Scooter Buddies

Monday morning has rolled around again, but this one feels undeniably different. I’ll tell you why at a later date. Last week was a busy one, full of work, interviews and general stress (although I suppose it was my choice to support Derby County). Regardless, as I was sat polishing what felt like the thousandth wine glass of the week yesterday, my mind wandered back to what I was doing exactly a week prior; a much more pleasurable affair. I can’t remember the last time I just wrote a diary sort of post, so let’s try and capitalise on this reflective mood, shall we?

Allow me to set the scene. It’s a few months ago, Dan is still living in Ilkeston and generally stagnating, when the All Points East line-up is announced: Courtney Barnett is there, with The Strokes headlining. Oh boy, the chance to strike two names off my need-to-see list in one afternoon, it’s a no-brainer really. Only problem is it means a weekend stay in London. For most people, this would be an added bonus, the chance to be a tourist for a change and just switch your brain off for 72 hours. Dan though? Oh no no no, as if it could be that simple.

London has never really taken my fancy, being crowded, expensive and easy to get lost in. Admittedly this is probably my own fault, only ever spending at most a day in the capital at a time, usually for some music or sporting event that I just want to get to instead of milling about with all the other day trippers. So, I was determined to make this time different. Of course, since booking the tickets I have moved down to Falmouth, meaning Ben and I could take a lovely Friday road trip East instead of getting separate trains (which I hate, but that’s a separate issue).

The trip takes us eight hours total, two hours to drive through London itself alone, during which time I offer to fight about a dozen bus drivers for pulling out on me. Not the best start. Still shaking with rage, we check into our b’n’b and catch the bus to Shoreditch as we are meeting Ben’s friend in a newly opened restaurant; thankfully it wasn’t a driver I had yelled at earlier. We’re the first to arrive, so I order myself a drink in an attempt to relax. Six pounds and fifty pence. Breathe Dan, you don’t want Ryan’s first impression of you to be flipping tables and throwing a temper tantrum. Extortionate drink prices aside, the food and company is wonderful (I finally have someone to talk about football with!). We head outside, eyes brimming with hope, the night is young after all. As soon as a foot hits the pavement, it pisses it down. God laughs.

Our next stop is mini-golf, because we’re the raddest kids in town, so we race through the rain in a futile effort to retain some sense of style in one of the most fashionable areas of the country. Needless to say, we arrive more as drowned rats than cool cats. Throughout the evening so far, Ben and Ryan have been filling me in on their supposedly epic, ongoing mini-golf battles. Having been friends since secondary school, this decade long feud has lead to many a stalemate but an overall proficiency for the crazy game. Apparently, I’ve got no chance, and stand to face a battering over the next hour.

Dan wins by six strokes. It’s not even close. Honestly, it was so embarrassing for the pair of them I think they might have been forced into an early retirement. My mood has improved. For the rest of the evening, we drink and laugh and I ultimately forget that I’m giving the barman a note every time my glass is empty.

Day two begins with a big decision. Shorts or jeans? Will this weather hold up, or am I doomed for another day of the fresh out the shower look? Wait, if I wear shorts I can show off my leg tattoo and everyone at the festival will know how indie and cool I am, why didn’t I think of this before? We meet a very very good friend from uni for a classic Spoons breakfast to set us up for our long day and it’s just like old times, I get a small taste of the lifestyle I miss so much. Thank you Darnell, it’s always a pleasure.

Shopping break! Covent Garden and the surrounding area surprise me by being uncharacteristically accessible, so we grab a seat in a sunny alley cafe and drink iced coffee and peppermint tea like the white girls we are. Then it was time. A short hop, skip and underground journey take us to Victoria Park and before we know it we’re taking photos of the All Points East sign for the Snapchat story because oh god I’m in too deep I’ve gone full tourist someone send help please…

In the moment, I found it surprisingly hard to get excited for the evening that lay ahead of me. Since the festival basically lasted for the afternoon, it meant we were only getting to see four acts, not the kind of commitment a day festival usually required. Here’re my thoughts:

  • First up, Parquet Courts. A hell of an experimental album from earlier in the year had me intrigued to see how well it would translate to a live performance but, a few strained vocals aside, I was pleasantly surprised. 7/10.
  • Courtney bloody Barnett. My word, this was a feel good set. Humble yet brilliant, she walks around stage with a look of disbelief, as if she’s saying “why have so many people come to see me?” Then she plays Depreston, followed by Elevator Operator and convinces me that my next tattoo absolutely has to be a lyric of hers. 9/10, only because you could tell she didn’t have her full setup with her.
  • The Raconteurs. Never really grabbed me, but seeing Jack White live was nothing short of miraculous, easily the best guitarist I’ve ever seen live (sorry Joff from Wolf Alice). 6/10.
  • The Strokes. Holy shit. Possibly the best set I’ve experienced firsthand, just effortless and cool and crowd pleasing and technically superb and funny and joyous and celebratory and raucous and rocking and special and I never wanted it to end. 10/10.

Starving after our religious experience, we grab some cheap pizza on the way home and I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Sorry for snoring, Ben.

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Okay, let’s wrap this last day up quickly, because I’m conscious I’ve rambled on at you for over a thousand words again already. Still shattered and hungry, we check out of the b’n’b early and drive over to Westfield for a spot of fancy breakfast and a walk around the Olympic Park; one of the places I previously actually liked in London. Stadium in sight, much to our delight, we see a line of electric scooters parked off to our right (yes I’m a rapper now, yo). London has never seen anything as sexy and stylish as the two of us cruising past dog walkers at what felt like fifty miles per hour, getting back to the car felt dumb and lame in comparison. The journey back is much more bearable, as we somewhat enjoyably went mad listening to stupid sketch comedy podcasts and are welcomed home by fish and chips very kindly supplied by Sophie. A perfect contrast to how hectic yesterday was.

We’re not going to talk about Monday, with the aforementioned football heartbreak putting a downer on what was a pretty spectacular bank holiday weekend. It was just another example of those times I just want to document, to remind me that sometimes I don’t have to be constantly stressed and bummed out. So there we go, I just did that and you just read it I guess.

‘Til the next time

Dan

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People Buy From People

At university, I studied a myriad of ethical theories. Most were idealistic yet impractical, borderline impossible to actually implement in the real world. However, in my third year, one particular module really struck a chord with me as I was introduced to effective altruism. As with most popular philosophical concepts, the attractiveness of effective altruism lies in its simplicity. In essence, those who subscribe to the theory believe in context playing a huge role in ethics: donate what you can afford to charity, contribute to a positive collective, find a career that you can enjoy whilst also being worthwhile and so on. 

This last point in particular resonated with me. At the time, I was working a retail job which I purely saw as a means to bring money in, an inconsequential way to be spending my weekends that didn’t contribute too much to anyone or anything. Almost suddenly though, my professional life was thrown into an entirely new perspective. It was always a big fear of mine that, come the end of my time in York, I would have no idea which career I wanted to pursue. But now, I was insanely enticed by the idea of bettering myself through helping others, regardless of the specifics of what I was doing. 

Do what you can, because even that is worthwhile. It’s so obvious as soon as you see it written down, but still as important, a simple reminder that you matter. This is what I want to share with you today, a pep talk of sorts. So, allow me to try and sell you the importance of people in throughout customer service, plus the many strange ways one could improve their own assistance. 

There are certain pillars that exist over any customer interaction, comprising a customer journey that begins the second an individual has a need. This doesn’t even necessarily have to be a conscious need, as any good salesperson will tell you that the ideal way to get the customer on your side is to find and grant them an unexpected wish, something they hadn’t even considered. You could easily rack up a list of these slogans, one-liners to help you as a guide: Don’t hassle the customer. Pick your moments. Avoid manipulation and coercion. Confidence is infectious. Smile! It’s the kind of thing that is drilled into you by a manager or supervisor over your first few weeks on the job. But instead of sticking to these principles as a robot would its programming throughout your career, the real key is building a genuine customer-provider relationship with a good rapport. 

No scripts, no shortcuts, no cheats. Just genuine human connection. Effective altruism rears its head again here, as context is everything. Identifying your audience, understanding their knowledgeability, patience and background, goes a long way in retaining a customer.

A good way to gauge a customer is through the language they use, this shows the familiarity they have with the service they require, as well as the level of formality they’re expecting in return from you. Often, using the same terms as the customer can aid understanding to no end, ensuring they comprehend what you’re explaining and not taking something other than exactly what you mean away from the conversation. Talking about time? Break each step down to explain the process and the benefits, give a clear indication of the total. Talking about cost? Build up your price, let the customer interject if you hit a number over their budget and allow yourself the opportunity to do them a favour. Anything to provide the highest quality service at each step of the customer journey.  

In the modern social media age, it is particularly true that this journey starts way before any human interaction occurs. With seemingly every product and service being ranked somewhere along a five star scale, making yourself stand out has never been harder, yet more accessible. Building a relationship online is a different art form entirely, forcing companies towards asking open questions that are usually answered before a customer would normally place a foot inside a store. Broader queries, such as “What are you looking to use this product for?”, need to be indicated through more common denominator methods. Media advertising encourages memorable catchphrases or eye-grabbing images, as opposed to the traditional, more direct approach personal shopping allows. 

Usually, this conjures thoughts of impersonality; cold callers sticking to a given script or flashy television adverts with no real soul or passion. Basically, the complete opposite of the methods I mentioned which make for an effective personal seller. However, as a tool for reaching new potential customers and finding those unexpected needs, the internet has no equal. 

Although, despite all these multi-million pound efforts, money cannot buy you trust. The most compelling reason to approach a business comes through recommendations from friends or neighbours, who’s opinions we value, which provide the opportunity for an organisation to end up with a reputation and reviews which spread nationwide. Whilst the product may receive the most initial attention, as people flaunt their experience or new purchase to their friends and followers, the service is what truly sticks with people over the long term. This results in a multiplier effect, either positive or negative, as custom generates custom. One solid interaction may bring in hundreds more down the line. 

Say each member of your team adopts this altruistic attitude, pooling your resources to help each other during service, instead of selfishly focusing on just your own sales. The consequential number of commitments to a business you could bring, with a consistent loyal base of customers, totally dwarves any individual efforts. The quality of customer service has much longer lasting impact on a reputation than any marketing message or brochure making initial contact ever could.

Your job doesn’t finish once a deal is closed though, whether this be dealing with the return of a faulty product or simply checking up on the customer a few months down the line, aftercare can set a positive customer service experience apart from an exceptional one. At this point, the ball is well and truly in your court. Having the time to plan your approach, as well as the personal experience with the customer’s specific needs, gives you a real advantage. Aftercare can be an extension of the mantra ‘solve problems before the customer even knows they have arisen’, again giving them something they didn’t even know they wanted. Wrap it up as part of the package, when really we all know just how much this little bonus can mean. 

To bring this all together then, what’s the next step, both personally and generally? Since graduating, I’ve moved sectors from retail to hospitality (not the biggest leap in the world, I know, but I’m trying!), but still attempt to implement the principles of effective altruism into my professional life. Coincidentally, I think the biggest change I need to make is also the same as the problem facing the aforementioned online-based companies; building and sustaining relationships from a position of unfamiliarity and relative distance. 

With the move to Cornwall, and trying to find full-time employment, I’m enjoying the challenge of exploring this new environment whilst staying true to the parts of myself I already liked. This means having to stand my ground and sell myself increasingly often, with strangers, peers and customers alike. Poor communication kills all relationships, especially customer service ones. But, as long as you stick to your core principles, delivering on the kind of service you initially promised, you’ll be surprised by how willing people you barely know are willing to overlook almost any annoyance. You can’t build a career out of good intentions alone, but they sure are impeccable foundations. 

For my pre-existing blog fans who definitely exist, I know this isn’t quite the usual content, but it felt stupidly good to write something long form again. The regularly scheduled programming will return soon, I promise, I have a lot to fill you in on.

’Til the next time

Dan

Cornish Pasti(m)es: The Sequel

Well I can honestly say I never thought this would happen. Eight months after posting about being wrapped up in a blanket on a visit to Falmouth, Cornwall, I’m now typing this entry out sat on my bed, in my room, in my flat, in Falmouth Cornwall. Which I now live. I still can’t get over that.

Safe to say, it’s been the biggest change in my life for quite some time. Fresh starts (especially those from relocating) are scary as hell, so I’ve been trying my best to take each day as it comes. In one of the more dour entries to this blog, I noted that one of the hardest parts of moving back home after university was the sensation of floating that came with it. Being a passenger through life, having things happen to you as opposed to bringing about the changes and events yourself. I had convinced myself that this was necessarily a negative thing, to be avoided at all costs.

Now though, having had a week literally only knowing two people within a 300 mile radius, I think my view has changed somewhat. Taking a step back as an observer, an audience member, really lends some perspective. You can just watch people, seeing them go about their day and sort of get an insight to their goals and comforts, but what really interests me is their mistakes. You can see people tip-toeing around others, putting up a front by over-exaggerating their emotions or dressing a certain way, covering up… what, exactly? For the moment, I’m sort of free of that, a clean slate with everyone I meet.

Rest assured though, I’ll make mistakes in the future, just like I have in the past. The more recent ones in my life really stuck with me, filling me with regret, a need to be better and infinite apologies. I hurt people I never thought I would, and boy let me tell you, nothing fucks you up quite like it. So, not being able to have an opinion on where to go on a night out, just taking a guess on where to eat for lunch or sitting at the back of a bar alone, has been surprisingly freeing.

Of course, this came at the cost of leaving everything else behind. The comfort of familiarity is a powerful thing, but I had begun to stagnate where I was. I appreciate all the things my family and friends did to try and make the transition home that much easier so much, god knows I would’ve been totally lost to the void without them. It’s just so easy to get stuck in a harmful routine. I wasn’t getting up till midday, only making enough money to tide me over from month to month and eating in a way that would see me dead by 65. All of which was an extension of never truly settling back in to the town I grew up in. Sad, but true.

In stark comparison, these first few days have been something of a blur, I’ve been trying to force myself out of the house every day, explore my surroundings a little, and have been feeling much more relaxed throughout. Living in a flat has always been something I envisioned myself doing, probably as a result of consuming so many American sitcoms growing up (we ended up watching an episode of Friends with basically every meal), and it really has not disappointed thus far. Naturally, there are still things that stress me out, the fear of having rent to pay without an income source just yet has nearly stopped my heart on many an occasion, but the change of scenery seems to be doing me good. The views are to die for, the people a hell of a lot more chilled and each location I visit is refreshingly entirely new.

So, I’m lost at sea, but not in a bad way anymore. Metaphorically, that is of course. I feel as if I need to specify that a little more since I can literally see the sea from my balcony now. Yes, that was definitely just a flex to let you know that I have a sea view balcony now. I’ve just read over this post again and I’m worried it’s come across a little too negative. So just to clarify, I’m an over thinker by nature and will never stop fretting about things, but I’m absolutely loving my new home so far.

Who am I kidding, you don’t care, no one else was concerned about that. Oh well. I have a flat now.

‘Til the next time,

Dan

An hour neither of us will get back…

It’s often easy to be too self conscious, whenever I go to start typing about a given topic the first thought that pops into my head is often “no-one gives a shit about this”. Even though this is my little space, just a place to note down my thoughts in the moment, I am constantly aware of the audience at large that may end up reading this. I’ve considered writing about clothes I’ve purchased, things I’ve seen that I really didn’t need to or updates on my new car, but each and every time I go to actually produce the content, I’m overwhelmed by the all too familiar paranoia.

So, to try and force myself into a post, I am setting aside this hour to just write about anything and everything that pops into my head. Yes, the result will most likely be my most aimless post yet, but content is content and I just need to get something out on here for my own peace of mind. Start your watches everyone, here we go…

  • I dropped my old car off to where we’re storing it today. Even though I love the little thing, by far and away the best present I have ever received, how the hell did I get around in that for 5 years?!
  • Writing a notice is a weird experience. It’s strange how something so small, less than 100 words in my case, can have such an impact on your life. You could write it at literally any time too, it’s so easy to feel trapped within a job, but you’re on piece of paper away from a whole new life really.
  • The move is starting to feel real now, with going to view the flat next week and definitive dates for both leaving work and heading down to Cornwall, it’s crept around surprisingly fast since Ben first raised the idea.
  • I never thought the weak part of Captain Marvel would be Brie Larson, well, her and that fucking cat. Avengers looks cool as hell though.
  • My Dad sets off for Tokyo tomorrow, I’m both super proud and super jealous. He’ll have an amazing time, of course, showing everyone up with his reffing like he does every time he puts on the kit. Whisper it, but he’s always right about this sort of thing. His England representative tracksuit is ridiculously tight though.
  • Football is stupidly entertaining, between last year’s World Cup and this year’s Premier League/Champions League, we’re being spoilt with probably the best competitions I’ve ever lived through.
  • We’re babysitting Stu at the mo, it’s so nice to be able to look out the window and see a little bundle of joy hopping around out there in the garden again. I wonder how he’s doing now, I hope he’s happy.
  • I haven’t properly fallen in love with an album yet this year, which is a real shame. Vampire Weekend are my great hope for 2019, their new stuff has been a real treat so far, but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much like I did for The 1975.
  • This blog has reached 1000 views now, which is pretty crazy. Thank you to anyone who has visited the page even once.
  • Had a peppermint tea over the weekend, was absolutely 10/10 and I need to get some for myself at home, regardless of how much it makes me look like a poser.
  • Mamma enjoyed her 90th birthday, she absolutely deserves the world and it was so nice to see her smile so much over the two days

Time is up! Most of you are probably glad to hear. Turns out my thoughts aren’t as interesting as I first thought when I came up with this concept. Regardless, I am pleased to report I am experiencing that comforting glow which only comes from filling a blank page with words.

If anything, I need to convince myself that these shorter posts about nothing in particle are okay; not everything I put out needs to be 1000 words with a deep revelation at the end. I’m gonna try and get at least one more post out before the move, just to try and retain my sanity and sort how I’m feeling about it out a little more, so I guess I’ll see you all then.

‘Til the next time

Dan

 

Awards and Omelettes

Hey, here are some dumb, stupid thoughts you won’t care about!

It’s awards season soon, with the two big nights I really give a damn about being the BRITs for music and, of course, the Oscars on the movie front. I really don’t know why I care so much about these ultimately pointless trophies, but I do a whole lot. They don’t effect my enjoyment of a particular film or album, but I care a great deal about great experiences getting the widespread recognition they deserve.

Late last year I was planning on writing a top 5 film list in the same vein of my album and game lists, but when I actually got round to doing so, couldn’t for the life of me think of enough movies to fill even that short space. For those that are really desperate, here’s the quick version (with an added number 5 that I watched after the start of 2019):

5 – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
4 – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3 – Avengers: Infinity War
2 – Eighth Grade
1 – Isle of Dogs

Totally cliche, I know. I still need to see The Favourite (I bloody loved The Lobster so am expecting big things), but other than that, what a rubbish year for films. Regardless, the reason I bring this up is because of the movie I have in my number 2 spot, Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. Now, I love Bo’s work anyway, his Netflix specials are top of my recommendations list whenever anyone asks, which is admittedly rarely, and his poetry book is seriously slept on. When I heard about Eighth Grade then, safe to say I was a little excited. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint, being a well written, well acted, well directed, heartfelt, modern coming of age story. Highly impressive for a debut.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted again. The movie received a good deal of critical acclaim, shining some well deserved attention both Bo’s and star Elsie Fisher’s way. The latter even picked up a Golden Globe nomination, which warmed my heart. Fast forward a couple of weeks though, to when the Oscar nominations are announced. Eighth Grade is completely snubbed. No lead actress nom, no best director nom and most shamefully of all, no original screenplay nom. Come on, Academy, the man pushed a genre forward. Gutted.

Imagine my surprise then, when I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, and saw Bo replying to a message of congratulations for his recent awards win. Upon watching the attached clip, I realised Bo had picked up the best original screenplay award he so thoroughly deserved, but at the Writers Guild Awards, which had completely slipped under my radar. In it, he opens his acceptance speech with the brilliantly defiant “to the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!”, eluding to both the poor reception the ceremony has received this year, as well as the rarity of his situation; winning big amongst his peers but not even being recognised at the highest commercial level.

I like Bo so much because he’s so honest about the problems he faces, as a creator, as an  entertainer and just as a human being. Whilst that line is extremely funny, as with most of Burnham’s work, there’s a definite sense of ironic sadness to it too. The Oscar snub probably hit him pretty hard, in any other year he almost certainly would’ve been in contention, but this year’s competition was particularly tough with a number of Oscar-bait titles receiving the nod instead. Bo would probably kill to be on the other side of his speech, missing out from the Guild, but having the title of ‘Academy Award Nominee’ attached to his work forever. But, instead of letting that get to him, he spins it around and completely shows the Academy why they were wrong to ignore him; a sharp tongue and sense of awareness Hollywood is severely lacking right now. Simply put, the man is a genius.

There’s definitely a lesson to be taken from this. Extracting the positives in the face of disappointment, gaining confidence from them instead of fixating from the negatives, is certainly something I’ve been trying to practice recently. Wait, wasn’t this post about the awards season to start with?

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there’s IDLES, who have picked up a BRITs nomination for British Breakthrough Act. The BRITs are always an interesting evening, with solid representation for a variety of genres across the board, in stark contrast to the definitive awards show ‘type’ most of these evenings see. You’ve got Arctic Monkeys in there, alongside The 1975 representing the indie scene, competing against the more anthem based artists like Little Mix and George Ezra. IDLES in particular though, are an advert for staying true to a vision through adversity. Most of the other nominees are young stars, coming off the back of debut albums. IDLES on the other hand, are handling newfound fame off a stellar second album centred around political outrage and personal tragedy.

Again, making the best out of a bad situation and reaping the rewards. You’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette and all that. I only found out that I liked omelettes last year, so maybe I’ve just got to wait a little longer before I find the perfect way to make them. What a stretched metaphor that was. Can you tell I got a few job rejections this week? Can you tell it’s 1am as I’m writing this? Oh well, congrats to Bo and good luck to IDLES, they both seriously deserve every success coming their way.

Developing on this life update note a little more, it was my birthday the Sunday just gone, which marked the beginning of a busy couple of weeks for me. I’ve got The Orielles live this week, a tattoo appointment the week after, my new car arriving some point in March, my gran’s 90th that month too and the big possible move to Cornwall at the start of April. So, I was glad to have such a chilled day on the 17th; my sister brought Stu, we played games and ate pizza (me and my family that is, not me and the rabbit, although I wish).

To honour IDLES that little bit more, I’m gonna end this post with a little haiku, which they love so much, because why not? Here goes nothing:

Here, have an award
The year’s best content was… you!
This statue proves it

‘Til the next time

(The ‘infamous’, if you know you know) Dan

Hey, weird question, but…

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my last post, in which I said that certain physical attributes do not qualify as personality traits; they simply do not define a person. Am I, though, being mega hypocritical here? I mean, I’ve had a quiff and Japanese anime style hair since I was 13 years old, studied a somewhat niche subject at university to make myself seem more interesting (which I now cannot shut up about), and have such a reliance on music I’m way past being an unbearable, cliche stereotype and am venturing instead into narcissism territory. None of which constitute much of an interesting, unique soul, let alone one worth giving a damn about.

But hey, in for a penny, in for a pound right? Music is shockingly important to me. I’ve said many times before in this blog how I adore a musicians ability to voice an abstract opinion of the masses in such a way that, once you’ve heard it, feels so obvious and natural. Like the most satisfying gut punch of your life. For me, this is epitomised by the line: “though I tried so not to suffer the indignity of a reaction” within Crying Lightning. Yes, I know, I’m writing about that damn song again. It’s the word “indignity”, for describing something as natural as an instinct, too perfect. Certain situations can just make you feel as if your intuitions are immoral, like you need to resist them, either through manipulation or indecision. In the moment, this feels so personal and imprisoning; you are definitely the only person to have felt like this, ever, in the history of the world. Until, that is, Alex Turner is crooning these lyrics at you over a bass-line that speaks to your very essence. That’s music, everybody!

So, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I messaged my family and a few friends to ask them for their choices regarding their favourite lyrics of all time, to expand my perception and see if I could link their experiences to my own music collection. A little dramatic, a touch self-centred, and most certainly a strange message to receive out of the blue (how do I have any friends?), but hey ho, the results were pretty interesting. At least, I think they were, and you’ve already read this far, so why stop now?

Pretty much immediately, my sister replied with 11 different quotes, all from The Courteeners. It makes me ridiculously happy that she is so enamoured with this one man’s voice, Fray’s penmanship towards love and relationships in general must appeal to  her in the same way Turner’s does to me. It’s cases like these, where you see an artist grow and their catalogue of work change over time, where music really solidifies itself as an art form. Attending shows though (that Emma has done countless times for this particular band), develops a sense of connection with performers, who are ultimately strangers, as you see the work you love recreated from scratch before your very eyes; it’s a very special thing. I’ll admit, seeing these lads break out into “I think it’s time for me and you to take over the world” for the first time was one of the defining moments of my life, capturing my imagination arguably forever.

For others, music is a means to an end, reminding them of places they’ve been or the people they’ve met in their lives. I can definitely empathise with this, there are absolutely certain songs I physically cannot listen to anymore because of the association I have attached to them, those that transport me back in time. Of course, this works the opposite way too, being a way to experience a fraction of the joy you felt at certain times for a few minutes, a literal soundtrack to your life. There are specific flows or vibes music can cement you into, getting lost in verses like a river’s current, that will just stick with you. The Cure were rightly suggested here (appropriately enough with the line, “dancing in the deepest oceans“, which is undeniably gorgeous), but for me it’s the opening verse to Don’t Delete The Kisses by Wolf Alice; the second I hear it I’m walking to campus on a summers morning with a huge grin on my face.

This effect can be so strong, existing across so many songs, that the question I posed sent some people into serious meltdown. Some took days to respond, some sent me multiple answers which spanned eras and genre alike, and others just couldn’t bring it upon themselves to make a final decision. I can relate. Certain albums are like my children, I honestly couldn’t choose between them. Each reflect a stage in my life, a mindset or image I presented to the world which was best exemplified by my band of choice at the time. The ones who can endure, forming these memories which spring to mind at once upon being asked such a question, all hold equal standing in my rankings for a myriad of reasons, to the point where my answer may even change from day to day.

Sometimes, it is as easy as being made happy by the literal interpretation of the lyrics alone. One of my little guinea pigs explained his love for lines as simply as “what’s not to smile about?”. I often get caught up with the deeper meaning behind lyrics, their many interpretations or whatever, but there are many lines I love straightforwardly; they’re just bloody good fun to belt out when you’re pissed. Winners of the Dan Page Album of the Year 2018, Idles, are particularly good value for these sorts of moments, “Mary Berry loves reggae” being a particular highlight.

Another had a direct connection to their song of choice, being friends with the artist themselves. This is definitely something I want to be more familiar with. Seeing Ben play live in Cornwall seriously struck a chord with me (pun intended), I was blown away by just how good his band was. There’s just something about knowing the person creating content, the conversations I’ve had with people about their artistic talents, musical or otherwise, provides more insight to them as people than a million of the aforementioned ‘personality traits’ I’m seemingly obsessed with now.

I’ve bombarded you with a few of my personal choices so far,  but if I had to crown one winner, right now, it would probably be “I’m not suicidal, just idling insignificantly“. What a mood. It can just be read so many different ways. Defiant, yet insanely vulnerable. I’ve listened to it in the car when I need a quick bop to get me to work, or screamed it at nothing when I’ve been frustrated. One consistent theme I noticed across people’s answers was introspection, with one participant hitting the nail on the damn head: “I don’t think this was how it was intended but I took it like this and I’m oddly comforted by it”. Subjectivity has always been a big source of fascination for me, I wrote about it a hell of a lot at university, so to see that I was not alone in my obsession was as comforting to me as Alex Turner’s smoothest Sheffield serenade.

Most interesting to me though, were the responses from my parents. Both gave quotes from songs they have loved for years, decades even. This is the kind of thing that both excites and terrifies me simultaneously. It encompasses pretty much everything I’ve touched on above, whilst also being a whole new experience in itself. Having the time to develop a deeper relationship with an artist, letting the imagery become even more vivid in your mind, and expand your repertoire of personal attachments to a track is risky, yet insanely rewarding. What if I sour my love for a song in some way? I have Crying Lightning and David Bowie tattooed on me for life for goodness sake, what if in 20 years I can’t stand the sound of it? Or, what if I fall for them in ways I never even expected? Blimey this is intense.

At this point, “When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low” is something of a family motto, being a permanent fixture in my life ever since my Dad introduced me to his favourite band, this little group called Joy Division, back when I was a kid. Going the opposite way though, it gets me thinking what sort of tracks will endure in my mind until I’m that age, or will compel me to share them with any kids I have (calm down ladies, I’m talking a good quarter century yet). Currently, I can’t imagine sharing The 1975’s drug-heavy choruses, or The Twang’s rap about a freak neighbour. Shit, will they even know who Mary Berry was?

Was this post any good? Dan sucks the joy out of everything by over explaining subtle song lyrics, then egocentrically makes his friends views about himself, like a spoilt kid at a birthday party. Oh well, I enjoyed conducting my lil experiment, I feel as if I know everyone I asked that bit better for it. Mostly, it amazed my how each person’s response gave me something new to work with, I was really struggling for something to write about, so was only expecting to get a couple of words out of this topic, but here we are a thousand and a half later. So, thank you to all, I think you’ll agree it’s been a hell of a journey, truly inspiring stuff, well done everyone, top marks, round of applause, when are we getting published etc etc.

These closing paragraphs are getting truly awful.

‘Til the next time

Dan

Stu(pid feelings and stuff)

My days have been feeling very fragmented recently, divided into neat little sections that form their own individual islands in my head. This compartmentalisation is no good thing, as I often feel like I’m wearing different masks with each different environment and group of people I interact with. A separate hat for work, family,  time spent alone, you get the picture. As a result, I have kind of lost touch with the sense of who I am as a person. Who is Dan? With all the rapid change I’ve experienced since leaving university (blog bingo fans will be happy, it’s only the first paragraph and you can already tick off an existential breakdown and a university mention), the pillars of my personality have seriously taken some battering and shifted a little.

I despise when people give facts about themselves or simply name things that they like and act as if this constitutes as their personality. The last time I was in Cornwall (I’m sure long time blog readers will remember the accompanying post, it was a real doozy), I was in a bar and overheard someone introducing their friend as “Dave, he went to Canada”, and it really made my blood boil. I felt like interrupting just to say “that’s all well and good, but what is Dave actually like? What are his personality traits? His little subconscious quirks that give away his true feelings? His dreams? His attitude towards life? His major beliefs? I’m damn sure his entire being can be elaborated on just a smidge more than the trip he took last week!!!”, but I feel as if that may have been overstepping the line a tiny bit. Now though, as I try to think about what defines me, deep down, I’m struggling to think of anything beyond the surface; I haven’t even been to Canada.

For instance, my sister has just bought a new pet rabbit. I’m completely in love with him. Meeting him for the first time made me the happiest I’ve been in a long long time. It’s so great to have a bunny in my life again, since it has been many years since our last family pet passed away, and fuck did that make me sad. There’s been a long-eared shaped hole in my world. Now though, there’s this little brown baby, with a beard better than mine, hopping away just a two minute drive away from me and I can see him whenever I want. This is also honestly why I wanted to write this post, just so everyone reading can take a good moment to think about and appreciate Stu. You read that right, Stu the rabbit. Rabbit Stu. I still can’t decide whether that’s funny or not. However, loving rabbits is also not a personality trait. Hell, it’s not even a quirk. Neither is supporting Derby County, or adoring the Arctic Monkeys. This is a stupid post isn’t it? Why am I like this?

This detachment is probably not helped by my complete lack of a sleeping pattern, even now I’m writing this at around 1am, wondering when fatigue will set in. I don’t have a routine for something as basic as sleep, let alone making other things steady, leading to this sense of disconnection as none of the things I do lead in to each other. Work shifts change, reffing dates are inconsistent, as are my plans with other people. My crisis of identity is probably unwarranted, yet inevitable given how things are right now. I blame the philosopher within me (HOUSE!), constantly analysing what is innately distinct about Dan. With the rain hitting my window at the minute, and my overwhelming feeling of dramatic woe, I’m starting to fear I’ve fallen into a mid 00’s emo music video. This melancholia though, is ironically enough probably one of these features I’ve been obsessing over for the past 600 words; a pessimism that bleeds into my sense of humour and the worry surrounding the things I do.

Shit, that got heavy didn’t it? So the thing about Stu is that he is so fluffy, which makes him look quite big for how young he is, but then you pick him up and he can totally fit into the palm of your hand, amazing. Plus, his nose constantly wiggles. All the time. He doesn’t even make a noise, just the nose, up and down, up and down, up and down for his whole bunny life.

Fine, back to the serious stuff. I like to think that this inherent gloom keeps me balanced. I act in the face of it, instead of being controlled by it. I try to put my all into everything I do. I work hard at even little things, like just polishing cutlery when on shift, or really taking my time when writing job applications. I like to dig deep, be it getting mad at games or fiery when defending an album I adore. Spite probably isn’t the best motivator I could choose though, as I can constantly feel the internal battle between my being dispirited and this determination to be better. I just can’t tell who is winning the fight anymore. It’s called resolve for a reason though; I’m adamant to see the plan I’ve been trying to implement for the past half a year come to fruition.

Stu has a little house too, the front has a plaque with his name on.

‘Til the next time everyone,

Dan