Bournemouth Gardens is packed on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Shoppers bustle past, teenagers play on the grass, but today more than usual their gaze is directed downwards at their phones. Kids, adults, old and young; cyclists, bus drivers and big hairy bikers all alike. In a parallel universe, the place is dotted with spinning cubes and buried under a thick drift of cherry petals.
When I was born, thirty-one years ago, the UK was in the middle of some tough economic times. The value of the pound was low, and interest rates were high. But in the intervening years, despite the recession at the end of the 2000s, the overall trend was up. People were getting richer, quality of life was increasing, and the country was cooperating ever more with its neighbours.
Over the last eight hours, much of that was undone.
“Hackerspaces”, or “Makerspaces” are very much an idea whose time has come. The analogy I liked to use most was that of a “community garden shed”—they are places run by the community, where any member can come along and work on their personal projects and collaborate with others.
“Facebook has a big problem”, the tech media breathlessly cries. Despite using it every day, I’m not a fan of Facebook, and so am drawn to these articles like a moth to a flame. Let’s all enjoy guilt-free schadenfreude at the expense of a billion-dollar business! So, what’s Facebook’s problem this week? People are sharing more web pages and news stories, but fewer “personal stories”—plain status updates that relate to their lives.
Here’s a thing that I don’t have, wouldn’t have time to use, and really shouldn’t buy. But a thing that I really want anyway. It can do 40 knots.
Today, Southampton’s Dungeon club announced that it would be closing this weekend. Although it’s been a long time since our university days, it’s sad to see it go. It’s one of the formative places of my youth—I was introduced to the place at age 18, full of nerves; by 21 the Hobbit and the Dungeon was our regular night out, and we couldn’t go to either without running into someone we knew.
The second book is nearly finished now, the one that not so long ago I thought I had lost the knack of reading. For all my worries, I had not lost the knack of reading, or of filling my mind and body and soul with all that I read.
January, it seems, has become our decorating month. Last year around this time, we finally sorted out Joseph’s bedroom, replacing the magnolia and jungle theme with something more to his current taste (and much tidier).
Whilst faffing around with my blog the other day—in a regular incidence of “it ain’t broke but I’m going to fix it anyway”—I discovered some old half-written short stories that never made it to the web. (These two, if you’re interested.) Scrolling through the list of files that comprise my past attempts at fiction, it was immediately obvious that I’d not written even a scrap of a story since 2013. Worse, it’s been four years since I wrote anything complete—a paltry 342-word story called “Silence”, which my wife pestered me into writing. The last time I wrote something complete for myself was 2011.
Looking back on previous posts from New Years’ Eve, 2015 almost feels like a disappointment. There’s no pictures of far-flung deserts and mountains this year—I haven’t been abroad with work for so long that British Airways sent me a nice letter, telling me I’d been demoted to a mere peasant in their eyes and could no longer abuse the facilities of the business class lounge.