Sayonara 2013

It’s something of a tradition for people to take a retrospective look over the year’s events. So who am I to argue with it…

2013 got off to its usual slow start with me still working in Technical Support dealing with broadband issues and doing my best to try and solve customer’s problems (even those customers who didn’t want to be helped but just have someone to moan at). While I enjoyed the job I was eager to move on and start working at the level I used to work at. After all once you’ve done 3 years of broadband support you will start to sound a little bit “scripted”. Now we don’t use scripts but for the vast majority of calls you know what things need to be checked and in what order and so you can roll off the list of things to be checked unconsciously. So I think you’d agree that a change was in order.

Elvis holding a ukuleleThis year also saw me take up learning to play an instrument again. Now I’m normally something of a “casual” guitar player and have been noodling around with the guitar off an on for the last 25 years. I was never particularly gifted as a player, I can strum chords confidently but always felt that my playing was at a plateau never quite being able to break into the “next level”. I was on the lookout for something a little bit “different” and came across the Ukulele as there was something of a resurgence of interest in the little instrument from the land of swaying palms and hula girls. I was smitten and for my birthday got a pineapple soprano ukulele as a present.

When it comes to guitar players I’ve always marvelled at Eric Johnson, cited by greats such as Joe Bonamassa (who incidentally can fill entire arena venues) as a true genius of the guitar. Eric sprang to fame in the late 80’s and while extremely talented never quite made it into the upper stratosphere of guitar heroes in terms of venues. He has however remained busy and frequently tours all over the world in smaller more intimate venues. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he would be playing in the UK for the 2nd time and at the RNCM in Manchester. There was only one problem… the gig coincided with my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary! A dilemma I hear you say, well lets just say that I’m still getting grief (and will do for the foreseeable future) for going out with my son that night!

 

 

2013 also marked the year that Canadian Cult Rock band Rush landed on these shores with their “Clockwork Angels” tour. I went with my son for the Manchester MEN gig and it was great to seem them again having missed the “Time Machine” tour in 2011 and I wished we could have had better seats as well as go to more gigs but due to shortage of funds and steep ticket prices we had to make do with just the one gig. Sadly it sound like they won’t be touring again until 2015 so I guess I’d better start saving!

 

 

Now I mentioned previously that a change was in order and back in April I interviewed for 2 internal posts after completing a technical assessment along with several other internal candidates. I felt I had given as good an interview as I have done in a long time. I was confident, professional and felt like I had really delivered. Unfortunately at the time both interviews drew a blank and I was still destined to spend my days languishing in Tech Support.

Cornish CoastlineSummertime is when people think about getting away from it all and taking some much needed time to chill out from the life’s everyday stresses. For us this was the first year that we were able to take a family holiday together, although it would be in the shadow of tragedy with the sudden loss of my Mother in Law just days before we were due to stay with her. We did what we could to make the most of the situation but it was hard work trying to see the beautiful Cornish landscape while our thoughts were tinged with sadness. Still I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything, some things are just too precious to forget. I think we had travelled more this year than any other with what we had been through.

I finally made the break from being a social media slave when I ditched my Facebook account. After the Summer’s events and spending several weeks “unplugged” I felt I had no desire to remain on the site and made my escape.

Coming back to work and trying to get back into the groove was not easy, still feeling numbed by what had happened it was sometimes difficult to focus on daily tasks as you would expect. Once things had got back on track I learnt that there was still a possibility of another position cropping up and was told that I was still under consideration. Shortly afterwards my Team Leader asked me how it feels to be leaving Tech Support, I had said that I would believe it when I saw it thinking he was just yanking my chain. However a few weeks later I was offered a new position and then had to go through what seemed like the longest notice period ever. Finally in October I left Technical Support and took on the role of Support Engineer in the IT department.

Just before this year was over we said farewell to Nelson Mandela who for a generation was a symbol of freedom and the struggle against injustice. The world has not seen so many people display their grief and admiration for this man since Winston Churchill and John F.Kennedy. I first became aware of him in my student days when every Student’s Union building were named after him  (they frequently named their bars after Steve Biko as a mark of respect). In those times the only picture we ever saw of him was the one just before he was arrested. Although I was never of a political mind (at least then!) I could sympathise with him. I don’t think that children today could appreciate what he did and what he sacrificed in the name of freedom and equality when he stood against the Apartheid regime of South Africa. What never ceases to amaze me was the way he had dealt with his time in captivity and the fact that never chose to seek retribution for the injustice that was served on him, but to work with those in power to bring about the democratic process in South Africa. He was in many ways a truly humanitarian person and the embodiment of a true statesman. Could you see any of our privileged politicians with their expense accounts & second homes making a sacrifice of the magnitude that Nelson Mandela made for his people? Somehow I think not.

We also saw Matt Smith bow out as the Doctor and set the stall for his successor Peter Capaldi. The “Time of the Doctor” Christmas special took us on a convoluted ride towards its inevitable finale. I’ve always viewed the Christmas specials as fluffy, non serious episodes. In all honesty I thought that it felt more like a poor runner up when compared to the explosive episode “The Day of the Doctor” in which the full horror of the “Time War” was shown. Personally I think that the episode could have been a better send off for Matt Smith.

So that was 2013 in a nutshell. Tonight I will be raising a glass and thinking of absent friends. It leaves me to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year wherever you are.

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