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

Friday 30 June 2017

Sunrise City

It’s a very early start this morning for what used to be known as Run 5:30 but is now the Sunrise City 5k although still at 5:30am. Which means, to the dogs’ horror, we get up at WTF O’clock. This one is in Nottingham with Derby to come in two weeks time.

L runs it, while the boys and I support. MD is gutted to not be involved but gets over it quickly when all the street cleaning vehicles that are around at that early hour gang up to upset him.

Afterwards, back at work, I am kept awake by multiple queries from London. None of which are our fault (again) but still very frustrating.

On the way in I dropped the car off for it’s MOT and, shock horror, it passed. Yes the dodgy handbrake is fine... the dodgy indicators are fine... L is appalled.

(Friday 30th June)

Thursday 29 June 2017

Should Have Gone By Train

I head back down to London by car with one of my bosses and we finally get all the network problems sorted. Yay. With six heads on site we solve the problems which were, as we thought, not of our doing.

We leave for home at around 3pm, so I’m hopefully of making it home in time to run the second round of the GP series tonight which is at the National Water Sports Centre but the traffic soon puts paid to that idea. Emergency resurfacing on M1 probably ruins everyone’s evening and it takes us four and half hours to get home. We should have gone by train... or walked I suppose.

(Thursday 29th June)

Wednesday 28 June 2017


The Comfort Inn treats me to a very basic, cold breakfast. It’s not tempting to stay another night even though progress on site has been very limited.

We make plans to call in reinforcements from our company and from our partners on the project. Then together we can gang up on the host company who we’re sure are at fault for the issues we’re having. So I will here again tomorrow but I can get a lift down, so I head home for the night.

L asks if I’m only coming home to appease her. As if, I’d like a night at home, in my own bed, with my girl. I also doubt I could find a hotel even if I wanted to.

(Wednesday 28th June)

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The Home of The Bear

L drops me off at Nottingham Station as I head down to London again where things are still not going well, sadly.

I am booked overnight in a Comfort Inn on Edgware Road which was all I could get at a reasonable price. Everywhere else is full after they emptied all the tower blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Comfort Inn is comfortable only if you like confined spaces and there’s no air conditioning, hang on... what’s this? Found it. I thought that was the remote for the TV.

There’s no food available at the hotel apart from breakfast so I have to go out to find a pub. Not a problem. Unfortunately Edgware Road is a bit of a dump, they do have an artisan burger pub but not much else. As everyone seems to have headed there, there isn’t room anyway. There’s an Indian, which looked very tempting but it was empty at 8pm.

Instead I head to Paddington, which is about half a mile away, where I get sloshed on ESB in a bar above Paddington Station that is a carbon copy of the one at Kings Cross. This one's called the Mad Bishop and Bear. I can guess who the bear is, not so sure about the bishop.

Sadly I miss the first race of the GP series at Rushcliffe Country Park.

(Tuesday 27th June)

Sunday 25 June 2017

Something Medieval

On Friday morning, we start off our weekend away by dropping L’s parents off at salubrious location of Trowell services on the M1 from where they will start their own holiday. Well, once they’ve got down to Southampton from where they head off on a cruise and first stop Palma.

Then we drive to Wales. We are staying in Conwy, near their amazing castle and camping at Conwy Holiday Park. Then it’s off for a pint and we walk into Conwy via some vague path the camp site staff point us towards. It’s quite a trek and hilly, so we worry about Doggo but he copes admirably. We eat and drink at the Castle Hotel which is apparently the only place you can drink Dawson’s Dark from the Conwy Brewery. It’s not exactly dark but its very nice.

On Saturday, its L moment as she tackles Conwy Parkrun which is on a very interesting course in the shadow of the castle which all weekend is hosting something medieval called The Tournament which we really should have found more time to look at.

In the afternoon we head over to Llandudno, which is just five miles away, so that I can register for tomorrow’s triathlon. Then we go to a pub called the Albert for a spot of pre-race Dutch courage.

The Llandudno Sea Triathlon is a Middle Distance event aka a 70.3 aka a Half Ironman, it is also my first competitive swim in the sea, gulp, and it’s raining. Things do not start promisingly with a ten minute long swim out to the off shore start. I wasn’t expecting that sort of exhausting warm up and I’m not sure why it was necessary. Surely a beach start would have been far more exciting and in eye shot of the crowd.

The swim itself, all 1.9km of it, was actually quite fun, a bit like being on a rollercoaster. One minute I was surfing a wave, the next minute I was in mid air until I slapped back down into the water. It was tough swimming against the current but after the turn it's... wheeeeee... great fun swimming with the current. Then we have to go around again.

At some point I lose the five people I’ve been swimming with and end up on my own. As the swim takes me a very tardy 59 minutes, I assume they found a short cut.

Then on to the 87km bike and a very deadly exit from transition, where we are asked to turn right for a lap of the Great Orme (big Welsh hill thing) crossing the path of faster triathletes coming off the Orme and now heading off in the other direction.

Then when I’ve been round the Orme, I’m faced with the same hazard again because the Sprint race has now started and they are emerging from transition just as I try to pass. At least by now it’s stopped raining but the roads are still quite damp.

The rest of the bike course is hilly, very hilly, making the Orme look like a mere undulation. However I make good time and pass loads of people who are clearly finding it tougher than I am.

A marshal briefly throws a spanner in the works at the feed station when he chucks a bottle of sports drink at me. They’d been no information in advance on how the feed station would work, unlike at other races, and I have nowhere to put this extra bottle. I pull over, top up my own bottle from it and then chuck the extra one at the next marshal. Sorted.

Finally after what seems like an age, and is actually three hours and forty-nine minutes, I pull back into transition and go out on the 20km run. This too is hilly and takes us over the Little Orme (smaller Welsh hill thing) down to Penrhyn Bay.

We do two laps of this with a turnaround point on the promenade. Sadly the turnaround comes very early on the promenade and short of a full lap where there is no crowd, no L and no dogs because they were expecting this barely marked point to be somewhere more logical. It makes a lonely run, even lonelier.

I complete the run in 1:47 giving me a total time of 6:22 which doesn’t sound that great but it was a tough course. Sadly, hardly anyone notices when I cross the finish. There was no announcement of your name as you crossed the line like at other races and there wasn’t even a timing clock.

It would also have been nice to know that there would be only water available on the run. e.g there were no gels, no sports drink and no food items, any of which would have been nice. Still it was a decent event, although there’s plenty of scope for improvement.

In the evening we head out in Conwy without the dogs figuring Doggo, who’s had a hard day already, wouldn’t be up to the walk. I’m not sure I’m up to the walk either but I cope.

We eat at Y Bont aka the Bridge Inn in Conwy and then have a night cap in the Albion Ale House.

Our last day in Wales is Monday and we return to the Castle Hotel for breakfast before driving home.

(Sunday 25th June)

Thursday 22 June 2017

Delivery Boys And Girls

Not tapering again, I’m on the bike again and it’s quite windy this morning but at least it's cooler.

Apparently the Tennis Centre has reopened after their tournaments so we get to play a game. They allocate us Court 11, wherever that is. You used to follow the signs... until they removed them all and gave the courts names instead.

L goes to aquarobics again and we change our choice of pubs to the Crown which is nearer to the tram stop to give her a better chance of getting there in good time. The tram itself still takes ages though.

Then we have to play delivery boy and girl as we take Daughter's huge suitcase back to her. It came laden with dirty washing and is returned full of clean washing. Not a bad service. 

(Thursday 22nd June)

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Not Exactly Tapering

It’s my first chance to get on the bike this week although L enquires as to whether I should be tapering instead with the Llandudno Sea Triathlon coming up this weekend. No, I’m not exactly tapering. It’s more like last minute cramming, like a teenager for an exam.

L says she can sympathise as she heads out for a run. It’s just four weeks to the Thunder Run but only three days to her proposed comeback at Conwy Parkrun.

The new football fixtures are out and Derby start on a Friday night, how traditional, but at least it’s away from home.

Dogging later, which finishes early due to the unseasonal heat so I’m at the pub before last orders for once. Its so warm L is sitting outside and without multiple layers on.

(Wednesday 21st June)

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Taking The Flack

In my absence the girls had a midweek roast last night which the dogs were completely in favour of because they got leftovers for breakfast this morning.

After a morning on site in Islington, my boss picks me and we both head to our client's head office for a totally undeserved telling off because things aren’t going to plan. It’s good of my boss to come and take the flack!

Then we head home and I get ready to rush into L’s arms. Well, its not much of a rush because the M25 and the M1 have other ideas. 

(Tuesday 20th June)

Monday 19 June 2017

All Dug Up

L gives me an early lift down to the train station. I’m catching the 6:52 down to London again and staying over again in the Holiday Inn at Swiss Cottage.

Last night there was another terror attack, this time on a mosque. Finsbury Park, where it was, is just two stops away on the tube from where I’m working. Just don’t tell L.

I arrive on site to find that they are digging drainage trenches on one of the weighbridges which will now be unusable for a week. I knew about this but wasn’t told it was going to take this long, so it’s going to be another frustrating day.

At least we get the other weighbridge up and working completely. There’s just not a lot I can do about the one they’ve dug up.

Back home L has an overnight guest, Daughter, who is looking for a cool spot as her flat is so warm in this unseasonably hot weather. The dogs, I’m sure, will recommend to her the slate floor in the hall for that very reason.

Meanwhile I’m on the Stella in the hotel. Sadly there’s not much choice in this hotel but I do get a proper (pale) beer later in the North Star.

(Monday 19th June)

Sunday 18 June 2017

Dangerous Territory

With me doubled up sneezing with hay fever while even indoors, L takes on the job of cutting the hedge. Then afterwards she crashes, post-shower, on the bed. Dangerous territory.

Later we go over the Leamington to visit Son. Which enables me to pick up my belated birthday present. I will point him towards mail order next time.

Our regular haunt and the only non-Wetherspoons pub where you can get food on a Sunday evening is fully booked due to it being Father’s Day. So we have booked into the Five Rivers Indian again. Ironically beforehand we pop into one of the ‘Wetherspoons’ which is now no longer a Wetherspoons but still looks and acts like one. Decent pint of Plum Porter though.

Back home afterwards, I enter the Nottingham Grand Prix. My marathon training will start there with some short snappy distances. I note that Wollaton Park is no longer one of the races, the 5K is now being held on the Embankment.

(Sunday 18th June)

Saturday 17 June 2017

At Fault

My legs seem fine after last night’s hairy adventures which is a good job as I’m in Worcester today for a dog show.

We have a nice clear round to start off the day despite MD looking like he’s not really woken up yet. To be fair, although he was a bit sluggish at first, he did seem to have woken up by jump number four.

It was also going well on our second run until he inexplicably missed out a jump, his fault I think, and our third run was going equally well until I miss queued the tunnel, my fault I think.

Back home L is still in bed probably because she can’t move after all her efforts yesterday. Although she claims she is actually enthused and planning her race diary.

We miss a contact on our last run, probably his fault... so we head off home, stopping off at Aston to see my folks on the way.

In the evening we do a grand tour of Beeston’s two micro pubs, Pottle Of Blues and Totally Tapped.

(Saturday 17th June)

Friday 16 June 2017

Getting Hairy

I’m on the bus today because tonight we have the little matter of the Hairy Helmet.
The Hairy Helmet, for the uninitiated, is a four person relay with everyone doing just two (and a bit) miles. For my team of girls (and me), which includes L, that’s not a given as all have recently been injured or are still nursing injuries. The team is rather tastefully named after this blog ‘Team Fit For Nothing’ and we are entered in the Supervets aged 200+ category. Which will probably turn out to be the fastest category.

Everything starts from Darley Abbey Cricket Club and I walk there from work, which is a good warm up while L drives over with the dogs. Being first to arrive I collect our timing baton, race numbers, beer tokens and, oddly, a bag of Portlebay Popcorn.

I am offered the choice of running first or last. Obviously that’s a no brainer, I’ll go first. L decides to anchor us home and mop up the glory.

So off I head out around the cricket pitch boundary and onto the park itself. After a quick 180 degree turn we’re heading steeply uphill towards the main park gates. Then after the park gates we’re descending back downhill and towards the rowing club end of the park. Another U-turn there, then it’s along the river and back towards the cricket club where I hand over to our next team member.

My time is a not too shifty 13:23, I didn’t think I had that in me any more. The rest of the team aren’t quite as nippy but we come an impressive 7th in the Supervets category. Oh, it’s out of seven but not to worry.

The beer tokens are for the Derventio Brewery who have a beer tent but they are only valid on their bottles. They also have three draught beers but these sell out very quickly. I don’t know if this is spectators supping it as they watch or runners supping it before they go out. Having ran first, only one beer is left available even then.

By the time L has ran, none is left and we adjourn to the Furnace. It's always good to have a back up plan.

(Friday 16th June)

Thursday 15 June 2017

Wool, Alcohol And Vinegar

On the bike again which isn’t following by tennis because the Tennis Centre is shut for tournaments now.

Instead I head over to Djanogly  Leisure Centre where the girls are doing aquarobics. I am instructed to bring wool, alcohol and vinegar, as you are. These are for Daughter, who has a wild weekend planned.

I offer Daughter a lift home but she turns down then changes her mind. Then she turns down a drink in the Doctor’s Orders then changes her mind. So decisive. We all go for a swift one.

(Thursday 15th June)

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Being Donald Duck

I again walk Doggo around the Spinney. He seems to like our gentle ambles and it enables MD to get more park time. Then I leave him home alone to wait for their return while I bike to work.

L is studying the Great North Run withdrawal policy as her boss keeps telling her to stop doing everything exercise wise. Which isn’t the correct answer. She asks him about the possibility of getting a doctor’s note and therefore a refund but I tell her to just go for it. 

She can walk it if need be, plenty will. They may of course be dressed as Donald Duck but I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

It's dogging tonight and afterwards a change of beer in the Masons, at long last. The return of
Dizzy Blonde but also Directors. Wow. I have a Directors.

(Wednesday 14th June)

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Everyone Blaming Everyone Else

I take the car to Nottingham station and get the train down to London. Today I have to slum it and travel Second Class as an open return costs a mere £170 but First Class is another £70.

It’s a long day with slow progress, after which the system is still not working. Everyone is blaming everyone else.

I eventually escape and rush back to get the 5.15 train home, so don’t get much needed pint in Parcel Shelf.

I get home before L, who is out power-walking. Dog free as well, not that we have a dog capable of power-walking these days. Our intrepid explorer ends up in Beeston but she neglects to power-walk back and gets the tram.

(Tuesday 13th June)

Monday 12 June 2017

Almost Getting Boring

I’m in the car today with no swimming due a very tired pair of legs.

Doggo eats after an initial refusal when L accidentally drops half a hard boiled egg into his food. Quirky dog.

There are lots of emails flying around as regards my London project today. Finally it’s confirmed that I will definitely be in London tomorrow just for the day and then again next Tuesday.

Talking of London, those nice London Marathon people (the ones who refuse to let us know whether we are in or not until October) email pushing the London Marathon of swimming.  Which presumably isn’t quite as long.

It's a dog club committee meeting tonight and again there are no fights. The meetings are almost getting boring.

(Monday 12th June)

Sunday 11 June 2017

Leeds ITU Tri Take Two

It’s race day and I am in the wave rather too officially titled the British Standard Distance Triathlon Championships (Male 50-54). Is that what I signed up for? Sounds very serious and it all kicks off at 7.30am.

The day does not initially start off well with us again unable to access the main car park from the north of the city. Sadly nobody we asked on Saturday or on the Sunday knew how to access it, so we ended up parking in the street again. This isn't really a problem but some advice as to whether this was the best thing to do would have been nice. Luckily everything else goes quite well today.

The swim is ok, it's not too fearsome, either course wise or people wise, and even the swans kept out of my way. In fact, it was so shallow in places I could have walked it.

One thing they haven’t changed from last year is the long runs in and out of transition but at least we don’t have to carry a bag this time.

The bike route is a bit of a pain, very twisty with not much chance to get your head down other than to attempt to plough through the wind which seems to be head on pretty much all the time. The only time it seems to drop is on the uphill sections, meaning are were no easy bits. Mind you, you don’t really want your head up as the suburbs of Leeds are not particularly pretty.

The bike route takes us back to Roundhay this time, meaning one transition not two, and then it’s a 7km run into Leeds following by a 3km loop around the city centre. I can only guess that they have lengthened the time gap between our races and the elite races this year because there was a lot less support in the city centre.

I was slightly slower on both the swim and the bike this year but overall I was two minutes up on last year due to actually having two working legs for the run this time. However, I have no idea how this year's long runs in and out of transition compared to last year's long runs in and out of transition. My T1 last year was an eye-watering 11:23, this year a spritely 8:34.

Last year it was noted that there weren’t many freebies available but this time it’s much better even if the Yorkshire tea stall did seem to peak too soon and run out. We even got a race t-shirt this time and the shuttle bus back to Roundhay from the city centre works like clockwork.

So a very good effort from the organisers to repair the damage to triathlon's reputation that was inflicted by last year’s debacle. However this race can now be very much consigned as done and dusted as far as I’m concerned. New challenges now await.

We head back to the campsite to pack up the tent and then go for Sunday lunch at a Britannia Inn near the M1 junction. It was only £8.95 for three courses from their carvery. Very good value.

We spend the evening at the Horse and Jockey, where I find a decent recovery ale in Bradfield’s Farmers Sixer. At 6.0% it can make you forget almost anything, sadly it’s a pale ale but you can’t have everything.

(Sunday 11th June)

Saturday 10 June 2017

A Relaxing Weekend

It’s a fairly relaxed weekend, well it is for me, L less so. Yet I am the one competing. This afternoon is registration for the triathlon, bike racking and the swim familiarisation in the lake at Roundhay.

This year there is no need to leave Roundhay for any of this and my finish line bag will be taken down into Leeds tonight, so it should arrive.

We eat locally to the event at the Roundhay Fox where everything we wanted was off but its still a decent meal and with a free pudding as well but, obviously, not the one I wanted as that was off. L meanwhile is trying the various gins on the bar, egged on my me.

(Saturday 10th June)

Friday 9 June 2017

Not Much Room For Sleep

As I've said, I do love a good General Election, all the way through to 4am in this case which doesn’t leave much room for sleep but you can’t have everything.

I already have the afternoon off as we’re off up to Leeds for the ITU Triathlon, perhaps I should have taken a full day.

I pick L up from work mid-afternoon and we head up to St Helena's Caravan Park at Horsforth which is north of Leeds, on the way to Otley. It's only eight miles from Roundhay Park where the Triathlon is being held.

We have decided to stay over this year, last year we kept going up and down the M1 although with L doing it as well last year, dog care was trickier. This year she is just spectating.

We spend the evening in the Fox and Hounds at Bramhope, which is pretty basic with basic food but does have beers from the Leeds Brewery.

(Friday 9th June)

Thursday 8 June 2017

Back In Contact

Things still far from resolved on site with all the hardware but at least I have got a bit of software testing in. They’re not going to be able to start using anything just yet so I might as well head back to base and I book a train back to Nottingham. I will have to come back next week.

On the way to St Pancras I have a good look around for a stall selling London tat, L’s words. She is after a London bookmark. She failed to get one at the weekend and I fail again today. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, would you?

Having escaped from site in reasonable time, I manage a quick pint of HSB in the Parcel Shelf place and a Salt Beef sandwich

I get home and look forward to seeing L, when she’s back from aquarobics. I wouldn’t like to come between a girl and her aquarobics. This does give me chance to fire up my new phone and get back in contact with the world while I wait to get reacquainted with L.

Then it’s the General Election, I do love a good election.

(Thursday 8th June)

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Cheap Coffee

It’s my first day on site working on an automated weighbridge at a recycling plant in Islington where they were supposed to have got all the equipment installed and working by this morning but they haven’t. So rather than installing my software, I spend my day helping out with that equipment and everyone is very quickly sick of me borrowing their phones.

It's sort of reassuring to know that it’s not the same at home without me. L says its lonely in the bedroom but it may be less due to my absence than to the fact that both the dogs opted to sleep downstairs last night. Although MD did give up on me eventually and joined L upstairs.

I had hoped to be down here just for one day but that clearly isn’t going to happen so on leaving site at the end of the day, I look for another hotel. I dip into an Italian restaurant and ask if I can grab a coffee and use their wifi. They agree, bring me a coffee and their access codes then charge me only £1.50 and this is in London! I consider stopping for a meal there but by now I’ve booked into the cheaper Holiday Inn at Swiss Cottage, so I head off there.

After eating in the hotel, I head out into the big city for a wander and a pint (a pale one obviously) at the North Star on Finchley Road. An odd pub that look recently renovated but still retain untastefully ripped furniture.

(Wednesday 7th June)

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Phoneless In London

I do a small amble with Doggo just around the Spinney, so that L and MD can hit the park. Without Doggo to slow them down L observes, although she says I'll think she’s being paranoid, that he is also slowing down and they don't get as far as they used to. Well he 63 now, in dog years. Older than all of us bar Doggo of course, who’s a spritely 105.

I’m on the bus today because it looks like my trip to London is now going ahead. So L can start worrying and she says she has a huge list of places for me to avoid.

Despite their appalling website and phone system, DPD don’t seem totally useless on email and they get back to me saying they have told their driver to leave my phone with a neighbour when it is delivered this afternoon.

Which is better but still leaves me phoneless in London. I have my laptop so it will be lonesome emails to L instead of texts.

I catch the 5pm train to London and turn down L’s late offer of a dog to take with me. I would love a dog with me but I'm not sure they’d cope with all the trains, although they'd love the buffet breakfast.

I stay at the Camden Lock Holiday Inn which is expensive and went up another £50 between me cancelling last week and rebooking this week but at least I get the loyalty points. I also get free calls in the room, so at least I can ring L.

They have Camden bottled beers in the hotel bar but the best option for real ale is the nearby Wetherspoons.

(Tuesday 6th June)

Monday 5 June 2017

No Real Hope Of Success

While L is having problems with the City Council’s Leisure App misbehaving and forgetting her login details mine seems to be having a good day. It even seems to have the Monday morning swim sessions on, which is a rarity.

My swim goes well despite the slow backstroker in my lane. Lane 2 of 3 as well, I ask you.

We have a poorly dog, Doggo. Although both looked a bit off colour this morning only one of them has the squits. Perhaps last night’s curried rice has disagreed with him. L decides to go home at lunchtime to see what's what and perhaps to clear up the mess. It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

When she gets home… well let’s such say she’s decided to scrap the mat in the kitchen. She stays with him and works from home.

They have tried to deliver my new phone to home but sadly it wasn't the Royal Mail, so I don’t have the option of picking it up from the local sorting office. It's DPD, who have taken it back to their depot in Outer Mongolia. Not that it matters where they are because they will insist on attempting to redeliver to an empty house again tomorrow. I try and dissuade them through their website but there is no option for that and when I ring their phone line I find it is totally automated with no way of speaking to a real person. I drop them an email with no real hope of success.

O2, who the phone was ordered from, are no help either when I webchat with them. Just to get me off the call they tell me to go and see if my local O2 shop can help. I know this will be a waste of time but I go anyway and walk all the way in to Derby after work. It is a waste of time.

When I get home Doggo seems to be improving, so we head off dogging at Hilton. 

(Monday 5th June)

Saturday 3 June 2017

Priests And Cannibals

Ironically after supposedly being in London for work yesterday but then not being, I am now in London for pleasure with L.

Naturally when we arrive we have a quickie in Fuller’s Parcel Shelf, or is the Parcel Yard, the one in King’s Cross Station before heading off to check out the Museum of London. The museum itself is a bit disappointing and is probably outdone by the London Wall, which it is near by and which I hadn’t seen before.

After which we check into the Ibis in Shepherds Bush, which is your typically Ibis. Neither nicely posh nor delightfully seedy, just somewhere functionally in between.

The local decent pub is the Defectors Weld which we check out and eat there as well. They do real pies, not casseroles with a lid which are thankfully far less common in London that they are in the Midlands.

Then to the main reason we’re here, so that I can see Shriekback. If I had a Bucket List of things to do before I die, and sadly I don’t but perhaps I should, and if I had one specifically for gigs then seeing Shriekback play Nemesis live would surely be on it.

Sadly the opportunity to see them in the flesh didn’t come up back in the day and the band last played live in 1992. Since then they have only existed as a studio vehicle for main man Barry Andrews.

Now fan pressure (seemingly we still exist) has demanded a live return and Andrews responded by launching a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign, saying that if we fund it they’ll do. I pledged money for a CD and a T-Shirt, the target was reached and Andrews, true to his word, set about reforming as much of the original band as possible. Now here we are with a gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

Shriekback were formed in 1981 but were always way too odd for the mainstream, yet they had a string of ‘hits’ on the UK Indie Chart in the days when that was printed in the back of NME, Melody Maker, Sounds et all and was studied avidly by impressionable teenagers like me.

After hearing only one track, their single ‘All Lined Up’, I bought their early ‘hits’ album (released after only one album and an EP) called ‘The Infinite’ for 50p in the ‘dodgy’ bin at Way Ahead records. The records in this bin were usually marked ‘promotional copy only – not for resale’.

This was 1984 and the same year I bought their next album ‘Jam Science’, followed the purchase of ‘Oil and Gold’ a year later, the album that most will remember them for.

Sadly, it’s not looking very busy in the impressive Empire as the support band, the Woodentops, who hail from the same era but with a very different sound, take the stage. It seems the road to reunion hasn’t been smooth, other gigs in Manchester and Glasgow were quickly pulled and only one of two warm up shows went ahead. One in Lewes sold out yet one in Whitstable was cancelled after the promoters only sold six tickets. Ouch. 

However by the time Shriekback take the stage, after a short but entertaining set from the Woodentops, the venue is actually looking almost full. As is the stage, with their eight piece ensemble. Barry Andrews is joined by Martyn Barker, Carl Marsh, Steve Halliwell and Mike Cozzi with the Partridge sisters, Wendy and Sarah, on backing vocals. Missing, original member Dave Allen is replaced on bass by Scott Firth (of PIL).

They open with a couple of tracks from 1983’s ‘Care’ album, ‘In: Amongst’ and the wonderful ‘Lines From the Library’ before playing ‘Over the Wire’ a track I wasn’t aware of from an album ‘Go Bang’ from 1988 that I hadn’t heard.

The set also included more recent material with two tracks from the 2015 album ‘Without Real String or Fish’ and one totally new song called ‘Shovelheads’.

However most of the set is turned over to the ‘Oil and Gold’ album. First its ‘Malaria’ and then ‘This Big Hush’ which was made slightly famous by being featured in the film ‘Manhunter’. Then follows ‘Faded Flowers’, ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ and ‘Fish Below the Ice’. All are gratefully and enthusiastically received. While 1986's ‘Big Night Music’ album contributes ‘Black Light Trap’ and ‘Underwaterboys’.

As a finale we get early single ‘My Spine Is the Bassline’ followed by the epic that is ‘Nemesis’ complete with it’s priests, cannibals, prehistoric animals etc.

The snarling almost punk rock of ‘Suck’ opens the encore, which is sadly the only track lifted from ‘Jam Science’ tonight. Then it’s that first track I ever heard, ‘All Lined Up’, and a seventh track ‘Hammerheads’ from ‘Oil and Gold’ to close.

It is very good to finally see them live and they ticked all the boxes I expected them to tick. Perhaps a little too much ‘Oil and Gold’ and not enough ‘Jam Science’ but that’s just my preference.

I meet L back in the bar at the hotel where the TV is breaking the news of the London Bridge attack as we head off for a few beers in the local BrewDog.

(Saturday 3rd June)

Friday 2 June 2017

Young Pups

I rebel against today being ‘National Doughnut Day’ by cycling into work and purchasing something  with salad in it from Greggs at lunchtime. National Doughnut Day... FFS.

L has her ten minute NHS physio appointment. At least he has a diagnosis to work to now because L has taken her MRI report.

I have a lively chat on email with Daughter about coalition governments, as you do, and about when we went to see Question Time. Which was way back in 1998! Blimey, we were such young pups back then. Not that we aren’t now of course. 

(Friday 2nd June)

Thursday 1 June 2017

Say Something Nice

I come to work on the bus because I was supposed to be heading down to London this evening for work, so that I can make an early start on a project we’re doing in Islington on Friday. I’m also supposed to be there Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

However, this week’s trip has been cancelled as they are behind with the installation of the equipment. I’m waiting to hear when we are rescheduling for.

At least its got me out of tennis... although I suppose I could try to arrange a game a short notice. Nah, I’ll skip it. I shall head home to cook, dodge bees (we have lodgers) and chuck balls.

L meanwhile drugs herself up and heads to gym and aquarobics.

Apparently today is ‘Say Something Nice Day’. Which is nice, obviously, but L never believes me when I say something nice...

(Thursday 1st June)