This will be my last blog for 2012, so first and foremost, I would like to wish all my world-wide readers the very best for 2013.
I see from my stats that over the past few months, readers from no less than 40 countries have logged into my blog, so I was wondering whether we couldn’t all have a little group meditation session and see if we can’t make this world of ours a better place in 2013.
I don’t really believe all this spiritual crap, but in these dark and truly troubling times, anything is worth a try, don’t you think?
We seem to be beset from all sides by the threat of world catastrophes, which I would put into three major categories, namely: War, economic meltdown and climate change.
Of the three, climate change seems to have the greatest potential to threaten the long term future of our planet and future generations.To be honest, climate change is a threat that we are largely impotent to prevent, regardless of what the ‘save the planet’ lobby may say.
Wars, including civil wars and the threat of nuclear Armageddon, are fixable, as are economies, although whether I will see much progress on either of these during the time I have left on this Earth is highly debatable.
So how about a little Mobi-Prayer to whatever omnipotent powers there may be out there in this vast and wonderful universe? Yes, we have sinned greatly, but do we all deserve to die?
On a personal front, it has been quite a year for Mobi. I started off the year feeling quite poorly and over the next few months my health deteriorated sharply to my nadir in June, when I underwent open heart surgery to replace my failing aorta valve. Since then, I have been steadily recovering. It was not all plain sailing and there were a few worrying emergencies along the way, but now, at year’s end, I seem to be in as good a shape as anyone could have reasonably hoped.
Sure, I had originally thought that by the end of the year, I would be as fit as a fiddle, at least 10 kilos lighter, and would be jogging an hour every day. I now realise that this was a totally unrealistic goal, as at my age, it is a long, slow and painful process to pick oneself up after such a major operation.
Nevertheless, right now, I do feel better than I have done in months. After having finally thrown off the effects of a stubborn bout of diarrhoea, I have succeeded in changing my sleeping habits, and we now wake up soon after six, and are out walking around the picturesque lake as dawn breaks. I am back to walking briskly for nearly an hour a day and today, for the first time in months, I even jogged slowly for a few minutes, and all this, at the crack of dawn.
Next year I will try to build on my daily exercise – slowly gravitating from walking to jogging – and hopefully I will lose the weight that I had planned to lose this year.
On the writing front, I am delighted to report that the novel is now finished – all 216,000 words of it. It was roughly a two-year effort although there were long periods when little or nothing was done, due to medical emergencies and other distractions – like trips up-country and abroad, and even writing this blog.
I plan to remove the entire text of my novel text from my blog sometime in the near future, as it is now undergoing substantial editing and revision. It is difficult to estimate how long this process will take, but I certainly hope it will be finished by the end of January, at which point I will re-publish the text into the blog. ( I am already up to part three, so I am making good progress).
On other fronts, my relationship with Noo is stronger than ever and we really get along extremely well together. Apart from walking together, these days we watch quite a lot of TV together, and just recently, we have started going out to the cinema. Noo loves working in the garden and has converted our little piece of Thailand into a tropical paradise, and if anything, she loves our four dogs even more than I do.
She has looked after and cared for me like a baby, and to be honest, I tend to take advantage of her. One of my many New Year resolutions is to pull my weight a bit more around the house and garden and not let Noo be at my ‘beck and call’ all the time.
I have now been sober for two calendar years, a feat I could never have contemplated without Noo to support me at every turn, and for that alone I will be eternally grateful. For the first year of my sobriety, I used to get the occasional urge to drink, for example, when I watched people drinking in a movie, particularly wine, but now 2 years down the track, I can’t recall the last time I even thought of having a drink. I reckon I’ve really made it.
I have spent a fair amount of time at bars over the year, mainly chatting to a couple of old friends,but my visits have become less frequent as the months have gone by. Up to a month or so back I still met up with friends at least once a week, but now I find myself going for weeks at a time without a single bar visit. I confess I find the bars pretty tiresome, as they all contain their coterie of drunks, propping up the bars and saying stupid things. Even my friends become increasingly difficult to converse with, once the booze starts to get hold of them.
I am not saying ‘never’, but I do say that visits to bars will become the exception rather than the rule and it is highly likely that during 2013, my bar days will draw finally to a close. Maybe I should make an effort to find new friends who are happy to share a coffee with me rather than a beer. Or maybe I am just too old to find new friends. Either way, it doesn’t really matter, as I have my little Noo as my best friend and lover and I have my writing, my travelling, my TV, my photography, my music, and much more besides.
So what awaits Mobi in 2013?
In no particular order;
- complete the editing of my novel and maybe self-publication on Amazon if all other avenues fail;
- return of my piano to my home so that I can renew my amateur attempts at tinkling the ivories.
- do some more creative writing – maybe start another novel, but this time much shorter;
- explore more of Thailand with Noo and her son – I am thinking Kanchanaburi and maybe Koh Chang, as well as maybe a trip ‘home’ to Nong Khai, and another drive around the Loei tourist spots;
- a trip to England in July with Noo to see my two daughters and my brother;
- a visit to Pattaya by my youngest daughter with her husband next August, (they will fly back with us after our 3 weeks in England);
- try to find a bit of free-lance work as a journalist, copy writer, or web content writer. I have done all these things at some point in my life but whether I can get anyone interested in giving me a to remains to be seen. Unlikely, but you never know;
- renew efforts to sell my house.
If I achieve half of the above, I will have done quite well.
How about you?
What ‘Telly’ will you be watching in 2013?
I confess I have become a terrible TV addict over the past two years or so, and have downloaded so much stuff that I doubt that I will ever get round to watching even half of it.
So in 2013, I must exercise more discipline and be a great deal more discerning when selecting the TV videos, (and feature films), to download for my later viewing pleasure.
This is particularly so in respect of documentary videos, of which I have hundreds, mostly downloaded from BBC but also from other UK channels and even a few from PBS, USA.
At the time I downloaded all this stuff, the subject matter sounded absolutely fascinating, and I convinced myself that every one of them was a ‘must see.’
Yet the plain truth of the matter is that my viewing habits have gravitated more and more towards BBC i player, where I can watch a lot of populist rubbish, (and some good stuff), that has been aired in the UK during the past few days, but I only have a limited period to watch it before the programme ‘rights’ expire. So the downloads on BBC i Player always have priority, and I am forever postponing plans to watch other videos.
On most days I don’t watch any documentaries at all, and even when I do, it is usually something special, like one of Ken Burn’s excellent films, (which usually run to 8 hours or more) or maybe yet another Antarctic/Arctic wildlife series, as little Noo loves to watch anything that has ice or snow in it.
One way or another I am drowning in unwatched TV dramas, comedies, documentaries and I even have a substantial catalogue of feature length movies, many of which, I doubt I will ever get round to watching it.
One of the reasons for accumulating such a huge collection of videos is because I live in fear and dread that one day I will no longer be able to download these programmes with impunity. But the reality is that as fast as the ‘rights owners’ try to protect their property, the world at large will find new ways to circumvent any new impediments to downloading. The worst case scenario is that I will have to pay for my downloads, which I am quite prepared to do, if there were decent, legal sites, that provided most of my needs. This in itself would have the effect of making me more discerning.
I confess I have become an addict of ‘East enders’, a UK soap, but these days I spend most of my time watching by screaming at the implausible plot lines, terrible acting and – frankly – the total dearth of new ideas. If I see another ‘overheard conversation scene’ or a plot containing a ‘running secret’ or something accidentally recorded on a telephone which is used weeks or months later to confront a villain, I swear to God I will throw something at my TV screen.
I ask you, in real life, how many times does anyone really eavesdrop on what others are saying? Very rarely, if at all, as most people are pretty careful about what and where they discuss their personal matters, yet in ‘East enders’ it happens almost every day in every household, and even in the pubs and in the local square. It seems that the entire cast is manically engaged in discussing matters that they don’t want other people to know about, but who inevitably do, because the conspirators forgot to shut the door, or didn’t realise they were talking in an open place, within earshot of dozens. Surely people living in East London are not that stupid???
As for ‘illicit’ lovers kissing each other in public – well the rule in East Enders seems to be that if you are two-timing your spouse or partner, then you make sure that everyone finds out by committing brazen acts of affection in every conceivable public place you can think of.
Then there is my addiction with talent shows, such as the ‘X Factor’, ‘American Idol’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. I was a late comer to this genre and only started watching them about 2 -3 years ago, so I had a bit of catching up to do. Back in the west, these shows have been around now for 10 years or more in one guise or another.
Like most music lovers, I am a sucker for watching new musical talent along with the countless sob stories that seems to be part and parcel of the genre, so I found these new format shows entertaining and very enjoyable. But the novelty has started to wane; the formats have become tired, worn and inflexible; some of the judges have grown old and withered before our eyes. As a consequence, find myself shouting almost as loudly at the ridiculously contrived antics and the paucity of talent in X Factor et al, as I normally reserve for the excruciatingly bad East Enders.
I am not denying that there is not the occasional, really talented act to come out of these shows, and I confess that watching a bloody dog dance with his young mistress recently brought tears of laughter to my eyes. But enough is enough for this old fool, and as my watching time is becoming more limited, I think I ought to confine myself to watching more ‘worthwhile and intellectually satisfying’ shows.
What is good?
Although it doesn’t always hold good, as a general principal, I find that any show – be it drama, comedy or talent show -has probably reached the end of its most productive and entertaining period by the end of the third series – if indeed it lasts that long.
I used to be a huge fan of ‘The Good Wife’, a brilliantly written and acted American legal drama, but I stopped watching it half way through series three when it became obvious that the writers had run out of new ideas. Characters that had been ‘seen off’ in earlier episodes were continually reappearing to cause yet more mayhem, as presumably the writers were too lazy to invent new characters. It was much easier to re-employ an existing actor together with his existing persona than dream up something new.
Also in ‘The Good Wife’, there is an on-going ‘running story /drama/mystery’ concerning the principal characters, (which is a common dramatic device in most US drama series these days), and which had been going strong through the first two series. We know that they will keep this ‘running story’, with its endless cliff-hangers, going for as long as the shows last – adding and extending it as necessary, when the next series gets commissioned. Again this is sheer laziness on the part of the writers, or maybe it is a desire by the producers not to ditch a winning formula. Probably a bit of both., but either way – for yours truly its’ a total turn off.
As for some of the more popular British series, such as Downton Abbey – which unaccountably has received rave reviews from all and sundry – well I really do despair. OK, I admit I quite enjoyed the first series – it wasn’t the greatest piece of TV drama by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a reasonable romp, recreating a time when British class system was at its most extreme.
Yet even the first series, which was by far the best, deceived its audience by glamorising the lives of the poor wretches who spent their entire lives ‘under the stairs’.
The reality was that most people in service, would toil away for twelve to eighteen hours a day, with litttle or no days off, living and working in appalling conditions, and then turned away without a penny when they became too ill or infirm to work any longer – many ending up in the work house or worse.
How do I know this? Well I learned much from a recent excellent TV documentary entitled ‘Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs,’ presented by Dr Pamela Cox. This was a well-researched, 3-part documentary about the real servant class that existed in the UK right up to the mid -20th century, and had me riveted to my seat throughout three long episodes. It entertained me far more than the Downton Abbey garbage ever could.
Did you know that right up to the 1930’s, more than 1.3 million people were still employed in domestic service in the Britain, and not one of them had the basic employment rights and conditions that were then being enjoyed by all other UK workers in factories, shops and offices.
Last night I watched the Downtown Abbey Christmas special, a feature length episode, which apart from being the most boring drama I have ever had the misfortune to watch in recent years, was also the most improbable.
The ridiculously corny plot lines involved a militant, ‘home rule’ Irish chauffeur who married above his status and suddenly turned into a pathetic, toothless, toff; a disgruntled maid from the Scottish hinterland who tried to give her counterpart from the Middle Kingdom a ‘mickey fin’ because she knew more about hair dressing ; and another maid, (married to a boring old fart who has just been pardoned on a murder charge), who managed to stir up the entire population north of the border by learning howto dance the Gay Gordon! Sassenachs dancing our scared reels! Whatever next!
Then we were subjected to a series of unlikely, whirlwind, ‘below the stairs’ romances all which all ended in disaster. To top it all off, in the final two minutes of this two hour ordeal, one of the main stars was killed off. It transpires that despite all the producers’ pleading, he had refused to sign up for any more of their inane, badly written drivel, so they had no choice but to kill him off. He was probably the best of a bad bunch and the next series will be left with a load of card board cut-outs actors with about as much sense of dramatic timing as your average kid in a nativity play. (Excluding Maggie Smith, who surely can only be in it for the money.)
The Long and winding telly road ahead.
I shall try to follow Downton hero’s lead and move onto to TV pastures a new in 2013. No more rubbish like ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘East Enders’, and ‘X Factor’ and more decent TV dramas , such as ‘The Good Cop’, ‘The Hour’, ‘The Killing’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘Homeland’ and the like. But in particular, I am resolved to watch more documentaries from the stable of Ken Burns (‘Jazz’, ‘The Civil War’ and ‘Prohibition’) and British output, along the lines of ‘The Frozen Planet’, ‘Putin Russia and the West’ and ‘A History of Ancient Britain’.
So it’s a happy, more enlightened 2013 TV viewing from me, and a happy 2013 TV viewing from him….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a Hoot!