Sunday, 17 December 2017

Sunday Sounds 82 - One Way Or Another

Now that Sunday Sounds is back, one way or another I'm going to try and post every week:

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

My 2017 in 775 words

As the year wends its way towards its denouement, I find myself in a position of feeling really hopeful and confident for the future, moreso than I can remember for a long time. This might have felt odd, considering that for much of the year I was in a bit of funk; professionally and politically, if not personally. But as we reach the end of 2017, things really do seem to be looking up – and I feel much more able to grab the opportunities that present themselves.

Indeed, I feel like I’m generally – and literally – walking taller these days. (I’ve lost a bit of weight, and I’ve sought to improve my posture.) As various things have fallen into place, this has become easier – although it brings with it a paranoia that my trousers are not long enough for my stretched-out frame.

Professionally, I am in the situation of moving jobs. Again. My current role, which (by coincidence) I started a year ago today, didn’t pan out in the way I’d hoped, and I reached the conclusion that I was better to move on than try and make a silk purse out of what had become a sow’s ear. I wondered, as I have before, whether I just needed out of Financial Services, and I explored some other options However, in the end I got an offer from another company with which I was happy. Having spent last Friday with my new colleagues at their Christmas do, I am confident that this new company will be a much better fit for me.

That said, a good thing to have come out of my current tenure has been the sitting – and passing – of two more CII exams. One of these helps towards the “gap fill” required to upgrade my existing Diploma in Financial Planning to the newer Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning standard. Both contribute towards the learning path to the Advanced Diploma – and I now only need three modules to complete that. So that’s what I’ll be doing during the OU holidays over the next few years! (Gaining a distinction in my first OU module was another highlight of the year.)

The alternative jobs I alluded to above were both with local Lib Dem parties – in Organiser roles. These would have entailed a complete change in lifestyle, and possibly location. (Un)fortunately I failed to get either of these – on reflection I think that’s for the best.

Which brings me on the political aspect of life. It’s been a busy year – with two election campaigns in which I was relatively heavily involved. Neither of these were successful – and the national picture arising out of the General Election was depressing as well. The ongoing backdrop of Brexit has been wearing – and I fear that it will be for a long time to come.

But adversity is grist to the Lib Dem’s mill, and I never quite gave up. As we approach the new year, I really do feel like my campaigning mojo is on its way back: the party may have a mountain to climb but I am ready to help. And ready to help lead too… Finally, two and half years after downloading the application pack, I recently completed the process to become an approved candidate for the party. This means I can now apply to selections for parliamentary candidates. There are many aspects of the role that I will need to work on and develop but I recognise what those are and will be addressing accordingly. In the meantime, I will continue with activity in my local ward, constituency and city. I also want to give more time and energy to the LGBT+ Lib Dems, and have taken on the Secretary’s role for 2018.

Going through the experiences of this year has really helped me personally: I feel like I have grown more self-aware, and that the votes of confidence (being offered a job on the spot in the interview, and passing the approvals process) have really perked me up. I’m also lucky to have an understanding housemate with whom to talk things through, and seek second opinions on when doubts set in.

More broadly, my personal life is the best it’s been in years – debt accumulated over my late 20s and 30s has all but been eliminated, bringing about a much better quality of life with regular trips to concerts, comedy gigs, and sporting events, and Glastonbury. A large network of friends, both within the party and outside, is also appreciated, even if I don’t always say so.

There is much else I could say but I’m going to stop at a round 775 words.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sunday Sounds 81 - Grace (We All Try)

One of my highlights of Glastonbury this year was seeing Rag 'n' Bone Man. It was Sunday afternoon, the weather was nice, and the Other Stage was mobbed for the man who has had the biggest selling debut album of the year, and the decade's fastest selling.

His overnight success has been a long time in the making, and prior to Humans he has had two album almost-album-length-EPs. Which is by way of saying that he had enough material to fill that hour long slot. Two things - other than the amount of love the crowd had for him - stand out in my mind. One was his willingness to acknowledge where he had come from by bringing doing a number with a Hip Hop Collective he used to perform with. His music may have taken a different direction and he may have gone stratospheric but he still seemed grounded. The other is related: he genuinely seemed overwhelmed by the size and reaction of the crowd.

Anyway - here is a special performance of Grace (We All Try) that he did for the BBC Review of the Year in Music show. This is gorgeous - turn it up as loud as you can get away with.