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).

With Nothing Else Occupying My Head

There has been a lot going on recently. A trip to Madrid has been well documented. So have the flurry of home games for Crawley. It has been a long time since it was started in January, but the bathroom is still not finished. OK it is useable, but there is still the bathroom cupboard and flexible mirror to go, and until they are done then the final tidy up can’t be. There are all kinds of things in unexpected places in the house, the front and back gardens, and until last weekend the loft.

After getting back from Madrid there were also a whole host of events with WORDfest. I was on stage for two of them. The Write Way Live at Ifield Barn theatre, where I read one of childhood memory pieces called “Cake.” The next night was the quiz, and someone came up as I was putting out a few nibbles on our team’s table to ask where the cakes were. Live interactive tales of Crawley in the old Ask building followed, and then on the Saturday there was the Crawley Creative Writing Group’s session for which I’d produced the books, then in the evening it was the Mother Tongue event where I read a poem in Gaelic (mangled might be a more appropriate description). And comedy night. It’s been busy.

I have been reading certain things and making up in my head what they actually said. Three weeks into using the toothpaste I can see it is called Oracare and not Oral Care as I’d read / assumed. Now all I can think of is someone having to look after Rita Ora.

Another example of this phenomena came when a leaflet came through the door for the local elections. It was from Labour for their candidate Bob Noyce. It took several attempts to get the name correct as I kept reading it as Bob Nonce, definitely not a voter friendly name.

And I spent years misreading a supplier’s name at work before I finally got their name correct. The company supplies the vast array of flexible benefits on offer alongside our payroll. And therefore, I always assumed their name was a mash up and called them Beneflex for at least ten years before it finally sank in there is no L in their name and they are actually Benefex. Personally, I think they missed a trick.

On to destroy it yourself. It is nearly two years since the kitchen was done. Not long after it was completed, I attempted to put a towel rail up on the wall behind the kitchen door. I made a mess, and one side came off the wall. So, it was removed with a view to fixing it later. Instead, last week a different rail was bought and on Saturday I got round to putting it up. I got two holes drilled in the wall without making them massive, got the plasplugs in OK, had one side fully screwed in tightly, and had the other side screwed in three quarters of the way only for the top quarter of the screw to snap off. I thought I would unscrew the first side and move it along a couple of inches. Only for the thread to disintegrate and make unscrewing it impossible. I could get it out of the wall. I’m still in a strop about the effing wall and its utter dislike of me and distain for me when it knows I hate DIY and I’m bad at it.

Anyway, a friend came round, managed to get the new rail off the wall and have securely fixed the original rail to the wall. But there is now a new blind to fit in the living room, and the thought of it is giving me the fear.

I was a bit meh all weekend. Part of which is the unrelenting horror show that I know work is going to be, and part of it is the destroy it yourself piece, as it makes me feel like a worthless / useless piece of excrement.

Helen suggested putting some music on and wanted a suggestion of a record to play. So, after umming and aahing I went old school. Not in a rave or rap view, but picking something from my teens when I first got really into Motown. Back in the eighties I had a set of cassettes. Motown Hits of Gold, volumes one to eight. I have the record box set now, which in addition to the eight originals had a disc nine of ‘future hits.’

I haven’t played any of these since the eighties, but I nominated volume seven side one, as it was one of the cassettes I played to death in my Walkman. It is amazing what memories it brought back. So much so I wrote a piece just about that album.

And both the music and the writing takes my mind off it all.

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

Ow!

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

Ow!

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.

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.

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

Where Have All The Sevens Gone?

It’s not exactly a secret that I have a thing about records. And that has probably been the case since I was a small child.

There was a record player in the front room, and in the meter cupboard was a cardboard box of 7” singles. Most without any sleeves. I was fascinated by these black pieces of vinyl with the different coloured labels in the middle. I would play the same ones over and over again. The music and lyrics becoming embedded in my brain. I knew the records by sight before they went on.

The black label with the grey band at the top; that was the London American label, and it was Curtis Lee singing “Under The Moon Of Love”. Then there was the bright yellow label with black writing on. This was the MGM label and was Connie Francis’s “Stupid Cupid”. Then there was the purple label of Pye, and Lonnie Donegan with “My Old Man’s A Dustman”, with its humorous set pieces which I still use all these years later. The dark red with faint grey writing of the Parlophone label, Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren “Goodness Gracious Me”, and another London label, slightly different as it wasn’t American. This time Pat Boone with “Speedy Gonzales”. I’ve played the latter two just this week. Of course, they wouldn’t get made nowadays with their cultural appropriation and stereotyping to the fore in them.

Over the years I bought lots of 7” singles, albums, 12” singles, cassettes, CDs and even downloads, but nothing matched that mania for 7” singles. My collection has had its ups and downs in terms of volume, and its back down to a more manageable level nowadays from the peak of over 11k six years ago.

A couple of things have brought the thought of seven-inch singles to my mind recently. The first being that there was a writing exercise around early musical memories a couple of weeks ago in one of the writing groups I go to, and some of the above sentences come from that.

The second is I’m reading a collection of books by Andrew Cartmel in his Vinyl Detective series. I read the first one last year, but I’ve read three more in the last week and I’m about to start on number five. They are thoroughly entertaining, even if the searching for records by the lead character brings about all sorts of shenanigans you wouldn’t expect to come across when flicking through some vinyl.

There is a lot a searching through charity shops for records involved, and it reminded me that I have done a hell of a lot of the same thing over the years. Even in the years where there were virtually no new records being released, there would still be lots of second-hand stuff lying around.

So, I thought I’d go and have a wander around the charity shops of Crawley on Friday to flick through the vinyl as a nostalgia thing.

The first rule of charity shop records is that you have to wade through the mountains of LPs first. There will be lots, and they will invariably be made up of classical, soundtracks and then James Last and Ray Conniff records. I’m used to that.

What I’m not used to is there being piles of those naff albums, but then there being no 7” singles in sight. Not a single one (or a single single if you want). In any of the charity shops. So, in a brief sojourn from workshops and other tedious calls at work I had a quick wander around the charity shops on Boundary Road in Hove only to find the same thing. I thought back to a previous week when out in Shoreham, and it was a similar thing there, even in the record shop I nipped in.

Where the hell have all the 7”’s gone? There used to be boxes full to sort through, but now there is nothing. So much for a nostalgia laden wander around the shops.

And that’s the other thing, the charity shops are disappearing as well. Well, certainly in Crawley. Dr Barnardo’s went a few years ago, but in the last year Sense and Revive have gone from The Broadway, and in the last few weeks Cat’s Protection has closed on The Broadwalk and Save The Children has disappeared from The Boulevard. That’s half of the normal charity shops in the town centre gone (the furniture ones don’t count).

I’m not sure where I’m going to get my fix of nostalgic flicking through seven-inch singles now.

But I’ll leave you with a list. Of seven 7” singles with seven in the title.

The Four Top – Seven Rooms Of Gloom

Cola Boy – Seven Ways To Love

James Fountain – Seven Day Lover

Dubliners – Seven Drunken Nights

Chuck Woods – Seven Days Too Long

OMD – Sailing On The Seven Seas

White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

It’s Spooky How Fast The Days Go

Since the start of September, it has seemed like I’m getting more into the swing of writing again. The Saturday sessions of the Crawley Creative Writing Group have started up again, so that’s happening twice a month. There have been regular sessions on different themes, I mentioned the Mass Observation one last time, but also prompts led sessions and just open writing slots. There was one on Wednesday night where there were four prompts crammed into an hour, and although five or ten minutes isn’t a long time to get writing, it does give me the chance to get something started, and I’ve been quite disciplined in carrying those pieces on.

It’s also amazing what you see going by the pop up shop the sessions are held in. Wednesday night’s special was someone doing a long, loud, wheelie on a trails bike, with no helmet, looking almost as if he was floating by, making it look effortless. Quickly followed by a kid on a bicycle trying the same thing only to be defeated by the steepness of the slope and coming off.

Thursday night I was performing. Well, reading some of my own work out. I have been doing some writing sessions with the charity Writing Our Legacy, as they are running a project called No Place Like Home. The initial Zoom sessions had been at the start of the year, and there had been certain themes we had been asked to write about from childhood memories (a room in your childhood home, food, school days, events). What the group had submitted is being pulled together to be printed in a book, and Thursday’s session was to have been the book launch, but the book isn’t complete yet, but the readings went ahead.

Five of us were performing, each had one piece from what we had submitted to the project, four of us had another piece of our own writing not linked to the project, and three of us were also reading out extracts from oral history interviews, where a number of (older) people had been interviewed about their childhoods and how they came to be in Crawley. There were twelve pieces in total, and I was someone who was performing three pieces.

There had been three sessions with a performance coach to help us with how “to land” the readings. How to pace the readings correctly, where to leave pauses for impact. Useful stuff for me as I tend to try and read out loud at the same speed I would read a book, making it almost incomprehensible to most.

The event was being held at Crawley Museum, and it was a small friends and family type audience, with only thirty people. A nice friendly atmosphere to ease us in. Diverse Crawley had some people there and they had cooked the most amazing Caribbean food for us all to have during the interval.

There will be other nights. When the book is finished and published then there will likely be a bigger session, and it will probably be linked to Wordfest 2022; where we should be able to also do the attitudes to Crawley staged readings, we were due to do in 2020 before the very first lockdown put paid to that. The book will also be the first time I’ve actually been in print, which I’m quite excited about. (I know; me and excited in the same sentence, who would have thought that.)

Friday we were out and about again, stopping to get fuel and shopping at Tesco at Broadbridge Heath. We had done it before, but we both said the same thing after getting back to the car this time. The store seems to attract a special type of moron, and that we would never shop there again. Hopefully, we’ll stick to it this time.

We picked Helen’s mum up and headed to Shoreham for lunch. Very nice Italian food, but after that, a quick nip into charity shops, a visit to Dunhelm, and then The Range; by the time we got home it was dark and were left wondering what the hell happened to the day.

Saturday saw more writing in the morning, and then Crawley Town’s latest horror show in the afternoon (more of which can be read about at the link below).

The new routine of post-match curry at the Downsman followed, which is always a good antidote to the sinking feeling acquired at the game. Plus, the clocks went back, so there was an extra hour of weekend inserted before going back to that other horror show – work.

And then it was Halloween, how the hell did it get to be the end of October already? It was a reasonably busy day. Putting a new curtain rail and curtains up in the office and assembling the tiny bedside table we’d got from Dunhelm. Pumpkins were being carved in the kitchen, and treats sorted out for any kids brave enough to risk the ever-changing weather, the legacy of the Tesco part of Friday.

Meanwhile, I’m staying away from most things Halloween and writing this and getting ready for the NFL games this evening. The 49ers are playing the Bears today, and I thought about what might happen if I changed one letter of the Bears?

A loss – Tears

A win – Beers

A windy day – Beans

Hip Hop playing – Beats

Cos it’s Halloween – Fears

Things get a bit fruity – Pears

A bit sweaty – Beads

Lots of costume changes – Wears

A lot of noise – Hears

Blistering heat – Sears

Old ladies in the crowd – Dears

A few whiskeys – Beams

Hairs on the chin – Beard

Wild pigs – Boars

A bird infestation – Beaks

Lots of boyfriends – Beaus

It goes on forever – Years

Bicycles everywhere – Gears

A load of arses – Rears

A woodsman called Ray – Mears

Yes, I know, I should get out more, but as can be seen, I am trying to.

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.

A Few Random Observations

With picture laden travelogues and Crawley Town match reports being a main focus there hasn’t been any random blogging recently. Not to worry, random blogging is back

I’ll start with sprinklers, or any random way of soaking people. I had been dreaming of this kind of thing before the sprinklers at Crawley Town came to life at some point in the second half of a recent game. It was originally about the noisy youths who sit drinking, shouting, and generally being noisy twats late at night / early in the morning in the park at the back of the house. I was thinking what a great deterrent a remote-controlled sprinkler system would be. If they suddenly got soaked every time they got a bit rowdy, then perhaps they’d fuck off somewhere else. Then there is the water feature in Queens’ Square in town. It doesn’t seem to be on very often, and I always see people walking across the area where the little jets are. Imagine being in one the building surrounding the square and having a little button you could press as people are walking across the square, and suddenly they are surrounded by water jets. There is a reason they don’t let have these things.

Writing group is back, and this means a Maccy D’s breakfast is back as part of the routine. And that means a few minutes watching people. On the way in last weekend I saw a bloke wearing a uniform and hi-vis gilet over the top. On the back of it were the words “Civil Enforcement Officer”. Which of course brings me to ask the question, are there rude enforcement officers? Because I’m fairly sure that kind of job would be right up my street. “Excuse me sir, could you move your car please?” “Why?” “Because you’ve parked like a cunt.”

Next up was I saw a little boy bend down and pick up what looked to be a stick from something like a Chupa Chups lolly. I did think he was going to put it in the bin. But no, he decided his mouth was a much better place for it. His mum didn’t, she yanked it out of his mouth with the kind of hand speed that boxers would die for. And then the berating started. Which is fair enough, but the funny thing to me was the fact that the dad had a look around to see if anyone was watching before sidling off with the little girl of the family, so they were out of the beratement zone.

The stream of delivery drivers collecting orders is never ending. One of them did catch my eye as he left with an order. He had a Deliveroo jacket on but was carrying a Just Eat heat bag. I couldn’t see where he was parked, but it wouldn’t have surprised me to see him jump into his Uber car.

The drive to and from work continues to be a source of much “what the fuckness”? I could take any day and fill it with a litany of imbecilic driving, but I’ll pick yesterday as a general example. I hadn’t even gotten out onto a main road before it started. The picture / diagram below will help with what I’m trying to explain. I was stopped at the traffic lights at the bottom of Southgate Drive waiting to turn onto Southgate Avenue to head for the A23 (the red x). On Southgate Avenue waiting at traffic lights were cars who would be turning right onto Southgate Drive (the small yellow arrow). Then a BMW in the straight on lane who had green lights (the big green arrow), slows, puts their indicator on (a shock, I didn’t know they worked on BMWs) and stops to wait for anything heading north to pass. I thought they were just being impatient and were skipping the queue in the filter lane to turn into Southgate Drive. But no, why do that when they can instead do a U-turn.

On the way home I had a much more up close and personal insight into piss poor BMW driving. Just after Hickstead the A23 changes from two to three lanes, and there is a feeder lane onto the A23 which forms the third (and new inside) lane. So, as I’m coming to the merge point doing my usual sixty, a BMW comes up the feeder lane, and despite the lane in front of them being clear they automatically come across into my lane, totally ignoring the fact I’m already there. Beeping has no effect and I have to slam the brakes on to avoid being pushed across into the ten-ton truck in the outer lane, and the poor sod behind me nearly crashes into the back of me. Meanwhile the BMW is flashing their hazards as if they are saying thanks for letting them in. It’s probably a good job I don’t have some kind of James Bond-esque machine guns built into my headlights.

Beware! Moron Wagon.

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.