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

Friday 30 March 2018

Stars Of The Future

As the Pride Park roadworks enter their second year they celebrate by closing a lane in both directions for the duration of the Easter fortnight. Utter chaos. On Tuesday I arrive for work at 9.30 and that’s just day one.

The Lad is slowly getting the hang of his morning walk with MD and L, on his extendable lead. Walk, park, mad dash for the ball, massive tangle, walk, followed by a mad dash for his breakfast or in MD’s case another mad dash for his ball. Sounds like they all had a great time.

After all that, and his lively weekend, the Lad is far from happy about being plonked back in his cage. It’ll do him good as he needs his rest. L is taking him socialising tonight while I am out in Derby with my mate from school. The Lad does so love a bit of socialising.

Given Tuesday’s travel hell, I’m on the bike on Wednesday. Meanwhile my colleague at work isn’t cycling this week after getting knocked off last week. He's mainly fine, just battered and bruised but his £900 bike is a write off. The driver has accepted liability and is putting it through his insurance but I’m not sure my colleague will get anything. He's not insured himself through British Cycling or anything, so there's no one to fight for his cause and pursue the money on his behalf.

Lunch is spent in The Yard on Pride Park and then in the evening it’s Team Training Night at dog training. Where we try to encourage the stars of the future. Meanwhile L and Daughter are doing their own training, with added hills.

Thursday’s squash is cancelled as my opponent says he’s ill. He’s probably fine but he daren’t play me if he has the slightest sniffle in case I take advantage. Instead I join L for a family session on the park.

She has been furnished with a chocolate Easter bunny and a huge Thornton's egg. Lucky her. Hope there’s some scraps for me.

Friday is Good Friday and rather appropriately Derby get crucified by Sunderland in the evening kick off.

On Saturday my dog club is running a ring at Catton Park but the weather is so wet and muddy it should all have been called off. When I arrive at 8am they are towing people off site as they give up at the start of day two of the four day event. We stick it out as we’re getting paid but I do just the one farcical run with MD. I daren’t move in the mud in case I fall but he seems to cope ok and comes 3rd in a very reduced field. With so many competitors already having gone home it is all over by lunch time.

In the evening we’re out with friends at the Curry Lounge in Derby, which is very good. We meet up in the Lord Nelson, where I haven’t been for years. It’s ok but we soon move to a new-ish micro bar called Suds And Soda. No real ale but an interesting range of kegs, bottles and cans. 

(Friday 30th March)

Sunday 25 March 2018

Unsane In London

On Saturday L and I head down to London. This is for the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon, that I got into but L didn’t. There was doubt that we’d get here at all due to caring for poor old Doggo but with him sadly no longer with us it frees us up to do stuff like this again.

So a weekend of dog free debauchery awaits although we’ll probably both sit worrying about the little tyke. Daughter dog sits and seems thrilled at the prospect of a weekend with the Lad. I’m sure she will video their day and keep us updated.

Continuing our London tour we stay this time at the Holiday Inn in Victoria which is less than a mile from the start. After a restrained Saturday night around Victoria, we’re already for race day. Well I am, L is annoyed that Waterstone's Piccadilly doesn't open until 12 noon. Quite right too, they probably all want to watch the race.

The race sold out in minutes when it went live last year although half the 10,000 places were kept back for charities which is very mean on us runners (but not on the charities obviously). In fact the whole event is ran by a charity, Tommy’s, but it’s an opportunity to run the sights of London without doing the full London Marathon. If you can get in that of course and this race looks like it could become as hard to get into as it’s big brother.

After a very early breakfast due to the clocks going forward, we head to the start on Pall Mall. At the start there is a sea of yellow event t-shirts which were sent to us in advance along with a nice drawstring bag also in yellow. Obviously I’m not wearing mine and be warned that, if like me, you have a yellow t-shirt phobia the colour is unlikely to change in the future but as there is yellow event branding everywhere.

There is supposed to be a wave start but this doesn’t really happen. You are given a start time and at about that time you join a long funnel which takes you to the start but once you get to the front, off you go, so it was more of a rolling start. Which was fine but it would have been helpful if they’d told us because some people simply slammed their anchors on and refused to start before their allocated start time creating a bit of a log jam.

As I’ve said we only had one place between us, so my number has ‘X’ on it rather than my name. Just in case L had to step in if I was injured but I seem fine at the moment. Someone shouts out to me ‘Come on X-ey’. Not sure how to take that.

There are ‘historical’ mile markers on the course, pointing out what they say are London’s quirky and hidden secrets. These remain hidden to me as naturally I miss most of them. Also some of the areas are apparently themed but again I miss out on these because I am concentrating too much on my race. I do spot most of the landmarks on route, although you do have to crane your neck around the odd skyscraper at times to see them and the route was very winding. I assume to cut down on road closures but I didn’t mind this too much.

The finish line was just outside Downing Street where I was handed a medal by someone in fancy dress but I couldn’t for the life of me tell who they were supposed to be. L would have known. It’s a nice medal but, as I’m not a medal fan, I didn’t really look at too closely. Apparently it opens up like a locket, so I must get it out of the drawer sometime and have another look. The goodie bag wasn’t too bad, containing some food and a sweatband, in yellow of course, which I will use.

Apparently the overall winner beat his Dad into second place, now there’s a obscure pub quiz question for you. I complete the course, uninjured, in 1:47. Not bad on little training.

Now what to do afterwards. We had looked at seeing the ‘Book of Mormon’ but with the cheapest tickets at £96 each we go for the cinema instead. 

Unsane is a thriller come horror that was apparently all shot on an iPhone.

Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) is a young woman attempting to rebuild her life, having moved to a new city to escape a stalker. However, she is struggling with that rebuilding job, finding herself unable to form relationships and seemingly constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

She then inadvertently tips herself over the edge when at a counselling session she confesses that she sometimes has suicidal thoughts. The therapist promptly asks her to sign a document agree ing to more sessions but then, before the ink is dry, a man in a white coat leads her away to a locked room.

Unfortunately protesting that she’s been locked up by mistake just makes it look like she’s in denial. Then when she’s assaulted by another patient and fights back, it just reinforces the impression that she needs to be locked up and drugged up. Then when she gets side effects from the drugs, this is just another reason to keep her in.

With help from fellow inmate Nate Hoffman (Jay Pharoah), she manages to get word to her mother (Amy Irving) but she just comes up against the immoveable bureaucracy of the hospital. This all appears to be a dig at the American healthcare system, where hospitals can be paid handsomely through a patient’s private medical insurance.

Sawyer is convinced that one of the staff (Joshua Leonard) is her old stalker and who is therefore still stalking her. But do we believe her? Is Sawyer really sane or is she actually ill? The question of whether or not Sawyer is a reliable witness to her own sanity is the hook here.

Sadly the film then starts to go insane itself as it attempts to shovel something\anything into the large plot holes that have appeared. We can buy the incarceration idea for a while but by now basic logic says somebody would have got her out. The film therefore has to keep inventing twists why this isn’t the case and this just undermines the good story they had put together so far.

Luckily Foy’s performance keeps things watchable and the film is good but probably could have been a lot better. Nice idea, shame about the execution.

(Sunday 25th March) 

Friday 23 March 2018

Emotional Shopping

The Monday shop has got a bit emotional of late. I'm finding it difficult passing the reduced pasties and the Fray Bentos pies. These were the type of things we resorted to giving Doggo in his last few weeks to make him eat. The Fray Bentos pies particularly bring a tear to the eye.

Tuesday I’m on the bike and thankfully so given the state of the traffic this week. Even on the bike, I’m constantly weaving in and out of cars. Tuesday is also dog training night.

Wednesday I’m in London for work and the traffic isn’t any better down there. In fact they close the M1 on us, due to an accident, forcing a long detour across country to reach the A1. We arrive at 11.30am having left at 6am.

On Thursday I take a vital delivery at work, hoover bags. I rush them home to L, not wanting to be the one that comes between a girl and her hoovering. That's the puppy's job.

Talking of the Lad, the new toys are stacking up. He now has a cow to go with the sheep he already has, both from L’s Mum. He again joins us in the pub after squash.

(Friday 23rd March)

Sunday 18 March 2018

A Unhappy Warnock

We have a dusting of snow overnight and Derby’s televised match with Cardiff, scheduled for 12 noon, is bizarrely cancelled. Although I’m well surprised that Sky that didn’t make them play it anyway. With both teams already there and the pitch fine due to undersoil heating, who needs supporters?

Naturally Cardiff’s manager Neil Warnock isn’t happy but then he never is. Warnock is convinced the real reason the game was cancelled was because of Derby’s injury crisis. He’s probably right as well. The weather is grim but hardly dangerous or life threatening. In fact everyone shrugs off the cancellation and goes shopping instead because there’s not a jot of snow on the main roads. The club themselves encourage everyone to come spend money in the club shop or their restaurant instead, which are all at the stadium, work that one out...

The really annoying thing is if Sky hadn’t moved the game to Sunday in the first place it would have been played already!

Something else I don’t get to do today is my Velodrome session which is also cancelled. No, not because of the weather although the Velodrome is right next door to the football stadium, John Bishop is doing a gig there and he doesn’t cancel.

Instead my brother and his family pop round to visit the Lad and then in the evening, L and I go see a film.

From the novella by Jonathan Ames, comes You Were Never Really Here. A nice family film...

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a war veteran, traumatised  by his past, addicted to pain killers and a hired killer who specialises in retrieving trafficked girls. He has a reputation for brutality but also for getting results, with his hammer. An implement of which he has not so found childhood memories.

He spends his free time between jobs caring for his elderly mother (Judith Roberts) and having flashbacks to his past, as a Gulf War soldier and as the victim of an abusive father.

He is offered a large wad of cash to rescue Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), the 13-year-old daughter of a New York senator called Albert Votto (Alex Manette), who is missing from home. He locates Nina in an ‘upmarket’ brothel from where he rescues her, killing several security guards and customers on the way. 

Then before he can get Nina back to Votto, he sees on the news that Votto has apparently killed himself. Corrupt police officers then storm his motel room and take Nina off him. They come for him too but he escapes.

He then finds that both his boss and his handler have been murdered in an attempt to track him down. Once they know where he lives they head there, kill his mother and then lie in wait for him. Joe outsmarts them, kills one of them and finds out from the other than the man behind all this is Governor Williams (Alessandro Nivola) who wants his favourite sex slave back and has the power to do it.

Joe gives his mother a water burial and also attempts to drown himself, but a vision of Nina convinces him to save the girl fromWilliams instead.

This is a film where you really need to concentrate, or revise beforehand, as the director leaves you to find your own way but it’s a really excellent film with a great performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the man who is never really there. Although some folk might need a blindfold as it’s a violent film but ‘tastefully’ done with most of the bloodshed off-camera.

Recommended served with a few beers.
(Sunday 18th March)