Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Flying home for Christmas

I always seem to keep saying the same things, maybe I haven't got anything new to say. This isn't dictated by a need to spread some kind of diatribe though, other than believe in yourself and strive to get better.

I'm currently staring down the barrel of learning a new, albeit similar, set of responsibilities for a new job doing a different thing for the same people. It's that odd period when the train crosses different tracks and there's inevitably much squeaking and sparking of metal on metal.

It's harder than normal though this week, massively so if I must be brutally honest. It's hard to explain just where to begin. It's never about me. If it was I'd want to do something where people could see what I looked like. It's about making sure that someone who has put their life into the last 8 weeks gets my full and undivided attention for 15 minutes. It doesn't sound a lot when you put it like that, but I'm always so full of fatigue when I'm done. It takes forever to sleep right and somehow even longer to wake up easily.

It was like a sea of noise and lights as far as I could see; nothing but elation soaked thoroughly in a frantic fanaticism. A slowly moving mass of humanity that took the air from my lungs as it rose to a cacophony that I really wasn't ready for.

Just a few days later I taught 4 people in a small warm room, overlooking a grey townscape. I wandered round that room for hours, helping my learners move closer towards their own individual goals and pursuits. I looked yearnfully into the distance as a plane slowly cut a path between the clouds, on the start of some fantastic adventure.

You forget why you do this somehow but then when you help someone and make a difference it all becomes real.

These two sides of my professional life are seemingly at other ends of any kind of spectrum, if one exists, but in many ways they're similar.

In both jobs I'm there to make sure that people are justly rewarded for their hard work and preparation.

I constantly spend my own time developing each craft to further increase just how effective I can be.

More importantly I never want to stop learning, and trying to get better and if you hit that point then it's time to answer those questions you've probably had for a while.

There's one thing my 9-5 will never be though, and that's able to give unbelievable dreams the opportunity to take flight and lodge themselves firmly in my memories.

Tales to be told in a warm drawing room as the winter cold is banished by hot drinks and warm hearts.

This doesn't end with me and it doesn't end with you.

Take care
Speak soon
Dzięki jeszcze raz


Monday, 27 October 2014

Save the World, Get the Girl

It's a very idealistic set of circumstances isn't it?

You're 509 times more likely to win the lottery than you are find one person out of the 7.125 billion people there are on this rock. 

Yet I knew right from the start and, despite my best efforts to mess it up, there was no way we weren't going to end up together. I knew we'd end up buying a house and I knew we'd get married. 

The only thing that scares me, is that none of this scares me. 

Isn't this whole thing surreal though? I mean really. Does nobody ever look at these kind of things, crunch a few numbers and realise that the odds of finding someone perfect are minute at best? 

It's a good job that nobody does that kind of thing or maybe nobody would ever take a risk on anyone. But then, none of this has ever felt like any kind of risk. It's been one amazing adventure after another and I find myself happier and more motivated than ever, because I've got no idea whatsoever about what will come next. 

I guess all I need to know is that I've made the single most important decision of my entire life, and knocked it clean out of the park; so far out of the park in fact that there's no telling where it landed, or if it ever will. 

Everything is exciting now. Every single little thing. I've never come back from a holiday before and been happy and content but this was perfect. The time away was amazing but being home is glorious beyond belief. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is the fact that you get one shot at this whole puzzle. The longer you spend wondering, the shorter you spend experiencing. 

These truly are glorious days and the best part is, I get that they are. I won't look back and remember a time before x,y and z because I'm thankful every single morning when I wake up that I've got another day to share.

Take care, speak soon.
I'll be the one with the smile.

Friday, 5 September 2014


I ran as if my life depended on it, even though in reality it didn't.

Anything could have happened at that point as I traversed the contented and the confused; sprinting forward hoping to meet the approving glance of the desk bound. I hurtled faster and faster with not a care for what I looked like, as the numbers seemed to increase in a way that was too illogical for me to comprehend.

As I grew tired with each step that passed, I was driven by a sense of the truly intangible. There was something making me carry on, something else driving my feet below me and pushing my breathing back a little bit every time there was chance.

I rounded the corner and slammed my papers on the desk in a manner that was quite more dramatic than needed, but I didn't care. I couldn't focus on anything but the numbers and the times. Somehow, it was ok now, but at that split second I couldn't tell you how or why.


A horde of malcontents and not enough time to make them all happy. There wouldn't be enough time even if there was nothing else to do. There's only so many times you can paper over a crack with a slightly ironic word of recommendation.

The negotiation of the earlier start/earlier finish policy had served me well and before too long the taxi was whisking me away to where I needed to be. It wasn't until I sat with a cup of tea at the aiport that I realised there was a problem.

Not a big problem you understand, just a slight delay.

This wouldn't have been an issue on any other day but the domino effect of connections is magnified by more than just the simple sum of its parts. We're talking twenty minutes, not even enough time for a good sandwich if we're truthful, but more than long enough to derail my jaunt.

I'd already checked in for a seat close to the front, simply so I could dive off the plane and get the bus to another terminal and make my connection. No drama, never any drama.

The flight itself was uneventful, save for a quite spectacular cookie and cup of tea combination, but upon landing I heard the news that I was dreading.

"We're going to have to get off the plane at the rear entrance and wait for the bus to arrive because of problems at this end."

It was ten past nine and I wasn't even in the building, or on the bus, or anywhere near where I needed to be.

As I scrambled off the plane I got to the front of the line for the bus just as the sign went up. I'd missed it. Sitting near the front had seemingly been my undoing as I waited for yet another carriage to take me somewhere I'd have to only get back from.

Everything was going through my mind at this point. A million different what ifs and whys were all populating my every thought, as I willed the bus to drive faster than safely required. I don't know what the worst part was of it all. I didn't want to be stranded but more than that I didn't want to let people down.

I sprinted off the bus and round a network of corridors and tunnels that seemed to last forever. It's the kind of place that you'd get lost in on an old videogame, probably looking for some kind of key or elixir. I rounded the final corner just as the bus to the required terminal was pulling in, which was a blessing in itself.

I hurtled over the ramp and dived to the seat closest to the door but nothing happened. I guess I'd watched too much Indiana Jones and was waiting for the driver to nod at me before pushing the pedal to the floor in a series of breakneck scrapes. It never happened that way, despite how long I stared at my watch and the screen depicting the animated couple.

Movement at last.

Creaking back towards the place I'd just come from, the turns and curves of this concrete oppression seeming even more unnecessary on the second run.

I didn't have chance to say thanks or bye or I'm sorry for looking like such a moody prick the entire trip, I needed to leave and leave quickly. I sprinted up the stairs before dashing headlong into security. There was a queue, of course there was a queue, it was 9:35 on a Thursday night I thought to myself sarcastically. I didn't have time to wait and I shouted over the first person in a uniform I laid eyes on.

I couldn't talk for some reason, my words wouldn't order themselves into coherence. I showed him my printed itinerary and he nodded. My bag was fine, no problems there but I had to once again remove my watch, belt et all for what felt like the hundredth time before scampering through the gate and trying to see where the next phase of this seemingly futile quest would take me.

The security man shouted "Good Luck" in a loud voice as I left him behind, clutching my bag like a newborn animal, cradling it to my chest as I put my head down and ran with all I had left.

I'd checked in online for my second and third flights as I was waiting for my first but a quick look up at the board nearly stopped me dead.


I had to run, there was nothing left to do but run. One foot flatly in front of the other as I hurtled down the corridor towards my goal, a black speck in the distance. It didn't seem to be getting any closer. As time ticked on I felt the world close in around me, pulling suffocating skies down around my face.

I had to make it.
I had to make it.
It was 21:41.
Surely I couldn't make it?
Would I make it?

Well I wouldn't miss this for the world.

It's only falling when your mind tells you it's not flying.

Thanks to those involved, especially Paul Dollery who negotiated me down through hysteria like a lighthouse keeper, missing every jutting rock and concealed danger on the way.

Promise me you'll all say hello next time.

We'll talk about videogames, old music, old technology, old times, football from the 90s, fights, kung fu movies, people we knew, people we are, times we've spent and times we've got to come.

We'll laugh about how crazy this all is because it's all we've got to hold on to somehow.

Speak soon

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Change is a part of everything, maybe that's why we're so scared.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the upcoming months. The inevitable schedule of sleepless nights and hot drinks on cold days that will follow. The days when nothing moves apart from everything and I'm wrapped up by a patchwork of clouds and daydreams.

I'm aware of everything but long for the days those fellow adventurers are by my side, tackling the truly extraordinary in an everyday way. If you're part of this then you truly understand this. I can't help but smile, sometimes tear up a little bit, whenever I drift away somewhere. It's always made special by the people who I share it with. You'll have no idea how much any of this means, nobody will.

There's very few things that don't change in life, but the feelings when you walk through the door are one of them. I'll see you all real soon, I can't wait. It's been too long hasn't it? Way too long.

Take care

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Goes up like prices at Christmas

I signed up for this stop/start, on/off, stuck at the lights/flying down the motorway craziness.

That said, it doesn't get any easier though, some things never do. It's all first world problems if we're being honest though. Woe is me, my unbelievable second life is frighteningly addictive. When you weigh up that my first which mainly involves tea, toast, videogames, watching fights and hanging out with Vanille, you think I'd learn just to fucking shut up.

When did this become a thing is the question I asked myself when I woke up this morning. At what point did this adventure become something I stopped watching with the originals on a Sunday and transform into something that causes me to tick days off a calender like a petty offender?

I wish I had answers, but then I think we all wished we had answers. I guess we never truly know, and that's somehow equal parts frightening and empowering.

Imagine diving headfirst into a fast flowing river.

You'd have two choices.

You could claw with every fibre to pull back against that which was dragging you away from where you started. You may never know where you could have ended up but you'll always have the comfort of what you know and the shapes that remain the same.

If you throw yourself headfirst into the whirling uncertainty then the possibilities become endless. It's rolling a dice or spinning a wheel. The act of accepting the unknown that most of us really struggle with. It's that feeling in the pit of your stomach when it looks like all bets are off as your sure fire winner crumbles in the face of adversity.

When it works though, there's arguably no better feeling in the world; the juice is nearly always worth the squeeze.

I'm scared, but then we're all scared of something.
You may as well be scared of something that you know you've engineered yourself.

It's all going to get really busy in the next few weeks.
Come say hello won't you?
Take Care

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Buildings

Where does the life go, that drains through these old creaking windows; white paint jaded by the sunshine of past endeavours?

A place that felt so huge the first time I walked up the stairs now weighs heavily with the shadow of a different future.

A place where I learned so much about people, about life, about how I should spend my days.

A place where I pinned calenders up on a notice board in an office built for one but habited by two.

A place where I walked into on a Monday morning with heavy set eyes and left on Friday afternoon, with new ideas on how to make the changes I needed to make.

Lost in the snow, walking back through a blizzard, a grey colossus that faded into the recess of my mind when warm food and warm feelings grabbed me in from the tundra.

An open door to adventure, to receiving digital invitations to adventures in other lands, listening as I try to figure out yet more logistics about a brave new world.

When care and attention are no longer a priority, there remains a few scant reminders of days gone by, of days when people laughed and felt alive.

It's strange how buildings are more than buildings.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


There's very few things that we really stop and look at any more.
We're constantly trying to catch up five minutes here or half an hour there, and for what? So we can find more things to fill our time with that we don't really need to be doing. We feel a sense of begrudging ownership to so many aspects of the everyday and the ordinary.

Sometimes it takes an image or a situation to make us sit and really think about things. 

One such situation occurred to me the other day at work as I scurried between rooms, trying to help out different people with very similar problems. 

We've recently been told about a relocation from our current office dwelling to a more modern and functional domicile. It makes sense in a lot of respects as this building really has seen much better days. Every door seems to creak and sigh like an aged relative with too many bad habits. Each piece of carpet wears the impressions of a million tantrums and celebrations; every office mistake, every pitch that fell short, every problem that was solved or merely postponed. 

In one of the more secluded rooms in the building there's something that I notice every time that I need to retreat there. 

A dead butterfly. 

It's been there for as long as I can remember that he/she has unknowingly shared in so many of my triumphs/downfalls.

The adventure that began with a simple message, the scolding that addressed my sometimes obvious lack of motivation and the first time I realised that I actually cared quite a lot about the people that I share this ancient space with.

This picture sums up everything I think about so many situations that occur. How close did we get to where we wanted to be before it was all taken away? How did we not realise that we'd done the hardest part? 

Maybe we did. 

Maybe the truth of the matter is that we didn't realise what we wanted, until we couldn't have it any more or until we'd lost the will to move forward.

This is all questions isn't it?
Even that was a question ironically and I didn't mean it to be.

One day we'll take stock of all of this and realise that our greatest victory came truly from pushing forward this entire time. The line may be on the next footstep or over the horizon but that's not really the most important thing. The important thing is that our feet never stop moving until the lights go out. 

Speak soon
Take care

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Leave no man behind

I don't think we're really meant to do this on our own.

Any of this.

It's strange how much time we spend accepting the absurd as regular, simply because it keeps the rain from our foreheads. If you would have told me this succession of events beforehand, there's none of it that I probably would have thought credible.

Our working lives dictate a huge part of who we become, even as much as we'd like them not to, because of the sheer weight of them.

It's impossible not to get cynical over a number of years when you're presented with the same thing again and again. It may rankle at first and cause an initial jolt of reaction but as the sword of time pierces our skin, that same set of circumstances barely even registers.

Recently a good friend of mine left the confines of our office to seek gainful employment doing something different but the same. The send off, as these things always are, was emotional but this one somehow felt a little harder to deal with initially. I think it's because the amount of time we'd spent, as we shared 2 different offices, trying to make sense of all this nonsense, really started to have an effect on the way I looked at the world.

I'm lucky in my 9-5 because my big brother works in the same office. It's yet another extension of my childhood that I've not yet been forced to give up. It doesn't matter how bad things get, and in truth they're never really that bad, it's always comforting to know that he's there. It goes back to being a kid when he'd sneak me in arcades, you never forget those kind of gestures.

My friend however, was a different animal.

I never realised how many times we'd stood in a grey room discussing nothing and everything or how many times it'd be gone 6 and we'd still be chatting on the car park. I lost count of the number of times we'd make a pot of tea on a Friday afternoon and both attack paperwork whilst listening to a play on the radio. I'm probably painting it to be way more civilised than it actually was but in a world full of high speed everything, the contrast was sometimes overlooked.

Judging fights has taken a hold of my senses incredibly of late, and over the last few months the schedule has really intensified. I'm not complaining by the way, it's awesome. It's the best job in the world.

The other day at work I had to help move some equipment round in a rare lull and as I did, I became so aware of how quiet the place seemed. I walked back into the last office that we shared and immediately became enlightened by a million conversations about the sublime and the ridiculous; chats about old computer games, Indoor League, Joan Jett, Welsh rain and Protect and Survive to name a few.

It was only when I finished boxing up all of the things that my colleague left behind did I have a startlingly morbid thought. This happens to us all. The temporal nature of this fragile existence. The beginning and the inevitable end. I got scared for a second and quickly worked to complete this task before more feelings or thoughts got in my way.

It wasn't till I finished the task that I turned round and saw the following image.

It made me laugh for a brief second. I forgot, in a moment of mock rebellion, we'd stuck this image up on the back of the door so only those who ventured properly into the office would see it.

It was our way of balancing a bucket of water on top of the frame then telling the world to fuck off.

The truth is that this part of the whole experience made me happy. The job isn't the same but it should be. I'm still doing the same things with the same people, but without the interaction from certain peers it becomes nothing more than ticks in boxes.

Next time you're at work and it's really getting to you, just remember that the people that you share that passing conversation over a cup of tea with, may well turn out to be some of the most important people you ever meet. You just don't see it at the time because it's hived in the veneer of order, model and paperwork.

Until next time
Take care
Speak soon

Friday, 14 March 2014

Those days you felt alive

Where did it all go?
Where did they go?

Those days before I had to ask the same people slightly different questions.

The days when the only real mystery was the menu for an evening meal; nights spent wandering home by the haunting phosphorous hum.

I'm not sure exactly how it all changed but it did.

How do any of us really change?

Is it really just a footstep between forced acceptance of circumstance and a gradual erosion of principles?

I accept this 9-5 pilgrimage like everyone else does, simply because it facilitates the life I have become accustomed to. Nursed to fattening point by the sickly sweet milk of capitalist living; we cry like children whenever we're forced to remember the times before targets were simply for throwing things at.

The me that exists for the times when conversation doesn't need a focus or a destination sighs internally at times like this. I smile though, knowing that everything is temporary and the candle of servitude diminishes with every door that closes.

My mood is lifted by the girl with the sunshine smile and the waterfall hair as soon as problems are swapped for stories and the belongings of the day are dispatched by a tsunami of hot beverages. No agenda, no time to keep, no time to waste, nothing to be done that doesn't in some way increase the one vital target we all seem to eager to forget, happiness.

Don't spend too much time.
Speak real soon

Friday, 28 February 2014


Is there a more liberating feeling than walking through the doors of your hotel room?

It's funny how, now I don't have to write to deadline, it takes little more than fleeting thoughts and feelings to make me put theoretical pen to paper.

We're constantly forced into different categories for a variety of reasons, as the gradual erosion of looming responsibilities becomes too big to ignore.

However on a journey, the pigeonholing is far more literal. Every corridor we get sent down is constrictive and full of people all accepting the fact that there's nothing they can do about the next few hours of their respective lives.

We go from trains to cars to planes to taxis to buses, all with one hope. That the end of the journey will represent a glorious, luxurious pay off, and somehow the feeling I get never fails to take my breath away.

I'm instantly filled with a sense of complete forgetfulness of the entire jaunt. I don't think once about the times when I wished I was somewhere comfortable and quiet. It's like Final Fantasy VII when you finally escape from Midgar and the world stretches out in front of you, more vast than you really know what to do with.

We're also filled with an urge to do all the things that we know we shouldn't do and actively should discourage others from. We jump on the bed, make loads of noise, leave clothes strewn around and play loud music.

For however many hours we've had to be in a certain place for a certain time, no breaks and no buts. Now nothing seems driven by schedule or reason, nothing really matters for that brief second that the light switches on, as the spare key is lodged Excalibur like in its receptacle.

There's only one thing that could make this feeling more complete, but then the best part of going away is always coming home to embrace that which you longed for in absence.

These adventures keep getting crazier.
The journeys keep getting longer.
It's limitless.
We're only bound by ourselves.
You'd do well to remember that, we all would.

Speak soon, take care

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

But we were moving, somehow

There's a halt to these things.

Sometimes it's so gradual a decline that we barely notice the change of pace and scenery. 

Other times however, we're ejected from the wreckage of our previous incarnations and expected to pick up the pieces as we go along.

This past week was truly one of those occasions where one life stopped as another started; the treadmill kicked straight into reverse in a heartbeat.

Tuesday 7th January I strolled back into work, made a cup of tea and checked my e-mails. 

There were several things that needed doing, it didn't feel like Christmas and it definitely didn't feel like Summer. 

I sat down in my chair and immediately began to daydream about exactly what had just happened over the last few days; about what I was going to do when I got home, about what Vanille was doing, about what I'd name my next squad on Xcom. 

Everything apart from what I was supposed to be doing ironically. 

It's the post Christmas malaise that we're all used to, and that we all accept every year. Every single year we get sucker punched with the early January blues, but the fact it happens repeatedly surely says more about us. Every time we imagine that Christmas will last forever. That feeling of being warm and hazy eyed, surrounded by those who we love and numb with hot food and cold chocolate. 

Every morning when, we wake up in January when the pilgrimage begins again. We realise that normal service is always resumed and we trudge into servitude once more. 

Back to Tuesday 7th January for a second. 

I sat at my desk and began with my first wave of productivity when it was halted before it even began. I got the too familiar craving for a hot cup of tea on a cold Winter morning.

I wandered into the main office and was greeted by the usual pleasantries but one voice spoke over the others saying, "Ben, you look really tired. Big weekend?"

I looked up for a second and replied, "Yeah, I worked a show in Singapore and I ended up judging the main event and it went five rounds. You know how it is."

The Ultimate Warrior couldn't have no sold that reply better than I did. As I was walking back down the corridor I sat in my office for a second and thought to myself, "Am I taking this for granted?"

Have I reached the point that I just pass these crazy adventures off as being the norm now?

My phone went off before I could answer myself and, still half asleep, I pressed the wrong button that not only cut the call off but opened my pictures folder. I stood and looked at the image that stared back at me and felt myself slowly lose the ability to move. It sounds so dramatic to say it like that but I really did feel like some force was holding me in place. 

Alison had taken that photograph and sent it to me as I wandered into work. I hadn't received it but my phone had stored it. I'd love to think that it had some kind of sense of autonomy, rather than protocol. It got that picture and thought, "There'll be a point when Ben questions himself, I'll save this."

I looked at that picture for about 5 minutes without saying anything before I was kindly reminded of where I was and what I should have been doing. Good job really, I'd probably still be there now.

It was like the Gold Saucer. One massive adventure, bathed in lights and sounds and coated in a mystery that took my breath away whenever I looked out of my window. All I didn't have was a cable car ride and a giant cat but, with more time, I'm very confident I could have found them both. 

I guess I answered my own question.
I'll never take any of this for granted.
I'll never stop feeling like I do before the lights go down.
More importantly I'll never stop wanting to get better.

Things are going to get crazy, even by these standards, real soon so keep in touch.
Take care