Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2012

It's something we're supposed to be proud of, the greatest sporting event on the planet (and I assume, other planets), an event in which almost every nation in the world seems to participate and this time its secondary function is to essentially show off our great nation to everyone else. The 2012 Olympic Games.

I find myself not so enthused.

The recent Beijing olympics were spectacular, Sydney had great fireworks and Greece was historic. I have Canadian friends who, even at this early stage, proudly tell me that the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver. I flew over Lillehammer this year and memories of the Italians beating the locals at the cross-country skiing and Torvill & Dean came flooding back from the 1994 games. Yet the thought of the Olympic games taking place in the UK, more specifically London, doesn't bring any excitement out of me.

Ignoring the controversy, political protests and terrorists that the games attract (Which I think make the games ineresting), I just have no faith in our country to run such an event.

Before the term 'Credit crunch' was invented and before a recession was in view on the horizon - we knew that the original 2005 budget of £2.375 billion wasn't going to be substantial (It rose to £9.35 billion in 2007, who knows at which figure it stands now).

We were sceptical when the Prime Minister said "An Olympic Games hosted in London would create significant opportunities for companies up and down the UK" - It emerged this week that a pitiful £100,000 has been spent on contracting just four companies in Wales in relation to the Olympics, whilst £100million of lottery funding is to be diverted away from Wales towards London . The vast majority of the events are to be held in and around London too, with one of the most preposterous being the mountain bike event being held in a purpose-built venue in Essex, not known to be a mountainous region, chosen over world-recognised moutain biking stages in Wales, Scotland and northern England.

London (as with most capital cities) already attracts derogatory comments from the rest of the UK for its selfishness and its perceived status above anywhere else. The people in charge of the city have done nothing to improve relations by sucking money from the other regions whilst offering little or nothing in return.

One shining light in this farce is in fact the exact thing that I've been whining about, the circus isn't actually coming to my town. I'll be free to wander around Cardiff without 2012 banners and hundreds of tourist traps being shoved in my face. Neither will my commute be affected by the thousands of aforementioned tourists dithering about in the heat of the London underground. Also, in these days of digital television I can choose to avoid the Olympics through that medium too by watching repeats of Friends (or something) instead on 'Channel 8 +1 +3 Extra'. It's only going to be a couple of weeks long anyway, despite my usual "Is this EVER going to end?" comments whilst pointless sports clog up my television.

It's a long way away to be worrying about it, but then so's the end of the universe, and that still makes the news occasionally.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A long time coming

I had a sneaking feeling that 2009 was going to be a good year, or at the very least a different year, but I had no idea that things would change so quickly.

I awoke to the new year with a fuzzy head and the slight taste of vodka still on my lips, taking a couple of seconds to figure out where I was - phew, it was my own bed. The previous night I'd promised my body that I'd take good care of it for a month after the NYE celebrations. Taking care of my body included no drinking, a resumption of regular exercise and the purchase of half a dozen books to re-start a brain that was getting to the stage where spoken sentences no longer came out in the right order (due to under-use).

A body free from alcohol combined with clear weight and reading targets for the month brought a tidal wave of calm. This was helped in no small way by my two female housemates spending time abroad until the middle of the month and plenty of camomile tea. Life became very relaxed, tasks at work were achieved considerably quicker than normal but with half the effort put into them - Absolutely nothing could faze me. I also had considerably more free time, a side-effect of things getting done faster and a reduction of hours spent in the pub. My free time became a time that I'd spend relaxing with a girl who'd I'd been seeing for a couple of months before Christmas, I enjoyed her company but had previsouly given no thought to seeing her more often. Slowly but surely, the frequency of our down-time spent together had increased and it seems fitting that a few days after my 27th birthday, three weeks into a new year and a couple of days before Dydd Santes Dwynwen, I managed to get my first ever girlfriend. I can't wait to have rows in front of my friends, use her as an excuse to go home early and spend hours shopping for shoes. That's what relationships are about, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A month off

Thirteen days into a month of not drinking and the pressure isn't as relentless as it was when I last took a month out, back in April 2008. From time to time I'm still asked why I'm not drinking, the question is usually accompanied by a shocked/surprised look similar to the look I imagine I'd see if I said I'd given up eating.

This time around I've noticed a strange side-effect, I seem to have taken responsibility for everyone else's actions during a night out and charged with remembering every detail.

Friend: Where did so-and-so go?
Curly: I don't know. He was here a minute ago.
Friend: How can you not know where he's gone? You're sober!

Friend #2: I just gave my discount card away, before buying the drinks!
Curly: I know, I just saw you do it, I thought it was a bit odd.
Friend #2:Why didn't you tell me I was doing it? You're sober!

A quick rant, ending in "IF you're going to carry on mentioning that I'm sober then I'm just not going to come out at all" seems to have stemmed the annoyance for the moment, despite the immediate response being "You're only saying that because you're not drinking".

Friday, January 02, 2009

Because everyone else is doing it

January
2008 started with a bang (fireworks, not sex) in the snow in Berlin. The month ended as it began, in the snow - this time in Andorra.

A German New Years

February
February saw Wales beat England for the first time at Twickenham for 20 years, I was still in Andorra and missed celebrating with my friends in Cardiff.

Andorra, Taken on the day of Wales' victory - everything looked good that day

March
March broke new ground for me when I asked a girl I'd met in a bar to hike up a mountain with me, and she agreed. Wales went on to be crowned rugby champions of Europe for the second time in three years.

Silence the day after the Grand Slam

April
I decided not to drink for a month, I became isolated from many friends but became much thinner and started running regularly. I missed going to gigs, so I started going to lots of them and one of my favourites was the Ting Tings.

The Ting Tings

May
May brought a trip to stay with the fantastic Cleavers and explore the fine city of Toronto. I then spent time in Vermont with an old friend who I realised I liked a bit more than I thought. I also added a second state to my list of places I'd been in America (You're mine now Massachusetts).

Downtown TO

June
A jolly to a Swedish island for their traditional midsummers festival with my sidekick, Sud. We introduced our own tradition of drinking lots of vodka. Possibly the favourite moment of my year occurred on the ferry ride back to the mainland, where I produced a rose and handed it to a girl to cheer her up after her and her friend had missed the previous ferry (also because she was pretty), I asked her name, it was Marlin. We had missed that same ferry and ironically almost missed the second because I was picking roses. Sud was so incensed at being out-done he went to the bathroom, took a fake rose from a vase which he'd spotted earlier, marched over to the same girls, gave one the rose and asked her name..... it was Marlin.... the look of horror on his face was priceless as he realised he'd given the rose to the same girl, not to her friend as he intended. The horror quickly changed to relief when it was explained that they were both named Marlin. This event spawned the now infamous line "At least it's not just idiots who miss ferries, it's hot girls too".

A midsommarstång, a pole covered in flowers basically, we renamed Midsummers the 'Penis festival' after seeing this.

July
We took on another amazing adventure with Astrid as we spent the day drinking Pimms and getting sunburnt at the Henley Royal Regatta. Our class was absent as we drank the Pimms straight from the bottle and hung out by the burger vans for an hour. (Fighting through the blazer and fancy hat-wearing crowds in the heat became hard work, we needed a break)

Blending in Superbly

August
Two fantastic days were spent in London and Portsmouth, saying farewell to Monica and saying happy birthday to a good friend respectively. I never thought I'd use 'Portsmouth' and 'Fantastic' in the same sentence.

The Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

September
Our good friend The Doc moved out of the house and a fiery Sicilian moved in. A lot of pink started appearing around the house soon afterwards.

Sicily and Wales collide

October
Similar to running your hands under hot water and then plunging them into the cold, I travelled to Barcelona and to the north of Norway within the space of a couple of days. I also began relations of sorts with a girl who'd come to view our spare room in September - one way to meet people I suppose. Unfortunately Norway broke my camera and pictures stopped being taken from then (I'll be sending a complaint to King Harald V).
November
Supporting the Welsh rugby team took its toll on me as four weekends of matches against South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Australia saw enough pints consumed to sink a battleship and enough money spent on said pints and tickets to the games to pay to raise it from the sea-bed.

Carnage on rugby day

December
With the stuffing knocked out of me in November, the stuffing was put back in with a cracking Christmas meal laid on by my fab parents and my siblings. The festive season certainly lived up to its name with a host of parties and reasons to go out, but the guilt I felt after each one depressed me. Going out became hard work and I became grumpy, on boxing day I lectured a friend of mine on how drinking wasn't cool anymore and that we're all reaching a stage where we should be toning it down a little. I was plastered, naturally.

My family, I think this picture's awesome because I have blue hair, my bro has a ridonkulous beard and everyone's either laughing or smirking which is funny because it was taken at a funeral.

January again
I spent a month last year not drinking, I can do another one, right?