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

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Noel Edmonds Day

L and I are both grumbling about Christmas cards. She's getting as bah humbug as me. Is it too early to be bah humbug? What with it not even being December yet.

Does anyone ever read them? We haven’t even got room to put ours up. Not that I send many these days as most people feel like I do, that they’re a waste of time. I have my cards down to just five now, which isn’t too arduous but it's still arduous enough.

Work are also attempting to nag me into the Secret Santa but I’m holding firm as I am as regards Christmas Jumper Day. I believe even Noel Edmonds is over such things.

In the evening, L runs in Sherwood where there’s snow on the ground. Yes, it’s grim up north. While I’m playing Squash. She says go easy on the patient. I'm not sure if she means my forever ill/injured opponent or Doggo.

There is a real treat afterwards when Tiny Rebel’s Stay Puft Chocolate Marshmallow Porter pops up on draft in the Dispensary. That rather out brags L who is trying to seduce me over to the Doctors Orders where she says she’ll have a Market Harborough Dry Stout waiting for me and she’ll drive me home. She knows how to sweet talk me.

She’s in there with Daughter, who has now had official confirmation that she's passed the police interrogation with flying colours and she now heads on to the next stage of the recruitment.

(Thursday 30th November)

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Out Of Desperation

It’s a little bit cold and icy this morning but out of desperation I risk the bike anyway and I make it to work unscathed. As it turns out the roads are not slippery.

L is in the gym where they have introduced yet another points card. L says she isn’t bothered about first or second prize and is only going for third prize, which is chocolates. I assume, purely so that she can gift them to me. She’s nice like that.

The Great North Run is giving the option of paying a £60 fee to guarantee entry for the next three years. On one hand, they have a bit of a nerve but on the other hand... it isn’t too bad. That is assuming we’re both interested in doing it again? And indeed for the next three years.

I try to find out whether the Sunday Times will be running a ballot again because that worked well for us this year but I can’t see any indication that they are. If they don’t, we’ll have to join in the main ballot with the great unwashed and we may struggle to get in. We decide to sign up.

I’m at dog training tonight. L is at home and in bed early to keep herself out of the fridge which I thought I’d emptied earlier but apparently I missed some cheese... deliberately though, I was saving that for my supper.

(Wednesday 29th November)

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

All Is Well With The World

Doggo ate his breakfast, L made it to the pool. All is well with the world.

I’m the car, doing the shopping and then going to the match where Derby suffer a rare defeat 1-0 to Ipswich. They should have won but their opponents scored early and then sat on it all game. My Dad and I drown our sorrows in the Harrington afterwards.

Back home it’s a DIDS night. Dogs In Door Shut. I believe there was some opposition to that suggestion which got him locked out. All I’m hoping for is no dramatics from Doggo this week.

(Tuesday 28th November)

Monday, 27 November 2017

Mama Cass

Doggo seems to have got his appetite back and more or less ate all of his breakfast, despite there being no mop in it.

I’m assuming that dog training will be off tonight, but stranger things have happened, so I’m on the bus with shopping deferred to Tuesday. 

There is excitement on the way home when the Red Arrow breaks down just as it's leaving the bus station. Well, not broken down exactly but the warning lights and sirens suggesting that something was wrong would not have made for a pleasant trip home.

The bus returns to it’s bay and we all pile on to the next one. Once back home, I have my orders. I collect L from the running club at the Portland Centre and then drive back to Derby because L wants a weights session in the Arena. She says she needs to stop fannying about or she'll look like Mama Cass.

I do a 20k Watt Bike session.

(Monday 27th November)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Easy Isn’t Really An Option

I’m at the velodrome tonight but L decides to stay in Nottingham. She hopes to do Tennis Centre gym and then go in the sauna but she aborts the sauna idea. She says she can hear the testosterone in there from the changing room.

She should be here. The cycle track is positively swimming in testosterone and that’s just the girls. L tells me to take it easy but easy isn’t really an option. Even the GB Team are here with their fancy ipads giving out lap times to their riders. There's been a full turn out with all 28 places taken tonight for what is the last Sunday night session of the year before the pantomime season starts. It’s so wrong that the pantomime stops play in the velodrome.

My Dad and I go for a pint afterwards in the Exeter while L gets home to find that Doggo has eaten the new mop. 

(Sunday 26th November)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Love Thy Hairdresser

L is in town again today, non-shopping, and I go to assist, just in case she wants me to. On the way I pass the massive queues outside the Gin Festival at Trent Uni. Possibly the biggest women only drinking event to have ever hit Nottingham and it’s only 12 noon.

I meet L and Daughter in John Lewis where L is trying on dresses. I attempt to block all exits to stop her escaping without buying something. In the end I talk her L in to one dress and out of another. Not literally but maybe later.

The Battle of the Sexes is primarily about the exhibition tennis match in 1973 between possibly the best female tennis player at that time Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and three time Wimbledon men’s champion 55-year-old Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).


However the film is much more than that, focusing on the off court drama as well. It tries to cover the formation of WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and King also falling in love with another woman at the same time. In a way it’s a mini biography of her life but it has to shuffle the timeline and some facts to do so. 

King was indeed instrumental in the formation of the WTA after she became annoyed that the male players were receiving cash prizes up to eight times that of the women, despite the fact they attracted just as many spectators. So in 1970, King and seven other women started to set up their own breakaway tournaments which led eventually to the formation of the WTA in 1973. The WTA went on to be hugely successful and is still going strong today.
 

1973 was also the year that Riggs, a self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig who was clearly missing the limelight, challenged the then world number one Margaret Court to a match. In his eyes this would prove that men are better than women at tennis and well better, full stop. He easily beat a poorly prepared Court on what became known as the Mother’s Day Massacre.


When he subsequently challenged King she also accepted, despite previously saying that she wouldn’t but now feeling that she needed to fly the flag for womankind to make up for Court's failings. Riggs wasted no time in ramping up the acrimony by going on TV to proclaim that women only belong in the kitchen and the bedroom.

King seems to take the latter bit of advice on board, although not in a way that Riggs would have appreciated, when she takes her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) back to her hotel room. It is also not greatly appreciated by King’s husband Larry (Austin Stowell). 


In reality Barnett was actually King’s secretary and the affair had already been going for two years but the film alters this point despite the reality being possibly even more fascinating. Along with the fact it was Barnett who outed her secret superstar girlfriend eight years later. 


Their relationship, as well as disrupting her marriage, doesn’t do a lot for her concentration on the tennis court but she bounces back to beat Riggs in rather exaggerated movie style in their game at the Houston Astrodome.


Despite my initial reservations the film is surprisingly entertaining, smart and well-acted. It also has the potential to educate, inspire and make you 'google', in a time when not enough films attempt to do so. 

Stone is once again excellent, among other things making her relationship with Riseborough very believable. If anything the film attempts to cover too much and spreads itself a bit thin to do so. It does actually make me want to see a full biopic of BJK. 

Afterwards, yet again we struggle to get served in the Old Angel and this time give up, despite the fact their selling Tiny Rebel’s Stay Puft on draft. Instead we go to the Peacock where the OP is off, so its not a great beer night so far. They do have Fuller’s Damson Porter instead. 


(Saturday 25th November)

Friday, 24 November 2017

Black Fortnight Comes To An End (Maybe)

I think I’m officially a wimp. It’s a little cold, so I’m on the bus when I should be powering it in to work on my bike in readiness for Sunday’s track session but I don’t want to suck in cold air. Yep, wimp. Penance later in the gym then.

L is getting soft with the old man, Doggo, and has left him his duvet (yes, he has his own duvet) down in the hall. Although we both expect to find it shoved in a corner and him lying on the floor next to it when we get home.

I walk to the sandwich shop at lunchtime and at first I’m surprised to find that the traffic everywhere is gridlocked. Then I realise it’s Black Friday and people are queuing up to get ripped off.

They call it Black Friday but I’ve been deleting Black Friday emails for the past Black Fortnight. As soon as I delete one from my inbox another one appears. It’s crazy. I haven’t opened any of them.

I do get one email today that I care about, from Glencoe Mountain where they say heavy snow is falling at all levels and more snow is forecast over the next few days. Wow.  Let's go!

(Friday 24th November)

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bananas

I’m on the bike, which was good although a bit colder than I expected. L is in the pool, complaining how unfit she is. Doggo is ok but not eating much and contributing several puddles. While MD is asking to have something spherical pushed down his throat. So everything is normal basically.

At work there is something distressingly festive in the air as the Secret Santa email arrives, that’s all we need. This year it is to be combined with Christmas Jumper day. What joy.

In the evening, I dig in the back of the wardrobe for my dungarees but thankfully I can’t find them as we head off out while Daughter dog sits. Yes, I am a little out of my comfort zone tonight. 

I know this because I’m at the NIA in Birmingham, or whatever it’s called this week, and the two women in front of me are wearing flashing red devil’s horns as are a distressingly large number of other folk. I have a feeling that the car is out of it’s comfort zone too as it throws a flat tyre into the mix that I don’t notice until we pull into the NIA car park. Hopefully it’s only just gone flat.

I could do with a drink, a pint of overpriced cheap lager perhaps, but in a nod to the times the venue is full of fast food joints and merchandise stalls selling t-shirts for £30 and programmes a snip at only a tenner less. There are hardly any bars which means long queues at the ones they do have, so we don’t bother. Oh, and I have a seat. Welcome to the world of Arena concerts, this is not my usual environment.

Oh, and the support act is a DJ. Hmmm. Really? Apparently Belfast got The Adventures, who are admittedly from Belfast but I'd have contributed towards their air fare.

Tonight’s main attraction, by the way, are Bananarama on their inventively titled ‘The Original Line Up Tour’. Yes, Siobhan is back and so are we. We’d seen Sara and Keren at Splendour a few years ago but this, amazingly, is the band’s first ever tour as a threesome. However, while Splendour was more or less an up close and personal experience from where I’m sat tonight I can’t even tell who’s who let alone able get any decent photographs.

Almost all gig venues are rectangular but places where the experience matters put the stage in the middle but places where the money matters put it at the end, like tonight.

Anyway, I best stop whinging about the place because the girls are good tonight. They’re in good voice, well choreographed and with a very able four piece band backing them with no obvious signs of any backing tapes. The music, well, dubious but popular Stock, Aitken and Waterman era stuff aside, that is good too.


Openers ‘Nathan Jones’ and ‘Robert De Niro's Waiting’ are excellent but probably chucked in too soon, ‘Cruel Summer’ also comes very early, as the pacing does go a little bit awry mid-set with material that many are unfamiliar with.

Some of these are their best songs though because ‘Rough Justice’, ‘Trick of the Night’ and their one and only ballad ‘Cheers Then’ are terrific songs, and very well done tonight. Everyone sits down for the latter, so that is why we have seats because us old folk need a mid-set siesta.

In what is a fairly daring set list they also play their début single ‘Aie a Mwana’ sung entirely in Swahili which must have took some practicing. For me the earlier stuff is indeed the best, so it’s a little annoying hearing ‘Shy Boy’ truncated and merged with the lesser known ‘Boy Trouble’ but fellow ‘Deep Sea Skiving’ tracks ‘Really Saying Something’ and the closing ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ hit the spot.

They chuck in a cover of Shakespeare's Sister’s ‘Stay’ which is interesting with Sara and Keren becoming Marcella Detroit and (I think) they play only one track from the post-1988 post-Siobhan era, ‘Preacher Man’ which Keren, or was it Sara?, said it was one of their favourites.

There is also the bizarrely brilliant sight of seeing them dance in time with their younger selves up on the big screen on ‘I Heard a Rumour’.

The encore opens with the Fun Boy Three’s ‘It Ain't What You Do’ which they now seem to have claimed as their own. Personally I’d have got the guys to re-record their bits or take clips from the original video so they could have been ‘there’ but what do I know.

Overall though, it’s great entertainment for us and for the girls themselves, who seem to be having a whale of a time. Then it’s gig over, tyre fixed and the M42 closed. What? There’s always something.

(Thursday 23rd November)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

They Call Him Lazarus

In the morning, rather bizarrely, Doggo is much better. He seems to be walking ok and I even take him for a short morning stroll. The trip to the vet is postponed but we both go to work worried about him. I’m on the bus due to the forecasted 45 mph winds.

I keep my promised pub lunch appointment with my colleague although I don’t feel much like eating. A pint is very welcome though.

L’s boss leaves work early, so she does too and heads home to Doggo at about 2pm. He seems fine as if he's risen like Lazarus. Phew. We’ve both been on edge all day. He seems his normal self again and is even scrounging L’s sandwich, bless him, I hope she slapped him. Then he’s outside playing ball, well barking at it. As we keep saying, we never have understood that dog.

Obviously he’s not getting any younger and his legs are getting worse but I’m guessing he may have spent most of yesterday with them folded under him which then meant he was unable to stand on them. So possibly just cramp.

I take them both dogging and he watches everyone train as usual. 

(Wednesday 22nd November)

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Worrying Dog Developments

As is usual now, we walk a dog each in the mornings. Then I take the car to work as there's a match tonight.

L skives off work early to go see her folks in the middle of the day. While the boss is away... and all that.

Back home later L reports several puddles and then the distressing news that Doggo seems to have lost the use of back legs, won’t eat and barely seems to know where he is. I head home straight after the match to find him in quite a bad way. Every time I try to stand him up he wobbles over sideways. I carry him up the stairs to bed but he won’t settle on his bed and I lift him onto ours. For the first time in many years he seems happy to sleep between us.

I lie with my arm around him, unable to sleep, while getting my head around this being the end and first thing in the morning we’ll be at the vet with him getting confirmation of that.

About 4am, he sits up and seems to want to get off the bed. I help him off and he wobbles, without falling over, to his bed where he curls up and goes back to sleep.

(Tuesday 21st November)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Not Far Wrong

L seems to be getting increasingly frustrated by John Carroll pool which insists on closing one lane to save money, no matter how busy it is. I'm not sure how that works, although apparently they need less lifeguards but I can’t find any regulations that support that.

The Lion in Basford is named the most dog friendly pub in the East Midlands but that is probably only because they haven’t met MD. We will have to take him. We just need a bath chair or something similar to get the old battleaxe there. That's Doggo by the way.

L goes to her running club while I go to my committee meeting. She says she’ll be home about 7.30ish and I’ll be home about midnight. As if it would take that long… but she’s not far wrong.

(Monday 20th November)

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Rue The Day

It’s a lazy day today apart from the incessant ball chucking required by MD. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wanted one of the decent balls he’s got but he often prefers the pink one that L used to do her exercises with. It's lightweight and much more difficult to throw as well as pink. She probably rues the day she gave it to him.

It’s not a lazy evening as I’m at the Velodrome for the Sunday night SQT. This is, of course, a far from a relaxing way of spending the evening but terrific, leg shattering fun. Then recovery drinks afterwards in the Exeter.

(Sunday 19th November)

Saturday, 18 November 2017

A Time Before Twitter

We nearly did Long Eaton parkrun this morning but L proclaimed herself not quite ready to return to running yet. So we stayed in bed instead, which is always a bonus.

Then I take the dogs on the park before heading to the opticians where I get to see the head contact lens chap. It’s about time, its only took four years. Apparently the practice has been leaderless for a while and its only recently that he moved up from Cambridge to take over. Hopefully he can do something with my appalling eyesight.

Afterwards I go to meet L in Debenhams, where she is having another non-shopping trip. She really does fail womankind badly on that score. I join her in their café and steal her free coffee as she waits for her watch to be repaired.

Derby play at 5:30pm today, who knew. I was settling down to listen to the game at 3pm only to find its been moved for TV. Not that 5:30pm is much good to me as we’re at the cinema.

'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' is the story of the final days of Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) and also her relationship with Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), a young Liverpudlian actor half her age whom she met in the late 1970’s when they, incredibly, shared the same north London boarding house.


By this point, Oscar winner Grahame’s time in the limelight had seriously faded but she continued to work where she could and spent a lot of time performing on the stage in the UK. Turner and the hugely insecure Grahame, keen herself to feel young again, quickly became lovers. For a while at least, then she seemed to forget about him.


Until 1981 that is when, already ill, she collapsed one night and called him of the blue. She asked if she could stay over with him and his family in Liverpool. Where she hoped to spend time recuperating but, as it turns out, these were to be her final days.


Despite being exasperated that she won’t seek treatment, Turner along with his mother (Julie Walters) and father (Kenneth Cranham), looks after her. The film details his memories as he looks back on their brief transatlantic romance.


It does rather morosely becomes one long death scene but it is rather refreshing that her final decline happens outside of the public glare. This was a time when famous people could blend into every day life and not be recognised. It was a time before not only YouTube but before even DVDs. In fact VHS had only just been invented.

When the landlord of Turner's local pub does recognise his superstar girlfriend, it is a one off and nobody alerts the world via the yet to be invented Twitter. 


Finally her son, having been told about her illness, travels over to take her back home where she dies just a few hours after arriving in America aged just 57.

It's an excellent film for many reasons. Its story, its message, its time, its acting. Bening is brilliant and ably supported by Bell, with whom she shows great chemistry. There is also strong performances from his Cranham, Walters and Stephen Graham as Turner's brother.

(Saturday 18th November)