57 minus 57: Well, here we go again…

Posted: 21 June 2021 in 57 minus, life, don't talk to me about life, personal, phil, social media

Well, despite the two previous prefacing posts, this is it, I suppose.

We’re back.

Well, I’m back anyway, and, hopefully, a few of you are back with me. Strapping in for the next eight weeks or so, as we count down to my fifty-seventh birthday which is now heading my way.

Now to be fair, it’s been heading my way for… well, for fifty- seven years or so, but you know what I mean. (Hopefully. I’m never quite convinced that you all do know what I mean.)

So, anyway… welcome to new readers, and welcome back to old ones.

Welcome to my blog.

As mentioned in the aforementioned posts,, I’ve done a few of these countdowns and while I once just leaped straight into them, it’s been a while since I’ve regularly blogged, so, a reintroduction probably ain’t the worst idea in the world.

So, a quick Q&A setting the scene.

OK, so who the hell are you, anyway?
I’m budgie. Hello.

No surprise to anyone that my parents didn’t name me ‘budgie’; they may have been odd in some ways, but they weren’t that odd, I assure you.

No, my given name, the name on my passport, is “Lee Barnett”, but I much prefer ‘budgie‘ – you’ll learn why in a short while. No middle name – I used to joke that we couldn’t afford one, but to be brutally honest, I’ve no idea why they didn’t give me a middle name. My older brother had one, but neither I nor my younger brother were given them.

To be equally honest, if they had given me a middle name, I’d probably have started using it when I was at university. I never liked ‘Lee’ as a name; for every Lee Majors reference when I was a kid, there was a Lee Remick reference. It’s an androgynous name, which I grew up disliking intensely.

(In fact, when I was about 12, I received a package addressed to me that would have been very useful had I been a girl. It was less useful as a boy; highly embarrassing, an embarrassment that still stings. It might explain why I was so pleased when I picked up ‘budgie’ as a nickname. But again, more about that in a moment.)

I live in London, a mile or two just north of central London, very near Abbey Road Studios. Yes, that Abbey Road Studios; Beatles, that album cover, that zebra crossing. Yes, that one.

How near? Well, as I tell American friends – whenever anything notable happens in London – if the news story doesn’t begin with the words ‘Less than half a mile from the world famous…‘ it happened nowhere near me.

After growing up in Luton – a great place to come from, but a lousy place to go back to – I’ve spent most of my life living in various parts of London: Ilford, Finchley, a couple of decades in Barnet, four years in Richmond… and, for a little over four years, since early 2017, just north of the Euston Road.

I’m divorced, from a very nice lady named Laura, and together we have a son, Phil, who’s now twenty-five. That’s us over there, on the left, in a pic taken this year when I desperately needed a haircut after about five months without one…

He’s a lovely lad, and I’m incredibly privileged that he’s my son. Of course like any father and son, we share some interests, (comics, comedy, a sense of humour – most of the time), but most decidedly do not share others. I remain entirely puzzled as to his fascination with video games, professional wrestling, Formula 1, and various bands.

And he remains utterly mystified by me, on a daily basis. As he should do.

As for Laura, well, we may be divorced but she’s still one of my favourite people on the planet. Her advice, continuing friendship, and common sense, are all things I remain constantly grateful for.

I’m a writer; there’s more about the writing in a moment, but yeah, that’s how I spend most of my days.

But I used to be an accountant, and in that profession, went from junior auditor, to senior auditor, to audit manager – there were a lot of audits – then took the commercial shilling when offered and via a couple of financial controller roles (US people: think ‘VP Finance’) ended up as a financial director (US: CFO) of a tv channel, one of those you scroll past on your tv’s programme guide.

While I rarely discuss specifics, mainly due to NDAs and professional confidentiality, my old profession may come up occasionally over the next few weeks, so… fair to put it out there.

I haven’t been an accountant/financial director for a decade, though. The tales remain… timeless, though. At least that’s what I tell myself and it’s my blog, so there.

A writer friend of mine once introduced me as “This is budgie; he used to be a very good accountant; now he’s a very good writer. The world has enough very good accountants and not enough very good writers’. As compliments go, that’s one I’ll take.

budgie’s perch?
Yeah, suppose I’d better deal with this fairly early on. The blog’s called ‘budgie’s perch’ because it seemed an appropriate title for a blog run by a fella whose nickname is ‘budgie’.

Which doesn’t exactly explain anything, does it?

‘Budgie’ is a nickname I’ve had for – blimey – coming up on forty years, now. Almost forty years. I’d ask ‘how the hell did that happen?’ But I can already hear my lad responding ‘because that’s the way the calendar works, dad‘.

But why ‘budgie‘? Well, the full story’s here, but if you want the ‘long-story-short’ version? What now, sigh, would no doubt be called the ‘tl;dr’ version?

I acquired the nickname when I was studying at Manchester Poly, and the name stuck. And though I stopped using it when I left Manchester, it recommenced when I got online in 1995…

And now? Well, far more people know me as – and think of me as – budgie than as Lee.

And I much prefer that, to be honest; as mentioned above, I never particularly liked my ‘first name’, and ‘budgie’ feels more like me these days. Maybe because I created ‘budgie’ and owned the name, rather than growing into it? I dunno. Either way, I prefer it.

The full detailed story involves – in no particular order – copious amounts of alcohol, freshers, a hypnotist’s evening, and an accountancy lecture.


It’s worth reading.

OK, but budgiehypoth?
For twelve years, over ten British comic book conventions, comics legend Dave Gibbons and I ran a panel entitled hypotheticals. It was fairly popular, and when I was looking for a new URL for this blog, seemed a good concatenation to use.

You can see the logo we used for the panel (over there, to the side) bears a strong resemblance to the icon I use for myself online, and for this blog; Dave designed the original, and he did a ‘budgie’ version as a parting gift when we wound up the panel in 2011.

But, hey, for twelve years, I got to say I wrote scripts for Dave Gibbons. You can’t beat that. Well, I can’t.

It’s probably the writing for/with someone else of which I’m second proudest. Proudest of all would be… well, take a read here and you’ll encounter that.

But still… budgie’s perch?
Be grateful; the braindump I use to kickstart the writing muscles every day is named Going Cheep.

Everything from being commissioned comedy for BBC Radio 4, the occasional bit for TV, a few comics stories (including writing an X-Men story) a novel entitled You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly and publishing two collections of very, very short stories in The Fast Fiction Challenge:

Both books are also available via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. e-Versions (for Kindle, Sony reader, iBooks, etc.) can be obtained – email me and I’ll supply the ebook(s) in either .epub or .mobi version on request… Volume 1 (180 stories) is £4.00, or equivalent in local currency; volume 2 (200 stories) is £5.00

I also wrote three radio shows with Mitch Benn for Radio 4, and helped out with his past few Edinburgh shows. (And that’s the writing for/with someone else of which I’m probably most proud.)

What else? Odds and sods

  • erm… My alcohol of choice is single malt whiskey, neat: Jura for ‘the usual’ or The Balvenie for ‘best’. Never developed a taste for beer or lager.
  • Oh, I’m Jewish; it’ll probably come up over the next few weeks at some point. I’ve never quite sorted out my relationship with my religion; I’m still figuring that one out, and have been for, oh, 40 years or so. That caveat aired, on most things, I at least try to be rational, I try to be a sceptic, to withhold belief in something until there’s evidence. I don’t always succeed.
  • That said, when it comes to my being Jewish, and given that this blog will comment upon current UK politics, it’s more than possible that Israel might come up in discussion. Just a heads up: if you’re looking to have some fun telling me that Israel has no right to even exist, you might as well quit reading now, and go off and do something we’ll both enjoy a lot more.
  • I’m in my mid-50s, so under the laws of blogging, my physical health will probably come up at some point. Other than my fucked up foot (about more of which here), it’ll likely just the usual health comments, scares and moaning. Oh, and the occasional skin cancer scare; I’ve had a few of those the past few years, complete with biopsies. Fortunately all negative, but… well, yeah.
  • Hmmm. Health. OK, I’ve had some mental health… ‘issues’, I believe they’re sometimes called. I have absolutely no intention right now to go into detail, publicly. That may change as the next eight weeks goes by. Let’s see how scared I am by the prospect.
  • Oh, and since I mentioned fear… I’ve a few phobias. Or do I? Phobias are irrational fears and I happen to think my fear of being stung by wasps or bees is entirely rational. But spiders bigger than teeny tiny in size? Yeah, ok that might be one of the tad irrational ones.

Finally in this list of stuff you didn’t need to know about me: there are things I genuinely regret not doing. Rarely, however, are they The Big Things that people are supposed to regret: lost loves, lost opportunities in life, that one person you passed in the street, never spoke to, but have thought about every day for years…

Mine are less grand. I wish I’d learned to use a slide rule; somehow never got around to it. I wish I’d paid attention during history classes at school, but then I’d have missed the joy in later life of discovering how much fun history can be. I wish I’d never had to study geogarphy at any point in my schooling; I consider it time entirely wasted. Not once in my adult life have I been asked what an isthmus is. I have a mouth organ, purchased by friends of mine after I said I’d like to learn to play it. I never have learned to play it, and I really should do something about that.

I think that’s about it for now. Anything else, ask away…

And that’s a serious invitation, by the way. Ask away, either in the comments section below or – if you’d rather not ask publicly – you can either DM me on twitter (@budgie) or email me.

Oh, and see you tomorrow when there’ll be something probably much less about me and more about… something else. Though probably not about learning to play the mouth organ. Not yet, anyways.

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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