Monthnotes: April 2023

My aim in April was not to have the toad of work squatting on my life quite so hard. I tried to do more with the weekends, which included some good hiking as well as visits to Blackpool and York. I also made it to my writing group for the first time in ages.

St Anne’s Beach, Easter Saturday

Easter Weekend was spent in Blackpool for a family wedding. I stayed with Muffy and met her kitten, Sashimi. The wedding was fun, and a few of us sneaked away in our wedding outfits to play the 2p slots on the pier. The following week I went to York to go book shopping. Sadly very few good second hand bookshops remain, most being put out of business by the charity shops, which don’t have such interesting selections. I also had a visit from Jen and Dave, who suggested I help found an Arts Lab.

Her name is Sashimi

I walked 498,526 steps in April, an average of 16,617 a day. Wow. My highest total was on the last day of the month, walking from Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale along the Pennine Way. That was also one of the grimmest hikes I’ve done due to appalling weather. I did 6 days out on the Pennine Way during April and have written up three of them so far: Edale to Crowden, Crowden to Standedge, Standedge to Hebden Bridge. Fitbit also awarded me the ‘Pole to Pole badge’ for the somewhat arbitrary feat of walking 12,430 miles since I bought my first fitbit (in November 2016, I think).

Pen-y-ghent… I decided not to climb that day

I’ve been doing a little more writing recently, including a couple of very short stories that have appeared on the blog: Seeing Voices and the Fifth Beatle. I’ve also done audio recordings of these to see how well that works. There’s a separate site for my recordings, which is technically a podcast (which I should probably promote at some point). I also wrote a blog post about Writing and ChatGPT, something I’ve been thinking more about (and dreaming about) recently.

I finished a few books this month. Age of Vice was an excellent thriller set in India, although it ran out of energy at the end when the book decided to become a trilogy. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was picked up as it was partly set in Hebden Bridge. The book functions as an anti-Harry Potter and was fun to read, but also suffered from expanding into a series at the end. Fern Brady’s autism memoir Strong Female Lead was an impulse daily Kindle sale purchase, and a quick interesting read.

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was mine and Katharine’s April choice for our 90’s book club (I’ve written this up on a separate post). Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke had an effective sense of dread in its title story, but the ending was not as dark as I expected. Stuart Braithwaite’s Spaceships Over Glasgow suffered the problem of many rock biographies – the rise is fascinating, but the storyline peters out towards the end, replaced by a list of records and celebrity encounters. Finally, literally show me a healthy person by Darcie Wilder was a fascinating short novel told as tweets, an interesting companion to Patricia Lockwood’s No-one is Talking About This.

The only movie I saw this month was The Empty Man, which I rewatched with Muffy in Blackpool and was slightly less impressed with on a second viewing. Otherwise, I’ve been watching a few TV series. Succession continues to be excellent, whereas From is interesting without so far moving much beyond the Strangehaven meets Lost concept.

I’d dismissed The Last of Us as being an unnecessary adaptation of the video game. Since I have a NowTV subscription for Succession I’ve started watching it and have enjoyed it, despite the slavish faithfulness to the source material. The characters of Henry and Sam were particularly moving, and I had a moment of fannish joy when the horse from part 2, Shimmer, was briefly introduced. I also restarted watching Yellowjackets, although I needed to read some recaps to remember where we were. Considering how much I loved the first season of this show, I’m finding it very hard to get into again.

No new music this month, but I’ve been relistening to Yoshimi Vs the Pink Robots – which has had a massive anniversary edition released. I’m in love with the live versions, where Wayne Coyne’s voice can’t quite hit the notes he’s aiming for, and somehow makes the songs even more beautiful. The Pop Could Never Save Us podcast continues to be amazing, with an 80s episode which looked at things such as how technology affected the charts and why Morten Harket’s voice is so special.

For years, I’ve had dreams about episodes from when I was a teenager. I hated how thirty years later, I was still dreaming about bitter things, when there were so many good things I could be dreaming of. One advantage of the work stress is that I’ve not had these sort of dreams for months – instead I dream about my job. I’ve now requested transfer to a new project. I felt I was unable to change the situation, and so it was be complicit in the toxic environment. I’m looking forward to the change.

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