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

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Back On It

It’s not cold although it is a bit damp on the bike this morning but it was very good to get back on it. L’s in the pool proclaiming it’s good to get back in it.

Daughter meanwhile is on the train and heading over to Nottingham for two interviews, one today and one tomorrow before heading back to Manchester for another one on Friday. She seems to be packing the interviews in again which is good. Fingers crossed again.

We have a Tuesday lunchtime pub trip today as my colleague is off the rest of the week and he doesn’t work Monday’s either, so it’s a very short week for him. Unfortunately the kitchen was closed at the Brunswick for a two week refurbishment. Nice of them to tell us. Instead they had a big vat of beef stew on the bar which was very good but more of a child portion than a proper meal.

Having switched back to my old computer at home, that one now doesn’t work either. Is this some kind of curse?

It’s took me a while to work what week we’re on at dog training as each week has a different trainer and different attendees. Oddly today is week five and tomorrow is week one. This means I do not officially have a session this week but have two the following week. However I manage to bring next Tuesday’s one forwards as there was a cancellation this week. If even I’m confused then it’s going to be carnage at training with people turning up in the wrong week.

Afterwards it’s good old Wainwrights in Masons. Meanwhile Derby win 3-0 at Ipswich.

(Tuesday 31st January)

Monday 30 January 2017

All Hail The FA Cup

So the FA Cup is dead is it? Not in our office, we’ve been discussing it all this morning. Football is generally so boring these days and the FA Cup is a breath of free air.

The best two weekends of this season have been the 3rd and 4th rounds of the cup and I have been enthralled throughout both. Mostly I couldn’t care less what happens in the Premier League, a lot of the time I don’t even look for other results in our own division.

My friend who supports Leeds is incandescent this morning because their manager is an idiot, puts out the youth team and therefore loses to non-league Sutton United.

It is odd that managers seem to want to lose and I’ve really no idea why. Of course they make up excuses but no one believes them. Liverpool are now out, beaten by Wolves, but could have won the FA Cup. They are seriously dreaming if they think they can win the Premier League.

The supporters clearly don’t want to lose. Wolves took 8000 supporters to the game at Liverpool. They even put the commentary of Lincoln’s win over Brighton on at the dog show I was at on Saturday as there were a lot of Lincoln supporters there and of course us neutrals were interested too.

Talking of the club, I have a committee meeting tonight which is the first with our new committee. It goes well, lots gets done but it does go on rather too long. It is also the first one back at our old home of the Navigation in Shardlow, we just need to make sure we avoid the first Monday of each month which is open mic night and the second Monday of each month which is quiz night.

 (Monday 30th January)

Sunday 29 January 2017

A Necessary Disruption

Our long lazy morning is bed is disrupted by the delivery of a new washing machine but it’s a necessary disruption according to L. They also take the old one away for free as it came from them originally. This is now a legal requirement but I wasn’t sure if it applied in our case as the law wasn’t in place when we bought the last one. I also wasn’t sure they’d remember we bought it from them and if they did, they’d probably deny it. So all in all I was impressed when they rang to tell me although they did try to sell me insurance at the same time.

Then sometime in the early afternoon it’s time for a Full English Breakfast, a trip to the paper shop with Doggo and then a walk to the park to meet L and MD.

It’s also been an amazing FA Cup weekend. If only all football was this way and if only the big clubs realised how exciting it’s all been.

Then in the evening another film amidst an AF night.

'Lion' is based on the novel ‘A Long Way Home’ the true story of Saroo Brierley, as he is known now.

We start in Khandwa, India in 1986 with five year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) and his older brother Guddo (Abhishek Bharate). They help support their family by stealing coal from trains and general scavenging for items which they then trade.

When Saroo manages to persuade his brother to take him on a job at night it doesn't end well. Saroo gets so tired he falls asleep on the station platform where his brother tells him to wait until he returns. When Guddu does not return, Saroo gets on a train that is parked in the station hoping his brother will be on it.

When the train moves off not only is his brother not there but there seems no way out of the empty carriage and the train does not stop for anyone to get on until it arrives at its final destination of Calcutta, nearly 1,500 kilometres away.

In Calcutta he joins masses of other homeless children as he cannot get anyone to help him because they speak Bengali and he only speaks Hindi. Someone eventually takes him give, giving him food and shelter but Saroo flees when he rightly senses that they have unpleasant plans for him, mostly likely being sold into prostitution.
Then he is rescued a second time and placed in an orphanage. The staff attempt to locate his family but Saroo cannot correctly name the place he is from and does not even know his mother's actual name.

As they can’t return him home he is instead adopted by a Tasmanian couple, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham) and he grows up with them in Hobart along with another adopted but emotionally disturbed Indian boy Mantosh (Divian Ladwa).

Twenty-five years later, and totally Australised, Saroo (now Dev Patel) heads off to University to study Hotel Management where he even bags himself an attractive girlfriend in Lucy (Rooney Mara). However as flashbacks to his early years surface in his mind he begins to wonder about his past.

One of his student mates tells him to trace his home town on Google Earth which at first he doesn’t take seriously but an obsessive need to trace his origins soon takes hold, disrupting both his career plans and his relationship with Lucy. To be fair Hotel Management was probably giving Dev unsettling flashbacks anyway, all the back to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Of course, looking for your home town when the town name you have in your head doesn't exist is akin to looking for a very small needle in the very large haystack that is India and he spends many months starting at railway lines on Google Earth looking for something he recognises.

It’s all very sweet, if a bit of an advert for said Google Earth, but I don’t really get all the angst. Why does he shut everyone out? We did he not let his Uni mates help him or his girlfriend or his family and when he finally traces his home in India he goes out there alone.

Overall it’s decent enough film that ends with actual footage of Saroo being reunited with his mother. Dev Patel has bagged himself an Oscar nomination for his role but it has to be said the real star is Sunny Pawar who puts in an extraordinary performance as the younger Saroo.

By the way Saroo, or Sheru as it actually is, means Lion.

(Sunday 29th January)

Saturday 28 January 2017

Face Down Your Demons

Today is our club's dog show over at Newark, which means an early start and a lot of hard work but it all goes very well. I even get in four runs with MD. Three of these are his first ever runs in Grade 6 and two of them are clear rounds. He comes 6th and 7th in these but that’s not quite enough to get us a rosette. He also comes 2nd in a pay on the day class that only has eight entries. My club awards me one of our old discontinued trophies for that, which is nice of them...

My computerised system of putting the results up on the big screen I nicked from work works a treat. The only problem is that the computer I took doesn’t work when I get it home. Not sure what’s gone on there as there seems to be a problem with the power supply. Whether that’s the power at the arena or at home I’m not sure. 

In the evening we go see the ‘must see’ film of the year e.g. La La Land which is, of course, also a musical. So never before have I been ready to hate a film so much because I really dislike pointless singing in films but we always try to see all the Oscar nominees so... here we are.

What’s worse we’re even at the Cineworld multiplex as our local independent Broadway is fully booked. The omens are not good, not good at all.

First I think a stiff one is in order and we have a drink in the Hop Merchant which is the latest incarnation of the former Turf Tavern. Then, it can't be delayed any more.

I immediately feared the worst when the film opened with a scene that was practically straight out of Grease. Grease isn't a bad movie, just not really my thing at all, and people sing ‘n’ dance in traffic jams all the time, so nothing pointless about that. It happens every day on my commute down the A52.

This however was a pivotal moment, things got a whole lot better.

La La Land tells the story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) who first meet in that all singing all dancing traffic jam in Los Angeles, presumably the LA in La La, in what becomes the first of several chance meetings. 

Sebastian is a frustrated jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own jazz club but is stuck playing Christmas songs in a bar just to make ends meet. That is until he finally cracks, plays something different and gets sacked. As he storms out he brushes past Mia who was about to approach him in chance meeting number two.
Mia is a prospective actress but who works in a coffee shop on Warner Brothers' lot while she awaits her big break. Unfortunately audition after audition just deals her rejection after rejection.

Mia again bumps into Sebastian at a party where he is in the band that are playing. He’s looking very bored as they cover A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ but that’s nothing to how he looks when they take requests from the floor and Mia asks for ‘I Ran’. They don’t really come much more uncool that the uncool 80’s band that were Flock of Seagulls, unfairly so me thinks, and it’s like a knife in the back for our frustrated jazz pianist. The song is perhaps also an appropriate comment on the Mia\Sebastian story so far.

It probably means something... he says of their third chance meeting, probably not... she replies, as they finally get to talk.

They get together and we follow them over the course of the next four seasons as they urge each other to pursue their dreams but while eventually Mia does and starts her own one woman show, Sebastian goes on tour with a band playing music he doesn’t really like just for the money. He is away so often it kills their relationship.

Yet it is Sebastian that turns up out of the blue to pick Mia up off the floor after her show fails and forces her into one last audition which is the one that finally lands her big break but that takes her away from him, possibly for good. 

Five years on they have another chance meeting. Sebastian has finally started his nightclub while Mia has moved on with someone else but... what if... and this is the deal with La La Land, everything has a 'what if'.

The big one is whether Mia and Sebastian should pursue their dreams and their art or just go after the money? Do they then end up together? 

Meanwhile the film take a swipe at Hollywood for having the same choice and repeatedly picking the latter. What if Hollywood doesn’t make Star Wars 27 and Rocky 46? Ha ha.

In between there are clever references to classic films such as ‘Rebel without a Cause’ which is an interesting choice for their first date and which Mia had to dump her current bloke to get to.

The other thing is that this isn’t really a musical, it’s just a damn good film with a decent soundtrack that they happen to sing rather than play in the background but it also has a message, a decent plot, a lot of cleverness and some astonishing cinematography, if bordering on the surreal at times. It’s happy, it’s sad and I do love an unhappy ending but of course, different people will see different things in this film as I’m sure is the intention.

Emma Stone is simply amazing, which ought to make the whole thing disappear down a massive plot hole as she plays a girl who can’t get an acting job. Ryan Gosling meanwhile tries to not look out of his comfort zone and I think gets away with it. 

I shouldn’t really have doubted the film as it’s directed by Damien Chazelle who made the excellent Whiplash, another jazz filled film, and this also features the brilliantly humourless JK Simmons as Sebastian’s bar owner boss.

The worrying thing for the Oscar competition is that this is such a good film as it is but imagine how good it could have been if they’d left out the singing and dancing. Doesn’t bear thinking about. Fellow musical haters face down your demons and go see it.

The debrief takes us to the Scribblers and the Blue Monkey as usual.

(Saturday 28th January)

Friday 27 January 2017

The Football Curse

I have the afternoon off so that I can head over to Newark to help set up our dog show for tomorrow. We are not allowed in the arena until 5pm so I have most of the afternoon with the boys which naturally involves ball chucking.

Then I take them over to Newark with me but it all ends up being a bit boring for them as the weather turns wet and they don’t get to get out of the car.

Setting up is complete by about 7:30 and then it’s a rush to get home for the Derby v Leicester FA Cup game which I would have liked to have gone to but it just wasn’t possible with us having the show. At least the BBC have obliged by showing it live.

I get home only ten minutes after the 7:55 kick off but Derby are one down by then after Darren Bent’s laughable own goal. I open a beer, sit down and enjoy the Derby fightback as they score twice to lead 2-1 until four minutes from time when Leicester score again to force a replay.

By then L has come in from the gym and has naturally reignited the football curse that she thinks follows her around.

We console ourselves, well I console myself I'm not sure L is that bothered, by ordering a takeaway curry from the tackily named Curry Busters on Hartley Road. It was a punt in the dark as we wouldn’t have got our usual curry house The Park Tandoori to deliver on a Friday night and neither of us wanted to walk there but surprisingly Curry Busters come up trumps with a mightily tasty meal. Although we do order extra rice that we don’t need which will keep the dogs going all next week.

(Friday 27th January)

Thursday 26 January 2017

Taking No Chances

I have an almost brand new, well totally refurbished, bike and what happens? It’s -1 outside that's what, so I’m the car.

At least I should be in better shape for the return of squash where my opponent comes with more bandages that the invisible man. Apparently his elbow is now ok but the support bandaging says he’s taking no chances while he is wearing a ‘corset’ to support his bad back.

Yet still I lose 2-1 and now we’re taking a break next week due to ongoing injuries.

(Thursday 26th January)

Wednesday 25 January 2017


To repair or not to repair, that is the question, we have washerleaks. I suppose we’re just going have to get a new one. So I order one. Same again obviously, cheap and cheerful.

After travelling in on the bus today, I get to ride my bike back home as it is finally released from the hospital. It has new gears, a new chain and new cabling throughout. None of which came cheap. You would have thought they’d have replaced my bar tape, which has got holes in and would have been a nice touch, but they haven’t.

Then it’s dog training and then of course a pint in the Masons, which is still Wainwrights. It’s haunting me.

(Wednesday 25th January)

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Works A Treat

As I have no bike at the moment I’m on the bus today which also means I have the prospect of a gym session looming over the whole day but I suppose I sort of enjoy it. The biggest problem is battling for one of the three Pro Watt Bikes. It hasn’t come to blows yet but they’re so popular it can’t be too long before it does. If only they could put a few more in there.

Back at home I get to play with the large computer screen that I brought home from work yesterday and which I will use at Saturday’s dog show to display the ongoing results. Works a treat at home. 

(Tuesday 24th January)

Monday 23 January 2017

Dietary Travails

I have time to join the boys and girl on the park this morning as I’m in the car today.

Afterwards though Doggo barely looked at his breakfast and even spat out a compensatory biscuit before heading off to sulk on his mat. By then MD had, of course, polished all of his own breakfast off. However the interesting tactic of washing out MD's now empty bowl before putting a handful of MD's food in it, drizzled with a little water and placed in front of Doggo provokes an appetite rethink. Doggo eats the whole lot and a biscuit. Such a frustrating creature.

The problem is that now poor old MD thinks Doggo has been fed twice. He does think he’s being hard done by sometimes as we struggle with Doggo’s dietary travails.

L has joined the all singing all dancing all cheaper Puregym in Beeston and heads over there this evening for a class. While she has a wild time there I sort out something hot, healthy and athletic to put on the table for us for when she gets home.

Talking of things on the table, Doggo's breakfast bowl is still sat there full of food which he now gets again for tea and which he eats this time with only a little bit of MD's food sprinkled on top. Bizarre. 

(Monday 23rd January)

Sunday 22 January 2017

Blast From The Past

After a long morning's lie in, MD and L head off to the park while Doggo and I head to the shop for the Sunday paper before joining them.

Later L and I go for run around Martin’s Pond which is a blast from the past. The only thing missing is Doggo misbehaving alongside us and I almost feel I should stop at the stream for a drink in his absent honour.

I spend most of the rest of the day getting the paperwork ready for my club’s dog show next Saturday.

In the evening we go see another of this year’s Oscars’ contenders, Manchester by the Sea and we even do so without alcohol. 

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a janitor in Boston who spends his days just getting through life and his job while hopefully avoiding any social interaction along the way. While his nights are largely spent drinking alone at home or in bars with a quick fight to round off the evening. We do not know at first what has brought him to this.

If he isn’t fed up enough he then hears that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died from a heart attack. Lee now has to return to his hometown of Manchester, a picturesque place on Massachusetts' north shore, to put his brother's affairs in order but where he also has to face many people from his past including his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

Then he finds out that he has been named the legal guardian of Joe's 16-year-old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) because Patrick's mother Elise (Gretchen Mol) is an incapable alcoholic. This is a task he feels he’s not up to but he reluctantly takes it on while trying to move Patrick back with him to Boston because he really cannot bear being in Manchester any longer than necessary.

Patrick meanwhile is having his own problems coping with his father's death but at least he has his two girlfriends to help him with this.

The film moves between the past and the present, showing a time where Lee was content with his life and the present day when he clearly is not. Everything moves along at a slow, measured pace, revealing details of Lee's past bit by bit, drip feeding us the gradual unravelling of Lee’s life until when you're least expecting it, the pivotal event that altered Lee's life forever is casually tossed into the film like a hand grenade. Boom. 

Once you’ve found why he has detached himself so much from life you're inside his head and you are suddenly watching the film from a very different point of view to where you started. Brilliant.

Clearly they needed someone to play this solemn, withdrawn, complex loner who could nail miserable to a T so they sent for Affleck and the role fits him like a glove. He proves that nobody does emotional distancing like him and he's amazing from beginning to end. 

Michelle Williams is good too in her small role, as are most of the cast, but Manchester by the Sea belongs to Casey Affleck.

An absolutely brilliant film. Must see.

(Sunday 22nd January)

Saturday 21 January 2017


This morning MD and I have another crack at the Forest Rec Parkrun where I am surprised to bump into a colleague from work. I knew his lad was in the field but this is the first he’s been over to watch him.

MD and I actually finish one place behind his lad who presumably didn’t stop to visit three trees on route but we’re not bitter as we have finally got a new PB. Bonios all round then or rather a bacon sandwich for me while L has cancelled her 10am Pilates to accommodate her toast. Priorities...  

Then she heads off for the 11am and then on to Derby for a spot of grave cleaning of her elder brother’s long neglected grave.

I’m at the match where Derby are slightly fortunate to beat Reading 3-2 then later we’re off to Broadway Cinema.

I renew our Broadway membership as we head into the Oscars season as we do like to see all the nominees. Our first set of ‘free’ tickets goes on Jackie. 

Jackie follows Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) during the days after her husband's assassination in Dallas in November 1963. Moving backwards and forwards in time, the film mainly revolves around the interview that she gave to Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup) for Life Magazine.

In flashback we see her recording a televised tour of the White House in which she appears nervous and almost shy. This is in complete contrast to her demeanour in the interview where she appears much more confident and even controlling. Throughout the interview she attempts to set the record ‘straight’ about herself and her family while basically telling the reporter what he can and can't write about her. Right down to saying she doesn't smoke while she sits there smoking a cigarette.

We also see her planning a grandiose funeral for her husband against the wishes of the secret service but mostly we see her wandering around the White House in a moribund state of grief. The primary aim of the film seems to be an exploration of her state of mind and sadly the actual story becomes a bit of a side show. The film is clearly trying to make points about her character but I feel like I'm sat in a lecture theatre being taught them.

This focus on the one character also means that Natalie Portman becomes basically the entire film and she has clearly spent some time learning every last nuance of Jackie Kennedy's mannerisms. She appears to succeed at this, totally immersing herself in the character, so much so that she becomes an absolute clone of Kennedy. For me though this isn’t really acting, it’s just impersonating. We know Portman can act but she isn't really allowed to here.

Kennedy also comes over as quite artificial, incredible vain and a bit of a cow if I’m honest. I certainly didn’t feel any sympathy for her. I actually came out of the film actively disliking her but then I wasn’t that familiar with Jackie Kennedy beforehand as many people won’t be.

This is another problem with the film, its assumption that you know a lot of the background history, not just about the assassination of JFK but also about the Kennedys in general and the ‘Camelot’ myth. As we are going back over fifty years here that quite an assumption. Particularly if you're not an American but then when have US film makers ever assumed anyone wasn't American?

The movie isn't bad and director Pablo Larrain skilfully blends archive material with re-enactments but it’s really not very entertaining and drags at times. A wider focus, perhaps covering more of Jackie Kennedy’s later life, would have made things much more interesting.

After a Centurion in Broadway, we move on to have a couple in the Scribblers and then a couple more in the Blue Monkey.

(Saturday 21st January)