Quote

[What is a cyni…

[What is a cynic?]

A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

– Oscar Wilde (Lord Darlington, Act III)

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My favourite things

Surfing through you tube I’ve stumbled a great channel run by a rather funny chap by the name of Jim Chapman. Here is the link, I highly recommend you check it out. He posts about anything and everything so there content for anyone to enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfbshD56lsI6cM-TjTVQ-3A

One of his videos, where he guides you around his new room has made me thing about the things in my own room. I’ve had a rummage, and found the things that are the most valuable to me.

Here we go!

1. This is a collection of photos of my friends from university. I had the most amazing three years while I was there, and the guys in these photos mean the world to me. It’s nice to see them every day.

My friends

My friends.

2. Next is my MacBook Pro. It’s a sodding amazing piece of kit. I will never go back to Windows…have you actually tried using Windows 8, I think Microsoft forget that not everyone has a tablet..but ANYWAY. I love this thing! It lets my take words from my brainbox, and through the magic of fingers, make them appear on the world wide web!MacBook

3. I’ve got four pin boards full of assorted things I’ve amassed throughout my formative years. One was made for me by a friend, charting my emergence into a man during 6th form, ie. how I discovered how to drink. Thanks Furn! The other three are anything and everything I’ve collected since I was 15: gig tickets, festival wrist bands, bracelets, medals, important bits of detritus from uni nights out, and a few more gig tickets for good measure.

My pin boards

My pin boards.

4. This is Barney. He’s my teddy and he is a terrific chap. I’ve had him as long as I can remember.

Barney. Teddy bear extraordinaire.

Barney. Teddy bear extraordinaire.

5. This is my favourite book, War and Peace. I could wax on for paragraphs about how wonderful it is, but I won’t. Just go out and buy it. It’s 1500 pages long, and it takes about 400 to get into it, but, it’s the most worthwhile thing you could do.War and Peace

6. This is Immanuel (don’t ask) my yucca plant. He’s been with me since the first day of uni, and still alive! My parents have a near 30 year old yucca, so hopefully Immanuel will last that long!

Immanuel the yucca.

Immanuel the yucca.

7. My favourite thing that makes me smell nice. Discovered this after every peasant and his dad started wearing my formerly favourite, Paco Rabane, Million. Dolce & Gabanna, Pour Homme is a winner.

Pour Homme.

Pour Homme.

8. This is my Meccano bi-plane that I got a few Christmases ago as a jokey present from my parents. Turns out, the same Christmas my best friend got the exact same one. Just proves that we are BFFs. In a totally manly way though.IMG_2410

9. This is my view. It’s looks over the Tyne valley, and on the summer solstive (today) it can look lovely.

My view

10. This is probably the best poster I’ll ever get. It belonged to my uncle when he was a teenager of the 60s. Luckily Bob Dylan happened to be one of my favourite artists, so now it lives on my wall.

Bob Dylan

11. This was my Grandpa’s cap. He died in 1993, and it’s one of the few things I have left of his. He taught me a lot in the short time I knew him.

Grandpa's hat

12. This stuff is amazing. It cures everything. If my leg were to fall off, I’m sure this would somehow manage to fix it.

Paw paw ointment

12. This is a letter from my Grandma, she sent it to me in the first year of uni. I’m glad I never threw it away. She had such wonderful handwriting, and I loved writing back to her. She sadly died in 2011, but at least I have this to hold on to.

Grandma's letter

13 & 14. These are my babies. I got into guitar in the first year of uni, basically as three of my friends could play and I felt rather left out. So inspired by being a huge Metallica fan, I bought a guitar for cheap on eBay. That was crap..so for my 21st birthday I got my electric. It’s a ESP Ltd EC-1000. Played it pretty much every day since I’ve had it. My acoustic, I just recently bought in Vietnam during my backpacking adventure in South-East Asia. It was hand made by a local luthier called Duy-Ngoc. It is incredible, for such a small amount of money I paid for it (around £150) it sounds better than any £1000 Gibson acoustic I’ve ever played.

IMG_2418

IMG_2417

So that’s it. These are the things that I value the most in my room. I’m sure there are other things, but maybe that’s another post for another day. This wasn’t meant to be a sad post, but it might have turned into one, oops! Sorry for all of you who have tear-splattered keyboards right now. Thanks for reading. Toodles!

Father’s day, brought to you by Samsung.

Several days ago it was Father’s Day. And if you didn’t realise that I’m assuming you live in a Yurt on the steppes of Mongolia, such was the deluge of Facebook statuses, tweets, Instagrams that I was subjected to throughout the day. Now before Daily Mail readers start screaming at me for being a hater of fathers, let me say that I have no issue with loving your dad. Good. That’s out of the way. The issue that I have is that did I really need to see a tweet sponsored by Samsung (I can’t actually remember who it was, but you get the idea), and every other global conglomerate imaginable, sending good wishes to dads across the globe? I’m sure even the official twitter feed for KPMG suggested buying your dad an audit for all his hard work.

Has day to day life become nothing more than a forum in which we have to prove something? Certainly, some marketing executive at Samsung believes that if they do not tweet their appreciation for dads, the sales of the new Galaxy S5 will be severely compromised. I completely agree. Next Easter, if Coca Cola don’t wish me a happy one, you’re damn sure I’m walking straight to the nearest Sainsbury and buying a two litre bottle of Pepsi.

Social media has now given us a place in which we can share anything at any time. But it’s only recently that I’ve noticed these mass outpourings. Not a Christmas, New Year, Easter, Mother’s day or any other public holiday goes by without seemingly every person on Facebook telling me about theirs. Again, I’m not having a go at the people who do it, as I have done it in the past, I’m just wondering what drives us to do it. Most of the statuses garner a few sporadic likes, and that’s about it. It would seem that even though we post these statuses, and write these tweets, our audience doesn’t care that much. The conclusion we’d have to make is that it’s just now the norm.

As I scrolled through my various feeds I thought, what about people who don’t have dads? I know people whose families have been broken up by divorce, or tragically through the death of a father. Do our actions on social networks come across as insensitive, annoying, or just thoughtless?

From my point of view, I’m throwing away my laptop and phone on these days, and spending it with my dad. Then buying a pepsi.

Has social networking ruined backpacking?

I recently returned home after two months backpacking around South-East Asia. Without a doubt the experiences and things I saw during my short stay will remain with me for the rest of my life, however I’m not going to write about that aspect of my travels.

I last backpacked in 2009, spending six months on the east coast of Australia. As many will remember, in 2009 ‘smartphones’ were not so smart, when compared to the 4 inch supercomputers we all carry in our pockets these days. The iPhone 3 (not even 3G!) had just celebrated its first birthday. (I suddenly feel very old..) During my travels, I spent a lot of time lounging around with fellow backpackers. The Australian climate and abundance of beaches was a contributing factor behind this policy. This gave my fellow travellers and myself a great deal of time to talk to fill the spaces when you just didn’t want to read and the iPod had died. And talk we did. I left Australia feeling like I had known the friends I made for years, rather than the relatively brief time that I actually did. I remember opening up to people, as they did to me, and really connecting. When travelling this is not uncommon, you are thrust into a strange place relatively unknown, therefore you naturally band together. This, in my opinion is the reason that the backpacker community is such a close-knit one, as we all shared a mutual feeling of self-imposed isolation.

Image

This is not to say that I felt any differently during my more recent travels, in fact, I was even luckier this time around, as I had even more in common with the group of friends I found myself with. However, one thing that I found myself observing more and more as time went by, was that during idle moments of the day, our hands invariably reached down into our pockets, and out came the small black mirrors (thanks Charlie) that dominate modern-day life. For tens of minutes at a time we were transfixed on the latest Facebooks updates, tweeting and Instagram-ing our latest breathtaking photo (@jonnysnaphappy, wink wink). To clarify, I’m not attempting to take a holier-than-thou standpoint on social networking, as I was just as guilty of shutting myself of for 10 minutes to endlessly swipe down on a screen. However, I did feel slightly guilty every time – had I travelled 7,000 miles to update twitter? I felt bad that I was potentially missing out on golden conversation with people I had grown very fond of for the sake of seeing what was going on in a life that I was thoroughly, and quite happily detached from. When I asked my friends about our use of smartphones, they felt the same as me – quite silly at how dependent we were to use our smartphones.

There are certain positives to having a smartphone whilst backpacking, which I should mention. Whilst in Australia, if I was lost, or needed help of any kind, the solution was simple as opening my mouth and making sound – as everyone speaks English. While this is somewhat the case in South-East Asia, as more and more people learn English – the language of tourism. However, there were instances when there was no way in which I could communicate, other than speaking louder, and gesturing. This is where a smartphone was invaluable – Google translate, maps, or any other aid was at my fingertips, and on more than on occasion I was able to get from A to B with nothing more than a point at a screen and a smile. Communicating with my anxious mother was facilitated by WhatsApp, and I was able to at least partly able to explain the wonderful things I was experiencing via a tweet.

Ultimately I have mixed feelings towards smartphones and social media combined with backpacking. They can be a huge benefit, and if anything allow you to share the wider world with one and all back home. While at the same time, it removes the escapist element of travel, the one which made backpacker such a draw, and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. You are no longer truly alone, as your entire world that you left behind is a swipe and click away.