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

Sunday 25 December 2022

Stealing From Sainsburys

While in Sainsburys on Monday I was selected for a random Smartshop 'theft check' but the guy who had to rescan ten items scanned the wrong bar code on one of them which meant all my shopping was rejected. Which meant he then had to rescan the whole lot in case I was nicking that item, a pack of yoghurts worth £1.50, while I watched. His scanning came in £10 cheaper than my original scan which was great. It would have been cheaper for Sainsburys to have let me nick the yoghurts. Not that I was. Such a stupid system. 

In the evening it’s the dog club's Christmas meal at Anoki on the A38.Which goes ok but has quite a small turn out. I think most people probably prefer the Chinese we used to go for or perhaps they just don't like the evil turn off the A38..

Our neighbour comes round to wish us Merry Christmas and drops off a big tub of Celebrations. Therefore L has to join me at my Dad’s later as she can’t be left alone in the house with them.

On Wednesday we go see Sebastian Payne, a journalist I’m quite a fan of, at Quad. He is conversation with Navtej Johal talking about his book ‘The Fall of Boris Johnson’. It is this bit that pulls in the crowd including L and some friends of ours. It was a fascinating evening.

On Thursday I take my Dad to see his GP who refers him for a X-Ray. Meanwhile Santa is spotted driving L’s bus. So even he’s had to take a second job.

The music selection for our Friday night in becomes a tribute night to Terry Hall who sadly died last weekend as we work our way through his musical career.

Saturday is Christmas Eve but it’s also Parkrun day at Alvaston and, as it’s Christmas, even I run although very slowly. Then we have lunch at Seven with my Dad and L’s Mum but stay in in the evening.

Christmas Day is also Parkrun day again at Alvaston but my knees aren’t up to two days in a row so L doesn’t it solo. Then it’s a trip to Mickleover so L and her Mum can visit her Dad after which we drop her Mum at her brother’s before heading to collect my Dad.

We take him to the Horse and Jockey which is standing room only but he loves it as the crowd seems to part and direct him to a vacant chair. We then head back home where Daughter joins us mid-afternoon after she finishes her shift. We have roast lamb and they both stay over. Not a busy day at all!

We all open our presents including the dog who now has too many toys.

(Sunday 25th December)

Sunday 18 December 2022

How The Mighty Have Fallen

We are back at work on Wednesday and one of us, the Lad, is perhaps a little bored. Perhaps he's missing his holiday. I get a call from my Dad. He's definitely missing his holiday. 

I ring his GP’s surgery for him which was farcical. You ring then have to listen to a recorded message for two minutes, then you press ‘1’ to book an appointment. You can’t press ‘1’ until the two minute message has finished. At which point a recorded voice says ‘our phone lines are very busy right now, please ring back later’ and the line goes dead.

So I repeated that process every 15 minutes from 9am to about 11am when I was finally placed 29th in the queue. Half an hour later I was up to 26th but was given the option to press ‘0’ for a call back, which I did.

About 12:30 they called me back, then they called my Dad as they’re not allowed to speak to me without his permission. Anyway he now has an appointment for next Thursday. In the meantime they have advised him to administer frozen peas to his knee.

My Strava account, that I’m still not sure how I ended up with, tells me I was ‘active for 88 days this year'. That’s not very good. In fact it’s terrible. How the mighty have fallen. Which is indicated by the fact we had to cut this morning’s walk short because my knee wasn’t good.

On Thursday we have a major incident. I opened a new bottle of milk and it’s all frozen. I’ve had to leave a bottle out to defrost. Can’t have L tea-less tonight.

On Friday I’m back on Pride Park to take the car in for a very pricey cambelt replacement. Obviously I can’t hang out at work as the office is now closed, so I have to get the bus home and then head back over later to collect it.

After I’ve done that I divert to meet L in Exeter although she is struggling to get the bus over from Mickleover, so sadly I have to kill time with a pint.

On Saturday L Parkruns at Forest Rec and I have the match in the afternoon. On Sunday she runs the Kedleston Tinsel Trail 10k. A very 'informal' event organised by Jog Derbyshire. Dogs are welcome but only sensible ones so the Lad has to watch with me. L gives him the opportunity to run the finale with him but he totally fluffs that opportunity by biting his lead. 

(Sunday 18th December)

The Sweet

Tonight I am at the last night of the Sweet's ‘Unlock the Rock’ Tour at Rock City along with L. Support is from Stoke-on-Trent’s Kira Mac or at least two fifths of them. Vocalist Rhiannon Hill, hereafter known as Kira Mac, is very apologetic as she explains this and for the lack of their usual electric sound. Tonight, with her perched on a stool alongside Joe Worrall on guitar, it is very much an acoustic show but as she says when The Sweet ask you don’t say no. 


She has quite a soulful voice which sort of makes you curious as to what the full band would sound like. Very different I would imagine. She is chatty and explains what many of the songs are about. Often it appears they are about either her own terrible taste in men or that of her friends!

After a short break the chants of ‘We want The Sweet’ start up and then suddenly we are into ‘Action’. Which takes us back to 1975 when I was eight. So I can't claim to have seen the Sweet in their heyday, I'm far too young, but they did headline Trent Polytechnic's student Christmas Party at the Nottingham Palais in December 1985 supported by fellow 70’s icons Mud.


By then the band had assailed the heights of popularity before plummeting back down the other side amid acrimony and alcohol. So I am not sure if that was Brian Connelly's version of the band or Andy Scott's as two versions of The Sweet were doing the rounds at the time. I suspect it was the former. Tonight it is obviously Andy Scott's as he is sadly the last man standing of the original four members of the band.

Tonight Scott is joined by long-time musical partner Bruce Bisland on drums, the energetic Paul Manzi on vocals and Lee Small on bass plus an additional guitarist for when Scott’s ageing fingers can’t quite do everything.


After a detour into Russ Ballard’s ‘New York Groove’, a song largely made famous by Ace Frehley of Kiss, the nostalgia trip continued with ‘Hell Raiser’. Those two songs seemed to highlight two things. Firstly the band had quite a few huge hits back in the day but also they soon stopped having them and therefore there isn’t enough well known material to do a long set. Therefore there’s just fifteen songs tonight and a middle section of lesser known material that causes proceedings to labour a touch. Not that many of the crowd, mostly regulars one feels, seem to mind too much.

The band don’t, interestingly, go back to 1971 to play the rather twee songs ‘Funny, Funny’ and ‘Co-Co’ but we do get ‘Wig Wam Bam’ and ‘Little Willy’ towards the end of the set. 

Scott successfully fills any void with some excellent banter and also tells us that we were listening to the band’s new single ‘Don’t Bring Me Water’ over the PA before they came on. There is also an album called ‘Paradox’ to follow. That’s not bad from a man who referred to himself as the only person in the room born in the 1940s.

Of course there’s still loads of the really good stuff - ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Love Is Like Oxygen, ‘The Six Teens’ and ‘Fox on the Run’ with ‘Blockbuster’ and ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ held back for the encore to end an excellent night.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

50 Years At Least

On Friday we head up to the Lake District and take my Dad with us. It’s somewhere he hasn’t been for a very long time and I can’t recall him ever taking me up there, so it’s 50 years at least since he’s been. 

Our first stop, on the waterfront at Bowness, is a bit of a disappointment as most of the cafés are closed for the winter. We do find one that is open but the location isn’t great and everything is in disposal cups even though we sit indoors.

From there we find our cottage in Chapel Stile. This turns out to be on the top of a hill on an icy road, so it’s not ideal for walking to the Wainwrights pub in the evening and although we manage to walk my Dad there we have to fetch the car to bring him back.  


On Saturday L has entered the Langdale Christmas Pudding 10k in preference to doing Parkrun. They have yet another new course but it again starts from the New Dungeon Ghyll from which my Dad gets to experience both the New Dungeon Ghyll (with mulled wine) and the Sticklebarn. 

In the evening we attempt to eat in the Old Dungeon Ghyll but it is packed, so we end up back at the Wainwrights. On Sunday evening we do manage to give my Dad the Old Dungeon Ghyll experience as by then it is the opposite, almost empty. 

We have a trip out on Sunday to Keswick for a bit of Christmas shopping and also go to the Lakes Distillery where we engage in an ad hoc whiskey tasting session.

On Monday we move out of the cottage and head over to Ullswater where unfortunately we find out that the Kirkstone Pass Inn is now closed after its owners of the last 17 years retired. Hopefully somebody will have it open again soon and it’s not going to become another holiday cottage or a Tesco Express. 

Then we head to the Watermill at Ings where we  stay for a night and can get Shih Tzu Faced on their dog themed beers of which they have a very good selection of.


We head back on Tuesday in time for the Lad’s training session for which, after a few hours in the car, he is the proverbial coiled spring. 

(Tuesday 13th December) 

Thursday 8 December 2022

Festive Spirit

On Monday we go over to Leamington to meet with Son. Although my holiday doesn’t get approved in advance because unknown to me both my bosses were on holiday last week. I assume someone will approve it on Monday morning, so I take it anyway. 

L goes Christmas shopping with Son while the Lad and I hit the local park and the park café, which is awash with fellow canines who are all obviously in the festive spirit, including the Lad, because they all get on. Then we all have lunch.

In the evening we go and see ‘She Said’ at Broadway Cinema. It's our first film there since February 2020. 

‘She Said’ is about the New York Times journalists, played by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, who outed the predatory film producer Harvey Weinstein. It has got some rather snooty reviews but we thought it was very good and shows the immense effort they went to in their pursuit of him. Sadly there weren't enough car chases in it for some.


On Tuesday I take my Dad out for a pint and because the New Inn is closed for a kitchen refurbishment we go to the Crown in Shardlow. It is full of dogs who all again bizarrely get on well. This festive spirit is strong stuff.

The weather is turning colder which means we get some nice frosty morning walks this week and there is no festive spirit in the morning. Temperaments are as frosty as the weather and on Wednesday there are four dogs in one day that don’t like us.

There is also no football on Wednesday as we await the Quarter Finals, I think the Lad is a bit lost without it but he does have his tunnel evening aka dog training to look forward to.

On Thursday I go in to the work for the very last time with the office closing for good on Friday. When I get there it is to find that everyone else has already cleared their desks and that someone has cleared my desk, of computer kit, for me. So I just pick up my last few possessions, wave goodbye to the old place and head back home to the Lad. Who is delighted to see me and then he helps me put the Christmas tree up.

Then, to be even more festive, we all go for walk around the Wollaton Park Christmas lights.

(Thursday 8th December)

Sunday 4 December 2022

Last Bike Last Lunch

I go into work on Monday as the car is due its MOT. This won’t be so easy to do when the office closes for good. I’m on my own in the office so when my MOT is done by lunchtime I decide to head home and do my 1:30pm meeting from home. Then the Lad can video-bomb and join me or perhaps I’ll just put South Korea v Ghana on TV for him. 

I’m back at work again on Tuesday, this time by bike. Which will be for the very last time. I’m meeting my retired ex-colleague for lunch also possibly for the last time unless we can come to some other arrangement.

It’s positively packed in the office. Four other members of staff and a load of people looking round the building with a view to moving in.

Back home we have some miserable looking birds in our garden as the bird feeder is empty again and I've had to delay the weekly shop until Wednesday. At which point we put some more balls out for them. They don't seem to notice but they have been upgraded to RSPB recommended ones. Although it doesn't say on the pack why they were recommended and they were more expensive, so hopefully the RSPB get a decent cut of that.

On Wednesday evening I take my Dad to a book talk by Ryan Hills who has written a book called Groundwork about Jim Smith’s time at Derby County. It is part of Derby Book Festival and it the only event that L hasn’t got tickets to. I have no idea why.

This is his second book, the first was called Pride and was about the post-Jim Smith era. It was excellent but I’ve read several books on Jim Smith so I wasn’t planning to get this one but he convinces us it's worth buying and my Dad buys it on the spot. Which is one Christmas present I now can’t get him.

Sadly for Ryan Hills the event is high jacked, in a nice way, by fellow guests Graham Richards and Colin Gibson who have acquired somewhat God like status. Hills isn’t much of a talker so he was probably happy to defer to these deities. Afterwards we have a pint in the Exeter where my Dad raves about the microwave breakfasts L’s Mum has converted him to.

On Saturday L parkruns at Wollaton while Sam Harrison is setting an impressive new female parkrun world record just down the road at Long Eaton. Then there’s an early match at 12:30 which is a goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sunday is the dog club’s AGM in Etwall. I am not up for election as Club Secretary is a two year post, so they will have to put up with me for another year regardless.

(Sunday 4th December)