Archive | March 2014

# 21 (2014) Birthdays, Bucketlists and Milestones

The problem with birthdays as you get older is that they become less of a celebration and more of a milestone achievement gauge.

When you hit 21 and complain of being ‘old’ you’re not looking back and thinking ‘What the fuck happened to my life?’ At 21 you’ve got permission to not have achieved anything because you’re expected to have towed the university line and still be discovering what you want from life.

30 is still a bit hazy but as the generations take longer and longer to become independent it’s becoming more acceptable for thirtysomethings to still be trying to make their mark. When you hit 40, if you haven’t yet ticked your major boxes, it’s a scary reminder of the things you may never realise.

You can’t tell people in their twenties not to fritter away their youth. It’s an unfathomable quantity. The world is still your oyster. You just need to get up off your backside and go get it. But when you’re there you’ll be wondering where the years went. It’s almost inevitable.

And even though I have achieved both my major life aims in a way – to be running my own business and have published a book – I still don’t feel victorious in their wake.

If you have aspirations you’re always chasing the dream. If you have a business you’re always striving to make it better, bigger, more profitable.

I wonder if I will ever reach a milestone feeling satisfied that I am in the place I thought I would be by that age. I am beginning to wonder.

An open letter to liberal feminists: girls don’t have it any worse than boys

I am baffled by the Ban Bossy campaign.

The Matt Walsh Blog

Dear Liberal Feminists,

A couple of days ago I wrote about a new feminist campaign called “Ban Bossy.” I won’t rehash the topic, but if you somehow missed out on the latest Outrage Du Jour, allow me to sum it up thusly: some female celebrities and feminist business moguls have come together to invent another petty reason to feel offended and persecuted. This time, they’ve decided that the word “bossy” is sexist.

I dedicated about 1,700 words to picking this silliness apart, which is probably about 1,700 words too many. I think, at this point, an exaggerated eye-roll and a loud yawn is all this sort of unbearable politically-correct sophistry deserves.

Yet, from this concocted controversy, a real and urgent issue has revealed itself.

You see, my Ban Bossy post was met with a myriad of comments from feminist women who claimed that, starting from a young age, girls are discouraged from being assertive and opinionated, while boys are lauded and praised for…

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# 20 (2014) Famous, Rich and Slightly Hungry

I’m a sucker for human interest stories. Especially ones about UK lifestyles. The latest is Rich, Famous and Hungry. Four privileged over indulgent celebs are put into four ‘average’ UK families to see how they live.

Whilst I watch these programmes with great interest, in the back of my mind I am always skeptical about how they have come about, what went on when the cameras weren’t switched on and what footage got left on the cutting room floor for the sake of viewing figures.

These guys are only doing it for 3 days and were given about £3 each for three days as their food budget. That’s about £1.16 a day. That’s about what I live on,  but I don’t think of myself as suffering food poverty. Because 2 meals a day and living on value food is not poverty to me. That’s life and I don’t go hungry. But I’m not trying to feed 3 kids with it.

But when you get celebs who are used to snuffling their way through hundreds of pounds worth of food a week or think nothing of spending a grand on a night out – to me that is not living comfortably or ‘not in poverty’. That, to me, is disgraceful self indulgence on an unacceptable scale. Hopefully they will bring  some measure to the less than fortunate families they have been lodging with. Theo Paphitis may be able to bring his business head to managing household bills and debt and if he can improve things for the long term, that’s a great thing.

That there are people who’s money runs through their fingers like water whilst there are average families living on £1.16 a day irks me. But I realise the class divide is a powerful motivator that is never going to go away. If I had a decent income, I wouldn’t have a spending spree, I’d be putting it away because you never know when things are going to change.

Of course, post programme, these celebs will go back to the way things were, maybe not immediately, but over time. Just as the families they leave behind will continue to live the lives they lead. Everyone is prostrated for our entertainment. That’s television but these people’s lives and the reasons they are where they are, run far deeper than 2 episodes on BBC One.

# 19 (2014) Shameless Plug – I Wrote A Book

Back in my late teens I discovered I had a famous ancestor, a Venetian gondolier by the name of Giovanni Battista Falcieri. He looked a bit like Brian Blessed.

As I researched his life (genealogy was my thing back then) I discovered an incredible life story which had never been told in full. It included some of our most famous names from literary history – Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Isaac D’Israeli, Benjamin Disraeli. These were seriously famous people in their day.

I’d always been a keen writer and an enthusiastic historical researcher so putting it into book form wasn’t difficult. It was enormous fun. I got to go to Venice, work in places like the National Archives and the British Library and touch original documents from over a hundred years ago which had been there with my ancestor. But it took years to piece it all together.

And then came the realisation that no major publisher was going to pick it up. Somewhere I still have the rejection letters to prove it. I lost heart quite quickly but knew I had something that was mine and unique.

Over a number of years and with some additional sporadic but very useful research, I completed my story – a book no less. And then I found a UK publisher Bretwalda Books. Since last summer we’ve been working on turning it into a sell-able product. Proofs, rewrites, research clarifications and finally publication.

‘A Most Faithful Attendent – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri’  has begun life as an ebook on Amazon but if things go well, I could see it turned into an actual book. Here’s a link if you want to buy a copy. And here’s a picture of the man it’s about. I think he’s pretty awesome. Don’t you?

Giovanni Battista Falcieri by Daniel Maclise 1836 (source)

Giovanni Battista Falcieri by Daniel Maclise 1836 (source)