Posted by sean on October 4, 2018 at 10:57 pm in 365 Blogs with No Comments

At school, I wanted to become a vet
It is no secret that I have spent my entire career working for The NHS – primarily supporting computers hardware, software and hospital systems. However, things could have been very different.

During most of my senior school years, I wanted to become a vet. I have always been an animal-lover, and while growing up wanted to turn my interest into a vocation. I was advised by teachers and career advisors, possibly incorrectly, that to pursue my dream job, I would need an A in GCSE science. Sadly, this information put pay to any more thoughts on becoming a veterinary surgeon.

Considering that I was born in York, who knows, in a different life I could have been the star of The Yorkshire Vet.


My first games console was a Sega Master System
I was aged nine when I received my first video games console. This was in 1991, and although the history books correctly state that home gaming was freely available since the mid-1980s; with the absence of the internet, or any mainstream television programmes covering video games, as a young, innocent child, I was not aware of such delights.

Therefore, on Christmas morning, when I received a Sega Master System, my mind was blown. The classic, Alex the Kidd in Miracle World, was bundled with the console. I played it all Christmas Day, stopping only for Indiana Jones (probably).

My feelings for my beloved present were changed on Boxing Day, when Michael, the older boy living next door, showed me what he received for Christmas… the far superior Sega Mega Drive.


When I was a little boy, I had three pets
My first three pets were probably what helped me to develop a love for animals. The first was a goldfish. I can’t remember an awful lot about the creature but seem to recall that it did not live very long. I don’t blame myself for its early demise. This is for two reasons – firstly, I was four at the time. Secondly, the fish tank was placed on top of a set of drawers, which I could not reach and therefore unable to feed.

My second and third pets were rabbits. Again, I could not have been any older than five when these furry friends came into my life. Like with the fish, these two bunnies didn’t live very long. The first rabbit I owned was brown. I remember him being very small, which, considering everything seems bigger than it is to a young child, means he was probably very miniature – at a guess, given my memory of its appearance, this bunny was like my current rabbit, a Netherland Dwarf.

I distinctly remember planning for the bunny’s arrival, by picking dandelions, while at a playgroup. This was before going to the local City Farm, to collect the poor doomed creature. I don’t know how long this rabbit lived with us. It was possibly weeks, maybe months. One thing is for sure, it definitely wasn’t years! One day, I came downstairs to get my breakfast and watch early morning kids’ television, when I was told that the family pet was dead. Killed by a fox. Somebody forgot to secure his hutch. Again, considering that I wasn’t much older than the late bunny, I blame my parents.

The third animal unfortunate enough to be gifted to me by my parents, was a larger black and white rabbit. As I had only recently seen the film Bambi, I named my new pet Thumper.

Unfortunately for Thumper, after being brought back to our Bristol home, he had a shorter life than Bambi’s Mum, and some local fox had another tasty meal.

You’ll notice that I have not named my fish or first rabbit. This is because I cannot be sure if I haven’t used their names for the “First childhood pet” question at some point. If I posted the two names on my blog, I may as well include my bank account details.


I can’t stand eating fish
I may have recently turned vegetarian, but luckily for my finned friends, I haven’t eaten fish for many years. Whether it be fresh salmon, fish fingers or cod and chips. I am not totally sure why I have such a dislike for fish.

My only childhood memory of eating fish is my Dad baking fish pie. This pie consisted of mashed potato, filled with huge, meaty chunks of white fish.

I have some fond memories of my Dad’s cooking, but the thought of his fish pie turns my stomach. I also have a dislike of mashed potato, opting to switch it for chips whenever I see it on a restaurant menu. I therefore wonder if it was my Dad’s food that turned me against not only fish, but also mash.


I’ve been creating websites since 1998
I have been blogging for over 14 years, but in fact I have been building websites for 20 years. My first website was about my favourite television show at the time (and one I still love), The X Files. Back then, there was no Frontpage software to help me design the website and certainly no WordPress.

My first attempt at a website was written in HTML, looked very basic and consisted of photos and audio clips, stolen from other websites. I didn’t finish this website, so it was never uploaded to the internet. This is probably a good thing, as despite being only 15, I would no doubt be sued by 20th Century Fox, for copyright infringement.

My second and most successful website was a South Park fan site. The website was called South Park Elementary, although at one point it was named 100% South Park. This was before the days where everyone used Google, and Yahoo was the dog’s crown jewels. This search engine listed websites in alphabetical order, by category. By changing the name to 100% South Park, my website appeared at the top of the list! This is the same reason most taxi companies are called 123 Cabs or AA Taxies, as they are the first name you see when you open the phone book – not that anyone uses phone books anymore. Or Yahoo.

The South Park website was surprisingly a success. I was able to place revenue generating banners on the webpages, which earnt me about £50 – major cash for a student. I was even invited to take part in a cable television show, about South Park websites. While flattered, I did not attend.

As well as South Park Elementary, I also created a less successful website covering James Bond. In case you are interested, you can view bits from South Park Elementary on the resource.


I have been a football fan for less time than you may think
I am a big football fan, as readers of my blog will know. Despite being 36, I have only been a proper football supporter since I was 20.

I loosely followed the sport while at school, watching Euro 96 and collecting Panini stickers. It was only after watching and really enjoying the 2002 World Cup, that I gave up my life to the obsession inflicted upon many men (and women, for that matter).

When it came to picking a team, I gave it much thought. There was no way I could support Manchester United. My brother and sister were fans of that team (luckily no more), and despite not following the sport, I would mock them for it. I considered Newcastle, for some strange reason. I even contemplated Arsenal, as they had a very trendy home shirt at the time.

In the end, as you all know, I picked Leeds. Not because I was sadistic – Leeds were doing well back then – but because I wanted to support a team relevant to me.

Shamefully, I didn’t know anything about Bath City, so there was no opportunity to follow my local team. I therefore went for the next best thing – my Dad’s team and one closest to where I was born. My Dad hasn’t properly followed Leeds, since moving to Bristol in the mid-1980s. I also wasn’t born in Leeds. My place of birth is York (I’ve never used this as a security question, before all you hackers get excited). Like with Bath City, there was no way I was going to consider supporting York City!

I therefore picked Leeds, as they were the closest ‘good’ team, to the location on my birth certificate. I consider myself a curse to Leeds. Before becoming a fan, they were riding high in Europe, with players worth tens of millions of pounds. Since I started supporting them, Leeds sold all the expensive players, replacing them with ones worth no more than ten quid. They got relegated twice, sold their ground and went bust. You’ve heard of ‘Glory Hunters’. Well I’m a ‘Relegation Hunter’.

I had a somewhat different effect on Bath City, who I finally started taking an interest in, during the 2005/06 season. Following my gift of support, The Romans were promoted twice. More importantly, I also met Claire at Bath City, who eventually became my wonderful wife. We also have a pet rabbit, named Roman, in honour of ‘The Romans’.


My commute to school was horrible
I generally had a pleasant time at school. I was neither a bully or a bully victim. This is rather surprising, considering I wore a mouth brace, was a bit of a geek, hated sports, never received a detention (surely a record for a Culverhay student) and had a limp.

The one thing that I really hated about secondary school was the commute. Living in Weston, on the other side of Bath to my school, meant that I had to catch the bus every morning and afternoon. Most of the children at my school were just a short walk away. One of my close friends lived literally opposite the school gates.

Therefore, the school bus was full of pupils from other schools. While the kids from my own school were generally good natured to me, those from the other school up the road, were a right set of bastards – at least for the first two years; they left me alone, as I grew older and tougher… “tougher” – LOL.

I hated having to get up for school earlier than all my friends and get back home much later. I think this is the reason that, for me, living close to where I now work is a massive priority. Since gaining employment in 2003, I have always lived a short walk (now mobility scooter ride), from my office.


I love an audiobook
Firstly, let me say that I can read. I love books – both fictional and non-fiction. My problem with books is concentration. I cannot sit on the sofa, or lie in bed, and dedicate a period of time to reading – I simply get distracted! Maybe it is because we live in a digital age, where access to the internet and a wealth of information is just a few mobile phone clicks away. Maybe I just have a short attention span.

A few years ago, I got really into audiobooks. Why read a novel, when somebody can read it for you? Audiobooks are great. I listen to them while relaxing in bed or on the sofa, while doing things around the house, or (using ear phones) at work.

I have listened to many novels that I always wanted to read, but knew I would never get around to doing so. I have discovered new, incredible writers, and learnt a wealth of information from non-fiction. For the purpose of my blog, I intend to list my Top 10 audiobooks, but that’s for another day…


I once lived near the best video games shop in the world
Anyone who has ever traded in their video games knows all well that the shop is ripping them off….

Customer: “How much can you give me for this game?”
Sales assistant: “Red Dead Redemption 2? 50 pence, mate.”
Customer: “But it cost me £60 and it’s only been out a week!”
Sales assistant: “Take it or leave it”
Customer: “OK, I’ll take it. How much can you sell me FIFA 14 for?”
Sales assistant: “Well, considering it’s been out five years…. I’ll let you have it for £40”

See what I mean? When you’re a kid, unless you are spoilt, the only way you would be able to get a brand-new game was to wait until your birthday or Christmas.

I did have a paper round, which lasted all of six months, before I remembered that I was lazy, so gave it up. The paper round only paid about £5 a week anyway, which was shit, even in 1997. So, there I was – a teenager obsessed with gaming, but with hardly any income. Things weren’t good.

I was 12 when it opened. The shop was called Bath Games Exchange, and it was located just off of a high street of shops called Chelsea Road. By some amazing piece of fate, the games shop opened for business in the same week we moved house – just a five-minute walk from Chelsea Road!

You know you have dreams, which are the opposite of nightmares? Everything, however implausible, comes together to give you great happiness. Well, this is what it felt like to me. While my fellow adolescents dreamed of naked ladies, I dreamt of Sonic the Hedgehog.

The new games shop was amazing. They didn’t rip you off, by giving you a few copper pennies in exchange for your Super Nintendo collection. The shop worked like this… you want a game from their shelf? Give the shop a game you own, of the same value, pay £2 or £3 for the swap, and the new game is yours! My first swap was Batman in exchange for Mickey and Donald’s World of Illusion.

You know the phrase “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Well that applied to Bath Games Exchange. After opening in the summer of 1994, it closed down 18 months later. No equivalent shop opened in its place, and there hasn’t been one anywhere since.


I have a big interest in the World Trade Centre terrorist attack
This is a bit of strange one. I have a great interest in the World Trade Centre attacks on September 11th 2001. The tragedy fascinates me, and I have started to collect books on the attack, as well as obtaining DVDs of 9/11 movies and watching documentaries on YouTube.

I know that I am not unique in my interest – there are millions of people who share my curiosity. It is understandable that the heart-breaking event, however horrific, attracts so much attention. The world as we know it changed that day, with thousands of people losing their lives, some in the most horrific of circumstances.

I have personal reasons for my ongoing research into that day. I was facing my own horror. I was very unwell and recovering from surgery, which I underwent at the end of August.

The afternoon of September 11th, I was with my parents going to Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital (the BRI). We had just left Richer Sounds – a electrical retailer – where I purchased what I seem to remember to be a DVD player. As we approached the BRI, we were listening to Radio 1. Probably not my parents’ choice of station, but it was mine, and I was the poorly one. It was the early afternoon radio slot, which at the time was run by Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley, AKA Mark and Lard.

The show stopped for a news break. Nothing unusual there, this happened all the time. The news reported that a small plane had flown into the World Trade Centre. I didn’t think much of it at the time. As a teenager, I hadn’t even heard of the Twin Towers, and the news reporter, presumably knowing no more than me about the crash, did not seem concerned, so neither was I. We arrived at the hospital.

We left the hospital about an hour later. The visit was distressing (so I won’t be going into it). Clearly, there were thousands of people in New York suffering even more than me. I did not know about what they were experiencing until I got back into my parents’ car and turned the radio back on.

I had almost forgotten about the earlier news, regarding the plane crash and was expecting to cheer myself up, by listening to Chris Moyles on the drive home. The fact that the apparent “accident” didn’t seem significant an hour earlier, coupled with the fact I had just had a horrible time at the BRI, made what we were all about to hear all the more shocking…

My Dad described the news that planes were flying into the towers and the Pentagon, as like something out of a James Bond film. He didn’t mean any disrespect by that comment, although, like my Mum and I, there was no way that he could comprehend the horror of it all, simply by listening to the radio.

We arrived home to find my sister, on the sofa, watching Sky News. She was off school ill that day and had watched all the events unfold. It was at that moment, watching the television, that I realised things were bad. Real bad.

There was talk on the news of Britain’s big cities being potential targets for future attacks. This left me afraid to return to the BRI. What if the terrorists flew a plane into the hospital, while I was there?

Looking back 17 years, I now think the reason that I still have a strong interest in 9/11, is because while the victims, along with their families and friends, were suffering greatly, I was experiencing my own pain. I felt sympathy and even a connection to those involved with the terrorist attack, because of what I was going through myself.

I never had any desire to go to America. Besides on cruise ships, I am not a fan of travelling abroad. However, one day I would like to visit Ground Zero, the Memorial Museum and One World Trade Centre. Given what has happened to me, it seems right that it should be something I should do.

Posted by sean on October 3, 2018 at 11:30 pm in 365 Blogs with No Comments

While doing some early Christmas shopping online (why shop any other way), I bought myself a little pressie…

When I am in the mood for blogging, I can normally think of something rubbish to write about – Leeds United, rabbits, Tesco’s poor delivery service, spiders – see what I mean? Rub-bish!

This type of blogging has done me well for over 14 years, and hopefully I’ll still be writing in another 14-plus years to come.

However, when I am not blogging about crap football and scary spiders, I intend to follow some new topics – all of which can be found in the book I asked October Santa to bring me.

It was my intention to write my very first “365 Blog” tonight. However, time beat me and with midnight fast approaching, I think it’s time for me to sleep. Goodnight, dear readers!

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