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

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


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)

Saturday 13 June 2020

Only The Animals

Only The Animals, which was screened on Curzon Home Cinema, opens in the Ivory Coast with a lad cycling with a goat on his back... before we are transported quickly to rural southern France in the snowy winter.

Alice (Laure Calamy) is a farmer’s wife who sells insurance and one of her clients is another farmer, the reclusive Joseph (Damien Bonnard), who is struggling to get over the death of his mother. Meanwhile another neighbour, Evelyne (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) has gone missing.

Alice’s morose husband Michel (Denis Ménochet) is acting rather suspiciously. Uninterested in his attractive wife, he is always working late in his office while his wife is forcing herself on to the equally morose Joseph who seems to just about tolerate the sex with her. There is no accounting for her taste in men.

Then there’s Marion (Nadia Tereszkiewicz), a waitress who was Evelyne’s much younger lover and who became obsessed with her. She is entwined further into the story when her image is confused with the one being used by Armand (Guy Roger N’Drin), the lad with the goat in the Ivory Coast, in an internet phishing scam into which he’s hooked Michel into believing he’s talking to, and sending money to, a girl called Amandine.

Armand needs to make money as he has his own girl trouble. He in love with a woman called Monique (Perline Eyombwan) who is the mother of his child but is now with a wealthier older man who turns out to be Evelyne’s husband Guillaume (Roland Plantin) and they’re headed for France.

There you are, I’ve spoilt the whole tangled circular plot for you. Well almost. It’s a bit more complicated than that and the brilliant thing about the film is how it’s stitched together by telling their overlapping stories with ingenious point of view shifts which often clear up one oddity before presenting us with a new one.

Possibility the best thing I’ve seen this year so far.

Friday 12 June 2020

Race Unfit

L says we must do a veggie night once a week and I’m happy to oblige. The only problem is I’m a bit predictable and it’s almost always going to be Tarka Dhal with Bombay Potatoes.

As regards the ongoing pandemic we were originally told to ‘stay at home’ which was simple, straightforward, and actually quite easy. Now they say we can mingle a little and have a ‘gathering’ of up to six people. As long as it’s outside and only two families.

Then later in the week the powers that be announce that you can have a ‘support bubble’ indoors with one relative but not two. The problem with all this is that yet again the Government is several weeks behind what the public are already doing. Just as they have been with the virus.

In addition you can now visit car showrooms and garden centres. Sadly, these are again place like Idea and McDonalds that I don’t frequent.

There are rumours that they’ll reopen the pubs next month which would be nice. I'm sure they’re mostly worried about what we all might all get up to instead if they don't. The advance notice is good as breweries will need three to four weeks to brew any real ale.

Meanwhile the entire Race for Life series has been cancelled, which has surprised me because it’s not actually a ‘race’ and I would have thought would be one of the easier ones to do socially distant. That doesn’t bode well for any other races going ahead.

That said, Race For Life say they were expecting to raise £30M this year for charity but now with no races their fundraising with be 20-25% down... so still well over £20M then. That’s not bad and makes you wonder why they bother with the actual races at all. Perhaps they won't any more..

I sell the Astra for £135, having decided it’s not worth getting the timing belt fixed and on Friday I manage to hobble round 6k, dog free. I’m not exactly race fit even if there was one a race around to run.

(Friday 12th June)

Sunday 7 June 2020


Now that the Golf has had its service I install a barrier in the back of the car so that the lad can now ride in the boot and he doesn’t look terribly happy about it.

MD won’t be happy either when he finds out that’ll probably be how he’s travelling as well. His day doesn’t get any better when he falls in the pond at my folks’ house. L is gutted, that she didn’t get a picture of it.

Somehow I manage to run 7k.

We finally catch up with the film Parasite which was the first ever non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Not only did it win Best Picture but it also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film.

The film is about two very different families from opposite ends of the spectrum as regards class and wealth etc. Without trying to sound too ‘Family Fortunes’, there is the Kim family who live in a small basement apartment, have jobs as pizza box folders and freeload on other people's wifi and there is the Park family who live in a mansion and have servants.

The paths of these two families cross when the Kim’s son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is offered the chance to take over a friend’s job as tutor to the wealthy Park’s daughter Da-hye (Jung Ziso). He has no qualifications for this but his artist sister Ki-jung (Park So-dam) is adept at forgery and supplies him with a fake certificate to bluff his way into the job.

Mrs Park is so impressive with him, now known as ‘Kevin’ and not knowing he’s already seduced her daughter, that she asks him if he could recommend an art tutor for their son (Jung Hyun-jun).

Enter Ki-jung, or rather ‘Jessica’, allegedly the cousin of a friend and she is quickly hired too. Together they contrive to frame the family chauffeur, getting him fired for having sex in the family car where ‘Jessica’ has left her underwear. They already have a replacement in mind, their father (Song Kang-ho).

They then remove the family’s housekeeper after they exploit her allergic reaction to peaches but passing it off as tuberculosis. When she is dismissed they install their mum (Chang Hyae-jin) instead.

Although still living mostly in their dank basement apartment, they all seem to scrub up surprisingly well when they need to. However the Park’s Son notices that for a bunch of strangers that claim to not know each other they all smell remarkably alike, and like they have come from a dank basement apartment.

When the Parks leave on a camping trip, the Kim’s all move in and revel in the luxuries of their borrowed abode but the old housekeeper appears at the door saying she has left something in the cellar. This something turns out to be her husband, who has been secretly living there for years, hiding from his debts.

Parasite is a clever black comedy that is set up brilliantly in the first half and which descends into farce and violence in the second half as rain curtails the Park’s camping trip forcing them to return home as a violent battle erupts between the Kims and housekeeper's family for parasitic rites to the mansion.

The violence continues the next day at the Park’s son's birthday party leading to several deaths and eventually a new family moving into the mansion while a new resident hides out in the cellar.

It’s wonderful stuff and best seen before the inevitable Hollywood remake.

(Sunday 7th June)

Saturday 6 June 2020

Maybe Not An Essential Journey

On Friday I take the Golf in for its first service. The car itself has been nagging me electronically for months but it was hardly an essential journey. I take it to VW Parkway near work in Derby then get the bus back.

The VW Garage is impressively set up as Covid-secure (or whatever the correct phrase is) with screens, a one-way system and tape everywhere. Afterwards they send me a video of the actual car service, which I’ve never had before, then send me code to retrieve by key from a locker when I collect it. I’m impressed but, then again, it wasn’t cheap.

The Red Arrow bus was less impressive with no obvious measures apart from the front seats not being in use and the bus being very clean but that may be just have been through lack of use. There were only five of us on it and everyone was very spaced out but there was an absence of masks. They’re not compulsory until a week on Monday but I thought the drivers would be setting an example but they weren’t.

The Derby Book Festival has put a quiz online. We get the questions on Friday and then the answers on Saturday. I’m not expecting to be much help to L. This week’s beer keg which is Atlas Stout from the Lenton Lane Brewery will see me through it.

Over the weekend we watch a new two part documentary about Lance Armstrong that is on ESPN, which I sign up to for a free week. There is some new information but he’s still keeping a lot of things close to his chest.

The Black Lives Matter protests move to the UK despite a ban against mass gatherings due to the coronavirus. Again there was a shortage of face masks and you suspect that those who were wearing them were wearing them more to stop the cameras identifying them than anything else.

(Saturday 6th June)

Thursday 4 June 2020

The New Normal

L emails me from work, yes actual work and not the next room. She is back in her real office this week. Oh the novelty. They have taped off various things and put a one way system in, all for the few of them who came in. 

Once there she has to face her new computer which she didn’t have chance to finishing setting up before we were locked down. That may well be a stressful experience but luckily for her the chocolate machine has been taken out of use. All part of the new normal I guess.

At least she didn’t have to queue to get in like those poor folks who went to the newly reopened Ikea did. I’m not sure what they were selling that was so essential, and there were queues three hours before they opened, because going to Ikea at any time is my worst nightmare.

While Britain queues American burns in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd with their President looking more and more unhinged with every passing day.

After work I do my first bike ride since mid-March. My knee isn’t up to running at the moment and I need to do something. I bike out to Sandiacre then come back home through Long Eaton. It’s only 24km but it’s something.

As the UK declares more coronavirus deaths in one day than all 27 EU states combined, the Government suspiciously scraps the weekend virus press conferences amid rumours that they're fast running out of scientists prepared to stand beside them.

(Thursday 4th June)