My Bike Story – ‘Blood Dragon’

bicycle race

We all have our bike stories to tell. Whether it’s that trip to Centre Parks with the family, or just that you can sing Queen’s ‘Bicycle Race’ without a lyrics sheet. Well, folks, here’s my bike story – I call it ‘Blood Dragon’.

There’s been nothing tougher than spending my first year at University as an off-campus student. Living in the not-so-fancy Tang Hall area, I had to walk for half an hour to get to uni, there and back, every single day. Some days, I’d stay at my girlfriend’s place just to avoid leaving campus (and, because I wanted to, of course).

Then, one day, I heard there was a bike sale of re-cycled bikes on-campus. Initially, I had my fears, but there was no harm in at least popping along. When I arrived, there was a range of slightly-rusted bikes, ranging both in colour and price. After much scanning, I found my needle in the haystack – a steed for £50, with all kit included. Bingo. My luck hadn’t run out after all! However, there was one small catch:

The bike was bright pink with neon green handlebars.

blood dragon
Sadly, it doesn’t come with the drain pipe!

Yikes. I stood there assuring myself, with sentences such as “Ady, it’s fine, it has that vintage, California beach look about it!” and “It’s salmon, dammit, salmon!”. I knew that I’d live to regret this, forever mocked by my immediate family and passer-by chavs. But, being the cheapskate that I am, I couldn’t ignore how cheap it was, how proud my Mum would be for buying a bike £30 cheaper than my brother.

And so, after handing over my money and receiving a ‘That’s a unique choice, mate!’ from the seller, I have something that can get me to and fro rather quickly, is the brightest bike on campus and beyond and gives me an excuse to sing ‘Bicycle Race’.

So why call this story Blood Dragon? Well, for any gamers and popular-culture-enthusiasts out there, it relates to Far Cry 3’s standalone adventure, ‘Blood Dragon’. For those who aren’t either of the above, the game showcases killer cyborgs, laser dinosaurs and more bright pinks and neon greens than an exercise video from the 80s!

Sgt. Rex Power Colt - my bike's inspiration
Sgt. Rex Power Colt – my bike’s inspiration

Sadly, I am sad enough to name my bike ‘Blood Dragon’… all judgmental comments are welcome.

It’s Beginning To Look/Smell/Taste/Sound/Feel A Lot Like Christmas!

My Christmas post from last year – Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!


Santa Claus Christmas Cartoon HD Wallpaper 1080x607 Santa Claus Christmas Cartoon

Hallelujah! After 25 days of opening cardboard windows for a piece of milk chocolate, of running around frantically searching for present after present (seriously, I really think ‘Christmas Shopping’ should be considered a competitive sport in its own right at the Winter Olympics!) and imitating Shane MacGowan’s part in ‘Fairytale of New York’ in as drunk a fashion as possible, the big day has finally arrived. Christmas, a day where drinking excess amounts of champagne and eating large amounts of chocolate are, well, highly encouraged! Despite the stress and anxiety that precedes this day, it all works out for the best when everything builds up into one, heart-warming day of relaxation and the first of two ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ specials. GET IN! Whilst I feel that the novelty of my birthday wears off after a while, Christmas still remains as big, as camp and as cuddly as I remember. Why? It’s tradition. With birthdays…

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Fresh(ers) Meat – A University of York Perspective


Ah, University. A mythological world of academics that I’d only heard about through ‘American Pie’ films and ‘Disney’ Sequels. Yet, as the calendar months rolled on, it wasn’t only Andy’s turn to pack up the various belongings and ASDA ‘Smart Price’ cans, but that of thousands of other students across the U.K.. A new city, a new start, a new list of cliches. Just looking at my Facebook news feed, I could see the excitement brewing.  Yet, there was one fear that I held deep in the dark depths of my subconscious brain, a place where I do a top-notch Homer Simpson impression and adding jelly beans to my student meals is deemed ‘creative’. That fear, was that we first years would be ‘Freshers Meat’ for the rest of the university.

As much as I’m fond of America’s mainstream culture, it was the ‘GET THE FRESHMAN!’ theme that was so apparent in the ‘College’ genre of films that really brought this thing on. The ‘head in the bog’, the ‘super wedgie’, the ‘human basketball’. I expected my student life to be a David Attenborough-style hunt for survival across campus as I fled a group of third years, just trying to convince me that ‘the water in the lake doesn’t taste that bad’. Would a top ten university really condone this sort of animalistic behaviour? Was it really like that? No, not one bit.

This new sense of independence can feel a little daunting for some, even exaggerating itself towards isolation. Yet, fresher’s week and beyond at University of York could not make the common first year feel more at home. There’s a real sense of community that’s shared across all of the students studying here. YUSU’s Viking Raid went down a storm and was a great way for the first year to clank their pint glass with a fellow blue/green/red shirt, no matter what grade of student. And nothing, nothing gives a sense of community quite like screaming ‘Vanbrugh ‘till I die!’ with a bunch of people you haven’t even met before!

And so, my fellow first years, maybe university life isn’t as bad as it seems. Maybe with the help of a wonderfully ambitious student’s union, a colony of feathered friends and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, we may just survive this first year. Heck, we might even find it to be the best year of our lives. Just don’t eat bread with blue bits on it; no good can come of it.


Remember Our Soldiers, This Day of November

Almost every weekend without fail, I complain about going to work. I don my striped Matalan polo and trousers, pin ‘Adrian’ to my upper chest and leave the house with a deteriating sense of enthusiasm. Yet, as I got off of the bus yesterday, I was greeted by an ageing man in an old, ill-fitting WW1 uniform, shivering as he held a donation box to passers by, breathing into his tattered gloves for warmth, in desperate need of one of my Mum’s ‘magical hugs’. Was he miserable? Well, his ‘Cheshire Cat’ smile wasn’t helping his case – that, to me, is what Remembrance Day is all about.

We spend the entire year glorifying events as they pass through the calendar. At 18, I still have a memo on my phone titled ‘Christmas List’ where I write down my latest dreamboat gizmos that I may or may not need. Even Matalan themselves had Christmas stock months before Halloween started having a hype to it! Filled with Action Men and Avengers’ play sets, I ask myself – where are the cool action figures of WW1 soldiers in battle?

I think it’s a matter of respect that society understands that we don’t mass-commercialise this day of all days. You can walk past people who don’t say a word to you; but when you notice that poppy on their chest, you see the silent message that they’re showing to yourself and the world – to our soldiers, thank you. To my great granddad who passed away when I was little, thank you. To the gentleman freezing his hoo-has off outside Tesco’s near Matalan, thank you.

Let’s forget, just for one day, that games like Call of Duty exist – war isn’t something to be glorified. Instead, reflect on those that have helped build the world that we live in today – heck, go put a smile on your face as you go off to work, I know I will! As most of you know, I have a medical (hah) addiction to listening to Coldplay – I find listening to this song, reading the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ and re-watching the ‘Remembrance Sunday’ service help to capture the spirit of this day – lest we forget 🙂

Dear Diary/Nostaliga

At the wonderfully creative world that is my school’s ‘English Club’, I was given a writing assignment by my teacher. which consisted of the writing instructions ‘ Right guys, I’m tired, write what you want!’. The enormous freedom I felt encouraged me to fill the diary-shaped void in my life with a little something like this:

Dear Diary,

I’m hit with a fresh burst of nostalgia as I place pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) on what has to be the beginning of the first extract in a diary since I was 6. Has… has it really been that long? I recall writing within your ’SpiderMan’-themed covers (identical to that of my twin brother’s of course) questioning what the purpose of this mundane, aimless task was. After a few weeks, my determination to acquire a new, creative hobby dwindled. Your fate? The dusty enclave which lay beneath my bed. I lacked creativity, as well as patience.

Yet, as time passed and my perspectives on life changed, I find that I have been the subject of a ‘role reversal’. Now? I sometimes feel as if I’m too creative for my own good! Creativity can often be a double-sided coin; it can be the start of something incredible, or it can be the end of a life which was once comfortable. Although I wouldn’t change this character trait for *insert cliché here* anything in the world. A lack of creativity provides such a narrow outlook on life. I wouldn’t say creativity was absent in my life as a child – after all, pretending to be a kung-fu master with my best friend in my back garden couldn’t have been achieved without a broad, open mind (and sugar. Lots and lots of sugar). More so, I think I’ve managed to fine-tune this creativity into something I’m proud to show the world – a talent.

Diary, I know that I neglected you across the many years of my life; just remember that it was nothing personal. As much as I wanted to write my passions and aspirations onto the pages of your matter, there was nothing to write. However, as I began to expand upon the limits of my own mind, I’ve found that I want to write, pen to paper, for the rest of my dwindling days as a Journalist. I hope that you can be proud of me – the child I once was may not have had any stories to tell you, or the regrets that I’ve had; but you’ve always been at the forefront of my mind. To inspire me in sharing my thoughts, my feelings and my outlook on life with not just you, but with the rest of the world.

For that, I will always remain grateful :)

Here Comes The Sun (Shine Award)

Pint of Guinness? Check. Attempting to blot out Dad’s ‘classic’ St. Paddy jokes whilst watching ‘Waking Ned Devine’? Check. ‘FECK’ reg-plate placed conveniently above the kitchen door? Checkiddy check-check. May the most joyful day in the son-of-an-Irish-man’s calendar commence! Sadly, being underage, I can’t celebrate in the same way that a stereotypical Irishman might do; but I’ll happily swing along with the festivities. In fact, St. Paddy’s Day rubs off on just about everyone – a time of celebration and an appreciation of why the Irish are, well, the best people on the planet. Yet, not everyone turns up to celebrate. I’ll give you a clue – the culprit is round, orange and wears shades. Well… it was actually ‘The Sun’; but yes, I’ll accept ‘Kerry Katona Abroad’ as a suitable answer!

Unfortunately, St Paddy’s Day takes place towards the end of winter but near the beginning of spring. That means, to quote ‘Father Ted’, the weather is always feckin. shite. Today has mustered just about every kind of weather. Wild winds, persistent rain and a period of snow… but where’s that lovely sunshine? Sun – you’ve let Earth down; you’ve let the Irish down; but most importantly? You’ve let yourself down. Whilst I may not be able to drag the son from behind the clouds in a Bruce Almighty-like fashion, I can certainly use the power of my blogging enthusiasm and the likes of chalkdustfairy to bring a bit of sunshine into the world!

*Plays Harmonica* – My musical ear is still slightly deaf from my Grade 8 violin exam last week, so I won’t sing this for you. However, I’ll leave that to you to hum the following to the tune of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’:

Here Comes The Sun (Shine Award), Here Comes The Sun (Shine Award), It’s Brilliant (Do do do do do do do do dodododo)

Thanks to chalkdustfairy (if you haven’t read her blog yet, I recommend you do so before, you know, my respect is lost for you), I’m ‘bringing out the sunshine’ through the form of a new blogging award, ‘The Sunshine Award’. *Pfft*, who needs the real Sun anyway? After all, I don’t need sun-cream to embrace this form of sunshine, nor sunglasses at risk of blinding myself from staring at it! If this award is new to you, here’s a little description:

“The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The recipients of the Sunshine Award are: “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogsphere”. The way the award works is this: Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Answer questions about yourself. Select 10 of your favourite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!”

Just to throw this out there… I’m one of the few people in existence who has never played a 20q ball. However, I will compensate that disgrace of a claim by answering these 10 intriguing questions:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I’m not going to hide the fact that the real reason was the look of shame I received from a Leeds Trinity lecturer who visited our school, when I informed her that I wanted to be a journalist and had no experience to my name! However, the ‘ignorance is bliss’ reason has to be that it’s the way I tame both my philosophical mind and my eager sense of humour. As a growing kid in a growing world, I want to capture every bit of it; whilst making people laugh and smile along the way, of course!

2. How did you come up with the name for your blog?

My lacking sense of ‘titular imagination’! I guess I like the simplicity of AdrianCharlieHoran – it has a ring to it, it’s easy to remember and hey, what better way to get myself noticed than to stick my name in the title of it? Oh… , my middle name’s actually ‘Charles’ – that doesn’t count as treason that I dislike that as a name, does it?

3. What is your favourite blog that you like to read?

Just to avoid scenario where angry bloggers march to my house in the form of a ‘angry mob’ as I haven’t chosen them as my favourite, I’m just going to provide a generic answer – All of them.

4. Tell about your dream job.

I admit, I used to have two dream jobs – to be the next ‘Doctor’ or be the manager of my own ‘Jurassic Park’ (what can I say? I love dinosaurs!). However, thanks to mainstream education and a few ‘life lessons’, I settled for Journalism. Though I don’t regret it – someday I hope to write for a large publication, possibly a satirical magazine. If I end up writing ‘The Big Issue’? Well, it’d not quite be ‘living the dream’, but at… at least my words are being published?

5. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

*Geeky squeal*, after writing a full-blown post on the matter, I can safely confirm my glass is half-full. No wait, three quarters full. I’d have to say it’s full. Could somebody get more a larger, optimistic glass here?! QUICK!

6. If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Hmm… I think I’ll go with ‘Narnia’ on this one. After a week of talking lions, fighting ice queens and hospitable fauns, I’d come back out of that wardrobe and a week wouldn’t have even gone by in real-world time! Plus, I could maybe learn ‘cat’ language whilst I was there and finally translate what my cat is saying… Muahahah, it’ll no longer be a mystery!

7. What food can you absolutely not eat?

Plain. Yoghurt. Even saying its name is just so boring and tasteless! I like the idea of picking a yoghurt out of the fridge, not looking at the label, tasting it and guessing what sumptuous flavour my taste buds are currently being subject to. Yet plain yoghurt fails that test as it’s just the same every time. Plus, it just tastes like thick milk, which is a no-no.

8. Dark chocolate or White Chocolate?

White chocolate, for one reason and one reason only – Milky Bars. They’re strong, they’re tough and let’s face it – this song is enough to persuade you:

9. How much time do you spend blogging?

At first, I thought I’d tackle the ‘Blogosphere’ head on and post two times a week, which is about four hours of blogging. Yet, as much as I thought I was Clark Kent, I had to reduce the time to one post a week, if that, thanks to the demands of the big wide world! Time management, not Kryptonite, being my greatest weakness :/

10. Do you watch a lot of T.V.? If so, what are your favourite shows?

I don’t get to watch the tele-box that often; but when I do, I’d have to say ‘Waterloo Road’, ‘Simpsons’, ‘Arrow’, ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Miranda’, ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’, ‘Friends’, ‘Sherlock’ and ‘You’ve Been Framed’. If that isn’t a mixed bag? Well – I don’t know what is!

And just to spread the sunshine just a lil’ bit more, here are my ten nominees:

Fog’s Movie Reviews , The Return of the Modern Philosopher , Lorna’s Voice , Dear Kitty. Some blog , Bella Grove Plantation Bed And Breakfast , Broken Light: A Photography Collective , The Hand-Written Life , Essa On Everything and Stuphblog

*Cue cringey compliment* – you make this world a brighter place, pun intended!

Keep Calm And Return To Blogging!

Those three words… just three words of an entire language that hold such depth, such power. Each word seems insignificant on its own; yet, as a trio? They can either become a meaningful statement or just another, empty slip-of-the-tongue. We do not say them often; yet, when we do, they can have quite an impact on its recipient. I think it’s safe to say we’re on the same page, right? Good, then if you don’t mind I’ll just speak them out loud for peace of mind. *Ahem*:

I’ll Be Back

Ahhhh, that felt great just to get them out of my system. Wait a minute… were you expecting ‘I love you’ ? I’m sorry I, I just don’t feel the same! Besides, ‘I’ll Be Back’ are the real three words, not those of Cheryl Tweedy Cole! The words ‘I’ll Be Back’ were made famous (or infamous considering what violent act happened shortly afterwards, involving a police car, an angry cyborg and a helpless police officer) by none another than Austria’s largest export and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Okay, so he is famous for other attributes. Whether that be his guns (Arnie is applicable to both connotations of the word) or ‘GET TO DA CHORPAAA!’. You just read that in his accent, didn’t you? Don’t worry, so did I! However, it is ‘I’ll Be Back’ that I associate with Arnie the most for two reasons: 1. He meant it. 2. He came back in styyyyyle. Two main things that must be considered whenever you speak this phrase.

Just like ‘The Clash’, sometimes in life we have this one dilemma – should I stay or should I go? We ask ourselves, that if we decide to leave something, why do we leave it? What are the consequences of leaving it? Would it be better if I didn’t? I, sadly, was recently faced with this dilemma in the past month. Exam month, to be precise. As it loomed on the horizon, I saw that my regular, daily routine went *kapeesh* in a cloud of stress. Normally, I have the comfort of knowing when to do something and when not to. Yet, it became slightly uncomfortable when I had to admit defeat, face the facts that I couldn’t keep everything up. I had to drop everything. My social life, my ‘me time’ and unfortunately? My blog. I had to stare my blog, my viewers and my friends in the face and just say three words. I’ll Be Back. Even whilst sitting my exams, I was thinking about how my daily views would just plummet to 0, or how the name ‘AdrianCharlieHoran’ would become a relic of the past. Two weeks without blogging is essentially an eternity for a blogger.

Whilst I may not be as bulky as Arnold, we do share two things in common. We are both twins, except mine looks like myself and not Danny Devito; and I meant it when I said ‘I’ll Be Back’. Let’s face it, when the clingy kid with no other mutual friends on Facebook wants to talk to you, you say ‘Brb’. Do you mean that? Hah, no one ever does! We don’t even come back in style, we just log off our computers and forget about it all. The important thing is that when we leave something, or someone, on hold for our own benefit? We come back with such charisma that it’s like we never left at all. It may have been two weeks since I last blogged, but thankfully Judgement Month has now met its end and my routine has returned back to normal. I now come back and with style, as I’ll be blogging regularly again, so I give you permission to sing out loud in praise like your stereotypical, black gospel choir! Thank you for those who still read my blog during my absence and for those in my position at this present time? I’m sure you’re feeling a bit of this right now:

It’s A New Start, It’s A New Year, It’s A New Life For Me – And I’m Feeling Drunk

 Top New Years Eve Parties In Las Vegas

Here we go everyone! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… BLAST OFF! Wait, that’s not it… *Ahem*, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… ZERO! Nope, that’s not it either.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1… happy new year? Really? Well then – HAPPY NEW YEAR! That dysfunctional time of year has finally arrived – not a time where pink bunnies skip around throwing chocolate eggs from baskets; nor a time where hyperactive, costumed kids flock the streets to fill their goody bags a plenty. Oh no, this is a time when stumbling around your living room, champagne glass in hand and dancing around to Jools Holland are the ways to celebrate properly!

New Year’s Eve, or ‘Day’, it really does depend on whether you’re reading this before or after twelve; quite possibly the second most mischievous night of the year (I think we all know which is the first, its self explanatory title gives it away)! The thing about tonight is, we certainly remember to celebrate it with our friends and family, those close to us. With 70m texts on average sent shortly before midnight and 28% of Brits expected to go out for a family walk, I think our concern to celebrate it with others is clear! However, whether we remember any of that celebration whatsoever? Well… that is one wacky, drunken story altogether. The majority of those texts sent possibly have to be translated or… considered, as they may have been intended for someone else. The Drunken Text, the pally-pall of this night of celebration. With 180m pints of alcohol expected to be drunk, I think these two will remain friends for yet another year. Here is a simple equation for you – Drink + Text = Nskjdpehzxfdscsdq. It works, I can promise you that. Also, that family walk may even be a ‘family stumble’, depending on how hard we celebrate tonight! 70% of us are expected to have some form of house party, whether that be within our own home or at our friends. The other 30%? *Sigh*, I’m afraid you’re just not celebrating right.

As you can see, this night is a time to let go. In that void between one year and another, we can just throw all of the past year into it. Within just a mere, few seconds, we look back at an entire year. Whilst we can’t remember all of the previous year (curse you, pint of Carlsberg!), we at least try to ponder upon both the admirable and cringe-worthy highlights of it. That time you managed to spell ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ correct for the very first time without having to Google it. Or how about that time your Mum walked in on the Inbetweeners at the point where Simon had his doo-das out on the fashion show, *shudder*? Thinking about the Olympic games, whether that be the incredible sporting achievements, how Steven Feck ‘Fecked Up’ (it had to be done) his diving attempt, or seeing James Bond parachute out of a helicopter with ‘Her Majesty’ (who still looked miserable afterwards. Come on, Lizzy, you just skydived with 007 and opened the Olympic Games, crack us a smile!). Memories, memories, even more memories. We weigh up the past 365 days and just consider one of two options:

  1. Wow, 2012 was an absolutely brilliant year. Here’s to 2013! *Clinks wineglasses*
  2. Man… my year has been *beep*! Another year? Another whole year? Here’s to 2013… *Downs Smirnoff*

Before you cry on your screen and risk breaking the thing at realising you are option two – DON’T PANIC. There is still hope, which comes in the form of a little promise you make to yourself – The New Year’s Resolution. Mate, they‘re just crap, never stick to ’em anyway! Okay, the odds are stacked against me – only 1 in 10 of us succeed in fulfilling our new year’s resolution, whilst 12% of those resolutions only last throughout the year. Seems pointless, right? Well scaaaarew the statistics! To be honest, it’s not about whether you stick by your promise, but as to whether you feel you can see a change in yourself for the year. It’s a strange, little concept, the new year’s resolution. Tonight, as we change those two digits from a ’12’ to a ’13’, we in some way hope to change a little something about ourselves, too. It may even appear insignificant, something we don’t even consider throughout the year. Yet, as we see ourselves boxing the Christmas decorations *sniff* away, changing our bedside calendars, we feel that it is a necessary thing to witness a change in ourselves. To lose weight, to gain weight; to find more extra-curricular activities to do, to get rid of a few extra-curricular activities because you do too many; to make a new year’s resolution, to make a resolution to promise yourself not to make a resolution next year. The list continues! When he’s not making E.T. phone home, or creating CGI dinosaurs to chase Jeff Goldblum, Speilberg is making quotes like this:

‘All of us, every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives’

Too right, Stevie. Who knows whether we’ll succeed in our miniature promise – but as long as we ignore the fact that 2013 may be an unlucky year if you’re superstitious, party the night away today and count those 10 numbers down with Ole Joolsey like you’ve never bloomin’ counted before? Well, the next year is going to be one hell of a ride. Happy New Year, sober readers, and to those too intoxicated to read this? Happy New Year to you, too! I hope you all have a prosperous 2013… queue fireworks:

It’s Beginning To Look/Smell/Taste/Sound/Feel A Lot Like Christmas!

Santa Claus Christmas Cartoon HD Wallpaper 1080x607 Santa Claus Christmas Cartoon

Hallelujah! After 25 days of opening cardboard windows for a piece of milk chocolate, of running around frantically searching for present after present (seriously, I really think ‘Christmas Shopping’ should be considered a competitive sport in its own right at the Winter Olympics!) and imitating Shane MacGowan’s part in ‘Fairytale of New York’ in as drunk a fashion as possible, the big day has finally arrived. Christmas, a day where drinking excess amounts of champagne and eating large amounts of chocolate are, well, highly encouraged! Despite the stress and anxiety that precedes this day, it all works out for the best when everything builds up into one, heart-warming day of relaxation and the first of two ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ specials. GET IN! Whilst I feel that the novelty of my birthday wears off after a while, Christmas still remains as big, as camp and as cuddly as I remember. Why? It’s tradition. With birthdays, you just celebrate over and over again the day you were conceived! Yet, with Christmas? Well, we’re celebrating quite a lot of things simultaneously. My heart goes out to religions such as Judaism and Buddhism who don’t celebrate this day, you’re missing out on a cracking night. Regardless, I really wish to capture the true meaning of Christmas in this article because I’m sure you’re as sick to death of people posting pictures of their half-eaten Christmas dinners onto Facebook as I am! Though, coming from a sort-of Catholic family, I want to show you why Christmas is ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ as well as the aftermath of the Coca Cola mascot distributing goodies into our living rooms. Let’s festive this blog up!

Ahhhhh tradition. Personally, I like to see the idea of tradition as being like each person’s taste to a brussel sprout – subjective. To some, they taste like baby cabbages and in fact go down quite the treat, *mmmmmm*. To others? Well… my friend has a hate for brussel sprouts, I’ll quote him when I say that ‘they taste like dried farts wrapped in a deceptive coat of green’. Two very different answers there! It’s just the same with tradition, particularly Christmas tradition. If I were to ask five different people what their Christmas tradition was, I’d quite possibly get five different answers. Unless they were the five remaining members of my family, that is! Tradition may be different from family to family, but it remains the same from generation to generation , a bit like an iPhone. Once you gain it, you only ever so slightly tweak it, or else it wouldn’t be called tradition! In one way or another, we want to create the perfect Christmas, again. It’s something we say year on year, a tradition. This phrase wants to run through our heads at night time as we sleep for the Boxing Day Sales:

That was the best Christmas ever…

Christmas may have become commercialised; though, let’s face it, it wouldn’t feel the same without leaving mince pies and carrots beside the fireplace at midnight, waiting in anticipation as St. Nick/my Dad eats the mince pies and the reindeer/the bin eats the carrots. What makes Christmas are just the little pieces of tradition that go along with it. Opening presents at as early a time as possible (not quite to the liking of the rest of the family), watching Home Alone, a Christmas film that has quite likely been watched umpteen times before Christmas; stuffing our faces with Christmas dinner and the occasional selection box, watching the Queen’s Speech and a host of other Christmas specials (*ahem*, Doctor Who)… I really could go on till about New Year’s Day with the rest of that list! We make Christmas our own Christmas with the little things which make up our own tradition.

Yet, that’s just one side of this chocolate coin covered in golden tin foil.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS! Whilst it may be Coca Cola’s time to shine as they sent their mascot all across the globe last night, it is in fact the day where God’s mascot was sent to us in the form of a young, vulnerable child on Earth. That’s the only casual blasphemy in this post, I swear! The Greatest Story Ever Told is a tradition in itself, a story we’ve been told since we were little kids. Heck, you might have even been in a nativity play in primary school (Me? A shepherd, clearly the best of the three)! Though, unlike the festive tradition we all know and love, this one remains the same for every single person. In no story will you find Jesus being born at the local NHS hospital, or Mary and Joseph asking if they can stay the night at a local ‘Premier Inn’ – oh no, sir/madame, the Christmas story is just as you remember it. Christmas came from this story. In fact, it is this story, Christmas even has ‘Christ’ in it, that must count for something!

The sad truth is, it isn’t as captured as its commercialised counterpart is. We captured the spirit of that Christmas a long time ago. Being a good Catholic, I attended/played violin in this morning’s Christmas mass, an event which I struggled to recollect as *shuffles collar nervously* I haven’t been to one in a long time. After a bit of the old praying and consuming Jesus’ body and blood, as you do, the priest told us a little story. Last night, he was visited by a man with news and a story to tell. Before you panic, it wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, he would have just marched straight through the door without question if it was! Instead, it was a man dressed as a Santa and… didn’t fulfill that stereotype we’ve all grown to know. Sure, he had the boots, the suit and the facial hair, but… he wasn’t all that jolly! He was saddened as he saw that people were beginning to lose the true meaning of Christmas. The priest agreed, wondering if the man had any tricks up his sleeve to recreate the message. He didn’t exactly have anything up his sleeve BUT, he did have presents in his big old sack to get his point across. What would the man in red be without them? From the bag, he pulled out three gits which I’m certain you’ll have seen before.

  1. Present – whilst we might see this as a PS3 or a new pair of Converse, this Santa believed that whilst it represents our generosity to others, it also represents that Jesus was God’s gift to the world to save the world from sin. Yet Santa puts coal in our stockings when we’ve been naughty? Some people, eh…
  2. Holly Branch – a rare species in the festive kingdom that is our household on the 25th of December. It may not be so obvious, but the leaves on this can be quite painful if you ever decide to prod them! This spiky leaf represents the crown of thorns that J-man in time will wear on the cross, whilst the berries represent the blood that he will shed for us. *Yuck*, I know, this wasn’t his most pleasant of gifts!
  3. Christmas Lights – more often than not, this is a source of nibbling for my cat rather than a source of light for the tree! The heat emitted presents the warmth to last us through winter, whilst the light presents how Jesus was the light of the world, to guide us all. I think we’ll make that Strike 3? GET ON YOUR SLEIGH, SANTA, J-MAN HAS WON CHRISTMAS!

Personally, I feel that we can appreciate both of the traditions of Christmas. Without either of them, there wouldn’t even be the Christmas we have today! What’s important is that we remember its true meaning – to share with others, to appreciate how lucky we are for what we have and that whilst Christmas may end tonight? We’ll be scoffing on those selection boxes for many, many months to come. Have a Merry Christmas everyone! This post is my present to you – for technical reasons I couldn’t wrap it, I’ll work on that…

And I Think To Myself – ‘What A Weird And Wonderful World’

Personally, I hope you read that title in a Louis Armstrong-like manner. Don’t worry, you can now return to your normal, narrative voice for the rest of the article! Now, feast your eyes on the above picture. This idiom is finally relevent in a literal sense within my life as recently, I innocently cracked open an egg, not knowing what unnatural abomination lay inside it. Any idea what it was? *Gips*, my egg white… was green. Neon green. Neon green like ‘Monster’ energy drink and Borat’s ‘mankini’ neon green. Sadly, I had to grant this a different name – ‘lunch’. The irony here is that neon green is far beyond the likes of the colour white (Okay, physics people,  I know that green is a fragment of the spectrum of light which is white. Just put your ‘Biology Heads’ on momentarily). I didn’t even know what to make of this yucky substance. Even Google was divided on the matter! Whilst some suggested, ‘No seriously, it’s just a surplus of B12 vitamin, eat it, it’ll be ‘rate’, others exclaimed ‘Whatever you do – DON’T eat it! It’s a bacterial infection, which means you’ll die!’. *Moderate applause*, both convincing arguments; however, my tummy needed a fillin’, so I muttered ‘yolo’ under my breath and ate the thing. Ate it and spent the next half an hour thinking that my stomach was now a tick-tocking time bomb!

But nothing happened.

I’m alive? I ate that weird slime and I’m alive? It really was a surplus of B12! If I were to be stereotypical old me and throw it away because it looked weird, I wouldn’t have digested that wonderful, B12 goodness. Mind you, I don’t know what B12 vitamin does – but I’m a sucker for a freebie! Whilst the weird and the wonderful bat for two, separate, metaphorical teams; this instance brought the two together (albeit, in a green, ‘gunky’ mess). Can the two be one in the same?

Observation One: No *Beeping* Way! Sometimes, we enjoy to see dysfunctional things happen that are out of the ordinary, just to add a twist to our lives. Videos of a turtle humping a shoe, a flock of ducks running down a street and a rap battle between Moses and Santa Clause are all examples of weird things that I’ve never seen occur in my lifetime, but boy do I need them in my life. They’re bizarre, they make me chuckle, a perfect blend! The Golden Rule (No not Christ’s Golden Rule) of weird things – you’ve got to know where the line is. Passing beyond this line is the reason nature just can’t put ‘weird’ and ‘wonderful’ together. We’ve seen weird things stagger weirdly across this metaphorical line of weirdness into the realm of weird, whether that be on the internet or in our lives (let’s hope we don’t come across these in our lives… ew.). Wonderful? Pffffft. Cringe-worthy? You bet your bottom dollar they’re cringe-worthy! Just to show you why, here is my Top 3 ‘Dude What Even Is That?!’ list. My apologies for bringing these to the world of WordPress, but they had to be seen:

  1. The Aye-Aye. A creature that looks like God combined a bat, a mouse and a creature from ‘Gremlins’ (and I’m not talking ‘Gizmo’. I’m talking about the ‘having chicken after 12’ ones!) into one, weird-ass package:
  2. Rolf Bucholz, the world’s ‘Most Pierced Man’ – because you can never have too many piercings:
  3. I don’t know. I really do not know…

As Joey Tribbiani once said, ‘Over the line? You… you.. you’re so far past the line that you can’t even see
the line! The line is a dot to you!’. Oh how appropriate this is feeling right now! Some weird is good, but examples such as these are reasons why weird remains as weird. Why the weird kids get called ‘weird’ by the other kids, why ‘Weird Al’ calls himself ‘Weird Al’. Why? The line is quite possibly a dot to them. Their egg doesn’t even have a surplus of B12 vitamin – it’s just plain rotten.

Observation Two: Sometimes ‘Weird’ And ‘Wonderful’ Are One In The Same. Now we come to my favourite observation. If you’ve ever looked up the definition of ‘Weird’, it means ‘Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange’. Sadly, the first thought that appears to come to mind for a lot of people is something shown in Observation One. Yikes. They’re often seen as a sort of ‘social taboo’, something that would exert a ‘What the f**k?!’ if witnessed in a public place. I really don’t feel it should be seen in such a derogatory way. Heck, if anything, it’s a compliment! It’s different to what we would usually begin to expect, sometimes provided with a reason and sometimes without. Here, the ‘weird’ can be coupled with the ‘wonderful’. Wonderweird, if I need to make up a term! Just think about things in your life that might associate with this concept. Let me give you a hand:

  • Blushing – it’s not a necessary, biological function is it? Scientists know how it happens, but not why your cheeks turn as red as a ripe tomato when someone says ‘Nice work, you’ve done a brilliant job, congratulations!’.
  • Rainbows – they’re not exactly a regular sight to see, unless you’re wandering through Bristol during ‘Gay Pride Parade’! Merely formed when light from the sun enters a raindrop and is bounced around inside it, I still feel amazed when I see one sitting across the sky. It may be weird, but it truly is a sight to behold.
  • Laughing – snorting, cackling, howling… all forms of laughing that when someone else sees you performing a laugh in such an embarrassing manner? They can’t help but laugh too just to make you look less silly. Nawwww. This is our body’s reaction to the spread of positive reactions when we see a fat kid fall off of a trampoline and a desperate teenager warning us to ‘LEAVE BRITNEY ALOOOONE!’

It may not be so obvious, but the wonderfully weird exists all around us. If someone calls you ‘weird’, I’ll leave that to you to interpret which observation they’re referring too. As long as you drink the B12 vitamin ‘Surplus of Life’ and remain on the metaphorical line of not-so-weirdness? You’ll begin to appreciate ‘Wonderweird’ just that bit more often. Oh – and this will also help you on your quest, too, I can promise you that!