The Day in the life of Tony Cliffe

The blog that's full of discussion, advice, travel and ramblings!

Category: relationships

A dedication to the mentors

A sign in my kitchen states ‘Behind every successful person lies a substantial amount of coffee’ while I agree that may well be the case, it is missing a sentence. That sentence should be “and a series of mentors who have inspired, developed and took a chance on that person”.

In my latest new series of dedication blogs, the first of which is dedicated to these five amazing individuals: My dedication to the inner circle! this one is dedicated to many people who, in a professional context have either inspired, developed or taken a chance on me as mentors. Despite being full of over-self confidence, I’m fully aware that my successes are not down to me alone. Hard work, a massive slice of luck and a number of dedicated mentors, have made me who I am today. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the guidance or the backing of a number of good mentors over the years. Too many, sadly to put in this blog. I’ve had mentors from football coaches as a kid to my recent supervisory team, all of whom have played an equally important part in my development. For example, my last supervisory team have had a considerable hand in my PhD success, but they know that and I’ve written about them in my PhD blogs. But, just like the first dedication blog I thought I’d pick this time, six people who I’d like to say thanks to, who I don’t often write about.

When you think of a typical mentor, you probably think of usually someone who is older, wiser and ultimately someone who you respect. Mentors can inspire you to be better, they can demand and push you to be better and ultimately, every mentor sees something in you that you fail to see in yourself. Mentors you don’t have to get along with or even like necessarily (but it does help), but you respect them. The mentors in this blog some I got on really well with and ultimately had a great working relationship with, some even became friends. Some, I had no formal working relationship with, and some I absolutely hated!

Inspiration 

A good mentor will often unlock hidden potential, or part of yourself that you didn’t know existed before. They’ll ignite a fire and a drive in you because they’ve been so inspirational, either in their demeanour or in whatever it is they do. For this, I often think of two teachers that I had in High School who inspired two significant parts of my identity, Geography and Writing.

Ask any Geographer and long after their degrees they’ll still strongly identify themselves as a proud geographer. Regardless of age, fierce debate and banter between the fractions of Geographers will always be had, and god help it if you proclaim a Human Geographer as a Physical one! Or vice a Versa. I’ve always had a passion for Geography as a subject, and it’s not solely down to my Geography Teacher Mr Naughton. My love for the subject started way earlier when, as a small child, I discovered this vast, imposing dusty Atlas in our attic. I can still smell that book now as I turned its pages, it was old, so ancient! But I remember flicking through the pictures of all the different countries, reading about the vastly different landscapes and it’s people. I was hooked. The sense of adventure, a world was waiting for me to explore. Of course, this was in the days of pre-internet, a dusty Atlas and Encarta 95 was all my child mind had in my pursuit of epic travels and adventure.

Mr Naughton, however, brought the subject to life. No longer was it on the pages of a dusty Atlas and a fanciful overactive imagination of my child self, it was now real. I’ve never met a teacher who was so enthusiastic about the subject, the proudest of Geographers. Mr Naughton really fostered that passion for the subject, little did I know that I’d go on to do it at GCSE, A-Level, Degree Level, Masters Level and then finally, PhD level! My long journey as a proud geographer started with the inspirational Mr Naughton.

So while I’m a proud geographer and always will be, I’m also a passionate writer. I write blogs and novels for fun, and that comes down Mrs Bygroves. Mrs Bygroves was a strict teacher, the scousest of scouse accents, hard but fair. As I explained in my blog about why I write: Why do I write blogs? It’s a window to the emotional me! It was her who pulled me to one side after my English GCSE coursework and told me I had a gift for the written word and that I should write novels and stories for others to enjoy. So I did. I wrote my first novel and published my second on Amazon. I had discovered a critical skill that I never knew I really had, a passion for conveying stories and emotions, something that is now a massive part of my identity is all down to Mrs Bygroves and her seeing something in me, that I didn’t know myself.

Push you to your limits

So while mentors should be inspirational and make you see something in yourself, they can often go about it in different ways. Some will nurture and foster it in a friendly manner to get you to be the best you can be. Others will be harsh, demanding, thankless and at times make you hate them with every fibre of your being. At the time you wonder why they’re picking on you, why are they so harsh on you compared to everyone else and why do you not get the praise that everyone else does. Then you realise when you do reach the top of your game that they did that to push you. They saw your maximum potential and that you were way below their standards and the only way to get you to push past what you thought was your limit was to be cruel to be kind.

I’ve had two mentors like that in my life, my old commanding officer in the Air Training Corps and my former Personal Academic Tutor who became my boss as an RA. Two older men who’s stature and stance oozed authority and wisdom. Two men who have pushed me further mentally than anyone has before and probably ever will. Two people for some unknown reason I desperately wanted to impress, to prove myself to and to be acknowledged. But this mentor taught me the very definition of pushing the limits.

It may come as a shock to some of you to know that I wasn’t always the over self-confident, outspoken person I am today. In fact, many years ago, I lacked a lot of confidence in myself and around others. That all changed with one man. As one of my COs, he was always on my back throughout training and day to day life. Throwing me into the deep end with things, leading tasks, getting my voice heard. ATC rarely gave out compliments to any of us, I guess that’s the RAFs way of making you want to be better. When it did come, it was often short and curtailed (tradition of stiff British upper lip I suspect) but rarely was it ever directed in my direction. Which conflicted me. I keep getting asked to do these new tasks for which I seemed to be good at, but there was no confirmation or praise from those above. That irritated me in a way that made my already stubborn self, even more determined to succeed.

A turning point in my self-confidence comes to mind as clear as day. We were on deployment for a week on an SAS training camp in the depths of Shropshire on a bitterly cold and snowy February. We’d spent all day and night evading the infamous Landy force across the vast rolling hills and outbuildings of the training ranges. I’d been put in charge of navigation, faces covered in camo paint, boots covered in slush and mud and near hypothermic, we achieved our objective. Rescued the downed pilot and got back to base without being captured. My first real sense of achievement by putting myself out there in a position of leadership. By the time we arrived back at the barracks in the early hours, we barely got any sleep before being rudely awoken by a room inspection. I’d been chosen by him to be in command of our small dorm in a barracks. Again, I felt woefully underqualified. He comes in, nods to others a job well done, looks at my boots which to me were spotless “Dirt on them, Cliffe. Do them again! Press-ups outside, now”. “Yes, Sir!” I replied through gritted teeth. He hated me, I thought!

A few hours later, we were kitted up to go on the range. By this time the snow had started again, an icy wind ripped through the standard-issue kit with such ease I might as well have been naked for all the warmth it offered. After dissembling and cleaning the L98 and SA80 rifles in record time (still no recognition for that) as a troop, we headed out into the freezing snow on the range. To this day, it is still one of my most epic and coolest memories, the sound of gunfire, the snow falling, a Lynx army helicopter hovering off to one side, the recoil of the weapon in your shoulder. So.Much.Awesomeness!

While firing down the range, my fingers turning to frostbite (You’ve never felt anything colder than a trigger on a rifle in the snow!) in my peripheral vision I could see hands raised to the left and right of me, muffled shouts of “Jam!” and the range officer coming over to each individual. I was an awful shot, a sniper or expert marksmen I most certainly was not but I kept firing, with each shot pulling the bolt back and watching as the expended shell casing flicked and spun in the air. Load, breathe, hold breath, squeeze the trigger, recoil, bolt. Repeat, until that click on the rifle meant all my rounds in the rifle had been expended into the target a few hundred yards away. I raise my hand and raise my rifle over my shoulder to show the range officer that my rifle was empty. “Jam?… Oh, all done? Report to the CO” and with a slap on my back I exited the range, still noticing various hands raising and the range officer moving in to unjam the guns. The rest of the squad still laying prone into the snow.

Then there he was, immaculately dressed, a warm thermos in his hand steeming in the cold weather, as I present my rifle to him through chattering teeth, god I had never been so cold!

“Sir. All rounds fired, no Jam. Sir”

He gave a raised smile, which was so rare that I didn’t know if I had indeed become delirious with hypothermia, and in the most typical British Officers voice exclaims “Only one not to Jam your weapon, Cliffe. I expected absolutely nothing less from you. You’d have been the only one not to be killed. Congratulations. Dismissed”.

To me, that was the biggest compliment I had ever been given by him! That night we received word that some of us where being selected to head down south to RAF Lyneham to fly in a C130 Hercules. An unbelievable opportunity! He read the names off of the 10 lucky few, I was number 10! The next day I remember looking out of the back of the C130 as we raced over the Bristol Channel at 1000 feet. Over the rush of adrenaline, air and incredible noise of the four engines he says “Cliffe! This is what happens when you believe in your abilities. I pushed you so hard so that you’d become that. You’ve pushed yourself and others this trip to be better, I’m proud of you. Enjoy this! I’m putting you forward for the NCO course” and with a salute and a handshake it finally all made sense. I had a perceived physical and mental limit, but his was way beyond that, and I needed that tough love to reach it. It was the first time I backed myself and truly knew my capabilities. From then on he was still as hard as ever but was more forthcoming with the odd compliment, I flew with him often, practising flying over the North West of England, always demanding but boy did I learn a hell of a lot from him! I owe a lot to my years to him and to the RAF ATC in general. It taught me mental strength, leadership, the ability to see the strengths and weaknesses of others, teamwork and plus the fantastic days flying aircraft and shooting weapons. Closest I ever got to be being a badass! They were the best of days!

Take a chance

So some mentors inspire you and some push you whereas others they toss their chips into the ring and take a gamble on you. This is a dedication to the mentors who placed their faith in you by taking some sort of risk and hoping it would pay off.

The epitome of that was my Maths teacher, Mr Coggin. He made a decision, a gamble, that ultimately had such a significant influence on my academic career. Coggin was a bit weird, a proper eco nut, way before it was socially acceptable or hipster to care about the environment. He was strange but really cared for his students, he had an engaging teaching style, but ultimately, maths was life to him. Maths, well we’ve never really got on, that and spelling are often my Achilles heel. Give me time and a pen and paper, and I’m okay, mental maths? Nope. No chance! As we got closer to year 9 SATs exams things were not going too well in maths. For those of you who don’t know, SATs were a form of exams taken in year 9 which based on your performance you got put into sets, 1 being the top, 5 being the bottom. Only sets 1 and 2 would be entered into the higher GCSE papers where you could get from A* to fail, whereas sets 3 to 5 would be entered into the intermediate and lower papers where the top grade you could achieve was a C. Therefore, in principle, easier exam but no higher than a C regardless if you aced it.

Each teacher in English, Maths and Science had to make a decision on sets before the SATs exam. I was struggling in maths and not for my lack of trying either. I knew how essential maths was as a subject. At this point, I still had dreams of being an Air Traffic Controller, I wanted to do science at GCSE and A-Level. While a C in GCSE maths is fine, I didn’t want to be a C student, I wanted to be more than that. I knew I needed a good SAT score to get into a top set, so that I could take the higher papers and get the As and Bs I wanted for A level and therefore get into University. I remember him breaking the news to me that he was considering dropping me down a set so that I’d find it more accessible, it wouldn’t look too good to have a Set 2 student do poorly. Yet, he knows I’m putting the effort in, that I wanted to be in a top set and just needed some more guidance. So, he said he was holding off on the decision, he’d give me a few weeks to improve despite the pressure from above to drop me a set. He gave me extra work, would always ask me to answer stuff in class, and I worked the hardest I ever had. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, but above all, I wanted to repay him and him putting his neck out on the line for me.

SATs came around, and I got straight 7-7-7. Top marks. I did it! I’d just got my results as I walked down the corridor and I bumped into him and told him the news. “Knew you could do it!” with a beaming smile. What a gamble! If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone on to do the higher papers in Maths and Science at GCSE and ultimately would never have taken my science A levels. While I still always struggled with Maths, I was happy to be a B student in it. Technically, you needed an A in maths to do the A levels in Quantum Mechanics and Astrophysics, but somehow I was let on with my B. I strongly suspect Coggin had a hand to play in that. I still always love and feel super nerdy that I have A levels in Quantum Mechanics and Astro Physics! That and Biology and Geography. All not possible without that gamble by him!

 

Look out for you

Mentors can often be one of those things above or all of them at once. Often what combines all mentors is a sense of looking out for you as a person and having your best interests at heart. Sure, they come at it from different angles based on their experiences and their personalities, but ultimately they want what’s best for you. Luckily, I think all of my many mentors have had that element about them, certainly my academic mentors from the entire GID staff to my former supervisors at LJMU, they’ve been nothing but supportive. Two mentors, however, stand out to me as being all those things discussed so far, inspirational, dedicated, driven, trust in you but finally, looking out for you. Dr Ruth Healey and Dr Katharine Welsh have been two of my biggest academic mentors for 9 years. I’ve gone from being a student of them both, to them both being my boss at various times, to colleagues, office buddies and then friends.

Ruth and Katharine have been incredibly supportive from day one as a student. As a boss, they were keen to develop me as best they could but in such a way that I was always looked after. A real rare commodity in this day and age when bosses actually care for their employees! Both of them had always looked out for me, especially when I moved away from Chester to do my PhD, they were still keeping in touch, being a soundboard for advice and always thinking of me when opportunities arose. Be that to present my work, do a research project here and there, work as an editor for a major journal or even job applications. I’ve been super fortunate to have many mentors like that, but the two of them have become to me, at least, the epitome of a perfect example of what a mentor should be. Whenever I mentor someone, be that students, fellow colleagues of friends, I take a leaf out of their style of mentorship. They have a bit of each and every one of those mentors discussed so far, but they put their own flair and spin on it.

My academic career thus far would have looked so very different if I wasn’t backed, supported, gambled on, guided and encouraged by those two.

Ultimately, a mentor should part wisdom, encourage, and after spending time with them, you become a better person. They and all of my mentors I owe for that! So, thank you, thank you for making me who I am, thank you for gambling on me, backing me, pushing me and seeing things in me that I didn’t see. Without you, I wouldn’t be me.

Thank you!

 

 

Another Single Valentines day

Hey guys, well it’s that time of year again where single people like me wallow in self-pity. Doubly so this year as I can’t even comfort eat the numerous heart-shaped chocolates in the shops as I’m lactose/dairy intolerant, so it’s a double dagger to my jaded heart. Cruel. I mean I’m totally cool with being single for the 7th valentines day running, who’s counting…sniff…I say as the crumbs of my 25th consecutive Oreo falls into my beard (attractive I know ladies!).

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Valentines day blogs I’ve covered everything from the perfect gifts, to the bitter blogs about it being a corporate day which has origins in a Roman guy who stalked a girl, then died pushing her out of the way of a runaway cart. People say that’s cute! I say that’s a Netflix criminal documentary. These blogs, the emotional robot Tony (yes I do have them) often allow me to discuss my feelings on subjects of love and women. They’re often my favourite blogs over the years. After all my love of writing blogs came from me trying to deal with the shitstorm of 6th form. Over the years I’ve felt less and less inclined to wear my heart so openly online, I’m sure you’ve either read or can find those past blogs somewhere online. Yet, despite that I still love these types of blogs. Some of them are fun like a blog I wrote about why I’m single The Single Life of a Tony, or one of my favourite and actually most read blog was my joke take on what the perfect woman would be What would the perfect girl be if she existed?! Other blogs, well they’ve been a bit more sombre but packed a message like this one Cheating in relationship, is it in the Jeans?.

For this one, well I’ll try and strike a balance between the two! Lately, I’ve given some thought to relationships, I’ve been a bit preoccupied for a while with other stuff. I’ve had close friends start new relationships and others ending, I’ve seen those on a high and those struggling. Add to that I’m coming to the end of my PhD and in all honesty having absolutely no clue what lies in store for me next and the terrifying feeling I feel about leaving that life and for the first time probably ever, that I don’t have a solid plan or goal, it has made me think about a lot of things lately. Top piece of advice, I may seem like I have my shit together, but I’m just like you, a twig in a river just in for the ride having no clue.

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The last valentine’s day I spent with someone the tap jammed on and the kitchen nearly flooded with boiling hot water, and we spent the evening filling pots and pans to stop the water from flooding the kitchen. If that wasn’t a metaphor for how that relationship would eventually end, I don’t know what is haha! I’m not going to throw shade in this blog at people in relationships and whatever it is you do on valentines day. Whether you make it special or not, it’s your relationship and I for one and not in a position to judge. You know my thoughts on having a day to celebrate your love for another person and whether I think this is how it should be done.

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In terms of me, well yeah another year single. I honestly thought that last year that would have changed but as per usual with me and my love life well it’s often a square trying to fit into a circle, it never quite fits. I’ll pass on three scenarios or instances where I thought it would change, but the universe as usual laughed and went no.

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For the first time in a long, long time did I entertain the thought of being with someone, people commented on how I was smiling a lot more and was funnier and yeah, I did want to be a better person for her. I’ll take a side step here for a second to explain something. Despite my opening remarks, I’m actually a pretty happy single, I’ve written blogs before about how important it is when you come out of a relationship which you give your all in, to recharge, rediscover yourself and ultimately, forgive your flaws. After all, if you can’t love yourself then how can anyone ever truly love you and you to love someone else? What this means, however, when you’re very self-assured of yourself as well while you may miss having that one person to entirely rely on, or the cute things like morning kisses, on the whole, you enjoy life, you appreciate who you are and that’s important because you’re whole as a person and don’t need someone else to make you whole. I think that’s incredibly important! So when someone comes along who when you are a whole person make you sit up and think, well hey, this girl I want to be better than I am now and they’re going to enhance what I have. Take yourself from 10 to 11, that extra level you haven’t unlocked yet.

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So I met someone who for the first time in ages those thoughts crossed my mind, of course as per usual they were taken. I rolled my eyes, we’ve seen this episode before in the sitcom or is that the horror show that is my love life? Anyway, long story short the classic I’ll wait for her to sort her stuff out and I’ll be a gentleman and not tell her how I truly feel about her, it was too late. The moment had gone. That’s cool, we’ve been here before. As another joke, there was someone else who passed the Tony test, someone I didn’t really think would but did, and I enjoyed every moment with them, but circumstances meant that that would never happen. At least I now have a pretty good yardstick of who to compare to, to live up to my idea of a perfect woman. Lastly, while those two were the standard typical me issues, the latter is when I came to realise that I am destined to be single probably for another few years. It’s like every time something crops up to close that door. Those on Facebook will know about the Bumble story.

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Eugh. If that wasn’t a sign, then I don’t know what is. People used to think I’d be taking the piss with how unlucky I am with women, but that just proves it. To quote one of my dear friends “Tony, you really are the most unluckiest people in love I’ve ever met”. I have to agree. If you don’t know the story, well, after months, probably years of “You need to go dating, go on the dating apps” I caved in and dipped my fishing rod into the sea of online dating. Hardly any fish bit except one. A really good looking redhead (you know my Achilles heel), smart, super funny, loved black coffee and aviation, I was thinking well finally, here she is, the one that ticks all the boxes. We get on like a house on fire, and before I could ask to meet up on a date, I get ghosted. No messages for a week. From 100mph to 0. I’d heard about this dreaded phenomenon in the online world of being ghosted. I was, to put it mildly, fuming. After a week I go back onto my message on bumble, I couldn’t face it until then. That’s when the universe played a blinder and to be fair if I weren’t the butt of the joke I’d have pissed myself laughing at it. My phone and the app for whatever fucking reason decided to hold all her messages and not inform me she sent them. So while I thought I had been ghosted, I had inadvertently ghosted her. Her final message “Wow, I really thought we were getting on so well. I didn’t expect you to ghost me.”

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I messaged to explain the situation to no avail. I guess she read that and was like suuuure your phone did that, you complete dick. So yeah, whoop. That was fun, and by fun, I mean about as fun as being on Merseyrail.

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So while my single life is a shitshow as per usual someone asked me a question recently that actually got me thinking about where I stand on it all. She asked me, “Tony, would you trade in all of your degrees, all of your numerous awards and all of your successes for a happy and lasting relationship right now?”

I didn’t even hesitate in answering.

No.

No, I wouldn’t, and I’ll tell you why and why I feel comfortable single. Every degree, every award, every accolade I’ve done that on my own. I haven’t needed someone to confide in, to console, to complete me, that’s all me. It’s a badge of honour. It shows myself that I can do things, I can achieve and when it all goes to crap, I can always rely on myself. Behind those degrees and awards is a lifetime of failure, stress, self-doubt, imposter syndrome to name but a few negatives. Yet, it’s each fall, each hurdle, that I’ve had to pick myself up, learn, move forward, always moving forward. So no, I wouldn’t trade any of that in for a relationship.

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That got me thinking then that while I joke that the universe is against me when it comes to the opposite sex, I think actually I’m the problem! I’ll tell you why or at least why I think I am. The first reason is that I am a problem solver and I give advice, and I don’t beat around the bush. While I am deeply emotional as a person, you’ll never see that in person. I value rational thought and logic over emotions. While that is one of my strengths as I can cut through bullshit and sort mostly any problem out and I would say that those who are close to me value that quality that a spade is a spade. While that’s great as a friend or a colleague would a girl always want to be called out on the bad things to be improved? I’m not trying to be mean, not at all, just if I see you can be more efficient or improve something I’ll tell you. Of course, while I try to be a bit more inclined to the emotionally sensitive people, I imagine that how I come across is a bit abrasive.

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The second problem on those lines is I am so hard on myself. Always have been and probably always will be. Daft but a recent example, I’ve just finished writing my thesis in 2 years 5 months, way faster than the average and while so many people have been like that is amazing, you should be so proud. My first thought, why didn’t you finish it in 2 years 4 months, why didn’t you push yourself to write more papers instead of the one etc. I can’t ever just pat myself on the back, and when others send praise, I brush it off as it’s nothing. What that transpires into is that I demand a lot from myself, so those who I hold dear I demand their best too. I mentioned before that I’m a problem solver, my default is okay, here is a problem, right, how can I sort that for you so that you’ll be happy again or can move forward. What I’ve slowly become to learn is actually a lot of women just want to be listened to, to have someone agree and say you’re in their corner. Not to solve their problems but to say yeah, I’m standing with you on this one.

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Finally, what this all boils down to being single for so long is that I am utterly shitting myself for my next relationship. I’m terrified to take that step again, to open up my heart for fear of the damage an ending will have again. Heartbreak is the literal worst thing you can experience. It’s easier to not be in a relationship to not be hurt, and therefore walls are set in a solid foundation. When you’ve thought for just yourself for so many years, to then, think for two people will genuinely be a challenge for me. I know that one day I’m going to have to find the courage to retake that leap of faith, lately, each time I pluck up the courage something crops up. I know people say everything happens for a reason, well I’d like to see that reason sooner rather than later!

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Sometimes I sit here though, and I’m glad that I’m single. I see the pain that some people post break up go through, and I relive that crap time. I sympathise. I then see people really not happy in relationships but are so afraid to start again, to take drastic steps to be happy themselves that they stay in unhealthy relationships, denying themselves a better option and being in denial that things will get better. One thing that being single for so long gives you is clarity. Sometimes I think people fall in love with the idea of love and not the person. Love is fucking hard. Love isn’t holding hands, it isn’t supporting each other in the good times or telling them you love them when you feel like it. Love is when the shit hits the fan in your life, and the other person stands with you, love is when you’ve been chucking your guts up and look like death, and they tell you you’re beautiful because to them beauty if way past what you look like. Love is when you fundamentally disagree on an issue, but you put that aside and support unconditionally because you’re a team. You rely on each other. Love is making those efforts in the moments where it all seems like it could fall apart, but you work at it because you’re both invested.

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What I see, more often than not, however, is people think they’re in love when in fact they’re in love with the idea of love. They don’t love themselves or know what they want, so they settle for what they think they deserve. What this breads in the end if people who let their partner take liberties or actually when they take a close look realise they have nothing in common or actually we’re a team publically but behind closed doors we’re as far apart as can be. If you’re not happy in a relationship, you really need to leave, for your own sake and for the other person. Sure, it’s a weird single world out there, and I bet the thought of starting again is fucking terrifying, but at least you’re giving yourself the real possibility of finding happiness again. Find yourself or at least a teammate who’s going to always give you 100%.

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However, I see why valentines day is the day it is. Love is crazy, messed up, it’s fire and ice, it’s a rainbow in a storm, a light in an endless tunnel. I get it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss having someone back me 100% as more than a friend, I’d be lying if I didn’t miss morning messages or random hairs on your clothes, and I’d be definitely lying if I didn’t say I miss the sex life. Which, for those asking is I think has now gone past drought to the UN’s definition of extinct! I’d be lying if I didn’t miss the powerful emotions that come with love. Future girlfriend better get ready for the best 10 seconds of her life!

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So, if you’re in a happy relationship and you love the person you’re with, on valentines day, I get it, I really do, and I applaud you. Tell that person you love them, not just on the 14th but every day. Sure, you’re going to hit turbulence along the way but make it work if you’re both committed. Never lose sight of the fact that you’re a team.

If you’re in a relationship and you’re deeply unhappy. As scary as it is, leave. It won’t get better, it never does, I’ve seen it a billion times before. You’re denying yourself a chance of happiness. If you’re newly single or just single, yeah this day sucks, it reminds you that even people like Hitler had a partner and you don’t. You’re literally less desirable than Hitler. I feel your pain. The 14th is brutal. But guess what, you are strong, you are you, you fight your battles every day on your own, you’re valued, and you won’t be as unlucky as me because I think I’m taking one for the team when it comes to love.

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So for next year, who knows if it’ll be 8 years or I’ll be one of those annoying over the top soppy people. Tune in next year guys. As always though, whatever happens, love yourself and give yourself a break!

Until next time.

A perfect weekend: A wedding and Friendships

Hey guys!

I wasn’t planning on writing another blog this month but last weekend was so awesome that it deserved its own outright blog! Plus I am currently sitting here doped up on painkillers after pulling my back out…not through some rigorous exercise or manly task –oh no. It went twang when I bent down to pick up the remote control off the floor. Eugh! 25 going on 80.

But before becoming the hunchback of Notre dam, last weekend was a very good one indeed. We go through each day having periods of happiness and laughs but often in-between those moments it’s often punctuated by lots of mundane things like travelling to work, answering emails or sitting in your own world of music (of which I have great choices of playlists…well I think so anyway). It’s rare to have a solid few days of nothing but laughs and enjoyment with the people you care about the most.

Before I take you back to the weekend, I guess I should really check your ticket and welcome you aboard the time travel train. Next stop 15 years ago.

15 years ago this guy comes around to my house. He was in my sister’s class so a few years older than me. He’d just moved in around the corner and he came around for tea. I didn’t know who he was and not that I really cared either. At least I didn’t until I hear him talking about planes with my Dad. Hmmm I thought, maybe this guy is an avgeek too. I had some really cool cloud wallpaper, let me remind you I was 10 years old at this point! I also had this really cool wallpaper boarder that had different military aircraft on it. As a side note it’s weird how boarders on wallpaper just isn’t a thing anymore! Anyway, I show him my awesome wallpaper and then we have a heated discussion about whether one of the aircraft depicted was an F-18 or an F-15. “No! The F-18 has vertical double tailfins. It’s an F18!” …”It’s an F15! The F15 has double vertical tailfins, the F-18 has slanted double tail fins.” And so on and so on. Safe to say my ten year old self was wrong and he was right. Welcome to the first conversation of a beautiful bromance with one of my oldest and most dearest guy mates, Luke. To call him a mate is a disservice to our friendship. I don’t see him as a friend, I don’t even seen him as a best friend. He’s my brother.

It’s no secret that I have a lot of women in my life and very strong and powerful ones at that, who shape who I am and are a massive part of my life. I’ve written a few blogs over the years as to why that is and I do cherish my female friends dearly. As much as I share so much with them, somethings just need a guy and I have a small select number of guy friends but Luke, my bro, has always been the biggest. From that first argument well actually discussion, I don’t think we’ve ever had a proper argument or falling out, we’ve been bro’s since. So much so that every day in summer he was around here, every weekend around my house, my parents call him son number 2 and likewise he calls them 2nd Mum and Dad! He has been there constantly for 15 years and offers everything a Brother would, advice, friendship, support, laughs and copious amounts of bullying ;). We’re two very different people, if you ever watch Hawaii Five-0 the Bromance Steve and Danno have is very much the two of us! One is very out going, gun ho, lives in the moment and gets stuff done. The other, like me, is very reserved, methodical, and prefers sarcasm and wit to make up for my lack of physical prowess. Nothing more outlines how different we are as people as this memory.

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Let me take you back to a baking hot early spring weekend day and as usual we’re playing some sort of game in the back garden. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of being around at my house, in my back garden we have this giant…humungous cherry tree. It’s about as tall as two houses and in full bloom about the width of one. It towers over everything, this big old mighty tree.

“I’m going to climb that tree…yep…I’m gonna’ do it!” he says with all the bravado of a teenage guy.

I shift uneasily on my feet “I’m not so sure mate. That’s very high, it’s quite windy and the tree hasn’t fully formed from winter yet. The branches won’t be very strong to take your weight. I don’t think the odds are good. I’d leave it.” I explain in typical Tony fashion.

“Nah. I’ll be fine! You worry too much!”

I watch as this boy turns into a spider monkey and rockets up the tree, branch to branch, shimmying up the main trunk like he was raised in the jungle. He disappears in the early spring blossom and then reappears at the top with a triumphant yell! With a whistle he exclaims “What a view!”

I call back “I’m sure it is! Stay safe up there!”

“Ha yeah. Hope I don’t fall!”

“Touch wood!” I retort.

“Yeah…Touch wood!”

While I turn my back to touch the wooden bench I was sitting on, I look on in a state of confusion and then a wry smile creeps across my face. I watch this spider monkey negotiate his way back down the tree, yearning for the next branch, then carefully placing his feet, I try to hold back my laugh as I realise what’s going on. I mean I could warn him, I could tell him but what sort of Brother would I be if I did?! He gets near the bottom and he’s hanging on by a few fingers, stretching with all of his reach…nearly there…little bit more. Ah. Finally. His finger touches the wooden fence before he retracts himself back up to the branch.

Through some laugher “Why the hell did you just do that?”

“Errrr Duh Tony. You said touch wood. So I touched wood!” he replied in a matter of fact tone.

“Dude. What’s a tree made out of?”

“….”

“You’re in a tree…made of wood.” I can’t even finish without laughing.

“Hmmm. Point taken!”

But for 15 years I’ve had a brother that I never had before and he is my closest guy mate. I’ve been there through his relationships and likewise he’s been through mine. I’ll still always be forever grateful for when my ex broke up with me he came around every day for a week, even after work to cheer me up and take my mind off it. What a top guy!

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So I’ve seen Luke grow into the man he is today and when Amy came along many years ago, it was the final missing piece for him. A beautiful, intelligent, funny and family orientated woman. I am a sucker for romance and for everything I’ve wrote and the stories I’ve wrote over the years, I’d struggle to put together two characters who are so suited as Luke and Amy are! When they announced their engagement I could not be happier!

While sitting in a Toronto hotel room trying to fight off the losing battle of jetlag after arriving in Canada, I get a message from him asking if I would do him the honour of being one of his best men. I was honoured and not even a fuzzy jetlagged mind had any hesitations in saying yes. Adam his real brother and Jay one of his oldest friends, were the other two best men. He’s a lucky guy to have such awesome dudes in his life, if I do say so myself!

So after the planning, picking out the suits and the stag do, in the run up to the wedding he asked if I would do a reading at the wedding service and if I would be Master of Ceremony. Jay would look after the rings and do the rings at the service and Adam would do the best man speech. Errrm let me think about that, position of power, organisation, and I get the kick ass title of master of ceremony hmmm. YES! I asked if I could wear a cloak and have a cane but apparently that wasn’t appropriate. L I can’t have it all! It was only until I went away and googled what my role involved did I realise what it was I actually just signed up for! Plus, every time I told anyone what my title was for the wedding they would take a sharp intake of breath and would say “wow. No pressure. Don’t fuck it up”.

For those of you who don’t know, the Master of Ceremony is as one website put it. The key linchpin in making a successful and smooth wedding day. Your duties include,

·         Being the wedding host- Greeting members of the wedding, introducing the day’s events on the microphone and telling people important things like speeches, when to sit, where to sit, when the first dance will be etc.

·         Run on schedule – Liaise with wedding venue staff and others to make sure everything is in place when and where it should be.

·         Trouble shooter – Deal with any problems. At no point should the bride and groom hear of any problems.

·         Make sure the guests and most importantly the bride and groom have the best and smoothest day possible.

So, no pressure! I didn’t mind the pressure as that’s when I’m at my best. Leading and being responsible for stuff, as an ENTJ it’s literally in the blood! Plus, I absolutely love public speaking so it was a role I was well suited for, even if I’d never really done a wedding before or done any of this before!

All best men worked incredibly hard that day to make sure it was such a smooth and enjoyable day. The venue was stunning. Old country manor style feel and the location for the service inside a converted barn was breath-taking and classy and just wow. I really cannot wait to see the official pictures!

It hit home how special it was when I was waiting outside for Amy and the bridesmaids to arrive and Luke was in the barn and all the guests were waiting patiently with a buzz of excitement. When they arrived it was show time. After a few words with them and making sure everything was set, we exchanged some thumbs up and as I walked up the aisle, I put my hand on his shoulder “She’s hear mate. She looks stunning! Show time!” then sat down next to him. When the music started and everyone turned around as she walked up the aisle and then seeing their two beaming smiles when they saw each other. Oh man! So cute!

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My Bro just before he got married!

The service was wonderful and I didn’t mess up my funny reading to which both he and Amy wanted me to do in ‘Your story’ voice. So plenty of emphasis and fun on some of the words. After pictures they both went to the beach with the photographer and then came back for the speeches and food and I did my MC duties before the night time started. What really struck me was when I had just one final thing to do at the end of the night and that was sorting the cake cutting. I’d been liaising all day with the staff and expected the cake room to be open at 9pm, right after the first dance. The kitchen staff were running behind schedule and I was helping them out while trying to organise the first dance and the tossing of the bouquet. When the first dance was announced I took a moment to just stop for a second for the first time that day and just look around from the back of the hall. Seeing two people so in love during their first dance and then watching everyone else join in, seeing everyone with a smile on their face. Such a wonderful moment. Its seldom we get those days when everyone is happy and there is nothing but love in the room. I knew at that point that I had done my job and that the wedding with everyone else’s help, had gone off without a hitch. I slipped away back to the kitchen before the end of the first dance to get the cake ready and managed to do my last thing, albeit two minutes behind schedule. Which isn’t too bad after everything!

Once my official duties were over and feeling real pressure which was leading the Macarena dance on the dance floor, which is terrifying. Give me the pressure of not fucking up my mates wedding any day than leading that dance! I was knackered ha-ha. It was great to see so many happy faces and it was great to see so many of my family there too! It was great to catch up. Weddings are truly special and one day when and if I ever have my own, I hope my wedding is just as good as theirs and I know Luke as my best man would do a wonderful job! My final duty was to announce last orders and after my goodbyes I was home by 12 and bed by 12.30. A successful, wonderful and very happy day!

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The Fam

Congratulations to you two amazing people! I hope you have a long, healthy and very happy life together Mr & Mrs Talbot!

A week before the wedding I was out riding with Laura and she suggested that me, her and Katie do something that weekend. Katie had recently moved to Liverpool and we all wanted to do something together and I personally didn’t want her to feel too lonely moving into a new place. We had all discussed the lakes but I thought I wasn’t going to be free until the afternoon, I honestly thought the wedding night would have gone on longer. I had promised Katie ages ago when she moved here, that I’d show her one of my favourite places in Merseyside, Formby Pinewoods. There, Crosby beach and Clieves Hill are my favourite spots.

I woke up at 6 a.m. on the Sunday morning still on a buzz from the day before and after some discussion between us all, we decided to go to the woods. Again more pressure. I had built this place up to be awesome and I promised the sight of squirrels! I was so looking forward to spending the day with these two. I often make reference to my life being some sort of TV series and that Sunday would be one of those episodes where you would just go back to time and time again to watch. Just pure comedy gold.

The PhD started off with a big cast of series regulars and slowly due to people moving away or different circumstances that the core group of people, has slowly reduced. In everyday are now only me, Laura and Katie. Rosie and Vic are in every so often but its Katie and Laura who I see every day and it’s no surprise that our friendship has grown together. Three different people but three people who work incredibly well together. I mentioned before the way your day has moments of joy and laughter in it and then is punctuated by the boring mundane things like work or travel. I’m so glad to be in that office because it’s more a case of laughter and joy than anything else. I’m the happiest I have ever been for a number of years and that’s most certainly down to having two great people to have a laugh with every day. It never feels like work with my ladies 😉 !

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Cool AF

I don’t think I have laughed as much as I did that day. There are far, far, far too many noteworthy moments that in all fairness, probably deserve a blog in their own right! From selfies, to pisstaking out of my excellent descending skills, to the infamous 50 shades of pug. In fact. No. I can’t even begin to explain or even try to type anything remotely about that, without having tears in my eyes from laughing. I will never look at a Pug or a member of a family. EVER.AGAIN! hahahaha. Fuck me. It was one of those you had to be there moments! Just pure comedy. On par if not surpassed by the office monkey GIF! Firmly blaming you for that one again Katie!!

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Its balancing act

There were so many and I mean so many, innuendos on that trip! I had promised them both that I would show them a squirrel (and no that is not a euphemism!). Just as they were about to give up on it and call me a liar, this little beauty of a squirrel appeared and bounded through the trees right by us to be fed. Thank you Mr Squirrel for not making me look like a dick!

Sunday was one of those rare days of pure comedy and joy and love. I think by time I come to do my end of year blog that day will firmly be in the top 5, if not top 3. A truly wonderful and fun day with two amazing people. I had built this place up and I think it delivered!

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We can’t go anywhere without a coffee stop first!

So sadly by time Monday came it was back to work and two fantastic, heart-warming, fun and loving two days was over. If those two days are anything to go and especially that Sunday, then when Prague comes around with those two in a months’ time, I can only imagine what blog that is going to make. I cannot wait!

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes in life you get given perfect days. Days when you have no troubles in the world, the weather is great and your company is greater and the only tears in your eyes are from laughter. Make the most of them. Take time to just stop and look around and enjoy it. Capture the moments in pictures and memorise them. It makes those mundane things in life worth it. Surround yourself with people who can love life and who love you. I am incredibly fortunate to have so many beautiful, caring and funny people in my life. Long may that continue!

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Three Amigo’s

Thanks for a great two days ❤

Until next time,

Toe

X

PhD as a sitcom: It’s the friends that make you appreciate the journey

Before starting the PhD there was a sense that there was no doubt that it was a long journey ahead. I’m no stranger to long journeys or solo travel so the PhD was almost an intellectual perfect fit. I often pictured any long piece of writing, be that the two previous dissertations or the two novels that I’ve wrote as long climbs. Long climbs for example on the bike are always more about mental strength than physical. Cycling up a long hill, looking up but nothing but steeper road and no sign of any peak, is exhausting and everything in your head tells you to quit. Yet, when someone else is cycling with you, you keep going, you jeer each other on. The PhD is exactly the same.  Any article I read about doing a PhD before I started was everyone said how lonely the PhD experience was. I had images in my head of three years of solitary confinement and turning into Tom Hanks from Castaway. Perhaps the Thesis would be called Wilson?

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In some aspects as a PhD student you are on your own little island but others are on that island too. Ironically, like lost, it’s an Island that tries to kill you at every turn and we try to escape it over the course of three academic seasons.

I’ve been very fortunate to be in a position that not many new PhD students get to be in and that is a part of a cohort. My PhD was created through a new stream of funding and they wanted to develop a new PhD community in the Education faculty. So I was really lucky to start at the same time as a group of students were starting. So in September we all boarded the PhD boat and it set sail into the bold new waters of undiscovered research. At the moment that boat is somewhere between the Costa Concordia and the Titanic but what matters the most for this metaphor is we’re all in it together!

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Accurate representation of the PhD ship on a daily basis.

And that’s important to me. Those of you who know me well enough will know that I pride myself on the company I keep and I cherish my friendships.  As much as I love friends and family who are not involved in the PhD, they simply do not understand the stresses and strain of the PhD. That’s not their fault. It’s an entirely different world. I might as well be on the Enterprise as it’s a vastly different adventure to anything else. PhD friends however just get it and like Vic put it so well “You’re the only ones I can talk to about this stuff”. She’s right. For example the stress of the RD9R form, initiation to the PhD, quest or journey to hell and back, whatever you want to call it, was about as annoying as hearing Adele on the radio every two minutes! I could have complained to friends or family about it but I don’t think they quite grasp the scale of the torture of an RD9R form. On the other hand, my fellow PhD brethren fully appreciate my anger at it all. We all seriously had good and bad days with that form!

survive

Those that know me well will also know that I am rarely one to ask for help or seek council. When I do, you know it’s bad. I prefer to deal with issues myself but doing this PhD it’s almost as if the currency of a PhD is collaboration and help. You don’t help others for any person gain, it’s just what you do here in this weird and wonderful PhD world. If you don’t help each other out on this island you’re all going to starve. If one of you is a dick, then you’ll get murdered and eaten. I’ve read lord of the flies, no one wants to be Piggy.

That being said I love helping others out and I love giving objective advice. I’ve been on the other side of education as a staff member and I’ve seen all the issues that come with it. Therefore I’m well equipped to deal with most problems in academia, be that god awful supervisors to vast amount of red tape. The former I am so lucky to have brilliant supervisors for my PhD but I realise that I am one of the lucky ones. You read about horror stories of terrible Directors of Studies, unfortunately a dear friend is the one who has that nightmare! Pretty much the empire strikes back with that one. This is how villains are created! You know when you thought you could rely on someone being nice and then they turn really horrible on you. Her supervisors have basically pulled a Paolo from Lizzie McGuire.

paolo

snake

 

So, the PhD friends have made this PhD so special in just the short 6 months I’ve been at it. I still don’t think the PhD is hard. That’s not some ooh look at me doing a PhD and finding it easy. The Research Assistant job was just way way harder. I guess I have a busy GID department to thank for my training in those two years! So the research is fun but what makes it more fun is the people. As much as I am a self-centred narcissist at times I deeply value teams and team goals and I demand success from myself, so I demand it from others. I want other people to succeed. Yes, I like to be the leader of said teams or a point of contact for advice. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, which fuels my ego. Pretty straight forward cycle. However, I love giving advice, there is nothing better than seeing your words being put into action for the benefit of others! It’s one reason I’m in academia and that’s to make a difference. Yet, in this job I don’t actually see myself as better than anyone else, we’re all equals in that office because we all have our different strengths that we all bring to the team. We’re pretty much the PhD avengers. Viva people and research degree committees are pretty much Hydra too.

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You know well by now that I feel like my life is a TV show in a parallel universe due to the vast randomness that happens to me and all the drama that happens with my fellow cast members! If it was a TV show, I’m sure the audience all have their favourite characters (as do I!) but if my life was broken down into a series then this new series would be the PhD one. I’m pretty sure if the PhD was a series or a new TV show, we’d deffo be rocking 9.5 on IMDB. We even have our own theme song too! ‘Sheryl Crows – Winding Road’ if you wanted to know. It’s literally the perfect song! This group has it all. Vast amounts of comedy and I mean vast. Every day is a laugh and some of the one liners in this group are amazing! Sarcasm is rife, intellectual debate and comedy is pretty much how we talk to each other. You’d struggle to write a script as good as this. Yet, there is plenty of drama, there has been tears and what makes every TV show compelling is the dynamic and bond between the characters. It’s pretty much the TV show community. Everyone is there for everyone else because we’re all in this sinking research boat together. It’s amazing to be in such a friendly and collaborative environment. No problem is too big or too trivial. Everyone chips in to help out. Not for personal gain but because we want all of us to succeed. Statistically one of us will quit the PhD at some point. I like to think despite us all wobbling at times that we’ll be unique in doing this journey together. I’ve pulled one person back on the ship after nearly going overboard and I’m hauling another in as we speak. There will be no better sense of accomplishment to when we all graduate, knowing we’ve got through three years of the hardest mental challenge ever together.

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So, a little bit about my PhD dudes!

Emy: The Dad. is pretty much a time lord. I swear. For 52 he looks about 27! I don’t know if he bathes in a Lazarus pit but damn I hope I look that good when I’m that age! Emy was the first PhD student I met in H003 and for a about two weeks it was just the two of us in that office. Emy, is like the Dad of the group, he’s the wise figure head. His life experience is invaluable to all of us and I think I speak on behalf of all of the group when I say we massively respect him looking after a family and doing a PhD! His desk is a work of art in the sense that I thought mine was messy but holy cow, you need a Sherpa to navigate that desk! Luckily his advice and guidance far outweighs his sprawling mound of paper!

Laura: Cycling Bae. Laura was the second PhD student I met in H003 and my mornings would not be complete without our morning chats! Or should I say rants 😉 and by rants I mean I sit there and listen intently and filter the information before giving wonderful advice ;). If I do say so myself. Laura though is very funny and we have real deep and meaningful chats and we have our little side adventures. Be that our cycling trips or sneaking into meetings that we’re not strictly meant to attend. Laura is probably the most studious out of all of us. She’s pretty much replaced Alex from masters in undergrad in that regard. A very hard working person! Also, there isn’t a staff member or trick about the uni that Laura doesn’t know!

Rosie: My office P.I.C. That’s partner in crime if you weren’t down with the kids. There is a two hour window in the day when we’re not in the office together and that’s pretty much when 90% of our work gets done. We talk constantly! Probably to the annoyance of others in the office, sorry guys! I often like to think of myself as one of the most laid back and chilled people you’ll ever meet. Rosie blew that straight out of the water. I think Hammock is a pretty apt nickname. We’re very much alike which is no surprise considering we’re only born three days apart. Practically twins! Also, a southerner who hates Margaret Thatcher!? What a winner. Rosie is also a constant source of good food and tv advice and especially sweets…but not before 12. You have been warned!

Vic: Miss Fun and well miss organised. Vic is always the one to keep us motivated, happy and all together. Forever organising stuff as a group. She’s incredibly funny too but I don’t think she realises how funny! She says what she thinks which I love and is a real down to earth, honest and genuine girl. As she’s older than me she is pretty much almost like the mum of the group for her caring nature. Now that she’s our post grad rep I couldn’t think of a better role for her and I know any concerns we do have are certainly in her most capable of hands. In the nicest way, she has that fun quirky charm which I know we all appreciate!

Hannah and Cara: I speak about them as one because they’re almost impossible to separate. They’re a package and a double act. Like Ant and Dec but way funnier, cooler and generally more likeable. They don’t spend as much time in the office as those core group of the original H003 but they’re always fun to be around. Again, always a good source of humour! They really do have a hell of a lot to juggle and I am amazed at how well they do all of it!

Katie: The newest addition to this mad house that is H003. Even though we’re only 6 months in, we all kind of feel veterans of this PhD game now. Battled hardend and wary already! We probably came across as miserable buggers when she first met us when we discussed the RD9R form and what lay ahead! More so than anyone else are we here for advice for Katie because we wish we had someone who’d been there and got the battle scars, so we want her to have an easier ride! Yet, its almost as if she’s been here from the start. She’s fitted in perfectly! Again, I feel kinda’ guilty that she drew the short straw sitting next to me because I really do talk a lot! On the plus side of that, she has a great sense of humour, sarcasm in spades and what a wonderful surprise to find we share a love of writing and the anguish of what it’s like to put words on paper through novels and blogs (get back to blogs!!). Also it’s so fun to see another person who has random and weird train journeys! See everyone, it really isn’t just me, it happens to others too!!

Some new PhD students will be starting soon but I think this core of students is the one. The beauty of this is that I am always in the mind-set that it’s the people that make the place. These people make that place. The PhD although not hard, is by no means easy. Its mentally challenging, its one hell of a roller-coaster ride. We all share and celebrate each other’s highs because we know in a blink of an eye we’ll get a crushing low. Everyone else in the PhD environment puts you down, tells you you’re crap and that your work is never good enough. If it wasn’t for this bunch of PhD avengers I doubt any of us would have any positive outlooks on life. For someone who is highly independent I never thought I would rely on a group of people as much as I do now. They’re friends, they’re a family. The PhD is one long and arduous journey in a boat that is constantly trying to fill up with water. Yet, with these people, I know we’ll survive and we’ll get off this PhD Island one day. For now at least we have many episodes to come and I cannot wait to see them play out! I’ll end this blog with a quote that I find very apt. “It’s the friends we meet along the way, that help us to appreciate the journey”.

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We’re the new saved by the bell

Until next time,

Toe.

What would the perfect girl be if she existed?

Long-time no blog! Sorry, I fully expected to have at least a few blogs a month but it has just been so incredibly full on. I’ve had a lot to deal with lately and its big stuff in terms of where I’ll be come August. It’s no coincidence that the mileage on the bike has rapidly increased in the past two months! I vent and relax by two ways, by cycling because that means I don’t have to think about a problem or I write, where I get to distract myself and have some fun or I tackle the issues. I’ve avoided a big issue for long enough so the latter I will do next week and will be in a blog about what big decisions I have to make in the next few months. Real big decisions which are weighing on my mind a lot, ironically once again history repeating itself as I was in this position around two years ago when decisions are made out of your hands which define which way you’ll go. So look out for that one next week.

However tonight, is more about distraction. I don’t want to get too depressed with how bleak the outlook to my other problem is. I was today going to write a blog about cycling and my love of it however I thought me discussing Lycra, shaved legs, mental strength, Strava data and puking at the top of a climb is probably not a fun blog after all (although I will do a cycling blog at some point!).

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So I sat down and thought about a conversation I had in work before I went on Easter annual leave and I thought it would be fun to do this one instead. It follows on from previous blogs when the issue of relationships has come up (here we go again I hear you say!). Once again last week I had the same old “why are you single chat” someone who clearly hadn’t read my previous blog (https://thedayinthelifeoftonycliffe.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/an-honest-look-at-why-im-single/) and despite my explanations the good old you’re just too picky comment occurred again! By this point it is about as funny as hearing Adele every time I walk passed a radio. Which, is about as funny as meeting an ex’s mother by saying “oh is this your nan?” Yep…I did that once!

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Seriously wanted the sky to swallow me up when that happened.

So anyway this person despite my protests kept saying I’m too picky and that I compare every girl to some perfect girl in my head. This couldn’t be further from the truth so I’ve decided to indulge in their illusion of me comparing people to this mystical “perfect girl” that apparently I have in my head to compare to. Contrary to popular belief I don’t have a type per say. I have favourable traits but I’ve been attracted to many different girls, so while out cycling the other day as the forecasted sunshine turned to gales and wind and nearly choking on a leaf that blew into my face, I gave this some thought, as if I was creating a real life Sim, what would the perfect girl for me look like, act like and be like? Well here it is. Please bare in mind this is very satire and not in any way serious! Although if you do so happen to match this description, please apply within!

Looks

Okay, so let’s start with looks. “Beauty is on the inside”. Nope, sorry, it’s on the outside too. I don’t want to wake up next to a troll every morning no matter how beautiful you may be on in the inside. I have to look at myself every day in the mirror which is a shock within itself. Beauty and the beast I most certainly reside on the beast scale.  I’d rather not wake up terrified by rolling over to look at you. You may fart rainbows and bring life to sick puppies but if I’m not attracted to you then it won’t work. Is that wrong to be honest? People on high horses may say so but let’s face it, we all do it. You do need a physical attraction to someone to make things work. The difference is my idea of beautiful looks may be different to yours. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all but it’s definitely not a troll. Please see attached picture of scary Icelandic trolls that my sister brought me back!

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Hair colour

Okay so first and foremost let’s just get this not so secret, secret, out there, if you’re ginger you get extra points. Seriously I have a huge thing for ginger girls. It all stems from my first ever crush which was Ariel the little mermaid. Regardless of the fact she was a cartoon, nor the glaring omission of her having a tail and probably smelt of seaweed and fish, she was really hot. You may laugh but she was the original definition of babe. Granted she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, for Christ sake it’s a fork not a hair brush. Even a hermit crab could work that out. Or when a creepy classic Disney villain asks you to sign a contract, you don’t. However let me take this opportunity to say that why are clam bras not a fashion staple in this country? So you allow people to walk around in crocs, yet not hot women ginger fish women in clam bras? Where is the justice in that?

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Still a babe!

Sorry, I digress. I’ve always had a thing for ginger girls, I’ll come onto eye colour (to which I have no real preference) but if you’re ginger and have blue eyes, I kind of melt inside. Despite my ever present love for Taylor Swift and however much I would love to “Shake it off” with her, the one women I think is perfect in terms of looks, body type and I rate, shock horror, higher than T Swizzle is in fact Amy Adams. She is the definition of babe. Ginger, blue eyes, curves in the right places ahh ginger blue combo is my Achilles heel.  I’m yet to meet or know a ginger haired girl who wasn’t a little crazy in some way. I’ll come onto personality etc. later but I may as well address an observation here. I’m a pretty reserved, predictable guy. I find comfort in order and knowing what to expect and to an extent I would like that in a girl too, it scares me if a person yo-yo’s too much. With that in mind however I love someone who is a little unhinged at the same time.  I find that very enticing, especially because I’m so straight laced! It’s a sweet and sour combo. Every red head I’ve ever known does give off the vibe of being a little crazy in some way which only adds to the sex appeal. Gingers are fairly rare and so if I had to look back at my crushes both people I’ve known and celebrities, blonde is definitely up there. Taylor Swift, Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, my last girlfriend, all blonde. There’s something homely about blonde chicks and those on the lighter end of the spectrum. So the perfect girl would have ginger hair but I’d settle for blonde for example. Ha, who am I kidding I’d settle for anything with a pulse…kidding!

Eye colour

I’m not particularly fussed, it’s more about the depth of colour and what I would see in them. Eyes tell you everything you ever need to know about a person. You could be all smiles and laughs but if you’re in pain, if you’re sad, if you’re angry, if you’re happy your eyes will scream it. A lot of people don’t pay as much attention to people’s eyes as they probably should. Windows to the soul, so use them. But if this is an exercise of building up a picture of my perfect woman, we’ve already established she’d have red hair and her eyes would be blue. Blue just so happens to be my favourite colour too!

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Body type – I’m not exactly the fittest guy in the world so as long as you’re not bigger than me (hard to beat) I don’t really care! Although I must confess I’ve never been a fan of really skinny girls. All bones while cuddling, no thanks. I don’t want to date a CAFOD advert. Plus I eat a lot so I’d just feel really bad if all you ate were carrot sticks. By all means a girl who looks after herself is a good thing, I don’t want you dying early on me but the more crap you eat once in a while the more attractive you become. Nothing sexier than a girl who loves burgers and steak over celery and low fat insert never heard of vegetable smoothies. Have you ever smelt those things by the way? You shouldn’t be drinking something that smells and looks like something the incredible Hulk would flush down the loo. Just an average body type would be fine, whatever that is. As long as you’re happy with your body then so will I. Never a fan of the girls who say “oooh I’m too fat or I’m too ugly”. Zip it. If you’re not happy do something about it although 9 times out of 10 you’re absolutely perfect the way you are. People get too caught up in body image and type. Sure super models are good to look at but are they good for anything else like cuddles? Probably not. Plus, why even post that shit anyway? “You’re proppa fit babezz” … “Tar hunnies!” Eugh. Nearly throw up in my mouth every time.

 

 

Moving on, I can’t address body type without addressing the age old question. Guys fall into the Boobs, Bum or Legs category and I’m firmly in the first category. Bum’s never really seen the appeal, I mean I appreciate a good bum but I can take it or leave it. Despite cycling a lot my arse is as flat as my saddle. From the back of my neck to my heel is a vertical drop, you could base jump of that shit all the way down, so as long as you’re packing more in the trunk than me then I’m game. Plus I’ve never really seen the appeal of a bum because well…it’s a bum. Some guys go on about doing anal with a girl I mean dude, human evolution didn’t happen so that you could put your little dude in that hole. That and a graphic description from a friend is enough to make me feel queasy. Corn on the cob is all I’ll say on that one and I quote “imagine having sex inside a warm hula-hoop”. Never looked at beef and onion hula hoops the same way ever again. Now neither will you, enjoy!

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A good set of pins is always welcome, however and maybe because I’m a cyclist if you have well defined calves, which stands out to me. Only because in a narcissistic manor I do find myself admiring my own legs at times. It’s my only good feature okay! Stop judging. All cyclists do it. Trust me I have little to work with here, unless you like noses in the shape of a penis and hair the texture of an expensive carpet.  So bums and legs are not a deal breaker but boobs kinda’ are. Boobs are the best invention ever and clearly the pinnacle of human evolution. Yes, they’re just muscle and fat but they’re boobs! 34C boobs are the perfect size. Most guys go for giant boobs but maybe because I have had loads of girl mates over the years that I just feel genuinely sorry for girls with huge boobs. That backache and having a forward centre of gravity must be a killer! I’d hate to have a sack of potatoes pulling me forward all day, every day, so despite appreciating them I can’t stop thinking about how sore you might be! Yet I don’t want them too small because if my moobs are bigger than yours then that’s just embarrassing, not for you but for me! Pretty sure I’m rocking some sort of A cup.

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Personality

So while looks are important they probably only make up around 25% of the perfect girl or any girl for that matter. Personality is the big deciding factor. You may look like a goddess but if your personality resembles a brick then that’s not much good. I have always and probably always will be attracted to really driven and ambitious women, which is both good and bad at the same time. The perfect girl would have something that gives her fire, direction and purpose. Be that to be successful in a job or passionate about some cause. I absolutely love it when someone has that motivation and drive to make it happen because I’m like that. The problem arises in relationships and it happens all the time is when yours and her ambitions don’t align. Two driven people heading in different directions. So if the perfect girl could accommodate that then sweet. Following on from that I absolutely love a girl who keeps me on my toes and knocks me down a few pegs. I love a good mental sparring and especially in the form of sarcasm. Banter and quick wit are so endearing. Again I’m like that so someone who can counter me is both a fun challenge and it’s a cute form of flirting. I think so anyway.

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As much as having no common sense is pretty cute in a girl sometimes because you just want to pat them on the head and wonder how they’ve survived this long, the perfect girl really does need intelligence. I’m really nerdy. I have Stephen Hawkins books and a guide about quantum mechanics on my shelf as my idea of ‘light reading’. I don’t expect you to have an A Level in Quantum physics nor a PhD but I do want a level of intelligence. I love talking about the complexities or nature or the vastness of space or global news events and what that means. My mind needs to be stimulated and learning and I love a good debate. If a girl disagrees with me but puts up a great argument man I love that! Comes back to that passion before and that grit and keeping me on my toes that I love.

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The perfect girl would have some sort of creative or caring aspect to her personality. I’m never in relationships for the short term it’s always the long term. It takes me literally half a year to decide to go out with someone so I want to make sure it will last. Caring and kindness are beautiful qualities and the perfect girl would possess them in abundance. She would need to be family orientated too. I have a huge, crazy and very wonderful family and I’m a big family person so she would need to be the same too. We’d make good parents that way in the future! Adventurous side as in someone who wanted to travel or explore is really good to have too. I’m really not a nightclub or going out kind of person. My idea of a great night out is a pub quiz and bed by 10pm. I can’t be arsed with drunkenness or immaturity. The perfect girl would be someone who likes quiet restaurants, walks and strolls and more importantly cuddled up in front of a warm log fire watching movies or tv and chatting about crap.

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I do tend to splash out on loved ones in the past but I wouldn’t want a high maintenance girlfriend. One who can rock the nice expensive dresses but isn’t too obsessed by brands, price tags or looks. If you’re the kind of girl who wears a dress only once then you ain’t for me. To me, who’s financially savvy i.e. tighter than a ducks arse in water, I see that as an incredibly wasteful use of money.

Finally, the perfect girl would hold a pilot’s license, be a cyclist but not as good as me because I couldn’t hack that because I’m a shovenist pig, cook and bake, again shovenist but damn I love cake. If you can’t cook I don’t mind because I can pretty well but if you make a Victoria Sponge then yeah you’re marriage material.

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So wow, that was fun. Now I realise that this blog probably sounded like the worlds most complicated job advert. Now that is some lonely hearts advert right there. I’ve just realised that now that I’ve created this ‘perfect girl’ in my head will I now judge all non-existent females who are interested in me against this person? Have I now made a paradox? Oh no, what have I done!

Remember, this blog was a bit of fun and the perfect girl does not exist for the umpteenth time!  unless you happen to be a ginger, blue eyed, 34c, ambitious, driven, intelligent, witty, baker, cycling pilot. In which case I would say apply within but we all know my ability to flirt is on par with Andy Murray’s ability to smile. So for the last time I do not place women against a perfect girl in my head. I am single for far greater reasons, mainly a firm lack of interest from any female to actually compare to. So that was my sim life creation of the perfect girl. Ironically I do feel that whoever controls my love life is in effect has made a sim, put me in a swimming pool and has taken out the ladders. Swimming around an empty pool of life while the grim reaper sharpens his stabby thingy. At least I haven’t wet myself…yet.

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Until next time.

Toe

An honest look at why i’m single

A trip down honesty lane to discuss why I’m single and how I view the single life.

It’s no secret that I’ve been single for a while now and I’m mostly okay with that. There are a few aspects of relationships I do miss such as cute good morning kisses, being there for the little things, going and exploring new countries and places together but most of all knowing you have someone who loves you on another level and loves you for being you, including all of your flaws. Of course I have that support from close friends and family which I really do appreciate but it is different when it’s a relationship. Other than that I’m completely satisfied with single life despite the constant “I think you really need a girlfriend again Tony” remarks. So why have I been single for this long? Well after my last relationship it was no secret that I took that break up pretty hard and it was a long rebuild. So for quite a while I was emotionally unavailable and I threw myself into my academic career (which really has paid off so far!) and therefore I haven’t had time for one, nor been on the market per say. Other reasons? Well a distinct lack of interest from any woman on this earth has made that decision to stay single, not exactly a difficult one.

I’ve been accused lately by family, friends and even work colleagues that I’m “too picky” or I should just “go on dates” as if that’s the real reason I’m single. I can understand their concerns, to an extent. However to be picky implies I’m turning away women every day, however much I’d love that to be the case, It isn’t. I don’t know if people are being ironic or they genuinely believe I have an army of fan girls lining up behind me. Which is flattering if you do think so highly of me, it is a shame that is not the case! Being picky is something that I think all people who’ve been single for a long time do end up suffering with however. After a break up you think no one will compare with your ex, then over time you realise how many faults you turned a blind eye to and how many compromises you made. Once you’ve healed from the wounds you then search for something to fill the void, be that another person, a hobby or a career. Somewhere along that path of self-discovery (if you actually take the time to understand what went on and to learn from the positives and negatives and really move on that is) you become completely happy with who you are. You understand and accept your own flaws, you know your good and bad points, your limitations and most importantly you have an idea where you’re heading in life and how you want to get there. You arrive at the happy single stage, which I’m at and have been for quite a while. The problem with this however is, if you’re like me and you’re completely satisfied with your achievements both personal and professional, if you have a small but strong nucleus of people around you who support and love you (both family and friends) then it makes it incredibly difficult for a girl to come along and enhance your life more than it is already. Some say that relationships are about making you a better person, or making you feel complete. If you feel you’re as good as you can be right now or extremely satisfied with your progress in your life, that’s some tough act to beat.

I used to be blinded by love in the sense of I was a hopeless romantic and thought I always needed a girl to bring out the best version of me. Yet I’ve progressed so much in these three years being single, both personally and professionally, on my own, that it’s hard for someone like me who is now sceptical of love to see any real benefits of it when I’m doing better than I ever have alone. I’m also tentative to enter into a new relationships because I enjoy the freedom of the single life. I can do what I want and how I want it without checking if it’s okay with another person.

However behind the very proud persona of which I do have when I look back at all of my achievements being single, all of the above is a factor to being single but it is very much a smoke screen and an easy excuse for me to pull out. One of the main reasons which underpins why I’m single despite the lack of interest, despite a real sense of fulfilment being single, all of that stems from me being completely and utterly terrified of entering another relationship and that’s not easy to admit. For the first time in years a girl actually showed a hint of interest in me last summer. At first I thought it was a joke (which actually shows you how bad my love life has become when a girl is into you and you think its part of some elaborate joke) and then I got to know her and found her very interesting. Completely different to what I expected and I was surprised, intrigued and for the first time in a long time after many nights texting till 3 a.m, had my brain started to work out if we’d suit together.

I analyse everything in this life, seriously my brain runs a trillion calculations constantly to run various scenarios. I deal with data and look for patterns and outcomes as my day job so this analysis is ever more present than when it comes to relationships. I do that because I’ve been burnt too many times now that if I’m going to invest my love in a girl (to which I give my entire heart to those I chose to enter into a relationship with) I want to know it will pay off, or at least have the highest chance to. I want to make sure that it won’t be for nothing. Looking back at my last relationship despite making some mistakes I genuinely don’t think I could have been a better boyfriend if a tried and when you genuinely believe someone is the one and you give your all to one person, to have it end abruptly and out of the blue is almost like busting a gut in a marathon to find out after running 25 miles the race is cancelled. All that effort for what? I was cautious before that about investing in love but now I’m even more so.

After being single for so long I find it easier to hide behind someone not hitting all of the tick boxes in my head because I’m utterly terrified to get lost in love again and when it crashes and burns to feel the way I felt after my last breakup. Despite people thinking I’m picky because someone doesn’t compare to the perfect girl in my head is a completely false illusion. The biggest thing they fail against is my fear of sharing my life with someone on that level again to be fucked over. I analyse things in life because I like knowing outcomes, percentages, risk and reward. It took me a whole six months to run things in my head before I got with my ex, I want to make sure it was the right decision, the right girl. Yet the agonising beauty of love is making that unknown step, to jump and see if you fly or if you fall. It’s that last percentage missing, the final missing piece of the puzzle which is gut instinct and well, hope. So if I use the example of the girl in the summer for which I won’t name but she did exist! Although she didn’t tick all of the boxes she ticked quite a lot and it was more than enough for me to give it a go despite being different, despite it probably not working out I could have at least tried. Instead it was all too easy to say I don’t think this would work and approach it with a very compartmentalised manner. Why? Truth was I was terrified. I am terrified. So I killed it off before it ever could have got off the ground. I’m yet to meet someone I’m comfortable in making that leap of faith with, to reassure to the best of their knowledge that it would work.

So one of the main reasons I’m single is because i’m scared. It’s all too easy to push something promising away than give it a go. Other reasons well, I have a very strong personality, some people like it and my views and what I stand for, others think I’m a monumental cock. Either way, the persona I have is confidence, resilience and someone who is happy in their own skin, all of which is true. Yet behind all of that is still that young kid who believed in love and somehow got lost along the way. Despite being cynical about love I do still hold onto the notion of pure love. I have experienced it before and that was a long time ago, way before Stacey, way back when Freddo’s were 10p, summer days were actually summer days, dial-up and Panda pops existed.   Does it bother me being single? No, not really because of all of the achievements and close relationships I have with friends and family which are very rewarding. Does it bother me that I’m yet to have successful and lasting relationship? Yes. Some would say I’m a successful person. I’ve achieved many many things in this life and usually when I set myself a dream or a goal then I will get it through hard work and a bit of luck. Does it nag me that despite being relatively successful in many things that love isn’t one of them? Hell yes it does. It’s always that tiny little piece of the puzzle missing, seemingly always just out of reach. That begins to affect you in a confidence way too. I’m a naturally very self-confident guy, I have a big ego, a big personality that is very complex which some find attractive. I’m very easy going and approachable and I’m the loyalist guy you’d ever meet but I’m wise enough to know I’m not the most handsome guy in the world and looks are never going to be a strong thing for me. I have hair the texture of a sponge/rug, my nose resembles a gentlemen’s appendage, I’m certainly not beach ready body and well in all honesty, I’m quite a boring person. All you have to do is look through my Facebook feed to see how much enjoyment I get from moaning about merseyrail, updating the weather or cycling.  I’m too self-confident for that to bother me, I accept my looks and how I probably come across as boring because that’s me. I’d rather have the public persona very similar to the real me than one that isn’t. Too much effort to be false!

Yet that still doesn’t make you feel a little gutted when hardly any girl takes an interest in you. For example I spent an hour on tinder swiping right for fun, not one match. That’s so tragic, its funny.  Or when you look at some people in relationships and you think what the hell? What am I doing wrong?

So I’m in the place now where I’m incredibly comfortable with single life, yet I’m in that stable part of my life now and time is ticking on, especially when you notice going to another family party without a girlfriend again and pretty much everyone you know is in a relationship, getting married, having kids and you’re here dunking malted milk biscuits into Nutella, covered in crumbs wondering why you’re not a prized catch. It is time to look outwards and try to embrace the idea of being in a relationship, even if it is a tentative peak. Yet I’m held back by the terrifying thought of putting myself on the market again and certainly the terrifying thought of someone coming along who I really like, for me to decide to go for it, have a relationship, give it my all again for it to end…again.

So I kind of hope this year bring a relationship but I don’t want that over the current success I’m having in my career. I’ll take a career over a relationship right now unless someone changes that. I’m not picky, I’m just scared but if Tinder is anything to go by I’ll be waiting a long time before I need to be scared about a relationship!

Hope you enjoyed reading and if you’re a single and feel the same as me, don’t worry you’re not alone! Just remember the law of averages and chance means someone will come along eventually…I think 😉

Until next time!

Toe

So Tony, what motivates you to write?

Answering the question of why I blog – An honest delve into the emotions that motivate me to write.

Recently someone messaged me who wanted to get into blogging and asked me what motivates me to write. I sat back and tried to think of a short answer but in truth there really wasn’t one. I write for many reasons, topics vary wildly, tone and style do too, it all depends on the subject of the blog in question at the time. I blog things because it helps me relax and get a lot of emotion out and I think that helps with my writing. I find writing a very relaxing and empowering thing to do. It’s also a scary thing to do putting your work and your opinions out there for all to see. I have a big old creative brain and I’ve always had that ever since I was child, I listen to way too many movie themes and I dream up loads of scenarios in my head or replay things that have happened. I have a photographic memory so I can still taste, feel, smell and see in perfect detail all of my memories and feel all of the emotions. Example if you asked me about one of the many times I broke my leg a sharp pain makes me wince as it shoots up in shin bone. I can still taste the garlic of the anaesthetic and the feel of it running through my body when I had my operation to remove my tumour from my shin. Eugh shudders. I find the process of describing all that imagery and feelings onto paper so you can see and feel what I feel, a challenge. When you really enjoy it or you get many positive comments or views from a blog it feels very rewarding.

I very rarely go to people for advice, I often find a session on the bike to clear my head or a logical sit down with myself to thrash out all the scenario’s always solves most things. You know it works well because when you all come to me with your problems, you know how stoic and logical and rational I am when I offer you advice. I differ no differently with myself. The only difference is (not to blow my own trumpet) I offer you lot good, sound advice, but never any good advice to myself. It does actually make me laugh at how emotion informs my writing yet very rarely my decisions! (Note to self I am trying to be less of a robot!).

Luckily due to my stoic personality which is a big plus point for many things, one thing is that my emotions very rarely differ from the centre.I’m never too happy nor too sad. I like it that way because despite my exterior and Facebook status being mundane and enjoying the simple things in life, behind that persona is a very passionate person. Yes I know you have just spat your drink out at the sentence but it is true! I have a brilliant control over my emotions which I feel is one thing I am known for. However boring that sounds or comes across in real life, i find it good because I know myself inside and out. It’s a known quantity. I analyse everything like a super computer and that’s got me very far in life. Knowing your emotional state and having a firm grasp on your emotions is a skill set I’ve homed over the years. Emotions can cloud your judgement when logic and reason offer a much clearer view. Trust me it takes a lot of control when you loved your best friend for many years, to keep that hidden and offer objective relationship advice when she asked, despite it always being detrimental to myself. I had many years to compartmentalise things growing up!  However the only times I do differ from the centre is when I’m in love or so angry that when I killed you off in my latest novel, I really wish it was real…I’m just kidding…or am i? 😉

If you’ve ever been loved by me or you’ve been on the end of my quite fierce anger (I am a typical Taurus, it takes an awful lot to get me angry but  you really don’t want to wake the bull by pushing too far!), you’ll see how deep my emotions run. If you’re one of the lucky few that I’ve ever loved, you’ll see how that usual boring Tony is actually a little crazy and that I would do absolutely anything for you. I’m quite a selfish person, let’s be honest. I like doing a lot of things for myself yet when I love you, it’s all about you and only you. That passion is important for the bedroom too. I can’t lay claim to sleeping with many women but I never got any complaints. One thing many guys forget is it’s a two way street and the more you devote to your partner in the bedroom the more rewards you receive. Yes, yes I know that’s not a statistically viable sample size of one…

That’s one reason I’m actually scared to get into a new relationship because when I’m in love I can’t control that emotion. I literally love you with all of my heart and there is no controlling or keeping a lid on that. That’s why I take ages to make sure you’re the one before I commit because I want to know my effort and giving you my heart won’t be wasted. I am terrified to be hurt again and that sadly is the truth…

What I’m trying to say here is before I do go on a tangent about being single and before I go into too much detail about my antics in the bedroom, for which I actually have some very romantic, passionate stories if I were to recall them and well some quite frankly horrendous stories worthy of a comedy film not a porno too. I mean the night I lost my virginity is a blog in itself which will never see the light of day because I don’t think I can see passed the tears of laughter at how embarrassing it was. I can still see those eyes of disappointment from her. Emotions certainly ran high that night but passion was replaced by shear nerves ha-ha. Oh dear lord. Move on Tony!

What I’m trying to say is when I write, despite being in the centre of the feelings scale, I tap into those vibrant emotions that run deep and that helps in my writing and informs it. When I can’t go out on a ride blogs become that release valve. It’s no surprise that my most viewed blog posts have been about relationships or love or in the case of the Merseyrail blog post that has been viewed 34,000 times in 94 different countries, anger! Well sarcasm too! They’re some of my favourite blogs to reread because it really is all my emotion put into them. Often people say they read my blogs, those emotionally driven blogs anyway in my voice which I do find funny. Oddly they’re always my best written pieces too!

Although emotions help me to write I’m not always driven by the blogs of anger or most of the time love and emotions. I also blog when I feel information is worth reading about, such as my latest trip to Ireland. More so the plight of rural Ireland and my feelings of witnessing modern day life slowly creeping into part of the world it was yet to lay its greasy fingers on but also showing you the beauty and kindness of the people I met there. I always enjoy giving you glimpses into my life. Those blogs about friends and family are very personal to me so I love sharing them with you all. More often than not however it’s because something has happened in my life that needs to be shared and it’s often hilarious and at my expense! Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will see the absolutely crazy things that happen to me on my way to work or just in general life. I mean if I have to suffer all of that randomness I’m sure as hell gonna’ share it all! Ah I’m still laughing and cringing at the same time at some of the stuff that’s happened over the years.

I also blog as a way of a public diary. I often read back blogs to remember things but more so to look back and reflect on things and I can see exactly my thought processes and emotions at that time. It’s effectively a photograph of words, capturing a moment in time. I don’t know if you find it fascinating but I certainly do. I do hope you do enjoy the highs on lows of my life and what it’s like to be inside of my brain and see the world through my eyes! Someone the other day said “I know that bit in your blog was aimed at me” and they’re correct. Some people appreciate that, other throw a hissy fit and ask for it to be taken down. Truth hurts sadly sometimes! Some blogs within all the emotion and creative writing have a purpose. Subtle or in some cases not so subtle hints to people. They’ll either be hidden messages, unspoken apologies, and the ever so subtle as a sledge hammer fuck you bitch. Or just simply me playing things out in my head of what I wish would happen without ever alluding it to you in person due to many reasons. Blogs are complex and fun just like everyone’s life is. The beauty about those types of blogs are they may be directed at someone but they could really be anyone but if the shoe fits, lace that bitch up and wear it!

I make a lot of mistakes in life and I learn a lot of lessons from them. I certainly have been in many situations to blog about! When you’re so completely sure of yourself you don’t mind being 100% honest in your blogs. Sure I do take a risk to be so open with the things I do say on my blogs but that’s me. What you see is exactly what you get. So when I’m going through a terrible patch I don’t mind telling you all when I’m defeated, angry or depressed because when I’m at my best I like to share the good times too. Above all of that I know there are many people who have different personas in real life and social media. I’ve gotten to know many people over the years and broken down many walls and seen the real person behind all the walls that some people will never see of that person. They’re scared to let those walls down. What you read on my blogs is pretty much me in person.

So to answer the question why do I blog? One main reason is those mistakes I make, those things that I see happening, those things that need to be said, those lessons I’ve learnt. They’re all situations, lessons, feelings you may be facing and I’m just a normal guy trying to write down how I bumble through this life. If my advice or my situation aligns to yours and you can take something away from it, even If it’s just a laugh, good. If you went through a breakup and felt as bad as I did and feel lost. Brill, you’re not alone, you’ll get through it like I did. If you’re on a train while a psycho dressed a turkey eyes you up on the train, you’ll be fine because you’ve seen me deal with it! If you’ve been inspired to visit the places I’ve visited because you’ve read my blogs of that place, even better! If my blogs about family and friends has made you pause for a second to appreciate your own then awesome. If you’re a hopeless single 23 year old who has no clue after being single for a few years, while everyone you know is getting married, having kids, buying houses, have their life planned out and you’re just well me. I hope you don’t feel alone. I hope these blogs bring you comfort, education and most importantly I really do hope they make you laugh!

So to answer the question of why I blog. It’s because of you my readers and it’s also for my own sanity. Always blog from the heart! They say the best writers write about what they know. I know my own life and how utterly clueless I am in this big world! So always write from the heart because the heart never lies.

Until next time!

Toe.

The Single Life of a Tony

So I’ve been single for quite a while now and while that doesn’t bother me I do find it funny the way everyone lately says i’m too picky or I need a girlfriend. I think doing Sudoku on a Friday night has tipped a few over the edge. So lets take a look at how I feel being single right now.

  1. First of all i’m mostly single because I simply haven’t been looking. After my last break up I threw myself into my education and then my career. All of that was done without the support of a girlfriend and now i’m financially much better off than I would have been if I was in a relationship.
    money
  2.  Because as far as experience goes, girlfriends cost money.
    gf money
  3. Being single for a while really does make you question what’s wrong with yourself and why no women have asked you out yet. Then you sit down and actually think about it and realise the list is actually quite long. Yet, there is still that inner confidence and hope that one day she’ll come along.
    hey girls
  4. You look like a roman Jewish coin, your hair is the same texture as a carpet, your thighs due to cycling are bigger than trees, you poses a pair of moobs, your can’t see shit without your glasses, you’re awkward yet you still think you’re goddam sexy…smart is sexy girls.
    heygirl
  5. Oh it’s your 2 month anniversary? Oh you have someone who loves you? Oh it’s a cute couple holiday photo, oh you’re engaged on Facebook…nah i’m not jealous…Hahahah…hahah…hah…ha…sniffle…sobs…but seriously you should only celebrate yearly anniversaries. Two months!? I spend longer having a shit in the morning.
    medal
  6. Eventually someone comes along who does take a chance on you. They’re really hot and you’d definitely never expect them to take an interest in you. So you instantly think it’s a trap or some sick twisted game. Cupid! He’s turned into Jigsaw! He’s testing me! So you take it very cautiously.
    bewildered
  7. You get chatting and it’s going really well but you’re so out of the game when it comes to flirting. “You’re really hot!” …”Geez I know! It’s 25c out there today!” …”FFS Tony. That’s not what I meant.” …”Oh…but I am hot due to the weather though…”
    oh i see
  8. This chick wants the D…
    do-you-want-to-have-sex-with-me
  9. Her answer…
    yxno
  10. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve been single for so long and haven’t had sex in so long that even the slightest touch…
    ejact
  11. You think it’s going well and then you realise you have very little in common. So much promise fizzles out.
    dsppntmnt
  12. But that’s okay because just when you think being single sucks, you see a break up on Facebook and your friend is getting back with their ex for the billionth time!
    drma
  13. Family parties are the worst. Especially when everyone, like your cousins are all partnered up and you’re just like…
    familyparty
  14. They tell you that you’re just too picky. Yeah because I have soooo many to choose from right?
    picky
  15. But then they instil confidence in you and tell you, you’d be a great boyfriend to some lucky girl. Damn right!
    bestfriend
  16. You find a girl that you like, you become friends but you enter the friendzone and trying to get out of the friendzone is like…
    hula
  17. While other guys are hitting the gym to look as buff as possible, i’m just eating. I eat a lot. There is nothing wrong with eating a lot! I like to eat. Surely a girl would prefer a soft pillow than a rock hard abs. At least that’s what i’ll keep telling myself.
    candy for dinner
  18. So you finally find a girl to take you out of the island of single isolation.
    amy adams
  19. It happens in the movies, so it must happen in real life right?
    taylor-prince
  20. You felt self confident before but now someone is attracted to you and actually loves you. What did your ex say “You’ll never find anyone as good as me?”
    diva
  21. But they have to meet the family first. Will they pass the interrogation?
    seal-of-approval2
  22. They do! You finally have a girlfriend! Your parents might finally get that Grandchild, it might actually stop the suspicion that you might be gay, hell might actually have frozen over. Your family and friends can’t believe it. PARTY TIME!
    dnc
But until then i’m still single……and i’m totally cool with that.
crybby_
Till next time!
Toe