Purely Horley Crawley Surely

Another random set of words slung together from observations and doing random shit. The title doesn’t make any sense, but it rhymes.

It was time to take the car in for its annual service, done at the Kia dealers so we can keep the seven-year warranty going. The drop off time is early at 8am, but we are actually there early to drop the car off. A quick walk to Charlies for breakfast (the café on the industrial estate and not the burger van in Three Bridges station car park). And then onto the Broadfield Stadium to get tickets for the away leg of the playoffs.

Because we were going to be doing a fair bit a busing around, I got a two-adult bundle of Crawley day rider tickets on the Metrobus app. Only for me to activate it but then have issues once on the bus. It scanned my ticket but wouldn’t register it as for two people, or flick through to a second ticket QR code to scan. The driver got hacked off with me trying and failing to get a second code and just waved us on. Once sat down and able to take a look, it turns out that the two adult day rider bundle isn’t a ticket for two adults. It is two tickets for a single adult to use on two different days. Helen had to use her phone to get another ticket for her to use for the rest of the day. It does mean that I have got another day rider ticket for use at some stage in the next twelve months. The app isn’t clear about this at all. I was cursing myself as I had already counted out the exact change to pay cash for two day rider tickets before changing my mind and using the app. I knew there was a reason I hate there being fucking apps for everything.

After getting match tickets it was back on the bus going in the opposite direction as we were going to Horley for a mooch about.

A visit to the original factory shop before pottering around charity shops. It must be ten years since I last did that in Horley, back when I was only ever looking for records. I remember it quite clearly though, as I had never seen so many James Last records in such a short space of time.

There was a lot of decent stuff around in the charity shops today, and we had a good look in the first three of them we went in. But in the fourth one that was cut short as the atmosphere in the St Catherine’s Hospice shop was toxic as two staff members were having a political so-called discussion. When a third person joined in people started walking out.

From there it was into the lovely Art Deco building that houses the Wetherspoons called The Jack Fairman. The building used to be a car showroom owned by the Fairman family. Jack Fairman had been a formula one driver back in the fifties. When we were sat at the table, for some reason I kept thinking I had already got a drink, and so I kept reaching out to pick it up and have a swig. But drinks hadn’t even been ordered let alone brought to the table. I kept seeing the ketchup bottle out of the corner of my eye and reaching for that until Helen moved it.

We went into Collingwood Batchelor. It was somewhere I’d seen plenty of times but had never been into. I had never seen an advert for the place either, only to then see an advert for it the following night on every ad break whilst doing a NCIS watching marathon.

The service was done, and it had the bonus of them doing a free mini valet as well, so it saved us the trip to the car wash. I wandered back into town. I was looking for a decent sized travel rucksack, one with a separate pocket large enough for my beast of a laptop. I did find one in TK Maxx, but I got some strange looks as I went into various shops and had the tape measure out measuring the inside of various compartments in lots of rucksacks before finding an appropriate one.

I went into HMV. Not for a rucksack mind you. And the escalators still aren’t working in either direction but do act as very weird steps to climb up and down.

I also went for a haircut. Which with my requirements should be an easy ask. It is always the same. A number four on top, number two for the back and sides and a number one for the beard. Just get the clippers out and change the plastic guard length a couple of times. A five-minute job tops. But no. It took the best (or worst) part of an hour. I have no idea why it would take so long. Or why there were twenty-one different implements used. A hair dryer to start things off. Three different clippers, all with no length guard at some point, but five different guards were used as well as four different combs, three different pairs of scissors and a cutthroat razor, shaving gel, a brush, a couple more trips out for the hairdryer, and two different mirrors.

I’m sat in the chair not trying to have the look on my face of “what the flying fuck is going on here.” I wasn’t sure just what to expect next. I was half expecting him to pull a six iron out of his bag, or busting a snooker cue out. I say these latter two things because there were several times when he stopped and was looking at my hair or beard from every conceivable angle just as if he was lining up his next shot at St Andrews or The Crucible. It’s a set price of twenty-five quid, which as it took an hour, isn’t a bad hourly rate, but some of his colleagues got through a couple of people in the same time.

Programme Notes

In the hours leading up to the kick off to this season it would be safe to say outside of the dressing room, the confidence about how the season would go wasn’t high. Crawley Town had a terrible 2022-23 season and only just escaped relegation with a game to go.

We could have named an eighteen-man squad from players who had departed from the club in the previous twelve months. A lot of the fan favourites had gone. And a lot of replacements had come in. Although a lot them had had league experience previously, we had signed the majority of them from non-league clubs. It didn’t inspire confidence.

Off the pitch was a mixed bag as well. There had been improvements in the match day experience. Season ticket prices, reduced the season before, had been held at the same level (which has contributed to the continued increase in home and away support). The Fanzone was up and running, and there are more food and drink options in and around the ground. Yet to some fans there was disgust (definitely mine), the programme had been scrapped. Completely, not even online. And for the second season running the new kits weren’t available before the season started.

The bookies had us as favourites for relegation. Both Four Four Two and When Saturday Comes predicted we would finish rock bottom of League 2.

And then we kicked off. A home game opener for the first time in six years. And a win against the team WAGMI tried to buy before taking us over – Bradford City. With it, the glorious sight of Mark Hughes throwing his toys out of the pram on our touchline. Again.

There was a quick exit in the Carabao Cup away at Exeter City, a contrast to the only real bright spot of the previous season in the same competition where we got to the third round and beat Premier League Fulham along the way.

The new players gelled quickly, and it looked and felt a lot better on the pitch. The grumbling about the wholesale changes of personnel gave way to an acknowledgement the players who had gone over the summer were those on the pitch as we finished twenty-second last season, and therefore them going wasn’t necessarily the terrible thing we had thought it to be.

After the good start, however, came a thumping away 0-6 at Swindon Town following a 0-1 defeat to early leaders Gillingham. But after that we went on a great, and on the whole, unexpected run. We played more attacking football, created chances, scored goals, and picked up points. And towards the end of September, we were top of the league for about eight minutes on goal difference. Not long enough to get a screen grab of it for posterity though.

Then came a dreadful October. Gillingham sacked Neil Harris and our manager Scott Lindsey was closely linked with the vacancy. The saga went on for a while, and it seemed to affect the team and we only picked up a single point in six games during the month, and then went out of the FA Cup in the first round away to Notts County the first weekend in November.

Since then, it was a case of win one, lose one, or win a couple, lose a couple. We are scoring goals in most games, but at the same time, we are conceding goals in most games as well. It is exciting, but not necessarily particularly good for the nerves. But since the turn of the year the form hasn’t been great, and we’ve had postponements and have slipped into the bottom half of the table and out of playoff contention (but not mathematically, so there is always hope).

We have picked up a lot of bookings. The team is relatively inexperienced. They are getting drawn in, falling for the gamesmanship that more experience brings, they are getting bullied off the ball far too often. We have a lot of possession but play ourselves into trouble trying to play out. We create chances, but the shot accuracy isn’t great.

The transfer window was always going to be a worry. Scott Lindsey mentioned he expected there to be changes. But there has been no indication from the owners about how much they were willing to back the team with incoming players. There has been pretty much complete radio silence from WAGMI this season. After last January’s window, where we lost some of players, including out to relegation rivals, back to parent clubs, or out on loan for off field reasons, there is an anxiety about losing players.

For me Liam Kelly, Klaidi Lolos, Danilo Orsi, and Nick Tsaroulla would have been players we couldn’t afford to lose, and we didn’t. There were many other players who divide opinion. Some of our loan players went go back to parent clubs due to the lack of playing time. And we got a couple of new signings in the last couple of hours of the window, a central defender, and a midfielder, but attempts to get an additional striker fell short.

Looking forward, is a play-off place a realistic expectation? Blind faith would say why not? We were close, and aren’t that far away on points, but are probably a couple of players short of being able to make it. In a pre-season piece, I went with what felt like an optimistic prediction of fourteenth and a bit of a cup run. We have had the latter in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, making the third round for the first time in our history, beating a couple of League 1 teams along the way before losing to Peterborough. And I’m going to upgrade my prediction to a top half finish for us but missing out on the playoffs. Our recent form hasn’t been great, but up is where I’m looking, and not down, getting dragged into another relegation battle is unlikely.

Come on you reds.

I Know Not What I Am

I know what I am, but know not what I may become. A paraphrase from Hamlet. But perhaps that is an exaggeration. I may claim I know what I am, but it would only be through a filter of respectability I like to see myself through. But it is a lie. Maybe that is what I am. A liar. A purveyor of untruths. A man who wishes to sell an image that is more palatable to the public. A photoshopped version of myself with the blemishes and inaccuracies tidied away.

But who believes the image anymore? Too many jaded and cynical people exist. Worn down by the constant barrage of misinformation. Nothing is real whilst everything is hyperreal at the same time. The false and the true are not the absolutes they once were. Every falseness contains at least a grain of truth. Every truth has some degree of falseness about it. There are no boundaries. Everything is blurred.

And if my image is blurred to everyone else then that will feed through to what I see of myself. Of what I know of myself. And so do I really know what I am anymore?

I say I know not of what I may be. Of whom I can become. But in this world of fake plastic trees and digital replication I can become anything I design my image to be. It doesn’t matter if I don’t believe it. once it is designed and out there, for all intents and purposes, that is what I will be. As long as I can live with what I have designed then it is all good.

Yet it seems an impossible task. How will I know what I will be happy with? If I don’t truly know what I am doing today, how can I possibly design a future self?

Can I try something new whenever I get bored, or the new persona is uncomfortable, or do I have to suffer the misfortune that my choices now make for my future self? Does it even matter what I think of myself nowadays? Is it only how others perceive me that counts in this everchanging topsy turvy world of instant gratification and Instagram?

Every choice is so exhausting. Every decision is so scrutinised. Every mistake is blown out of all proportion. Every triumph is belittled by those who don’t understand, or try, or are petty jealous joy suckers. So why should I even try to show my best self? Why bother to show myself at all? Wouldn’t it be best to not show anything at all? To stay confined. Confined within my own four walls. To delete the digital world I have created around me. To cut every single strand of every single connection until I float there. Free of all those ties. Truly alone with myself. Perhaps then I could see just what I am now. I would know what sits within me away from the interference and prejudice of others poisoning the well of my psyche.

And once I had my true self-knowledge then I would be able to see what I really want to be in the future. Although having written this all down now I think I know what that would be.


An island.

An uninhabited shell.

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


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.

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.