Every piece on this Blog is drafted in a document that also contains hundreds of thousands of words that will never be made available for anyone else to read. Every year I start a new one of these documents, with the word “Snippets” and the year somewhere in the filename. These words are being typed in a file saved as SNIPPETS_2023_1_JAN.docx. Documents like this record everyday biographical stuff (so they act as a kind of diary), drafts of emails (and sometimes the text of emails that I have received) and notes about what I’ve seen, read or heard. Twice in the last month I have made a note for myself about something in my day-to-day life and described it as a “gamechanger”. I did not use the word in any of the 635,000 words that I typed into my Snippets document for 2022, so I’m not sure why I’ve started using it now.
The first thing that prompted my use of the word was an item of clothing that I bought in January. It’s described on the Primark website as a “Snuddie”, a “snuggly oversized hoodie”. My daughter was given one for her birthday a few years ago by one of her old primary school friends. My mother-in-law gave each of the children one for Christmas. I tried on my son’s Marvel-branded Snuddie and was genuinely surprised at how warm and practical it was. I bought one for myself (XXL, £20) and have worn it most days since then. I have never worn anything designed for indoors that is so snug. There are no cold rooms in the house any more, at any time of day.
As a family we usually turn off the central heating when the children have gone up to bed. Most nights I am up for at least an hour after that. I can now sit in my Snuddie in an unheated room late on a sub-zero February night and not feel the cold. As I wrote on 23 January, not intending these words for anyone else: “Well, this is a gamechanger: my own £20 SNOODIE (check what its proper name is: SNUDDIE) from Primark, and I can sit up in the coldest of rooms. I was watching Monday night is quiz night without the heating on, and actually feeling WARM”.
[I originally typed “game-changer”, but I have typed it as a single word since then.]
The next time I involuntarily found myself typing the word “gamechanger” was after a gig at the end of January. I have been to see plenty of acts on my own over the years. I have missed out on other shows because I couldn’t persuade anyone to come with me, and didn’t want to go alone. It depends on the venue. There have been places that I knew well, and where I was happy to go alone if necessary (like the much-missed 12 Bar Club) but I rarely feel the same about unfamiliar venues.
At the end of January I went to a gig at a venue I was unfamiliar with, The Fiddler on Kilburn High Road. As it turned out, I had been there before, when it was an Irish bar called The Kingdom. If you know your Irish counties and their nicknames, you will have worked out that it was a Kerry pub (the county is known as “The Kingdom”). It was opened with its new name sometime in the last few years by Vince Power, whose past enterprises include the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden and Powers Bar (also on Kilburn High Road).
The main act at the Fiddler that night was Andy White, who I have seen many times over the last 40 years. I wrote about him here a month or two after seeing him at the Half Moon in Putney in 2017. I went alone to that one. None of my friends wanted to come with me, but the Half Moon is one of the venues I don’t mind going to by myself. Instead of asking around to see if anyone wanted to come to The Fiddler with me, I suggested it to my son. He turned 18 last November, so he can now accompany me to gigs in pubs that he couldn’t get into a few months ago.
I didn’t buy tickets in advance, and we left it till that evening to decide for sure if we wanted to go. I was pretty sure that we would, and had told my Friday night football mates that I wouldn’t be playing, but there was always a chance that one of us would have a cold, or not feel like going. But we went, and had a great time. My son especially liked having a chat with Andy before and after the show.
My son can now accompany me to any events that take place in pubs at night (gigs, comedy shows, quizzes). He is also, for now at least, happy to do so. It’s a gamechanger.