Why I can’t be an Athiest

Childhood belief
When I was a young boy I prayed at bed time and went to Church every Sunday.  Many of my friends at school went to church, and I was used to saying grace and singing hymns. My mother and father are both Christian and have a faith in God and they brought me up the same way. As a child I was always told to follow the golden rule “Treat others as you would wish to be treat yourself” and other preachings in the Bible. In my youth nobody was talking about their beliefs in God and it wasn’t at the forefront of my young mind. In school we learnt about religion and I don’t remember there being any challenges from the class. The main focus in classes  was on studying religions other than Christianity such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Church Life

Every Sunday my parents would take me to church. I remember pleading with my mother whether I could stay home like my other friends, but she insisted I went. It wasn’t hard for me to go along with it after a while because as a child there were numerous things I was made to do that I didn’t want to. I remember being in church and not fully understanding the rituals, and what it all was supposed to have meant. I remember noticing there were mostly older people in the church. I used to close my eyes and pray but in my young mind I genuinely thought that God was listening and considering my prayer that I would get a bike for my birthday. Still to this day I am in awe of the beauty of Churches and the amount of attention gone into making them look grandiose and elegant. I have visited churches throughout Europe, which in my view intensify the beauty found in British Churches.

Adult beliefs

Rightly or wrongly I like to look at things in my life through a lense of reasoning. Unless I am reading fiction I cannot just accept a story as being true without sufficient evidence. As I grew up I have spoken to many people on the subject of religion and have found lots of strong arguments that refute religious claims and beliefs. I have read the bible and have looked into many of the arguments for religion. When I was at college (like many young men) I found so much wrong and unfair with the world. Today I still have a permanent chip on my shoulder about inhumane disgusting bigots, who still get their way because of certain powers they hold. It only takes looking at the history of North Korea or Donald Trump to realise that power is not in numbers.

People who hold religious beliefs should be allowed to do so. I also believe that anyone who tries to belittle people for their beliefs is nothing short of a bully. Humans should be a free spirit allowed to try out any belief system for themselves. I am always open to a discussion with people about religion, but normally it ends up being heated for reasons I don’t understand. If I have a discussion with someone and they end the conversation saying “I understood what you said but I don’t agree” then I respect that. It is when they say in an angry way “Well, thats your view and this one is mine” then I think no shit, we are both adults having a conversation. Faith at the end of the day is a matter of personal opinion. The anger in their tone of voice tells me they don’t like being challenged on their views?

Why I can’t be an Athiest

I don’t think that it is correct for someone to call themselves an Atheist. Atheists believes that there certainly is no God. It is impossible to prove there is no God because he cannot be proved through conventional means in the first place in order to be disproved. Having a certainty that there is no god mirrors the certainty that there definitely is a god. You have to have some capacity for chance that God does exist as well as the chance that he doesn’t exist. An Agnostic on the other hand would normally say the chance is 50/50 but this also doesn’t work because you have to lean one way or another. Agnosticism should be put to a 7 point scale. As Bertrand Russell beautifully put it in the celestial teapot argument: “If he were to assert, without offering proof, that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, he could not expect anyone to believe him solely because his assertion could not be proven wrong”.

Just because something cannot be disproved doesn’t mean that by default it is true. Christopher Hitchens worked to the assessment of “That which can be postulated without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. This I agree with wholeheartedly. When we are speaking in the context of Art or Poetry then we can talk about subjective sensations for as long as we please, but when talking about an anthropomorphic, immortal, all seeing all knowing deity then I believe we need to apply more skepticism.

Why I can’t believe in God
To make life easier I am going to write a list of arguments which I believe refute the existence of God enough to stop me from believing. This list clearly isn’t true to everyone because there is a wealth of people who still believe despite all this. I struggle to understand how they continue to believe in God despite all of the below. Without someone explaining to me the reasons why; I can only assume it is blind faith which is very deeply rooted, and would never come unstuck even if the right evidence presented itself? Philosopher Sam Harris when writing about death said that when you tell someone there is no afterlife they don’t always hear those words, instead they hear “Your daughter that died in a car crash is not in heaven” and so they take it very personally. I believe the same can be said for religious views. As religion plays such an important part in people’s lives they wrap themselves up in the fabric of it, and an attack on Religion is as good as an attack on them! Before I write this list, I want to be clear that this blog is not aimed as an attack on anyone. This is a list of my own personal doubts about God and I would welcome anyone to put something to me either in private or on this page to help me with my beliefs. Any response will be treated with dignity and respect.

My list of Unrefutable Arguments

  • Who created the creator? If there is a complicated being such as a god with the ability to create world’s and make wishes come true then who created God? Many would say God was never created he was always there! If this is the case then why don’t we just say the universe was always there instead? Normally special language is used poetically to skirt around this question, painting God in such a superior way as to not need a beginning.
  • Indifference for Billions of years most people believe the process of evolution which states that over billions of years creatures evolved. As part of this process many creatures suffered through the battle of species, some of which were born without characteristics to help them beat natural selection. During this whole process God presumably watched on with complete indifference? After Billions of years he decided to intervene and approach illiterate parts of the middle east? This doesn’t sound like a supreme being to me? We have to remember at the same time China could read, write and scrutinise.
  • Moral Compass in the Bible there are some good lessons such as do not steal, be good unto others and there are bad lessons that Advocate rape, slavery and the degradation of women. It takes common moral belief to say that we will ignore the bad morals in the Bible and accept the good ones. It makes me wonder whether we need the bible at all. When you examine “Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself” this doesn’t quite work because if you like to be spanked then perhaps others will not like this. The lesson should perhaps be “Treat others as they would like to be treated”. There is an example of our own moral compass superseding the morals inherent in the Bible. If you think there is one book that gives you every answer in life then you would be kidding yourself.
  • Do we share the same heaven? When we go to heaven for being good, do we all go to the same place? Is your grandmother 80 in heaven as you’d imagine her or is she in her 20’s? How do the rules apply? Do we follow a set of rules and are programmed to feel blissful? The whole premise of a shared heaven sits in the idealism that we have a dualism of a body and a soul. If you are your soul and that is seperate from your body then why do people in car crashes sometimes have brain damage? Should they stay the same if the soul is seperate from the material body? In respect of hell and punishment it bothers me that so many people who were born into the wrong religion will be banished to hell because theirs and the other hundreds of other religions are decidedly wrong. I don’t know if this is truly believed but animals apparently do not go to heaven? Do animals not have souls? That doesn’t seem very nice.
  • Working in mysterious ways we are given the idea that prayer is worthwhile but whenever our prayers do not come true we are told that it is God’s will. If God does whatever he wants then what is the point of praying at all?
  • Free will We are told that the reason that God allows such evil things to happen is because he gave us free will. We were never given the choice whether we wanted to have free will or not. This feels like a blanket excuse for a lot of unexplained issues.
  • Born sick and commanded to be well we are told that we act in ways which are considered as sinful and that if we do not obey the rules we will go to hell. The fact that we were created in God’s image means he gave us the capacity to undertake sinful acts and then we are told we are to be punished for this design. This is inherently evil and is the construction for a masochist.

From my observations to get around the above, excuses will be given to say certain things are metaphorical and are not to be taken literally. The issue is that lots of people can misinterpret this belief.  Some will transcend the words in scripture and will claim to know the word of God as it has been personally revealed to them such as a Pope. Being religious doesn’t by default mean you are a good person but even in all cases it did prove to make you a better person it still doesn’t demonstrate that the beliefs are true.

Despite many glaring contradictions many people still hold a strong faith and I find this incredible. I don’t find this incredible in a arrogant way, I find this incredible because there must be a strong reason that this brings meaning to their lives. Life is painfully hard even when you have it very good and to believe that there is a plan set out in the stars just for you must be very tempting. I suppose that if people knew deep down inside that they didn’t believe in God they would never tell anyone because by doing so it would mean they would break the spell of belief. Given the way that some magic tricks are performed in this day and age I would find it very hard to tell you what evidence for God would look like, but I would certainly be open to new things and new beliefs just so long as I don’t have to disregard my critical faculties.

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Living through the Pain: End of Week 1

Holy shit, I didn’t think in such a short period of time I would be empathising with Mass murderers. Dieting without sugar has changed me into a grumpy monster. Listening to others speak feels like it uses 97% of my energy. It’s not just your average lethargy, it is heavy aches, pains and tiredness. 

My head felt like it was throbbing in the week. I have removed all sweets and temptations from the flat and my girlfriend is helping me through this rough period. I have had a healthy week where my average calorie intake has been under 1500 a day, I have been to the gym 3 times this week and have been burning just over 300 calories a time. 

Most mornings I have had a fresh fruit smoothie with banana, mixed Berries, coconut milk and a dash of maple syrup.
As an alternative breakfast I made my own granola and the recipe can be found here.

For lunch I have had Tuna or Chicken sandwiches with cucumber, a clementine and some dried fruit.

As I reached the afternoons I felt tired and horrible so I started introducing more fruit and nuts by the end of the week. I am even considering buying fresh tropical fruit as an after dinner dessert.

This week’s dinners:

  • Vegetable Stir fry w/ Soy Sauce
  • Roasted aubergine and mushrooms with whole wheat spaghetti and fresh pasta sauce
  • Cooked chicken breast with sweetcorn, brocolli and Sweet potato wedges

It’s only after I started this challenge that I realise how present sugar is in my diet. Having the lack of artifical sugar means that I appreciate the taste of natural sugars even more and fruit just tastes a lot sweeter. I have a big sweet tooth so living without even so much as a low fat yogurt after dinner has been difficult. There were some nights where I felt so deflated that I think I actually needed more food. I will perhaps try and introduce a different fruit to eat after meals, perhaps an apple as they have such proven health benefits.

Watching live TV is hard because Dominoes pizza air their adverts over and over, even just passing the pizza house on the way back from the gym is difficult. According to other blogs there is a eureka moment where the side effects from sugar wihdrawl just vanish and you come out the other side feeling rejuvenated. I have been looking at this week and I have lost 6 pounds so I am quite pleased. I am reluctant to check the scales on a daily basis because it will constantly fluctuate. As the week is coming to an end my evening weekend meals will consist of an omelette (with no cheese of course) on Saturday. On Sunday I am considering a sirloin steak as a sort of healthy/unhealthy treat. Red meat is not the best but in moderation is okay.

My girlfriend and I have said we won’t go to a restaurant on Valentines day because there will be too much temptation. Instead we are going to try and make some sort of sugar free dessert! I am not convinced though that there is a way to make a delicious dessert without using sugar, cause that is where it gives you the dopamine kick. When you think of every pudding that has been delicious the main component is a type of sugar. I am going to try very hard to find something and will get back to you. If anyone has any ideas please post them here!

He’s Getting Oldman

Above is a picture of Gary Oldman playing “Zorg” in one of my favourite sci-fi films “The Fifth Element”. Remember how cool he was? He was so outlandish and funny. When I was growing up in the 90’s Gary Oldman featured in loads of cool films. When you look at films he has featured in over the years you see that he has a great sense of humour and picks some really funny characters.

Above is a picture from his original screen debut where he played sid vicious from the Sex Pistols in the film ‘Sid and Nancy’ this set him on his way. A lot of his later characters had an odd ball streak running through them.

‘True Romance’ was a bizarre role where he played what some might refer to as a ‘Wigga’ a white person who pretends to be black. Some might say that he is almost unrecognisable in this role as he is so off the wall. Oldman brings such a great dimension to the role that you forget it’s even him. A similarly crazed role is where he plays ‘Norman Stansfield’ in Leon: The Professional’ which in my opinion is one of Luc Besson’s best film. Check out this scene where oldman embodies stansfield. I love it when he is talking about classical music, and when taking about Beethoven he says “after the overtures, he gets a little fucking boring” so much crazed aggression. Norman Stansfield is the epitomy of a character you just love to hate. Gary Oldman captures this character beautifully.

In the film ‘Hannibal’ which is a follow up to Silence of the Lambs, Oldman shows his creepier side. He has always brought a strangeness to his characters but this one is quite sinister. I love how versatile he is as an actor. I was quite amazed when I found out he was British! An honourable mention is his part in Dracula which was equally creepy and we’ll acted. He also was great in Harry Potter, though I’ve never been much of a Potter fan.

As of late Oldman has been taking a more calmer form of character. He played Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman. Oldman was very good on this but it did feel like a back seat. I can’t speak for ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ because I haven’t seen it but I hear it is excellent. Could it be that capturing an actors talent can be found more in the strength of the writing than in themselves. Actors normally aren’t as outlandish as the characters they portray. Here is hoping that Gary Oldman will reprise his zanier funny roles sometime soon. Does anyone have any good films with Oldman I have forgotten? Can you recommend any, I’d love I hear them.

Living without love: Day 1, Week 1

Kevin Lomax: What about love?

John Milton: Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate. (Devil’s Advocate, 1997)

I definitely agree that chocolate is a source of love, just like any good meal. Why is it that whenever you see morbidly obese people on Reality TV, and they examine what they have been eating it is always endless servings of boring fatty rubbish? It’s cause it tastes damn good that’s why. I sometimes wonder if the consequences of eating badly outweigh the pleasure of eating badly? In my last blog I commented about my addiction to sugar and how I want to try and curb this. I have set myself a challenge to try and achieve 1 month without artifical sugar or processed foods. I am depriving myself of a lot of artificial chemical happiness! Here starts my month without love.

The Rules I am calling this a ‘Food Experiment’ as I am not cutting out all sugar, just artificial sugar and most processed food. I will still have processed food like yogurt but it will be 0% fat Greek yogurt with no added sugars. Even though bread is processed I will still have whole grain bread because there are so many health benefits. I will only have a maximum of 2 slices a day. I will still eat sugar but only natural sugars from fruit. I am going to describe my first week and if I succeed I want to try and go 1 month without sweets, alcohol, processed foods, ready meals, sugars or artifical sweeteners. I am also allowed the odd coffee but no sugar at all. I want to limit to having 2 coffees a week. Mondays I need a coffee just so that I don’t murder everyone I encounter.

Day 1: 23rd January 2017. I have just had a banana and strawberry smoothie for breakfast and don’t feel that bad. Check out the Domestic Geek on youtube for great smoothie ideas.I am still reeling from Sunday night though where I had my last jambylia with garlic bread, cookies and diet coke. When I ate my last dinner it felt like I was in  Texas death house the night before my sentence. Diet coke is what I will miss a lot, that caffeine hit gets me through many an evening and the sensation of carbonated fizz is quite a nice sensation. Why am I dedicating so much time to fantising about the fizz in a soft drink? This will be hard. I drank my Mid morning coffee very slowly to savour it. I think Friday will be my other coffee treat day. Thankfully there are no biscuits or sweets in the kitchenette. I have made a bet with everyone at work that if I am seen with anything I shouldn’t have it means I then owe them £10. Whoever rats me out wins the money, like some bad food version of George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

For lunch I have had a tuna sandwich with cucumber (no mayo) with some dried fruit and a clementine. The Tuna sandwich is drier without the mayo but the cucumber is helping to keep it moist. The vending machine is in view and the chocolate bars are all lined up like beautiful tasty soldiers. Did that sound a bit too gay for a straight man to say? Perhaps I’m gay and this is how I found out. What a weird way to come out? Mum, Dad I’m gay… I found out in just under 5 hours after trying to eat healthily! They say that people who go without sugar can have considerable mood swings. Some pig has just taken 2 chocolate bars and a packet of crisps from the vending machine to shovel into her fat disgusting face after she polishes off a cheese role. Hope she chokes on it, stupid hippo. As I sit here now, I wonder when the sugar wihdrawl mood swings will start.

It’s now 17:56 and I feel quite hungry. Where I would normally have diet coke, I have a glass of water.  Where I would normally coat my stir fry in sweet chilli sauce that is replaced with reduced calorie soy sauce. There is also no dessert waiting for me after dinner. I am now boring myself with this blog, so I cant imagine how bored you must be! I am not going to write this daily because it will be much of the same, and I don’t want the reader to commit suicide. According to my calorie counter I am just under 1,200 calories. If I keep this up I should surely lose weight and get healthier? Or die of malnutrition? Hopefully not. If you’re reading this then please comment ideas for me or comments I need a distraction from dreaming about food.

The Drugs Don’t Work

If you have watched enough American children’s TV you will know the effort America puts into keeping teens off drugs. Schools in America are littered with Public Service Announcements declaring the ‘war on drugs’. Despite their attempts there will always be kids that try drugs. In the UK there is still a strong focus on drug misuse but when I was growing up it felt very light.
When I was 13 I tried cannabis for the first time, I was not in with a rough crowd, and I did not succumb to peer pressure. I was with a crowd that specifically decided that they would try this drug, and I asked to join them of my own free will. When I tried it for the first time the feeling was intense, and just like in films everything slowed down, and sensations heightened in many ways. When I tried cannabis it was fun and exciting, part of the amusement is knowing that you are indulging into something which is naughty. Breaking the rules and being anarchistic as a young teen comes hand in hand with drug taking. Enough Rock and Roll inspired the ‘fuck society’ attitude.

For a long time after this I never encountered drugs until college when it became an infrequent recreational activity. I think a big misconception is that all drugs are to blame when people die from over using them. People often like to say that cannabis is a ‘gateway drug’ and that as much as a few puffs of weed, and the next thing you’ll be shooting heroin! We know of course that this is not true. I know that there is a big leap between cannabis and Heroin. I have only ever tried one A-class drug but have never had the passion to try others. I was put off by mind-altering drugs ever since a friend of mine had a bad trip on acid and mistook eating strawberries, and witnessed vomiting his own intenstines. With cannabis you can easily see the plant that you are taking, and it feels more natural. The effects of cannabis are more relaxing and it feels like someone is rubbing your shoulders after a hard day. The only negative effects I have found is the burden of paranoia or the occasional ‘whitey’ but this is nothing that a tall glass of Orange Juice couldn’t cure. With manufactured drugs there is no way to see what you are taking. I find it astonishing that people will purchase white tablets or powder from some lanky snotty nosed druggy, and with no knowledge of what they contain put them into their bodies? I said to a friend of mine that he should think: what if you were the person who bought drugs for a party and gave them to a friend and that ended up killing then? Could you live with that guilt? If the government intervened and sold drugs legally in a controlled fashion people could still enjoy stimulants with none of the risk. Despite some recognised risks Britain has clearly made it’s mind up about self-medicating with drugs, and even though the UK received 29,000 signstures for a petition to legalise cannabis, they still declined to consider it in parliament. Part of me wonders if they ever will?

When you have people who are going through a hard time in their lives and have access to drugs, this is where abuse will happen. If you are having a bad time drugs will solve your mood, they will be the PERFECT distraction. The government is worried that if drugs are made legal it will be chaos and that it sends a message that they encourage this abuse. They must think of extremes like Russia where 65% of the country is addicted to Heroin. Russia is a poor example though, because there is no control over selling. I believe that if drugs were controlled and sold legally then drug use would be a lot safer and if enough support is given to those individuals they will not want the drugs at all, Or will be able to use them in a sensible way. In Scotland currently they are trialing 24 hour walk in centres that allow for the legal injection of Heroin to help drug addicts to lull their addiction. Alcohol is sold to this country and not everyone is an Alcoholic. Alcohol doesn’t wreck ALL lives, and those that it does cause problems there are support groups like AA.

It’s curious that a large number of death’s in the UK are through alcohol (10% In 2014) and tobacco (163,444 death’s in 2014) which are still sold and consumed in large quantities. Both of these are destined to increase your chances of numerous cancers by 57% and diseases. Despite all the evidence they still are sold, en yet some recreational drugs have limited statistics on long term harm, and remain illegal. Cannabis has actually been proven to aid the prevention of some cancers specifically through the use of hemp consumption of its oil.

There is a hypocrisy between the selling of things that clearly harm us as opposed to the exclusion of certain drugs and making them illegal. I have read books on drug taking and how it has weaved it’s way into our societies and world history, so why is it kept illegal when there is historical proof that drugs can be responsibly accepted into society. It is natural for us to want to use drugs to try out experiences. In an indirect way when we try drugs and feel sensations from them we are realising the incredible power of our own brains and how they allow us to bend our senses.

Louis CK – “Drugs are a solution”

Personal Challenge

On a seperate note, to end this blog I want to say that there are some things in our daily life such as caffeine and sugar which have all the strength and addictive qualities of most illegal drugs, contributing to obesity and cancers but are common place. The truth is that sugar and caffeine sneak their way into our foods whether we like it or not and there is so much processed food that it is hard to live without it. I have heard of people who attempted to remove artificial sugar from their diet and they experienced withdrawal symptoms and mood swings. Much like a recovering drug addict the person who can live without it for 1 month comes out the other side feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. As a personal goal I am going to try and go 1 month without added sugars or processed food. I will document my feelings and note them in a weekly blog. I will either write my achievement or my failing to do this, but I want to try! Think you can do this too and join me on my quest to beat sugar? Drop me a message and give me all your tips and advice I’d really appreciate it.

Why you should at least try it

I want to try and convince you that Classical music is worth trying out.In this blog I will give some examples of classical songs for you to try out, and what I feel when I listen to them. For a bit of fun I have prepared a menu of delicacies that you can listen to at specific times of the day.

I will try to explain my feelings towards the music and little things to look out for. I hope you will listen to the pieces and perhaps give your views on them in the comments!

Too often classical music is seen as a stuffy genre that is only listened to by older generations, and has a certain pomposity about it. I try to look past all of the culture of classical and just try to appreciate what the music brings me on a personal level. I love classical music because sometimes it helps me to relax or touches upon a mood that other music doesn’t manage to reach. 

Waking up

Horrible isn’t it! You’re deep within the land of slumber and when your alarm goes off it pierces through it like a pin to a balloon. Instead of setting a typical alarm tone built into your phone why not set the below piece to wake you up as it starts off gentle, and then lifts you up gradually acting like a bridge between sleeping and waking:

“Morning” Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Op. 23″

Getting ready for work

You are now starting to get ready for work and you might reach for the radio and in a zombie like fashion switch to radio one just like all the other cattle consumers that prefer to be fed over produced pop songs. Today though, you will listen to something different! This piece is probably one of the most recognisable cello performances and is a perfect accompaniment to your morning.

“Cello Suite no.1” by J.S Bach 

Commuting to work (A or B)

Here is where you are given an option! before you step out of the front door, you might already have a feeling whether it will be a good day or a bad day. Either way you will need a piece of classical that suits your mood so pick accordingly. For a good day pick A or a bad day pick B.

(A) Piano Sonata no.11 in A Major “Turkish March” by Amadeus Mozart

(B) “Romeo & Juliet” op.64 by Segei Prokofiev

Eating lunch in the park/sat by a river

Your are on your break at work so it’s time to unwind. I recommend that you go for a nice stroll somewhere pretty. I am privileged as the town I work in has a few parks dotted around, and a river running through it. Take out your packed lunch and find somewhere quiet to sit and listen. This French piece is very gentle and is from a romantic suite of music that will personify the gentle breeze and the sunlight which caresses your face. If you examine the complete suite further each separate movement is written about a different type of animal.

“The Swan” from Les Carnaval Des Animaux by Camille Saint-saëns

On your way home

You’re free as a bird! The day is finally over and it is now the longest time that you will have, between one work day ending and another beginning. This calls for something fun and uplifting. Nothing quite fills me with joviality than “Jupiter” by Holst. Gustav Holst is a well known composer who wrote different compositions for each of the planets known about at that time (this was the 19th century).

“Jupiter” (the bringer of jollity) taken from the planets suite by Gustav Holst

Washing the dishes

After you indulge yourself with some well deserved food there are always dishes to wash. If you are fortunate enough to not own a dish washer like I am, then you will have the pleasure of listening to this piece By Strauss. As you deal with your mundane task you can drift back in time to a golden age in European history where in Vienna, there was the elegance of the many waltzes held in those opulent dance halls. This song is one of the most played pieces of classical and is now an unofficial Austrian national anthem.

“The Blue Danube” or An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314  by Johann Strauss

Relaxing before bed

For something to listen to before bed, it needs to be gentle and to put you into a calming mood. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the Goldberg variations to cure the insomnia of a Russian Diplomat at Dresden court. The pieces were composed with the utmost restraint. The pieces would be played by one of Bach’s pupils from an adjoining chamber as the count would try to sleep.

Aria no.1 from the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach

Classical music, like some art can still be enjoyed even if you don’t know the meaning of why it was written.  Famously British composer ‘Elgar’ wrote a piece titled ‘The Enigma varations’ which to this day still holds an unknown meaning and is left to the imagination of those listening, my piano teacher thought the music was inspired by the landscapes of his childhood home. As much as I like the poetry of lyrics in current pop songs, classical music works a little harder to get through to your soul. The reason why most motion pictures include a sweeping score at moments of intense drama, is because this type of music speaks to us on an emotional level. I will agree that Classical music requires your concentration and you need to be prepared to hear some things you might not like, but if you give it a chance it can be so rewarding. I often go to live classical performances with my father and there is nothing quite like hearing this music live. You get to enjoy the sound, but also to see professional musicians playing music with such relish. Normally when you go to live performances You will be played what was scheduled for the evening, but if there is an encore; that is where the real fun begins. When classical musicians are given creative licence they normally want to show off, and end up showcasing pieces of music you may have never discovered, had it not been for that night!

One piece I discovered on a night of classical was the following and it amused me how comical the violin sounds, and it almost makes it sound alien. The speed and intensity is truly astounding. In this piece the Violin reaches the pitch of a whistle or bird song. For those impatient skip to 3:50 on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean:

Niccolo Paganini – La Campanella

Don’t be afraid to let yourself go when listening to classical music. If it lifts you up then let it. If it pushes you down and makes you sad, then that is okay too. Any form of Art is intended to move us, and the more you expose yourself to different sensations and feelings the richer your life will become.

The Thought that Counts

Christmas is over and we have eaten our way through too much turkey and pigged our way through the mountains of sweets and rubbish. At Christmas I always feel like I am abusing my body and giving it nothing that it needs. Almost like a habitual drug user addicted to consuming large quantities of sugar and fat. It is disgusting how much food I have stuffed away into my fat stupid face whilst there are people in other countries starving to death through poverty.
When I was a child I felt so excited knowing Christmas was round the corner. All the time spent putting a list together of all the new toys and dreaming of all the fun those things would bring to my childhood. Whenever you wanted a toy any other time of the year you could spend months saving your pocket money, only to find that toy you had invested all your hopes in was a fraud or even just a one time fad. You didn’t care though, because as a kid I always maintained that level of innocent excitement. When Christmas came around all that went out the window, and being presented with all those toys at once was the adult equivalent of finding £2000 in a savings account you had forgotten about, the only difference was Christmas had a set date and the surprise happened once a year.

As an adult, Christmas feels much more like an endurance test. In your own home you can decorate it as much or as little as you want, but when you go out you find many places littered with disgusting tinsel and tacky ornaments. It makes most places look scruffy. Occasionally you get the nice place that gets it just right but not often.

Present shopping

Present shopping is a nightmare not only because you have to work out what to get people but also because you have to stand in line and barge past senile simpletons trying to get to what you want. I don’t understand retired old cretins who have any day of the week to do their Christmas shopping, but decide to do it all on christmas week. When I see their slow gormless bodies it fills my heart with hatred. You spend all your free time rummaging through crap in shops, waiting in for parcels, rushing to the post office to collect them and wrapped the damned things. You write loads of Christmas cards to all your friends and family, then realise some tosser at work decides to send cards to work colleagues so you feel obliged to do it too. When Christmas is almost here and you’re finally starting to relax you remember the nightmare that is secret santa.

Secret Santa

This always feels like a bore, when you are at work you have a couple of people you like, a handful of people who are just below average and a large number who you completely detest. Nine times out of ten the person I pick is a complete arse hole and I regret having to make an effort for them. I have often thought how pleasurable it would be to find a shop they would never go to, and buy vouchers for it just to piss them off. Or give them 5 chocolate pound coins in return for their 5 pound spend on another gift -this is funny because you can buy 20 chocolate pound coins for £2.

On another angle I have always thought how fun it would be to pick myself for secret santa. Surely if I did that then I could plan out some kind of elaborate plan? Here is that plan:

1. Pick yourself in secret santa

2. Two weeks before the work party where secret santa presents are unwraped, be noticeably sad at work. So much so that people ask you if you’re okay. When they do; make up some lie such as “My uncle committed suicide at Christmas so I find it hard to stay happy this time of year”. Make sure all of the decent caring sensitive people know this. Thanks to work gossip your story should spread like wildfire.

3. Purchase a noose and  print on a piece of paper”I’m glad he’s dead, merry fucking christmas” do this all at home. Printing disguises any sort of handwriting and put it in the box and wrap. Put the tag on the box that shows it’s for you and then secretly add it to the presents so that nobody can see you do it.

4. At the party before the unwrapping tell people again about your uncle and say how that “Having friends like you makes me so happy” -this will inspire pity because calling work colleagues friends in the context of work deserves that response. It also helps to set up your inevitable punchline.

5. Open the present with a smile on your face and gleefully say “I wonder what this is?” when you see it go cold. Go angry and shout saying “who did this? WHO FUCKING DID THIS?” If you can achieve it cry and then say to your boss you’re leaving because you don’t want to share company with such a sick minded person.

6. Remember to continue portraying the facade that you are upset when you return to work. You raise a complaint at work and threten to leave the business because you are so upset by what happened. An investigation will likely take place at work but the concept of secret santa helps to mask the evidence that it was you.

7. After the trail has gone cold and everyone has been questioned, into the new year you tell your manager you have tried to find the positives in that night and will look past what happened and try to talk much less about your uncle at the Christmas period. Doing this conceals why you never mention the uncle again and going forward colleagues will be too afraid to even mention your fake uncle to you.

8. The prize of doing this is that you have a valid reason to not take part in secret santa or even attend a work meal again. If it was for many normally reasons you would be accused of being a “scrooge”.
The thought that counts

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone buys you a shit Christmas present and you moan about it your partner will say “its the thought that counts”, I definitely do not agree with this! If I bought my partner a bunch of bananas for Christmas every year for the rest of her life she would never let me off by saying even though the gift sucks at, least I thought about it. The truth is it is the thought that counts (that counts). If the thought was worthwhile then it counts. You have to have put thought in to buying something for it to be thoughtful. If you get a present with no consideration for the person’s taste then no thought was applied at all.
Trying to find fun at christmas is an attempt to recreate your childood and I liken this to alcoholics who continually sit in bars drinking searching for that party that never comes. As much as I winge about the people who look forward to Christmas, in reality I am just jeleous, I cannot find the happiness that they do. Christmas always feels like an annual performance review with my family where we exchange achievements. Part of me wishes that I could have more excitement at Christmas and share a bond with my family where we can love one another. Christmas with my family is just sat in front of the television watching the Queens speech and enduring the same old predictable squabbling and passive aggressive niggles. The picture at the top of this blog is of two identical Christmas cards, one from a family and another identical card from just the 12 year old daughter of that family, it amused me that even at that age she feels a disassociation with her family. The thought that counts is the thought that you love your family unconditionally and don’t just look forward to the presents and inevitable heart burn!