Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Tale Of Two Shoes

It started with David Tennant in 2005.

That summer saw him being announced as the brand new Doctor Who. Weeks later, photos were released of him on set, in his new costume - and he looked seriously cool. He mixed a pinstripe suit with a long trench coat and converse trainers. I wanted to be look just like him.

I'm not sure that I'd ever really been aware of converse trainers before then. Anyhoo, it was only a matter of time before I plucked up the courage and bought my very first pair. I can remember when I did, around summer 2006. I was dating a girl called Katie back then and we were meeting friends at the Printworks cinema in Manchester. I informed her that I was about to go buy a pair (or had already bought them, I can't remember exactly) and she was NOT happy. "Over my dead body" - or words to that effect.

But I did anyway (she dumped me a little while later - so in the long run, who cares what she thought?). So began a long relationship with converse trainers. Ever since they've been my preferred shoe type - easy to pick up, relatively cheap and comfortable, plus - in my mind at least - still cool. Heck, I once dedicated an entire blog post on here discussing throwing an old pair out, and the pains it left me feeling!

Things change. I've changed. I strive for even more change, wherever possible. So, recently, I've decided to try new things. This meant saying goodbye to converse trainers for the first time since 2006, as my current pair slowly fell apart... to be replaced by, well, something else entirely!

Yep, I've gone and done it. Snapped out of my converse fix, and only gone and bought myself my very first pair of Dr. Martens boots. Why this form of footwear? Well, they're the definition of 'cool' for 2017. Plus, they're long lasting. In theory, by splashing out on them I shouldn't have to buy any new shoes for a year or two now. Handy!

So whilst my feet adjust, and fight through a series of painful blisters, I just thought I'd say an appreciative thank you to converses everywhere. For you've been my constant companion for 11 years now, and even though we're taking a break, I still love you and hold you dear to my heart. Who knows, maybe things won't work out with the replacement, and I'll come crawling back to you?

Maybe. But for now, au revoir!!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Small Beginnings

Not much to say in this update - I just thought I'd show off this:

Yep - I've officially reached my £2000 target for self-publishing a series of comic books. Whoop! Well done me. But see that lonely 1p above it? That's the beginning of something else, something equally exciting - as I begin the process of saving up for my own home!

I've done the maths and, yep, it's going to take a long time before I'm anywhere near ready to commit to a deposit. But this is the start - and from here, that total can and will only go up.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

"I've Made A Huge Mistake"

There's a great recurring joke in Arrested Development where characters act outlandishly, have a moment of realisation, and then admit out loud "I've made a huge mistake".

I mention this because recently it feels like that phrase has been on the verge of bursting out my own lips. I'll try to explain.

A couple of weeks ago the Vue Cinema where I use to work, in London's Leicester Square, re-opened after a £7 million refurbishment. It looks fantastic, but I can see the stresses it has put upon its management team. Here's the thing: I love that sort of stress - the kind where you are presented with absolute chaos, and it's up to you to sort through it. It makes me wish I still worked there, which in turn makes me regret ever leaving.

Now ok, by the end of my time at Vue it was pretty clear that I was done. First of all, it was never supposed to be my career - so, as a well respected manager, that felt like as far as I was willing to go. Then there was the changes the company was under going, moving away from being 'just' a cinema into being an all round entertainment hub with more emphasis than ever before on retail. I couldn't keep up. Moreover, 8 years is a long time - and change was needed. All of that may be - but I have been thinking, did I make a huge mistake leaving?

Since then I haven't really gotten anywhere in my life. Yeah, sure, I work at a head office now - but the pay and the overall responsibility are a lot less. I've created a number of really cool and interesting comics, and it's doubtful I would have focused on the comics medium quite so much if I wasn't working within the industry, and surrounded by friends who are all so passionate about it. Instead, I think, I would have continued to be creative. Maybe I'd have made a couple of new short films by now? I doubt they would have been as good as my comics though (where I can better control the elements of the story), so in that way leaving Vue was a definite plus.

There's no escaping this numbness that I feel inside these days though - as if nothing really matters anymore, things just are, they happen, and life goes on. Do I feel like this because I left the cinema? I don't know. I do think I am bored of being an unimportant little man, who is paid an insufficent amount, so living by his means - never stretching himself for luxuries like holidays, nights out, or even new wardrobes. Maybe the regret then isn't leaving the cinema, but a prolonged exposure to London?

Nah, London is great. I just don't appreciate it enough through the numbness I just described.

Back to the question: did I make a terrible mistake leaving Vue (and my associated lifestyle) back in 2015? I think the answer cannot be definite, for I'll never know what would have been if I stayed. All I can say is things weren't as good in the immediate aftermath of leaving - but they've slowly been getting better. Progress, that feels like it's stalled recently, and so perhaps another shake-up is needed?

Maybe two wrongs will make a right.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Question Master (Redux)

Back in 2009 I answered a series of questions set by my friend Jack. At the time we were both at university, working our first jobs, with relative little responsibilities. Now fast forward 8 years, and the two of us are paying off student loans, struggling to climb the career ladders, trying to decide what exactly we want to do with our lives. Oh, and we just so happen to live together in Woolwich, London!

Let's revisit the original questions, and see what's new and different.

You can read our original Q&A by clicking here. I'll recap them as I go along anyway.

#1 What is your favourite colour?

Bit of a cop out, but I like any colour when its basked in sunlight. It brings out its real beauty. Which is odd, as in 2009 I stated my preference was autumnal colours. I guess now I love the brightness of summer.

#2 What is your set goal for the next 12 months

Firstly, to write my comic book Trolley and self-publish it. Beyond that, I guess my aim is simple: to win a job that offers more than my current role, and fulfils me. I'd be perfectly happy if by next summer I've only achieved those 2 things.

#3 Who is your favourite director?

I don't care, as long as it's a good film/TV show/whatever. I think I've out grown the idea of favourites.

#4 What is your favourite film?

See above. But ones I love include North By Northwest, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Dark Knight, Groundhog Day, and The Truman Show. Probably plenty more I'm missing off that list, that will only come to me once this is published and read.

#5 Favourite actor and #6 actress?

Again, no favourite.

#7 Which person would you most like to emulate in your lifetime?

I really respect two writers - Russell T Davies and Joss Whedon. Both are capable of telling entertaining, intelligent dramas and have become something of an industry in and of themselves. But I wish both would do more television. It's a poorer medium with them away doing other things.

#8 What did you do today?

I'm going to cheat and talk about today and yesterday.

Yesterday was the more exciting of the two. I'm currently at home but on holiday. As best I can I've avoided going into central London these past few days - choosing instead to stay at home and do my own thing there. But yesterday was the one day I allowed myself to go central. But rather than commute in, I did something different - and walked! It took just over 2 hours to get from where I live in Woolwich (just outside of Greenwich) to Leicester Square. But I did it, enduring some serious chaffing at the end there!

In central I met my friend Kathryn at the cinema she runs (Picturehouse Central), and her partner Glen. In the afternoon I did my usual pilgrimage from Forbidden Planet, to Orbital Comics and finally Gosh! I spent some time talking to old co-workers at the newly refurbished Vue West End, and then sat in the middle of Leicester Square hoping to think up some story ideas. But a random religious nut sat next to me, and tried to preach Jesus over a one hour conversation. I let it happen, as I needed to kill some time until I then left and watched the 25th anniversary screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie at Prince Charles.

Today, I headed to the library and used their facilities to research my step-dad Dave's family tree. I did ok, getting it back to the early 1800s. Back at home I did my very first video call with my mum, and caught my nephews Jamie and Brody on it too. I think Jamie enjoyed seeing his uncle, and showing off to me! The evening was taken up watching 2 episodes of Buffy's seventh season, putting new items up to sell on eBay, and watching The Breakfast Club for the first time.

#9 Did you enjoy it?

I enjoyed all of it (the benefit of being on holiday, and only doing the things I want to do). I'm having fun assembling my family tree, and feel very clever and accomplished sitting in the library researching it all!

#10 Who was the most memorable person you met today?

My nephew Jamie (via video call), who's growing up fast, able to hold a conversation with me. I showed him my super sized Batman figure - and he proceeded to find his own version at his house. Bless. He also called me "poopy-head" quite a lot. Yeah, thanks for that!

If video calling doesn't count, then it was Jack actually. We spoke in the kitchen about Doctor Who turning female, what would happen if James Bond did the same, and what films we've watched recently (War of the Planet of the Apes/Spider-Man: Homecoming/Dunkirk).

#11 What really fucking irritates you?

How bored I've become recently. Nothing in life excites me any more. I'm pretty indifferent to everything. I want a cure for it - so I can feel everything again, get excited, and love life once more.

#12 What is (or are) your favorite book(s)

It's still The Writer's Tale by Russell T Davies. ("He's crafted a beautiful bible of the writer's mind, and I can relate to so much of it." - 2009 me).

#13 When were you most happy in your life?

Working at Vue Pilsworth was a treat (2007-2010) as I got to meet lots of funny, talented people. My life in 2014-15 was, in hindsight, pretty damn good. It coincided with my time at Vue West End. I was on a decent salary, visiting quite a few foreign countries, dating a really great person, and making films.

I think I'll look back at 2017 when all is said and done and think that was a great year, too - with my first work published, and lots of comics being in development.

#14 What do you think I could do to improve myself?

2017 Jack hasn't directly asked me this, so I am going to be respectful and just say he should follow his heart and do what makes him happy. You only live once... so live.

#15 What did you feel like when you were in love?

Appreciated. Excited. Sexy. Equal. Human.

#16 What is your ultimate destination?

To write something that is read, or watched. And yeah, I still want my name on an episode of Doctor Who.

#17 What do you want to achieve tomorrow?

To wake up after 10am. Maybe head to the library again, and research more family history (but maybe I've exhausted that now). To plan and write some of my next comic Trolley. To watch a few more episodes of Buffy season 7. To have people bid on some of my eBay items - please!!!

#18 What do you wish you could be able to do in your present environment (not career)?

Sell all of my possessions, leaving me with nothing, but free. You know?

#19 When can you come up to visit me?

Non-applicable atm!

#20 What is your favourite Shakespeare play?

As before, I haven't read enough Shakespeare to qualify an opinion on his work. Hopefully one day that'll change. Maybe in time for the next update!


That was fun.

I think one thing is actually quite clear between my 2009 and 2017 answers - I'm a lot less silly now than I was back then, and took this a wee bit more seriously. I don't think it's a very grown up thing to say you've grown up, but in this instance I think it's a valid point.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Money Matters

Without meaning to show off at all, I've managed to save a hefty amount of money these past 2 months. I did it to raise funds for a comic book project I'm trying to put together with a friend. See the two of us are in agreement: we hate the relatively shitty positions we're in, and strive for something better to come along. Save waiting for that to happen, we decided to take the proactive route and build our own comic book company from the ground up.

Of course, for that to happen means we need money. Some basic maths showed us roughly how much we'd need - and although the figures have been revised down since then (we were operating on a worse case scenario) we've both now reached that original target - about £2k - which means we can fund at least two, maybe three, comics each. That's between four to six comics combined. By the 6th comic, we're hopefully making a decent profit and can continue the initiativ. If we're not making money, well we fold there and then - but producing six comics would be no mean feat, and would still be enough to get us noticed in the wider comic book community if we so chose.

I'm poorly paid. So, just how did I raise £2k in 2 short months? Well - firstly I made cuts. I set myself a weekly food and drink shopping limit of just £25, and beyond that I only let myself buy essential purchases. So I've not been splashing out on comics, or DVDs, or whatever. Infact, the second method of saving is the exact opposite of that: I've been selling, selling, selling.

Seriously selling.

I've set up an eBay account, and auctioned off anything and everything. Gone are old phones, pretty much my entire DVD collection, even my beloved iPod classic (which I'd own since 2008). Selling my valuables has helped the savings shoot up very quickly. Mum is concerned I'm selling too much and says I'll regret it later on. Maybe, but right now I'm actually finding it quite exhilarating parting with my possessions. In a strange way it feels like I'm saying goodbye to the past, and moving on to whatever's next. These things are all callbacks to a simpler time where possessions mattered to me - but it feels like I've grown up, and accepted that they don't.

I've still got lots left to sell, but now I've reached the £2k target I needed for the comic company, I've now discovered a new aim. And yep, it's important, an an equally important step in my life: I'm going to start saving up for a mortgage!

Look, I'm not stupid. I know that it'll be a slow burn - maybe taking 10 years or more to achieve, but I have to start somewhere. If I don't save now, then when? So there we are. I really am growing up.

Let's bring this to a close. Perhaps things are changing in my life, faster than I realise, and in massively profound ways. I guess the only way to know for sure is to stick at what I'm doing now, work hard at saving, and reap the potential rewards in the future.

Now, do check my eBay account out, and buy something ;)