"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Thursday 31 March 2011

Last Day Of The Tour

A day off work today, we are visiting another university. Leeds Met today. This is the last one of the five, then it’s just the little matter of Daughter making a decision. It’s been exhausting, I think the car would agree, and still no t-shirt for the ‘University Tour 2011’.

Leeds Met have just announced that they intend to charge fees of £8,500, which either shows grand ideas or delusions of grandeur. The jury's out. Personally I would have thought it would be suicidal for a 'small' Uni like Leeds Met to charge high fees because no one would go there at that price. Unless everyone else charges £9,000 in which case Leeds starts to look cheap(er).

As for our visit. The course sounded good, the place looked good, as well as nice and modern. It’s funny how all the universities we've visited have been showing off brand new flashy multimillion pound buildings, like this impressive 'rusty' number in Leeds.

Yet they’re all pleading poverty...

They didn’t give us a campus tour which was odd but they did give us an accommodation tour, although the place was a dump. They showed us one of those private Opal buildings rather than one of their own, which was an odd choice. Perhaps money changed hands, Opal will have plenty of it considering the prices they charge for a small hutch. Also no lunch and no coffee from Leeds, for which I mark them down but I don’t suppose in the great scheme of university selection it’s relevant. Overall I liked the place, it would be in my final shake up. Now we await the verdict of the grand jury.

We get home early enough for the dogs to get a sess on the park. Then I go to squash. It’s a heated game. I hope this is because I keep nicking games off him. Only nicked one tonight, although one defeat went to an epic 32 points, 17-15, should have won that one.

(Thursday 31st March)

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Sweeney Todd

I think breakfast wars has blown over a bit. Well actually I’m not sure what he had for breakfast or lunch... It's all getting a bit secretive.

With half an eye on Sunday’s race, I get a ‘lighter’ hairstyle, e.g. less of it. Tenths of a second are important. Unfortunately I don't get my usual barber and seem to be assigned Sweeney Todd instead. The chap nicks my neck with his electric clippers and then despite my screams of pain does it again. I exaggerate a bit, it didn't seem too bad at the time but when I get home L queries who has tried to saw my head off at the neck. On closer inspection, it’s not good. I wouldn't have paid the man if I'd seen how much damaged he's done.

I take MD training while L runs with Doggo, which is a shock for him. He doesn’t get taken running much these days. They manage 7k, which makes me reassess my plans to run 10k next month with MD. I thought perhaps my old running pal would no longer be up to 10k but who knows.

(Wednesday 30th March)

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Alcoholic Flush

L takes back the task of walking the boys this morning. I hope it goes well or else I may be back on duty tomorrow.

I have now finished the third of my Aberdonian thrillers and go straight onto book four 'Flesh House'. Which already is the most gruesome of the quartet.

Yet more plans (the 100th rewrite, probably) are afoot to revamp Nottingham’s Broadmarsh shopping centre, it certainly needs it. When I first came to Nottingham it was the main shopping centre but that honour has long passed to the Victoria Centre, not that that’s much good.

I don't often go in shopping centres anyway, they tend to specialise in grouping together all the shops that I don’t go in, so at least they serve a purpose in that it makes it easier for me to find what I want by just going round the shops that are left outside the enclave. The new Eagle, sorry Westfield, Centre in Derby sucked half the town into itself when that opened and the life outside the centre is only just starting to recover but now thankfully you no longer have to go inside the centre for anything any more.

The news plans propose to triple the size of Broadmarsh, which is really the last thing Nottingham needs, as we already have dozens and dozens of empty shop units, many brand new. However on closer inspection these plans are not too bad. They don't propose a totally covered in centre but actually suggest creating new streets, which will be open to the air! How radical. It will also shift the town back towards the currently isolated train station. I actually quite like the plans. If they included an option to bulldoze the Victoria Centre so that we didn’t have too many shops, and preferably grassed it over, it would be perfect.

I do a final training run for the Derby 10k tonight. I attempt two ‘fast’ 5k runs with a break in between. The first I do in 22 minutes, the second in 24 minutes. Not quick. Not when you’re hoping to do the full 10k in less than 40 minutes. I’m clinging onto the hope that the distances I measured weren’t correct. I don’t trust the GPS on my iphone to be accurate. Hey, if they can’t get the alarm to go off at the right time, surely a GPS is going to be beyond them.

I think L’s attempts to avoid alcohol during race week are getting a bit extreme. Tonight she’s serving shots of Rochester Dark Ginger. The bottle has been loitering, sorry maturing, on the shelf for some time. It’s supposed to ‘make your whole body glow with health’. Well it certainly makes your throat glow, just like a shot of whisky does, only without the subsequent alcoholic flush. Though it does seem to have mellowed a bit with age. Not bad actually.

(Tuesday 29th March)

Monday 28 March 2011

Statement of Intent

Disaster. I was 11th yesterday, not 10th, but on the bright side, I went under 43 minutes according to the chip times and there was only one girl in front of me. Oh hang on, there were two. Timing wise, it was odd that the timing mat was 100 metres down the road from the start. Not sure if that means the course was actually more than 10k or the timing distance was less than 10k?

This morning I continue my stint with the dogs and take them on the park, throwing balls for them, so my shoulder aches now again.

Six days to go until the gun fight at the Derby 10k. Protégé is on porridge this morning... he never has porridge... I fear this means he’s taking it all far too seriously. Still, I too had porridge but there were no bananas left at home to go with it. I do think he’s copying my breakfast strategy and has to go one up on bananas with his porridge. Blueberries! It’s psychological warfare... I’ll be checking his desk for sports drink when he leaves the office.

The seriousness of the event does not stop at work. L announces she's taking the event so seriously that she’s abstaining from alcohol all week until midday on Sunday. Clearly, I need to watch my back, from all sides.

I shall do the same. Well apart from one to recover from squash on Thursday and oh... there’s a works night out on Friday.

I go to Sainsbury’s at lunchtime for the weekly shop, bananas and perhaps even blueberries. Only Sainsbury’s has sabotaged everything with one of their annoying reorganisations. Their poor staff were getting it in the neck from dozens of irate customers. I couldn’t find any strawberries, let alone blueberries. In fact I came away without several things I usually buy. So their takings will be down this week, serves them right.

L and I are both out tonight but, perhaps as a statement of intent, both alcohol free. L’s on what she describes as ‘a pure, uninterrupted, eat-drink-gossip night’ which used to involve running but no longer seems to.

I’m in the pub for a committee meeting of the dog club. If ever I need alcohol it was now, talk about pointless arguing, but I stick to fruit juice. As I sip it, I ponder whether it would be acceptable to strangle a couple of fellow committee members.

Afterwards I pick the dogs up from my parents, who in a moment of madness had offered to dog sit. Both dogs look exhausted, as does my father. That’s the first time he’s had MD round without me being there to referee, maybe he won’t offer again.

(Monday 28th March)

Sunday 27 March 2011

I Didn’t Really Want A Hilly Race

The clocks go forwards overnight, which means an hour less in bed. An hour less rest for today’s run, which was a swine to organise. The obvious run today was the one a few hundred yards away on Wollaton Park but the Marrow Run is demanding £38 to enter, that includes £30 sponsorship for their charity. Which is all well and good but we do a run practically every week and can’t afford £40 each time. So despite the petrol costs, it is cheaper to go elsewhere.

There was a race near Stratford, but actually turned out to be way beyond Stratford, about 70 miles away and it was hilly. I didn’t really want a hilly race as training for the Derby 10k, which is very flat.

There was the Newham London Run and we do have the habit of going to the same city twice in a week but on this occasion I think we’ll stay local. Well local-ish, Peterborough was a possibly but it’s full and the one at Tickhill is off road... Which leaves Abbots Bromley, also hilly but only 40 miles away. Cheers Marrow people.

Abbots Bromley turns out to be a good choice; it’s a nice location in the Staffordshire countryside. The race is a small event but a well organised one from the Richard Clarke First School.

After a nice spell the weather has turned quite cold again and I opt for gloves. I also curse the first km, which is mainly downhill on potholed, well cratered actually, country lanes. This forces me in to quite a slow start, which works well, and I actually move upwards through the field rather than my usual backwards.

There after the underfoot conditions are better, all on road but very undulating. I’m happy with my pace but the hills make it unlikely to be a fast time. When Kms 8 to 9 climb quite steadily I look forward to a downhill section that never comes and I’d already seen the finish... the last 200m consists of a tough climb back up the road to the school.

For the last, oooh 7km, I've trying to reel in a lass in a Birmingham Half Marathon t-shirt, without success. I would have though another girl, who runs most of the distance breathing down my neck would help me catch her, as this might even give her the win, but she doesn’t seem to have the legs to do so and nor as it turns out, on my own, do I. Still I can’t argue with 10th place and a time just the wrong side of 43 minutes.

So a good event, although at £15 a bit steep considering there’s no t-shirt, we got a water bottle instead. We’re obviously paying for the chip timing, which is nice to have but for a race of this size not really necessary.

Car parking for the event is provided by several locals pubs, so it only seems fair to thank them for their generosity by popping in for one.

Back home later, I catch up with the last day of the World Track Championships or what few bits are shown between the recapping of the whole week. If the coverage has been disappointing, so have the performances. No matter what positive spin the riders and management try and put on it, things are not looking good. The policy of just focusing on the Olympic disciplines too looks flawed. It may be where their funding comes from but sitting back and watch Australia mop up all the medals cannot be good for morale. Then if we don’t get the Olympic medals either...

(Sunday 27th March)

Saturday 26 March 2011

A Tale Of Two Duffle Coats

A lie-in, then dog football on the park, followed by more cycling on the TV. Which has now switched to BBC1 and is mainly recorded highlights dating back to Wednesday with the odd (if you’re lucky) spot of very selective live action. It’s poor coverage. Wednesday to Friday on the red button had been superb, uninterrupted live coverage. It was just like being there. By all means do a highlights package on BBC1 but run the live stream as well.

Then in the evening, we’re at Broadway, for ‘Submarine’ which has been getting some approving write-ups, although it could just be another ‘coming of age’ story and it is Ben Stiller's production company... still we give it ago.

Fifteen year old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), with his Paddington Bear duffle coat, is probably the sort of kid you tried to avoid at school. He’s a bit of a loner and consequentially, a magnet for bulling. He’s also a bit of a fantasist and the film opens with him imagining the national outpouring of grief should he die. Well in Wales anyway, which is where this story is set. Still, it’s unlikely.

The story is narrated by Oliver himself and he talks us through what is a well observed insight into the ‘hell’ of teenage life in a time before computers, mobile phones and social networking. To everyone’s surprise and particularly his own, a female classmate takes an interest in him. Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) is (slightly) more worldly wise than Oliver but equally as quirky, only in different ways, and comes with her own duffle coat.

They start an unlikely romance, although she bans any form of affection, at least in public. Her idea of romance is to set fire to his leg hairs, which Oliver is fine with but desperate to lose his virginity, he would happily put up with worse. In fact, Jordana is pretty much a complete mystery to Oliver, your typical opaque teenage girl. However, things go better than you would expect and they form a relationship built on a shared love of setting fire to things and bullying, although the bullying part is totally against Oliver’s principles but he knows he has to compromise, if he’s to get his end away.

His chance comes when he gets the house to himself one night and woos her with a prawn cocktail and a terrible seduction scene that sees her running for the door. However Jordana returns when she reads the note he gave her thanking her for taking his virginity... even though she didn’t, but he still gave her the note. She takes him back upstairs to do the honours.

Oliver tries to lift their relationship above mere arson and other minor misdemeanours by taking her to see ‘The Passion Of Joan Of Arc’, a silent film from 1928, and offering her King Lear, JD Salinger and Nietzsche to read, but she still prefers the arson and of course setting fire to his leg hairs. Well there’s always the sex. She does though gradually lower her guard, invites him into her life and even takes him home to meet her family.

Alongside this ‘romance’ is the story of Oliver’s parents, Jill (Sally Hawkins) and Lloyd (Noah Taylor) and their marriage, which is on the rocks. Oliver knows this because his parents haven’t left the dimmer switch in their bedroom on low for months, meaning they haven’t been getting up to what he has.

Despite this, his father, a depressive man who is the Open University professor personified (lifted straight off a 1970's TV screen), yes that once was his job, offers relationship advice to Oliver. Well, he did once rip off his vest in a fit of passion. He also presents Oliver with a mix tape of music to soundtrack his relationships. Complete with upbeat songs for the good times and depressive ones for the inevitable break-up.

The main reason for his parent’s rocky spell is Graham (Paddy Considine), an ex-boyfriend of his mothers’, and now a flamboyant new age ‘I am a prism’ mystic ‘ninja’, who has now moved in next door. A man who deserves everything he gets.

Oliver tries to help save his parents' marriage but ends up doing anything but. From his teenage point of view I guess all his actions made sense, whereas from our point of view they didn’t, which I imagine is the point. The film kind of mocks adolescence and gets its laughs by exposing the difference between Oliver’s interpretation of events and reality.

The film is amusing but to say it’s a comedy, as has been advertised, would do it a huge disservice, it’s more than that. In fact I enjoyed the drama more than the humour. Although the audience tonight frequently got the two mixed up. Like at Jordana's house, in a moment that was supposed to be poignant. Jordana's mum has a brain tumour and when the whole family started to fall apart in Oliver’s presence, Oliver didn’t know where to put himself. It was affecting and painful but not funny.

Oliver is a brilliant caricature of a deeply serious teenager, who is as equally endearing as he is appalling. Horrifically he plans to assassinate Jordana's dog to teach her about grief but thankfully it doesn’t happen. The dog gets run over by a train before he gets chance. Yet, he still gets his chance to be a bastard to her. When she requests his presence at the hospital for emotional support when her mum has a life saving operation, he stands her up. At a time when she needed him most and for what we see as no good reason.

She dumps him and he flips his father’s mix tape over to listen to the break up side from which pours Alex Turner’s solo début. Which is perhaps a bit too modern for a professor straight out of the 1970’s but we’ll let that pass.

An excellent film, about the horrors of growing up and some, perhaps a bit Adrian Mole-esque at times but hugely enjoyable.

(Saturday 26th March)

Friday 25 March 2011

Quaint And Old Fashioned

I’m still on dog duty and amazingly Wollaton Park is open this morning and it was only 6:40am. Presumably they forgot to close it last night, either that or the park keeper has a spot of insomnia. The boys were thrilled naturally but it meant I had to throw some sticks, which I wasn’t keen on. Particularly because I had already aggravated my shoulder at squash last night. I tried throwing then using my left hand first, which is my good side but MD just couldn't get the hang of the accurate throwing this produced, he kept losing sticks. Honestly collies’ eyesight is appalling, so I had to switch to my right which didn't do the shoulder much good.

Then I cycle again, which is my third bike ride in a week, it's been a long time since I've done that. I’ve been doing too much running obviously, not that I’ve done any since Sunday. I didn't actually intend having a week off running but that's how it's worked out. It’ll probably do me good. The ride was quite nice again in glorious weather, I think the shorts might have to come out next week.

L’s at the gym, probably working out to Ian McEwan, then again perhaps not, she’d fall off the dreadmill. I keep forgetting she reads ‘paper’ books. How terribly quaint and old fashioned.

She and the boys meet me on the way home. They’re just ambling across the park as I turn on to the estate. If this counts as their evening walk, then that means we can go out tonight without them.

Yep. We head into town and check out the Cross Keys where we haven’t been before.

Not bad, six beers but nothing that really grabbed me. Although we'll certainly pop in again. It’s a short hop from there to the Keans Head, which we find is a bit better.

(Friday 25th March)

Thursday 24 March 2011

Getting The Hang Of Customer Service, Perhaps.

I get up early and walk the dogs, L's having a MD break and perhaps grabbing an extra half an hour in bed after our harrowing day out yesterday. Then I cycle into work. It’s nice and sunny, which makes for a very pleasant ride in.

Perhaps Derby County’s owners are gradually getting the hang of customer service. The deadline for season ticket renewals has been put back until after the end of the season. So now we’ll know what division we’re renewing for, which is handy. That is, if you want to renew for another year of gloom and a football side assembled on the cheap... Which is perhaps where their second initiative comes in. They are now offering a Season Ticket Money Back Guarantee. Right up until the day of the first game of the new season, if you think the club have not done enough business in the transfer market you can get a full refund. Ultimately none of this will make much difference but it's definitely good PR and for once good customer service.

Squash. I again win two games, that's for the fourth match in a row, but unlike on the previous three occasions, I lose more than I win. I lose 4-2. My successful run was good whilst it lasted.

My opponent is elated, despite losing two games, and after trashing his £50 racquet last week he trumpets the quality of its £15 replacement and vows to buy a dozen. If I was him I’d wait to see how it goes next week.... because I can see where this is headed. One day he’s bemoaning wasting £50 on one racquet, the next day he’ll be bemoaning spending £200 on a dozen of another....

The game has aggravated my shoulder. I need a drink to get over it.

Back home I watch the 2nd day of World Track Championships from Holland. There's an encouraging second place for our Women’s Team Sprint duo and an impressive victory for the Women’s Pursuit Team, which includes two débutantes in Laura Trott and Dani King.

(Thursday 24th March)

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Bad Coffee Day

Today the University UK Tour continues. Today London or more correctly Westminster, the university is on Regents Street. We get the train down, which is a pleasant-ish if expensive experience and the coffee is awful.

The main University building turns out to be an impressive affair but that appears to be their main selling point as they don’t push the boat out much as regards anything else. No free lunch and no coffee, certainly no biscuits. We’ve had free coffee at every university visit so far and lunch at two out of three. So get your act together Westminster, think of the parents. There's also no accommodation tour, not even a talk, until we join the queue waiting to collar the accommodation man. I bet he wished he’d done a talk now. And there's no free coffee. Did I mention that?

The girl who gives us the campus tour can’t be bothered to show us the library, saying it would take half an hour. Funnily enough we have acres of time as the whole open day is over in less than an hour. Then we walk to the library by ourselves in less than five minutes.

We tour some of the other university sites on foot but Daughter wants to see the London Eye, so we head there as well. She seems less bothered about the historic sites of Big Ben, Trafalgar Square etc, just the man made wagon wheel. Although the ship in the bottle, HMS Victory no less, which now adorns the fourth plinth does cause her to get her camera out.

At least after all those crackpots standing atop the plinth, they now have something appropriate up there.

However, the most popular part of the day with our prospective university student was easily the tube. Each to their own. It was about the most packed as I’ve seen it. Not pleasant. We need alcohol. We find a pub, get a pint and an excellent meal, almost worth the whole trip in itself. Just need to survive the coffee on the train back now.

(Wednesday 23rd March)

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Do What You’ve Got To Do

I cycle in today. The legs refuse to work at first but they got the hang of it eventually. It didn’t help that I had to overtake someone but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Buying a sandwich at lunchtime has suddenly got far more complicated. Our sandwich van has gone all high tech. Bar coded sandwiches. The poor woman selling them looked well frazzled by it all.

Here’s a great idea, not. Formula 1 plan to use sprinkler systems to wet race tracks in order to make races more entertaining... because 'wet races are always the best by far'. As I recall racing in a downpour often used to coincide with a death and/or a drivers boycott... but perhaps I’m just going back to the dark ages. I must admit I haven’t really followed F1 for years but this idea just strikes me of being a bit loopy.

A free night tonight, so I manage to fit in a swim. It’s certainly been a while. L’s in the gym but she arrives just as I’m about to get out, so I don’t get chance to chat her up over a maxpax mocha.

(Tuesday 22nd March)

Monday 21 March 2011

The Acid Test

My legs are tired but I still managed the stairs at work ok which is always the acid test. I also feel like I’ve got sunburn on my face, either that or wind burn.

The results are in. I just missed the top 1500 out of nearly 12500. Pleased with that.

There’s no doubt Reading was a big success but what of Derby’s Kilomathon which was also on yesterday. We spurned it because firstly it was £45 up from £30 in 2010 and because it was no longer between Nottingham and Derby but had become just a jaunt around the Derby suburbs. Radio Derby said this morning that around a thousand people ran it, which if that’s right, it’s an awful lot down on last year’s entry of over 4000. When the results are posted later it is confirmed that there were only 950 finishers and I bet some of those didn't realise about the route change when they entered.

In addition there were only 92 in the Half Kilomathon. The Half finished at the mid way point of the main race in Stenson and a shuttle bus then took them to the real finish at Moorways Athletics Stadium. Well at least they wouldn’t have needed many buses.

Awful statistics really. The Scottish Kilomathon attracted 1700 entries last year, so the Nottingham to Derby event was their biggest one. It was not a great business decision to tamper too heavily with a race that pulled over 4000 runners and then lose 3000 of them.

Hopefully they'll have learned a lesson, about the price and the route, and they’ll have another go at Nottingham to Derby next year but I doubt it. I’d be surprised if the Kilomathon comes back to Derby after all the grief they’ve had, Radio Derby have made a big thing about a disabled guy who wasn’t allowed to compete.

Dog training again tonight and I come back injured, bleeding from a hand wound. The lengths I go to for that dog’s agility career. Stupid of me to shut my finger in the storeroom door though.

(Monday 21st March)

Sunday 20 March 2011

Day Trip To Reading

The alarms are set for 5am but L’s goes off a 4.45. A clock malfunction she claims which I have no reason to doubt as she’s not the sort of person to set an alarm earlier than necessary. Then it’s just the little matter of a two and a half hour drive down to Reading.

The Reading Half Marathon is the second largest half marathon in the UK, after the Great North Run and something close to 15,000 runners have signed up for this year. Parking is good and we have pre-booked a convenient spot. The race village is a bit of a disappointment compared with the greenery of Nottingham’s Embankment where the Robin Hood Half is held. Reading’s is in the football stadium's car park but it’s adequate.

It’s a short walk or jog to the race start where one of the starters is Mr Reading himself, John Madjeski, whose name adorns Reading FC’s stadium in which we will finish later, as well as several other buildings, as I discover when we pass them on route.

I’m fairly close to the front and get a good view of the wheelchair race start which is five minutes before the main event. The wheelchair race included able-bodied former athlete Iwan Thomas who took part for a Channel 4 show about Paralympic athletes. Then I return to my start pen, which has a nice grassy warm up area next to it, which also doubles as a loo stop for many.

I start more or less with the 1:30 pacer but resolve to not be so stupid and don’t try to keep pace with him, although he runs a sensibly paced 7:40 first mile like me. I’m happy with that as I wanted a steady, non suicidal start. I then increase to around 7:10 miles which I’m comfortable with. He though needs to average around 6:50, so he needs to get his skates on and he soon disappears into the distance.

There are plenty of bands and lots of vocal support as we tour various parts of Reading including the university and the town centre. The old folk’s band stood in their driveway playing some cracking tunes stood out for me.

It’s a nice flat, fairly straight course with a few ins and out around the town centre shops but I’ve had worse. There are a few minor hills, the hardest of which comes at two and a half miles but it was quite short. The 1:35 pacer passed me on that hill, telling his troops they’d lose a bit of time here that they’ll make up later. Not that he seemed to be losing any as he skipped past me.

Another stand out moment was the drinks station at around nine miles which was outside a pub. They were dishing out beer to the runners, unfortunately I was the wrong side of the road at the time and missed it. I almost went back... but thought better of it.

I was thrilled to get a huge crowd reaction at ten miles before wondering if there was something amiss with my kit. Then someone with their entire kit amiss overtook me. I’m not sure a mankini is the best thing to run in but it certainly got the crowd going, well the female contingent anyway, well to be honest the older female contingent. It certainly wasn’t pleasant following his rear for the next half a mile or so. I’ve never seen runners part so quickly to let anyone through.

There were timing mats every 5k, which is nice, splits are always good but the fact they’re in km’s makes it all a bit pointless to me when, in a half marathon, everything else is measured in miles but a minor gripe.

Entering the stadium at the end was a bit overwhelming, even for a tough old boot like me. The organisers had got the crowd arranged just right, so that when you entered the stadium the place looked full and the noise was amazing. It was only afterwards that you could see that two sides were empty and others not quite full.

There was also a nice area past the line where you could watch others cross the line as you got your breath back. Some races quickly usher you back out of the stadium. As I looked back at the finish I was horrified to see a bottle of Lucozade Sport cross the line only a minute or so behind me. I was well ahead of the chap dressed as a testicle though. Credit to him, must have taken some b**** to dress up like that for charity. I hobble off for a post race massage, which isn’t one of the better ones but still very welcome and then I head back to watch L finish.

My time was just over 1:38 which I'm well pleased with. Three minutes quicker than last month, although still nearly two down on last years PB but it's early in the season.

I have to say practically everything was excellent, almost the perfect race. It was very well organised given the large numbers involved. A great event with a great atmosphere. I even liked the medal. It's just a shame it’s not a hundred miles nearer home. All we both want now is a hot bath, just the little matter of the two and half hour drive home before we can get one.

Later we even get an emailed apology about the car parks not opening early enough to let us out but this didn’t pose us a problem but it shows how seriously they take the organisation. The ‘delay’ gave us a chance to watch some of the late finishers, as well as have coffee and cake.

It was a Kenyan 1-2-3 up there at the front in the men’s race but Liz Yelling split the Kenyans in the women’s event and came second. David Weir won the wheelchair race but in third was the Iwan Thomas, I’ll look forward to watching his TV show.

Son turns up at home not long after we get back, two days after we collected his stuff from Warwick. Having been picked up by his father very early on Saturday morning I guess he felt duty bound to participate in the eight mile sponsored walk his father was involved in on Sunday. So he’s done his own ‘marathon’ today as well.

We add to our distance and walk the two and a half miles or so to the Victoria in Beeston. Where we have food, a few beers and then walk back. A very good warm down. A bit excessive but the dogs did need a walk.

(Sunday 20th March)

Saturday 19 March 2011


A dog show today, only at Grantham, so it’s not a horribly early start. Just an early one. Doggo is first to compete and quickly puts in two clear rounds, they were also quite quick for him. He seems up for it today. He does five runs in all and all are clear but he doesn’t get among the rosettes.

MD is also up for it but this doesn’t manifest itself into clear rounds. He gets one clear but that was a controversial one. The judge has a quiet word with us afterwards as I nudged MD back on course with my leg a couple of times, which is actually totally against the rules but on this occasion he let me off. Not that it helped, it didn’t get us a rosette.

So we head home prize-less but it wasn’t too bad a run out for them.

Derby almost win again but concede a late penalty at Crystal Palace. 2-2.

We stay in. Indulging instead in pasta and pudding. Reading Half Marathon tomorrow.

(Saturday 19th March)

Friday 18 March 2011


L accepts my offer to walk the boys this morning, lest she might otherwise strangle 'that' dog, I assume she means MD, and heads off for a swim. I take it he ignored my advice to behave yesterday. Although that might have been the day a tipper truck decided to tip a load of gravel in front of him. He wasn't happy about that but I can see his point. L does get terribly bad luck with him, there always seems to be someone trying to provoke him when she takes him out.

I throw balls for them both on the park, left-handed, as I have a bad right shoulder. Which I think I got from playing an overzealous game of tug with MD. Yep, he gets the blame for everything. It didn’t help that I probably aggravated it at squash last night.

I end up on the black coffee at work, as we’ve run out of milk yet again. Perhaps it's a good thing as we have a wild night out on the M69 planned. No that's not code for something, I do mean the motorway, as we head over to Warwick to collects Son’s belongings but not actually Son. He’s having one more night of partying before a four week ‘sleep it off’ at home.

Once back home, we go for a pint in the Wollaton where it’s band night in aid of Comic Relief.

The beer isn’t that exciting which is bad for the taste buds but even worse for the wallet because it means L is on the wine. We move down to the Wheelhouse where there's another band on but where the Abbot Ale keeps us both happy.

(Friday 18th March)

Thursday 17 March 2011

The Indoor Approach

I’m on the bike today despite the fact it's a bit miserable out this morning. At least I’m not plugged into Rose Tremain like L. Blimey, Rose Tremain and a bit of drizzle, if she was a character in my Stuart McBride book she’d have slashed her wrists by now. She recommends I delete ‘The Colour’ from my iPod. Will do. Loved the ‘Road Home’ but can’t see me reading another of hers not after the awful ‘Trespass’ and now L’s non-recommendation of ‘The Colour’.

L is seriously going through it at the moment. Reading Ian McEwan on paper and Rose Tremain on audio. Nightmare.

We listen to the cricket at work. England again serve up a classic match and beat the West Indies by the skin of their teeth. It should be enough to send them through to the quarter finals but they still need other results to go their way. All six of their games have been total cliffhangers. So they just have to stay on in the tournament, how could anyone have the nerve to knock them out. They have been the only 'entertainment' in what has otherwise been a very dull and predictable tournament.

While the fixtures in Group A have more or less followed the form book and produced the expected qualifiers with ease, England's Group B is still undecided and will go down to the last few games purely due to the inconsistencies of an England side who are capable of doing the most random things. Such as losing to Ireland and Bangladesh as well as making hard work of the Netherlands but have beaten both South Africa and the West Indies as well as drawing with India. Bring on the Aussies.

At lunchtime, during the change of innings, we hit the pub. A pint and a half and game pie. Thankfully I’ve not got to run on all that, tonight all I’ve got to do is knock a few balls against a wall. That is if my opponent has recovered from the ‘wine’ inflicted injury that caused him to miss last week’s game.

He’s been training hard, even to the extent of cycling, indoors of course, and even monitoring his heart rate... which is getting a bit serious. He says it was simply something to do while cycling. Personally I find dodging the traffic keeps me occupied but then I do leave the garage.

I don’t understand his 'indoor' approach, its loads more fun on the road. Like tonight, I enjoyed chasing down another cyclist. I couldn’t resist when I saw what looked to be a quality piece of cycling engineering (e.g. expensive) up ahead and going quite fast too. I felt quite smug when I caught them. It wasn’t a bike or a person I recognised and as I got closer I saw that it also seemed to have a quality piece of engineering astride it, complete with a tasteful little pony tail out of the back of the helmet. I protect their rear for a while until we stop at the traffic lights, when I pull up alongside. Female too, which is nice, it’s best to check, pony tails can be deceptive. Very grumpy though, so I push on ahead. She can protect her own rear.

Another thrilling squash game. 2-2. Thrilling as in I’m thrilled, he’s isn't. In fact there’s another broken racquet strewn across our court and it's not mine.

(Thursday 17th March)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

One Page Is Often Enough

L thinks I’m abandoning her tonight. Leaving her all alone in the house with my prize winning ex-favourite author. She’s struggling her way through Ian McEwan’s ‘Solar’, winner of Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2010. Although L hates prize winning books, they usually turn out to be rubbish. She reckons she has 19 pages to do tonight, whilst throwing someone's plastic bone and remaining AF. I’m sure that, as usual, I’ll come home and find her asleep with Ian strewn across her lap muttering that one page was enough.

I’m out with a couple of old school friends tonight. We have a few beers in the Brunswick and the Alex before going for a Mexican. A Mexican meal which is ok and a Mexican beer ‘Desperados’ that isn’t. The waiter does try and persuade us not to have one, he says he wouldn’t touch it himself but we didn’t listen. It’s ‘a taste of liberty’ you know, comes flavoured with tequila and is 5.9% ABV. Yes, we should have known better.

It doesn’t help that it is served just in its bottle with a slice of lime in the top. The lime is always a bad sign, a sign that they’re trying to hide something, like the taste. The bottle doesn’t help either; you simply don’t get the taste of a beer straight out the neck of a bottle. So, we have to apologise for not being ‘cool’ and ask for a glass each. Once we get it into a glass, we realise why the manufacturers don’t wish you to get the taste of the thing and why they serve it with lime too. It also turns out to be made in France... so it wasn't very Mexican either.

I get home to find L awake, although not with her hands on Ian but watching TV instead. Clearly avoiding her reading duties but about to pour herself a very large whisky, so perhaps she’s not got round to it yet.

As I’m slightly sloshed, despite the attempts of the ‘Desperados’ to keep me sober, she waves a Langdale 10K entry form my way and asks for a signature. This is our usual technique for talking each other into races, although I’m quite keen to do this one. It’s only a fiver, as compensation for them cancelling the Christmas one on us.

Our race packs for Sunday have finally arrived, which is a relief, but it still all seems a bit ‘last minute’. It says on Facebook that the t-shirts were late arriving from Germany which is why they were late being sent off. A British t-shirt next year perhaps? We are still, however, waiting for our car parking pass which apparently was only sent out this morning, first class but first class sometimes takes several days... so fingers crossed.

(Wednesday 16th March)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

No Stops, No Walking And No Urge To Vomit

I get the bus in and will do a long run after work. Probably a last training run before Sunday, depending on how it goes. Talking of Sunday, plenty of people don’t seem to have got their numbers yet, us included.

Some interesting selections in the British squad for the World Track Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands from 23rd March. As expected, no Bradley Wiggins or Geraint Thomas who are back on the road. Also as expected, no Rebecca Romero, the Olympic individual pursuit champion who has been suffering with indecision and then injury. The interesting news is that there’s no Shanaze Reade either, who was outperformed by Jess Varnish in the team sprint in Manchester and no Sarah Storey despite a winning performance in the team pursuit, she’s at the World Track Para-Cycling Championships in Italy instead.

It’s a good run home, well almost home. 10.7 miles from work to Attenborough with no stops, no walking and no urge to vomit. All very encouraging. The only thing that isn’t encouraging is that we haven’t got a race pack yet.

L does her own run and we rendezvous later in a hot bath to compare aching limbs. It’s almost like a Sunday, we even have a curry. The only thing we don’t have is the post-run alcohol. Which we could indulge in... but best not.

(Tuesday 15th March)

Monday 14 March 2011

Iron Constitution

L has a bit of a disastrous walk with boys this morning. I gave both of them a bit of leftover curry last night, although I was wary about giving Doggo much, as he's a delicate boy, so he only got a teaspoon full. He would normally, prior to us having MD, have refused it full stop but MD’s a bad influence on him.

It was a teaspoon too far. He chucked it up this morning and (naturally) in front of spectators. One of whom took photos on a mobile phone. Which is odd... but anyway. MD’s iron constitution is, of course, fine.

L, good citizen that she is, went back to clean it up. Not many drunks would go back to clean up their own vomit, so I bet the locals were well impressed.

Daughter then gets involved in a bus crash. Thankfully those city buses are pretty much bullet proof, so she’s fine. Not sure about the other vehicles involved though. She was only asking the other day why you would wear a seatbelt on a bus...

So that was some morning... and all before anyone got to their place of work. Oh well, the week can only improve.

Or perhaps not. The Reading Half Marathon website says that race packs should be arriving this week. They’re cutting it a bit fine. Don’t they know how bad our post is? Though I’m not sure how old the message on their website is. The point is we haven’t got ours yet. If it goes to the next street, like a lot of our mail does, we’re stuffed.

Dog training tonight, but not for the one with the dodgy stomach, just for the one with the iron constitution, who’s lungs seem in full working order this evening.

(Monday 14th March)

Sunday 13 March 2011

Porn Show

It’s an odd weekend for us, to get two lie-ins, because it’s an event free weekend. It’s an odd weekend for the dogs as well, a long park session with the footballs two days in a row. Doggo seems to survive, I was worried he might be stiff after yesterdays session but he seems ok, even after todays. Well he manages to hop up on to our bed for a kip without a problem. He struggles to get off again, once evicted, but I’m sure that’s just for show.

Then I go for a run with a couple of prostitutes and an arsonist. Yep, more audiobook. I run seven miles without too much trouble, which is quite satisfying. I’m attempting to run myself back into some sort of fitness before the Reading Half Marathon next week.

Then L takes me to an exhibition on ‘Roman Sexuality’, or a 'porn show' as Daughter calls it, at Lakeside, which is an arts centre on the university campus. Sexual images from Roman art and archaeology, it says.

The exhibition contains a multitude of phalluses (or should that be phalli?) which they saw as a good luck charm. A fact that may or may not be useful as a future chat up line. Their prize exhibit though is The Warren Cup, which is not a trophy on offer in some sporting event, but actually a silver drinking cup featuring two homoerotic acts.

The Romans certainly weren’t shrinking violets that’s for sure, clearly not adverse to a touch of homosexuality amongst their horseplay, and goatplay for that matter. As for the Gods, they were crafty ones. Jupiter turned himself into a swan to seduce Leda. Odd choice but it worked. Not so sure it would these days, well unless you’re Natalie Portman.

Lakeside is just across the road from the Tennis Centre gym, where L heads next, so I tag along and do 15km on the bike. As well as a few more chapters.

Time for a curry and a glass of wine after all that I think.

(Sunday 13th March)

Saturday 12 March 2011

No Cause For Confidence Or Optimism

After a relaxing morning lie in and an unrelaxing (but still pleasant) park session, I then get stuck on the A52 for twenty minutes or so, thanks to a horse. The A52 is closed whilst the police and a couple of motorists attempt to recapture a horse. Where it came from I’m not sure.

Then it’s the football match. I’m not confident but then again, with our form, there is no cause for confidence or optimism. Swansea even warmed up better than us. Then a mere seven minutes into the game we benefit from a fluky own goal. Well, it was actually a fantastic back pass. Beggars cannot be choosers and anyway, it’s about time we had some luck. We’ve just got to hang on now for erm... 83 minutes plus added time.

Our good fortune continues, the ball hits our bar and doesn’t go in to the net. Twice. The good fortune is actually supplemented, or even caused by, a much improved performance. Then we get another goal and it’s all our own work this time.

We hang on to win 2-1, which will just about keep us up, for this year at least. Next year... no promises.

So cause of celebration and we even actually go out on a Saturday night. How long has that been? What’s more we stay out because I don’t faint this time.

I check for pubs on Nottingham Camra’s ‘Stout and Porter Stroll’ in an attempt to stay on the dark side all night. We get Salem Porter and Castle Rock’s Merlin in the Poacher. Then we pop into the Rose of England, the first time we’ve been in there for ages before finishing as usual in the Ropewalk.

(Saturday 12th March)

Friday 11 March 2011

Another Morning Of Burning Houses, Drugs And Prostitutes

I get the bus in which means another morning of burning houses, drugs and prostitutes. No I’ve not been reading the Metro again. Just my Stuart MacBride book.

A lot of Scotland is again under a covering of deep snow. Which is pretty typical, as we’re not up there. They are even skiing down to the car park at Glencoe again and seem to be doing so with far more ease and style than we managed when we did it two years ago. It’s all a welcome boost to the coffers of the ski industry up there.

I stay in Derby after work, retiring to the Royal Standard with Detective Sergeant Logan and a pint of Finns Hall Porter to wait for L and Daughter. My detective novel is so harrowing that I have to have another. L arrives in time to get me another top up.

Then we move on to the European Restaurant to meet my parents and my brother’s family. It’s my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, although my mother did try to keep it quiet. However, surviving 60 years with my father, bless him, deserves celebrating. It was a very good meal and all topped off with liquor coffees and cheeseboard.

(Friday 11th March)

Thursday 10 March 2011


Much better today. 105%. Which is much better than Doggo, whom L had a hell of a job getting off the settee, where he was all curled up with his head on her knitting. The old codger. It was a one hour training session! He’s such a waster. Even more so now he’s an old waster.

I take the bus, with my audiobook of course. I’ve now finished Logan McRae book one. The WPC that Logan had got his eye on ends up in a bit of a beaten up mess at the end. Oh dear. So on to book two ‘Dying Light’.

Start of book two... Logan wakes up in bed with the WPC’s plaster casted arm across his bare chest... bless. All’s well that end well then, until the phone rings and he’s off chasing an arsonist who likes to make sure there’s plenty of people inside whatever he burns down. Then there are the beaten up prostitutes, murdered junkies, dismembered Labradors... its uplifting stuff, as well as interesting to run to.

Which is what I intend to do tonight because my opponent has cancelled squash, says he’s done his back in making wine... or more probably drinking it.

Just as I’m geeing myself up for another post-work run, the sky turns to an ominous shade of black. My run is suddenly looking less interesting. L reminds me how smug I'll feel afterwards. Yep, smug and wet.

The weather doesn’t turn out too evil in the end and I set off. Two miles in, it’s not going well. Not feeling quite 105% now. I don’t think carrying my pub lunch around with me was a good idea. I do a bit of walking but the steak and kidney pie, chips, peas plus a pint and a half of bitter aren’t sitting too well... Perhaps with hindsight, not the best pre-run meal but it is National Pie Week (7th-13th March).

I’m celebrating the occasion in style with not one but two pies on the same day because L is doing chicken and mushroom for tea. That is after I've dragged my first pie around a total of nine miles.

(Thursday 10th March)

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Morbid Fascination

I had planned to bike today but decide to skip it, as I feel a bit relapsed after last night’s run or it might just have been too much pizza last night.

I’m close to finishing an audiobook in record time, although it was only a six hour one but Stuart McBride’s ‘Cold Granite’ seems to have captured my morbid fascination.

It’s the first in his series of book about Detective Sergeant Logan McRae and was a free download from the Sunday Times. In fact they’ve handed over four of his books for nothing. Set in the glamorous location of Aberdeen, it is an unpleasant little number with bodies, many children, winding up dead everywhere. Despite that it’s quite witty with it. Chuck in a pathologist ex-girlfriend (that's pathologist not pathological) and a half naked WPC in his apartment but he was too drunk to remember how she got there. It’s an interesting read.

Training for both boys tonight even Doggo. He only gets a session once a month, just to keep his paw in and it’s tonight. He looks terrible afterwards.

(Wednesday 9th March)

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Simple Maths

It’s dropped cold again, -3C this morning. So I decline to cycle or run but I do take my running kit with the intention of running some of the way home.

Talking of cold. Did you see this?

Apparently the average temperature of British houses is 17.5C. Which is basically what ours is, 17-18C. So I’m vindicated, despite the protest movement at home. The chief scientific adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change goes further; his normal thermostat setting at home is 13C! Wow. I’m in awe of the guy. I wonder how he squares that with his wife and daughter? He’s obviously a 1970’s sort of guy, back then apparently the average house temperature was a mere 12C. I always said that was a good decade.

The chief curator of the Royal Historic Palaces, whoever she is, says of her grandmother, ‘she wouldn't sleep in a heated bedroom, and would always have a window open’. Wow. Another hero. Too right granny, I always used to sleep with a window open too.

It’s a sweltering 6C by the time I leave work and I set off on a run. I’m feeling much better than I have been, 90-something-%. L isn’t impressed with that statistic but I thought I’d under promise and over deliver, as they say, on the percentage front.

I end up running nearly 9 miles which is further than I intended but it wasn’t my fault, the buses all seemed to be running late. Although they’ve taken all the live times down off the bus stops which doesn’t help, but I wasn’t stopping until I saw one.

Derby are playing again tonight and in the first half Middlesbrough seem to do all they can to make us look good, which is no mean feat, and even give us a penalty, which we actually score. Doesn’t last though, we still lose 2-1 to an own goal and a heavily deflected shot. Some simple maths. Not playing well + not getting any luck = doomed.

Meanwhile I’m out for a pizza with a friend and later in the pub where, OMG, Snecklifter. Just the thing if you’re not-quite-100%.

L’s at her book club tonight and, you have to laugh, her new book to read is by my ex-favourite author Ian McEwan. His ‘comedy’ Solar.

Question is, do I read it in sympathy with her?

(Tuesday 8th March)

Monday 7 March 2011

Random Numbers

They’ve changed the door code at work, after who knows how many years. I’ve been here fourteen and it didn’t even change when we moved to new offices. So I’m stuck outside this morning scratching my head punching in random numbers until the correction combination drops into my head.

Today’s supermarket challenge - gnocchi, which is some form of fresh pasta. Taxing but do-able.

The BBC are 'commemorating' ten years after the Foot and Mouth crisis. Firstly they're a bit late, it started in February 2001, but it does bring back memories.

We were serial visitors to Snowdonia and the Lake District back then. Rarely a month went by without a visit to one of the other, so it curtailed us a bit. L also had her participation in the infamous Grizzly run in Devon and the Coniston 14 miler called off. I recall we went up to Scotland in August and detoured on the way back, ending up in Wasdale, Cumbria to do our bit for the Lake District economy. The area still had guard posts on the footpaths and disinfectant buckets everywhere but they were starting to relax restrictions by then.


Come October we headed down to Seaton in Devon for the rearranged Grizzly with a ten week old puppy sat on L’s lap in the car. An event that, in itself, would change holidays (and other things) for good. As I recall he was freaked by our choice of music (suppose he’s not been the only one) and we had to turn the radio off. He had a great weekend, lived off chips and sausages and wee'd on his first hotel room floor. Then a month later we took him for his first visit to a reopened Lake District and then again at New Year with the place blanketed in snow and him wrapped in a towel for warmth... ah memories. Now look at the bundle of fur...

That particular ex-pup isn’t training tonight but t’other one is. He’s brilliant. If only he’d been this good yesterday. Afterwards I collect L from her parents’. She warns me that kissing and hugging are banned tonight. Thankfully she only means with her folks.

The boys get roast chicken for tea. We’re allowed a bit too. Apparently they’ve earned it tonight... Well, only one of them trained. I’m not sure the other one did anything... but he was a very cute pup ten years ago.

(Monday 7th March)

Sunday 6 March 2011

Belated Celebrations

After not the best of nights, I still manage to persuade L to let me go to today’s dog show, which is a two hour drive away in Yorkshire. Although I leave quite a bit later than planned. The 8am start at the show was inhuman anyway. The fresh air will do me good.

Meanwhile L opts to run the Rushcliffe 10K and after looking at some awkward bus routes decides to bike there, which leaves me feeling well outdone. So it had better be a successful dog show.

Hmmm. MD is hyper, way too over excited and promptly forgets all the things we’ve been working on over the winter. Many mistakes and the poles come flying down, which they haven’t been doing in training. I finally calm him down for his third run which is better but not clear. Then finally on his fourth run he goes clear. Yet he picks a course where he’s pitched against loads of dogs from a higher grade and therefore has little chance of getting a rosette. Enthused by that... we make a complete hash of his fifth and final run. All very frustrating but he looks happy with himself, he’s had a great time.

As for Doggo. Well he hobbles around the first two of his three runs; although he is clear in the second of them, it’s very slow. I realise that he’s still stiff after his football session yesterday. Maybe at his age agility and football on the same weekend isn’t a good idea. I more or less decide not to run him in his final run but then I take him for a longish walk to try and loosen him up. It works, we do the final run and he gets a rosette for 10th.

I get home and L and I at least have a few glasses of wine to belatedly celebrate our anniversary.

(Sunday 6th March)

Saturday 5 March 2011

A Night To Remember

After a morning lie-in and a park session with the dogs I spoil a promising day by spending the afternoon sat in the damp and the cold watching Derby hang on to a 0-0 draw against the might of Barnsley. Unfortunately it’s one of those games that goes under the sub-heading ‘must win’ and obviously we don’t. The writing is on the wall, as well on the floor, the ceiling and everywhere else there’s room to write it and in very big letters.

As it’s our crystal (apparently) anniversary this week L books us into a fish restaurant, one that she’s always wanted to try, for this evening. It’s a night she won’t forget. I suddenly start feeling ill on the bus into town. L and Daughter have both been ill this week, so I guess it was my turn. L had been predicting it but I’d assumed it would pass me by. We make it to the restaurant, order wine but then I start to feel faint. I leave L to make our apologies and cancel the booking whilst I go outside for some air. Fainting is somewhat of a speciality of mine and I feel I put on quite a good show for Nottingham’s revellers. The restaurant is very helpful and start to summon an ambulance but I decline. We head home, where L gets soup for tea rather than a posh meal. So it’s a disappointing evening out and anniversary.

(Saturday 5th March)

Friday 4 March 2011

Culture To Be Had

Before I leave this morning I have a quite word with MD, man to man’s best friend, about his morning walks with L. He looks contrite and appears to be willing to behave but he’s probably got his toes crossed.

I head off on the bike, which is a bit miserable, weather wise. Meanwhile L says MD is almost a saint. Blimey.

Tonight L lets me go off to a gig on my own and stays in with the boys, to chill out and throw rubber bones, balls etc. Meanwhile I battle with Rugby’s car parks. They’re all full. It must all be happening tonight. The cars are parked ten deep around my destination. Yep, Asda next door is really busy tonight. Who the hell does their weekly shop on a Friday night? Not me, there's culture to be had this evening, I'm off to the library.

British Sea Power have played some rather weird places, in fact earlier this week they played on a boat outside the Houses Of Parliament, in aid of renewable energy. Tonight they are live in Rugby’s Library, an event intended to highlight the over keenness of councils to close libraries. It has been organised in collaboration with the ‘Get It Loud In Libraries’ project.

Security was crap, there are no actual tickets and I got in with a printed email of my booking. If I'd know, I'd have printed a few more off and sold them outside. Then I could have afforded a t-shirt because I’ve not had time to visit the hole in the wall.

I have expected the gig to be taking part in some annex or meeting room but no, it’s slap bang in the centre of the library, which is pleasantly small and intimate.

Although the book shelves do restrict the number of potential viewing points somewhat. What's worse is that if you try to nip down an isle to uncover some secret route to the front you find your way blocked by a pile of the band's discarded equipment boxes.

Having explored all down one side of the room and decided that although the view from the poetry section was ok it wasn’t great, I decided to try the other side. In the end I get a really good spot. If you know Rugby library, I was just ahead of the Hindi reference section not far from the magazine racks, which were stage left.

During all my jostling for position the support band are playing. ‘Life In Film’ are another perfectly adequate guitar based indie band, with plenty of lively, jingling tunes. Better than most in fact. I shall certainly keep a look out for them.

It was interesting to see what the acoustics would be like, as I imagine it’s not something that libraries are known for. I mean you're not supposed to make much noise are you. ‘Life In Film’ make plenty and the acoustics seem surprisingly good. The stage too is reasonably high and there’s no barriers between the band and crowd, just a ‘bad sound area’ marked out on the floor which I think you’re supposed to keep out of. So all set for a good gig then. Although no foliage or flags adorn the stage tonight. Damn library rules. There’s also no alcohol only a coffee machine, even the band’s own Zeus beer isn’t available until afterwards. If the crowd are all on maxpax coffee it could get very lively indeed.

There’s not much of a break between bands for once and then after a brief welcome chat by our hosts, it is suggested that we have some music. The band take the stage and oblige, launching into their most recent protest song 'Who's In Control', the opening track from their latest ‘Valhalla Dancehall’ album. An appropriate choice with its lyric ‘I'm a big fan of the local library, I just read a book but that's another story...’ and matching t-shirt.

The crowd seemed a tad subdued to start with, perhaps keeping in line with the location but the show gradually picks up momentum helped by a ferocious 'Apologies to Insect Life' and lively newies such as ‘We Are Sound’ and a particularly impressive ‘Stunde Null’.

‘Lights Out For Darker Skies’ is always quality but it’s especially good tonight. Then the brothers do their traditional mid set swap and Yan hands over vocals to Hamilton. Who delivers the quartet of ‘No Lucifer’, ‘The Land Beyond’, ‘Once More Now’ and the tremendous ‘Mongk II’. Now no disrespect to Yan but I always look forward to Hamilton’s segment. He really does seem to get a lot of the best tunes.

I haven’t seen them on this current tour before and it’s great to see a load of not played enough classics reappear in a reshaped set, such as Hamilton’s ‘The Land Beyond’. One of three from the often largely ignored 'Open Season' album, from which Yan, once he returns to lead vocals, spoils us indeed with both 'Oh Larsen B', everyone’s fave ice shelf, which is massive and 'It Ended On An Oily Stage'.

Those come after a hugely impressive ‘Zeus’, at which points the library starts to get more lively than it probably ought to and a group of girls rush the ‘bad sound line’. ‘Thin Black Sail’ doesn’t calm things down at all. All we need now is Noble to go off on one of his usual climbing sprees atop the Modern History section but disappointingly and probably wisely, it doesn’t happen. I have visions of library shelves coming crashing down. He does refer us to an interesting section on ferrets but shows no inclination to climb up there to show us personally.

Recent single 'Living Is So Easy' leads us into a final sequence of ‘Waving Flags’, ‘Great Skua’, ‘Carrion’ and ‘All In It’. I think my hearing collapses during ‘Carrion’. The gig certainly wasn't quiet. I was standing right in front of the left speaker and as the band go off I realise that I've already got a hissing noise in my left ear and there’s still the encore to come.

The set list had Open Season's ‘Like A Honeycomb’ down as part of a three song encore which would just have completed my night but sadly things were running late. I had no idea what the curfew was on a library but I think we found it. Ours at home is 7.30, so we did well and we did get a twenty song main set. What we do get is a typically rousing ‘Spirit Of St. Louis’ to close.

BSP have had their problems of late and had to cancel their European Tour for financial reasons, whether this is low ticket sales or low album sales or something else I’m not sure but they’re certainly popular tonight and have pretty much sold out all their UK dates. Tonight, I thought they were exceptional. I nip out, find a cash point and get that t-shirt. For which you can get a discount with your library card.

Next up for the band... Jodrell Bank apparently.

(Friday 4th March)

Thursday 3 March 2011

Lynch Mob

I run into work, it was tolerable. Well, I didn’t have to walk any of it, so perhaps things aren’t as bad as I thought.

MD is a pain for L. Sometimes I think she takes out a different dog to the one I walk but then she does seem to have appalling luck. I mean, I haven’t seen any deer on the park for months, I thought they’d got rid of them all. Yet she runs into a lynch mob of deer and they aren’t even on the park. They were simply walking along the road parallel to it. MD, quite understandably, can’t abide the deer goading him through the fence.

There’s a Cricket World Cup going on you know, and going on and on, in the longest drawn out format you could possibly imagine, doubled.

Still it is a useful distraction at work. England have been in all the highlights so far. A thrilling dead head with hosts India and of course the now legendary loss to the mighty Ireland. Today I catch a bit of Canada on the radio. Their first eleven consists of, and I think I’ve got this right, six chaps who were born in India, one from the West Indies, one from Sri Lanka, one from Pakistan, one for Uganda and oh a chap from Toronto called Zubin Eruch Surkari... All very suspicious. They do have a genuine Canadian in their squad called surprisingly John Davison but he wasn’t picked...

15 years today. That’s how long L and I have been together. If she’d murdered me on our first date she’d be up for parole now. Unfortunately she’s still not 100% on our anniversary.

She asks ‘Would you divorce me if I bought a Glee album?’ Probably. She’d have to hide it at the bottom of drawer somewhere and covertly play it when I’m out. Then again I suppose we already have Mika CD’s in the house. I knew it was a slippery slope.

I celebrate our anniversary in style on the squash court, in one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever played in. My partner implodes in the first game after amassing a healthy lead of half a dozen points or so and only needing a couple more to take the game. I reckon some good play from me contributes to it but he assures me it was just luck.

Then almost the same thing happens again in the second game. 2-0. Well I never. I’m really on form tonight or rather, I’m told, being very very lucky. I lose the third game, unluckily I would say but my opponent say not. Then half way through the fourth game, time is called. What a shame, no chance for him to level it. Unlucky that.

A 2-1 win, nice. My second win this year.

(Thursday 3rd March)

Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Illness Baton

The illness baton has been passed on to Daughter. So L’s not popular. I am, so far, fine. Germ free and fighting fit, well apart from when it comes to running obviously but that’s another story. I might, though, have to start wearing a surgical mask at home. I'd better not get it. I have squash, a gig, a match and a dog show to get to this weekend. Could be worse I suppose, at least I haven’t entered the Clumber Duathlon on Saturday, I did consider it.

With Daughter laid low, I do the dogs and L does the paper round. I take the dogs out early, walk them round our circuit at a swift pace before returning home and feeding them. Then I throw open the door to our outside storeroom. Oooh what’s this? A bike. It’s been so long.

L’s now saying she’s 100% but I don’t believe her. It’s just a ruse because she’s at Hairspray tonight, sat on a bench at the back, in the cheap seats, which apparently are great for people with very short legs. It’s good to see her going for the cheap seats. She’s on the wagon, credit card wise, and getting the hang of this austerity thing.

Meanwhile I have dog training. Not only am I now on the committee of the dog club I’m also team manager for our Crufts qualifying campaign. That’s for 2012. Crufts 2011 starts next Thursday and for the first time in four years I’m not going. I’ve had two years supporting followed by two years competing. Somehow there didn’t seem any point in going back to just supporting this year.

As for 2012, hopefully Doggo’s got one more year in him or perhaps MD can step up to the plate. All we need a team mates, which it is now my job to find. My persuasive/grovelling email to the potential recruits does not get much of response from the top handlers with the best dogs, the ones who could possibly get us to Crufts in their sleep. Although I think we tried that technique and it didn't work.

However, my appeal that I would be inclusive of anyone who fancies a go, no matter how good or bad they think they are, does get an impressive response from several new members. Which is terrific and very encouraging. One thing we’ve lacked for years is a ‘youth policy’ which is why we can barely raise a team now, as there’s no one coming through to replace those who drop out. So at the moment I have a promising and very keen ‘development squad’ and they even want to have team training session. It would serve the rest right if they went all the way.

(Wednesday 2nd March)

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Bean Bags And Wobble Boards

L must still be ill because she’s been getting the bus to work both ways. She must be seriously ill, she usually walks everywhere. I feel guilty now. I should have done the dogs.

At least she appears to be well enough to be at work and to make the hairdressers but if she was too ill for the haircut I’d understand. Personally I think the extra length looks great but she disagrees.

My dark secret is out, as a new triathlon magazine arrives through the door. It’s a free sample. Honest. I've retired. It can probably go straight in the recycling.

Are Halfords any use for anything anymore? I gave up long ago trying to get find anything useful for my bike in there and now increasing so for my car as well. I wanted a new rear wiper blade arm that broke under the strain of the ice and snow. They used to do them but not anymore. How about a simple car fuse? Yes we have fuses sir but not the want you want. Thanks a lot. Time to pay over the odds at Vauxhall then.

Another relegation six pointer for Derby tonight but I’m not there to offer my support. I’m learning ‘multi skills’ as part of my coaching course. Surely they can cope without me. They can’t lose to Doncaster, can they? Oh yes they can. 3-1, amidst more pointless team changes. Just pick the best eleven players and pray. A good one to miss I think.

I hope the ill one is tucked up in bed sleeping off her illness but no, she’s watching Glee. Which is surely more than enough to cause a relapse.

‘Multi skills’ is actually rather good and fun. They teach us loads of interesting methods and games that stretch your muscles, whilst improving your coordination and balance. Could be useful. Particularly good are some warm-up techniques and I never knew that I could balance so many bean bags on my head whilst stood on a wobble board.

(Tuesday 1st March)