A Very Merry Message

Ah, Easter. It’s an odd day. It’s the nether zone of annual celebrations. At Christmas you can open presents, tear apart crackers, fight for the cheap pocket mirror till your last dying breath and then bury the bodies of your tedious family. On Halloween you can watch the baying horde of children from the battlements of your own home. But Easter, it’s not really any different. Oh look, there’s an egg made out of chocolate. It seems weird to me.

But then, I’m not really religious. So how do I spend my Easters? Well, typically, inside, away from the languishing heat. But this year, I went outside. Let that sink in. I, whose skin is paler than the average can of bathroom caulk (it’s an odd simile, but it checks out), went outside. And, for the most part, I had fun.

I’ll be honest here, family are a mixed bag for me. Some of my relatives are decent, perhaps one or two pass the factory tests. But for the most part, they can be annoying. I guess that makes me the black sheep, but someone has to take the role. Either way, yesterday we all piled into my father’s Volkswagen and sped off to Stourhead. That’s not a type of bread. You’re thinking of sourdough. And for the quick among you, pointing fingers at the screen and saying, “No, actually, I thought of, curiously enough, Stourhead,” I have news. Well done, you outsmarted me. Some of you, on the other hand, may be going quite insane at the aforementioned word, so here’s a quick guide.

It’s a field, with some temples in it. It’s also got a lake, natural grotto, and an obelisk (that isn’t natural). And for a few months every year, it is a breeding ground for people. Peppered around the place like…I don’t know, pepper, they take the long, leisurely walks around the ancient estates. Breathing in the fresh country air, marvelling at the classical masonry, and chatting about how oddly warm it is this time of year, or something like that.

(That’s another thing. Is it just a generally accepted thing to simply notify everyone that “it’s warm,” when the temperature braves itself to go past the fifteen-degree mark? I think that’s a British thing. No, it most definitely is).

And it was a good day out, the best Easter I’ve had in ages. After our long walk like riders through the undergrowth, we stumbled back to the car – sweating and panting like the athletes we most definitely aren’t – and proceeded to the next place. Knowlton Rings. I’ll explain that one, too.

It’s a big field. With some ruins. And a ring. Though, to be fair, I do love a good ruin. And it most definitely wasn’t a bad one. However, given their inanimate nature and, thus, inability to have any kind of moral compass whatsoever, this may have been a given. We played football, we tired ourselves out, and we vowed never to go outside again.

And that was my Easter. We had some fun, although my eggs melted, my shirt was welded to my being and the milk went off in our absence. It’s been part-joy, part-nightmare. But at least we have some wholly good news. Like a prophet, I can proudly say that this is the 200th post of Third Time Enabled. This. This very one, right now. And for some reason beyond the boundaries of human comprehension, the blog’s owner and usual writer, Mason, has decided to give the honour of 200th post authorship to me. It’s basically insane but I’m privileged all the same. Regardless of what effect this blog has on anybody, it’s done something, and that’s all that matters. Maybe it changes lives, maybe it makes you think. Maybe it just entertains you. That’s fine, too. It all makes a difference – and this weird, wild, wonderful world that we’re bound to like spirits from the other side.

So, here’s to 200 more posts (God forbid, I may be called out of my reclusivity to do another one if that’s the case), and more good Easters to come. Be sensible, put on the TV, stay inside. Or take a nice, leisurely walk through the tranquil plains of Sourdough House and Gardens.

Wait no, hang on a minute…



Made It!

So, here we are. Against all the odds, and my own laziness, this blog is a year old today. It is somewhat ironic, considering that this has been a creative outlet, that it was born entirely out of boredom in my slightly worn leather chair in the corner of my room. From the moment that I gave Third Time Enabled its name and began its first post on that Saturday afternoon, however, I had a constant companion and something in which I could confide any of my thoughts. Indeed, Mum and Dad have told me within the last few months that they’ve discovered things they never knew about me through reading my words. The ability to write here has certainly brought me a great deal of joy and comfort over the past year, and I hope that it can for many years to come, but I suspect that by now you’re thinking this is all very cliched. Instead of telling you what you already know, about how great this has been, how about I give you some of my highlights from Third Time Enabled so far?

I’ll start off with what is by far my favourite post and the one I am easily proudest of. On 3 November last year, I wrote “VIP (Very Important Post)” in an attempt to cheer up my friend Tamara, who had to have a very important operation to correct her scoliosis a couple of days later. I knew that the experience and its aftermath would be immensely hard and painful for her, so after all the support she’d given me I wanted to send something that could go at least some way to cheering her up. I’m told that it worked, and that Tamara was touched and moved by what I said about her – every word was the truth. It had the added bonus of making me smile too, and I’m tremendously glad that I recorded as many thoughts as possible about her to look back on time and time again. There was so much to say, to the extent that I probably had to be ruthless in deciding what to leave out! If there’s one post mentioned here that you decide to revisit, make sure it’s this one, so that you can see for yourself how proud I am of Tamara and how much her continued support means to me.

My next highlight is Third Time Enabled’s most-viewed post, which achieved 63 views upon its publication on 5 March 2016. “The De-Boring Process” was written hours before Deanna and I went on what was my first ever night out, and the response to it far exceeded what I was expecting. I usually say that I’ll be happy if one person reads a post, so to have 63 take any notice of this one was a very welcome surprise. I also received a few very nice messages from people also going out that night who seemed pleased that I was venturing out, and finally living a little! Like the aforementioned post for Tamara, it is uplifting to know that I can refer to another positive decision I made whenever I please. Even if it was effectively just a night at the pub, said decision did mean that I stuck to a plan, left my comfort zone, and went to socialise and connect with others in a way that I hadn’t before, just like other normal people my age do. I felt like it unlocked many more possible options for me where meeting people was concerned, because I wasn’t as anxious about hitting the tiles and letting my hair down as before. Despite this, however, Deanna and I haven’t made a repeat attempt since that night, and seeing as I have promised a few people I will go again, I should probably make the effort in the near future!

I’m restricting myself to three highlights in this post, otherwise you’ll be here all day, but in this last one I am going to combine the efforts of two co-writers, as I’m very pleased for them and what they mean for this blog. On 17 and 18 May 2016, Will and Emily wrote the first posts by anyone other than me – “A Gratuitous Cameo” and “The Price of Politics” respectively. They are both excellent posts, getting straight to the point of what their authors are trying to say, by two very capable writers who are both very good friends of mine – friends whose input has proved in my eyes that Third Time Enabled has the potential to succeed in the future, both as a group and a solo project. Will contributed his second post, “Lest We Forget”, on 29 June, and Emily’s follow-up is a work in progress. I have assured her that she can take as long as she likes, and that in any case I know it will be well worth the wait. The same goes for the fourth writer in our group, Grace, who became an official user in March but who is yet to make her presence known to all of you. I know that when she does, she will bring another unique and valuable voice to the life of the blog. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read even one post over the past year, and anyone who has inspired or contributed to it, including all of the friends mentioned in these four paragraphs.

Here’s to the next year or two!