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2011: Looking forward to looking back

This is one of those blog entries that I’m not really sure how to start.  I’ve seen at least three comedians recently come onto the stage and say something similar, and it seems to work out for them, so maybe I’ll give that a go.  The thing is, they tend to then incorporate some banter with the audience into their “actual” show and lo, it all works out beautifully.  I can’t make that sort of promise to you.  This really isn’t the start.

I suppose the start is a look back on 2010, albeit rather twee to do so.  That said, I’m not sure I’d describe this post as being gritty and original, so maybe I should grasp its tweeness and love it for what it is.

What the hell, let’s do it.

2010’s been a pretty good year really.  The “obvious” highlight was Alfie being born.  Susie had decreed that we wouldn’t know before-hand whether Alfie was a boy or a girl, but after the 20 week scan I declared that I was confident he was a boy because, and I quote, “he lit up like a Christmas tree.”  I was right.  That’s my boy. 😉

We took a few days to come up with his name.  We went through a number of Welsh names, as is compulsory, but none seemed to fit (or rather, the really cool ones that I wanted were vetoed by Susie… like Gwalchgwyn — meaning White Hawk).  For me, the names of my children need to carry some meaning.  Let me summarise:

  • Bethan is Bethan Ruth.  Susie always wanted to call her daughter Beth, and in addition to that her maiden name is Bethel.  However, my brother and sister-in-law already had a daughter called Elizabeth, who is known as Beth.  We had come up with a short-list of names, of which Bethan was one.  It combined Susie’s wish to have Beth with my wish to have a Welsh name.  Since we couldn’t make our own minds up, I read each name out to Bethan after she was born.  Bethan was the one she responded to, so that’s what she was called.  The Ruth part is far more straight forward.  Not long before Bethan was born my great aunt Ruth died at the ripe old age of 90.  She was a real character, and I swear she was the first person borne of the mould of the perfect human being.  She was lovely and wonderful in every way and I wanted to make sure that she lived on.  So we had Bethan Ruth.
  • When Harri was born, Bethan was about 18 months old.  She couldn’t say a great deal, though her vocabulary was coming along reasonably well.  As we struggled to come up with a name for Harri, we talked about how he’d been born with a lot of hair.  Bethan could say “hairy” so I pointed out that the nearest name to hairy was Harry.  Of course, me being me I wanted some Welsh influence, so we went with Harri.  It later transpired that the afore-mentioned great aunt Ruth was married to Harry (who I never met, sadly), so that seemed to be quite fitting.  Harri’s middle name is James, after Susie’s grandad.  He’s a bit barmy, so it fits pretty well!
  • We really struggled with a name for Alfie.  We went through all the name lists, dismissing the ones we didn’t like and trying very hard to narrow it down to a short-list.  Gwalchgwyn was rejected (even for a middle name), as was Taliesin, which I was most upset about.  (Seriously, though, Taliesin is an awesome name.)  Looking away from the Welsh theme we spent more time on the ancestral line and decided that his middle name, at least, should be William.  That’s after my dad’s dad, William Robert Ebrey.  Following the same theme I suggested Alfred — my dad’s middle name and a name that’s been passed down through his family before him.  Susie wasn’t keen on it, but was happy with Alfie, and so here we are.

So that’s how we came to be where we are now.  We have Bethan Ruth, Harri James and Alfie William.  They’re all truly lovely children, and growing up fast.  Bethan, naturally, will always be my baby girl, but every time I give Harri or Alfie a cuddle and a kiss I know that one day they’ll be all grown up and will much prefer to shake my hand or pat me on the shoulder.

I digress (I still haven’t really started).

This year has been a busy year.  A lot has happened, like Bethan starting school and Harri starting to use a potty, but that’s not what the title of this post is alluding to.  This post is about looking forward to looking back.

What the hell do I mean by that?  Well I have some plans for 2011.  Hopefully in 12 months’ time I’ll look back on the year and see a year of success.  I might well look back on a year of failure, I guess it all remains to be seen.  However that’s all meaningless to anyone other than me, unless I specify the metrics by which I intend to measure said success:

  • Here’s some shocking news for you: I drink too much.  I know, I hide it well.  In 2011 I intend to do something about that.  I’ll have to if I want to achieve my other goal.
  • In 2011 I will be joining a friend and colleague (@pablocheesecake on twitter, or you can see his blog here) in doing 20,000 situps in 2011.

Yeah, you read that right. 20,000 sit-ups in 2011.  That’s an average of 55 sit-ups every day of the year.  Now the thing is, I’ve tried and I can’t do 55 sit-ups, not in one session at least.  There’s a chance I could squeeze 55 out throughout the course of a day, but then that wouldn’t leave any allowance for illness, holidays etc.  So here’s the thing, Mr Cheesecake and I are going to aim for 100 sit-ups, four days per week.  Given that I can’t yet manage 55, you can see that I’m going to be starting this challenge in “catch-up” mode.

So why am I setting out to do 20,000 sit-ups in the year?

Well it started out as “what the hell?”  Mr Cheesecake has already managed to cycle 500km in 2010.  It was his idea to start #fatmandoes20000situpsin2011, and I decided that I’d join him.  What the hell, right?  But then I figured I might as well try to raise some cash for charity in the process.  Several conversations were had over whether or not it’s feasible because of accountability and so on and we came out with this:

In 2011 I will attempt to do 20,000 sit-ups.  I will log my progress here, for those who are interested in how I’m doing.  In the mean time, if you feel inspired to donate to charity, I will be publicising a Just Giving link for you to donate to The Stroke Association.

Why The Stroke Association?  I’m glad you asked:

  • Stroke is massive.  It’s just like a heart attack, but for your brain.
  • Stroke is one of the biggest causes of disability in the Western world.
  • If you live to the age of 70, as most people will these days, you can expect to have had a stroke.
  • The effects of stroke are many and varied, from complete recovery to becoming a completely different person.  Some stroke victims don’t recognise their family, can’t read or write any more, can’t move or speak and so on.

Finally, The Stroke Association partly funded Susie’s PhD, researching aphasia (speech problems) in post-stroke patients.  It seemed apt to try to give something back.

So there we go.  Hopefully in 12 months’ time I’ll be a slimmer, fitter person who drinks less and has raised a bunch of cash for The Stroke Association.  Or I might fail miserably.  Here’s looking forward to looking back!


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