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

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

New Fitness Hero

L’s new fitness hero is Curling’s Eve Muirhead despite the fact she has two Border Collies. She may be able to lift some serious weights but there’s little excuse for the collies and definitely not for two of them. Who'd be daft enough.

Tuesday’s morning walk and my subsequent cycle to work were both very windy. The boys are quickly asleep in their baskets after their walk and I’d probably be asleep in mine if I had one. L has a much more enjoyable morning walk (to work) but that's probably because she wasn’t attached to a dog.

It is unfortunate that Boris Johnson’s plan to declare the end of Covid this week should have coincided with our 95 year old Queen testing positive but I’m sure it won’t deter him. He is however scrapping testing. We started all this without any testing and it appears that will be how we end it as well.

In one of those bizarre things you do, I attempt to vacuum the car before I take it to be cleaned ahead of our holiday on the basis that there is so much grit in it they would probably give up on it if I didn’t pre-clean it first.

The plan falls apart when the vacuum refuses to cooperate. L gives me some technical advice on how best to prod it with a skewer. No wonder she and the vacuum are barely ever on speaking terms.

Then it's our final dog training and final match before we head off to Scotland. I am fitting the trip in around the football so that my Dad doesn’t miss a match.

(Wednesday 23rd February)

Monday, 21 February 2022

The Libertines

Tonight’s support seems particularly well chosen as the Dead Freights from Southampton fit tonight’s vibe very well. They hit the stage with an energetically punky set that has levels of volume and bass not seen since the Health and Safety free 1980s. I’m going to be very deaf tomorrow. 


With the Libertine’s Gary Powell producing some of their material and vocalist Charlie James having more than a bit of Pete Doherty about him, there’s plenty for the crowd to relate to as they warm us up nicely for the main event.

That main event is The Libertines catchily titled Giddy Up A Ding–Dong Tour which finally makes it to Rock City. Postponed from December due to Pete Doherty experiencing a non-Covid respiratory infection while Carl Barât tested positive for the real thing.

Now 25 years after they started the new Libertines take the stage on time, cut out the messing around and don’t even look sloshed. Perhaps they’re finally growing up a bit.

Naturally Pete Doherty still looks like he’s just rolled out of bed and to be fair he could look healthier. Although that is probably more to spreading waistlines these days rather than anything more sinister.

Musically though he and everyone else is on form tonight and we’re straight into the debut single ‘What a Waster’ from way back in 2002. That is followed by ‘The Ha Ha Wall’ and ‘Up the Bracket’ before arriving at the brilliant comeback single ‘Gunga Din’ which now itself dates back to 2015.

It is quite an achievement to have been in existence for 25 years in total, 20 since your debut single, and yet to have produced only three albums. At least most people will be getting to hear what they want to hear tonight which may have been more difficult had they say at this point released a dozen or more records.

They ‘may’ have grown up a little but the music still remains a little rough around the edges but now it looks more deliberate rather than accidental.

After each salvo of livelier numbers they slow things down with the likes of  ‘What Katie Did’ and ‘You’re My Waterloo’ back to back. Another slow pair of ‘Begging’ and ‘Music When The Light Go Out’ come later. That’s the pattern they follow through a set of 16 songs before they return for an encore of five more.

Closing with ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ into a rambunctious ‘Time for Heroes’ they send everyone home extremely happy.

Are they growing up a bit? Yeah, I think so.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Curling

On Friday L gets up really early to trial something called Battle Box which is not a computer game but is something really evil that they do at the gym at 7am outdoors in a howling gale.

Later she tells me how brilliant it was which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact they gave them all bacon cobs and coffee afterwards. Bacon cobs don’t really sound like much of a fitness plan to me.

It appears I have completely misjudged the council as they have already removed the fallen tree.

Wordle is getting slightly annoying.

We all have one eye on the Friday’s Women’s Curling Semi Final between GB and Sweden, of course one of us only has one eye. It’s so tense, all square with three to play. Then we’re three up with one to play. As you can tell I was working hard that day. Then it’s back to all square again and into sudden death but we secure victory in the end.

Meanwhile the Men had already won their Semi on Thursday and are into Saturday’s Final which sadly they lose as Sweden’s Men get revenge for their Women’s defeat but that is still a silver medal. I have to break off briefly from watching it to do Parkrun at Wollaton.

Our women go one better as they land a gold medal by beating Japan in Sunday’s final.

I have another run on Sunday which is just a 10k at Victoria Embankment. There’s also a 5k which L was tempted with but £20 for that, the same price as the 10k, isn’t cheap. So she decides to run there instead.

My 10k is pretty dull but it’s a necessary training run.

(Sunday 20th February)

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Echo And The Bunnymen

I have seen Echo & The Bunnymen many times over the years and over a career that goes way back and beyond the release of their first album ‘Crocodiles’ in 1980. It was a few years after that I started seeing them live and they were some of the first gigs I ever went to.

However looking at the diary I have not seen them since 1999, which is very remiss of me. I saw them a few times after they reformed with the excellent ‘Evergreen’ album back in 1997 but not in the last 23 years. Blimey. So in my quest to get reacquainted with all my old favourites again at least one more time, before one of us is no longer capable, I am back at the scene of that last gig in 1999. Although no surprise it’s Rock City and it looks like a sell out.

As they come on the stage something strikes me as odd. Ian McCulloch is up there but not chain smoking and presumably hasn’t in many a year. The stage is still smoking heavily, so no change there, but now it’s clearly all dry ice as since I last saw them the smoking ban has come in. This must have changed his act somewhat and hopefully his health too in a positive way. Yet it’s odd to see Mac stood up there without a fag in his hand adding to the smog. 


Little else has changed though. The long coat, the sunglasses, even the haircut is broadly the same. Yes he still has hair even at 62. Will Sergeant looks in pretty good shape too.

Talking of ‘Crocodiles’, that’s how we start and how the album starts too with ‘Going Up’ which is followed by ‘Show Of Strength’ from its follow-up ‘Heaven Up Here’ and then back to ‘Crocodiles’ for ‘All That Jazz’. So we’re starting really old school.

‘Flowers’ is a newbie, from 2001! but ‘Rescue’, ‘Bring On the Dancing Horses’ and ‘Over the Wall’ clearly are not.

But it’s all good and not just because it's a real throwback. Maybe Mac’s voice isn’t quite what it was but no one’s particularly caring.

There’s a brand new newbie ‘Brussels Is Haunted’ before a great finale of a brutal ‘Villiers Terrace’ and three particular faves of mine ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ from that comeback album ‘Evergeen’ and then the very wonderful duo of ‘Never Stop’ and ‘Lips Like Sugar’.

Another thing that’s not changed is that Mac still rambles off into other people’s songs in the middle of his own. This has always irked me but I guess he’s not going to stop now.

They come back and hit us with ‘The Cutter’ and ‘The Killing Moon’ before doing another very old school thing – a second encore.

They come out one last time to close with the achingly pretty ‘Ocean Rain’. I best not leave it another 23 years.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

One-Eyed Wonder

The Lad wakes up this morning with a swollen face. One wonders who he’s been picking a fight with. One of the local felines perhaps.

I have to walk him without his halti which wasn’t good on my knees because he certainly isn’t pulling any less. I book him into the vets and send them a photo of his (no longer quite so) handsome features. At the appointment they give us some anti-biotics although no one really has a clue what he’s done to himself.

By Tuesday the one-eyed wonder seems very buoyant, so I leave him to it and pedal off to the office. Which wasn't the best of bike rides. It started raining the moment I left home. It rained too on L who was swimming in the outdoor pool, she said that was lovely. Can’t say that being rained on while cycling was lovely but then L would say that there's not much about cycling that is lovely. I decide against also going in the gym and opt to save my knees for what I think could well be an equally un-lovely ride home.

The one-eyed wonder is still very buoyant when I get home, rampant actually and looking a bit less one-eyed so I take him to dog training.

Wordle starts to throw up increasing odd words such as Wednesday’s which was ‘Caulk’. I couldn’t see what else it could be so I was busy googling to see if Caulk was really a word and found people complaining about it being the Wordle answer.

Wednesday night is really windy and the next morning we have to detour on our walk to avoid a tree that has been felled by the wind. To be fair to the tree although it had ripped all the curb stones up it had ended up nicely resting against the house. It didn’t appear to have damaged it but it can’t be doing it much good. Not sure how easily they’re going to be able to shift that.

Meanwhile the council will probably come along to close the road for Health and Safety reasons before felling all the other trees on the road.

(Wednesday 16th February)

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Valentine No Mates

The Winter Olympics is now in full swing. It was bizarre to give it Beijing in the first place but now it’s looking even more bizarre as they’ve decided to not invite anyone to it either.

Also bizarre is that if you’re curler you potentially get to play almost every single day so that’s the sport to take up rather than something like snowboarding where you just get a minute or two of competition every four years.

This does make the curling a gripping long running saga. On Monday our Mixed Doubles pairing lose a nail biting Semi Final to Norway. The Lad finds it so stressful he has to sit on my knee throughout which doesn’t make my pretending to work easy. MD vents his frustration by going out in the garden and having a damn good bark at nothing.

Defeat means they play Sweden for bronze on Tuesday. Sadly they lose that too but now the Men’s and Women’s competition will begin. I spend the rest of the day on a training course learning the world’s dullest software. The bright spot of the day is when Derby beat Hull 3-1 later.

On Wednesday I bike into work which was hard. I can’t blame the weather or anything, it was the old man doing the pedalling who wasn’t up to scratch. On Thursday I’m at work again and in the gym, pretending to train. L does an actual real live run. 

On Sunday though I have a real live run of my own. Back in February 2020 when I was training for the Brighton Marathon, as I am now because it is two years late, I was down to run the Stamford Striders St Valentine’s 30k along with my (then) fellow Brighton trainees L and her sister. L was to be my 'Valentine Pair' as they have such a thing but now it's just me, 'Valentine No Mates'.

That race in 2020 was cancelled but not due to Covid which hadn't yet reached crisis point but down to Storm Dennis who was throwing a strop with 40mph winds. In the end they ran it a week later, which meant we couldn't make it. Instead I dragged the Lad around a 15 mile tour of Nottingham in the not quite gale force winds. 

Now I'm back at Stamford and wishing this year’s was being cancelled as well because the weather is possibly going to be worse than in 2020 just without the gale force winds which means it’s going ahead.

In the morning the temperature is just about above freezing with a brisk cooling breeze and the prospect of heavy rain later. Nice. I come equipped in long trousers, long sleeves and with a rain jacket that in the end I don't use and it stays wrapped around my waist throughout.

The race starts at 11am (a really civilised time) in the dry but the rain does come, although it’s not as heavy as promised, and the 'breeze' makes for a challenging last few miles.

I maintain my ideal 9 minute marathon pace for just the first seven miles before slipping to 10s and then 11s after 14 miles.

It is one of those races that makes you do one last humiliating stagger around a sports field to reach the finish line and as I do so I am shocked to realise that 30k isn’t ‘just’ 18 miles as I thought but it’s actually almost 19 but I should have known that.

 

My time is 3:05 which is apparently a mere fraction quicker than L ran ‘back in the day’. If I carried on crawling long at 11s pace it would turn out to be about a 4:25 marathon. Which I’d probably take. That’s if I could continue to crawl that fast. 

(Sunday 13th February)

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Yoga Stretches

On Monday while L is doing eclectic things such Yoga and Tai Chi, I am out on another training run of 23k through Ilkeston, Trowell and Stapleford.

This is followed up by biking into work the next day, into a headwind which leaves me replying to my morning emails while lying on the floor recovering. L suggests I do a few yoga stretches while I’m down there.

On Wednesday I again go into work but have a bit of a bus nightmare. The driver drove the way I cycle, so took ages and I was late for work. I assume something must have happened on the A52 and he didn’t just fancy the scenic route. It’s enough to make you want to work from home. 

Which is very quiet. Having left the dogs in charge they don’t seem to be taking their guard duties very seriously at all or, I suppose, keeping an eye on things from their beds.

I do the gym at lunch time and then meet my friend in Derby later for drinks and food.

I’m back working from home on Thursday and having a day off fitness. Which means I can already feel it slipping away. Although we did break our own record for the slowest dog walk ever thanks mainly to MD but they’re almost as bad as each other. Anything green they have to shove their nose in it.

Our toaster has finally died. RIP. 

By Friday my fitness is slipping away even quicker when I don’t find the time to get out for my planned lunch time run and then by the evening it’s raining.

On Saturday we parkrun at Wollaton and L makes her comeback. In the evening we have a very expensive but hugely enjoyable meal out at the Miller & Carter Steakhouse near us. L’s Mum pays as she said she would treat us to a meal or two as a Christmas present. I’m not sure she expected us to blow it in one go. It’s been on my bucket list to have a Chateaubriand, which we share, and it’s gorgeous.

Of course on Sunday I’m back to pounding the streets as I repeat Monday’s 23k route. 

(Sunday 6th February)