endeavouring to preserve the safety of some rural village, occupied by vulnerable elves that live a life of passive tolerance towards the aggressive regime of the kingdoms military. These kinds of simple affairs of good and evil evoke so many memories of being a doe eyed kid. Walks to school as a child would be considered an arduous hike by my own mature perspective, but for a kid that 30 minute walk becomes a 30 minute adventure. Suddenly your laboured pace escalates, the mundane journey is now filled with perilous danger as you battle hordes of goblins to defend the rustic village of elves. And all of this is achieved before you’ve even begun the first lesson of the day.
I believe, whether subconsciously or not, that the way we as children perceive the world around us has an abiding influence on adulthood, that nurtures the enduring affinity for spurious realities. Rpg’s embrace that infantile creativity by flaunting the ambitious rigor of dissimilation. Constructing fertile environments where make believe has an extensive mythology rooted in the profound influences we experienced growing up. Creativity is bred from the boundless imagination of youth. Inspiration is carved from the raw potential and purity of that same abstract curiosity. Without the unyielding potential of one’s creativity most fantasy inspired worlds would be tedious imitations of our own. And who wants that?
Perhaps one day gravity will relinquish its persistent grasp that confines me to the earth and send me hurtling towards the ocean above. Someday……
For the past 11 or so years I’ve been gainfully employed as a printer. We predominantly manufacture labels with various designs and colours depending on the customer’s very acute specifications. They range from simple, plain rectangular labels that can be applied to sandwich packaging or something intricately decorative with multiple layers, resistant to cold temperatures. The job entails a great deal of studious concentration to ensure that plates, cutters, and slitters are aligned with perfect synchronicity. You’re required to scrutinise the quality of the products being produced to ensure a level of consistency, which is crucial to maintaining individual label standards. Efficiency is essential, necessitating diligent judicial scrutiny to minimise the risk of blemished merchandise. It only takes one smudge, one solitary indentation of a bar code for an entire supply to be rejected, costing the company thousands in reparation. The constant delegation and subsequent retention for prolonged visual observations means that I’m prone to headaches. Nothing severe, but enough to know that a dark room and solitude isn’t without is retributive benefits. Have you ever tried to focus on a moving object, one that gains perpetual momentum as you try to observe the slightest change in a text movements, that is only millimetres in size? It’s challenging, requiring significant mental exertion as opposed to the physical labour, but not overbearing when moderated. The job is largely simple once you understand the complexities. Like anything it’s about repetition and adapting to any issues that may arise. Yet the job, specifically the way the company operates as well as other bureaucratic functions has greatly diminished my interests in continuing to work in this environment.
The last couple of years has been especially challenging, with many colleagues leaving or retiring. The introduction of a new hierarchy that endeavours to run the company in their own laboured fashion has only compounded the issue. Yet the managerial shuffling and staff resignations are just symptoms of as yet undiagnosed ailment. It’s difficult to really isolate precisely what’s made my contributions so apathetic, as I’ve never really loved my job anyway, but there’s an atmosphere around the place that has drained any enthusiasm I had for this profession. It’s provided a solid if not lucrative wage and affords me the opportunity to spend additional time with my daughter as I get every other Friday off work. But it’s not really a career, more of an arcane occupation that’s eminent prestige, once yielding a substantial revenue is reserved for its more prosperous 80’s heyday. The trouble I have is that I don’t really know what else I want to do!
Most people my age have either determined a career to pursue or are actively training towards some specific project. I’m 30 years old and I’m still unsure what I want in a career. I’ve never nurtured an ambition for a prospective career and I’m envious of those who have. People that know precisely what they wish to achieve and have the conviction to go for it no matter the result. For me it isn’t just a case of searching for alternate means of employment, as I don’t simply want to walk out of one job a dislike for another equally dissatisfactory occupation, but instead establishing a direction. Ascertaining an appointment with prospects befitting of my many inert talents.
Money has never been of great value to me. It’s never something I’ve craved. It serves its purposes adequately and any surplus capital available to me once bills as sundries have been sated for another month is used sparingly but affectively. Whether that’s to purchase a new pair of shoes for my daughter, a second-hand game or something altogether less extravagant like a shower fitting. The trouble is that bills and food aren’t getting any more affordable, and the money generated by my girlfriend and I simply doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. So though I am perhaps not comfortable working for a company that equates the loss of employees and increase in business as a positive inflation of financial productivity, my motives for wanting a change are more a little more pragmatic.
There’s no certainty that a vocational adjustment will ameliorate the growing austerity that has only been perpetuated by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. But I’ve spent too long waiting for something to happen and it’s long overdue that I did something, however risky it may seem.
Last Sunday I went out for lunch with one of my best friends from school. We hadn’t seen each other for roughly 3 years. That’s a long time considering how close we were. The significant passage of time between meetings was nothing to do with a dispute or any kind of altercation, but just one of those mutual divisions that occur as you get older. People drift apart, priorities change and we each seek personal goals. In any case a reconciliation had been long overdue, so we finally reserved some time to just sit down with a beer, some food and just chat. We discussed our formative years in school, predominantly concerning all the juvenile escapades we’d assume with various collaborators. Regailing our perceived “rebellious delinquency” with sneers of derision and embarrassment. With initiatives such as throwing pencil cases out of the windows, swearing at a teacher – though in my defense the extended middle finger had been intended for a member of the public that had almost ran me down! – carving “Aaron Smells” on the wall of the assembly entrance, much to the grievance of our headmaster who regarded such creative flourishes as vandalism, and getting help from Miss Wallace in I.T class just so we could get a good look down her top. They were hardly schemes or collusion’s conceived by nihilistic activists. And though it was nice catching up again, sharing details regarding drunken nights out in town, the various failed attempts at courting women while under the influence of our preferred libations (basically anything alcoholic!) it did feel like talking to a stranger. Conversations that years before would’ve been free flowing and jovial now felt anxious and forced, like former band members trying to rekindle musical differences after a prolonged hiatus. The problem is that during this 3 year interlude between meeting last a lot has changed.
I myself had become a father. Roughly around the same time that my girlfriend and I had welcomed our daughter into the world, he was saying goodbye to his wife who tragically passed away due to cancer. She was only in her late 20’s. Death of any kind is always sad, but at such a tender age with their marital life ahead of them this was just cruel. I was unable to attend the funeral, owing to my girlfriends continued hospitalisation due to complications from childbirth. In fact I didn’t know what had happened until a mutual friend of us casually mentioned the event in passing. So finally here I was sitting across from him and I just couldn’t bring myself to broach the subject. I skirted the issue entirely as often as I could. I mean how do you approach that kind of sorrow with any delicacy? It was clear from his posture, the melancholy, the ruffled and matted hair that was now tinged with whisps of grey that he hasn’t endured the most pleasant 12 months. He looked older, weary even. Akin to a soilder who has returned from active duty a changed person. The jovial and acerbic wit were gone, replaced by a man hardened and matured by agony. Perhaps even permenantly.
You could tell that this was a man that had and probably still was grieving, but I didn’t want him to interpret my ambivalence as something inconsiderate. Instead I decided that it were best for him to dictate the course of the conversation, with me expressing my own condolences without having to address it with any intimate detail. As such we both became a little more comfortable chatting, establishing a natural dialogue between two friends who’d forgotten just how good it was to just sit down with a pint and talk bullocks for a couple of hours. It was great too that he finally got to meet my daughter, demonstrating his own paternal skills, as my daughter chuckled at every facial expression he could muster. By the time we’d eaten, discussed our respective families and conferred every nugatory information about life in general the mood was suitably congenial. We parted soon after to pursue the trifling monotony of domesticity that seems to clasps your freedom with persistent regularity as you get older, vowing to meet up again much sooner.
I guess the message, banal though it maybe really is to value your friendships. To nurture and preserve them regardless of petty arguments, distance between you or the elapse of time. There shouldn’t be anything to stop you, just encourage you. Don’t leave issues unresolved, festering for years nor hesitate calling a friend even just to say hi. I thought that by neglecting my involvement in his life because of fatherhood would somehow absolve my absense, but it doesn’t. There was no real excuse for me not to contact him sooner, to exhibit a profound regret for missing his wife’s funeral, even if it couldn’t be helped or be there when he needed all the help he could get. You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. And when you do you have to remain committed to maintaining they’re loyalty. You never know when they may need you, or when you might need them.
Well that’s it. The fleeting time we’ve had together has been a memorable, intertwined collusion steeped in the resonating fragility of youthful exuberance, frivolity and the brazen exploitation of vitality. You have bestowed so much distinguished virility to me that I can assure you has been reciprocated with the utmost pleasure and respect. But as our trajectories shift, so too must we. And as we part to pursue our own separate ventures know that there will always be a special place reserved in my heart for your eternally vigilant restrictions that has invariably shaped my life. You will be missed. Farewell my 20’s. May flights of angels send you hurtling towards the next unsuspecting teen who – I’m sure will abuse your power with the same earnest convictions and wasteful extravagance that had enabled me to be perpetually inebriated without fear of morning repercussions. Neglectful of the value of money (as well as saving some of it) and oblivious to the fact that life will never again be so ripe with opportunities. Yes as you can probably tell by the melancholic introduction I can no longer be considered a man in my 20’s, a label I’d been desperately clinging too like Mel Gibson grasp on reality. It’s fair to say that I hadn’t been anticipating this event with anything other than irrational fear, vacillating between vitriol and anxious restraint. Nobody enjoys getting older but it’s something you endure because you have no choice, even if at times it feels excruciatingly tedious.
“This place had the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed pizza’s!”
I can tell you now with only 3 days experience of being 30 *shudders* that it’s a lot like being in your 20’s, just older. Sorry, I mean refined. It’s a perplexing age, neither old nor young. You’re young enough to know popular culture but a little too old to really understand it. When you reach such a milestone you find that expectations you had in your 20’s have completely changed. I began this blog when I was 24, commissioned more out of boredom than anything. But I completely expected to be an established, well renowned blogger by now, receiving commendations from my prestigious contemporaries. But that’s the kind of audacious fantasies you believe when you’re in your 20’s, treating the slow expanse of time as an almost limitless tool. However that optimism and insatiable zest for life diminishes as you become more observant to the ills this world affords. Cynicism becomes an increasingly fervent response to the protestations of day-to-day activities. You have news programmes and publications that report death with such labouring attention but present nothing of it with any distinctive concern. Whereas anything good or righteous is conveyed with deft economy, ordinarily reserved for some marginal segment at the end or page 85. When you’re presented with a world so absent of humanity it’s easy to see the bad, yet highlights what you should really appreciate at any age.
“Beer and gaming? Why didn’t I think of that?!”
My girlfriend had planned the “celebrations” for my 30th which involved a mini pub crawl around gaming bars across London. With a select group in tow we quenched our thirsts and chortled through them, with a brief triumphant interlude of playing Mario Kart 64 and other nostalgic inducing arcade games as well as TMNT themed pizza’s, until we exerted all of our squandered consciousness and collapsed exhausted on the train journey home. And it was fun, despite receiving a mug with the statement proclaiming that “30. It’s all down hill from here”. Just what I need; visual aids to remind me just how old I’ve become, despite TMNT socks that refute my supposed maturity. And it’s here, surrounded by friends that you realise that you’re not just a games enthusiast, but a 30-year-old games enthusiast with a girlfriend, daughter and a mortgage I’ll never fully pay off. You start to reminisce about the friends you had 10 years ago and realise that none were present and you haven’t spoken in nearly 8 years. That my advancing age is validated by the strands of greying hair that have betrayed my scalp. That my body is slowly degenerating and the brief glimpses of senility are becoming more pronounced. Feeling sorry for me yet? Yet it’s funny just how little I’ve aged mentally.
I don’t feel any different now than I did when I was 18. Not a bit. I’d still rather be isolated in a dimly lit room bathed in the iridescent glow of my HD TV, slightly inebriated, coated in the stray remains of some salted snack and cradling my PlayStation controller as I battle some imminent combatant. The only difference now is that I’m old enough to know better. And I do, I just choice to ignore it. I maybe 30 but that shouldn’t precipitate for one second that I’m mature. Not a bit.
Do you feel like you’ve ever grown up? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Everyone has a moment in time that they revere more than any other. A memory so enduring that you can recall the most singular details with intimate clarity. Sometimes that cognitive imagery can feel more like an affliction than justifiable periods of elapsed time worthy of retention. Some instances can even unduly define the course of a year, curtailing the prospects that might otherwise have been interpreted favourably if a more affectionate memory were associated with that gentle expanse of time, thereby associated to a far more promising start. People retain radically differing ideas on what constitutes as a substantial bad year, depending on the individuals perspective. It’s all relative and deeply personal. Many consider 2016 to be an exceptionally bad year for a number of political or contrite reasons. For me though one of the most difficult years of my life occurred in 1997, prompted by a monumental event that transpired nearly 20 years ago to the day; the day my parents split up.
I don’t think people truly respect just how receptive children are even at a tender age. Though I never physically observed my parents arguing I could sense an ambient hostility around them, generating a vacuous atmosphere devoid of any gentility. They both made a concerted effort to conceal the collective ire they shared for one another from my sister and I to ensure we maintained some consistency with our lives, but even though I was too young to define what exactly was different I just got a sense that something wasn’t right. I was still in primary school at the time – I don’t know what the American equivalent is but I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was a Sunday when things really escalated between them. My mother was absent for most of the day, owing to some feigned illness that conveniently prevented her from being in the same room as my father. My dad had cooked dinner for my sister and I (he never cooked dinner!) and allowed me to play on the SNES for most of the day without any limitations (again, never happened). The following day was a school day so my sister and I didn’t go to bed too late, yet I didn’t sleep comfortably.It was late in the evening, or early in the morning if you want to get technical that I remember being startled by my parents arguing downstairs. As a kid I was never very good at confrontation and I certainly didn’t know how to broach such a volatile situation. But in the end I decided that I just wanted it to stop! I made my way down the stairs tentatively, attempting to suppress the sound of my feet as I made awkward strides towards the living room. When I entered the room my mother’s rage was palpable, yet tempered by her tearful demeanour that had remit further as I approached. With my father’s bags packed he informed me that he was leaving. Needless to say I cried myself to sleep that night.
At first I thought it was something that I had done, which is a natural reaction when you’re that young. I even resented my mother for a spell, purely because I was angry and she was in proximity. Though it was clear that the only person at fault was my father. Well him and the home wrecker my adulterous father felt compelled to dishonour his marriage vows for. Who also happened to be my mother’s best friend (formerly now). Honestly no one did betrayal quite like these two. There are a retinue of choice words I’d like to type to describe their wanton cruelty, but I wouldn’t want to waste valuable asterisk let alone time to do so. Despite this duplicitous act, as well as inspiring half the marriages in Westoros my mother prevailed, taking assertive action to preserve the solidarity of our divided family, with the aid of friends and relatives, most notably my Aunt Violet. Her presence commanded the admiration and love of the entire room. She was a shining beacon of hope and serenity that captivated every family gathering. She possessed an incredible talent for healing your spirit with just a few gentile words and a soothing embrace. The world didn’t seem so cynical when she was around. My girlfriend and I even christened our daughter Rose Violet to commemorate her incredible contribution to my families lives. My mother had endured a torrent of heartbreak when my inexcusable father left, but Violet contributed so much to my mother’s emotional rehabilitation, placating the severity of any crippling bouts of depression she suffered…..making Violets sudden death all the more gut wrenching. Besides the collapse of her marriage, the death of my Aunt was the most traumatic incident for my mother. She was her confident, her muse. The one person she could rely on for advice and comfort. And she was gone. Her sudden illness and subsequent passing was a significant blow to the equanimity of our family. But we recovered, eventually. My mother possessed a far greater strength than even she knew she had, and her indelible passion for life and extroverted inclinations that had always imbued her with formidable resiliency to the adverse whims of the world had paid dividends. It wasn’t always easy but nothing worth having ever is. It wasn’t until I became a father that I truly appreciated just how courageous my mother was at raising two children, with little resources by herself. Just how much has to be sacrificed in order to sustain a functioning and above all happy home.
You see the most important people in my life are women. My mother, my girlfriend, my sister (to an extent), my Aunt, my Nan, my daughter. Each and every one of these women has contributed something to my growth as a son, a boyfriend, a brother (to an extent), a nephew, a grandson and a father, nurturing the rudimentary principles that are a rooted contributor to my faculties; to be a good man, or at the very least a better man than my father. They ensured that I experienced a childhood furnished with memories well worth preserving. Allowing me to encapsulate significant moments in my youth that I can readily recite and distribute to my daughter, to you guys, to anyone that will listen with gratifying clarity. I have been provided with boarding, food, the necessary tuition that has adequately equipped me for the highs and lows this world has to offer, as well as support when I was being an insufferable teenager with delusions of my own significance to the world. Ensuring a habitable consistency that couldn’t have been achieved without the herculean commitment of the women around me. They are and continue to be the reserved, often understated pillars of my life and the heroines I’d most wish to emulate.
Who are the most important women in your life? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Brilliant! You’ve finally completed all your domestic duties. You’ve put the kids to bed. You settle down with your partner to watch some abhorrent CGI crapfest when your significant over gestures to you with her outstretched arms and involuntary yawn, indicating that they’re going to bed for an “early night”. “Oh yeah!” you exclaim with great relish having read the subtext in their sudden prostrated admittance. It’s been too long since we’ve spent some quality time with one another, and such intimacy has to be utilised whenever the rare opportunity arises, to sustain a deeply connective relationship with your spouse. “Are you ready to be turned on?” you coo. With a quick peck on the cheek, a nurturing exchange of pleasantries, ensuring that they sleep long and comfortably, waving your other half good night, safe in the knowledge that they couldn’t possibly leave you for a more affectionate consort….as you remain downstairs to play your neglected PlayStation (or whatever your preferred means of gaming is) until you awake at 3am greeted by the static words “Game Over” etched across the screen of a long since passed battle. “My how I’ve missed you darling”. Of course there is a far greater threat to gaming than mere marital or parental concessions. Oh yes there is a far more assertive danger that lurks in the furtive servitude of your consoles inanimate dormancy. An enduring hindrance that provokes world-wide agitation with its protracted obstinacy. The compulsory interference of the dreaded software update! How I loath them!
As necessary as some of these patches can potentially be their automated intermissions can be incredibly disruptive, refuting the whimsical spontaneity associated with gaming. The ability to casually select a game to play is compromised because of an expanded update that could take up to an hour to implement! If you have a limited window to indulge in games like me then this is an unacceptable restriction. Now you have to manage, delegate or even prioritize other content just to free up time to install a patch for the game you wanted to play. My favourites are the ones that ask you if you’d like to continue without first downloading the requested update. You respond with a yes but are then prompted that you can’t until the necessary update has been implemented. Great. Thanks. Why bother asking me then? Games now become inaccessible, forcing you to yield to its data consuming whims. Sure most software updates require marginal space to facilitate the downloaded amendments, but when there’s 1, 2 or even 5 separate games in need of updates then all of those auxiliary space soon accumulates, exceeding the internal storage facilities by a ridiculous margin. Data consumption is mercifully a negligible thief for me thanks to some genius foresight on my part, with the installation of an expanded capacity in the form of a 2TB HDD. Having replaced the default storage system mitigates concerns regarding the allocation of game storage as well as updates, but still doesn’t help the speed or consistency of them. You can of course alleviate the problem by downloading updates in the background while you play an alternative game, but unless it’s a single player game that doesn’t require Internet connection then you’ll have to share your router. Besides you shouldn’t have to compromise what game you want to play! By far the worse thing about updates and patches to my mind is that the majority are generated to fix specific systemic issues within the game. Surely the game shouldn’t suffer such persistent maladies in the first place?
I accept that there are a number of variables that you can’t always predict nor adequately prevent. A game as expansive and interactive as Skyrim for instance is understandably going to suffer a few innocent textural blemishes. But a recent update on the PS4 and Xbox One version had to be generated to swiftly correct a glitch that forced the game to crash after 5 minutes?! A problem that didn’t exist until a previous update. So what, is was added? Evidently quality control is a minor consideration and resolving disputes as well as issuing a sizeable reparation seems to be reserved for after it has been mass-produced and distributed? Is it ignorance, laziness or just an acceptable practice to permit the release of a game riddled with bugs with companies only feeling obliged to redeem their credibility with belated initiatives to remedy the issue. I may sound old, bitter, nostalgic and perhaps even a little medicated, but forgive me if I yearn for the days that I could play any old game – regardless of how long ago it was since I last played it, without being concerned about game breaking glitches and intrusive updates that consume precious gaming experience. Functionality is a distinct advantage long since humbled and it’s funny how a modern game can be praised simply because it works. When has that ever been an acceptable barometer for a games quality?
How do you deal with updates? And do you think companies deliberately ignore glitches just to get the game out? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.