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

Sunday 30 October 2022

The Mythical Rear Porch

I go into work on Friday by bike which was a bit damp but it was good to get the exercise. The Lad seems to disagree, looking as he does very bored and lonely hanging out of his bed on our CCTV but he does like to ham it up. 

Yet again when I go into work they choose that moment to deliver my monthly beer box to home. As I’m not in they say they’ve left it on the rear porch. The problem is we don’t have a rear porch and they’ve not included a photo. I’m hoping they mean they’ve just put it by the side gate.

On Saturday L parkruns at Wollaton Hall and I got to the match. Derby beat Bristol Rovers 4-2.

(Sunday 30th October)

Thursday 27 October 2022

Pete Wylie

 Tonight I'm in the back room of the Leadmill, the Steel Stage as it's known and barely big enough for the four person band, to see Pete Wylie celebrate 40 years of Wahness. From the opening ‘There is no intro music’, and there really isn’t, tonight's affair is a laugh a minute. 

I say 'affair' because it's more of chat show than a gig. In just under two hours on stage Wylie manages to deliver just eleven songs and there's not even that much Wah! about a lot of them.

Of course the crowd tell him to get on with but as he points out people have been telling him to get on with it for 40 years and he's not about to start now. What we get is tales about his shirt, about pears and about all sorts of other things including his ADHD. There's also more celebrity name dropping of stars from his era than most of the crowd have had hot dinners. Sadly far too many of those stars are no longer with us.

He dedicates 'Fourelevenfortyfour' to his long time collaborator Josie Jones who we lost in 2015 and 'Heart as Big as Liverpool' to Janice Long, whom he spoke to the day before she died last year.

The banter is all very entertaining when it's not sad while the music, when it comes, is very good despite the fact a lot of the backing comes from a laptop. Laptops are of course cheaper than hiring a bigger band and teaching them what to play. 

The Wah! classics are there 'Come Back' and 'The Story of the Blues' along with 'Better Scream' and my favourite of the night, because I wasn't sure he'd play it, a terrific 'Remember'. 

There's also the highlight of his solo career 'Sinful' with its David Bowie 'Heroes' tribute as well as new material from his recent 'Pete Sounds' album.

He quips that he was going to update 'The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies' for Liz Truss but then ran out of time when she was forced to quit. Tonight he runs out of time again with the Leadmill's student night fast approaching and requiring a 10:30 finish. He rushes back to encore with 'Seven Minutes to Midnight' but you feel he had planned to play more. 

Best get on with it next time Pete and a bit more Wah! please.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Annual Rejection

For a brief moment it looked as if the Conservative party was going to bring back Boris Johnson to succeed Liz Truss, as hilarious and as tragic as that would have been, but in the end we get Rishi. I wonder if he can last until Christmas. 

I receive my annual London Marathon rejection which for once is a relief as it’s highly unlikely I’d be able to upgrade my hobbling from five miles for twenty six miles by April.  

However, after telling us all that the 10 miles of the Great South would be the last time she ever ran further than10k L’s sister gets a place. Cue a massive dilemma and a major rethink as it’s not the sort of thing you can turn down.

Derby draw 0-0 with Exeter as they struggle to come to terms with the different rules in League One, basically that there are no rules and they seem to keep getting caught out by this.

We come home to find a dog on the wrong side of the gate again. He just can’t stop himself jumping the gate to confront the postman but then can’t get back.

(Wednesday 27th October)

Sunday 23 October 2022

British Sea Power

Support tonight is from Manchester’s rather wonderful and rather wild Loose Articles who may, or may not, have expected to be playing to a room full of Dads awaiting a band who sing about ice shelves amongst a stage strewn with plant life. Although by some sheer coincidence one of the four girls does go by the name of Tree.

They have fortunately brought a few fans with them to lower the average age for a set that actually enchants everyone. Their punky sound sort of blends (if I may show my age) Sleeper with an Eddie Argos\Art Brut delivery (I’m sure they will hate that description) on the day Eddie really didn’t like buses (one of their songs).

Aside from a great sound, they have a great slogan too 'feminine and threatening, working and class' while among several songs with a football angle they have one that is apparently about Gary Lineker shagging a packet of crisps. For a finale their lead singer Natalie (or was it Tree) spends the last track dancing amongst the audience. Beat that Sea Power.

Of course back in the day the eccentrics that are now called Sea Power would have done exactly that but now I think the guys have middle-aged knees and Noble rarely seems to swing from the light fittings these days. Yet musically they are still majestic as illustrated by their outstanding latest album 'Everything Was Ever' which understandably dominates proceedings tonight.

The new songs which are great on record sound even better in the live arena with the likes of 'Folly' and 'Two Fingers' standouts again. It’s also great to have a track where you can validly flick a V sign to everyone in attendance and call it a dance.

The new songs nestle nicely with the oldies which of course the band rotate as always and after seven albums they have a lot to rotate now. As ever something excellent is pulled from that back catalogue such as the opening 'Who's in Control', the wonderful 'A Trip Out', 'The Lonely' and to a lesser extent the expansive 'Cleaning Out The Rooms'.

There’s always something you are thrilled to hear again along with disappointment at what they’ve left out but then there’s always next time. Which just means you can never skip a tour.

However the finale of the sets does now seem to have become a bit of a religion with ‘Lights Out’, ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Carrion’ closing the set before an encore of the anthem ‘Waving Flags’ and their sublime instrumental ‘The Great Skua’.

It’s another amazing night but maybe shake that ending up if you can’t swing from the rafters any more?

Saturday 22 October 2022

Read The Memo

It was very foggy and dark on Wollaton Park on Tuesday morning which probably made the strange old man limping across the field with his dog look even stranger but then I had just done the Great South Run (well half of it). 

In the evening my 94 year old father helps me up the steps as we attend Derby County against Manchester City Under 21s in the totally pointless Papa John’s Trophy.

Derby’s two games in the trophy so far against Grimsby and Mansfield have been played out in the style of a pre-season friendly between largely reserve sides. Manchester City then turn up, not having read the memo, and take it seriously. It is only an under 21 side but several of their players are worth many times what our entire team is worth let alone what Grimsby’s and Mansfield’s sides are worth. Me thinks this tournament is mainly for the benefit of the Premiership teams. Yes we lose but I’m not bitter.

On Thursday Liz Truss finally concedes defeat, congratulates the lettuce and resigns.

While I receive an email at work to say that they are closing the Derby office permanently on 9th December. I’m obviously not surprised but that’s sooner than I expected. It’s all very sad and the end of an era.

I actually go into the office on Friday. I go in on the bus but then get a lift back from Daughter who picks me up in her car having been out with L.

Derby’s match at Ipswich in the evening is on Sky which I watch but my Dad has issues with his remote control and misses it. Perhaps I should have gone round.

L Parkruns on Saturday at Wollaton while I nurse my sore knees.

After his weekend away the Baton spends most of the week upside down in his bed. He has no stamina but then L did have the rake out a few times collecting up leaves. On Sunday he has to supervise the cutting of two lawns in one day. We probably won’t see him until Wednesday.

(Saturday 22nd October)

Monday 17 October 2022


So for the first time we drive down to Portsmouth for the Great South Run rather than taking the train as we have a stowaway onboard. The Lad is with us, forsaking his kennel for a weekend in the Holiday Inn. As they say it’s a dog’s life. Once we arrive we check our phones to see if we still have a Prime Minister. Yes we have and its still Liz Truss. 

It’s a good job that we have the Lad with us as our first evening is spent eating in the Brewhouse and Kitchen where the ham they serve me is basically a whole leg of pig. The Lad offers to help me. Then we have a few drinks in our favourite pub, the Barley Mow, although they have no Fullers ESB.

Saturday is, of course, Parkrun. L does an analysis of which Parkruns are in reach of our hotel. There is plenty of choice - Lee-on-Solent, Fareham, Portsmouth Lakeside or Great Salterns but the one across the road at Southsea is off because of the Great South Run. This will mean taking the car to one of the others and vacating our parking space that we may not get back. Hopefully we’ll be ok if we are back in the gap between check-out time and check-in time.

We decide on Lee-on-Solent which is a rather ‘nice’ jog along the promenade. We meet L’s sister there and have a coffee with them after checking our phones to check who the Prime Minister is. It’s still Liz Truss but all the talk is of the Daily Star’s livestream of an iceberg lettuce next to a photograph of Truss. The debate is who will last longer as the shelf life of a lettuce is about ten days and no one expects Truss to last that long.

During a post-run coffee two dogs start scrapping at the table opposite us. Some owners just can't keep control of their dogs. Then we realise that one of them is the Lad who last time I looked was tied to my chair. Now just half a lead is tied to my chair. It looks like someone may have bitten through it.

Having reclaimed our dog and then our parking space we go for an afternoon walk followed by a drink in the Still & West, a Fullers pub near Spice Island who also have no ESB, before meeting L's sister and her husband for a meal, as usual, in the Customs House where there is also no ESB. It must be a conspiracy.

On Sunday it’s the actual Great South Run. We ‘illegally’ attach both our timing chips to my number and then I start the race on behalf of both of us. I run the first five miles before removing my number and handing it with the chips to L who has her own now ‘unchipped’ number on. In return she hands me The Lad, hereafter known as the Baton.

While my Strava only shows half of the Great South route with me disappearing into a puff of smoke at 5 miles their tracker does have me finishing the course this year, arm in arm with L as we cross the line together.

While checking my phone I get the latest update on the PM. It’s still Liz Truss although it appears that Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, is now running the country or maybe the lettuce is.

In the evening we grab a drink in the Dolphin, a Grade II listed pub that claims to be the oldest in Portsmouth. Meanwhile news filters through that ESB is allegedly on at Customs House. It is a conspiracy. However we head off to the ESB-less Barley Mow again and then Spice Merchants as usual for a curry for which we have to leave the Baton in the car.

On Monday morning we head off to West Wittering to give the Baton a bit of beach before heading home. 

(Monday 17th October)

Thursday 13 October 2022

The World Economic Forum

Despite yesterday’s 10k the morning walk on Monday goes well, in that I made it back home again. That's sort of positive, I think. 

L goes for a swim and a sauna but accidentally gatecrashes a debate about Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum and net zero. None of which was conducive to a relaxing sauna but sounds absolutely fascinating and isn’t the sort of thing she’ll get at the Lenton Community Centre once she quits David Lloyd.

L didn’t quite share my fascination and was relieved to revert to her comfort zone and a discussion on autobiographies with her friend which does divert into the complexities of the subject of Andrew Ridgeley.

Wednesday is dog training and then on Thursday I cycle into work. For which I suspect I was only pedalling on my best leg most of the time. I used the term ‘best leg’ as a relative term as neither of them are particularly good. At least, for once, it didn’t rain on me and there are two of us in work which is double what I was expecting.

I meet my retired ex-colleague for lunch in the Brunswick which was of course the main reason for going into the office.  

(Thursday 13th October)

Sunday 9 October 2022

Pointless Journeys

The gasman is back this morning to fix a leaking pipe on the boiler. Unfortunately he is here and drilling holes at the same time as I have a meeting. Which wasn’t terribly helpful.

Now that the weather is no longer hot I was started taking the Lad to Sainsbury’s with me. I’ve not trained him to push the trolley yet so he stays in the car and watches the car park. I’m not sure if he prefers that to staying at home.

I’ve still not got my parcel off the Post Office. They are not on strike today but I didn’t realise they close at noon on Mondays. So on Tuesday the Lad (and me) get a third trip to the Post Office depot and we finally get my parcel. Although they very nearly didn’t give it me as it was addressed to the Dog Club and not me. Can I prove I’m a dog club? Not really.

When we got back home the Lad gave me such a look as if to say ‘that’s yet another trip where I haven’t got out of the car’.

Our Great South Run numbers arrive and, having failed to get the Lad in any of the local kennels, the Holiday Inn have confirmed they’re happy to accommodate him.

On Wednesday I head over to Derby for a night out. I get the last seat on the third scheduled Red Arrow after the first two don’t turn up. I felt a bit bad about the old lady I elbowed aside to get it but I doubt she’d got a pint waiting for her somewhere like I had. My old school pal and I drink in the Alexandra before eating in Peppitos. We did try to get in the cheap Indian on London Road (the only cheap Indian on London Road) but it wasn’t open.

On Thursday L and Daughter frequent the Goose Fair. I hadn’t expected L to throw herself into the festivities quite as much as she did as she is caught on camera at the top of the Big Wheel. Not only has she got her eyes open but she’s taken the photo as well which must have meant letting go of something. Extraordinary. She did say she needed a G&T after her day at work perhaps she’d already had it.

On Friday we go out with some friends to Vi-Va Indian Street Food on Goosegate. It’s small odd place and while the food was decent enough I felt it was all very ‘child portion’. So I was still starving afterwards and nobody else left anything that I could assist them with. The restaurant also didn’t seem to have any desserts, at least they didn’t offer us any. Nor did they offer us more drinks after our first one. So it’s quite a brief night out but one that L and I continue in the Borlase having previous started it before Vi-Va in Brewdog.

On Saturday L and I both Parkrun at Wollaton. Then Derby lose at home to Port Vale after conceding two penalties and having a man sent off.

On Sunday it’s our warm-up race for next weekend’s Great South Run. We run the Brewers 10K in Burton which is a new closed roads race starting and finishing at the Pirelli stadium, the home of Burton Albion Football Club. The route took us through Stretton and Rolleston before returning to the Pirelli Stadium.

I take it easy, because I don’t have any choice these days, and finish in 56 minutes. Then I head off to get the Lad out of the car so that we can cheer L in. Unfortunately the days of having a nice buffer of time between the two of us finishing are long gone and we have to yell our support from a distance across the car park as we can’t get back to the course in time.

We get a t-shirt and a medal that they described as being made of eco-friendly wood but surely it's a beer mat. It looks like a beer mat to me and that's surely what you should get from something called the Brewers 10k in what used to be the brewing capital of the UK e.g. before they closed nearly all the breweries and soon the National Brewery Centre as well.

Back at home we get chance for a rare post-race warm-down, which is rare because we hardly do any races these days. Then we stay in with a curry.

(Sunday 9th October)

Sunday 2 October 2022

To A Safe Place

While L is becoming a film star in a new promotional video at work, I am hooking up online with Romania. I have a first meeting with the boss of project team who I could be working with. L immediately enquires whether there’s any chance of a visit to Romania. Unlikely I’m afraid, everything is done remotely these days. 

Late afternoon I head over to my Dad’s to check on what’s happening with his hedge because two guys are cutting it today. When I get there they’ve already finished, packed up and gone home. It took them four hours to do all the hedges. The guy who did it last year took four days.

I bike into work on Thursday and typically it rains on me. This seems to happen every time I cycle at the moment. At least I’m not alone in the office this time. It is packed today. There’s three of us.

After he jumped the gate last time we both abandoned him, L leaves the gate open for the Lad but, probably because she’s closed the curtain across the front door to try to stop him sitting on the stairs all day looking for us, he seems to stay in his own bed most of the time. He's such a grown up boy now that he doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in being upstairs. 

I go to the gym just to try to make L jealous. This doesn’t work the other way round.

Naturally on the one day I’m not at home someone tries to deliver something. Today it’s my monthly beer box which they say they have ‘delivered to a safe place: NEAR CAR.’ Thankfully no one has stolen it by the time I get home.

I also have a card telling me I missed a second delivery but when I go to pick it up from the sorting office on Friday naturally I find they’re on strike.

On Saturday we both Parkrun at Clifton.

(Sunday 2nd October)