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

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Mindlessly Googling

L is back at work on Monday but, by her own admission, just mindlessly Googling while seething because the Swimming Pool was closed this morning. The leisure centre was open but with no pool to supervise the staff were just sat around chatting. If so they could have just moved their chat to the pool side they could have opened up. As a consequence L and her swim buddie had to sit and chat themselves over a coffee.

Those absolute darlings at Sky TV have deemed to give us no daytime home games over the entire Christmas and New Year period. So there's no holiday cheer there then. Instead we have evening games on Monday and Thursday this week, which is the first time I can recall us playing twice in the same mid-week since the 1980’s when we were playing catch up from a particularly bad winter. Maybe it suits us as we win both games.

On Tuesday I bike into work while L runs 7k because the pool is still shut. She says her run was muddy. So either she went on the park or went for a jog round our garden.

My online running club send me a graphic illustrating my achievements for the year and even I’m impressed with myself. I've only been uploading my data since the start of November but a 5k time of 20:16 and a half marathon of 1:41:07 are pretty good. However the less said about my 10k time the better.

I finish work early on New Year’s Eve which means L and I head into Nottingham far too early. I worry about us peaking too soon as we hit the usual bars in Canning Circus with the aim of eventually ending up in the Market Square at midnight to see in 2020. 

We manage to last the distance, so get to watch the fireworks off the top of the Council House and join in the communal celebrations. Which are a little bit fragmented and muted due to the whole ice rink thing hogging the Market Square and getting in the way somewhat.

(Tuesday 31st December)

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Film Geeks

Saturday sees us make a return to Forest Rec for a parkrun where the Lad and I set a new PB for Forest Rec but its nearly a minute off our blistering pace of three days ago.

In the evening we stay in albeit with my tub of Hobgoblin that I got for Christmas from my Brother. I’m good and only have one pint which has less to do with Sunday’s run as to do with beer overload due to Christmas falling midweek.

It's always good to get in a run between Christmas and New Year, so on Sunday we return to the Gerald Storey Memorial which starts at Worksop College.

We did this last year for the first time and somehow I manage to shave nearly two minutes off last year’s time, taking 36:00 dead for the 4.8 miles despite not being able to do it aided by dog power and it being on the dreaded 'mixed terrain'.

It's not an event to get particularly excited about but it's a useful training run and all in aid of a good cause.
In the evening, we are at the cinema to see what is apparently the 7th film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and like the previous six it isn’t a film for which I am anywhere near the target audience. Also, for me, doing Little Women yet again demonstrates exactly why cinema is often so dull at the moment e.g. endless repetitions of the same thing. If it’s not that it’s sequels... and/or the constant overuse of the same actors and actresses e.g. here we are again getting to watch the terrifically competent Saoirse Ronan.

Clearly studios think we don’t want originality and sadly they may be right judging by how packed it is in Broadway tonight. Not that they seem to enjoy it very much. The moment the end credits roll everyone silently disappeared without a word to anyone. No interest in the cast list, the music, the locations (ok, clearly we’re both film geeks) and no debate about the film unless they’re all rushing to the pub to do it. We start our debrief in the cinema and carry it on later in the bar.

Do you need to know the plot? Because it’s fair to say there are very few surprises. Despite this version by Greta Gerwig being a ‘modern’ version it’s still about a group of sisters whose lives revolve around getting themselves married off while ditching any career aspirations they may have had along the way. 

It is true that they now make it abundantly clear that this is their own personal economic decision and they have licence to slap away any suitor’s attentions particularly if they’re called Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) while proclaiming they’d rather ‘write’ or ‘paint’ or something else rather than get married before giving everything up to get married.

So the artist (Florence Pugh as Amy) doesn’t become an artist, the musician (Eliza Scanlen as Beth), or was it an actress, doesn’t become a musician and the author (Saoirse Ronan as Jo) only becomes an author by writing about the artist not becoming an artist, the musician not becoming a musician and the author changing the ending so that she too gets married. It is true that the housewife (Emma Watson as Meg) gets everything she wants.

The other thing is the flashback scenes... I know it’s not cool these days to make a movie that is linear but the flashbacks were quite ridiculous as they basically involved the same cast dressing slightly differently, tying their hair back and giggling a lot more. At times it was incredibly difficult to work out which period of their lives we were in. One moment we’re at Beth's funeral and then the next we’re at Meg's wedding where Beth is in attendance.

All I can say is thank heavens for Florence Pugh, who I could watch all day long.

At the end my partner confesses she was fighting back a tear or two. Of frustration I assume.

Roll on version eight.

(Sunday 29th December)

Friday, 27 December 2019

23 Miles Per Gallon

L buys some very expensive 2XU leggings. I’ve always wanted some myself but couldn’t justify the exorbitant cost, which is also probably why she didn’t put them on her Christmas list. Unfortunately they fit like a dream which means she won't be sending them back.

We have a festive gathering on Christmas Eve in Seven on Pride Park. I finish work at lunchtime and walk across. L’s parents are there, my parents, Daughter and even Son and his fiancé are there. Despite the ever increasing guest list Seven had continually nagged us to pre-order. I hate pre-ordering and told them I wouldn’t because it was a ‘surprise’ meal, so ordering would somewhat spoil the surprise, which they had no answer to. Other than to warn us it would take longer to prepare our food.

As last year it’s a decent meal but we don’t get the guitarist that we had last year, who I thought was quite entertaining but I also know others found him annoying. It’s also a lot quieter, so there really was no need to pre-order and the food arrives very promptly.

Christmas Day, of course, means Parkrun and the Lad blitzes me around Alvaston in 20:14 which is a new PB by some distance. By 52 seconds to be precise. It just shows what five pints down Canning Circus the night before can do for your preparation. I celebrate with a couple of pints down The Plough at lunchtime.

Christmas Day also means curry and in the evening we go to the Mogal E Azam who are open as usual and with normal prices. Daughter joins us before jetting off later in an Uber to meet her bf who is heading over from Manchester to see her.

Boxing Day is another day for running and we are again at the Furnace Inn on Darley Park for their 4.6k run (according to my GPS). Later we collect my parents and bring them over to us for a meal.

By Friday, Christmas is all over and I’m back at work, pedalling in on blissfully quiet roads. 

Somewhere on the vastly misinformed internet it says that the average cyclist pedals 1852 miles a year and drinks 22 gallons of beer which means a consumption rate of 84 mpg. 

Which is interesting...but... I’m not sure that’s very average as 22 gallons a year is only 3 pints a week. I cycled 1642 miles last year and I reckon would have consumed around about 70 gallons of beer, so that’s a less than impressive 23 mpg.

 (Friday 27th December)

Sunday, 22 December 2019

It Must Be Christmas

On Friday, I meet my brother for lunch. So it must be Christmas. We go to the Five Lamps where we struggle to get served and are told there’s a ninety minute wait for food. Yep, it must be Christmas.

I go to the gym after work. I’m tempted to say... so it must be Christmas... but do go at least three times a year.

It must be Christmas because L arrives home bearing a very large book token from her boss. It's about the only time of the year that she says she’s pleased to see him.

We parkrun at Alvaston on Saturday and I power round in 8th place and a time of 21:06, which is a new parkrun PB shaving 5 seconds off my time at Aviemore. It’s all the lad’s fault.

In the evening we go out in Derby for a drink, so that we can pass judgement on their much maligned Christmas lights. We think they’re actually really nice. 

(Saturday 21st December)

Thursday, 19 December 2019

The Big Questions In Life

Monday is the Dog Club’s Annual Christmas Meal, held as ever at the incredibly slow serving Chinese in Hilton. Who don’t seem to be quite so slow this year, so it's probably a bit unfair of me to hold them up due to the A50 being briefly closed, to remove a vehicle, while I was on it.

On Tuesday evening , L visits her folks while I take the boys dog training. She is impressed when I show her how to link her ipod up to the car with Bluetooth and therefore relieved to be saved from yet another episode of the Archers. She rewards me by leaving me some of her killer soup, nice and spicy, for post dog training recovery.

I’m out in Derby on Wednesday, where my mate and I have a couple pints in the Brunswick. As it’s Christmas I offer to pay for a curry purely to keep us out of Wetherspoons but I didn’t expect the Shalimar to charge up £65 for two. He does contribute but I’m not sure we’ll be going there again as it seems to go up in price every time we go. L meanwhile is being indulgent at home, home alone with a pork chop and a bottle of red.

One of the big questions in life is why do most Advent calendars have the days in a totally random order? What purpose does this actually serve? It takes an age every morning to find the right window to open, particularly when you’re feeling under pressure with two dogs glaring at you waiting for their daily treat.

L is struggling on with her aching hip. Not running but still swimming, and managing to climb out of the pool unaided, as well as gym-ing. On Thursday, she bites the bullet and runs home from Pilates.

I can tell she is worrying about her lack of running fitness because she’s asking how she can find out what the last runner's time was at the Brighton Marathon last year. It’s not easy to find out because the results are grouped by age category. Someone in the 60—65 category took 07:43:48 but I bet she wasn’t last. I imagine someone much younger was last. Basically though, L will be fine. It’s months away anyway.

On Thursday, Daughter is off ‘skydiving’ and, in her words, ‘bricking it’. She's also skipped breakfast. Probably wise, just in case. This is indoor skydiving which is basically a wind tunnel tipped on its side. It looks great fun.

I run from work, doing a convoluted 10k route to Borrowash before getting the bus. 

(Thursday 19th December)

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Impetuously Planned

It’s a strange weekend. L gets up early on Saturday but not for a parkrun. She heads over to Leamington to see Son for some Christmas shopping. I walk the boys and then I’m at the match. This sees the second dreary performance by Derby in four days after more of the same on Wednesday. A point then and a defeat today. Although both are made better for some decent tributes to Jim Smith.

They axe L’s train on the way back and she has to return via Birmingham. When she eventually gets home it is bearing Stay Puft shaped gifts, Irish Cream flavoured and 9%.

In the evening we are out with friends. First at the Herbert Gilpin, Paste and then Brewdog. This gets me out of Sunday’s Bolsover 10K, where I have yet to return since getting the prize for 3rd placed Veteran Lady a few years ago but it was probably full anyway. Although we did do the Shepshed 7 after going out with them last year but we were young and impetuous then. That’s probably not accurate, as we’re getting more impetuous all the time.

On Sunday the Lad isn’t interested in a lie-in and nor is L, who is stressed about the training run I have impetuously planned for her. While I just want time for last night’s Thai Curry to work its way through my system. In the end the run happens mid-morning with the three of us leaving a distraught and howling MD at home. We run the same loop that I did with Daughter the other week although L takes a shortcut home for around 7.5 miles while the Lad and I carry on to complete 10.5 miles.

Then after a bacon sandwich and a shower, the four of us crash back in bed. When we get up the second time it is dark. Where’s the rest of the day gone? We feel like such teenagers for lounging in bed although, obviously, the teenagers wouldn’t have done a run first. 

(Sunday 15th December)

Friday, 13 December 2019

Says It All Really

My first day back at work is accompanied by the sad news that former Derby County manager Jim Smith has died. He was manager of the club for over six years from 1995 to 2001 and took Derby up to the Premier League where they twice finished in the top 10.

On Wednesday I meet my now retired ex-colleague in the Yard for a lunchtime pizza. It’s good to catch up even though he’s only been gone a couple of weeks.

In the evening while I’m at the match, L opts out of arguing nicely over balls in the mud with the boys and takes them for a walk instead. She survives, ta da, and seems rather pleased about it. It’s probably easier than playing the mind reader with MD. We all know he wants a ball chucking but which one and where is it is another question. It’s usually the one that’s now in the Lad’s mouth.

Work offer us a Christmas bottle, either a bottle of spirits or a bottle of decent wine. It’s usually three bottles of indecent wine, so I usually opt for the spirits. This year I decide to put my trust in the company’s wine experts and go for a decent bottle of red wine.

The weather on Thursday is foul and L enquires if I’m still planning on running. Sadly, yes. My sympathy is already with the bus driver. That is if he’s in the mood to let a wet bedraggled runner on to his bus. In the end I keep it to six miles and it doesn’t actually rain on me at all.

L is at Pilates and asks me to pop a bottle of wine in the fridge for later. Yes, we’ll need to toast Boris/drown our sorrows (delete as applicable). It’s General Election time again and I pull an all-nighter until 3:45am.

Friday is our staff Christmas Party, Secret Santa and also Christmas Jumper day. It's also Friday the 13th. Says it all really. Friday the 13th is also the first day of Boris’s new Government. Says it all really.

Festivities are also going on at L’s place, where the mulled wine is flowing. At ours the free pizza is flowing. L will be heading off for a run with Daughter later, which could be eventful with one of them hobbling and the other sloshed.

In the afternoon many of our staff travel down to our southern office which is where this year’s Christmas Party is being held. I decline to join them. It’s usually a drunk fest anyway and being so many miles from home it will be a drunk fest without an escape route home. They’re also starting the drinking on the train down which means it could get very messy very quickly. 

(Friday 13th December)

Monday, 9 December 2019

Outwitted By A Christmas Pudding

On Friday we head up to the Lake District for our traditional pre-Christmas weekend away where we take in the Great Langdale Pudding Run.

I leave work a little early in order to get home for around 5pm to collect L and the boys before tussling with the M6.

We stay in Elterwater for the first time in a cottage called The Stables, because it was once some stables, that’s just across the road from the cottage hire place. Which makes getting the key rather easy.

After unpacking we attempt to get a drink in the Britannia but it was too full to even get in the door. So we end up at the Wainwrights instead which, by contrast, is very quiet. I suppose Jennings axing Snecklifter doesn't help. That was the main reason we went there and the lack of my favourite Lakeland tipple will certainly hamper my race prep.

The run is on Saturday, with a 12:10 start to fit in round the bus timetable, and it’s rather damp and misty. Although it’s nowhere near as wet as last year. There are 700 of us in the 10K, which is now no longer split over two days and means parking all the cars is quite an issue but they just about cope. We make sure of a space by arriving early and parking in the National Trust car park by the Sticklebarn. It’s a choice of £7 donation to National Trust to park there or a £5 donation to the Brathay Trust if you park in the race car park. Both are worthy causes.

Many of the runners are in fancy dress and I dress up as a frozen turkey still in its shrink rap, as I try out one of L's new ponchos in a bid to keep dry. Although I don’t run in it.

Perhaps I should have done as it might have given me an excuse for being outwitted in the race by a Christmas Pudding that although it huffed and puffed its way up the one big hill, it positively rolled down the other side. Although not stopping for a mull wine at the drinks station, as I did, gave it a distinct advantage.

My time of 47:49 is 22 seconds quicker than last year, a small victory I suppose. They hand me a Sainsburys Christmas pudding as I cross the line, which will no doubt sit in the cupboard for most of the year. We’re not big Christmas pudding eaters. Much more to my liking is the Hawkshead's Dry Stone Stout they had on in the Sticklebarn for a post-race tipple. In the evening, we are back in the Wainwrights to eat and it was again very quiet.

On Sunday, we have breakfast in Slates, the refurbished and rebranded cafe in Elterwater that only opened in September. Then we do a photo session for the family Christmas card, both in front of the cottage and in front of the Christmas Tree in front of the Britannia.

After which we do a walk up to Shelwith Bridge and then round to Little Langdale, mostly dodging the showers. We have a pint in the Eltermere, where we've never been before, before finally making it to the Britannia in the evening. It is quieter with it being a Sunday but not by a lot. We eat there despite the Lad’s attempt to get us chucked out by not letting any other dogs share the back room with us.

We go down to the New Dungeon Ghyll for breakfast on Monday before shopping in the Co-Op at Chapel Stile, a ball session in Ambleside and then a cheeky Brodie's Prime at the Hawkshead Brewery before heading home. Visiting both sets of parents on the way.

(Monday 9th December)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Contentious Christmas Lists

Apparently it's now sexist to give a woman a fitness type present because you'd be intimating that they’re overweight. So if I wanted, say, to buy L a £3,000 Peloton exercise bike she’d be offended, throw the bike in the bin and leave me. Rather than, say, do the sensible thing e.g. say thank you and flog it on ebay.

It seems ok, however, to buy one for a man. Well, at least, I think that’s the case but then I also thought treating men and women differently was the definition of being sexist even though they are different, obviously. Just shows what I know.

Then again, what does buying a girl black tights, a padlock and a stick of Body Glide say about her? Just don’t ask the BBC. And does it make me sexist for buying them for her, even though that’s what she’s asked for?

On my list is this year’s bike part - two sets of brake shoes, along with running shoes and a sports bag. All of which obviously imply that I think that L thinks I’m fat. She really will be running off with someone more exciting.
Meanwhile L’s Mum however is buying her perfume. Now there’s a can of worms just waiting to be opened. I’m sure her Mum doesn’t think she smells. Oh to be one of the perpetually offended.

Tonight L starts a new Pilates class for three weeks at the St Leonard's Centre opposite our local library. I couldn’t possibly comment. 

(Thursday 5th December)

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Another Anniversary

I’m at a gig in Leicester tonight. So it’s a case of rush home, get changed, eat toast, chuck a few balls then hare off down the A46.

Support tonight at Leicester Academy 2 comes from the Marsicans, who I saw last in March 2018 supporting Feeder at Rock City. The indie quartet from Leeds go down pretty well with the crowd and are constantly being touted as the next big thing but they’re still not really doing it for me unlike tonight's headliners. They always hit the spot.

The joy of We Are Scientists, apart from their music obviously, is the banter. These are two guys, Keith Murray and Chris Cain (momentarily forgetting drummer Keith Carne), who don’t take themselves too seriously or even seriously at all. There are always plenty of jokey moments between them, quite often at their own expense, which is rare for an American band. Those American singers usually take themselves far too seriously. Which is probably why they’ve had much more success over here than at home and why, presumably, they’re always over here. We just can’t get rid of them. Only kidding guys...

Tonight is in itself a joke. This is a tour to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their album 'With Love & Squalor' which was released in 2005. So their maths is a joke too or perhaps they’re just hoping that no one will notice when the album came out. With it comes rumours that tapes have been found of an acoustic show that the band played opposite the site of Woodstock Festival in 1969. Hmmm. 

They are introduced tonight by their road manager in a bit of a rambling announcement that to be honest falls a little flat but once the music starts, things are far from flat as they play the entirety of ‘With Love and Squalor’ in order. It is immediately striking just how many tracks from this album are usually in the live set anyway. There really are no fillers on it. It’s also feels a bit strange that they are saving none of these gems for later.

They are calls from the crowd to drop in a few B-sides from that era too which the band, I feel rather unfairly, dismiss out of hand naturally with a joke or two. Seeing as they actually released another album ‘Crap Attack’ a year later which was a compilation of B-sides, covers and different versions of songs on ‘With Love and Squalor’ e.g. a blatant cash in, this seems harsh. How good for instance, and how funny, would it have been to see them reeling out their cover of Sigur Rós’s ‘Hoppípolla’.

Instead, after a short break, they return to run through a set of songs from their other five albums, four of which come from their latest LP ‘Megaplex’ but also includes classics such as Ghouls, Chick Lit and After Hours from their excellent ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ from 2008.

They return a third time to play an encore of Too Late (from 2016’s ‘Helter Seltzer’) and Dumb Luck (from 2014’s ‘TV en Français’). A top night.

I head home to L who, along with MD, is in bed while the Lad balances precariously on the top of the stairs waiting for me.

(Wednesday 4th December)