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

Sunday 31 March 2013

Terri Hooley

We take a trip to the gym today, where my ankle can cope with the bike. I try and read my book on audio but fail, the background music in the gym was just too loud and I had to go back to drowning it out with my own.

In the evening, it’s film time at Broadway again. 

Not many people will have heard of Terri (with an 'i') Hooley, I hadn’t, but some will have heard of Good Vibrations. Good Vibrations was a record shop setup by Hooley. It was also the name of a record label he launched to help emerging Northern Irish bands and to him, Good Vibrations was his way of life.

The film ‘Good Vibrations’ is his story, a biopic of his life. Terri with an 'i' (Richard Dormer) lost an eye when he was a child but this didn’t hold him back and fitted with a glass eye, he opened his record shop on the most bombed half mile in Europe in late 1970's Belfast at the height of the troubles.
Hooley had seen his friends divide up along political and religious grounds as the troubles escalated. He never felt he belonged in either camp despite coming from a political involved family, having a communist leaning father who was an expert at losing elections.

Instead, inspired by the local band Rudi, part of the emerging punk scene, who seemed as oblivious to this religious divide as he was, he tried to bring these camps together using his passion for music. In an ever increasing amount of cigarettes, beer and brandy everything else falls by the wayside, including his long suffering wife Ruth (Jodie Whittaker). Considering the on screen scale of his consumption, it is amazing he is still alive today.
Hooley helps emerging punk bands like Rudi and another band he discovered, The Outcasts, record and distribute their music through his Good Vibrations shop, label and concert promotions.

Many thought he was mad and they’d be right. He was also possibly the worst business man ever born. Even when he fills the Ulster Hall for a concert he still makes a loss. Every so often he appears to be on the edge of a major breakthrough, only each time managing to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
When a certain Fergal Sharkey begs him to release a record by Sharkey’s band The Undertones, who were a far from punk looking outfit in jumpers their mothers must have bought for them. Hooley was initially reluctant, until he hears the record itself. 

He releases ‘Teenage Kicks’ on the Good Vibrations label and then hikes it all round London trying to get a major label interested. No one was but he did manage to get a copy to John Peel. Who played it not once but twice, in a row. The first time he’d ever done that. The Undertones were launched, Hooley wasn’t and again lost money.
Meanwhile Rudi and The Outcasts never hit the big time at all.

Film wise, the script could be pacier and there’s no real plot, it is more a montage of the key moments in Hooleys life but its informative and at times humorous. It is a film about the power of music and that music is of course excellent. 

To this day the record shop still exists, although it has closed and reopened many times. 

(Sunday 31st March)

Saturday 30 March 2013

Almost Greatness

Today’s dog show in Solihull has been moved indoors. Luckily for them it was scheduled in the grounds of a riding school and their indoor arena isn’t booked this weekend. The reason being that all the fields over here are still white over with snow. Clearly Solihull is colder than the rest of the midlands.

My first run with MD comes very early, five minutes after we arrive and bravo, clear round! I don’t think his elderly limping handler held him back too much. The ankle is still not great, so Monday’s 10k on Wollaton Park is looking very doubtful. The curse strikes again.

We end up joint 6th, which isn’t bad for starters. It also means we go into a runoff for 6th and 7th places, which we win despite 5 faults. Not being too bothered about whether it's 6th or 7th my main aim was to go quicker than in our first run. Which we do, by half a second but MD brings a pole down.

Then it’s snowing again and Doggo does his warm-up by going for a roll in it.

After two more runs with MD, one excellent but with a pole down, the other awful (my fault) and a clear run for Doggo in the Veterans, it’s time for our main objective of the day. This is the qualifier that took us to Malvern last year. Latest year it was sponsored by Alpha Dog Food, this year’s it’s sponsored by Drontal Worming tablets... I hate to think what you get for winning?

Our run is simply brilliant and the fastest so far. The judge stands there clapping... the crowd were cheering... a little. Then the final pole trickled gently off its mountings, in slow motion or so it appeared. Damn. Five faults. No Malvern.

It was really galling as nobody goes quicker and goes clear. So sadly 1st becomes 14th. Almost Greatness.

Back home later, L and I head into Stapleford to Nottingham’s pub of the year, the Horse and Jockey. Which is a place I’d never considered going in before.

When we get there, things just get better and better. They have a Stout and Porter festival on. Wow. Its four pints for £11. Wow. I think we’re staying here all night.
(Saturday 30th March)

Friday 29 March 2013

The Jinx Continues

Good Friday today and somehow I wake up with a twisted ankle. I don’t remember doing that. How can you twist your ankle in your sleep? I have a feeling that a dog may have slept on it.

It appears to be a reoccurrence of the old football war wound, weakened by years of playing on astro turf. It’ll pass. I hope. We hobble to the park but the boys aren’t very sympathetic and don’t wait for me.

Daughter heads off back to Sheffield and L goes with her, armed with the joint credit card.

In the evening there’s a match. Quite why this isn’t a 3pm kick off I don’t know. At least they have announced that this Friday experiment isn’t continuing next season.

All the same this game had better be exciting because it’s not very warm tonight. It’s not too bad, a fairly warming 3-0 win over a very poor Bristol City. Who look increasingly relegation bound.

(Friday 29th March)

Thursday 28 March 2013


It’s zero degrees but the sun is out so I bike.

There is still some snow around.
Although mostly the snow drifts have been replaced drifts of grit. They have dumped so much of it on the roads, which combined with some very dry weather, has simply left it all piled up in the gutter. My wheels kick up clouds of it as I bike through dunes of the stuff at the side of the road.

The other problem is I’ve put on far too much. That’s as in clothes, not weight. Then again, perhaps both. Anyhow, I’m well hot by the time I get to work.

L spends the morning filling in on reception at her work and listening to Simon Bates. Who is still going strong, now on Smoooooooth Radio. Still doing the Golden Hour and his mushy story bit. None of which I ever believed. L is apocalyptic at that, clearly a believer. Perhaps I'm just a sceptic.

She threatens to write in and request REM’s ‘Tongue’, one of ‘our’ songs. Although I'm not sure that's quite the sort of story they usually broadcast. I’ll pop it on the hi-fi tonight. Although, Daughter's home. Looks like we’ll have to slip her a tenner, like the old days.

We go to a different pub at lunch, The Waterfall, for variation. The beer won’t be as good but perhaps the food will be better. The pie isn’t. It’s distinctly average and comes in a dish. I hate pies in dishes. The Abbot Ale is decent though.

Unfortunately 5% Abbot + Pie and Mash + Cycling to work = doesn't bode well for a decent performance at squash. I'm not wrong.

(Thursday 28th March)

Wednesday 27 March 2013

My Curse

I get up, determined to cycle, put on my cycling stuff, pull back the curtains and see snow flurries. It doesn’t look promising, so I take off my bike kit and get the bus. So not only no cycling but no swim either. As I sit on the bus, the sun comes out.

My curse continues. An inspection is being undertaken at this weekend's dog show, a decision is due within 24 hours. It’s not looking good. A warning to anybody thinking of doing the Wollaton Park 10k on Monday, don’t bother. I intend to enter on the day, so cancellation is as good as assured.

L makes a mental note to not only not order the same as me at a restaurant, as it’ll be off, but to also not enter the same events as me.

Dog training tonight. It’s cold but at least it’s indoors. MD is rampant, that’s what two weeks without does for you. I’m the same.

(Wednesday 27th March)

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Resistance Training

I do a run from work. Due to the weather this is my first run since last Tuesday, which isn’t exactly a training programme to be proud of.

Tonight it’s cold and bloody windy. In the form of a headwind of course. L describes this as resistance training. I sort of which I’d resisted and got the bus.

I battle my way through to around about 14km again, which is all quantity and very little quality I think. The dogs then insist on helping me iron out my calves with my foam roller causing me to abort and promise to do it later. Which I don’t.

(Tuesday 26th March)

Monday 25 March 2013


Diet. Salad tonight. Caesar salad to be precise, I just hope L goes easy on the Caesars.

Dog training is surprisingly off, anyone would think we had snow on the ground.

The Loughborough Half Marathon is to be rearranged. Bugger. This has the immediate effect of paralysing my calendar. Rescheduling these things is almost impossible. Most people will have other races planned, so any rescheduling is going to create a clash for somebody.

This means I now have to hold off entering anything, races or dog shows until they decide on a date. L has already entered Sheffield, hoping she’ll be fully recovered from injury by then. I was going to enter that and Scunthorpe aka North Lincolnshire Half, once I’d survived Loughborough. I’ve become cautious about entering too far ahead as I’ll only get injured again.

A work colleague has just entered the Nottingham Half, although that is no guarantee he’ll do it, although he did run the Clough-Taylor 10k last week. Nottingham are including a free t-shirt this year, which is about time. That might swing it for me, despite their rather boring new (fast) course.

(Monday 25th March)

Sunday 24 March 2013

What's Not To Understand?

With the Loughborough Half off, it’s the park and (surprisingly) the gym instead. I cycle for 12km, which should have been 15km but could have been 10km, so it’s a compromise, then 2km on the rower. I decide against the planned 3km on dreadmill on the grounds collapsing would embarrass L or cause her to disown me and anyway there’s two people on there already who look like they’ll show me up.

Then it’s off to the station to collect Daughter, who I am sure is home for the week because she loves us and has nothing to do with the fact she’s ran out of money...

In the evening we all head over to Quad in Derby tonight to see ‘Stoker’. A tale of fun, games and happy families.

Stoker revolves around something that nearly all households have, a sulky introverted teenager. Only this one has no equal. Ok, perhaps at first India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) has an excuse. Her adored father (Dermot Mulroney) has just been killed in a freak car accident and her mother is Nicole Kidman. That’s not a good start to your eighteenth birthday in anyone’s books.
Just as India is wondering where she’s going to get shoes from now, because her father gave her the same pair every year on her birthday and who she’s going to shoot the local animal population with because her father did that too, long lost Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) pops up out of thin air to attend the funeral. He’s been off travelling the world apparently, funny then that no one’s mentioned him before...
The good news is he’s going to stick around for a while, maybe indefinitely. India’s mother, Evelyn, who has already been taking her suddenly widowed status far too well now perks up even more. Though that’s relative, Evelyn doesn’t really do perky. Kidman is cast perfectly in the role of an unstable woman who sits around the house looking brittle, detached and pathetic all day long, stopping momentarily to flirt outrageously with her handsome brother-in-law before reverting back to type.

To be fair, Charlie makes eyes at both of them. It’s just that while Evelyn thinks Uncle Charlie is sex on legs and may possibly be up for more than your average family bonding, India thinks he’s the creepy uncle to end all creepy uncles and continues to ignore his attempts to befriend her.

In fact there’s something more than something a little creepy about Charlie. One suspects he has a whole football team worth of skeletons in his closet. Their housekeeper seems to know something. So, she promptly disappears and then turns up later amongst the ice cream in the freezer. Auntie Gwen (Jacki Weaver) knows something about him too but before she can say very much she’s packed off for a short stay at the local motel. A very short stay. 
India too, suspects that he may have ulterior motives and yet, she becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Of course there’s something really creepy about India too and she’s a total gift to the high school bullies, who constantly harass her for being a weirdo. To their cost when they find out that she’s a dab hand with a pencil. When she gives the come on to the nice one amongst them, she then finds out that he’s not so nice after all. Ok mate, so she bit you but is that any excuse for trying to rape her?

It’s at this point in life that a girl needs a guardian uncle, luckily she has one to hand. Uncle Charlie and his belt speed to their rescue and give the boy the Auntie Gwen treatment.

Uncle and Niece, having discovered a shared interest, now bond further by sharing burying duties in the garden. After which India tries to ring the aforementioned Auntie Gwen, only to hear her phone ringing somewhere underneath her feet, in the ground. After a moment’s reflection, in the shower, she realises what a sexual turn on it all is.

Now India feels confident in her own ability to go over the edge big time, so she does, with bells on. The murderer's apprentice has graduated.
This intriguing family tale unfolds very slowly, building a gathering air of dread and gloom as it goes. This gives you time to peer into the minds of the Stokers and examine the family dynamic. It's not a pretty sight. Then when the expected murders finally arrive, they are presented with such relish that it is a little disturbing and that's not a pretty sight either.

You may guess that I loved it. Yes it's a weird film but just go with it. I thought it was clever too and nicely confusing; some scenes could either be real or imaginary, I like that sort of thing. There’s even a hint of very dark comedy in there which sits nice and uneasily amongst the murders.

People will say there’s a lack of a coherent plot and too many loose ends at the end but I’d simply say they weren't trying hard enough. What's not to understand? and as for loose ends, what loose ends? There aren't any, everyone's dead.

Daughter complains of two hours she'll never get back. Firstly it was one hour forty but anyway it was well worth two hours of my time, I loved every one hour 40 minutes of it. 

(Sunday 24th March)