Use Some C4 On It

It’s been a while since I wrote anything that wasn’t on our Leicester trip in June, and there’s still lots for me to write up on that, but it’s time for a little blast on random items.

The cat has developed a new habit at night. He waits until the bedroom light has gone out, gives it ten minutes and then screeches at ear splitting volume. I’m not sure where he’s hiding the megaphone he’s using but it needs finding and destroying. So, I haul myself out of bed and go down and open the back door. He’s sat on the chair and looks up all surprised as if to say, ‘why are you here and opening the door?’ he’ll come in, and then runs straight to the front door and miaows to be let out. Little furry bag of shite.

For some reason the radio in the kitchen was on Virgin radio. The announcement I heard when I walked into the kitchen was enough to make your blood run cold. “It’s the Chris Evans show…” NO, not that ginger cockwomble. “..hosted by Tom Allen…” jeez, if ever there was someone who didn’t have a voice for radio, especially at seven in the morning, it’s him. Night-time panel shows are fine, but not first thing in the morning. “…with Cinch.” No, no, no, no, and no again. Is there anyway those jokers haven’t got. It shows just how overpriced their cars must be if there are still solvent with the exorbitant amounts they spend on advertising and sponsorship.

At the end of June, someone drove into the side of the car at Pease Pottage roundabout when Helen was driving. Five weeks later the garage finally picked the car up to repair the damage to the driver’s side doors. And whilst it is being repaired, we have a courtesy car, which we picked up from Enterprise. It’s a Citroen C4. Which accurately describes what it needs putting under it and setting off.

Now, it’s well known that I hate driving, I’m shit at it, and it’s the most stressful thing I do. For the last seven years we’ve had a Kia Venga (on our second one), and I’ve got to the stage where I’m just about competent driving it and I don’t have cold sweats thinking about driving it.

From picking the car up, I drove to Asda, and then home, four miles maximum. Four miles of pure hell. I’m not adaptable when it comes to driving, it’s far too complicated to drive without having everything changed on you. And in the hire car everything terrifies me. Everything is too small. The wing mirrors aren’t much bigger than postage stamps. The rear-view mirror wouldn’t be that bad, but the view is out the ridiculously small rear window. Between the three of them, there is hardly any view behind you. Which makes the bloody thing impossible to park. No matter how I adjust the wing mirrors I can’t see what’s behind me, and in order to sit in the driver’s seat, the seat is so low to get my legs under the steering wheel that I can’t see the front of the car.

Then there are the pedals. The brake and the accelerator don’t move very far for full action, a couple of inches at most, whereas the clutch moves about a foot from top to bottom. You need two different length legs to be able to drive it. my right leg is at full stretch, and my leg knee is up around my ear somewhere. And there isn’t enough gap between pedals. I kept failing to deploy the clutch because my foot kept hitting the footrest next to it before it wasn’t fully down. And then when braking I’d step on my left foot trying to deploy the clutch at the same time. That’s when the very harsh brake isn’t flinging you through the miniscule front windscreen.

The gearstick is a lot higher up, and the action required to pull the sleeve up on it to engage reverse must have been devised by a sadist and can only be done successfully if you are a contortionist. Although you are taking your life in your hands reversing as due to the useless mirrors it is all guesswork as to what it behind you. And the display is off putting, it’s a flush, flat digital screen that is too big, they need to swap the sizes with that and the wing mirrors.

Helen drove to work this morning. Needless to say, she was fine and really liked it. Apparently, it is really comfortable. I’m assuming she must have been in a different car to the uncomfortable painful seats that I had when driving yesterday and being a passenger this morning. Everything aches after half an hour in it.

And then I get into work, and someone had used my desk. Which is fine if they leave it as they found it, it is a specific DSE set up. It has a hub that links screen, keyboard, and mouse so you just need to use the one USB port on your laptop to link it all up. But whichever moron was sat at my desk unplugged everything from the hub, I’m assuming to plug them in separately to their laptop. And I could do without having to reset everything on the chair as well.

I really am a grumpy old bastard.

January Blues, Greens, Reds, Yellows, Blacks, and Whites

The plan was to stop writing guff this year and concentrate on getting on with the many works in progress that are sat gathering dust in the corners of my mind. And so, what am I doing now? Writing guff. Blog posts, match reviews, season reviews, poems, putting together FRCs, pre writing pieces for when we are away, and rewriting song lyrics. Basically, anything but the actual works in progress, and I can’t see it getting any better before I get back from the States, and probably at least the week after that if the 49ers carry on with their winning streak and make it to the Superbowl.

I did make a quick list of (semi-serious) resolutions

1. Win the lottery (Not working so far)

2. Swear more (A difficult target, but going well so far)

3. Write more – but specifically on novels in progress rather than random guff (this is already going badly)

4. Be more tolerant (Was going well, but then I came back to work, so going out the window – see resolution 2)

5. Walk more (I did mishear that I would get a trophy over the holiday period for the amount of time on the sofa, turns out they said atrophy!)

6. Talk less (Another difficult target, and going badly as doing training involves having to speak)

7. Eat less (We’ll see, still wading through the Christmas excess chocolate and cheese and have two weeks in the States coming up, so January will be a write off)

8. Retire (depends on 1 and 9 in the list)

9. Did I mention win the lottery? (Needed for number 8)

10. Make less lists (as you can see, this isn’t going great)

No mention of pets in there, but Sniffles did make me laugh the other evening. He was up on the sofa and half draped on Helen as he has a habit of doing and he was there licking his paw. So, Helen asked him “what’s happening with your paw”, and he just jumped up off her lap, down from the sofa to the floor and across to the door waiting to be let out. All exactly as a child would when asked a question they didn’t want to answer. “What paw? Nothing to see here, I just need to go out now.”

            I mentioned the 49ers, and we have reached the playoffs, despite being on the so called third string quarterback. But Brock Purdy has been outstanding since he came in. So much so I did another of my song rewrites, this time turning Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” into “We Love Brock Purdy”. Roll on the playoffs this weekend.

I saw him standin’ there on the niner’s side-line

Not doing very much until week 13

Then he was called upon

Playin’ with great aplomb

And we could tell it wouldn’t be long

Til he was throwing a TD

And we could tell it wouldn’t be long

Til we would be cheerin’ and singin’

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he


He smiles, tossing bombs whilst standin’ proud

To Kittle, Samuel, Aiyuk, Jennings and McCloud

Or handing off to Kuszczyk and McCaffrey

We carried on movin’ on, winning the division on song

Carried on movin’ on, keep winnin’ and we’re singin’

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he


Leads us down the field getting us to the endzone

Next, another victory, he was slingin’, winnin’

And we are playoff bound and he’s becoming renowned

With us all singin’

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he

We love Brock Purdy

Throw another dime to George Kittle, baby

We love Brock Purdy

Lead the team to the Superbowl will he

 I got a regular e-mail from English Heritage today. I was scan reading it and one of the sections looked to me as if it said “How the Roman’s got fat”, which interested me, so I clicked on the link only to be disappointed when it was actually an article headed “How the Roman’s got fit”.

I don’t know how it panned out in the above article, but if they had an equivalent of TK Maxx back in the day, then I suppose it could have been done by nipping in for ‘a quick look’ and then coming out two hours later with a bag you can see from space. At least we have decent cold weather jackets now.

Roll on the holiday.

Christmas Observations

Sniffles looked most unimpressed on Christmas Day when both of his usual spots in the living room – in the corner of the sofa, and on the armchair – were filled with people. He sat malevolently glaring at me sat in the armchair for at least five minutes before stalking off to plan mass murder.

After lots of me mentioning that having a trebuchet to expel unwanted pests (pets, family, people at work etc.) would be a great idea; I now have one. As a Christmas present. Granted, it is only model size and flimsy balsa wood, but I now have plans for how to build one, and it is just a case of scaling up to industrial size usage. Plus I got a bright orange t-shirt adorned with the slogan ‘Don’t make me get the trebuchet’.

Came downstairs Boxing Day morning to find people watching Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, and my first thought was how much more interesting it would be if it was Jason Bourne’s Nutcracker. (I love Tchaikovsky’s music, it’s just the ballet bit that doesn’t interest me.)

It’s been agreed that Sniffles will be palmed off on Helen’s mum when we go away. And she is already on about getting him a harness to take him for a walk whilst he is with her. I dread to think how little of her arms would be left after an attempt to get a harness on him. Let alone trying to take him for a walk.

Sniffles has been out a lot more over the past few days. I’m sure that the correlation versus the words per minute being spoken in the house by Helen’s mum is only coincidental. As is the increase in cauliflower ears in the house.

After her saying that she likes listening to old things it did make me wonder if that is the reason she speaks so much. Even when eating. She said that the reason she eats so slowly is that she was told to chew each mouthful twenty times. But that isn’t the reason at all, it’s the twenty minutes of chatting between each mouthful that is the problem. It shouldn’t take anyone two hours to eat a plate of food. One such snippet was that she had suggested to some of the other single pensioners in her estate that they take turns in cooking meals and having them together, so they aren’t cooking for themselves, but no one else was interested in doing so, as they were too lazy. Again, I don’t think it is laziness that is the issue here, but who wants that many meals with cauliflower (ears)?

It was back to work this morning, it was only working from home, but it is nice to be back to the relative peace and quiet of a working day. I usually have music on in the background, but it is nice to sit in silence and throw v-signs at the cat as he paws at the window to be let back in now the talking woman has gone home. It is difficult to appreciate just how many random snacks and goodies there are around the house, but there are little bowls of such delights as chocolates, peanuts, pigs in blankets flavoured crisps, chocolate and cinnamon tortillas, etc, etc. I’ve only left the house to go to football on Boxing Day (don’t even ask about that one), and we are due to be going for a walk tomorrow, always assuming I can get out of the door.

Nearly A Catastrophe

Two weeks ago, the Dilbert daily cartoon featured Catbert (the evil HR director, no idea how they could have come up with that character), and they were complaining that they had whisker fatigue. It is a cartoon, but I looked it up anyway, and it turns out it is a real thing where cats become over stimulated because their whiskers are touching too many things (such as the edges of their food bowl), and there is a booming market for whisker fatigue food bowls (and other oddities alongside them such as cat grass). Who knew.?

In the meantime, Sniffles had become fussier than ever about his food. He hadn’t been well, and it hadn’t just been furballs he had been bringing up, and he had been able to go to the toilet through the eye of a needle. He also disappeared for twenty-four hours, which is unlike him. Well, unless we need to take him somewhere, such as the vets, or a cattery, in which case he will disappear until exactly five minutes after you have cancelled to vet’s appointment or the stay at the cattery, at which point he will saunter up to the door without a care in the world.

He had taken to wanting to get his name changed. He was named Sniffles as a kitten by Nathan as he sniffed everything. Suffice to say he could easily have his name changed now to trip hazard, such is his penchant for laying in the middle of the hall and only moving to get underfoot as you try to get around him.

Anyway, he hadn’t been eating, and he hadn’t been washing himself after pooing. Helen was getting worried because there were similarities to his sister before she died, and so she had a vet’s appointment for the Thursday, but such was Sniffle’s pathetic-ness she brought it forward to the Wednesday after he didn’t eat until some food was put on the floor, at which point he wolfed it down. And he point blank refused to eat from his bowl. Whereas usually when he flings food out of his bowl by accident, he won’t eat it after it is on the floor. He also then accepted eating off a plate.

Some of this would suggest he is the Amazon of the cat world and because he heard us talking about whisker fatigue, he is now showing up with some of the symptoms. (Although to be fair, he always did have a spaced-out expression on his silly little furry face.)

Then after finally eating he went to try and find a spot to wash himself. There are comfy seats all over the house, and blankets out, but no, not for him, he found Helen’s footrest, hard plastic and very big bobbles on it, and perched himself on that. Quite possibly the most uncomfortable spot in the house.

Prior to this Helen had suggested that WE might want to give him a bath to wash his fur (he had looked somewhat horrified and ashamed when Helen had lifted his tail and saw what was stuck to him). Meanwhile, I’ve heard tales of cat washing, so being of sound mind I responded in the only way possible, “What’s this WE business?”

Saturday night he had been curled up on the sofa for a long time. I was watching copious amounts of Mock The Week, and Helen was out at a ninety’s night at the Hawth with friends. When she rang to ask for a lift home, Sniffles was suddenly up and interested. He is fascinated by how Helen is in the little device I’m holding against my face and comes to investigate where the little feeding woman is. Which kind of shows what he thinks about my bowl filling skills.

The cat had been leaving a trail of destruction in his wake (well sloppy excrement everywhere), and as I appear not to be able to see it or smell it, there was a real danger of me standing in it at some point, which I just managed to avoid.

So, he went to the vets, turned out he just had a stomach upset, so a couple of injections later he was back at home after a couple of rides in the basket of doom. The vet had said not to wash him until he was recovered, and Sniffles took it upon himself to clean himself, mainly it would appear by wiping his backside on any soft surface he could find, a quilt cover and a blanket washing later he has cleaned himself enough so there isn’t any more trail of stinkyness.

He’s almost back to usual now, whining to be let in, whining to be fed, whining to be let out. And woe betide if you don’t let him in quickly enough, as he then turns his back, stays on the wet tarpaulin in the rain and ignores the open door until you sit down again. Happy that he’s disrupted your call he then disappears, only to appear around the front of the house waiting to be let in.


Sniffles is fully back to usual behaviour. Helen and I attempted to leave the house and head to Tilgate this evening, only for the little shite to appear as if by magic and follow us up the road. Helen made three attempts to corral the little sod, but don’t worry about Sniffles, he can move when he has to, and hid in a front garden on Southgate Drive. The only sensible option to prevent further following and him deciding to lie down in the middle of Southgate Drive as he is wont to do was to double back and sneak out via Malthouse Road. He was waiting on the doorstep when we got home, and once in proceeded to give a version of cat dressage in the kitchen.

October Flies By

The first weekend of the month was a write off, as I spent most of it working. I never want to see a sickness reason code again in my life. (And to be honest, I never wanted to see one in the first place, but such is life.) I racked up a lot of time, so took an extra day off on the Thursday of the next week to make it a four-day weekend. Helen was off too, but she was off to deepest darkest Somerset with her mum to visit other family members. Something I politely passed on, and so I was left to my own devices.

I didn’t spend the whole time playing solitaire on my laptop (though the draw to it was real), and I was up and over in Horsham before midday, full details of that trip out are in a piece I’m writing on my Medium page.

I’d let the furry fussy pest out before going out, and when I returned, Sniffles was laid between the plant pot and the meter cupboard to the side of the front door. It is a good snoozing spot for him as he’s protected on three sides. On hearing footsteps, he lifts his head and looks around to see who it is coming before he recognises it is someone who will let him in, and he lets out a welcoming whine. Well, I’m not sure if it’s welcoming, it sounds more along the lines of ‘where the fuck have you been?’

He did the same thing when I got in from wandering around town on Friday. There is something about the way he does it that makes me laugh. It reminds me of Brad Pitt playing Mickey the Pikey in Snatch when Tommy and Gorgeous George turn up to buy a caravan and he’s squatting down having a crap and his head bobs up to see who it is that has arrived. Sniffles has mastered that action.

Anyway, on my way out on Friday I was aiming to stop and sort out physiotherapy sessions. Helen had bought them for me for my birthday and after some unsuccessful phone tag I was still no closer to a session four months on. The physiotherapist is only around the corner from where I live so I thought I’d knock on the door. So, I ambled down Southgate Drive and knocked on the door. I did think it was odd that there was a big Volvo estate blocking most of the drive that I had to squeeze around to get to the door. And when the door opened it is hard to say who was the most confused about me asking about physiotherapy sessions; me, or the old Asian woman who answered the door.

The actual house I wanted was on Southgate Road, not Drive, so I went there on the way back from town. I walked past it once because I though the blocks in the large driveway were all saying number 10, but it turns out they were all the physiotherapist’s logo marking out parking spaces. I knocked but that didn’t sort out a session. They were going to give me a ring on the Saturday to sort one out. Two weeks later and there has been no contact.

The confusion stakes carried on later in the evening. Sniffles was curled up on the blanket in the corner of the sofa when Helen rang me. As I was talking to her, Sniffles got up, looked around, and then wandered over to me and looked up before heading back to the corner. Only to come back and end up with his paws on my chest staring at me all confused. I put him down and he got the hump and went to sit on the box of Halloween decorations in high dudgeon glaring at me. He eventually came back and investigated what I was doing, but it would seem he was confused that he could hear the voice of the nice lady who usually feeds him, and fusses over him, but couldn’t see her. He was looking at me as if I had somehow imprisoned her in my phone and was wondering when she was coming back. As when the phone call ended, he curled back up in his corner of the sofa and went to sleep.

After writing group on Saturday, which went quite well considering I was winging it big time. I headed for another afternoon of walking. I got a bus to Turners Hill and meandered back to Tesco’s at which point the walking boots I’m still breaking in were making both feet and knees scream at me, so I got the bus home and vegged on the sofa all evening.

Sunday saw a bit of cooking (well, chucking bits in the slow cooker for a chili, so cooking might be stretching it) and sport watching. The GP was odd, the football mildly entertaining, and the American football very entertaining. The 49ers eased to an easy win and top the division after five games as all the other teams in the division lost. And this win despite more injuries to key players (which came back to bite us the following week as we lost to the Falcons of all teams).

Crawley meanwhile lost whilst I was out walking on Saturday. 3-0 away to Grimsby Town. I had considered going to that game and had scoped out travel times for trains and hotels for overnight stays as there wasn’t much to do with Helen being away, but I decided against it. It was a wise decision by the look of things, as another poor result saw us ending up as the strongest team in the football league – bottom – holding all the other teams up. And it saw Kevin Betsy being sacked.

I still want to go to Grimsby. Well, Cleethorpes really, as I want some photos for other pieces I am writing.

Work was still shit when I went back, but it was only four days before ten days off. Although most of that time was going to spent with relatives of mine or Helen.

When work came to an end on Thursday evening, we went and picked Helen’s mum up and headed north. We were heading for Lichfield, as an overnight stop on the way to North Wales for a seventieth birthday afternoon tea.

Three times on the journey to Lichfield the ‘smart’ motorway signs signalled to move over for workmen in the road ahead. After there being nothing the first two times it was tempting not to move over the third time in a boy who cried wolf fashion.

We turned on the sat nav for the last stretch, only for it to immediately to yell turn left, only for that to be the exit to the south and a nine-mile detour to the next junction and back before we were on the right track again.

When we got out of the car at the Holiday Inn Express at Lichfield Helen’s mum asked where the cardboard box was. What box? The box that was in the porch. Well, at a rough guess, it’s still in the fucking porch, as it’s the first we’ve heard of a box. (A neighbour was rung, and the box retrieved).

Between Lichfield and north Wales, we were told of how Helen’s mum likes to stroke bees. Which both of us found a bit bonkers, but no one else we spoke to at the party batted an eyelid at. Who knew stroking bees was a thing?

Breakfast in the pub was interesting, as the coffee was served in a cafetiere, but appeared to be instant coffee.

The invites to the party did not have a standard start time on them. Some had midday, some 12:30 and others one o’clock. Most of the relatives going to the party were in the pub first, seemingly delaying the going to the party until the last possible moment. This included Bob whose party it was. In total there were thirty-five people invited, and a miraculous thirty-one of them turned up. But there was a mini exodus from the room just before the party games started. Strategic absences involved to avoid playing feed the baby and blind makeup. Packing up only took a few minutes compared to the hours setting up the room did, and most of the relatives headed to the other pub in the village straight after.

When it comes to it being time to leave the pub to drop off a couple of people at Joanne and Bob’s and to pick up Helen’s mum, we find that the room key to our room is still in the village hall, and there is no one there for us to be able to get it. Fortunately, there was a spare so we could get into the room and get the car keys. We may also have left some tweezers behind, as before dinner Helen’s mum asked if we had any tweezers as she couldn’t find hers, and she needed to screw the curtain rail back up. I still don’t know what the hell was going on, but our rooms didn’t have any curtains, let alone rails to hang them off.

There may well have been a spare key to our room, but it wasn’t fully legit. It allowed us to lock the room when we retired for the night. But it would not open from the inside in the morning. We had to get one of the staff to go into the crawl space outside the other end of the room for us to pass the key out of the window for them to come around and open our door from the outside. And that wasn’t even the worst part about breakfast.

We get out of the pub and drop Helen’s mum off at Joanne and Bob’s and head north to Morecambe for four nights at my mum’s. Despite the attempts at force feeding and the horrendous driving conditions over the next three days out, it wasn’t a bad stay. There are lots of write ups from those days out on Medium (or will be depending on which order I post things).

We met up with Joanna and Bob at Lymm services on the way home for a handover of Helen’s mum, and after dropping her off we were more than happy to collapse on our sofa and do nothing.

I know work is rubbish, but sometimes having time off can be more tiring.

Look What The Cat Dragged In

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good story out of the cat. But little Sniffles did himself (if no one else) proud on Sunday. Helen and I are lounging watching TV and then suddenly there is the sound of louder and different sounding whining from the cat who has come in through the open back door into the kitchen. Helen goes to see what all the whining is about only to emit her own little funny squeak when she gets into the kitchen. As, there in the middle of the floor is a freshly delivered dead mouse. And a puffed-up cat with a smug look on its face as if to say, “look what I’ve done”. 

To be honest we had though his catching days were long gone. It must be over three years since the belly flop incident where he leapt on a mouse but then couldn’t find where it had gone as he had landed on it and it was hidden under his belly. He sat there for five minutes looking around for where the mouse might have escaped to, and not until Charlie came out and started sniffing all around Sniffles did, he get up and move. At which point the mouse scuttled through the fence and into next door.

Sniffles has spent a lot of time laying underneath the tree where the bird feeders are, or further down the garden looking at the tree, but it has seemed to be more in a wistful longing than any reasonable attempt to catch any of the birds. But, now into his teens he must have been fed up of us mocking his catching ability and so we were treated to an episode of look what the cat dragged in. It wasn’t really the mouse per se that caused Helen’s squeak, it was more a surprise to find it there.

Obviously, having killed the said mouse and after bringing it inside to show off his hunting expertise, Sniffles wasn’t interested in eating the thing, only with getting his bowl filled with meals he hadn’t caught. And leaving us to give the recently deceased mouse a paper towel coffin burial in the bin. And content with his renewed prowess Sniffles decided to come and settle down on the sofa for the evening.

Only to go back into food hunting mode when my dinner arrived. From being asleep to having his nose in my plate of food took less than a second. To paraphrase Sol from Snatch, “Don’t worry about Sniffles, he can move when he has to.”

What Do You Mean We Have To Work?

Having a night shaved off the coach trip meant that I could go to writing group on the Saturday morning after we got back, which was a bonus for me. Adding a load more pages of scribble to the dozens I already had to type up wasn’t such a bonus. But it was good to be writing some fiction and not a travelogue for a change.

Despite the season starting on the Saturday we still hadn’t received any notification from Crawley Town about being able to pick season tickets up. There was nothing on their website, and we hadn’t received the promised e-mail. I did double check that our new owners were WAGMI, and not Shearing’s.

So, I had a dig around and found the fan forum pages for Crawley. Which wasn’t pretty reading. Our new American owners still haven’t quite got the hang of how English Football works. They had put up a YouTube video as a pregame thing. One that was full of trash talking rubbish. To be fair, our own fans were quick to complain, and after an apology tweet wasn’t enough, they took the video down. Not quickly enough to have a response video posted by Carlisle United fans. We are already getting flak as being “the internet team” without our owners compounding it.

Anyway, I found out the season tickets were ready for pick up and so after writing I strolled down to the stadium to get them. It turns out, that when they say the club shop is open on match days, it means home match days only. I would need to go back. I got home and settled in front of the BBC scrolling match report to see Carlisle take an early lead and the internet revolution get unplugged. The match stats don’t make good reading. Crawley dominated possession. Yet with their two of their three top scorers from last season, plus new signing Dom Telford, the league’s top scorer from last season starting, and our top scorer being added to them at half time, we only had six shots all game, and none of them were on target. Perhaps it is only a coincidence that our new manager has come from the Arsenal coaching system. (BTW, Carlisle had twenty-three shots, with nine on target.)

It wasn’t great news that they’d sent Glenn Morris on loan the day before the season started. The new on loan keeper started the game, but was subbed at half time. None of this bodes well.

Not more than forty-eight hours after separating from Helen’s mum and sister, we were having lunch with them in Steyning – along with her nephew and his girlfriend. The White Horse is a nice pub, but it’s a bit shambolic to say they do Sunday roasts, only for them to have crossed one off the menu before they were handed out, and to then say that there is no roast beef, but they have brisket instead. Not that I was having a roast. But these places need to stop the insane obsession with putting burgers in brioche buns.

We got back just in time for the football. Imagine how well the team would do if the damn commentators stopped trying to jinx them with every piece of jingoistic trash that comes out of their mouths. It was great to see. It’s just a shame it will all be swept away by the overblown, over hyped, over every media outlet, over moneyed, Premier League three ring circus starting this forthcoming weekend.

Once the trophy had been lifted it was time for the recorded grand prix. I don’t know how much money the Ferrari team bosses bet on them not winning either championship, but they are trying their very best to make sure they will cash in on it. It’s hard to imagine there is any other reason as to why they are so deliberately incompetent. Max Verstappen can’t believe his luck. Red Bull must be in their motorhomes after the race rolling on the floor killing themselves laughing. “And then they… ha ha ha… sent him out on hard compound tyres… ha ha ha ha ha.”

Monday saw a much more productive trip to Crawley’s stadium. Not only were the season tickets picked up – they look cheap and nasty though, like a third-rate shop loyalty card, nothing like the quite classy ones from last season – but I also got our away tickets for the Harrogate game in a couple of weeks, and tickets for the Carabao Cup game next Tuesday. The club shop was empty though. A whole new batch of merchandise is due, but as with many clubs, the kits are hard to come by due to east Asian production issues.

What to do on Tuesday then? What? Work? Are you sure? Do you mean that the £60 quid lottery win last Wednesday, and a couple of lucky dips aren’t enough to retire on? Back to the office it is then.

Some things don’t change. No one on the journey has learnt how to drive properly yet. I didn’t see any other driver use an indicator on the whole trip down. Perhaps they’ve all learnt telepathy apart from me then in the last couple of days then.

The car does seem to have some form of telepathic bond with me. Every time I mention that I’m going to put some fuel in the car later, within minutes the orange light will come on regardless of where the little pointer is between the bottom mark and the first 1/8th one. Or perhaps it has an inbuilt confirmation bias.

Some things do. The side door to the building is now in use again. They still haven’t fixed the underlying cause that it sticks open and incompetent halfwits can’t read the sign saying please close this door behind you. And so off they go to their indicator-less cars.

At least this week has gone as quickly as the holiday did and it is Thursday night already and the start of another three-day weekend.

It has occurred to me that Sniffles is the benefit cheat of the cat world. He claims to be disabled during the day when people are around. He can’t possibly struggle over the back fence to get out, and so he uses the house to limp through to get out the front, being all pathetic in front of the human audience.

But, when we let him out at night – always through the front door – he turns into super cat. With it being dark and there being no one around to watch him, the little shite goes all the way around, easily scales the back fence and come the morning he is lying on the table outside the back door whining his little lings out to be let in. Bloody faker. I’m a bit late with this as it was ready to go Thursday night, but yesterday was a wipeout, I felt like I’d been run over by a train.

Random Rubbish From An Overheated Mind

Helen bought some sun cream / lotion thing the other day. She read out that it had five-star protection on it. It sounded quite specific to me. Why would sun cream be able to protect you from 5 Star? Does it protect you from other random eighties bands as well, r is it just 5 Star? Is it because it protects whether it’s “Rain or Shine”? Or does it go on like Silk and protect like Steel? Stay tuned for more stupid questions.

Such as, what is the best time of day to go to the dentist? 2:30 of course. (Tooth hurty for all those who can’t quite grasp the extremely poor level of humour happening here.)

This morning, Helen’s sister was complaining about here mobile coverage, saying she couldn’t get any signal. I suggested helpfully that perhaps she should try changing to Colgate. It is lost on some people.

You have probably all heard the vast array of “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes. Well, around here there is the one about why did the cat cross the road? In Sniffles case it was so he could flop down in the middle of the road and start washing himself whilst holding any traffic up. It won’t be like the hedgehog visiting his flat mate, it will be a flat cat one of these days. It is more of a surprise that he isn’t flat already.

Although, saying that, he is laid flat out on the dry yellow grass in the shade in the back garden. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that the shade is under the tree with the bird feeders in it. He’s not really trying to catch any bird with a lower IQ than Sniffles who happens to be stupid enough to try and peck at some of the fallen food.

Just in case I’ve never mentioned it before; I hate this weather. The only time it is acceptable to have a temperature in the thirties or forties is when it is being measured in Fahrenheit.

And I’ve got a train journey to deepest darkest Somerset to do in the morning. I had deliberately booked an earlier that necessary train to get there. Mainly because I’m an unsociable bastard and wanted to make sure that I was on a train that none of my work colleagues were going to be on so I could sit in stony silence enjoying my own company before having to spend the next twenty-four hours with hordes of them in an enclosed environment. My misanthropic behaviour may well pay off in unexpected ways. The journey will be early in the morning before temperatures and tempers have increased. Plus, I should get there before all the rails buckle due to the heat.

Yes, it is churlish to moan about warm weather. But as I’ve said thousands of times before; I’m not made for anything above about twenty degrees centigrade. I should have been born as an Eskimo.

It is boiling out. Just in case I haven’t mentioned the heat before, or how much I hate it. So, with Helen off in Greenwich with her sister and mother with tickets to a Canaletto exhibition, followed by a meal on the banks of the River Thames, it means that I’m left to my own devices to sort food out. Now in this heat, some people will be having an ice cream bath; possibly with chocolate sprinkles on (not the sprinkles in Eddie Murphy’s Delirious though). Or a salad, or a platter of cold meats and cheeses. But no one ever accused me of being sane. Not even slightly so. So, off I go, out in the sun, up the close and past the shops to the Downsman, where I order curry. Hot curry. To heat me up rom the inside.

I’m working on the assumption that people who live in hot countries all the time know what they are doing and the fat that all the hottest, spiciest, chilli laden dishes around the world come from countries firmly ensconced in the Tropics. And as I don’t want to beat them, I will join them. I may still be hot, but at least the food will be tasty, and I won’t have to have made it myself.

As I’ve been sat on the sofa in the heat of the afternoon, I have heard the faint tinkling of the chimes from an ice cream van. It can’t be that far away. And I put my trainers on so that I’m ready when it arrives. So, I can jump up, get out the door and hustle to the van and get my Mr Whippy fix. And I hear that tinkling, close, but not on the Close, from all around. One, two, three, four, five, six times, messing with my head with no reason or rhyme.

But it doesn’t appear. Two hours come and go, but the ice cream van doesn’t. Again. It never seems to come to the Close anymore. It used to be here every day, rain or shine, hail, gale, or snow. At night in the dark, or in the bright of the afternoon sun. But no longer it would seem.

On another purely coincidental note. The drug dealers moved out from the Close at a remarkably similar time to the cessation of the ice cream van services.

A Bad Case Of The Sniffles

Sniffles is alive, we’re just not quite sure how. He’s never been sane, but his odd behaviour is becoming more bizarre by the week. And he knows how to cause maximum inconvenience.

He hasn’t managed to get onto the kitchen table for ages, but once the jigsaw case is upon the table, and the jigsaw had been started, then as if by magic, there he is. On the jigsaw case at every opportunity using it as a bed. The pouffe in the living room no longer good enough for him.

The damn fool cat had also taken to scaring me to death at regular intervals with his complete lack of road sense. In the last week alone, he has appeared from nowhere and run out in front of the car as I’m driving along the close. I’ve had to slam the brakes on to avoid running him over as he then just flops into the middle of the road and proceeds to wash himself.

Thinking of this, I have been calculating it out. If he does this twice a week to me, and there are at least forty other cars on the close, plus the seemingly never-ending swarm of delivery drivers, then it would mean he runs the danger of being squished by a vehicle on the close somewhere in the region of a hundred times a week.

He has been limping recently and only gingerly using his rear right paw and leg, and it does look to be at a funny angle (count = 1). Even if the vets have said there is nothing wrong with him (yet they gave us painkillers for him anyway), it does seem highly likely that the little shit has managed to get hit by one of the vehicles he has run in front of.

Plus, he has the brain the size of a pea. He will lounge around inside all day, pretending he wants some food, only to watch us put food in his bowl and then still sit there looking at the bowl or wandering off in the opposite direction. Yet if you slide him over to the bowl, he will eat it. And then he’ll decide that when we are off to bed it’s time to go outside. In the dark, in the cold, in the rain, he just has to go out at that time. I’m sure it’s only so he can miaow the house down at three or four in the morning to be let back in. Always with lots of leaves stuck to him that he can then deposit around the house.

Granted this is a step up on bringing a wet muddy bike through the house a few minutes after I’ve hoovered.

Long Time No Write

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything more than a sad sack Facebook status update. Over fifty days in fact. It isn’t as if we haven’t been doing anything, there has been lots going on, off over and under during that time. But, when it comes to putting pen to paper, or typing into Word, I just haven’t been able to do it, and the notepad has been closed unblemished, and Word has the X in the top right-hand corner clicked on firmly.

The last time I wrote anything was after going out (but not out out) for Helen’s birthday. We dropped the cat off for teeth cleaning and spent a day wandering around looking at old buildings in East Grinstead, Forest Row and Hartfield. I started a write up but didn’t get as far as lunchtime and hadn’t added any of the photos before it was closed to sit in My Documents. Possibly never to be finished.

During this time, I have managed to put two issues of Flanagan’s Running Club out, but with those it’s just collation of things I’ve borrowed or items I’ve written before. I had a good backlog of stuff this time last year, with writing group every fortnight it was getting added to on a regular basis, but the flow has dried up. If there isn’t some sort of normality resumed by the end of the year next year’s issues may be few and far between.

I’ve had a rubbish idea for a short story about a bloke called Justin Thyme, but that may never see the light of day either. I’ve had thoughts on a poem paraphrasing The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, along the lines of meet the new car, same as the old car, but that deserves not to see the light of day.

Blog posts is pretty much all I’ve written in the last year, the various works in progress for the novels haven’t been touched, and then over the last couple of months even the blog posts have dried up.

Besides the Sussex wanderings on Helen’s birthday (a far cry from previous years where we’ve been to Brussels, Toulouse, Barcelona, Berlin, and New Hampshire), there has been a few Crawley walks, finding old buildings and more street signs in Bewbush. An afternoon in Shoreham, which happily involved ice cream and a couple of mooches about looking for cars.

With the office closing I got a lump sum for excess travel for six years, with which we used to buy a new car, as the old Venga was becoming a bit of a repair pit, so it’s been given to Nathan. We looked at quite a lot of cars, all that had external measurements that suggested they were larger than the Venga. But whereas the Venga is a bit of a Tardis inside, most of the others we saw were the opposite. The Peugeot 2008 was laughable, I couldn’t even get in the thing properly without losing hair and skin. The Citroen C3 was uncomfortable and had a teeny tiny little toy steering wheel. There were others, but none of these bigger cars had the space we had already, or the adjustability we need when one of us is five foot nothing and the other six feet two. So, we got another Venga, a couple of years old, but with a whole host of mod con updates to the one we had. Sat-nav, panoramic sunroof, heated seats and steering wheel, reverse camera. It may be boring to get the same car again, but it is right for us.

Anyway, back to road sign,

With three roads in Broadfield named after cricketers, I was eight short of a team, so set out to find them in other parts of Crawley from other themes to come up with a team for the ages. I did so and was then left with trying to find the best batting order for them, as there were seven in the team that were opening batsmen at some point. I eventually came up with this order.

Jack Hobbs (all-time leader for runs and centuries)

Alastair Cook (Most runs and caps for England)

John Edrich (Just edged his cousin Bill out)

Ken Barrington (Best England batting average for a player scoring over 5,000 test runs)

W.G. Grace (Top five all time for runs, wickets, and catches)

Wally Hammond (Over 50k runs and 2nd most triple centuries)

Wilfred Rhodes (Most ever 1st class appearances and most wickets ever)

Fred Titmus (One of three in this team to score more than 20k runs and take 2,500 wickets)

Jack Russell (5th leading wicket keeping dismissals)

Derek Shackleton (Most post war wickets taken)

Jimmy Anderson (England’s leading wicket taker)

Looking in the A-Z I did find address for (Peter) May House and (Jim) Laker Court, but there were no road signs, just plaques on the wall of the building, so they missed out, as did (Ben) Stokes Close. I also found an appropriate team manager – (Keith) Fletcher Close.

I’ll mention work briefly. It’s fucking chaos. No other words for it. It’s difficult to explain just how busy it is. I need to be back in the office, anything to break up doing twelve-hour days and still not getting everything done. If it’s not all getting done there’s no point in doing so much over normal hours. Even with three days weekends there doesn’t feel like there’s a break.

Plus working at home recently has been somewhat entertaining. We’ve had a new boiler. The company that were doing the fitting sent Laurel and Hardy the first day. After much scratching of heads and arses they said it would have to go in the loft and a couple of hundred miles of copper piping would need installing. And then on the way out they took some sun cream. They didn’t come back. When their boss did a few days later, the boiler was put in the kitchen, and there was very little new piping on display. And the electricians came and wired it in to the mains and it was job’s a good un.

Well until it was time to do the kitchen. We’d been and planned a new kitchen back in October. Yet it was after easter by the time it got fitted. The deliveries came in three parts, but the final bulk part came at half seven in the morning, and I wasn’t even dressed, and then they rushed all the stuff in, entombing the kitchen table in some kind of Ikea cardboard fort. This was over a week before it was due to be fitted. The table had to be moved out and squeezed into the living room. Not ideal for a nosy bastard when I’m looking out the front window at everything passing by.

The new boiler had caused another leak because all the water now comes from the mains, and the pressure was too much for the kitchen tap, which had to be capped off, so upstairs water for three weeks. Then the hot tap on the bath started leaking. A plumber came, said the taps needed replacing and left it in a worse state than it was before. We were resorting to turning the water off at the main tap in the hall. Only that hadn’t been used in decades, and so after steady use for a few days it sprung a leak of its own.

Normality was finally resumed on the water front as the kitchen was being fitted.

Of course, before you can fit a kitchen, you need to get rid of the old one. The actual ripping it out didn’t take that long. We had some help, and all the units were stripped out and dismantled in a couple of hours. However, the removal of tiles and wallpaper brought problems. Along with about half the plaster down. Part of which I missed to get my first AZ jab – something that would catch up with me later. We also found the electrician from the boiler install had done a quick and dirty (if not downright dangerous) fitting, putting wires between piping and drilling through the tile in part and sticking the junction box to another tile.

Now, it’s well known my DIY skills only fall under the category of destroy it yourself, so fortunately Simon was on hand to help with (well, do) the plastering. And it must be said, he could turn pro, he did an amazing job. Though it wasn’t dry enough to think about starting the wallpapering.

Which as it turned out was a blessing in disguise. The electrician for the kitchen fit came and drilled out troughs for wiring that would have been right through where the wallpaper would have been. The kitchen fitters were less than impressed by the new piping the boiler fitter had put in as it was all mid wall and meant they would have to cut holes around it all to install the units. Then when the units were fitted it also meant there was a lot less to wallpaper. The kitchen still isn’t fully fitted, there was a wrong door delivered, and we’ve had to resort to going to Ikea to get it ourselves as promises of delivery have been and gone for two weeks. Additionally, the shelf for the unit was missing. Only it wasn’t, I’d put it down the side of the fridge as a safe place to store it, only to find it after the fitters had finished for the week.

Then came wallpapering, which I wasn’t anywhere near as bad at as I had been in the past or expected to be this time. We nearly got it all done on one day, but invites to the bar next door brought an end to proceedings at about eight pm. It got finished on the Sunday, and over a week later it’s still all in place.

Anyway, next door’s bar. They’ve been working on it since the back end of last year, and it officially opened the weekend lockdown eased. We’d been elsewhere for a barbeque the day it did ease – anything to get out, but the bar opening will be remembered for how monumentally pissed I got. Stick any drink in front of me and I’ll drink it, which won’t help. What finishes it off is the kilo or so of vodka jelly that I was popping into my mouth in bite sized (well, not sure any biting was involved) chunks at five second intervals. The drinks after wallpapering were a lot less frantic.

When the pub gardens opened, we took the kitchen helpers to the Downsman for curry and drinks and then back to burn random pieces of wood in our garden. The winter covers had been taken off all the garden furniture and cushions retrieved from the loft, but the paddling pool masquerading as Baker Lake is still there and full of water, and no matter how much it is used to water plants and the garden in general, the level doesn’t seem to go down. It might just about be emptied in time for it to be used in anger.

It’s not getting used to its full potential though as we have another leak. This time the kitchen waste pipe has snapped outside the kitchen window and so fills a bucket on a regular basis as well as keeping half the patio damp.

Then there was the Tottenham debacle. I’ve been moaning since Mourinho was hired that they should sack him, but then they trump that and join the ESL. This prompted me to have a sweary rant denouncing the team as I’m sick of them, and football in general.

That’s it, I’m done.

I’ve been a Tottenham fan for over 40 years, but no more.

Being realistic, I know a lot of our fan base have delusions of adequacy. We have not been a big club for a long while. A top four place is the best to hope for. So being one of 6 English clubs said to be setting up a European super league (of only 12 clubs) is more than just a piss take. It’s a fucking disgrace.

But it’s typical of the cynical money first nature of Levy, who rides roughshod over decent fans (which, granted, there aren’t too many of). The man who hired two managers that publicly stated they hated the club, George Graham and the current incumbent fuckwit. I’ve been saying #MourinhoOut since day one, but with this latest development, keep the twat, you deserve each other.

In the 90s we regularly put out the worst back 4 in top flight history (Austin, Nethercott, Doherty, Edinburgh – find worse, I’ll wait), and now, with a new stadium, we’ve got things like arm sponsorship by Cinch, and Dulux as an official paint partner, and despite all this lunacy they still want more.

They want to destroy football, its history, its fans, and its soul for a few (granted millions) dollars more. I will not be a part of it. So, fuck you Levy, fuck you Tottenham, and fuck the other 5 mercenary English clubs.

Even if a super league doesn’t come to fruition, the fact Tottenham were willing to jump in means they deserve to be hoisted by their own petard, and deserve every criticism and punishment that comes their way.

Within an hour of me posting that, they sacked Mourinho. Then they withdrew from the ESL a couple of days later, but I’m not going back, and all my Tottenham gear went in the charity clothes bag that was collected Wednesday morning. At least I know it’s not been me jinxing them all this time. Even after disowning them, they still managed to lose a final.

The main source of entertainment is however the cat. He’s only just about gotten used to eating on the floor in the kitchen after years of being up on the counter to avoid the dog snaffling all his food. Yet over the last few months the landscape of the house and garden has been changing on an almost daily basis, and so each time he comes in there is a sense of bewilderment as he tries to orientate himself to furniture moves, deliveries, cardboard boxes everywhere, drips of water, workmen, noise dust, missing furniture, and his bowl in a different place every five minutes. He’s adapted by turning his volume up and being on for longer.

He’s been up on the table at the front window, watching people go by and doing a low purr / rumble / growl at them, he really is beginning to think he is the dog of the house. You look up and suddenly there he is licking your plate. Most of the time it is empty, but he also seems to like trying to lick the garlic and herb dip that turns up with pizza Friday.

And finally, he now thinks he’s part of mealtime.

You know the meme, the one with the screaming/crying woman being held back by her friend and the cat sat at the table in front of food making a sarcastic response. Well Sniffles can now be making his own. I’m fairly sure I’m the one shouting “get out of my seat you cheeky fucker”, and Sniffles responding, “It’s not yours anymore bitch.”

And we refurnished much of the dining room today, the table and chairs we’d got from the charity shop turned up, and against the odds and looks of disbelief we got a six-foot-long sideboard in the car (I had mentioned earlier it has a lot of space). The old sideboard and Welsh Dresser are out in the garden covered by tarpaulin, and the random shelves are emptied and in the garden for future firewood. The new (well for us, another charity shop buy) sturdy TV stand turned up as well, so there is a lot of furniture to sell / offload. So, if anyone needs a sturdy kitchen table with six chairs, a wobbly coffee table, a Welsh dresser, or an art deco-esque sideboard, let me know.