Follow your heart and run like the wind when faced by decisions tinted by logic.

As I write these words, my knowledge of their destination is limited. They seem to spring from my conscious like whimsical puppets, revealing themselves to the audience from behind the curtain. I guess I just have to get some stuff off my chest…

Undpredictablity. Barely a word, it pops out from beneath. THe smiling children giggle; he latest addition to the motley cast of my imagination. To put it simply, I’m in a quite bizarre mood. My mind is constantly preoccupied by the same image of Donnie Darko confessing a sad truth of human existence. And now I’m just getting caught up in the haze of my own words. Oh well, I doubt that many will reach you. This is my first post in a long time. My resolution for the New Year has strayed from it’s original intent, and alas I have not yet written a single block of writing worthy of the web. So I’m starting now. Sort of. Let me tell you more of my worrying ideas.

For the past week, the abscence of Randomness in literature has plagued me. Why is it that we find ourselves incapable of writing total nonsense. In any spare moment I will commandeer my mind for in the hope of writing a sentence that quite simply doesn’t make sense. Perhaps this is a futile act and a trivial worry, but nonetheless, it has stolen a quite substantial amount of processing power from my brain. Maybe in writing this post, I may finally achieve this mindless aim. Who knows?

I would also like to tell the world that “sh*t happens”. Yes, it’s true that the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, and that there is convincing evidence that we are the primary source of this disturbance. But you know what, so what? It was fun while it lasted, and did a great mind once say that “Our lives not measure in the number of breaths that we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” Yes we’re dangerous, yes our footsteps are seeping with sulphuric acid, but even the most dorsal of sloths can become volatile when endangered. We seemingly have no care for the world around us, are we blind? Maybe. Many critics might label us a “selfish race” for this reason, and there’s no denying the fact, that their right. Biology explains this with evolution. An organism should be selfish and therefore be absent-minded in the art of environmental concern. And yet the little green people still ask us why we wage on with our corrosive paths, despite our apparent knowledge of the countless crimes we are committing. To this I have no answer. Sometimes reason should not rule our choices in life. We should follow our hearts and run like the wind when faced by decisions tinted by logic. In the end we all just want to watch the world burn. And in the end the world will burn. Along with us.

Now for the latest development: The Impulsive Motion. Do what feels right; shoot first, ask questions later. This is exactly the sort of behaviour that is religiously suppressed from a young age in todays youth, and yet to me it seems so sensible. The only decisions that you will regret later on in life are the ones that you didn’t take. The doors that war left closed. By taking every opportunity in life you are enlarging the probability of the occurrence of a truly great event. Leap without looking. When you should go down, go to the bottom of the deepest well. When you feel you should go up, climb t the top of the highest mountain. Do what feels right at the time. Be more impulsive

At this point I would like to prepare the audience for the latest character in this death-defying novel; the Escape-Artist. It is my fundamental belief that Captivity is no fit place for a child. So I propose a radical new idea, let’s break free from our chains. Let’s defy our history, our government, natural selection. Let’s question social norms. For in this bitter world, we are our only captors. We are the manufacturers of our chains and shackles. It is us who toss the keys to a better life deep into the oceans of the unknown that hide in the vast dark corners of our minds. Let’s live fast and die young. Do what you want; take the rules of humanity and grind them into a sweet pulp, then toss it into the wind. Sleep all day, sleep all night. Sprint through the deep snow with nothing but bare feet to grace your fall. Embrace the opposite, the unorthodox. It is my fundamental belief that we should teach corruption, and rule-breaking to the youngsters of our nation. I would rather live in a nation of united vagabonds that a civilised country, it’s heart severely ruptured from social divide. Not that I am suggesting unity is any greater than social divide. All I wish to communicate is that we should at least observe a small proportion of everything before we make decisions that surpass our small minds. Practice multiple religions. Play your music as loud as technology will allow, until your ear-drums pop. Drive slowly to inhibit change. See the big picture. Try to understand quantum physics. Change the world. Prise your mind free from the globular mass of the human race, drill deep enough into it’s core as to find something more than your insignificant life.

Now for another idea, another bundle of emotions and facial expressions that come to compose the features of a well-rounded personality. The Daydreamer. Watch (not see). Take a seat, buy yourself a thick milano hot chocolate and just watch the world go by. See someone as everything and everything as something. Think about each person. See their hands thrust deep into their pockets. Hear the silence through the window pane as they chat mindlessly while conversing the busy roads. Take their character, select a story, feel their circumstances engulf you. Spend more time thinking. The ability to facilitate though is a fundamental human quality, and yet the world is stilled filled with imbeciles. Intelligence is not measure in knowledge, as knowledge is a variable element, intelligence is measured in the the quality of thoughts flooding your head. This is why I wish for you to daydream. Go to bed early, wake late. Discover a world previously hidden from view. Drink lemon juice (it helps). These thoughts do not need to be of great intellectual material, they do not need to encompass complex subjects such a science and maths and language. All that is necessary is a certain degree of… You know what forget it. Just think. Solve problems that have no yet been inventive. Be creative. I don’t care. Just be creative god damn it! I’ve spent the last two weeks attempting to inject a creative mind set into one of my friends (so far I have been unsuccessful).

My mental trip’s starting to dry up now, I’m beginning to run out of brain juice. Oh, one last thing: please, please go out to your local fast-food outlet and totally pig out. Because apparently by 2050 more than half of the world population will be clinically obese, and personally I can’t wait to see all you fatties waddling around the train-stations, squeezing your plump bodies into cramped aeroplanes. Wow, what a sight that will be. So a final thought: Get fat my little piggies.

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Where to hide a dead blog?

Here I am, several weeks late. Two un-posted articles and one more digit on the date later, finally giving in. Actually no, thats the wrong word, but I can’t think of another one, so lets leave it at that. I had so much hope for the christmas period, so many beautifully written words, carefully edited to fit right in at home on my blog, but clicking “enter” is harder than you think. It’s too late now, I’ll have to wait until next year (if there is a next year). So lets move on.

Apparently (according to radio one’s reliable sources) it’s still possible to wish someone seasons greetings, and, as that seems a reasonable place to begin; Happy New Year! I’ve never really cared for the New Year, earth never really brings out any new features, it just keeps on spinning. Yes, there are the fireworks and the parties, but it always like a bit of a let-down really. It’s just another day, but with a different date. London lights up in flames and bustling crowds, but so do riots.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about (pretty much) why I’m here. Or, to be more precise, why I’ve not been here. In the end it’s all about numbers; sadly the statistics bar at the top of my blog hasn’t been faring as well as I had hoped it would. Dwindling numbers are nothing to be proud of. And what do we do with things that we aren’t proud of, brush them into the darkest corners of our lives, hide them away, and (eventually) forget them. So there went my blog, swept under the bed, for nobody to see.

Steeped in darkness.

Forever and ever.

But. (And it’s a giant “but”). I couldn’t bring myself to forget, to pull the trigger. Thats why I am here now, like a killer facing his victims family, staring at my feet, filled with guilt. After weeks of purposefully avoiding my blog, our paths have finally crossed.

These are the first words of twenty-twelve. Laying out the foundations for the future. My one (my only) new years resolution:

To improve my blog.

Ultimately, the fundamental ingredient to improvement is time. More time writing. More time planning. More time advertising. More time praying for luck. ‘Cause Is there’s one thing I’ve learnt about blogging, it’s that luck is essential. It doesn’t matter how great your work is, until someone comes along and finds it, your pretty much screwed. Maybe, if I’m lucky, fate will brush it’s golden body with mine, and give me the gift of freshly pressed-ness. Somehow I doubt it.

Cheers, for the freakin’ new year…

Long winter nights.

I’ve got a habit of finding myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. A habit of speaking before I think. I’ll never be able to change that; it’s just who I am. I’m the crazy one, the one that breaks all the rules and pulls through anyway. I don’t care for tradition, for social norms or obeying the book. It’s best this way. My way. Whatever that is.

I once spent an entire day viewing the world through reversed motions. Walking backwards, seeing the water fly back through the tap, watching bread form from my moist mouth. I taught myself to play the ukulele one summer weekend, for no particular reason. I learnt to speak japanese, because I was bored. This is who I am. This is what I am.

And so here I am, bags beneath my eyes, drooping above my keyboard, fatigued by weeks of school work. And yet my fingers hammer away, like squirrels collecting for a rapidly approaching winter. These words before you were typed at the least hospitable hours of the day, and yet they could not have formed through any other means. I have become accustomed to these late nights. Nights of nothingness, empty words and occasional status updates. My head says no, and my heart follows suite, but my mind wades on. The truth is (however sad it may seem), is that I long for early nights, for wild dreams and productive mornings, but they’re a privilege I cannot afford, however baffling and scarce the reasons may be. And so, I leave you here, two hundred and sixty-three words later. Good night.

A pound for a pound and the whole world will soon be poor.

“It may very well be that money can’t buy you happiness, but poverty certainly can’t either.”

Freedom. Democracy. Justice. Equitability. These are big words we’re playing with; words of wisdom and promise, the essence of the modern world. And that’s all very well, but for many, these words are nothing but tools of power. They are used to add intelligence to a speech, persuasion to a proposal, hope to a failing country. But here we are, questioning these very same words, swilling them around our mouths, and spitting them back out into our leaders faces. Undelivered promises; broken futures; bleeding wallets. But before we jump to brutal conclusions, perhaps we should ask ourselves the very same questions. How to define freedom? To understand and maintain democracy? To bring justice and fairness? To create equitability? It is only then that penny drops, bringing to it a ringing silence, for the bomb has finally fallen, it is now the time to bring forward peace, and reconstruct humanity.

You see, it is my belief that definition should be definite, and yet here we are, glancing through unclear synopsises of powerful words.

Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Democracy: A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. The control of an organisation or group by the majority of its members.

Justice: Just behaviour or treatment; the quality of being fair and reasonable.

Equitability: Fair and impartial; in accordance with the rules or standards.

Forgive me for saying so, but not a single one of these definitions is definitive. Each one offers uncertainty and unsatisfactory qualities. To speak or think without control or restraint; what thoughts or actions does freedom allow, surely not homicide or treachery? And democracy; what would you classify as an eligible member of the state. Eligibility must be decided by someone, and by default the entire state would want a say in their future, so therefor the whole population must be eligible. Justice, the quality of being fair or reasonable; how can fairness be defined, when it’s definition is opinionated. And equitability, such a meek way telling people to step into line, when the arrow painted upon the floor has had the head rubbed off. So, ask yourself now, how can leaders deliver upon promises of clouded concepts.

This is where I meet the real world, a world of secret wars, bankers bonuses and collapsing walls. Last week, a strike was organised and initiated by public sector unions. For many this created a chance to catch up on the latest soap operas or go out christmas shopping. For me and my peers, it was an opportunity to wreak havoc, and for the few, extreme public centre workers, it meant descending onto the streets to wave anti-cut banners and blow vuvuzelas. Hundreds of thousands rallied the streets of any large town or city, while police officers nervous observed. The general public watched with intrigue, in-between nipping in and out of shops to purchase festive gifts. For me it offered some mid-day amusement, and an opportunity that I couldn’t afford to miss. But now, one week on, I ask the question: has it changed anything?

Aside from the obvious mishap, no, nothing has really come of the decision to protest. But was the decision to turn a blind eye to the plight of hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses and teachers merely an act of unforgivable ignorance, or was it founded? Well, this is where I come back to those big words that I mentioned at the start. From a purely democratic view, the government should have been forced into taking action, as the majority was in favour. The unions had every right to take industrial action, to stop them from doing so would have defied their rights to freedom. Their reasoning seemed equitable and just. When you place the pieces together, the picture becomes more and more clearer, and block by block, the deeper the realisation sinks. This is not a free country, democracy is merely a form of political propaganda. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s the best option we’ve got. Don’t look to far into (I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way), step back observe the jigsaw from afar, and the image flips.

As the old saying goes “It is always darkest before the dawn”. Our problem is that the sun has only just fallen, and that the times ahead are of a darker tune. But we’re just going to have to grit our teeth, shed our extravagant lifestyles and run for cover. A shelter cannot be built within a storm, in the same way there is no way of resolving problems during times of political turbulence and austerity. So, against democracies better judgement, I’m afraid we will have to ignore the protests and embrace the cuts, however heart breaking they may be.

I think I’m turning Japanese…

A romanticist might have called it love at first sight. Others would have described it as a fatal attraction. Who knows, someone out there might have even illustrated it has a wasteful task. I have no particular care for the opinions of others on matters so close to my heart. I fell in love with it from the photos taken by my brother in his gap year at university. Something within those one-second snapshots triggered a deep love for Japan. An inexplicable lust for a country so far from my own. Perhaps (I like to think) it was my destiny calling out to me. Beckoning me to Japan. Maybe it was the language, so distant and alien. With so many hieroglyphic symbols and syllables. And then there’s the food. Oh, and what food it is. Brimming to the top with beautifully contrasting flavours and exotic ingredients. The simple presentation yet complex pallet enticed me in. With every encounter, my affection grew more intense.

Last year, around the autumn period, I found a supplement in the newspaper. The supplement (whose name I cannot quite remember) was a short booklet listing common phrases in Japanese. It gave a rare glimpse of Japanese culture, explaining their ceremonies and social pleasantries. It even went to the trouble of showing hiragana and katakana tables (Japanese writing systems). I read it over and over. Testing myself. Pronouncing phrases and writing down words in Japanese. Eventually the booklet became more and more tattered, its pages withering with overuse. So, I took the logical step of buying a real book. I went into waterstones and selected suitable book, then went to the counter and handed over. I was met by a strange look behind the till, but nothing was said. From that moment onwards, Japan became part of my life.

Now for the best bit; the food. Whether it’s sushi or noodles or simply pickled ginger, there is nothing not to like about Japanese food. The first time I encountered it was at a small restaurant in leeds (now, sadly shut down). I was only young, I had gone there with my brother and sisters before going to watch a film. My memory of it is scarce, with little room for details. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I think I had sushi (whether my mind has superimposed this detail at a later date, is anybodies guess). It’s all coming back now. I remember being served salted edemame beans and tasting wasabi for the first time. Yeah, I think I did enjoy it! And so my life went on, I thought nothing more of Japanese culture for years to come, but we met again, it really did hit me hard. I’d wake up at half-five in the morning and make sushi for my packed lunches. Once I decided to wake extra early to make udon noodles from scratch using a traditional japanese recipe (that involved kneading the dough with your feet)! It became a ritual to “come and see what James as got for his lunch” throughout the school. Even now, several years on (I no longer take sushi for my lunch, as I can’t bring myself to wake so early) the legacy continues.

So, why am I telling you about this now? Well, on sunday my two sisters returned from their homes and decided to go on a sushi-spree. We made: prawn and mango rolls, salmon and avocado rolls, teriyaki chicken rolls, salmon skin nigiri, miso soup and a teriyaki noodle dish. (So quite a few rolls in all!) I must have eaten about three rolls of sushi, two bowls of noodles and one portion of miso soup before I finally admitted defeat. I would have liked to have shown you a short video on the art of making sushi, but for various reasons, all of my attempts to upload short films to youtube end in me screaming at my computer. So I think we’ll end here.

That christmas feeling…

Evolution is not a constant process, but a punctuated one. What I mean by that is that instead of constantly flowing from one form to another, it takes jumps. Some of these jumps are significant; huge genetic mutations, others are small, more refined. By the very nature of natural selection, huge leaps are in the dying minority, as evolution favours proven recipes. However, ever so often, you will come across giant genetic leaps that come to form new species. Variation is a once in a generation event, which to us, seems to be an extremely momentous event. But when you take a step back, and view life as a long chain of events, the leaps tend blend in with their surroundings. Hence why evolution is punctuated as opposed to continuous.

It may seem odd to start with a scientific explanation totally contradictive (there it goes again, evolution in the making) of the subject of this post, but all will soon come clear. You see, Jesus’ birth was one of those significant evolutionary leaps. Genetically, Jesus was probably no different from any other human at that time, but regardless of that fact, his social impact has been profound. His name will stain our heritage forever, whether you view that as blessing or a burden is irrelevant. Jesus is without a doubt the most influential modern homosapien ever to walk this earth (modern of course because the man or woman who came across fire obviously wins that award automatically). He has defined our law system, triggered wars and created social institutions, a truly incredible feat for a nobody from a middle-eastern town two thousand years ago. While his authenticity as the son of god is open to dispute, his power over people is certainly not.

That leads me to my favourite after-effect of Jesus’ life, Christmas. Just the mention of the word brings a smile to my face. Yes, there’s the presents, but for me, it’s about being together. About the feasts and the atmosphere. The sibling feuds over games of monopoly and scrabble. The glistening snow and sparkling wine.

Technically, christmas starts on the first of December, as that’s the first day of advent. But for me, the first day of christmas starts slightly earlier, the 17th November to be precise. Why then? What’s so special about that day? Three words; Manchester Christmas Markets. My advent is marked by the opening of he wooden huts, not the chocolate boxes (that’s not to say that I won’t join in with that to)! There’s something totally entrancing about Manchester Christmas markets. You only need to take one foot into the market and a warmth (very detached to the actual atmospherically temperature) floods into you. Maybe it’s the smell of mulled wine, or the singing moose, or the carols playing in the background. It could be the bustling crowds or the hypnotic lighting. Whatever it is, it’s truly magical…

iPad in the corridor

Bombs will fall. Bullets will fly. Lives will be lost and fortunes made. The battlefield may rage while the fire climbs. The heat may soar as the constant explosions hurl bodies. But beyond the clouds of war, a more powerful weapon lies. A single seed floats to the ground. It’s roots dig deeper and deeper into the soil. Leaves sprout from it’s branches. But this is no tree. The seed was no shell of genetic material. No, this seed was an idea. The product of it’s branches are not green, but black. Fresh ink drips to the floor, channels running from the words above. For no nuclear bomb could ever match the might of a single word. Well, in theory…

I am in love with my language. It’s possibilities fill me with adrenaline. The thought that I could change the world, one mouthful at a time. It’s why I started blogging; the reason behind me reading books; my greatest asset. Language.

Recently, some very clever people in very high places have managed to create something truly spectacular. Something that will change the human race forever. Technology is advancing at such a quick rate, our greatest assets are often left in the lime-light. Now, don’t get me wrong, an iPad is an incredible invention, so simple an intuitive, but it really is blocking the corridor. Several months ago, we bought an iPad for my dads birthday. He fell in love with it instantly, and like any good teenage son, I nicked it. I spent hour after hour playing on it. Completing angry birds and sketching portraits; I explored all aspects of it’s brilliance, but that was then. About a week ago, I realized that having an iPad was becoming a real problem. No longer could I find the courage to took into a nice new book, or a write a story. Al of my ideas flew away in the night. Words lost their place in my world. So, after much deliberation, I decided to restrict my use. For a while it worked, I resisted an managed to get some work done, even start reading new book. But here it is again, led down on the table next to me, the black apple logo observing my every move. So I’m asking politely now:

“Please Apple, will you take my iPad away from me!”