Career prospects

When I was around 13 or 14 I was called into a small office at school to have a chat with the Careers Advisor, the mystical being that would help ease us into our chosen lines of work by passing on sage advice and producing, as if from nowhere, magical leaflets that outlined what we needed to do. The office was along a dark corridor that led into an unknown part of the school buildings where few students ventured and it was only once in most kids entire school life that they did take those rare apprehensive steps.

It really was scary!
In that chat, which has remained burned into the back of my cerebrum as a reminder that the world of school can be a cruel beast, I was asked what I wanted to do when I left school. I answered honestly and openly awaiting the complete solutions of how I would get into my chosen career;

"I want to be a photographer and filmmaker".

I wanted to be doing this!
Before I continue with that conversation I wanted to fill you in on some details of my life around that time.

There were lots of things that I loved doing at that age but I didn't tell anyone about them, for some reason I didn't think it mattered to anyone but me.
My love of board games and tabletop RPGs comes from this time when I had a few board games and the Dungeons & Dragons basic set but no one to play them with.
I Loved to take photos, I was always trying to photograph people in their 'natural environment' - I hated, and still do, posed or staged photos.
I loved using my dads great big VHS Camcorder to make short films about the garden or my version of the news (I clearly remember once setting up the ironing board as the news desk and presenting the weather in my dressing gown to highlight just how cold it was!).

A close approximation of my Dads camcorder!
However, because I didn't tell anyone about the things I loved doing I also did ask people what they loved doing and only found out if they talked about it. Thinking back now I know there were at least a handful, maybe more, of my school friends that were into tabletop gaming - be it board games, RPGs or even wargaming. There were also a few of my friends that wanted to get into the same career as me, but I saw it differently - they wanted to be Hollywood directors and make movies! I just wanted to document life.

Let's head back to that office.

"Well, it's a very difficult career to get into and very competitive. You would be better off becoming a bus driver or a binman. Have you thought about the catering industry?" was roughly the reply from the 'careers advisor'.

This reinforced the idea that school was not for me.

Previously I'd been told that I couldn't do I.T. as a subject because I didn't try hard enough in other classes. I felt it was lost on the school that the subjects I liked I was passionate about - Drama and Music - and would come in early, stay late, give up break and lunchtimes for and get involved in the school productions (although I will admit that looking back now I see where they were coming from).

As an early teen I got it into my head that if an employee of the school, that wasn't a teacher, tells you something then they must be correct. So I ended up going into catering, albeit the wrong way, by joining the Youth Training Scheme (YTS).
By Joining the YTS I could meet Royalty!
The Youth Training Scheme was a Joke!
Youth Training Scheme advocates.
I was employed by a local company who would teach me how to be a chef and 1 day a week I would go to college to reinforce what I'd learned. For this amazing opportunity I would be paid the princely sum of £71 a week.
In reality, I was the kitchen skivvy who did most of the crappy jobs that no one else wanted to do, I was taught nothing and at college I couldn't get involved properly as I didn't know most of the basics that working in the kitchen should've taught me.
Needless to say, I didn't last in catering. After roughly 2 years I quit and started my long career of working menial jobs for basic wages and being unhappy in most of them (with the exception of working with my Dad, that was a fun experience but just at the wrong time in life!).

Now I'm 40 years old, I still have a passion for photography and filmmaking and am trying to do it as a hobby and possibly make a little money from it.

There is one problem though.

So is everyone else.

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NaNoWriMo 2017


For the uninitiated, this is short for National Novel Writing Month which is an international writing, erm,  thing(?) where writers the world over have just thirty days to produce a fifty thousand word novel.

And this year I’m taking part.

in case you're wondering fifty thousand words in thirty days breaks down into 1667 words a day.

Easy, right?

My writing history is as follows:

  • I write this blog
  • In my early twenties I wrote loads of poetry, which I then threw out as it was "pretentious nonsense".
  • I spent some time as a kid at school, where I was forced to do hideous amounts of writing!

It'll be fine!

Ok if I am not a writer and have never done any serious writing why am I taking part?

It’s simple really, I just really want to push myself and try something new.

I have had an idea for a novel/book in my head for approximately 15 years now though but I won't be writing that one, nooo, I'll be coming up with a new one. which is a much more sensible idea

Ok to recap

I’m not a writer, I don’t have a book idea and, starting in 6 days time I will have 30 days to write 50,000 words.

It'll be fine!

I will also be doing my best to vlog about this adventure on my youtube channel and who knows at the end of it I might even have the first draft of a novel. Maybe.

If you want to join me on this adventure then be sure to head over to my youtube channel and hit that subscribe button for video goodness or you can find me on the twitter @Neil_Elkins/@Trampy_joe
OOOR you can buddy up with me on the NaNoWriMo site if you yourself are taking part.

Incidentally, this blog post is a reworking of the transcription of my NaNoWriMo video, as it was easier than writing a full, completely different blog post. So 50,000 words eh?!

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Sportsmanlike Behaviour

Yesterday I read a news article about a football supporter who got a bit involved in a scrap the players were having over the weekend.

Apparently the Everton chaps and some other chaps from Lyon, France had a disagreement and decided a bit of a fight was the way to settle it.

Whilst still on the pitch.

In front of their fans.

Everton and Lyon settle a dispute
Anyways, the fight somehow ended up getting close to the fans who took it upon themselves to join in with one supporter even managing to land a punch.

I'm going to stop right there and make some very obvious points.

  • These guys are paid an absolute fortune to be role models, they shouldn't be fighting
  • They are grown men who should know better and shouldn't be fighting
  • There are families and therefore people of all ages at these games so the players shouldn't be fighting
  • As the "National Sport" there are cameras everywhere capturing everything, including your fighting

My thoughts about the behaviour of professional sportsmen aside I wanted to discuss, probably in depth, the fan that landed the punch.

If you've read this blog for any length of time you will know that I'm not much of a football fan. In fact I even likened hardcore football fans to Nazis once, but y'know, that was just a picture.
Nope, not like Nazi's at all.
Anyway, I digress.

The fan who landed the punch has apparently turned himself into the police and gave the following soundbites:

“I was out of the police station inside half an hour with my solicitor. But I’m ashamed of what I’ve done. I already know. I’m not a f****** d***head.”

You should be ashamed and yes, you are.

“They’re supposed to be setting an example, as professional athletes,”

This is, at least, correct.

“I knew I’d put myself in that dangerous position. It was not intentional but I’d been too concentrated on screaming abuse at the players for being s*** and before I knew it I was led down there – then it was like, ‘F****** hell, what’s going on?’ and it looks the way it looks.”

Woah Woah Woah ... back up ... you, you were so focused on "screaming abuse at the players" that you didn't notice what was going on? Riiight.

By now, if you've not heard of this story, I should imagine you're thinking "Hey Neil, give the guy a break - he f***ed up so what?"


Yes, Mr "just got caught up shouting abuse" was carrying his three-year-old son in his arms the whole time.

When he was swept down and threw the punch that landed he had his three-year-old son in his arms.
At what point did it become acceptable to take a three-year-old to a football match and stand there with them in your arms and shout abuse?

And further to this, when did it become acceptable to hold onto your three-year-old whilst throwing punches?

Never. That's when.

But hold the phone!

He actually blames the football club for his indiscretion as they are the ones that made it so easy for him to get to the players.

Sadly I feel that this is the way football supporters have been for a very very long time, I remember going to a football match when I was younger, before I was 10, and the language used and general atmosphere there was not suitable for children.

Football hooliganism is something that the governing body and the government have tried to stamp out and yet I believe it is still rampant but suppressed. The violence and hate are pushed away from the football stadiums and therefore away from the public gaze and it is just incidents like this one that show some fans for what they really are.
Situation is not helped by the glamourisation of Hooliganism
Are all fans like this? No, of course not.

I should imagine that the majority are calm and wouldn't dream of shouting abuse and throwing punches just because their team is not doing so well. Especially not when their three-year-olds are in their arms. Although there are plenty of fans who do not have kids and will happily act like knuckle draggers just because they think their team is better than everyone else.

I have no answers to what can be done about it either but let me give you a small insight to how this type of persons brain works (or in this case, doesn't). When asked if he feared losing access to his children his answer was, and I quote:

"I live with my mum, I don't know what social services want to see me for".

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And Where the hell have you been?

Erm. Hello?

Yeah, I've not been around for a while I know.

We're all ok though, nothing serious has befallen any of us.

A rare photo of the three of us!
And Munchkin is not a munchkin anymore, she's more of a gremlin now. I'll stick to calling her Munchkin though just for purposes of continuity.

Speaking of continuity, the keen-eyed among you may be noticed that the blog name has changed a little. More of that another time. Maybe.

"So where have you been and what have you been doing" is roughly what I think you might be wondering. Well, gather round and let me tell you a story...

I dropped out of uni. Mostly because it was hard work whilst being a new parent and also I had a few health problems, so it was best all round if I just stopped. Which I did.

Then it was decided that Emz would leave her job so she could get her PhD finished because they were an awful employer and she was working an average of 60 hours a week.

We then had the issue of how we were going to live with me not at uni or working and Emz not working.  Luckily Emz parents stepped in and allowed us to live with them whilst the PhD was finished. I, meanwhile, had to get a job.

So I returned to the life of being a delivery driver, a job that paid just enough for us to move out of the in-laws and into our own (rented) house. For 6 months. After which it was decided that we'd move back to the in-laws' house.

Not the house we moved into.
And so it went, living in one room - Munchkin, of course, had her own bedroom - until the PhD was completed. Then the job hunting started. Emz job hunting was, in my opinion, harder than doing the actual PhD. The problem was that now she had a PhD she had automatically stopped being eligible for most everyday jobs but because she had just got her PhD and didn't have any experience she wasn't eligible for most 'PhD' jobs. The standard catch 22 situation. None of which is to mention the many many job applications she sent where the companies just didn't bother getting back to her!

Eventually, Emz was offered an interview for a fixed term contract which she excelled in and was offered the position, which was 2 hours away. She moved out. The situation had turned into Munchkin and myself living with the in-laws on our own during the week whilst Emz was living near work and we all missed each other madly.

A weekend visiting Mummy!
The fixed term contract was extended and extended. Without boasting too much, my wife is amazingly good at what she does and this was being recognised and in combination of me being told I was no longer needed in my job we decided it was time for us all to live together again. So we moved into a small end of terrace place in the town we now live.

It was wonderful all being back together again. Munchkin started at the local school and made friends easily and Emz was being given responsibility that indicated an even longer contract at work. I was a stay-at-home-dad again but money was short. So I signed on.

I may rant about the signing on and job search processes in future blogs but for now I will say it is not a nice situation to be in.

Whilst looking for work I was volunteering at a local animal rescue (which for someone with an odd fear of lots of animals was probably not the best idea) as it fitted in with Munchkins school hours and kept me busy.

Me and some animals.
Emz was eventually given a permanent position at work and this was the catalyst for us deciding to stay in the town we were living in and the start of the househunting. We spent a few weeks looking at properties before both falling in love with the one we eventually bought.

Which brings us up to date. Mostly.

Man, what a long catch up. Sorry I've not been about. I'll try harder, honest.

No really, I will.

I'm going to try and blog at least once a week and I've also got a few other projects going on which will be shared here if I feel they would fit.

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