Travelling Solo

It feels strange to be travelling alone. I don’t mean for journeys like the commute to work, that is different. But to be on a train going somewhere for the day and I’m sat by myself. It doesn’t take long for it to kick in that there is something missing. Well, not something, but someone. There is no Helen sat beside me. No little conversations, no little observations, no pointing out interesting objects out of the window. It is rare for us not to be travelling together, and now I am on the second such journey in four days.

Saturday I was off up to London. I had a full medical check up at the Euston BUPA site. A direct train to St Pancras. A journey made more times than I could accurately count. I used to travel everywhere by myself. Headphones in and left to my own devices. But I’ve gotten used to the interaction and now it doesn’t feel right to have replaced it with the headphones.

The medical was somewhat less than optimum, but I haven’t unpacked that all yet. Something for another piece on another day, I think. So much so that I didn’t even notice anything on the journey back to Crawley.

Now it is Tuesday, and I am back on the train and on the same route again. Only this time I am bypassing St Pancras and carrying on to the end of the line – Peterborough. I’ve switched my non-working day so I can go to the rearranged game against Peterborough United. Instead of it being the middle of a week off where we have leisurely driven there and stayed in a hotel overnight before and after the game, it is a there and back in the same day trip this time. Not something Helen is up to at the moment.

And so I am a solo traveller again. And it doesn’t feel any less weird than it did on Saturday. I am left to look out of the window across fields, at trees and bushes, at walls and fences, or to overlook people’s back gardens, see the activity around factories and warehouses, trundle past the death-defying feats required to get the graffiti in that particular spot. How every glance up and out is a different snapshot, a different vista.

I turn to point something out to Helen, forgetting I am by myself. And now I turn back to the window and study my own reflection as we pass through a tunnel, and everything is black outside. And I look old and tired. And sad.

Another Saturday Morning Musing

Another Saturday, another morning heading into town early before writing starts. I’m sat looking out of Maccy D’s window as I usually do, and what do I see? Nothing really, it looks strange out there. There isn’t a single market stall to be seen anywhere up and down the road. I know the forecast is for it to hit thirty degrees at some point today, but surely that shouldn’t have scared off all the market stall holders. They are usually up and running, or just setting up as I sit here gormlessly eating breakfast.

Perhaps they are feeling as sluggish as I am. It isn’t just the heat though, it’s the pollen. Early June is the worst time of the year for it for me. I’m on four antihistamines a day at the moment and they aren’t really touching the sides. I’m waking up wheezy as all the phlegm is settling overnight and it takes a few hours to clear it. Sometimes only just in time to go back to bed and let the next lot set in.

At the library I go to the toilet. Someone tries the door. Then they stand outside moaning how long they are waiting (thirty seconds after they tried the door). Then they ask a passing librarian if the door is locked and can it be undone. I recognise the voice as being someone from the writing group. I give the impatient bitch the filthiest look on the way out.

The session is being taken by a relatively new member, and it is a good session, but having part of it to be three minutes meditation to clear the mind before writing wasn’t the best idea with older males in the group. I fell asleep in the meditation period and when I flinched awake, I was in no fit state to write anything. At least I wasn’t the only one in the group to nod off.

I’m blaming the heat and the four a day (ended up being five a day on Saturday, which I’m sure anyone who knows me will attest to the fact it wasn’t going to be fruit and vegetables) anti hiss-at-mes.

At the end of the session one of the other newer members of the group properly freaked me out. They came over to me and told me that I was channelling the spirit of a dead Japanese author who wanted to use my voice. I didn’t take in who it was, as I was disconcerted by the message and the eyes of the partially sighted person telling me. Then it was hair cut time. As quick as the barber could dry my hair with the hair dryer, my head was making it wet again due to the heat. But I have much shorter hair now, and it is a lot cooler (not in the slightest bit hip though).

Why Is Everywhere Shut?

The lawnmower has had enough of our shit. After sitting most of the long scorching summer in the shed, as there is no need to mow dry yellow chaff, it got called into action to deal with the sudden growth spurt the last couple of weeks’ worth of rain had brought about in making it a jungle out there. It managed three quarters of the “lawn” before some very ominous looking smoke came out of the bottom of it as the motor packed up. A new model will be required. Even so, I’m not convinced I would have been poking it and trying to get it to move whilst it was still plugged into the mains, unlike Nathan who was doing the mowing.

In case I missed anyone with my blanket social media approach in the week. I’m more than excited that I have some of my writing in print. In a proper book. Two collections of work have been published with my work in. A collection of writing about and from the Home Counties, in which I have one piece in the Sussex section. And a collection from the East Midlands, in which I have a poem and two short stories in the Leicestershire section. Next step – get something published which has my name on the cover.

I went to the doctor’s Friday morning. They wanted a routine blood pressure test. Which is never routine where I am concerned, as they take it, look at the reading, look at me – the fat blob sat in front of them – and take it again. Only to get the same result and be surprised that fat doesn’t equal high blood pressure.

What was more interesting about the trip to the doctors was the Crawley wildlife I passed on the way there and back.

On the way there, a couple, in their thirties, possibly early forties, were walking along Wakehurst Drive in the opposite direction to me, and on the other side of the road. There’s a stretch with a long wall / fence with some grass in front of it, but no houses. He was stopping to have a piss. She was squealing at him not to do it in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. He was saying that if you’ve gotta go, then you’ve gotta go. She said she also desperately needed to go, but you wouldn’t catch her pissing in the street. All this not much more than a minute’s walk away from the Downsman, which was open.

Coming back, I got as far as coming out of Best One after getting the local paper (a bumper edition, but nearly fifty of its pages were Queen’s death related filler) and a scruffy bloke of indeterminate age was saying, ‘is that a trick question?’ To which, a woman equally as scruffy and also of an indeterminate age replied, ‘no it isn’t a trick question, do you want a pot noodle to eat?’ I don’t know what the response was as he proceeded to neck the remaining contents in his bottle of cider before answering, and by then I was out of earshot.

Only to turn in Baker Close and find the piss couple sat on the wall at the top of the close, now with a little dog in tow. Which they hadn’t had half an hour before. I’m not sure that little puppy is going to get the best toilet training.

Over the last couple of months there has been a new phenomenon of scantily clad tarts whose profile pictures are mainly made up of their cleavage, following me on Instagram. Some are hawking for business on Only Fans, a couple are blatantly selling sex, but the majority have profiles saying they are ‘looking for love,’ ‘need the right man,’ ‘single and looking for a good man.’ As if it’s fucking Tinder. It’s amazing how many black holes are using Instagram as a dating site. A lot of them also have a large side of fanatical Christianity mentioned alongside their barely clothed bodies and man hunting. I must have missed the part in the Bible where it was saying to advertise your bits like a hooker to find ‘real love.’

We wandered over to Horsham on Saturday afternoon. Helen needed to return some things to a Cancer Research charity shop, and we don’t have one in Crawley, so it was the closest place. As she was getting a refund, I was finding a nice haul of vintage Ladybird books, a vinyl Motown box set I didn’t already own, and some trousers. Horsham also still has their H&M, as they think they are too posh for Crawley. Helen spent her refund in there instead. And there was that awkward forced social interaction moment. The one where someone from work sees you before you can hide, and worse still they speak to you.

Additionally, Horsham still has an Ask. Whereas Crawley are only left with Prezzo, and their microwave meals. So, we went for dinner there. We had nearly finished when they seated four women on the table next to us. One had a tight t-shirt with Abercrombie and Fitch across the chest. I thought it was a strange thing to call your tits.

We passed on dessert so that we could go to Rockafella’s instead. A good decision. I went for a massive sundae (even though it was only Saturday), but narrowing the choice down to just a single sundae was tricky.

On the way to Horsham, we drove through the village of Colgate. And do you know what? We didn’t spot a single person brushing their teeth anywhere in the village.

Meanwhile, the recent unbeaten run of Crawley Town came to a halt away at Crewe Alexandra. Judging by the difference in the match stats between half time and full time, it would appear that they didn’t bother coming out from the dressing rooms after half time at all this week, and not just their traditional two minutes later than the opposition.

On the plus side the 49ers played well and rolled over the Seahawks 27-7. Always good to give the dirty birds a bit of a shellacking. The game also saw us sort out any quarterback controversy for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, this was because Trey Lance is now out for the season with a broken angle, and therefore we are back to Jimmy G.

I think I haven’t been writing much over the last few months, and that I’m more up to date with my filing than I am. I came to file the copies of my recent writing, and there were two inches worth of sheets of A4. And that was before they went in plastic wallets. Of which I thought I had plenty, only to get close to the bottom of the pile before I ran out of paper to put in them. Then I found that some of the folders I was filing away in were full to bursting. This would suggest that there appears to be nothing wrong with the quantity (and with being published now, the quality can’t be that bad either), it’s just that the effort needs to be put into the correct channels. Less rubbish blogging like this and more work on the various novels that I have as works in progress. What I though would be a twenty-minute task ended up taking the best (or worst) part of three hours.

At least it meant that I wasn’t watching Mourn Hub. Helen put it on briefly whilst the big box was in Westminster Abbey. It got turned off when Liz Truss came on and started blathering something or other. Helen said she hadn’t noticed before that Liz Truss was speaking out of the side of her mouth, like some kind of untrustworthy spiv. I thought that it was an improvement from where she usually spoke out of.

We could still hear the whole ceremony through the wall though. But they were on satellite delay, as they were at least three minutes behind live TV.

Has Something Happened?

So, after surviving ninety-six years, and lasting through having Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister, it says a lot that after one day of having Liz Truss as prime minister, the Queen decides, enough of this shit I’m off.

And why is it that no one ever pays attention to Public Enemy. They were telling us over thirty years ago – “Can’t Truss It.”

I’m sure that the Irish are looking forward to calling Charlie boy king. There’s no way they are going to miss out on calling him Charles the turd (their usual pronunciation of third).

Anyone suggesting Elton John does another version of ‘Candle In The Wind’ deserves to be shot. A Kunt And The Gang version on the other hand…..

The only thing I can think of is new post boxes. They have the initials of the monarch and post office on them. Which means they will be C 3 P O going forward.

Meanwhile, after yet more sporting postponements on Friday, it was back to the studio for a couple of hours of desperate filler. Here on Sky No-Sports News.

Most shops were still open on Friday. There were only really the British Heart Foundation charity shops that weren’t. Although someone had been working late into the night on Thursday to remerchandise the window display so that all the items on display were black. Shoes, bags, coats, dresses, shirts, trousers, hats, scarves, jewellery. Almost as if the window were dressing to go to a funeral.

Nathan got himself a Subaru Impreza on Friday. I could hear it growling from the next postcode as I came back from the shop early Saturday morning with milk (we gave up on the delivery as they were incompetent fucks), as he was getting ready to drive to work. It’s a bit of a difference from the Kia Venga diesel he’s been driving for the last eighteen months. Not convinced I’d want to be refuelling the new beast.

I’m in town nice and early on Saturday morning, the shops aren’t open yet, and the only people milling about are those waiting for the shops to open. Not because they want to start shopping, only because the poor sods have to go and work there.

Maccy D’s is open however. I’m just not sure the staff are awake though. They are struggling to tell the difference between eat in and take away. A family wanted to take away only to be given a tray with all their food and drink piled on. I wanted to eat in, but mine arrived in a paper bag. None of the ordering machines were giving out receipts. And the twelve-year-old who put my order together in the bag called out the wrong order number. Twice. And speaking of their machines they are really pushing their new rewards app. Three times I had to say no, just give me the fucking option to order food. I’m not sure it’s going to convince me to use the app. It’s more likely to make me not use Maccy d’s full stop.

I took my customary window seat, and had a better view than usual, as the dodgy, cash only, phone accessories and sunglasses trailer wasn’t blocking most of the vista. There were a lot of people who looked as if they wished they were anywhere else apart from trudging to work. Can’t say I blame them.

And with the announcement of another Bank Holiday this year for the Queen’s funeral, I’m not convinced I want to go to work either, as it will be me who needs to go into the system and update all the Bank Holiday calendars and give all the shift staff an extra eight hours holiday entitlement for the year.

Not sure why County Mall has a massive globe hanging from the roof. It would appear that if Crawley can’t go to the world, then the world must come to Crawley.

The Crawley game, as all football game at all levels, has been postponed. A bit of a shame as Gillingham are struggling to win as well, and it might have been a good time to play them. Now it will be played on a random Tuesday night, probably just after they hit a streak of good form.

I will get some sport this weekend though. F1 is still going ahead, so there will be the Italian Grand Prix this afternoon. And the NFL is back. After reigning Superbowl champions the Rams got a good shellacking Thursday night (always satisfying to type that), this evening will see the rest of the NFL get involved. Scott Hansen will utter those immortal words at 6pm. ‘Seven hours of commercial free football start now.’ The 49ers start their season against the Bears, who are ranked dead last in the NFL power rankings, and as we are ranked third (not turd as the Irish may say), history tells us it means we will struggle like fuck and try our best to lose the game, only to scrape to a narrow win late on.

Ridley’s Believe It Or Not

Listening to a Depeche Mode playlist today, and in “Personal Jesus”, every time they sing the line ‘reach out and touch Faith’, I sit there thinking that Faith is screaming back at them, ‘leave me alone you bastards, stop fucking touching me!’

All hyped up and ready for the Carabao Cup third round draw. Burnley away. Not the kind of draw you want. There is a certain symmetry as Helen was born in Burnley, but a Tuesday night trip to Burnley in November isn’t what anyone needs. It was a neither one thing or another draw. They aren’t in the Premier League (something our owners didn’t seem to know when they tweeted about it – they must have missed their relegation last season), but they are high enough up the league ladder to make it difficult. If it was going to be away, at least be somewhere decent, or against someone decent. Them at home would have been fine, but it’s just a bit of a let-down.

Helen hasn’t been having much luck with her prescriptions this year, and the Kamsons next to Southgate Medical Centre have been little to no help. But they managed to surpass themselves this time, as when she turned up to pick up her prescription, they told her she’d picked it up two days before. Only to then deny having given her prescription to someone else, and as a replacement have her a totally different brand with not as many doses. All whilst trying to gaslight her and say they had never said they gave her prescription to some random. Absolute clowns.

Speaking of clowns, I’ve been playing a few more of my self-curated artist playlists. I created most of these years ago, at which point I can only assume I was completely shit faced. The David Bowie playlist had a track in it I didn’t even recognise. And the Michael Jackson one had ‘Got To Be There’ on it, which is OK, but not exactly one of his biggest bangers; and the duet with Paul McCartney, the very creepy ‘The Girl Is Mine’. If I did have to drag Macca into it why did I pick this instead of ‘Say Say Say’? the more worrying thing is that I’ll have played these playlists a few times over the years and never noticed some of these travesties before. They might all need reviewing.

Remember back in the eighties where the games on the Acorn Electron, or the Amiga, had you going from room to room to find things, but it got more and more difficult to get to where you needed to be the longer it went on. Well, we played a 2022 real life version on Friday as we tried to get to Standen House. We merrily made our way across Crawley to go up Turner’s Hill Road. Only for the roundabout on Balcombe Road to be closed. So, we took the detour the other way along Balcombe Road, and a sharp turn back on ourselves at the Cowdray Arms, and back past Worth School and Abbey. Only to get to Turner’s Hill and find the road through to East Grinstead closed. So, it was off through Crawley Down and Felbridge and into East Grinstead, past the Sainsbury’s and back towards Standen, only for that road to be closed at the roundabout as well. Fourth time we did manage to get there, and arriving there did feel like we had solved the game’s big mystery and completed the level.

We went for a pizza in East Grinstead after the Standen visit and were sat in the window overlooking the High Street. Where, for at least ten minutes, we saw a confused and hapless Deliveroo driver wander up and down, back and forth across the road, through alleyways, all trying to find whichever food establishment he was supposed to be picking up the food form. Obviously unable to read the map on his phone. Which didn’t bode well for whoever the poor sods who’d ordered the food were. If he ever found them (not guaranteed by any means), it was highly likely that their food will have been cold. Unless it was ice cream they were ordering, in which case it would have been melted.

Saturday morning felt like a rush. I was in town early, but the window seat in Maccy D’s didn’t offer up any observational gems. Then I was rushing around to finish off all the photos needed for the work photo scavenger hunt. And a detour to the museum to get photos of my pieces of work now on display (after being missed initially).

Then to writing group and back to town to get a haircut. Only to find my usual barbers in the middle of a renovation, and so no trim from Sideshow Bob this time. It must have been Crawley haircut day, as all the other barbers close by had queues out the door. It took a bit longer than planned to get my hair cut. The amount of hair on the cloak shows just how long and scraggly it had gotten.

Heading home, the bare-chested bloke pushing a bicycle with a new boxed microwave on it didn’t look suspicious in the slightest. Not did his about turn and detour when he saw a couple of police cars parked further up Brighton Road.

Why aren’t Crawley Town allowed to own a dog? Because they can’t hold onto a lead. After the heroics of easily beating Premier League opposition on Tuesday night it was back to earth with a bump as they played bottom of the league Rochdale. We were preparing for the cremation party, so I was checking the score at regular intervals on my phone, and was happy to see a 1-0 lead at half time. Not so happy to see an equaliser in the second half, or a sending off not long before full time. And even less so when looking at the match stats and seeing we were outplayed in all aspects. Still winless in the league, but at least out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

The cremation of the dearly beloved Adidas polo shirt went ahead on Saturday night. The fire pit was going well, and people were round, but hen the t-shirt went on they were all off doing other things. It burned surprisingly well as a solid mass as I sat there poking the fire with a long stick until it was just ash.

Later on, all the years of old paperwork we wanted to dispose of went onto the fire as well. Old bank statements, credit card statements, utility bills and the like. My favourite what do you call joke came to mind again and it may have been more appropriate if it was Helen throwing the paper onto the fire. ‘What do you call a woman who throws all her bills onto the fire?’ ‘Bernadette’. (Burn a debt for the terminally slow amongst you.) On one of the other open tabs in my head, the Four Tops were playing on top volume.

I went to the bathroom, and through the open window I could hear a loud, strident, woman’s voice shouting, “Die! Die! Die!” it did sound quite disturbing until I realised, they had friends round for a barbeque and that one of those friends is called Di. And that no murders were about to be committed. (That I know of.)

A new Sunday night cop drama. Ridley. Well, retired cop, brought in to help. We’ve seen the kind of carnage that can bring (Baptiste, I’m looking at you). A fictitious town/city called Bradfield, but supposedly in Yorkshire (so a cross between Bradford and Wakefield then). Both of the lead characters have had their natural Northern Irish accents beaten out of them. There are four episodes, and so I was expecting the long game, but it’s a single case per episode, so we can see what the pattern is going to be for the series before we get to episode two.

Some long-forgotten case the old git worked on is relevant again, so he’s called in to help. Everything is solved. They forget that AC-12 was a different character in a different series even if it is the same actor, and so throw in a sub-standard copper getting investigated for how they handled the old case. And finally, someone thinks that the main character can sing, and so at the end of the episode he goes back to the club he part owns and sings an ‘appropriate’ song to the crowd in the club who are wondering where the hell this random rocked up from, as elsewhere the real cop is putting the bow on the current case.

It is worth pointing out that there has been a series called ‘The Singing Detective’ back in the eighties. And that they’ve let many actors who have played fictional detectives sing in real life. (Bruce Willis – Moonlighting, Telly Savalas – Kojak, David Soul – Starsky And Hutch, to name a few). It would be good if we don’t get a Christmas album of “Adrian Dunbar Sings…” As, Mary, Joseph, and the wee donkey, no one needs that.

A Eulogy To A T-Shirt

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of the recently passed away Adidas 2012 London Olympics stripy polo neck t-shirt.

Since its birth in 2012 and adoption into my wardrobe family in September of that year, it has been an almost constant life companion. It has accompanied me to the Caribbean, to both Cuba and St Lucia, and has been on many a European adventure; France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Cyprus.

It has been with me on messy nights out, often trying to soak up as much booze as I did. It’s been with me to the top of cathedrals, and into castle dungeons, serenely wandering through stately homes, and formal gardens. On work days, rest days, and play days. It has seen many a thing that it shouldn’t have, but has never said a mumbling word. And I’m sure anyone who knows me will have seen this on me.

But recently the years have been catching up. Some of the labels have faded away so they are now blank. The main crest and arm numbers have stayed intact and look nearly as good as they did at birth. But elsewhere the sure signs of age and wear and tear have caught up with the poor fellow. Its remarkable shape has started to let go, and it is not just my downsizing that has caused it to become baggier these last six months.  It is losing its cohesion. The coloured lines are now automatic creases, and as they become concertina like, little holes have started to appear as wisps of threads start to fall away.

None of this should be a surprise, it has been on the heaviest of heavy rotation for ten years now. Since becoming mine in the time between watching Richard Whitehead winning the T42 200 meters title in the morning in the Olympic stadium, and Ellie Simmons winning the S6 400 meters freestyle gold in the Aquatics centre in the evening, it has been worn at least once a fortnight ever since. Over 250 days and nights, and the associated washing machine cycles.

Yet, despite this, it is still a sad day where I must admit that the great servant of mine is no longer for this world. And so, with a heavy heart the time has come for me to let go. After deliberation, it is in no state for a second life with someone else via the charity shop route. Nor does unceremoniously dumping it in the bin for it to lie in land fill feel right for it. Therefore, next weekend, ten years on from its adoption, the beloved t-shirt will pass on to the other side in a private cremation service in front of a few friends, with its ashes to be scattered at a future date in an appropriate place. (Yes, in the Olympic stadium all over West Ham fans may be tempting and somewhat appropriate, but it will need a better untainted resting spot).

Thank you for covering (for) me for all these years, you will be sorely missed.

Back To Bed

Last week was a bit of a culture shock after 18 days off, it was back to work. The National Lottery e-mails have been conspicuous by their absence. We did go out for a walk on our last day of freedom, and easy amble up to Tilgate Park and a lap around the lake. Lots of people had the same idea despite the dull day, and the car parks were all full. They have finished their work around the lake, and although being a couple of feet lower down than it used to be, they was no wire fences hiding the blue plaque to Donald Campbell.

I eased into the week with working from home on the Tuesday, spending all day catching up on rubbish e-mails, including morons chasing for answers before I’m even back in. FFS people, read the fucking out of office. Thursday morning was frosty. A deep deep frost. Even after using a few bottles of lukewarm water the windscreen still needed the ice scraper being busted out. But with a clear sky, the colours on the horizon as I drove down to Hove were glorious. But by the time I was heading home the rain had returned, and it hasn’t let up much since.

To celebrate surviving the first week (yes, even if it was only a three-day week), we went out for a meal Thursday night to the Royal Thai Taste. It was a nice meal, but when the bill turned up, I was somewhat shocked to read their address, especially where it said after the word Crawley – LONDON. They whipped that away before I could keep it or take a photo of it, but seriously people, there’s a whole fucking county between Crawley and London.

We had been to Ikea over the holidays before New Year and ordered a new mattress and headboard as Christmas presents to ourselves. They delivered early on Friday morning. The mattress was a lot heavier than we thought it would be, and it was a struggle to get it up the stairs, and around the corner into the bedroom, having to stop on each step, and also to take some of the framed maps down before the mattress knocked them down. Then I managed to make a pig’s ear of putting them back up, managing to slip and slice the side of my right thumb open. That would make it awkward to do a lot of things all weekend.

Having got the new mattress (and some new pillows) it makes me realise just how shot the old mattress had got and how uncomfortable it had become. Getting out of bed is going to be a lot harder now the bed is so comfortable.

The rain stopped long enough for us to get a six mile walk in Friday afternoon. Even the concrete paths were muddy with all the rain. We had been back in less than five minutes before it became torrential out there again. It was still raining, persistently, when I went to writing group on Saturday morning, and still when I came out nearly four hours later. I needed to get a few bits in town, but it was like paddling in the sea. The whole town centre was a puddle. The grass in the memorial park was looking like paddy fields.

After coming out of Poundland (where I went a bit mad on their replay CDs – just the 27 of them) there was a break in the rain, which I celebrated by getting an ice cream. As I passed County Mall, I got the impression that they aren’t really Mr Current Affairs, declaring that if you need easy parking use their car park as it gives direct entry to Debenhams. Which has been closed for going on six months.

Crawley were away, to Northampton Town, who were second in the league, but their better form carried on and we got a somewhat surprise away win and headed into the top half of the table.

We had a tip slot booked this morning, to get rid of the old mattress. It’s certainly a lot easier getting an older, lighter mattress downstairs than dragging a heavy new one up them. We even managed to get it folded up into the back of the car and dump a load of other stuff on top. It almost jumped out of the car by itself when it came to taking it out at the tip. Shopping followed and some radio listening at home, but it brought a couple of stupid random thoughts to mind.

Why would anyone use poo to wash their hair? Especially when it is sham poo, it’s not even as if it’s real poo is it?

Then Simon Mayo was on, but I really do think it is time that he was upgraded to become Simon Salad Cream instead.

And now I’m watching the last games of the NFL regular season. The 49ers need to win to guarantee playoff action. Or the Saints to lose. It isn’t going well in the first half; we are playing like a group of uncoordinated school children. If this carries on, then the only way we are going to have a chance to win would be to return to school children’s rules. Get to the end of the game and say, “next score wins.” Plus, the Saints are easily winning. To be fair playing like this we don’t deserve to reach the playoffs and if by some miracle we did there is a thrashing awaiting.

PS, the miracle may well be on, they appear to be a different team in the second half.

It Just Popped Into My Head

I do get a lot of that, random things popping into my head. A lot are triggered from things I see or hear, and there are a lot that are related to random song lyrics. But occasionally it’s things I type that triggers it.

One such instance was today when I was putting a note on a piece of work I was doing. I meant to type payroll, but having fat finger syndrome I typed paytroll instead. And now all I can think about is the whole payroll team sitting under bridges hurling abuse at people. To be fair, it’s probably not a lot different from how they are in real life.

We went away to Bristol for the weekend, had a couple of days wandering around sightseeing, but it was mainly to collect Marta and all her stuff from her flat there before she flies off to America to live with Ciaran.

I think you could spend a week in Bristol and not really get around to see everything it has to offer, but a week’s worth of dealing with Bristol people would probably send us completely around the twist.

Overheard as we sat having dinner on Friday night from a group sat somewhere behind me was the statement “I worked seven hours that day, it was a really long day”, God forbid they do a normal day of eight hours then. “Yes, that’s terrible” was the reply. Apparently the twenty-six-hour week they are doing is far too many hours, and they don’t get paid enough to make it worth doing any more hours. The mind boggles, it really does.

We went for a curry (as we do anywhere we are for more than a few hours). It looked as if it was going to be one of those deserted places where we would be the only people in there. But then the boys’ night out turned up. And by boys we mean they had the mentality of schoolboys. Fifty and sixty-year-old schoolboys. I could feel my IQ dropping by osmosis being in the same room as them.

I saw some movement behind me, and it looked as if it was a child, but it turned out to be a dwarf Deliveroo driver. I didn’t see them properly, but worked this out by the fact the boys’ table mentioned Warwick Davis and Tyrion whilst giggling.

The drive over on Thursday night had gone well, just under three hours with a stop for food. The journey back wasn’t as great. There were roadworks on the M4 which had three lanes going down to one. With the added bonus of it being just after a services so there would be a lane of traffic coming out of there. Only there were two lanes coming out of there (making their own lanes, just like driving in Cyprus), so it was five lanes into one. Being made worse by all the smart arses flying down the hard shoulder into the services to “jump ahead”, only to come to a grinding halt on the slip road because of the other five hundred idiots doing the same thing. But the award for twat of the day went to the Chrysler driver. I thought I was seeing things when there were headlights coming towards me down the in slip road of the services. But no, going the wrong way and causing speeding morons going the other way to swerve out of the way was a real plonker, who got to the chevrons and then tried to drive into the near stationary traffic sideways, eventually doing a twenty-three point turn to force their way in. Over an hour and a half, for quarter of a mile of cones with three men in the last twenty yards of it.

Whilst in Bristol we ended up wandering around St Nicholas’ Market. And in contrast to what I wrote about in my last missive

there are some seven-inch singles about. As although I didn’t stop and browse through them, I did notice there were three different record stalls, and all had boxes of sevens on them.

Sniffles has been affecting a limp and a red-looking eye for a week of so. Helen had a vet’s appointment booked for last Thursday afternoon, but Sniffles – showing a sixth sense to make up for the other five he is lacking – did a runner when the bloke came round to clean the gutters and was nowhere to be found when it was appointment time, turning up for food a minute (yes to the minute) after the vet closed. Eventually got another appointment for him only for there to be nothing wrong with the pest. The trip in the cat carrier of doom should hopefully chill his jets for a while.

Crawley Town’s last league game got postponed because of international call ups. Not Crawley players obviously, but Swindon Town’s. Still think Crawley would only qualify for any international games if there was a European Sewer League (for shit teams only).

Had a writing session in Brighton this evening. I get there and the bloke who runs the Book Makers shop had just finished a portion of chips. Then the woman who is running the session gets there and announces she’s off to get a portion of chips as well. There is a Belgian frites shop two doors away, and it might have seemed tempting apart from, first I was never a fan of chips, and secondly, I’m now off all potatoes since The Station debacle. I did nip in there though, but only because I could see they were selling bottles of Pepsi.

I have moaned before about how much I hate the Cinch adverts. Well they’ve been raising their game recently to make them even more annoying, having added the quote to them of “cinched it”. Seriously, just fuck off with this shite now.

I’ve also found that I’m not great at watching Crime / Thriller / mystery series a second time through. Not because I don’t enjoy doing so, but because if you are doing so because someone else is watching it for the first time, it is amazingly difficult not to sit there flagging up all the subtle things you notice in the early episodes that explain the outcome of the series, that become obvious pointers now I know the outcome. Blinkers and headphones are probably needed, or a gag.

Having been listening to the Now Yearbook 1984, I was off looking for other tracks by artists on there, knowing that I used to have albums by a lot of them. What I found is that I missed out on transferring those albums from record to MP3, and so I’m missing anything apart from the odd track from compilations of a few bands. So, today’s little list is five eighties bands who are seriously underrated and who I now need to find some downloads for.

  1. Carmel
  2. Was (Not Was)
  3. Matt Bianco
  4. Echo & The Bunnymen
  5. Shakatak

Driving Myself Crazy

Yes, I’m back to moaning about driving. I’m well known for hating driving, but it has to be said that commuting to the Hove office has made me more comfortable in driving. However, Thursday morning was a real pain in the arse. I did leave the house expecting to need a Bond style car with underwater additions (think the Lotus Esprit from “The Spy Who Loved Me”) with the torrential rain that had hammered it down during the night. I didn’t need that, but it was water that was causing me issues.

Instead of five minutes, it took an hour to get from the house to being on the main A23 at Pease Pottage. The usual slow traffic due to roadworks at the Broadfield stadium roundabout being added to by the fact the entrance to the north bound M23 at Pease Pottage was closed. So, nothing from Crawley or coming over from Horsham could get on the M23, so were going around the roundabout and ending up coming back through Crawley to get on further north. Yet they hadn’t closed the road where it turns from the A23 to M23, so anything from further south was able to get on without any issues. (The M23 had been completely closed during the night due to flooding and crashes).

Therefore, I was an hour later getting to Hove, and the main junction over the Old Shoreham Road down to the level crossing was chaos. The level crossing was down, and traffic was backed up. This didn’t stop morons from the west turning in and ending up sat on the box junction, then those heading north couldn’t get past and blocked the junction some more. Those heading east added to the blockage, and those heading south and west finished the job. Not one of the imbeciles understands the concept of a box junction.

I was finally able to get around the corner and headed down to cut over the railway along Olive Road, only for an idiot taxi driver to have abandoned his vehicle on the turn off. So, it took nearly two hours to get to work instead of forty minutes.

The evening saw a writing session in Brighton. Having been stung £12 for less than two hours parking at a previous session, I caught the bus. It was good to relax and be able to look – properly look at the buildings. I’m always looking up when not driving, seeing the ages and styles of buildings much better away from the ship fronts. Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, and Brutalist all wedged in against each other.

Whenever I did look down, mainly to contrast the glass and metal shop fronts with the older upper floors, I am confronted by regular piles of rubbish, on the pavements or piled up in the road instead. I didn’t know until one of my colleagues mentioned it earlier in the week that the Brighton and Hove binmen are on strike.

It seems incongruous, the piles of mainly black bags (with the odd white, or blue, or yellow, or green) ones in there and with many split to be stacked up as an eyesore against the many grand buildings on the other side of the rubbish strewn pavements.

There are few ugly buildings on the journey. The Co-op being the one that springs to mind immediately, as does most of Waitrose. The corner of Waitrose you see first on approach from the west looks like another of the grand curved frontages of regency houses along the route, but the rest is a mess of mixed pebbledash and brick in no single style, which seems a shame.

The workshop was on something called mass observation – which is quite an interesting concept, but there were two different explanations of what mass observation is that sprang to my mind (neither match the correct version, which is worth looking up and reading about). First, I thought about little aliens coming to Earth and their first interaction with humans is watching a Catholic high mass. Secondly, since mass is weight, and therefore mass observation is weight watchers!

At least there was no reason to get up really early on Friday, but the radio was playing when “Dare” came on with the dulcet tones of Shaun Ryder, and it led to an interesting stream of consciousness conversation. We’ve been watching the greatest hits of the 90’s series, and he’s been on looking like a Gollum headed weirdo. Helen asked about Happy Monday albums (had they done any), and so I rattled some off. “Bummed” got a laugh, but “Squirrel and G Man Twenty-Four Hour Party People, Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)” reminded me of Manchester days and Surerandomality as it gave the aliases to two of us. Then of course there was the last album they did at the time, the one that bankrupted Factory Records “Yes Please!”

From there it jumped to the film Twenty-Four Hour Party People, where Steve Coogan played former Factory Records boss Tony Wilson. And the fact that Peter Hook commented on the casting with the quote, “It’s about the biggest cunt in Manchester played by the second biggest cunt in Manchester”, which always makes me laugh. With Coogan in camera, it moved onto the fact that his Partridge act is ruined forever by the fact that Richard Madeley is on GMB on a regular basis nowadays and out Partridge-ing anything Coogan could come up with.

This week he’d berated a young woman (who was on talking about having her drink spiked on a night out) about watching her drink at all times. The Twitter backlash did include at least one reply along the lines of “What, like Tesco have to watch you all the time around their alcohol supplies.” Helen said she’d seen him outside a Tesco metro in Chipping Norton once (presumably casing the joint), whereas I had used to shop at the Didsbury Tesco where he forgot to pay for his alcohol. In fact, it linked back nicely to Squirrel and G Man, as another of the main protagonists from Surerandomality days (Hopalong) regularly used to stop there on the way back from a night out to buy the female he’d picked up some flowers, and invariably the latest Harry Potter book.

Such an entertaining conversation we were later getting up than intended, but it was a good day, with a potter around Steyning, full of old Tudor buildings, a medieval church, and a very nice lunch at the White Horse. Still, plenty to see there I think, so another trip to be made soon.

Near, Far, We All Shop At Spar

I won’t say I was a nervous wreck watching the Euro 2020 (in July 2021) final, but I saw very little of the game and spent a long time under a large brolly in the ever increasing in volume downpour that started not long after the match did. I did predict an Italian victory, but to score in the second minute gives you hope. Hope which I should know is pointless by now having sat through far too many Spurs games in a similar pattern over the years. When it went to penalties you really did know what was coming. A two-inch margin, two inches to the right and that third penalty would have gone in and it could have been so different. Instead we got the full force of the mindless English supporter over the next day. It’s no wonder every other country hates our fans.

(I would like to point out that although I do support England and consider myself English, by blood I’m half Irish, and then a quarter English and a quarter Welsh. It’s all about a state of mind).

Nearly a week later on the Champs-Elysees, it was another two-inch margin that prevented Mark Cavendish winning the final stage in the Tour de France and taking the outright record for himself for stage wins. Instead he remains tied with Eddy Merckx on 34, with no guarantee he will be back for another tour in the future, having only been called up to this one as a late replacement. Still he won four stages and the green jersey at a stage where he had been written off. You could see the frustration when he crossed the finish line just behind the stage winner, knowing he had mistimed the lead out and missed the opportunity. It will fly under the radar in a year with the Olympics and the Euros, but it is probably the best sporting comeback story of the year.

I’ve seen (and heard) a lot of mentions of Spa days. I can no longer do so without laughing. The thought comes to mind every time I hear those words about having a tour of Spar convenience stores. A though I had had for twenty odd years but gained even more traction when there was the bloke who took his other half on a tour around multiple Spars for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. Something not even I would be brave enough to try. I know I’ve been referring to Spar since the late 90’s as I kept changing Celine Dion lyrics to “near, far, we all shop at spar”, instead of what they should have been, much to the annoyance of my then wife who kept playing her bloody album all the time.

Had a bit of a mooch on Friday afternoon after brunch at the Harvester. I took the camera with me, but with getting bits and pieces needed for our holiday and forgetting to recharge the camera after the long day at the Weald & Downland Museum the previous week, I didn’t get a lot taken, or really anything new. And it became too hot anyway. A theme I may return to.

Yet more examples of devices listening to you. This is why I try and avoid smart gadgets. There is no Siri, Alexa, or any other snooping busybody in the house, and allegedly your phones aren’t supposed to be listening to you all the time, but its just too much of a coincidence with what adverts pop up on my phone compared to conversations I’ve had. Not on the phone, and sometimes I’m not convinced I’m in the same room as my phone when they take place, and yet.

Example one. Helen was going out for a meal with various colleagues as someone was leaving work. They were supposed to be going to the Parson’s Pig but changed at the last moment and when to the Coaching Halt instead. This was on Friday night. On Saturday I got a couple of pop up adverts for the Coaching Halt, telling me it was only 2.3 miles away, this advert has repeated a few times since.

Example two. Helen was talking to Nathan about the app Waze, and how good it was supposed to be, and that it would have helped coming back from West Wittering on Sunday evening. This was late on Sunday night, and I was in a different room from either of them. Monday afternoon and up pop ads for Waze on my phone.

I’ve watched a fair bit of NCIS this weekend, so I’m a bit scared to go onto Amazon and see what random items are recommended for me. CBS Drama has a lot of Always, Tenor, and Viagra adverts on.

I didn’t go to West Wittering with everyone else on Sunday as me in the sun with nothing to do all day isn’t good for me, and wouldn’t be good for anyone else either. I had a load of things lined up to get done, whilst there could be no interruptions. And got none of them done. Yet another wasted day. I blame the heat.

Back at work, there is a little bit of panic stations going on inside my mind. Only four days to do stuff and then I’m off for eighteen days. And my mind is more like a sieve than ever. Trying not to take off before the end of the week.

It was the self-styled “Freedom Day” on Monday, and there was a discussion about masks. Personally, I think it’s a play it by ear thing (or hang it on your ears thing) where masks are concerned. A lot of places will still encourage people to wear masks, and I’m OK with that, but it is now down to personal choice. The one thing I do really want is to be able to wear my own masks at work, and not the terribly uncomfortable and impractical ones they foist upon you in the building. I’m sick to death of them riding up and poking me in the eye; it’s not practical to have to stop every five steps to adjust it back down to where it’s supposed to stay.

It has to be said that I didn’t notice much difference when I popped into Sainsbury’s for a few bits on Tuesday evening, the main difference being there was no one way entrance and exit system anymore, which is great as they had it all wrong anyway.

And speaking of Sainsbury’s, they announced they will no longer be selling CD’s. So, after a few years aggressively expanding their selection and undercutting the market, putting independent stores out of business and (along with other supermarkets) causing HMV to contract massively, meaning we no longer have a record shop within twenty miles of home, they stop selling the stuff themselves. Well done you utter bunch of tw@ts.

And so, it is packing time, off to Wales for days tomorrow evening straight from work, then a few days in Morecambe to visit mum. Staycation here we come (again).