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

Saturday 31 January 2015

The Year of the Ram

The Chinese New Year Celebrations are coming up and this year will be The Year of the Ram. Quite an omen. Derby win 2-0 at Cardiff to stay joint top with Bournemouth.

In the evening we head off for another Broadway meal, from a full menu this time, and another film.

A Most Violent Year follows Abel Morales (Oscar Issac), the owner of a successful, private oil company in New York City during 1981, which is statistically the city's worst year for violent crime.

Abel and his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), started their business from scratch and built it up into the successful enterprise it is now. When hijackings of their vehicles start to happen and then start to turn violent, they struggle to keep their heads above water. Let alone expand, which they wants to do, by purchasing an important new property.

His workers are beaten, his oil trucks are stolen and he has 30 days to pay off a loan, so he wants answers from the police but none are forthcoming. 

Instead, led by DA (David Oyelwo), the police begin to investigate his company and eventually file charges. Certainty aspects of their company are a bit dubious... Why else would you hide all the company paperwork under the house?

Yet whilst everyone around him seems to be corrupt, even his wife, who is the daughter of a gangster, he refuses to stoop to their level. Morales by name, Morales by nature (perhaps a deliberate play on words here). He sees himself as an honest hard-working business man and he attempts to stay within the boundaries of the law despite all that is going on against him. It is fair to say his slightly eccentric wife favours a more direct approach. The question is, is he actually as bad as her and as bad as everyone else?

It’s a slow burning crime thriller, which could well be the best thing so far this year and Oscar Isaac is quickly becoming a man to look out for.

(Saturday 31st January)

Friday 30 January 2015

Sheet Ice

We have had overnight snow in Nottingham, although not much. Bizarrely L finds the swimming pool open and I find that the buses are still running. 

There’s no snow at all in Derby. It’s just sheet ice there which makes walking from the bus station rather treacherous.

Tonight I pick one of the exercises from the couple’s workout video, simplify it and try it out on L. She doesn’t seem to take it very seriously and descends into laughter. Doggo also seems to take it less than seriously whilst MD is madly barking encouragement or he may be simply willing us to chuck a muddy ball for him.

(Friday 30th January)

Thursday 29 January 2015

A Girl With Passion

So Andy Murray's defeat of Tomas Berdych in the Aussie Open Semis grabs the headlines in the lip reading press less for his performance and more for his girl Kim Sears' performance on the side lines. From where she was apparently urging him to give to the ‘F***ing Czech f***er’ or words to that effect. We all like a girl with passion.

It was a bit icy this morning, so I’m in the car and late afternoon we get some of the white stuff. I go out for a quick wheel spin in it at lunchtime. It's pretty much all gone an hour later. It was good whilst it lasted though.

Both opponent and I make it through the snow to squash, as well as L who runs there. I don’t manage to get a game off him though.

(Thursday 29th January)

Wednesday 28 January 2015

A Nice Touch

I arrive at work a tad wet, thanks to a few heavy showers on the way but having looked at the forecast for the rest of the week today was a better option than Thursday and Friday which are looking potentially icy.

I leave L alone in the house with two very tasty young carpet fitters. Her words. The carpet apparently is equally as tasty. The dogs have also checked it and approved it. Doggo hasn’t marked it as his territory yet, L and I will have to get in there first.

It seems to get windier during the day and I contemplate bailing out and getting the bus home. In the end, after drying my still damp kit on the radiator, I go for it. The wind seems to have eased, either that or it was with me all the way home. It’s an excellent ride and the snow shower in the last mile was a nice touch.

Now all that remains of the day is to spend the evening in a draughty barn dog training.

(Wednesday 28th January)

Tuesday 27 January 2015

A Warning Sign

I park up at the parents’ place and run in to work from Aston this morning. This is around 8k and I run a km, then walk 100m or so, run 800m, then walk another 100m before running another full km. Seems to go ok, knee wise but I have a tight calf now. I think may be a pre-run roll this morning might have been preferable to a tumble.

L points out that the tightness is perhaps a warning sign that I've done enough. It may also be a sign to retire.

I do the same thing again after work, in reverse and even more gingerly. Nothing snaps. I run as much as possible on grass verges which puts much less stress through my legs. Sadly I think this (off road) is the way to go.

I’ve stayed in Derby because of the match which Derby win 2-0 over Blackburn. Two Darren Bent goals, he's proving to be a good signing already.

(Tuesday 27th January)

Monday 26 January 2015

Pool Etiquette

Dogging is off again tonight, the ground still too wet. So instead I go for swim.

The pool was busy but it was a good session because everyone in my lane was about my pace and pushed me especially the two girls in there. The girls clearly can, I just wish they wouldn't in my lane.

I do 56 lengths, the extra six lengths were because I'm unsure of the pool etiquette when the two girls stop for a chat and are hogging the end I want to get out of. It had been hard enough getting my turns in by having to touch the wall between their thighs. That's between the two girls' thighs and not between one of the girl's thighs, if you see what I mean...

(Monday 26th January)

Sunday 25 January 2015

Sweating Like A Drummer Boy

Somehow we manage to get the old bedroom carpet from upstairs out of the room, down the stairs and into the car before taking it to the tip. Preparations are now complete for the arrival of the new carpet on Wednesday.

In the evening, we head to Broadway for a meal. Which is harder than it should be because almost everything is off. Then we catch a film. Whiplash.

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a first year student at an elite music conservatory in Manhattan who has dreams of becoming a great jazz drummer in the vein of his hero Buddy Rich. 

Andrew is a dedicated lad with the drive and ambition to succeed but is that enough? When offered a chance in their top ensemble, Andrew quickly discovers his conductor and mentor is a man unlike anyone he has encountered before. Terrence Fletcher’s (J.K. Simmons) teaching style is to bully, intimidate and humiliate his musicians to make then reach for greater heights. In the process, he works his students to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. In particularly Andrew, who he pushes to the limit in order to make him try to attain his full potential. Fletcher wants to produce the next big thing in jazz, his Charlie Parker.

At times he plays Andrew off against other drummers until he becomes so desperate to be the band's preferred choice that he practices for hours, dripping blood (literally), sweat and tears over his own drum kit. In the process he shuts out his personal life and starts copying some of Fletcher's own less desirable traits.

The two of them go head to head through the entire film and they are essentially the only characters in the film. There are a few other minor characters, to remind us what normal unobsessed people look and act like. We meet his father and some of his family, who he upsets with his blind ambition.

Also at the start of the film we see Andrew chat up Nicole (Melissa Benoist), a girl who works in the local fast food joint he frequents. She becomes his girlfriend, sort of. ‘Sort of’ because he never really has time for her and then when he realises he can’t even spare five minutes for her if he wants to get in the band, he rather crudely dumps her.

By the time he finds out he needs to rebuild some bridges in his personal life, it’s too late and she has found someone else.

The film is good and the two leads are very good particularly Simmons who is a total unlikeable force of nature.

This may be a film about drumming but it could have focussed on many things. Greatness doesn't come easily whatever your field of dreams. Hard work and self-sacrifice are always part of the game. Any top coach will always try to push you to the limits. Whether Terence Fletcher’s way is the best is the debate.

Well worth seeing. Film of the year so far.

(Sunday 25th January)

Saturday 24 January 2015

Sweating Like A Pig

The boys and I accompany L to the Rushcliffe Parkrun, which is a new venue for her. L blitzes her way around for a PB in the largest field I’ve ever seen for a mere parkrun.

I then drop L off at the leisure centre where she does a gym session and a fitness class that is apparently full of girls doing cowgirl squats with a brick squeezed between their thighs (formality known as pilates). Lucky bricks. Saves on the trips to A&E I suppose.

Afterwards, are they all, to coin the slogan 'Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox'... 

or as L puts it ‘Sweating like a pig, smelling like a collie.’

I watch Derby in the FA Cup Fourth Round and winning 2-0 in tough encounter with a determined Chesterfield side. No matter, we’re through to the last sixteen.

In the evening we embark on a pub crawl of new venues. Starting with the Barrel Drop, which we tried for the first time last week, then on to the Crafty Crow and that’s it... as we go stuck there. 

The Crafty Crow is run by Nottingham’s Magpie brewery but has a wide selection of ales and specifically loads of dark ones. SO we don’t move. They also heavily promote local produce, this extends not just to the beers but to other drinks as well. L spends most of the evening on Derbyshire wine.

We will have to continue the pub crawl next time.
(Saturday 24th January)

Friday 23 January 2015

A Selfless Sacrifice

It’s -1C, I take the bus and plan to run later.

L skips the pool, has a rest day, and goes to Sainsbury's instead. Emerging with a new coat and a new jumper. This girl can, indeed.

When I stress that surely she didn’t need any more jumpers. She explains that isn’t the point. Must be a girl thing. She’ll be over my knee later.

Again on the subject of ‘this girl can’ (sort of), the Daily Mail (who else) report on the extreme dangers posed to men by their women who go ‘cowgirl’ on them. Often incurring injuries that result in a trip to A&E. Us men, of course, put a brave face on this and tough it out in a selfless sacrifice in aid of our women’s fitness regimes.

I run home from Stapleford and it’s another steady improvement. I just hope L has got the mouth to mouth resuscitation ready.

(Friday 23rd January)

Thursday 22 January 2015

My Girl Can

A pub lunch today where I find the Brunswick have launched a Damson Stout. Which is not bad at all. The same applies to the Shepherd’s pie. Whether any of this contributes to a 5-0 drubbing at squash, I very much doubt.

L runs to squash and meets us in the Navigation afterwards.

My girl can.

(Thursday 22nd January)