Wednesday, 31 October 2012

# 116 Who Wants To Be A Grown Up

This week I bought a knitted body warmer from a certain well known high street shop. It had a fleecy hood which seemed appropriate given the near arctic conditions I have had to endure of late (I'm a Southerner) and so it seemed to be a basically practical if slightly dull item.

I had already decided to buy it but to get the full look I put it on in the mirror of the store and put the hood up. Then I discovered it had ears on it.

I always steered clear of obvious eared accessories (source)
That I continued to the check out and bought said item without hesitation reminded me that I have never really grown up. Three years at Uni and now being my own boss have only served to re-enforce this state of mind and general air of irresponsibility. And whilst I am still getting away it, that's fine by me.

I suppose a lot of it is because I have quite squarely put myself into the position of having no real commitment. My life is my own except perhaps that teensy weensy business that I now manage. But essentially that is it.

I made a very conscious choice a long time ago to remain child free. I've never been in a fortunate enough position to even consider a mortgage (given the number of times I have moved) and I have pretty much drifted where fate has taken me. I like to live in new places and I will eventually get bored of the same old town.

Of course that's not to say I haven't had some narrow misses. I've had more than a handful of long term relationships that could have turned into the rest of my life - most of them totally unsuitable and doomed to failure from the start. Perhaps subconsciously that is why I have remained in this semi-permanent teen state. I never felt the urge to settle and circumstances always kept me on my toes.

I hope that when I reach the age where wearing clothing with ears on and being the proverbial rolling stone become less than dignified or practical, that I will notice it, or someone will tell me in no uncertain terms. But I am hoping I'll be getting away with it for some time yet. I like it and nothing about it worries me. Because I don't particularly want to be a grown up.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

#115 Wuss

I am a terrible wuss. I'm not afraid to admit it, but it does jar with me when I say it. When they were handing out thrill seeker genes, I definitely missed out on that one.

I think it's partly because I like to be in control (I don't even like being drunk) and partly because I have a strong sense of self-preservation. I am not a risk taker. I'm too grounded and aware that one wrong move can spell catastrophe. I guess I like being alive.

Yes, I have made rash decisions and taken risks in a more mundane sense - people, jobs, moving. And to be honest they haven't always worked out. Sometimes they were BAD mistakes. I guess that's the risk you take.

This year however, I have taken one of my biggest risks, going it alone, setting up my own business. I'm pretty proud of that one. But it comes with a back up plan - a safety net. Because if it didn't that would just be stupid.

In a more physical sense, the last time I went on a rollercoaster (a kids one I hasten to add) I ended up with what I can only presume was whiplash. I was in agony for several days afterwards with neck and shoulder pain. If I went on a proper rollercoaster, this is what would happen:

And yes, I'd be the one on the right. That woman on the left is just being cruel. Alternatively I'd probably end up like this girl. Yeah, she looks like she's enjoying it, but wait for it.....

As for skydiver Felix Baumgartner, well I have nothing but admiration. I'd have passed out from heart failure the moment I stepped out into the unknown. 

I get what it's about, I understand the buzz that people get from it. But it's not me. I've never been like that. I was the kid that used to pass out in biology lessons. I even fainted once when I was told off by a teacher for being late for a music lesson. Yes I was a wuss.

To say I have improved with age is an understatement. I can watch the goriest of movies these days and a lot of things that used to scare the crap out of me don't really bother me any more. I love scary movies, especially the psychological variety. But jumping off bridges attached to a piece of elastic? Nah, you can keep it.

Why???? (Source)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

# 114 Jack the Ripper makes his way to York

At some point in their life everyone belongs to a club. Mine was Jack the Ripper. It became a fascination when I was 12 and it's been a part of my life more or less ever since.

My early days were spent with researchers, writers and theorists in London, attending the first club that was set up for it - the 'Cloak and Dagger Club' founded by Mark Galloway in 1994, and writing articles for the magazine which grew out of it - 'Ripperologist'.

Later on I became an organiser of the already established official conferences, first in 2003 in Liverpool, then Brighton in 2005 and Wolverhampton in 2007. Our attendee numbers surpassed 100 delegates proving that interest in the subject just doesn't end. Each location had some connection to the case and we drew people from all over the world to a weekend long package of lectures and visits. In the alternate years US members organised their own version, three of which I managed to get to in New Jersey and Baltimore.

Since 2007 life in the world of 'Ripperology' has continued. There have been two conferences in London and the club continues to meet. But for several reasons I took a back step and I've been out of the loop for 6 years now.

Last weekend saw the first full weekend conference in that time. It took place in York, hosted by a new organisational team spearheaded by Colin and Ricky Cobb and Adam Wood. Somehow I managed to achieve the status of co-organiser and although I wasn't intrumental in helping to set up this event, it was interesting to take part as a delegate and see how things went.

I've been really impressed and inspired. More than 60 people turned out to make the event a huge success. We were graced with some truly fascinating speakers from those interested in the case history itself, to authors, theorists and those with a more formal interest in the subject such as profiler Laura Richards, who up until 2007 worked for Scotland Yard and has profiled on some very famous modern murder cases.

We were also treated to an open top bus tour of York, a medieval style banquet and enough food to sink the Titanic! It's not all formal lectures you see.

Thanks to our speakers John Bennett, Robert Anderson, Robert Smith, Trevor Bond, Trevor Marriott, Lindsey Siviter, Neal Storey, Rob House, Martin Fido and Laura Richards for a huge range of fascinating talks from suspect cases to the latest criminal profiling.

Our conference speakers
Top row: Robert Anderson, Trevor Marriott, John Bennett, Lindsey Siviter, Neal Storey
Bottom row: Rob House, Trevor Bond, Martin Fido, Laura Richards

As the weekend progressed it became clear that my role as delegate wasn't going to remain that way for long. At the end of the conference the 125th anniversary event next year had been announced (see below) and I had been persuaded to rejoined the team. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to working with some great people on what is going to be a truly massive London conference. So get it into your diaries!

Huge thanks to Ricky and Colin Cobb who took on the mantle of official organisers to keep the conference alive. To Adam Wood for being there 'still' as one of the original organisers and providing his technical skill for the presentations which are always so highly polished. To Jenni and Neal Shelden for their assistance and contribution to the weekend's organisation and printed material. And to everyone who turned out. Because without the delegates it would never be the success it is.

If you are interested in finding out more about next year's conference join the Facebook group here. Hopefully we will see some of you there next year.