Today is my 54th birthday, so todays blog is just a little bit of a personal reflection. I tend to go big on birthdays, I have a birthday week! It started on Thursday with a few beers with friends up at the Chandos Arms. I will probably conclude it in similar manner next Thursday. But I guess you'll be pleased to hear that this isn't going to be about my celebration plans. I guess that regular readers will have noticed I can be a little OCD at times, I like making lists (I try and do one here every Saturday). I found that making lists is a very good way of dealing with things. It all started when I was a small child. My eldest brother Laurie, who is sixteen years older than me used to delight in teasing me, winding me up and stealing my pocket money. Nothing delighted him more than if he could set me up so I performed a terrible act and got a good hiding from my Dad. At one stage when I was about six or seven years old, I was so pissed off at him, that I was quite depressed about it all.
My parents had a very good friend who was an elderly Priest, who used to visit regularly for a glass of scotch. I considered him the font of all knowledge. So I asked him the question "Fr Traynor, what should you do if your brother upsets you all the time?". He replied that one of the Lords Disciples said that his brother had wronged him 7 times, how many times should he forgive him. Jesus replied, if he has wronged you 7 times, then you should forgive him 77 times. So I started the list "number of times Laurie has upset me"
1. Locked me in the toilet when Thunderbirds was on telly, whilst giving a running commentary
2. Hung me upside down and stolen my pocket money
3. Hung a large rock on a washing line and told me to pull a chord, so it demolished the new wall my Dad had built (whilst telling my Dad to come and see what I was doing)
4. Stolen the money I'd been saving to buy a Scalextrix set for fags.
5. Locked me in the outside toilet
6. Gave me a salted plum and told me it was a sweet
And so it went on. The good news is that there are only ten more infractions to go before the Lord says I can take my revenge. The bad news is that I'm supposed to be an adult now, so if I was to lock Laurie in the bog and steal his wages, I'd doubt that I'd be able to cite my list as mitigation. I suppose that for those of you who aren't familair with the dynamics of large families (I'm the youngest of six), there are generally a whole set of disputes, wind ups, antagonisms running throughout childhood. It is also fair to say that Laurie also did many really nice things, such as buying me a fish tank with a catfish in, introduced me to 1960's psychedelic rock music, taught me a few really cool chord progressions on the guitar, etc. Strangely I never made a list of those though.
When I look at the list now, it is actually quite amusing (I am sure Laurie would find it bleeding hilarious). Perhaps the funniest thing is watching my handwriting develop. Being dyslexic it was absolutely atrocious at the start. These days it is just bloody awful. I find that making lists has been really beneficial for my blogging career. I have all sorts of lists of things to refer to. By ordering things and keeping them listed, if people say things to me like "all bloggers do is complain and they don't achieve anything", I can pull out a list of our achievements. It is a point of fact that without bloggers, the Metpro scandal would never have been exposed. This has saved the Barnet Taxpayer millionsof £££'s. Likewise the Freedom pass scandal would never have come to light. Although there are many campaigns which bloggers have had a major role in, these two are unarguably completely down to the efforts of bloggers to expose and they are the two that I am proudest to have had a role in exposing. I suppose it is ironic that something that started with being locked in the toilet when Thunderbirds was on, ended up saving disabled people from having their freedom passes illegally withdrawn. I'm immensely proud of what I've acheived through the blog. I'm also immesely grateful that so many people have read and continue to read the blog. This has been demonstrated by the recent campaign to Preserve the Railway in Edgware. Within two days of this blog highlighting the story, we had over 500 signatures on the petition.
My mum was a notorious hoarder. She kept all of our old school books. I was amused to read in one old "news" book, I'd listed my ambitions for adulthood to be to have a pond and a dog. I have spectacularly overachieved as I have two dogs and two ponds. I must say that there are few pleasures greater than sitting by the pond, with the doggies running around, whilst playing my guitar. I'm lucky to be blessed with a great wife, great children and lovely doggies. I also enjoy my work life. I was never someone who was massively ambitious financially, but I am extraordinarily passionate about music. This was a gift from my brother Laurie. My eldest brothers are twins. They were a musical inspiration. When they were teenagers, both wanted electric guitars. My Dad's response was that they could make their own, which they both did. Both are talented guitarists and it is always a pleasure listening to them jamming. They were both big on skiffle, the British forerunner of rock and roll. I always thought playing guitar was a tremendously cool thing to do. I was however constrained in my early teens by a complete lack of aptitude and confidence. However the avent of Punk rock and Mark Perry's invocation to learn three chords and form a band chimed. That was exactly what I did. I also completely got the politics of Punk Rock. My school experiences had made me rather anti establishment, and this meant that I had a natural affinity for punk in all of its forms.
I started writing songs, intitally all were about politics and were rather crude. After about a year, myself and my song writing partner, Pete Conway realised that the songs were rubbish. We checked them all away and started again. We tried to write proper, interesting songs, with stories and tunes. But we also wanted to get the message over as well. The requirement for rehearsal space, lead to me starting Mill Hill Music Complex. This eventually lead to me contacting the local press and building a relationship with them, to try and promote local bands and music. This lead to my blog at The Barnet Times. For reasons I can't fathom, this didn't develop into a music blog as I'd intended, but into a highly controversial blog about local politics. Interestingly initially my antagonist was the now disgraced, but then powerful local politician Brian Coleman. It is interesting to note that we are roughly the same age, but unlike me he didn't have a big brother to wind him up or help him develop a love of music. Maybe that is where he went wrong?
Anyway, in my reflective mood, I realise just how important the influence of my big bruv has been in becoming Barnets most popular blogger! So maybe I'll buy him a Guinness later!