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

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Gigs!

Obviously I haven’t been to a gig since March but the weekend, well Thursday onwards, brings a threesome of streamed gigs in four days.

Or rather it was supposed to and first up was Ride who streamed their gig from Omeara, London Bridge on the Dice platform but we all watched as the display constantly froze and the stream buffered throughout the first four songs before they canned the whole thing part way into song five.

They ended up recording the whole thing ‘as live’ and then sending out a link to the show which I then watched on Sunday. So three gigs in three days then. When it finally came Ride’s show was worth waiting for. Fairly short at just thirteen songs and the thing it brought home to me was how good last year’s ‘This Is Not a Safe Place’ album is. I hadn’t bought it but I have now.

Next up on Friday were the Slow Readers Club streamed from The Met, Bury on Veeps. This was the Readers’ second live stream and they were more ambitious than Ride, playing 21 tracks.

The band have been trying to get on the road to tour their fourth album ‘The Joy Of The Return’ but have so far failed to do so with the dates now kicked back to 2021. They play plenty from that album even though it’s no longer the new kid on the block with album number five ‘91 Days In Isolation’ previewed tonight. This is material written in isolation with the band sharing compositions with each other online and it will officially be released in the Autumn.

Finally on Sunday, and now with the rescheduled Ride supporting (on my TV at least), came Frank Turner which, like Ride, was streamed on Dice but without the technical issues. He was playing at Vans for Bands, Oxford and he’d billed this as his 2500 gig after counting 14 solo shows during lockdown. Actually I think he did far more than that... but accuracy would spoil the occasion.

He’s performing with his band The Sleeping Souls for the first time in months and the proceeds will largely help them out after they took a financial hit during the pandemic.

Frank delivers of course even if it’s not quite as riotous in my lounge as it was at Rock City for his 2000th but I try my best even if it is only 16 songs from Frank.

On my night off from ‘gigging’, e.g. Saturday, we visit the Horse and Jockey in Stapleford which seems to be operating almost as normal with just a few chairs taken out of use. You’re even allowed to visit the bar. Not that I want to visit the bar as I much prefer having table service. Which means it probably won’t be top of my list to revisit.

(Sunday 9th August)

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Eat Out To Help Out

It’s time to follow the Government’s advice of losing weight and eating out to help out at the same time.

So on Monday I do a 10k run with the Lad, accompanied by MD for about the last km. Then on Tuesday we head over to meet Son in Leamington for a Rishi special. Where he informs us that his Wedding and Honeymoon have unsurprisingly been delayed again. Now scheduled for March 2021.


The powers that be will also be pleased to know I played tennis on Tuesday and nearly won a set. The second set finished 6-6 but my opponent was too knackered to play a tie break. So I imagine that will go down on his spreadsheet as a drawn set and not that he effectively conceded the whole match.

The one way system and queuing have now all gone at Asda but they have finally put plastic screens between all the self-checkouts, it’s only taken them five months. Also on the plus side mask wearing seems to have belatedly taken off although for some people this simply means that they see no need for social distancing at all.

We decide to order new parts for our garden bench. The only problem is that delivery could take up to twelve weeks as they’ve been snowed under with requests from everyone doing the same thing during Lockdown. This will at least give us more time to dismantle all the old rusty bolts off it.

The London Marathon finally admit that October’s race will be for elites only, who will have to run eighteen laps of a 1.5 miles course in St James’s Park. Nice. The mass event is cancelled and won’t run in April 2021 either. Next year’s race will be in October.

(Wednesday 5th August)

Sunday, 2 August 2020

A Trip To The Scales

Boris Johnson launches an anti-obesity drive the week before his 'Eat Out To Help Out' offer kicks into life. Advance planning does not seem to be this Government’s forte.

Fortunately Lockdown has treated my waistline well or at least I thought it had. L decides to weigh me and quickly trashes that theory. I’m now 12 stone and I’ve never been that heavy before. I can't honestly say it's Lockdown's fault as it's probably two years since I went anywhere near any scales. 

Lockdown has been good for my general health though as I’m certainly not getting coughs, sore throats, or headaches (apart from the occasional hangover) as much as I was. I reckon these things were down to exposure to bugs etc at work or on the bus.

I cycle to work on Friday, in what are hot and steamy conditions. I was well ready for my bacon roll when I arrived at work. Not that Boris or the scales would approve.

We wander up to Beeston on Saturday night and spend the evening in the newly reopened Crown. Then on Sunday L and I go for Sunday Lunch at the Nurseryman, which was the last place we ate in before Lockdown.

Daughter, meanwhile, heads to Manchester just as they put the city into a local Lockdown.

(Sunday 2nd August)

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Life Without Garmin

Garmin's servers have been down since Thursday after an alleged Ransomware attack and their services are only just now coming back online. That is for some people but clearly not for me. I’ve recently received a replacement watch from Garmin but I still can’t use it. Well, I can use it but the data's not going anywhere. A bit like my training really. 

The London Marathon still fails to make a decision on whether to go ahead on their new date of  4th October or not. They are allegedly still working on how they can socially distance the race. Give it up guys, it's not going to happen.

Anything London can do, Brighton of course can top it. Especially for vagueness. Brighton send out an email admitting that it is not feasible to stage the marathon 'as we had hoped', yet they tell us they are planning to stage 'part' of the Brighton Marathon Weekend in a 'unique and revised socially distanced, COVID-19 compliant format'. They just don’t say what...

It’s as clear as mud and their Facebook page is instantly on fire with abuse. Both races should have sorted all this out months ago.

Tennis goes ahead on Tuesday with the Tennis Centre now back open and the booking system reverted to the long winded rubbish one. I have spent most of the week watching the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis tournament which has been awesome but doesn’t seem to have done anything for my own game. The match itself turns out to be possibly the windiest of games ever.

As all the Council’s Leisure Centres start to reopen, they announce they won’t be taking any membership payments until 7th September. So everything will be free until then. No wonder they’re asking the Government for more money.

L and Daughter go out on a run and prove that Green's Windmill is not a hoax. It does actually exist. We’ve been in Nottingham all these years and have never seen it.


On Wednesday Bosch send out an engineer to look at our useless new vacuum cleaner. The chap unblocks it with a nifty gadget that doesn’t come in the box, then checked the motor and proclaimed it fine. He wasn’t very interested when I showed him how poor the suction was even after he’d unblocked it. Instead he told me to return the machine to the retailer, who isn’t interested.

(Wednesday 29th July)

Sunday, 26 July 2020

As If It's 2019

From Friday face coverings become compulsory in all the shops which all comes too late to help the first cat to catch the virus.

I bike to work and while I’m out Hermes sneak round and actually deliver a parcel rather than their usual tactic of just pretending they’ve delivered it. They send me a photo of it hanging half in half out of our letterbox which is slightly worrying but, hopefully, it’ll still be there when I get home. The thing is, it was definitely our letterbox which is significant progress for them and, in another twist for the better, when I get home it turns out the driver had actually pushed the parcel through the letterbox once they’d photographed it. So good Hermes drivers do exist.

Saturday was the day that probably no one was begging for, the day you could finally get back on the treadmill at your local gym.

In the evening we have our first Saturday night out since March in the Organ Grinder and on Sunday we take my Parents out for lunch in the Dog and Duck at Shardlow. The Dog and Duck is the first place we’re been where they aren’t doing table service and they ask you to queue at the bar old style as if it's 2019. The difference being that this now has to be at two metres distance, which stretches half way around the pub. To me they seem to be applying the shopping rules and not the pub rules but no one appears to be checking.

Meanwhile Daughter reveals the exciting news that she’s been for a Covid test. It was negative.

(Sunday 26th July)

Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Dandy Highwayman

This is the week that L starts keeping a hammer by her bedside. I ask if it’s something I’ve said but apparently it’s a workout thing.

On Monday I head to Sainsbury’s wearing my mask. Personally, I find it all quite exciting, like a kid playing at being Dick Turpin, either that or Adam Ant. The dandy highwayman who you were too scared to mention. He, however, was spending the cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention rather than alcohol free Prosecco, a fresh coriander and the rest of the week shop.

Apparently it's a ‘bit too sunny’ for tennis are Tuesday, there really is no pleasing some people, but we play anyway.

After work I head over to Derby to meet a friend in the Exeter, which was one of the few pubs that was open on a Tuesday. At the Exeter you use a QR code to sign up to their Track And Trace then you’re supposed to use their website to order your drinks and food. The second bit however proves to be an almighty faff and we hail a member of staff instead.

On the way over the Red Arrow is really busy with all but one person wearing a mask and the driver in his special Trent Barton branded one. The Red Arrow isn’t running in the evenings at the moment so I have to get the i4 back which is a lot quieter with very few masks in use.

I get the 'pleasure' of doing an extra Asda shop this week as my brother is away. For some reason he felt the need to join all the hordes already down on the south coast. I take the shopping over to my parents and stay to watch Derby win 3-1 at Birmingham City in what was the final match of the season.

(Thursday 23rd July)

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Seventeen Years Of ‘Hurt’

I bike to work. It was a touch warm and only likely to get warmer for my ride back.

Our Great Leader keeps shouting at everyone to go back to work but I’m not sure many people are listening. There's little evidence of it here on Pride Park and the traffic is wonderfully light. The thing is most of us have been wanting to work from home for years and generally haven’t been trusted to do so. Now finally we’ve got our wish and our companies seem quite happy about it. I have settled into a routine now of going in every Friday, weather permitting e.g. so that I can cycle.

L cricks her back doing yoga to add to the problem of her not-quite-fractured elbow. Yet she plans to take the dogs for a yomp around the park later which probably isn’t going to help much.

Nottingham’s 40th Anniversary Robin Hood Half Marathon is cancelled.

Derby’s bad run continues on Saturday with defeat to already promoted Leeds which has ended seventeen years of ‘hurt’ for them since they were relegated from the Premier League back in 2003. I hope they don’t find it too painful being back up there. Although I might not mean that.

We spend Sunday night in a very chilled out Borlase, I do really like this table service idea.

(Sunday 19th July)

Thursday, 16 July 2020

All Be Over In Time For Christmas

Monday I run 10k with the Lad, over the bridge by the University and then across the park picking up MD for the final sprint to the line.

L has now started into a routine of going out in the real world (aka into work) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Leaving me alone with the boys who spend most of their time trying to look bored but I don’t think they are really.

Derby lose again on Tuesday, this time at Cardiff.

On Wednesday I play Tennis for the first time this year and over lunch which is just so metropolitan. Not that the Tennis Centre has given us much choice as they are only open until 6pm which seems jobist but then it’s the council, so what do you expect. I emailed them a couple of weeks ago and asked why they weren’t open later given we have light nights at the moment and that some of us are still at work but got no response.

That said they’ve contracted the booking out to the LTA’s Spark Tennis which has a much easier booking system than the council. Two clicks rather than twenty-two and because the rest of the centre is closed they even email you the exit code for the car park barrier. L has the car so I bike down to the courts which is so easy, literally taking five minutes across the university.

Thursday is my fortnightly trip to Mordor aka Asda on behalf of my parents. It is tempting to go in full scrubs and a little comforting that shopping in a mask will be compulsory from next Friday. Why they are not being made compulsory immediately and we are being given such a long period to get used to the idea is anyone’s guess. As I suppose is why they weren’t made compulsory back in March.

Despite these new measures our Great Leader reckons it’ll ‘all be over in time for Christmas’. Didn’t they say that about the First World War?

(Thursday 16th July)

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Covid And Rice

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor and the only member of the Government that anyone likes, announces that the state will paying for 50% of our food bill if we eat out mid-week during August. Err, Ok, I think we can handle a bit of Covid and rice to get the economy going.

He is also going to pay your boss £1000 if he brings you back from Furlough. This all will, of course, further enhance his likeability until he, inevitably, asks for this money back at some point.

I bike to work on Friday and tackle the new ‘improved’ roundabout on the Wyvern that now seems to be complete. The roundabout now has traffic lights on it, it didn’t before, and unfortunately they are not bike friendly. It proves impossible to cycle between the sets of lights before they change. I guess I’m supposed to get back on the cycle path\pavement where I belong.

In other news we now have a water cooler at work, L has been for that novelty knows a haircut, Daughter’s been for a drug test (for her new job) and Friday nights at home are back. Oh and my Brother’s puppy has eaten a sock, ending up at the vets to have it removed. How we remember those days, although we usually didn't know something has been eaten until it emerged from the other end.

On Saturday Derby lose again, at home to Brentford, and on Sunday we have a pleasant night out at the Borlase, enjoying their table service.

(Sunday 12th July)

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Five Miles Naked

I run on Sunday but my watch chucks in the towel before I do. It just won’t charge up over 25% at the moment and I will attempt to get Garmin to replace it.

We take our first post Lockdown trip to the pub after they reopened on Saturday. We go to the Scribblers and the Organ Grinder after walk past Rock City's new car park garden. Blue Monkey were really on the money at the Organ Grinder where we have our temperature checked on entry and the staff were in full PPE. It was a bit more relaxed at the Scribblers but both could do with taking arrival\departure times and party size to be more helpful to Track and Trace.
   
On Tuesday I attempt to put another foot into the new normal with a game of tennis but this, just like in the old normal, is cancelled by the weather. We will try again next week.

On Wednesday after wins against a load of mid table teams who had nothing to play for, Derby come unstuck when they play second placed West Bromwich Albion and lose 2-0. Unfortunately, they now have to play quite a few of the top sides before the end of the season.

On Thursday L goes for an x-ray on her fractured elbow at her GP's insistence which is almost as exciting as being locked down but it comes up negative. The good news is she won’t be put in plaster but the bad news is there’s no cure other than rest and self physio.

We have the painters in this week, painting the hall and an upstairs bedroom, which curtails our movements around the house somewhat but the dogs seem to have adapted quite well to kipping in their baskets which are now my home office.

The Lad is up for run after spending all day stuck in an office with me and we go out on Thursday to run five miles naked, as in without my Garmin which has gone back to be replaced.

(Thursday 9th July)

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Joan Of Arc

Derby keep their unbeaten run going with a very late equaliser in a 1-1 against local rivals Nottingham Forest. It comes so late that apparently one Forest supporter had already chucked himself in the canal in celebration.

In the evening we watch (well, I did) a film about Joan of Arc in French with subtitles with 50% of the rental price going to Broadway Cinema.

It is 1429 and the Hundred Years War between France and England for the French throne had already got over one hundred years von the clock. Believing herself to be chosen by God, Joan of Arc (Lise Leplat Prudhomme), leads the army of the King Charles VII of France.


In the aftermath of several victories including the lifting of the siege of Orléans, Joan was eager to continue her mission of killing the English but the French King was less keen. He was pretty much happy to settle for what he'd got, leaving Joan and her followers basically standing around in a sand dune talking long windily about what they'd rather do. The budget was clearly not that great.

One would perhaps have liked to see a spot of medieval warfare at this point but there is none or indeed a bit more background on the situation in England and France at the time but it is assumed you already know this. Instead the film leaps to Joan’s capture, imprisonment, and trial by the pro-English nobility on charges of heresy.


The scenes of her trial in Rouen are even more long winded than those in the dunes, as her accuses constantly try to force a confession out of her while she constantly refuses to deviate from her line that she is God's chosen one.

This stalemate produces an endlessly slow crawl to the conclusion that we all know is coming and it is only sort of broken up by the occasional surreal musical number and some deadpan comedy by the two guards outside Joan’s prison cell. A cell that looks like a concrete bunker left over from World War II and probably is.


The idea of the film is perhaps to highlight the preposterousness of it all, with a lead actress who looks about twelve not only leading an army but being on trial by the French state. Not too sure why it had to be done in such an alienating style though. It’s an experiment that I think I wished I hadn't been part of and perhaps invites comparisons with being burnt at the stake. Comparisons that I won’t make.

Friday, 3 July 2020

The IT Man

L is out there in the Covid infected big wild world this week, at work, ploughing through hundreds of neglected emails. Where she claims to have hardly seen anyone except for those clearing out the office across the corridor from her, emptying their desks, taking their computers home, and waving goodbye to L as they pass.

It will save that company a fortune in office space and it'll save the staff a fortune in travel, parking fees and childcare. This new normal is going to be quite interesting. There won’t even be an IT man on site anymore, so it’s a good job L has her own IT man on tap.

I’m not too sure I like the new normal at Sainsburys. Although I can now buy some things again that haven’t been on the shelves for a while, there are still at least twenty things I usually buy that are still not available. When, for instance, are curried beans coming back?

Nottingham City Council Leisure aka Active Nottingham Online launch their online exercise classes. You would say that they are perhaps, as ever, a little late to the party but at least they’re here now.

Derby win again on Wednesday, 1-0 at Preston, launching perhaps a improbable late tilt at the Play Offs.

The Lad is missing the still at work L and frustrated at my refusal to play with him constantly. He keeps emphasising his displeasure by jabbing his really sharp nose into my stomach while I’m trying to work.

On Friday I bike to work which I said I would only do if the weather was good. So naturally I have light drizzle in the morning and more persistent rain when I cycle home later. With L in work too in the morning and then visiting her parents in the afternoon the dogs are home alone for a whole day for the first time in months. That’s a shock to their system.

(Friday 3rd July)

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Not Glastonbury

This time I go over to my Dad’s for the match as Derby win again, 2-1 over Reading, and my Mum gets to watch this one too, between naps.

This weekend would have been the 50th Glastonbury Festival, not that we got tickets, and the BBC celebrate it with some classic sets from the past. Sadly the first thing that you realise is that the BBC have only covered the Festival since 1997, which although this is over 20 years is less than half the life of the event. So there’s nothing really fascinatingly old from the 70s or the 80s.

About the oldest is a intriguing set from an upcoming band called Oasis back in 1994 which was actually filmed by Channel 4 who covered the Festival for the three years prior to 1997 before the BBC elbowed them out of the way. There was also the Killers debut from 2004 and a great set, that I enjoyed at the time, from Arcade Fire in 2014. Then, of course, the set everyone has been talking about from David Bowie in 2000, which was indeed excellent. Aside from those highlights though, it was a bit dull really. The BBC must have much better in their archives but chose not to make it available. Still it was an appropriate reason to open this week’s keg.

I get up and do a run first thing on Sunday (e.g. about 11:30am) although it’s only 5.5k, it is still a training run. The Brighton Marathon is still on for now, despite gatherings currently being limited to 30 people.

(Sunday 28th June)

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Legendary Outtakes

On Monday, we get confusing information from the hospital. First they tell me that Mum is about to come out, so I go over to pick up Dad. Then they say she isn’t, so I come home. Then they say she is, so I go back over to pick up Dad and this time it’s not a false alarm.

We both put on face coverings and manage to break her out of hospital in just 28 minutes, making it inside the 30 minutes free parking. Result.

The Government is not only pleading us all to get out there and rescue the economy by ‘buying for Britain’ in the shops but now we are also being urged to ‘drink for Britain’ as they announce the reopening of the pubs on 4th July.

Rock City are first out of the blocks, emailing to say they have turned their car park into an outdoor bar and are now taking bookings. Broadway Cinema follow to say they are not opening until September. The summer is a lean time for independent cinema so I can quite understand their thinking.

At the same time the Government announces an end to the Daily Briefings probably because their main man Chris Whitty didn’t look terribly impressed about the reopening of pubs or perhaps he was just worried that if he objected to the plan they'd do to him what they did to Jonathan Van Tam. Remember him? Not seen since he condemned trips to Durham by Special Advisors.

Ultimately the Government believes that we don't need briefings and good old British common sense will see us through this mess. Clearly haven't noticed the lack of common sense being displayed in places like Bournemouth Beach.

On Tuesday I manage another run and on Wednesday we all get out of bed early to head to Forest Rec where Daughter attempts to crack the Bleep Test once and for all. We manage to play the backing track nice and loud on the car stereo, then get in position with a camera and lots of encouragement. Then... we wait for a gap between the joggers and dog walkers. At least the outtakes were legendary. 

It didn’t quite work out so we have another go in the evening in the much quieter location of the car park at the currently closed Xercise4less. She is close again but not quite there but I’m sure she’ll crack it on Thursday. Unfortunately, I have to miss that attempt as I’ve decided to go into work that day and of course that is the time she cracks it, on her birthday. Bravo.

Meanwhile I go into work just for the bike ride. Some people tell me that’s an awful reason to go back into work but I need it. Once there I have the entire upstairs floor to myself. I also discover a few things I abandoned in my haste when we were locked down such as several packets of Maltesers in my drawer.

(Thursday 25th June)

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Behind Closed Doors

There is a panicked call from my Dad on Saturday morning as my Mum can't get out of her chair and she is taken into hospital. In these Covid-19 times, I learn the difference between Red and Green A&E and of course we’re not allowed to visit but it appears she’s fine, just suffering low blood pressure.

Championship football returns today behind closed doors, and as we’re not allowed to see my Mum, I bring my Dad over to watch the match. Derby County have given us free streaming to all remaining nine games home and away. Obviously I don’t expect it to work seamlessly and expect a few issues but in fact it all runs brilliantly. It’s 1pm start and Derby win 3-2 at Millwall.

Rather bizarrely L’s Dad ends up in A&E on the same day but he’s fine too and he’s home in the evening while they keep my Mum in overnight.

Sunday is Father's Day but still no Mum, who is kept in for a second night. We go over to see my Dad with the dogs and meet my Brother there, where the Lad has a go at his cousin.

(Sunday 21st June)

Friday, 19 June 2020

Non-Essential


L starts the week unsure whether she’s coming or going, furloughed one minute and then not the next. Meanwhile my company agree to start paying us all our full wages again.

From this week non-essential shops are open. Not that I ever visit any shops that aren’t essential and as we’ve all been able to buy everything ‘non-essential’ online for the last three months anyway, I’m not sure this will actually make much difference to our broken economy.

A couple on TV quickly prove me wrong. They are filmed buying a pair of cushions for which they started queuing at about 6:00am. I imagine they were also first in the queue for toilet rolls back in March.

Face covering are now compulsory on public transport and voluntary wearing of them at Sainsburys increases every time I go. It’s up to about 1 in 3 customers now.

On Tuesday the dog club have a virtual Committee meeting as we speculate if we’ll be able to return to training as planned in September.

Later in the week I run with the Lad and my knees survives 8.5k. Meanwhile the Great North Run is cancelled.

Our new lives as TV watchers continue with us this week watching two mini-series, all five episodes of Chernobyl and all three of the BBC series about Salisbury Poisonings. The Salisbury Poisonings series is fascinating on its own but also because of its successful use of contract tracing which we are currently being very bad at for Covid-19.

We also listen to the Great Post Office Swindle on the radio and I watch ‘Slaying the Badger’ on ESPN while my free week with them is still active. This is a fascinating look at the controversial battle between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault (known at the Badger) at the 1986 Tour de France.

(Friday 19th June)