Monday 29 February 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: February

Hello hello.

After 73 episodes of my Month in Numbers I think I've landed on the easiest way to collect, annotate and photograph them, in real time: my Instagram account. 

That's not to say that I'm going to stop blogging them too, I'm not. At least not for the foreseeable future. But I just thought I'd mention it in case you're one of the people who've often said you'd join in if only you could find a way to keep track of your stories.

Well ... using Instagram's now the simplest answer I can give to that. And you don't even need to use it to keep track of them for a subsequent blog post ... sharing photos and using the hashtag  #monthinnumbers is all you need to join in, right then and there.  

Anyway ... the majority of my number-related tales this month began life over on Instagram but let me share them with you here [along with the original descriptions from IG], starting with one of my favourites ...

"Today I'm here for a public lecture. 10 years ago I came here to begin my job in disability support. 8 years ago I took a screenwriting night class here. 18 years ago I came here for lectures on my English degree. And around 50 years ago my Dad did his day release joinery training here before it was even a university. This building is in my DNA. #campustales #monthinnumbers"
To me that encapsulates everything that's worthwhile in recording my Month in Numbers; the numbers themselves aren't the important part, they just elegantly draw together various threads of my life and help me to capture a lifetime in a single moment.

And from a single moment ... to 10,000 of them ...

We visited the 'Manifest: 10,000 Hours' installation by Clare Twomey at York Art Gallery: 

As the official description explains: "Communities of helpers in York and beyond have assisted Twomey in the production of the bowls. Each bowl takes an hour to make and represents one of the 10,000 hours it is said to take to become a master craftsman.".

It was a wonderful thing to behold, for its artistic qualities, its conquering of logistics, its practicalities [how on earth did they stack them all so carefully?] and also ... for its defiance of preciousness ... as there are no barriers preventing you getting as close as you want to these delicate items:
No warnings not to get too close. No instructions to back off if you're carrying a big bag etc. And I find something comfortingly sanguine and trusting about all that.

In fact had such a brilliant time at the newly refurbished York Art Gallery last Saturday I plan to write a separate post about it soon!

But for now let's delve a little further back into February ...

"Today we finally put the Christmas decorations back in the loft. Only 48 days after we shoved them in the back bedroom out of sight" #monthinnumbers"
And ever since sharing this tale I've learned that we're not alone.

According to the comments I received here are more of us out there who - despite taking the decorations down well in time for Twelfth Night - just never quite took them as far as where they actually belong for the other 10/11 months of the year!

And now we all know that we're not the only ones we can support each other through our lazy - but not unique - housekeeping revelations.

Oh and ... while this next photo has nothing to do with numbers, it did happen during this long-awaited tidying, and so, I'm wondering ... has this one ever happened to you too? Anyone???

One minute you're putting Christmas decorations away, the next ... there's a man dangling his didgeridoo out of your loft hatch:

And, while we're on the subject of sharing our foibles ...

5 of my 'Bad Portraits'appeared on the Marie Claire UK website [along with plenty of my words]. 
When I pitched and then wrote an article all about my Bad Portraits project to such a well known publication, intellectually, I knew that - in order to have the piece make any true impact on readers who don't know me from Adam - I was going to have to include photographs. And bad photographs at that.

So yes, while it was amazing to see my words reach a new audience, it was also a little weird and led to what someone has since told me is known as a 'vulnerability hangover'; I'd shared awkward things and felt a bit naked as a result. But fortunately like any hangover ... it cleared up with some TLC,  and it certainly won't stop me continuing to share things which .... [dare I stoop to the cliche? Apparently yes I do] 'keep it real'. Hence this next number ...

Before spending 1... I found 5 more ...
"I went to the toilet at work and in the bottom of the bowl, glinting out at me from beneath the water, was a shiny 5p piece. #priceincrease #by4p #monthinnumbers (If you need 5p it's still there, library floor 1, cubicle 2.)"

Update: I've been back since and the 5p's no longer there. I checked.

Now while we're keeping things real ... how about a glimpse into another of the moments which characterises my current 'I've hit 40 so to hell with it' mood ...

"In hair salon. The words 'occipital bone' and 'No.3' have been used. 
So ... I'd been thinking about getting an undercut for a while and eventually this conversation happened:

Me: "I just want it all thinned out again and ... I don't know if I dare mention it's just, I've been thinking about ... getting the back shaved."
My hair stylist: "Why daren't you tell me that?"
Me: "Because I know if I tell you, you'll make me do it".
My hair stylist: "Well, we're doing it now!"

And off she went to get the clippers ... which led to the words mentioned above 'occipital bone' and No.3'. Which led to this ...
For the record: it's quite hard to take a photo of the back of your own head! And when I took the first blurry photo [left] I assumed that by the end of the month, the time Month in Numbers came around, I'd have had someone else to take a decent shot of the end result but I forgot. And so these are currently the only photographic evidence I have of my encounter with some clippers and a hairstylist who I trust with .... well put it this way, in around 7 years of styles she's never let me down with a cut and so ...  clearly, I trust her enough to let her shave my head!!

I took the other equally poor photo [right] this morning, which still give a great idea ... but hey ... I'm all about embracing the #BadPortrait. Apparently.

Continuing in the vein of 'I've hit 40 so to hell with it' ...

I bought a faux fur jacket for £20 based solely on the fact that Axl Rose wore something similar 25 years ago!  
Firstly - that's a terrible screenshot I took, if you'd like to see the jacket in action you can watch this video ... or, if you're not into early 90s Guns N Roses concerts that end in a stage dive and a riot ... you can just take my word for it.

It all stemmed from watching 'The Most Dangerous Band in the World: the story of Guns N Roses' a documentary on BBC4 [at the time of writing, 29.02.16 it was still available to view on BBC iPlayer for a few more days]. And when one clip showed Axl wearing nothing but boots, a pair of white hot pants and a jacket like this and I had some kind of style epiphany and I turned to James saying: "That is an amazing outfit". [It took some clarification to confirm to him that, no, I wasn't joking ...]

And then ... cut to, about a fortnight later, in Roman Originals of all shops [not exactly a rock n roll retailer ...] I spotted the jacket.

The. Jacket.

And of course I had to buy it. How I could I resist reliving my youth?

  • A youth where - had I come across that jacket - I would have worn the life out of it. [Despite it likely leading to people at school talking about me. That was kind of par for the course back then.]
  •  A youth where my sister and I saw Guns N Rose 3 times. And loved every minute of every one of those concerts ... except maybe the time those people fell under barriers in front of us and we had to hold a crowd back ... or the time we were crushed and I could lift my feet off the floor without falling over because people were so close ... or the time we got drenched to the skin in the rain and had to buy an XL t-shirt just to keep warm ...

Ah, but aren't those the moments that prove you were really there? The moments that may well be 25 years ago ... but when you relive them, the take you straight back there.

Right back to the huge stadiums, the vast crowds, the loud music, the screaming.

The singing in the sunshine.

The dancing in the rain.

And now ... if you'll excuse me ... I have got to go and pick an outfit to wear with a fake fur coat because this is not 1991 any more ... and, nostalgia or no, I will not be matching it with white hot pants.


If you fancy joining me in sharing your number-crunching stories on Instagram simply use the #monthinnumbers hashtag and tag me @withjuliekirk in your post if you want me to drop by.

Failing that ... I'll see you for another round up here, same time next month.

Until then here's to a shaved-head-and-fake-fur embracing bold March ahead!*  [*Metaphorically and/or figuratively speaking. Whichever you feel comfiest with.]

Julie x


  1. What a great post Julie!
    I always enjoy reading your prose, having a peek at your life and chuckling all the way through...
    You inspire me, thank you!

  2. Here are my numbers -

  3. Hee Hee! Laughing at your Axle Rose memories. What a find that jacket is - take some back to the 90s too!

  4. Instagram is certainly easy. I'm starting to wonder what took me so long.

    I love a building like that, where you can feel the traces of family gone before. I feel that way about school here because it still has the same rooms it had when my Mum was there.

    Hope March treats you well and you and your jacket get out and about on a few adventures

  5. There's something about that art installation that's really very cool. I do so enjoy these Month in Numbers posts ... I always end up smiling. I did complete my own Month in Numbers for both January and February, but neither are for sharing.

  6. How amazing to have all those connections to a building ... And that's a very nice jacket - hoping we get some more photos of you in it :). I really liked the art installation ...


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