So flip the calendar back about 11 or 12 years and I am trying to find something to read on holiday. I don’t remember exactly when or where I found the book, but I was drawn to a book titled ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’ by an author that I had never heard of (not that I knew many authors) called Mike Gayle. I wasn’t a massive fiction reader, apart from reading Bravo Two Zero, and a couple of Stephen King novels, that was about it for me. So I genuinely didnt know where to start in trying to find something that might keep my attention, this Mike Gayle book looked interesting though, and it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in it, staying up late unable to put it down soon came to realise that Mike was actually from Birmingham, and found it pretty cool that he mentions various locations around the city in some detail as I begin to go through more and more of his books, each one as equally good as the first!
Eventually, after a number of house moves, with things being packed, unpacked andacked again before being eventually left in boxes when I realise the futility of unpacking them, most of my books all end up in my mothers loft and don’t come down again as I find myself with less and less time to read them anyway. Its also worth noting that I have since cancelled all of my photography magazine subscriptions as I have a significant number of magazines still in their plastic wrapping, that I just haven’t had the time to read. In fact one of my goals for this year, is to make sure I find just a little more time in my day to relax and do some reading. I know this time won’t just magically appear, and I will have to actually take certain steps to make sure this time becomes available, such as creating a deadline for going to bed and then going, regardless of what is going on, or more likely what I have told myself is far too important to just put down and leave, and cannot possibly wait until tomorrow… blah blah blah. I am sure there is actually very little, if not nothing that actually fits this scenario, and if there is anything that really must be done before bed, then I just have to get off my ass earlier in the night and do it then! The one exception, of course, is this blog, as there are only certain times I can do this, and pretty much any time Olivia is awake is certainly not one of those times, when she is up, she comes first! I have already reduced the frequency of the posts down from daily to now just twice a week, so I need to make sure that I stick to that at least, even if I end up starting each post one day and finishing it the next. Other than that, there is no real excuse for not going to bed a little earlier and giving myself a little time to relax with a book. My grandad, bless him, left me with numerous nuggets of wisdom as I was growing up, some I was too young to appreciate at the time, but some I have never forgotten… one has always stuck with me, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise”. Even though it has stuck with me, the irony is that I have never been able to carry this out and stick to it. I am in a bad habit of going to bed late, and then complaining about it the next morning and promising each day that ‘tonight will be different, tonight I will change things and start getting those early nights’! Yeah right, whatever!
So, with my collection of books still sat in my moms loft, forgotten and unloved, we fast forward to the current day, and by chance I find that not only does Mike Gayle have a real facebook page instead of just a business page that anyone can follow, but he is actually friends with someone I know, and that person being someone I still talk to (as this can’t be taken for granted with friends on facebook!). I mentioned to them that I was a fan and they pointed me in the direction of an upcoming appearance at a local library, and best of all its free! So I email the library and put my name down for a seat and actually begin to feel a little bit excited about it. I am generally so unimpressed and uninterested by celebrities, and quite frankly couldn’t care less about what it is they wear when they go to the supermarket that some newspaper must be having a quiet news day to actually warrant bothering to write an article about, with photos of said celebrity, yes… shock, horror, actually looking a little rough around the edges…
The current trend of Celebrity Cooking On Ice In The Jungle style programmes drives me to despair, I really have no interest in celebrities or what they’re doing! They’re just people. Just humans, and often with no real talent to speak of. They don’t care about me and my life, and so equally I have little interest in them or their life. Sure, if they make a good film then I’ll sit down and watch it. So then why, when this is my position on celebrities, and always has been… why do I start to get excited at the idea of meeting my favourite author? Is it because this is someone with some real talent who actually deserves the recognition? Someone who has actually proven himself to have a skill and get his name out there and known to many solely on his achievements, not like some ‘celebrities’ relying on some weak acting skills in some dumbed-down soap opera for the hopelessly addicted before turning to reality vote-me-off shows to revive their dusty and tired careers!
So I turned up at the library in plenty of time to get a seat, not knowing how busy it was likely to be, and even though it was quite a small library, on the very outskirts of Birmingham, I still figured that there may not be many empty seats left. I had never been to anything like this before, so as much as I usually like to be prepared, that preparation actually required a bit of guesswork on this occasion, hence I had come armed with at least one of his books that I had been and retrieved from my moms loft, and had even stuck a pen in my pocket. As I walked into the library, I saw a table set up with some of his newer books and a price list… duh… of course, why would he sign an old book if he is selling more current ones? What was I thinking? Well damn it, I had always wanted to meet and shake the hand of this guy after being hooked on so many of his books, and so I wasn’t going to let a technicality stop me from getting a signed book, and so off I shot, hot footing it to the nearest cashpoint down the road to draw out some money and buy another one of his books. I felt suitably robbed by the cashpoint machine charging me to remove my own money, it pains me to pay those charges, and generally I’d rather refuse and spend that money on petrol searching around for a free cashpoint, just to make a point… but this wasn’t the time for such protests, I had to get back to the library pronto to try and make sure I didn’t end up with the last seat right at the back stuck behind Mr Seven Foot Tall with the big head! As it turned out, most people had for some reason chosen to shy away from the front seat, and so I was straight in there! Mike did a reading from one of his books, spoke about his career and finished off with a Q&A session. It was a lovely and rather different evening, and for free you really can’t complain! I got my book signed and even got a photo with the man!
I had to skip my usual Tuesday night jujitsu class, where I should have been picking up my new brown belt, after completing my recent grading… but this was worth missing one class for! In jujitsu we are graded, not only on our skills, improvement and completion of certain aspects of our syllabus, but also our attitude. Time keeping and attendance are big factors in this, and our sensei keeps a close check on those who are not turning up each week. Jujitsu requires discipline and commitment, and all of this goes towards being graded, just as much as our techniques. So I did feel a bit naughty skipping a class, but sometimes you have to do these things!