Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Internet Holidays Are Highly Recommended

At the risk of giving away my age, I grew up without the Internet. It didn't come along in my life until around the age of 16. It was very blue from I remember. Seriously, it really was. MSN and local messaging services freaked me out - once I was sitting in the computer room at college doing something when suddenly a little box appeared in the corner of the screen saying, "your cute, what's your name?" - so I never used those, except for rare occasions. Hotmail and Yahoo search were the main sites I remember, and I seem to recall reading lots of things that looked like entries in encyclopedias. Hell, they probably were exactly that. I never bought anything online, and I never had a My Space page, though I knew people who did.

I was not that fussed about the Internet or what it had to offer. Now though I not only work for one of the biggest online companies in the world, but I also have profiles on almost every single social media platform going, accounts with tonnes of online shops and a Twitter feed that I can't stop checking a few times a day at least. In essence, I am as much an Internet junkie as plenty of others. And this weekend I was pretty much cut off from all of it, because I was away and my phone throws a fit whenever I try to do anything with it beyond text or call someone. And you know what? It was wonderful. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Making Plans

This past week I've mostly been consumed by the day job. But I am now on a much-needed holiday, which I'm doing in proper stay-cation style. Monday, I plan to see the poppies at the Tower of London before they get taken down, and then I'll be watching Interstellar in the afternoon at the Odeon. From what I've heard it needs a big screen and they don't come much bigger than there.

The rest of the week is going to involve chilling, before going to see a friend of mine who lives up in Derby for the weekend. I'm glad that the week has turned out to have a variety of activities in it, as I don't think I want to be sitting around thinking about things for the whole week. That path would inevitably lead to tears and feeling sorry for myself. I even had a little lump in my throat with the minutes silence held today for Remembrance Sunday. It's strange, the difference between knowing intellectually that people have lost loved ones to war, and knowing first-hand the pain of losing someone so close.

All this talk of the two world wars has also made me think that 2015 will be the year I finally go to Denmark. My grandmother, my dad's mother, was from Copenhagen and the Second World War had a devastating affect on her and the family. When the Nazi's occupied Denmark my family were involved in the resistance, as so many other Danes were. Unfortunately, all of my family, except for my grandmother, was killed or captured. All I know about what happened is that they were attending my great-grandmother's funeral when the Nazis came into the church and opened fire. My grandmother escaped and was in hiding for the rest of the war, until Denmark was liberated by the British. She met my grand-dad, who was with the Navy, they got married and my grandmother went to Irvine in Scotland, to wait for my grand-dad's return. She never talked about it and we're not even sure where exactly she was from; until her death bed my grandmother told no-one anything, and the details my mum managed to get are few and far between.

Dad was never keen on looking into what had happened to his mother's family. His attitude was to let sleeping dogs lie, a mindset I don't doubt he got from my grandmother. But the history buff in me isn't happy with that; and I feel like I owe it to the family to find out about them if I can. And in an odd way I think it might help me process that dad is gone. Even if all I get out of it seeing Copenhagen, it will feel good to reconnect with that bit of my lost past, and maybe a little side of dad too.

As they say at this time of year: "Lest we forget."

Stonehaven War Memorial, 2013

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Happy Bonfire Night - However You Celebrate

This week has mainly consisted of this:

And because it is in fact November it means Guy Fawkes Night is upon us, a night I'm not really much of a fan of. You see, I am old and boring, and have been since about the age of fourteen. I hate fireworks and think displays are massively overrated. You spend hours out in the cold, freezing your bits off to watch some explosives way up in the sky make pretty colours. Bah humbug.

The other thing I've never liked about the 5th of November is the whole "burning of the Guy" thing. I love a good bonfire and a traditional pagan style burning ritual, but knowing the history of the Gunpowder Plot stops me from really embracing the fun of burning an effigy of a man who was killed horribly. Told you; old and boring.

One latest addition to Bonfire Night is quite interesting to me though; the "Million Mask March" that occurs in central London, near parliament by the group labelled as "Anonymous". I say labelled, because the actual group are probably long disbanded and/or arrested and the people who now go under that moniker have chosen it for themselves. What I find interesting about it all is how much effort this relatively small amount of people will put into getting the masks from V for Vendetta, creating placards, and marching around London protesting against... something. I'm not entirely clear what precisely they're marching for and even their own website lists a variety of motivations; they march against austerity, infringement of rights, and against mass surveillance. What exactly they want though is unmentioned and for that reason alone it seems utterly pointless to me; a protest without a clearly defined goal is just a bunch of people standing out in the cold, freezing their bits off... hopefully without the explosive bit.

But each to their own - some like to watch fireworks, some like to carry placards and others like to tuck into a nice fish and chip supper while watching The Wicker Man. Happy 5th!