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

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Virtual Dentist

A keg of Lenton Lane Winter Ale arrives ahead of my birthday which is good start to the week. Oddly it is also L’s favourite

I cycle in to work which was good, I even got the shades out.

L manages to beat off competition from all the other emergencies to get an emergency appointment with the dentist. Which turns out to be her first ever virtual dental appointment. He assures her that she’s just got an infection and that her teeth shouldn't rot or fall out.

MD takes a tumble. Possibly, but we're not sure, after colliding with the Lad. He seems generally ok but not quite 100%. Not quite himself. However he still seems up for a trip to dog training in the evening. L and Daughter meanwhile are racking up the lunchtime Couch to 5Ks.

On Thursday I am out in Derby with my friend but I opt to go over from home rather than from the office as I intend to be in the office on Friday for yet another leaving do. The 5th one to go. There will be post-work drinks in the Brunswick after they were persuaded to forgo the awful Harvester.

The Brunswick is funnily enough also where I spend part of Thursday evening. Once I found a bus that is, which wasn’t easy. The first one was cancelled and the second one was full but I got on the third one that came. Luckily my friend is never early but he beat me there for the first time ever. I bet he was worried he’d got the wrong day. I did, of course, text him but he only checks his texts once a week.

While I’m in work on the Friday I reacquaint myself with the gym which wasn’t straightforward because they’ve removed the online booking system but didn’t tell anyone. As there was no booking available I naturally assumed the gym was shut but as it’s so close to work I walked over anyway. They explained that it's now just turn up as it was pre-Covid. Personally I liked the booking system as it told you how busy it was going to be.

The gym was very quiet, I bet everyone else assumed it was shut.

On Saturday L Parkruns at Wollaton, which is something like her 224th so far. MD does the last hundred metres with her.

Then in the afternoon Derby, who were relegated at QPR on Easter Monday, lost 3-1 at home to Bristol City.

(Saturday 23rd April)

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

The Mission \ The Rose Of Avalanche

Tonight I am at Rock City again for another pandemic delayed show. This tour by the Mission was supposed to be here in May 2020 and the band were already into the preceding European leg when Covid happened.

The UK leg was also supposed to mark the return of The Rose of Avalanche. A band I was particularly fond of back in the day after first seeing them as support for... The Mission back on their World Crusade Tour in 1986. Oddly after that they never really hit the 'medium time' let alone the 'big time'. 'Small time' was just great for a fan though and I saw them multiple times at little venues across the local area.

They split in 1993 but had reformed after 27 years only to have to put their reformation back on ice for another two years.

As they take the stage I’m wondering whether we should be asking for ID to confirm the bands identify as five heads of very long hair have now been reduced to what appears to be just one head of hair between them but such is the way for those of us in our 50s.

This of course does not distract from their sound or performance and once they start playing with ‘Don't Fly Too High’ which is followed by the excellent ‘Too Many Castles In The Sky’ there is no need for any ID. Although, I have to ask. Did they have tambourine back in the day? Or was I simply too busy moshing to notice.

I love the Mission but the Rose are the main reason I bought a ticket for tonight. I am not disappointed, they are amazing.

They deliver a set of pretty much everything you would have expected them to have played given the time constraints of a support slot - ‘Not Another Day’, ‘Velveteen’, ‘Goddess’, ‘Always There’, ‘Dreamland’ and of course ‘LA Rain’ before adding a cover of the Stooges ‘Loose’ for reasons I’m unaware but probably just that they like it.

They clearly relish being back up on stage and doing this ‘for the love of it’ which is a good job because I doubt there’s much money in it for them.

Top that Wayne... Which of course he does. The Mission are amazing too.

The set starts with the excellent Beyond the Pale from their classic album “Children” in what is billed as the Déjà Vu tour, maybe because it’s been forever rescheduled. While has Wayne, unlike the entire Rose of Avalanche, been growing his hair again in lockdown? Just because he can.

They have so much material and a liking for a relatively low number of songs in their sets so unlike the Rose you’re not going to get everything you would have expected them to have played.  Not even close.

Some of the crowd groan at the ‘new’ material but the likes of 2016’s 'Met-Amor-Phosis' are excellent and then just to keep everyone happy they follow it with a track 29 years its junior ‘Naked and Savage’ from 1987.


They are very good a mixing the set up night by night and the middle of the short twelve song set could each night be anything from their back catalogue but the closing three tracks are always the same - ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’ into, a thousand arms already in the air for ‘Wasteland’, cue Argentina 78 ticker tape or whoever invented it, then into ‘Deliverance’ which is, as ever, chanted ad infinitum by the crowd until.. well, they come back out for an encore really.


They return to the stage twice to play five more tracks including the absolute belter that is 'Blood Brother' before the traditional finale of ‘Tower of Strength’.  

 (Tuesday 19th April)

Monday, 18 April 2022

A New Drawing Board

Having got back from Brighton and picked up the dogs from kennels I have the morning walk to look forward to. How I’ve missed the morning walk. Not! It’s a good job I don’t need my knees for anything any more. 

The Lad doesn’t seem to have tired himself out much at kennels given how he greets his least favourite dog this morning and how much misdirected energy he puts into his training later.

Having already had two days off this week, we get another one on Friday as it’s Easter. L, it can safely be said, has a traumatic Good Friday as she has to offered to drive her Mum over to Shrewsbury for a wedding.

That’s on top of having toothache for which she can’t get a dentist’s appointment. The Dentists seem to have now taken on board the GP thing where you have to ring at 8:30am if I want an emergency appointment. If you miss out then you can't be an emergency again until tomorrow.

Meanwhile I’m pretending I’m at work not on Easter break, to the dogs at least, so that I can get some Dog Club admin done.

L’s drive to Shrewsbury goes much better than she expected and she get back in time to meet me at Aston (I get the bus over) to sit with my Mum while my Dad and I go to an evening kick off against league leaders Fulham. Which Derby being Derby win 2-1, deny Fulham their promotion (for now) and keep alive their own Great Escape (for now).

On Easter Monday, the Lad and I have a dog show at Catton Park. It goes as badly as they all tend to at the moment. Run one was sort of alright but I couldn’t think of anything good to say about run two or run three or run four. We leave with four eliminations and head back to the drawing board. Perhaps it’s a new drawing board that we need.

(Monday 18th April)

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Brighton Marathon Weekend

The two and half year long build up to my Brighton Marathon misadventure finally reaches its conclusion as we head down by train to Brighton after first dropping the dogs off in kennels.  

The event that was to have seen three of us celebrate L’s sisters 50th birthday now has just one mug standing. Moi. The one with only one leg. Although L is doing the 10k. Of which I am kind of jealous.

Despite supporting our chosen hotel by keeping our booking in September 2020 after the second of three covid induced cancellations we have now be bumped out of that hotel and have had to book a different one. This one is called the New Madeira Seafront Hotel and as its name suggests it on the seafront and right by Madeira Drive where the Marathon finishes. Perfect planning you would say? Apart from the fact that it is practically a top a cliff face and the rooms appear to be above a night club but this second issue turns out to be fine. The first could be a problem tomorrow.

Having checked in we head down the cliff face to the race Expo where we both have to register and pick up our numbers. Dragging everyone down to Brighton a day early to do this seems to me rather cruel. It is also really busy and the queues for collection are ridiculous even at supposed quiet times.

Luckily the wait for the 10k wasn’t too bad and as I’d entered the Marathon on my Amex card I got a separate shorter ‘priority’ queue. Which turns out to be a good call. If it wasn’t for that I would have joined everyone else standing in a queue for ages which isn’t exactly what you need just before a marathon.

Another issue with handing numbers out the day before rather than posting them out meant that we didn't get our names on our numbers which is pretty a useful thing to have for a marathon where crowd support is so vital.

Having got our numbers the next issue was that despite knowing in advance what size t-shirts we wanted, they didn’t have enough in our sizes. Apparently small ran out on Friday, medium on Saturday morning.

Then we had to drop our bags a day early because apparently logistics meant they couldn't have a bag drop at the start this year. It's a shame that there were all these issues the day before because race day itself turns out to be really impressive.

Before that we had our pre-booked table booked at Il Bistro where we had a nice meal and a few cheeky beers, then it was time to rest up before the big event.

We walked up from the hotel to the start in Preston Park dodging the cyclists that were on the course doing the Brighton Ride event. With the 10k starting at 9am, over an hour before my start for the Marathon I had lots of time to kill once there. It was actually one of the most chilled starts to a race I've ever had. I got chance to watch L start and then made use of the facilities provided by American Express – coffee, cakes, gels, water etc and our own way of filtering into the start. Once again it was well worth paying by Amex.

Eventually my wave came around and we were on our way. We did a lap of the road around the outside of the park and then headed down through the town towards the sea front. There were spectators everywhere lining the route and then there just before I hit the coast at around the 5 mile point was a beaming L, clearly buzzing after running a great 10k.

After a quick hug and a kiss I headed up the coast the three miles or so to Rottingdean but not quite as far as the Lido at Saltdean. Then we turn back towards Brighton where the pier more or less marks the halfway point. Once upon a time my target Marathon pace was nine minute miles, here I start at something closer to ten minute miles but hold this pretty consistently through halfway recording 2:08 for the half marathon which I was reasonably happy with. Obviously that’s not going to produce the coveted four hour marathon but if I could keep it going it would just about bring me in under 4:30.

I have to say that the first half of the race had been great and I’d almost enjoyed it. The route was varied, interesting and with some great views. It was a little hilly in places but not excessively so. The second half however... was a bit grim. It seems they were a bit devoid of quality ideas on how to add miles for the second half.

From Brighton we head into Hove and a tour of the residential streets which involved the very straight, very long and very boring Church Road. Once you’re at the bottom of Church Road you have to U-turn and do it all over again in the opposite direction. It’s a four mile stretch that feels like double that distance. The words ‘repetitive slog’ doesn’t do it justice. I will never forget Church Road. By now my pace was pushing out towards eleven minute miles but that was ok, I had a bit in hand for a 4:30.

Church Road actually makes the next bit, the industrial estate section including the infamous lap of the Power Station at mile 21, seem almost seem sane. I guess the real problem here is the lack of crowd support here which was a shame because crowd support around most of the course was brilliant. You could literally have curled up in a corner somewhere and probably no one would have noticed. This was actually very tempting.

The thing that does break up the monotony is the amazingly abundant feed stations. They’d been impressive all along but were every mile for around the last 10 miles. They were all well stocked with not only water but energy drinks, gels, sweets and Oranges. The only thing missing was the beer. I could have done with a strong one because by now I was now tumbling towards and then into twelve minute miles, so 4:30 was long gone.

Apparently several people were tracking me online but by now, because I was barely moving, they’d probably decided that the tracker was playing up, like it had at the Great South leaving me stuck out on the course for weeks later. They’ve probably all put the football on instead.

Then at long last we were on the promenade for the last two miles or so. Two very long miles. L popped up again, as she had done throughout, and I cling to her like a life raft before realising that I do actually have to complete this damn thing. So off I go again, staggering down Madeira Drive to a finish line that barely seemed to be getting any closer.

I finish in 4:41:58. They hand me a medal and my kit bag before pointing me in the general direction of the meeting points e.g. somewhere to collapse. There were bodies everywhere so it wasn’t easy to find my own personal collapse zone. Eventually I see someone vacating a patch of ground and claimed it for myself with not a lot of elegance. An alarmed helper quickly appears from nowhere with a chair and possibly an oxygen tank. The chair was a very nice gesture but I wasn’t really sure how he expected me to get into it. Thankfully he had a solution to that and strong muscles as he hauled me into it.

Eventually L finds me which also means that I have to extract myself out of the chair and somehow make my way up the cliff face to the hotel. I made it halfway up the steps before my legs cramped up but there wasn’t really any stopping now that I was halfway up.

 In the evening we have a few beers, obviously, before revisiting the same curry house that we tried out in 2020. We stay for an extra day and I manage to persuade my legs to walk a bit as we walk back down to Hove to the nice bits e.g. not Church Street and not the Power Station. On the second evening we had a nice meal in an Argentinian Steakhouse called Chamuyo before getting the train back on Tuesday.

Would I do it again? Hmmmm.

(Sunday 10th April)

Friday, 8 April 2022

Final Training

Sunday sees my final training race before Project Brighton comes to fruition. It’s the Rutland Spring Half Marathon at Rutland Water. The organisers have helpfully arranged for car parking to be over a km away to give everyone a decent warm up. Nice of them.

The route is on a mix of tarmac and compacted gravel\grit, which isn’t my ideal surface but then what is these days. My legs feel tired throughout which is either due to over training or under training. One of those things. My pace unfortunately matches a group of girls who decide to chit-chat all the way around, which is rather annoying. Both listening to it and the fact that they have the breath to chat, unlike me.

Despite a much flatter course than Sheffield last week my pace is slower and I run 2:03, over four minutes slower.

Later we go to my Niece’s 18th birthday celebrations at Le Bistrot Pierre. We even manage to get my Mum to come along with us. The restaurant is one of those that annoyingly asks you to pre-order well in advance but then once here, rather bizarrely, tells several people that they have just run out of what they had pre-ordered. Work that one out.

Monday sees a very quiet morning walk because it appears that the local schools have already finished for Easter. It was almost like those halcyon lockdown days.

Some workmen arrive next door to do the garden, venturing into territory that has remained largely untouched by human hands for many a year and their efforts are accompanied by an abundant amount of swearing. They do tell me that someone is definitely moving in hence their travails.

They soon disappear having barely scraped the surface but return the next day with some heftier equipment.

The lad has a great day with the workmen one side petrol strimming the grass, weeds and brambles while one of our other neighbours has their occasional dog lodger visiting. He and the Lad don’t seem to get on. MD decides to keep out of it and maintains a low profile by my feet.

On Wednesday L and I go down to the Council House to arrange a Civil Partnership. We have to take in our passports and the ubiquitous utility bill. I take in our Council tax bill which I think is ironic because I’m taking it home from where it was issued and surely I am showing something they already knew about but they don’t see the irony it. L also has to prove she’s divorced but not that she was married, so she could have just neglected to mention that she had been married at all.  

The actual ‘ceremony’ will also be on a Wednesday morning because they only do these things on a Wednesday morning... very helpful.

On Thursday I have a Committee meeting at the Dog and Duck in Shardlow and on Friday the Lad is at the Vets for his annual MOT and booster while L chauffeurs my parents to my Dad’s hospital appointment.

(Friday 8th April)

Saturday, 2 April 2022


My knees creak round Monday’s morning walk. I should probably be running later, topping up yesterday's distance but I’m not sure that would even be possible. Instead I manage to get a bike ride into work on Tuesday which was hard work, as knees still ache, and also quite cold.

I’m also in work on Wednesday which was very busy. So busy in fact that I fail to make the gym at lunchtime but do manage to go for a quickie afterwards.

It gets even colder on Thursday and L gets soaked in a blizzard, a very wet blizzard. So I probably don’t need to take a spade to dig my way out of Asda despite the persistent snow showers when I do my parents’ shopping later. 

On Saturday with the Lad now outlawed from Parkrun, I run it solo, which is weird, while L spectates with the boys.

There’s a match in the afternoon. L gets the SkyLink to Aston to sit with my Mum after having lunch with her Mum first.

Then in the evening it's the Psychedelic Furs at Rock City.

 (Saturday 2nd April)

The Psychedelic Furs

Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls open up for the Psychedelic Furs tonight. It is far from the first time I have seen Pauline Murray as she has been the perennial support act for many bands from the early 1980s era since, well, the early 1980s. At least at the gigs I go to.

She is now 72 and her voice is still sounding great. Accompanied now by her daughter Grace on backing vocals and her son Alex on keyboards. As she says it’s a family affair. She’s clearly still having a great time playing live as are tonight’s headliners.  

Since getting back together at the turn on the century, The Psychedelic Furs have never really been away from the live arena but they have been away from the studio. That is until April 2020 when 'Made of Rain' became their first album release since 1991's 'World Outside' and you know what, it's an absolute cracker.

For various reasons, well one big reason actually - Covid, they haven't had chance to play it live until now but when you’ve waited that long to make a record what’s a two extra years?

Tonight they go big on the new album, really big, with no less than seven tracks played from it but it comes off big time for them. It helps that it is so good.

The album is not an attempt to reinvent the Furs material of the early days, nor the poppy Furs of the mid-80s but it still has all the hallmarks of a Furs album including Richard Butler’s trademark rasp of a vocal which remains a thing of wonder. In many ways, the album continues the logical progression from their previous work. You can’t really tell there’s been a gap of 30 years since ‘World Outside’. While tracks like ‘Don’t Believe’ and ‘Ash Wednesday’ are broodingly atmospheric the likes of ‘You’ll Be Mine’ are powerful, exhilarating and just as anthemic as some of their more famous stuff.

There are of course plenty of juicy tracks from their other seven albums as well or at least the first five more famous ones. From the opening of ‘Highwire Days’ and ‘Dumb Waiters’ to the closing double of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Heartbreak Beat’ through the likes of ‘Mr. Jones’, ‘The Ghost In You’, ‘Pretty in Pink’. ‘Love My Way’ and ‘President Gas’

Throughout it all the 65 year teenager Richard Butler bounces his way through the set in his rock’n’roll shades. Although he does seem to have a music stand in front of him in case he forgets the words?

Then after a night celebrating the new album it is perhaps somewhat appropriate to go full reverse circle and to close the night with a encore of the opening two tracks from their self-titled debut album. The glorious anguish of ‘Sister Europe’ followed by the adrenaline whirl that is ‘India’.