Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Meaning of Life - What a Waste!

If Mrs PM had her way, she would clear our house of a lot of my stuff. To her, I am a hoarder and my stuff is surplus to requirements and therefore needless mess that should either be sold or thrown away.

We’ve discussed this and the bottom line is that it simply is not going to happen.

However, the difference between our philosophies on the subject of household clutter has got me thinking. Over the years, we all buy and collect lots of things, some of which we hang on to for years – in some cases most of our lives.

Take music for example.

I have a large collection of CDs but I also have quite a few old vinyl records. The problem is that I don’t have a record player and I don’t intend to actually get one either. My records are really my own family heirlooms.

I still have the very first single that I bought with my own cash, earned from my very first job as a newspaper delivery boy, purchased at the age of 13 years old. That single will never get played again, unless I sell it to a record collector.

When I see it, I see a piece of my own childhood. I am reminded of a spotty bespectacled blonde kid running all the way home from Walsall town centre back home full of enthusiasm and excitement. Nowadays, I buy CDs online and I feel that same buzz of excitement when I get home and find the parcel on the floor.

Every record and every CD is like a milestone in my life and I simply cannot part with them – just yet anyway.

It’s the same story with books, although sadly Mrs PM has had her way with those. I now only keep reference books. I’ve allowed Mrs PM to purge my paperbacks because they don’t really mean that much to me. Besides, I have a Kindle and can keep them all electronically.

Earlier this year, my mum moved from her house to a flat, mainly because she is getting a little frail and a big house is too much for her. Consequently my sisters and I had to have a big clear out for her.

It was amazing. She’s now 76 years old and she is definitely a hoarder – or should I say was a hoarder. As she’s got older I think she has started to care less about all the trinkets and keepsakes that have cluttered up her house.

My sisters wanted to be ruthless but I was the voice of reason and tried my best to check with mum what she wanted to do with things. I was surprised when she said “I don’t want that now. I’m surprised I still have it.”

She kept the things most dear to her and the rest was discarded. She now lives in a small clutter free flat and I swear there is a spark in her eye that has been reignited.

When I looked in my old room, I found lots of battered old books dating from the 1930’s and 1940’s that my grandad passed onto her. I remember devouring them as a kid and it was really weird reading them again. In fact, as a child, I had defaced a couple of them, scribbling in the corners. There were worthless and falling apart, yet a part of me wanted to bring them home to Manchester and put them in the loft.

Mrs PM would never have allowed that.

I also found a few old things of my own, including school books from my sixth form and notes my university course. I made an exception with those and chose to bring them home, where they now reside in a cupboard in the back room.

I may never use them again (they are so out of date) but they did spark great memories of that time back in the early 1980’s. In fact, when I look at the maths notes, it’s almost like they are written in a different language. There are pages and pages of handwritten formulae, theorems and their proofs, equations, derivations and graphs and I wonder now how I managed to get my brain to understand them.

I must have been very clever in my youth as an undergraduate. I’m certain that if I spent some time revisiting them I might well make sense out of them again. I have no plans to do that at the moment; it just reminds me of what a bright kid I was.

Mrs PM, on the other hand, is as intelligent if not more so than I am – but she disagrees with my need to keep my notes. To her they are rubbish and she has discarded hers and sold all of her university books with absolutely no remorse at all.

She’s happy with her choice but I think it’s sad.

One day I may think differently and change my mind, just like my mum has.

For now, I will bask in my stuff and enjoy it – even those embarrassing CDs I bought in the 1980s, containing songs like this:

I don’t care what you think – I love it.

How about you dear reader?

How many keepsakes do you have buried in yourjunk drawer or in your loft?

Are you a hoarder who can’t bear to part with things?

What worthless trinkets do you have that reignite your nostalgia?

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Meaning of Life - Body Shock!

Are you happy with your body, dear reader?

As far as I am concerned, the answer is yes – and  no.

In my lifetime, I’ve spent hours looking at myself in the mirror and thinking to myself:

“I must have really annoyed God”

Other times I’ve stared at my reflection and thought:

“Not bad, Dave.”

I hasten to add that on these occasions I was almost certainly drunk.

One of my least favourite parts of my body is my hair, something that I have moaned about in many a blog post. I often wonder why I have been fighting a running war with the hair on my head and body ever since the day that first tuft sprouted out of the top of my head.

The hair on my head is a parasitic entity whose sole purpose is to make me look like a complete and utter goon. It is unmanageable, bushy and sculpts itself into shapes that I cannot comprehend, even when it is short.

The hair on my face is strategically placed to cause maximum embarrassment should I ever choose to grow a beard of moustache. My ears are full of hair and so is my nose.

My hair is like a virus, spreading to parts of my body that should not contain hair.

I won’t describe the rest of my hair (in the interests of good taste). Suffice it to say that if I allowed my hair to grow unchecked, it would end up like this bloke:

My eyes are useless. I am as blind as a bat and have been since birth. As a child when I looked at myself in the mirror, I used to scare myself. All I saw was the blurred image of the abominable snowman.

Okay, there are some good bits of my body. I’ve never really been fat (despite describing myself as such on this blog) but I could be thinner.

My bum is, apparently, quite attractive to the opposite sex. Mrs PM (and others) have told me on occasion. I don’t understand why and how women can find that attractive at all.

Also, I have young features – which is probably the best part of all. It means I have been able to act like a young idiot despite being an old git.

Would I change anything?

Yes, I think I would. I would definitely change my hair and my eyes. I’d probably make myself a little taller, too.

I’m Mr Average when it comes to height but to be a few inches taller would be a bonus, particularly at crowded rock concerts. The tallest man in the entire audience usually manages to stand right in front of me and I have to drop hints like pouring beer down his back (not really – bit the temptation is sometimes overwhelming). In fact, when I rule the world I will make sure that all the tall people stand right at the back of the concert hall and the shortest people at the front. Anyone who blocks the view will be made to face away from the stage for the entire duration of the gig to see how they like it.

I would like to be fitter, though. I used to be very athletic, regularly playing football, swimming and going to the gym. I never really wanted to have the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger – I think some of these meatheads with their blown up bodies look absolutely ridiculous.

These days I try to go for a power walk at least five times a week but I don’t do anything more than that.

I did actually cycle to work once this year, on National Cycling Day. The problem was the while I enjoyed it, the fools chose September, just as summer had finished and the days were getting colder and darker. If they had chosen a day in April or May I would have possibly tried cycling again, knowing that weather would improve and the days would get longer. I may even have cycled all summer.

I will aim to push myself for a 30 day cycling challenge in April next year – hopefully.

One thing is for sure, dear reader. I would never ever EVER volunteer to have plastic surgery to make myself look better. My hypochondria is a good thing under these circumstances because, ultimately I would fear the surgeon making a complete mess of my body AND catching an horrendous disease as a result of the surgery.

I am absolutely amazed that some attractive people have chosen to try to improve themselves and either turned themselves into fish or this:

What was Michael Jackson thinking?

In the end he looked like an alien attempt to clone his younger self.

I felt sorry for him in the end. Why on Earth didn’t anybody tell him? I’m sure I would have advised against all of the surgery he put himself through.

I may be imperfect but if I tried to improve myself I’d probably end up looking like this:

No thanks!!!

Over to you dear reader. 

Are you happy with your body?

What parts, if any, would you change?

Have you ever considered plastic surgery or do you think it’s a crazy idea?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Meaning of Life - How To Live Your Life

Every day there is somebody telling me how to live my life, mostly in a subtle manner but on some occasions, the message is blatant.

To those people, I say this.

“Leave me alone! It’s my life not yours.”

Of course, I don’t have total control. To start with, I am governed by the laws of the land. For example, I can’t break into a rich man’s house and steal all of his money. I can’t strip off all of my clothes, paint myself purple and prance in the centre of Manchester screaming “Look at my dongle!”

In both cases, I would be arrested immediately.

I hasten to add I have no desire whatsoever to do either of those things.

Other forms of control are more subtle but nonetheless still exist.

For example, in order to be able to do the things I like to do, I have to conform to society’s expectations. I need money therefore I need to work. When I work, I have to conform to the terms and conditions of my employer otherwise I run the risk of being sacked.

Work is the bane of my life and I would gladly free myself of the shackles if I could.

The day I win the lottery is the day my freedom begins. Failing that, I have to wait another fourteen years before I can retire. I can’t wait. I just hope that by that age I’m not a doddery old codger who can barely walk without gasping for breath.

That’s why I want to get a lot of stuff done now - while I still can. And I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do or how to do it.

I’m amazed by adrenaline junkies who actually want to risk their lives to get a buzz. I would never try to tell them what to do and what not to do but such dangerous pursuits are not for me.

Anything involving falling from a great height, whether tied to a bungee rope, a parachute wrapped in a rucksack or metal frame with a lot of plastic sheeting is far too risky for me to try. I would be so scared that I probably would probably croak due to heart failure before the adrenaline kicked in.

I just don’t get it. Life experiences are fantastic and I applaud them. But if there is even the slightest chance that I would end up on the ground as an unrecognisable red splat then it’s not for me.

I’ve always had goals of sorts, but what surprises me most is that most of them didn’t materialise until I was older. If, for example, I had decided that I needed to write a book at the age of 18 I would have actually done so by now, changing my plans and studying English or journalism instead of messing around with computers. I might even have even written a few books.

Instead, I find myself writing a blog, which I started at the age of 45 and only now, eight years later, am I actually attempting to write a novel as part of NaNoWriMo (my latest 30 day challenge).

If I had been bitten by the travel bug at the age of 18, I would have seen a lot more of the world than I have.

If I had learned to play a piano or guitar at the age of 18, I could have been a member of a rock band by now, travelling, writing and enjoying the fruits of my creative juices.

My life would probably be so different. That said, I wouldn’t go back and change anything because I would never have had two great kids and met Mrs PM.

Still, it’s never too late to live my dreams. I’m happy enough and I can still realise some ambitions – just as long as they don’t involve heights, danger and pain.

And as long as nobody tries to tell me which goals to choose, I will remain happy.

Equally, I would never tell anybody else what to do either.

The truth is, I still want every day to be the perfect day and my feelings are summed up by this rock song from Skin, a great British rock band, who had some success in the mid 1990’s:

Over to you, dear reader.

Are you an adrenaline junky or have you ever been one?

Are you happy with the way you live your life?

Have you any regrets?

What are your ambitions?

What is your Perfect Day?

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Meaning of Life - Who Am I?

I know myself completely and there is no human being on the planet that is exactly the same as I am.
At the time of writing, the population of Earth is 7,379,260,713 but this is changing every second. People are being born and dying every single second. The population is increasing because the number of births is over twice as big as the number of deaths.
You can monitor the numbers for yourself by visiting this page.   
I am still overawed by the fact that I am completely different from the other 7,379,260,712 human beings with whom I share this world.
 Isn’t that amazing?
Statistically speaking, there must be somebody out there who is the same age as I am, looks like me and acts like me with the same philosophy on life, the same skills and the same logical mind. The curious part of me would like to meet that person but, to be honest, I think it would scare me a little bit. 
I kind of like the idea that I am unique. 
Nevertheless, sometimes I ask myself who I really am. 
I can answer the easy questions, such as my name, age, nationality, description and even some of the more difficult questions about where I have been, what I have achieved, what I still want to achieve. I can also talk a lot of nonsense about my own philosophies and opinions on a variety of subjects, both banal and controversial. 
Does that tell people who I am? Well, I guess it does partially.
Mrs PM knows me more than anybody else on planet Earth and if asked, I’m sure that she would claim to know me inside and out. 
But she’s wrong and I think she knows that.
For example, she reads this blog and quite often expresses amazement at the things I write. On my post about mosquitos, she wrote a comment on the blog saying:
“I had no idea all of this was going through your mind!”
I think she reads the blog to learn more about the person she lives with. 
Equally, I know a lot about Mrs PM but I would never claim to know everything about her. 
Every person , no matter how much in love they are or how open they are with other people, keep part of themselves hidden to protect them. Imagine for a second how terrible it would be if you were in the same room as a person who could read your mind completely.
It would be absolutely unbearable.
That’s one reason I would love to able to read people’s minds, particularly those I know. My curiosity would know no bounds. What are people really thinking? Are they telling the truth or brilliantly concealing their true thoughts and intentions?
Actually, thinking about it, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a good idea to delve into the inner mind of your friends. You may discover something you don’t like about their thoughts. Perhaps it’s best to maintain an air of mystery.
You may feel that you have an insight into who I am, dear reader, thanks to the tripe that I continue to write on this blog. You certainly know that I am a 53 year old man called Dave who works in IT, lives in Manchester, likes rock music and is keen on travel. I may have revealed other things about myself inadvertently but that was almost certainly more by accident than design.
I masquerade as a guy who calls himself Plastic Mancunian, a cyber-identity that initially I wanted to use to remain anonymous, until a couple of work colleagues spent the time searching for it. In fact, they used their knowledge of me to actually find the blog because even though I wanted to create a different persona on the blog, I couldn’t help revealing who I was, albeit with a little subtlety. 
No matter how much I tried to remain anonymous, I was betrayed because I allowed the Plastic Mancunian to become a caricature of Dave, the ranting old git, allowing my true self to be revealed in the rambling posts.
That was a shame. I really wanted to remain anonymous so that I could allow the anarchist within me to surface and take on a persona of its own.
The colleague who finally exposed me apologised but I’ve forgiven him because ultimately I’m proud of my own little corner of cyberspace. 
I said earlier that there are people in the world who look like us. Having done a little research, apparently there are seven such people in the world and they are known as twin strangers
There is actually a website you can use to find your twin strangers and some of the examples they have are amazing. 
I am contemplating having a go myself. There must be a Plastic Mancunian Doppelganger out there.
In the meantime, here are a couple of my celebrity lookalikes (according to friends, colleagues and cheeky buggers). 

A Plastic Mancunian called Dave

Keith  "Cheggars" Chegwin

Jerry Springer

Charlie and Craig Reid (aka The Proclaimers)
Garth Algar
Joe 90
Benjamin Button

Do you think I look like these guys?
As Mrs PM says, I do have two clones in the world – my sons are the spitting image of me – poor buggers!

The Clone Show (presented by Mrs PM)
How about you, dear reader.

Do you consider yourself to be unique?

Would you like to meet a person who thinks exactly the same as you?

Who are your lookalikes (celebrity or otherwise).