I had a great day on Saturday from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed late on after watching the taped new episode of Dr Who. Among the highlights I can share with the public the brightest was my trip to Collectormania 2014 in Glasgow. Its not often I get enough time together to do something like this but the trip had been planned for two weeks and I was raring to go. Why you ask..well for the chance to meet two childhood heroes of mine and the chance to get some new t-shirts too.
I got the shirts and as you can see above it was a smaller sized event, nothing like Salute at Excel in London, but that was good for me. It meant that there was virtually no que to wait in for an autograph and it meant that you could actually spent a bit of time talking to the person too. Sylvester McCoy is a really nice person and it was great to be able to speak to him. I did not mention the seventh Doctor once rather it was more a meeting of two men from the former region of Strathcylde. However for my good lady the star of the show was Dirk Benedict who took a real shine to her! After that he was quite happy to talk about the A-Team and his time as Starbuck too.
We got our autographs which my eldest son who came with us found quite funny. For you see I put no stock in religion or celebrity or anything else that is beyond my normal grasp as a Man. I take each on its own merits but actually conversing with these two put a grin on my face that he found amusing! I might well go back next year. I missed Sophie Aldred as she was only there today and not Saturday. Shame but there is always next time.
So I will finish on a last picture of my good lady with The Face Man as he was and still is known. Hands off mate…she’s mine!
Today was the start of a new school year here in Girvan for my three sons. The Thinker, The Poet and The Warrior donned their new uniforms and took up their new jackets (it is Scotland so it was cold in August!) and bags and headed for the class rooms. This is an occasion for celebration every year but this year there was an extra event as my eldest was now attending secondary school going from a big fish in a little pond to a minnow in a lake. So he headed off to Girvan Academy while the smaller two went back a year up to Girvan Primary. As you can see in the image here they looked very smart indeed which is due entirely to my loving wife and not I who has now not shaved in near a week!
As is the duty of all good fathers I asked each how their first day went. The replies were as follows starting with the youngest The Warrior. He said that school was cool, that music is now his favourite subject and that having a class smaller than last year made him happy. So a happy lad. The middle lad, The Poet, was more reflective and while musing over a new book of tales published in conjunction with the school (in which he had a full entry) said that he hoped it would be pacer quicker than last year as he liked a challenge. Now the eldest The Thinker looked all grown up in his shirt and tie and what did he think of his first day at a new school? With a weight of years he said it was a big change with many more subjects and a lot of new faces to get to know. He was most taken with the idea of responsibility in that he is now allowed out for lunch into the town as well as the canteen.
A big day then and it was a pleasure to see once more what fine lads they are and how they will make their parents justly proud in years to come.
I waited until the day after, the morning after, my eldest son’s birthday to make this small blog post. The Thinker is now twelve and the time has passed so quickly it hardly seems real to me. He had a great day yesterday electing to travel to a local leisure pool and enjoy the flumes and fun with his family and close friends (it was also the first time that I have been down a flume in more than a decade!).
It was an important birthday for him in my eyes as it marks the start of his journey to adulthood and I will tell you why. The Thinker now has his own bedroom and has moved out of the shared room with his two brothers for the first time. That room has a brand new desk and book rack in it for his soon to start school work for secondary school after the summer holidays. He now has his first mobile phone which is an entry level model on a pre-pay contract meaning he can begin to interact with the digital world and learn those lessons too. As always I am humbled by the adoration that people have for my son who is a wonderful boy, always helpful and always polite. Cards, gifts and mementos came to him across the day. Even a great new cover for his new bed!
It will not be long before I am speaking about him becoming a teenager….
Happy Birthday my Son. From the very start and your first smile until each passing moment and your smiles of today you are the centre of my life.
I was invited to Glasgow University on the Wednesday of this week to be a part of my sister in law’s graduation from the university. I was honoured to be selected as tickets are rare and it meant I would once more be able to walk the halls of my old haunt and enter the illustrious Bute Hall for the ceremony. By an odd coincidence it was twelve years to the day after my own graduation from the university in exactly the same ceremony but this time I was able to see it from the outside without the gown and the mortar board.
The programme of events. We were lucky with a mild and dry day and it was really fantastic to see all the smiling faces full of accomplishment. I will admit it was a lot of deja vu on my part but I will avoid going into details. I had not been back to the university since 2002 but I keep in touch with letters and email. Its a place that holds and radiates its five hundred years of scholarship and its formed the minds of thousands who have shaped the modern world. I have done a lot since I graduation not least the public work I am known for but I have gotten married, bought two homes, had three children, travelled, wrote, thought and fought the good fight.
A view of the side of Bute Hall to give an idea of the scale of the stone work. My sister in law Kirsten Loy was the star of the day and trust me it only seems like yesterday when she applied to go to university. While some might argue the benefit of further education I can tell you from my perspective that you go in one person and come out another better one more suited to the rapidity of the world now and better to deal with it. So congratulations and I am so proud of you. I wait to see where you go now!
I will end with the above photo of Kirsten on the left and my good lady on the right. I am so lucky to be part of a world of such beautiful and talented women.
The school term has ended and the summer holidays begun here in South Ayrshire. Huzzah you might think but no. It means seven weeks or so of entertaining children and educating them yourself rather than the teachers. Teacher work so hard, they do. Really…I am not joking. In fact while I am working they are, when they are off for the whole summer…well I am still working. Anyway let me not suggest that education needs an overhaul bringing it into the modern world the rest of us live in let me instead brag a little about my three. The Thinker, the Poet and the Warrior did well this year and I reward them for that.
Society now seems in a fair bit of imbalance towards children but not in my home. Rewards and treats are earned. You get what you need and then your good behaviour and excellent performance combined with contributing ideas and thought in conversation gets your rewards. End of term means an accounting of those prizes earned in term time and I reward well. As the image above shows it was a good payout as a small pile of award stars, certificates and so on were presented to me. Well done you three!
The Throne of Lead!
Today is my birthday…yes once a year it arrives. While it is a day of work (as all days are for me..who can understand those who claim to be too busy eh!) it is also a day of joy. Joy at now being thirty five years old. I am now half way to the big four zero. I have been well treated with gifts and cards and many emails and messages too from across the world so thank you all. I will try and reply to all of them by midnight.
The picture above well that was the biggest surprise of the day thus far. My good friend Sam Croes (he of the Ion Age) sprung a piece of artwork on me as a gift. Some have likened me to the ultimate barbarian and now you can see what that might have looked like. I am going to get this turned into a poster and put on my wall. I am the King of Lead it seems. It was nice of Mr Croes to tone down the muscles on me… ha! (it seems my darling wife knew of this and she is also in the picture!).
Its been a very busy year for me. I have had good times on the whole and bad times on occasion. You can follow them back across the blog if you so desire. But age is just a number and the next twelve months will bring even more to talk about. I have plans…lots of them. Some of them might even make it to reality. Working in the Wargaming Industry is very rewarding and creative.
What I do want to say is that apart from being depicted as a barbarian I am a good man, a good husband and father and a loyal friend. I am loved and I return that love and in life that is what matters.
Minions are cool..but purple minions are way cooler!
Now you are eight my little poet and bright you burn. A ray of sun in the world that promises much for a future not yet composed. Your face radiant and your words stronger and surer each day. Strong in limb and in mind my how you grow. Not so long ago to me a babe you were and a bundle in constant need of me. You need me still and you always will but it will be less and less and for that you will make me proud. My central son, my poet, my Daniel.
Am I not part of normal society now? Now before you go thinking I have put on a mask and lurk in dark alleys tackling criminals or I have forgotten its the early 21st century and moved to another time zone I have not. What I mean is ‘am I the kind of guy that mainline movies are made for’. What made me have this thought, well the LEGO movie did. I had promised my eldest son that he and his brothers could go see it and that happened this weekend.
This film has had rave reviews. I mean rave. Aside from the review above which you can watch the film got a 96% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is no mean thing. But I just don’t buy it and here is why. Firstly I sat in an audience of three hundred most of whom were children and most of them were at times so bemused and bored that they cried, spoke and wandered around (that did not happen during the excellent Despicable Me 2) and secondly the film just made me sad. Some have said that it pokes fun at the society that created it, the media obsessed, consumerist driven, you are never a failure despite your mediocrity society of the Western World in 2014. It does but its a veneer that covers the following.
The main LEGO character called Emmett is a vacuum of a man who just wants to fit in with a generic ‘awesome’ template of being ideal in his environment. The bad guy is called President Business (telling eh!) who does away with everyone who disagrees with him using a fascist police force. Literally disassembled by the powers that be. If you fail you get bailed out or soothed by the government if you are rich and important but if you try to be different and you are normal..you are killed. Special privileges for those in control in manipulation of the masses. President Business explains that ‘everything must stay the same’ and that building lego on your own is bad, that the elite must stay in control and society must confirm rigidly. Those at the top want to freeze everything, nothing must change or fail if its important. Business wants to literally ‘glue everything in place’. In the film the creativity of builders is brutally repressed for conformity. Emmett must believe he is special to become special and so he does and the film pokes fun at this but not enough. Skills don’t come from simply thinking you have them. Believe and it happens…leads to the dangerous core of this film. Emmett is passive and vacant and then someone tells you to be in violent conflict with others, you don’t see your own goals and you do not make your own choices. Its a bleak and a dangerous message. ‘Believe you are special but only when we give you the power to attack and destroy’. It is all troubling. At the end of the movie there is a cop out of the core drive of the film that brings it to a sudden halt before the appearance of Duplo.
Its a veneer to me because it actually left me feeling cold inside. This is not the times of my childhood with films like The Goonies, Karate Kid, Short Circuit. Its a veneer that once pushed through covers the fact that actually we are all like the movie portrays us and perhaps our society now is really rather screwed. Buy the lego kits, don’t create your own designs but you are awesome and you should create your own designs but don’t since you need to conform. Some scenes actually put me in mind of adult rated war movies. No hope in this fantasy world.
Did I look too far into it? Well maybe but I thought I would put my considerations to virtual paper.
Its a fun movie, its fast and its bright and it pushes buttons. Go see it. I don’t want to see it again.
I recently got a new phone. I thought it was time, since my last one was bought before the advent of most social media. While its all business for me I did want to share the little luxury I bought myself to go with the phone. As you can see is a great piece of artwork by Sam Croes on a protective case. Depicting giant robots in a burning cityscape. From a future project, don’t ask, as this image is all you will see of the project for now. Its one for 2015.
Enjoy the picture and thanks to my good lady for taking the shot, as you can imagine its hard to take a picture of your own phone case while your phone is in it!
My good lady enjoyed a weekend away with her best friend which left me at a loose end (only kidding I just kept working of course). She travelled to Edinburgh to spend a night in a swish hotel and to take in the stage version of The Lion King at the Playhouse. I am pleased to report that my treat which included an excellent gift bag went down well and that a super time was had by both of them.
Perhaps I am too nice…but I do love her dearly.