Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Weltschmerz. I came across that term in a book once and thought it was an interesting concept. A sadness and ennui about the current state of the world. I have to say, sometimes I really get it.

The world can be a harsh place to live. We live in a time where sarcasm, forcefulness and an unwarranted sense of entitlement are rewarded, whilst those who just try to be nice and fair and get on with things are pitied. Liberal values like equality for all and freedom of choice are sneered at by those who have become empowered by their single-mindedness and ego-centricity, no matter how many others their selfish and ignorant values affect.

Meanwhile everyone is constantly gossiping about one another, judging and sniping. Everyone wants power but no-one wants responsibility. Everyone wants to show that they're in some way superior to everyone else - cleverer, wittier, richer, of a higher moral standing - with complete disregard to how they make others feel.

It's as though the whole world is a giant mountain of people, with everyone trying their best to clambour to the top, not worrying about who they might stand on or push down along the way. There are of course moments of sunshine - the people who love you might try to drag you to the top with them, rather than trample you - but sometimes it just all feels so hard. Sometimes you just want to stop fighting all the time.

Sometimes you just want to shut out the rest of the cold, uncaring world, and just be. No stresses, no egg shells to tread on, no-one to judge you or upset you or force their will upon you. I know, that's not real life - we should "keep calm and carry on" no matter how much we want to scream, and be grateful that it's only first world problems we're facing. But then again, thinking about the problems of others you can't help only adds to weltschmerz really. The world is not fair.

My grandfather has always told me that, "it's nice to be nice", and it is. Even when others get me down, I know that for the most part I am a good person. I have my faults, certainly, but I help anyone who asks for it, and even those who don't. Even when someone is driving me round the bend, I grit my teeth and move past it rather than kicking them in the groin like I might want to. I try to be helpful and friendly, even when it sometimes puts me out personally, and at the end of the day I can hold my head up high and say that, yes, it is nice to be nice.

But some days I just wish it were a motto the rest of the world lived by too.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Games in the Big Smoke

So what is everyone making of the London 2012 Olympics then?

I have to say, I thought the opening ceremony was fantabulous! I sat myself on the sofa with the Yorkshireman one one side and a bottle of wine on the other, then just relaxed and let the British eccentricity flood over me.

Just before it all kicked off I logged on to Twitter. Twitter is possibly the most sceptical and potentially damning place on the Interwebz, and of course there was plenty of cyncism beforehand. There was a sense that there was no way we could ever live up to the spectacle of Beijing in 2008 and so whatever we would offer would automatically be pathetic in comparison. However it was amazing! It was so funny to watch how people went from being so sceptical to being completely in awe.

When the (actual) Queen said, "Good evening, Mr Bond", I thought Twitter was going to implode.

In the end the ceremony had done its job - the British were pumped up with patriotism and pride, with a thirst for medals and great speculation about the closing ceremony to come.

There were only a few asshats who tried to rain on the parade, most famously MP Aidan Burley who thought that a time when millions of people worldwide were online following comments about the biggest, most diverse event in the world at the time would be the best time ever to make comments about it being "multi-cultural crap".

You know, because clearly no-one is going to judge you and/or respond negatively about a little throw-away comment like that... right? Wrongo! Have you met Twitter? It was even more hilarious when he decided to try and back-peddle a bit and made it arguably worse.

But anyways, after the ceremony came the actual games. I think some of us forgot about that in all the excitement of flying cyclists and giant foldy up flower petal flame cauldrons.

So far one sport that's taken me by surprise has been handball. A couple of weeks ago my knowledge of handball was this: "handball exists and is some kind of gamey sport thing." However the Yorkshireman became obsessed by it early on and I've now seen my fair share of people viciously firing balls into nets and dragging each other to the ground with rage in their eyes. It's great craic! I was trying to explain to my father-in-law what it's similar to and the best I could come up with was something along the lines of, "it's like if you played football but with your hands and then mixed it up with the rules of ice hockey." So yes, not very descriptive, but honestly it is! I highly recommend giving it a wee watch.

I've also quite taken to the swimming. I'm mesmerised by how much a human can look like a dolphin when they do the butterfly. Also how damn fit those people are! Anyone who ever doubted that old saying that swimming is the best exercise to work out your whole body need only a take a look at those boyos, let me tell you!

We've also been watching the duets synchronised swimming. Before these Olympic Games, the Yorkshireman had declared that this would be his choice for a random sport he would follow and become an expert at. It's not something we'd ever watched before and it is mesmerising! I'd seen someone tweet this a couple of days ago, and it made me laugh at the time, but let me tell you it is never truer than whilst watching synchronised swimming.

However it's amazing how quickly you pick up on things and by the end of the two hours of the technical part of the duets competition, the Yorkshireman and I were merrily damning albatrosses and double ballet legs that were too low in the water and twists and spins and weren't sychronised enough.

The Russians are the favourites to win and we can kind of see how. They have the height in all their moves (did you know they're not allowed to touch the bottom, so when they go launching out of the water that's all done under their own steam? Dude!) and they might as well have been joined at the limbs so synchronised are they. It's amazing stuff! I'm actually really intrigued about the teams version now - surely synchronising eight people has to be even harder than two?

Other high points of the Olympics for me have been watching Jessica Ennis overtake all of her competitors in the 800m of the women's heptathlon.

Image taken from The Telegraph

She was pretty much guaranteed gold before the race even started but it was such a high point to end on that you couldn't help cheering. Plus she just seems like such a lovely girl.

I'm not really into tennis (the scoring system alone confuses me and I don't have the patience or interest to learn) but watching everyone else go mental when Andy Murray finally won something was good fun too. And then of course there was Mo Farah taking gold for the 10,000m. The "Mobot" became a popular meme for a while:

Image taken from Yahoo! Sport UK & Ireland

So that's pretty much it for my Olympics round-up so far. Weather permitting I'm hoping to go spend some more time watching more of the Games on the big screen in the grounds of the City Hall some time over the next week, which is really good fun. I was there yesterday afternoon and saw Jason Kenny take gold in the individual sprint cycling; everyone watching made some kind of "yes!" or "wooooo!" or "yayyyy!" noise before we realised we were all in public and then smirked to ourselves, half in embarrassment, half in shared joy. Great craic! If you happen to be in the area and it's not pouring out of the heavens, give it a wee go!