Pic and Mix

Me, having this silly idea at Jodrell Bank

Me, having this silly idea at Jodrell Bank

So, I wanted to end the year with a simple post, that hopefully is less writing and more smiling. I take pictures of crap on my phone. Or crap pictures, you decide. I am a snapper, and not always a happy one at that. And with that, I make some apologies for the quality of the pictures you’ll see here. They won’t win prizes – other than ‘Least Publishable Picture Due To Quality Of Both Composition And Subject Matter’, but they helped me put together some of my year that didn’t make it into the blogs you’ve all been so very kind to read and share.

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I went to Seoul in February, and have never been colder in my life. It was so cold that every time we stepped outside, it instantly made you swear a hasty intake of breath. But, at the underground/metro station was this digital advertising hoarding – and, you probably know her better as my twitter avi. Nope, I still don’t know what it is about!

Ah, Seoul. Boys are indeed toys, apparently.

Ah, Seoul.

But the city was amazing, and the people respectful and genuinely warm. Want to go again. However, oversize kittens with bog-eyes? YES! Especially if a poor bastard is freezing his balls off in a Garfield outfit…..

Cat power, Seoul.

Cat power, Seoul.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I stumbled upon a lift company that made me consider the future of Nazi Generals, and whether Spielberg had a lisp…

Schindler's Lift. Manchester, March.

Schindler’s Lift. Manchester, March.

And, having been travelling on business, it’s nice to know your colleagues have missed you, and respect you in your role and workplace. Bastards.

Boss of the Year. Apparently.

Boss of the Year. Apparently.

I went to see a lot of bands in 2012, but the standouts were Flaming Lips at Parklife, Stone Roses reunion gig in Manchester, and Morrissey returning to his hometown….

The near-religious experience that is the Flaming Lips live.

The near-religious experience that is the Flaming Lips live.

Everyone, and I mean *everyone* was shitfaced at the Roses gigs.

Everyone, and I mean *everyone* was shitfaced at the Roses gigs.

Mozzer - I Know Its Over, Manchester Arena

Mozzer – I Know Its Over, Manchester Arena

I was then travelling again – first stop was Vegas. I didn’t enjoy it too much, truth be told, but I was there on business. At a trade fair, the truth of the Spanish economic downtown was laid bare…..

Nothing to 'si' here.....

Nothing to ‘si’ here…..

But the fountain display at the Bellagio was a good show:

Whoooooosh. Weeeeee. Aaaaaaah. Water. Nice.

Whoooooosh. Weeeeee. Aaaaaaah. Water. Nic

I then went to South Africa, which I also wrote about in detail. It was a wonderful place, and definitely on the return list……..

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

However, at the stadium in Cape Town, these guys made a rather bold shout. Suffice to say, it wasn’t.

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Contrary to popular belief, my life isn’t one big holiday, so we went as family on ours. To Mallorca……

Tuning in the local classical radio stations, Palma de Mallorca airport

Tuning in the local classical radio stations, Palma de Mallorca airport

Nearly as bad as the South African sausage

Nearly as bad as the South African sausage

However, my eldest son, ever the budding food critic with the most developed palate of a then-7 yr old, wrote this note to the chef of El Nepturno tapas restaurant:

Now you know. No pressure.

Now you know. No pressure.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the ‘summer’ trundled towards it’s natural end. I took the boys to Gifford Circus, near Cirencester. Its a brilliant, family-friendly traditional Victorian circus, with a madcap sense of humour. All of the acts were brilliant, and afterwards, the kids can join in the finale with the cast. Thoroughly recommended for a family day out.

Mental acrobats at Gifford Circus.

Mental acrobats at Gifford Circus.

The finale, with all the kids getting involved.

The finale, with all the kids getting involved.

After returning from the day out, we were confronted by a sight I have struggled to shake all year. Of a woman hoovering her driveway, with Henry (the hoover). In order to get the shot, eldest son was shamelessly used to stand in front of the target, as a distraction. It worked a treat. Twice:

You, eldest son, stand there. Over a bit, a bit more, got it!

You, eldest son, stand there. Over a bit, a bit more, got it!

I then got closer, as the sheer horror unravelled. Even the fucking hoover didn’t want to be there……

Woman hoovering driveway, Henry Hoover embarrassed to be there.

Woman hoovering driveway, Henry Hoover embarrassed to be there.

And, to signal the end of the ‘worst summer on record’, I celebrated my birthday at Festival No6 in Portmeirion, North Wales. And, not only was it a brilliant weekend, New Order were voted winners of Headline Performance Of The Year at the recently created Festival Awards.

Sunset over the main stage and VIP area, Festival No6

Sunset over the main stage and VIP area, Festival No6

New Order, in full Prisoner attire. Brilliant.

New Order, in full Prisoner attire. Brilliant.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, words of extreme pity and swearing spouted forth from one’s gob, when I spotted this attached in the Trafford Centre carpark:

Mae up your own swear words, here.

Make up your own swear words, here.

And at my cousins brilliant wedding, grown women felt the need to grind on a beam in a teepee. No, I know. Me neither.

She was not alone. There were more, but I am sparing you these images.

She was not alone. There were more, but I am sparing you these images.

But, for those that know me, or have got to know me through the blog, via twitter or other means, you’ll know that the end of this year was tainted by the tragically sad passing of our wonderful friend Paul Shyvers – a more wonderful man you couldn’t possibly wish to meet. And we said goodbye, with an exit worthy of the man we all knew he was.

Never was there more suitable exit music for a funeral service.

Never was there more suitable exit music for a funeral service.

Thank you ALL – for the hundreds of people that have read these pages in 2012, have commented, laughed, cried or shrugged at the words I have written. I’ll be back in 2013, and I hope you’ll come on the journey with me. It’s gonna be a blast. Happy New Year, and lots of love, Ben.

Follow me on twitter @benopause or hang out in the A&E department of blogland, the Benopausal Facebook page.

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