Number two is on the way

A strange trip to the hospital with my wife this week. The receptionist assumed that I was the one there for the appointment. Not only that, but he also thought my wife was answering all of his questions on my behalf, and actually stopped to ask her to let me answer myself. Now, my wife does have a first name which can be either male or female, but given that the appointment was for an ultrasound, my wife is clearly pregnant, and she had handed him a folder of maternity notes, this seemed a strange assumption to make. He was at least suitably embarrassed when he realised. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying we have another baby on the way.

Lots of people keep telling us that “the second one is easier”, but, being honest, I’m finding it hard to see how dealing with a tiny baby can be easier when you also have an energetic/attention seeking/grumpy (delete as applicable) toddler on your hands. A few weeks back I happened to bump into an old school friend who had just had his second child. He was in that manically tired state of mind that comes with a tiny baby at home, and his advice was “don’t do it”. I think he was joking, but it’s hard to be entirely sure.

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Mario D’Agostino – Muad’Dib

This might just be my favourite song of the year to date (kindly ignore that it was actually released in 2016). A beautiful lo-fi ballad, it unfolds at glacial pace and has an almost hymnal quality, backed only with skeletal drums, quiet keyboards and guitar that, until the outro, is barely noticeable.

The hushed, almost spoken vocals bring an intimate quality to the song, and lyrically it manages to be both dryly funny and poignant, a trick few can pull off successfully. I know essentially nothing about Mario D’Agostino, but will be following closely, hoping for more songs like Muad’Dib.

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Get Confident, Stupid (or how not to build your child’s self esteem).

I worry sometimes, about my daughter’s confidence. Like most worries about our children, this is rooted in my own experiences. I was always a pretty shy kid, as far back as I can remember. I was apparently terribly upset when my mum used to drop me off at nursery, and I seem to remember being happier playing by myself than joining in with the other kids. At primary school, this didn’t affect me much. It was a small school and everyone pretty much muddled along together without forming groups or cliques.

Middle school was a different matter, massive and overwhelming, and I retreated into my shell even more. Still, I had my little group of friends to play football and computer games with, which helped me worry less about the shyness I felt in larger groups. It was as a teenager though that my confidence really disappeared. I drifted away from one group of friends, and never really felt like I found another. At this crucial stage of life I felt alone, unimportant, insignificant.

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Bjork – Unravel

For my 500th track of the day, one of my favourite tracks of all time, Unravel by Bjork.

Once you’ve been interested in music for any length of time, you soon come to the conclusion that there are no new love songs. If there’s one subject that his been endlessly dissected, described in every single way, it’s love. But Bjork is unlikely any other artist, endlessly innovative, constitutionally incapable of cliche, and Unravel is unlike any love song I’ve heard.

Musically, Unravel lays a gentle bed of organ washes, saxophone and the softest, most distant electronics. Subtly beautiful in their way, but really all about giving space to the vocal, and the lyrics. And what beautiful lyrics they are. Bjork conjures the ingenious metaphor of love as a ball of yarn, slowly unravelling as the couple are apart and having to be put back together each time they return to each other.

Bjork’s vocal performance is masterful also, more restrained than on some of her other songs, yet still conveying every atom of emotion it is possible for the song to convey. It’s those lyrics though that get me every time, one of those rare songs that continues to stir my heart no matter how many times I hear it. When I am away from my wife and family I think of this song often, and my heart does unravel like that ball of yarn.

The first 483 tracks of the day can only be found on my Tumblr. Everything since can be found here. There’s also a Spotify playlist of every single track of the day (or those available on Spotify at least) below:

Bringing up a child in the time of Trump

This is not primarily a political blog, but in times like these ignoring the political situation should not be an option. The first week or so of Donald Trump’s presidency has been worse than I possibly imagined, and my expectations were extremely low. More concerning even than any of the individual policies he has put in place, is the disregard for the rule of law and the constitution. It is also very apparent that our own government here in the UK is not going to do anything to stand up to him, regardless of what he does.

trump-protest-leeds trump-protest-leeds-2

So I joined a few thousand of my fellow citizens at a march in Leeds last night, protesting against Trump’s travel ban, the man himself and our governments craven subservience. I’ve been cynical in the past of marches, protests and petitions, believing there is little chance of them having any impact. I’ve come to realise though that, although protesting has only a tiny chance of making a difference, sitting on my arse doing nothing has absolutely zero chance of making a difference, so I know which I’d rather be doing right now.

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