57 plus 45: Ten [well, the first five] Things I like…

Posted: 1 October 2021 in 57 plus, ten things
Tags: ,

Looking through the various Ten Things posts on this blog, and the notes I’d made for potential other Ten Things posts, I found myself genuinely unsure which to pick for today’s.

(I even – only briefly, I promise you, dear reader – pondered whether to do a “Ten Ten Things Posts I enjoyed writing” before deciding against it.)

And then, while looking at my phone, when I should have been looking where I was going… well, I was suddenly reminded of the attached for very good reasons…


Yes, well, I mean it’s was my foot slipping off the kerb rather than me walking into a lamppost, but it still applies.

So, while I’m currently waiting for the painkillers to kick in, I wondered whether to do a ‘Ten Things I regret”, but I’ve already done a ‘regrets‘ post earlier in this Run.

Instead, here are Ten Things I’m grateful for, right now. No sarcasm, no snide ‘yes, I’m really grateful for that’ while expression could curdle milk at seventeen paces…

Just Ten Things I like, and am grateful for, right this moment, with the usual Ten Things reminder… they’re not the objectively considered best things in my life, nor necessarily personal favourite things. They’re just, in no particular order, Ten Things I like… at the time of writing. (And why.)

And as I was writing this, I found the words ran away with me a bit.

So you get five this week, and the other five next week…

Philip Samuel Barnett
Not the hugest surprise my lad is on the list, I guess. He’s my son, and I’ve said before that nothing in life has given me so much pleasure than being his dad.

Not ‘being a dad’, though that was probably true in the early days, but being his father. He’s coming up on his twenty-sixth birthday in about a month – and anyone who’s known him for a couple of decades of that is probably feeling very old, reading that.

He lives in Wales, with his lady love, and I don’t get to see him anywhere near as much as I wish I could. Covid, oddly, led to me seeing his face more often than before, as he and his mother (my ex-wife Laura) and I started a weekly Sunday catchup on Zoom when the first lockdown hit… and we’ve carried on with it, as circumstances and individual schedules have allowed.

He’s smart, funny, plays a mean bass, and he’s kind enough to his old man to still pretend he needs advice every so often. (As often as not, of course, he doesn’t. He just needs someone he implicitly trusts to check his logic, and common sense, to confirm the reasonableness of the answer he’d come to on his own.)

I’m very proud of him. (And there’ll be more about him on 2nd November if the blog runs through until then; apart from anything else, it’s the only day I can get away with posting baby pictures of him, and I enjoy doing that.)

Most of my friends missed live music during the past couple of years that we’ve all lived through. Oh, they missed lots of other things, of course, but it’s live music that they really missed, and the return of live music that marked – for them – some slow return to what we sometimes only semi-jokingly call ‘normality’.

For me, it’s been live comedy. My hat, I’ve missed live comedy. And no, I don’t have a hat and I’m not getting a hat. Why are you asking me about hats?

For every friend of mine who’s understandably complained about missing this tour or that tour, there’s been me complaining about not being able to go to The Distraction Club, or Old Rope, or What Has The News Ever Done For Me?

And Edinburgh. Ah, Edinburgh. Missing 2019’s Edinburgh Fringe… because it was cancelled… hurt. But it was kind of understandable, inevitable even.

This year’s however? Where I genuinely intended to go, no matter how small the Fringe and Festival were? Missing this year’s… hurt.

And yes, there was some mitigation, as comedians were forced to find new ways of entertaining their audiences. I watched live shows streaming on Youtube, and on Zoom, and on one occasion listened to a show when the video feed failed.

But it wasn’t the same. It’s not the same as sitting in a room, with dozens of others, hundreds of others, maybe, listening to a comedian work… experiencing that strange things that happens to an audience when a comedian is on form. Laughing with others, enjoying the craft of the comedian, loving the gag, crying with laughter as they take your hand and lead on a journey that starts with the mundane and then, while reality turns right, the shared experience takes a sharp left.

I’m grateful to comedy, and the comedians who’ve made the last 18 months just a little less awful, who’ve lightened the load just a bit, just enough, to make the next gig, the next show, something to look forward to, and the next day, something that you, or I at least, don’t dread.

And I realise, as I type the words, that it would be too easy to just say “see Comedy”, but that would run the risk of someone thinking I was talking about “comics” meaning comedians, as opposed to “comics” meaning, well, comic books.

I’ve reread a lot of comics the past year. But I’ve read them on and off, spending an evening in the company of old friends, stories I’ve read any number of times, The past week, though, ever since my wander through london with an old friend, I’ve been reading a lot more comics, and reading them for longer.

It’s not unusual for me to read in bed for half an hour or more before I fall asleep; I sometimes read comics then.

But rarely have I taken trade paperbacks out to read while out, until this week. My bag has had a different trade every day.

And, as I’ve been reading, I’ve been paying more attention to the craft as well, for the first time in I can’t remember how long. I’ve kind of liked the change in my routine, which has surprised me.

And the memory of last Sunday, in the company of my friend, leads me straight onto this.

I’m not an easy person to be a friend with. That’s not false modesty; I’m not trawling for compliments or anything like that. It’s just a statement of fact. I’ve never been the most social nor sociable of people, and I’m far too selfish in day to day interactions. That last didn’t used to be a central part of who I am, I think. Or at least I hope it didn’t. But I know it is now. Part of it is the fallout from the mental health issues to which I allude every so often, but I genuinely worry that that’s an easy excuse, a convenient ‘go to’ more often than it should be.

I’m very grateful to the friends I have, who put up with me being, well… me.

the not being partially social not sociable, that long predates the events of a decade ago, but I suspect they gave a similar root cause.

I like my friends; I like that they’re funny and clever and have a low tolerance for bullshit and a high tolerance for me. And I’m very very grateful that they are my friends.

(I just typoed that I’m very grateful they’re my fiends. I’m every more grateful that they’d be just as amused at that as I am.)

But especially, I’m eternally grateful to those who’ve put themselves out for me, and accepted me being, again… me.

This is a weird one as I’m not entirely sure what it is about London that I like.

Because what I like about London is often what people who don’t like London suggest it’s what they don’t like about London. Which is… odd, at best.

I like that London is… busy, that it rarely… stops. I like that if I go for a wander in the wee small hours, there’ll be somewhere I can find where I can have a hot drink. Not many places, but some. I like that there are so many people, and that I know barely any of them. I like that it’s easy to get around in, and that there are so many buses and underground stations. (The current ‘fucking hell, people, why aren’t you wearing masks???’ notwithstanding.)

I like that it’s a multicultural city and that in some areas, you can walk for a couple of miles and hear a dozen different languages, and thick accents, and not understand any of them. I like that, no matter what your tastes in food and culture, and music, you can find somewhere that caters to all of them. And I like that those various cultures openly celebrate those cultures, with festivals and the like.

Whether or not I like his policies, I like that I live in a city that could, that did, elect a Muslim mayor, in the face of a frankly racist campaign against him.

And I like living in a city that has… memories around every corner, on every street, down every mews, and across every road. Not only my own recollections, what with my having lived here so long, but its own history. I’m a ¼ mile from Abbey Road recording studios, with its history, in one direction, a ½ mile from Kilburn, in another. And I’m maybe ¾ hour walk from Oxford Circus, and Bond Street and half a dozen names foreigners only recognise from a Monopoly board.

I don’t know whether I’m considered a Londoner; I mean, I’ve only lived here for 35 years. But I like that I might be.

If you enjoyed this Ten Things, I’ve done others… During the last huge blog run, I did a few ‘ten things’ I liked: individual episodes of tv shows, individual comic book issues, and pilots, and two on old movies ,then one on old-ish movies, and a couple about podcasts. And I wrote a series of Doctor Who posts, about each incarnation/regeneration, and my sometimes tenuous relationship with the show.

And in this run, I did one on things I’ve been watching during the various lockdowns plus others… and then Ten Columbo episodes I liked and Ten More Columbo Episodes I liked

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

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 up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

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