Thursday, June 18, 2015

In praise of the 4-day week.

Back in Birmingham, working as a Science lab tech at schools I used to work 5-days, 40 weeks of the year, with school holidays off. But I also used to work at Nostalgia & Comics, blessed comic shop in Birmingham, every Saturday as well. This pretty much meant I used to do a full-time job like regular people do.

Up here in Pocklington, working as ICT/Computing Teaching Assistant & Technician I started off doing 4 and a half days a week, holidays and weekends off. Oh, the bliss of a full weekend, especially on the rare occasions that I managed to actually leave school on Friday lunchtime, where it would sort of, almost feel like a three day weekend.

But then Molly grew up and started getting to school herself, which meant the reason for me needing to leave school at a time to pick Molly up was no longer there. Hence as soon as she got keys I found myself working later. And later. And later. Getting things done, filling the available time and more. You know how it goes. Eventually I realised I was easily working at least an hour extra every day and shuffled my working patterns around to stop this. Hence I now work Monday to Thursday. Have been for more than a year now. And bloody hell, it's a wonderful, wonderful thing. Seriously, if you can do it, you should do it.

It takes a while to get used to sure enough. Suddenly Wednesday is no longer the middle of the week, it's the day before you get that Friday feeling, and speaking of which Friday is now Thursday. Which means you wake up on Friday feeling a sense of incredible freedom, full of potential. Well, that is, if you wake up early enough. I'd be awake to see Louise out, and then Molly out, but all too often I'd head back to bed and completely waste the morning.

The solution? Start booking stuff for Friday morning. Doctors, dentist, deliveries, whatever I could, just arrange it for 9, stick all the alarms on and get out of the damn house. And getting out of the damn house meant it was a day full of potential. Or, more to the point, a day full of writing. Friday became, and is still, my favourite day of the week. A familiar pattern developed easily. Get up, do stuff, fulfil appointments, get things that need getting, then it's off to the local bar for coffee, copious amounts of coffee accompanied by similarly copious amounts of writing. The reviews seem to flow better there, less distractions, more focus. Before I know it, it's midday and I'm caffeined up to the gills. By then it's time for home and the afternoon. Some days that can be a trip to Burnby Hall, the local gardens. Some days it's jump in the car and head further afield for an explore (always with the laptop and reading material of course). Some days it's stay at home and listen to Mayo & Kermode's film review on Radio 5. But no matter what it is, the day always seems to be full of getting stuff done. And anyone that knows me knows what a joy it is to get things done.

So yes, if you can, switch to a 4-day week. It's so brilliant that I'm trying to work out if there's any way I can manage to swing a 3-day week. Unlikely, but who knows.

Of course, all this free time means I simply have longer to work on writing. I love it sure, but there's a bloody good argument to be made that I'm actually working a LOT more now than when I did do a proper 6-days a week thing!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Molly Bruton... her school days in pictures...

Incredibly, Molly Alice Bruton finished her GCSEs last week. I was going to say she finished her compulsory education, but the ridiculous state of education in this day and age means she has to stay on until 18, as does everyone else, whether they want to or not. Yes, fair enough, she would have stayed on anyway, but that's not the bloody point.

So. A lifetime in education... her lifetime at least. And yes, this is all being done because:

1) I love her dearly.
2) It's great fun embarrassing her this way.

So, here we go...

2003: The very first day at school, St Chads Birmingham. Doesn't she just look adorable?

2006: We move to Yorkshire, which means it's her last day at St Chads Birmingham...

.... and her first days at St Mary & St Joseph Pocklington....

After so many lovely years at St Mary & St Josephs, she had to leave eventually, so it's 2010 and she's finishing primary school. There were tears. Of course there were tears.

And leaving Primary School naturally means starting secondary school.... Sept 2010...Woldgate College...


And now it's 2015. Which means she's 15, and she's just finished her GCSE exams. She's got 12 weeks off. And these were her last days at Woldgate College....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh FFS, not another apologetic "I haven't posted here for a while" post....


Yep. It is.

Still. At least it's something.

In all truth, I had big plans to roar like a lion into 2015, new year, new regime etc etc. But resolutions are made to be broken eh? As it is, all I can promise is a determination to put something on here every so often. Where every so often is a time period somewhat less than annually and somewhat more than daily. In between those two goalposts I reckon we'll hit a mark.

The big problem with any return to blogging here is that it's been so bloody long that I had a sense that the return post should be SOMETHING, have a sense of importance, gravitas, not just waffling about shite.

Then I realised that this is nothing more than me talking to me on a public forum, so fuck the idea of gravitas and I'll treat it like a monologue between me and me and see how that goes.

So. How has life been recently Richard?

Well, thanks for asking Richard. It's been shit and great and all points in between, just as I imagine everyone's life has been. (Find me someone permanently happy and I'll show you a moron or a madman).

ME: Well. I'm still working in the same primary school I wrote about a long time back. It's still fun. I'm still doing the computers there. I'm still wracked with self-doubt about my capabilities in this role. I still know being wracked with self-doubt is silly, as the head knows just what I'm doing and knows my teaching kids about Computing is far more important than sorting everything out about the server and getting to the bottom of Active Directory et al.

I'm way more involved in the whole comics thing as well now. Really, really involved. Looking bac over the Fictions archives I see many references to the idea of getting the review queue down to zero. It still hasn't happened. I doubt it ever will. But the sensible bit of me realises that it's not such a big deal to do that anymore. It's fine to have more people wanting you to look at their cherished work than you have time to. It's a compliment dammit. So yes, I keep writing about comics, keep reviewing comics, day after day after day.

Family.... well, that's a bit more complicated. Not because much has changed, not at all, it's still me, Louise and Molly here at Bruton mansions, but you may be aware of the rules regarding me writing.... I can talk about me till the cows come home but I'm not really allowed to talk about Mrs B all that much. And now that Molly is (amazingly) 15 and heading towards GCSEs and adulthood in a few months, I'm not really allowed to talk about all the endearingly embarrassing things my lovely daughter does anymore.  Suffice it to say this year she was a nightmare, a wonder, a marvel, a terror, a delight, source of many worries, source of so much pride.... and frankly any parent who tells you it's all fantastic is a downright bloody liar. Would we have it any other way? Are we incredibly proud of the sterling young lady we've somehow managed to bring up? Will we support her in any and all forms her life takes? Bloody hell, yes. Are we telling you it's all been fab these past couple of years? Hell No.

Mom: Well, she's not exactly getting better. Seriously, what did you expect, the poor woman's got Alzheimers, has probably had it for decades before it was properly diagnosed, it would certainly account for all manner of weird behaviours during my teen years if she did actually have the dread disease. It's merely a matter of time right now before we get the call from the care home to tell us she's gone, and frankly all of us are wishing it to be sooner than later. That includes the pre-Alzheimers mom as well. All those people who talk to you about the amount of care and solace and comfort we can give to Alzheimer's patients, feel free to treat it with a grain of salt. Mom's been lost to us all, to the world, for a good year plus now. There's no comfort we can give here, no communication she recognises, no touch see finds relaxing. Nothing. A blank. Nothing at all. She's simply gone. The saddest thing is we can't simply let her go, can't acknowledge legally that the best thing for all concerned, most importantly her, the woman who always said, quite genuinely, that we should shoot her before she became like this, would be to end her life. A mercy killing.

You want to argue with me about euthanasia? Come see my mother. That should cure you of all your keep 'em all alive as long as possible.

It's certainly made me contemplate my own end. If it happens to me I plan to have so many checks in place that me and mine will be able to recognise the signs. Once we do I'm planning on taking up smoking once more for a few months whilst I still can, sorting out all my effects, travelling a bit if I'm physically able, doing a few things I always fancied, and then finding some way of checking out early. My own terms, my own time, still in relative control.

Okay. Seeing as it's late. Real late. I should really shut this damn thing down and go bed. Go sleep. Forgive the spelling mistakes. Frankly I don't care. Oscar Wilde said it best; you don;'t pay me enough to spellcheck my words. Actually, Wilde said nothing of the sort. But he would have. He really would. And if he didn't I'd still quote him as such.

One eye has just closed. I imagine that's some sort of strange biological subtext for "get the fuck to bed moron". My body commands. I merely do it's bidding.

Next time I tell you all about the secrets to life.

Nah, probably in six months I'll be back talking of how it's been another six months where I haven't done much here. Hey, fingers crossed it's not, eh?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall RIP

Well, yesterday we lost Robin Williams at the age of 63 and through suicide. (See here)

Today we lose Lauren Bacall. First laughter now beauty. Cruel couple of days.

The only consolation is that Bacall's life was longer and I hope happier. Bacall was the epitome of beauty to me, has been since I was in my teens. It wasn't all about the looks, although she was incredibly attractive, but the attitude, the personality, the strength of character, the intelligence. All of it, young or old. You can keep all of your models, your modern day stars, she was one of a kind.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

More music... the new Elbow single / album....

The new Elbow album is magnificent. Beautiful. Melancholy. Uplifting, Emotional. Wonderful. Downloaded it tonight, been on continual rotation all night. The single New York Morning has all the anthemic, festival pleasing stuff going on, but I think by year's end it will be some other fabulously mellow track gracing the end of year list....