Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tagged thrice

By Reidski and Prenderghast

and Rob

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

Tag 7 others!!!!
Do they not know the abuse I was subjected to by some total arse hole for having the audacity to tag the Fatalist recently? I am still in therapy as a direct result of the upset that caused me. I really must tag that same arse wipe now I think about it ;-)

So 7 songs....

1. In the car when left to my own devices I am muchly playing The Auteurs 'After Murder Park', and out of a very fine album indeed it is 'Light Aircraft on Fire' that makes me reach for the repeat button.

2. But in the car with my daughter it is Billy Elliot, The Musical soundtrack. 'Solidarity' probably my number one favourite, but who couldn't love 'Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher' with its words 'We all celebrate this day with you cos it's one day closer to your death."

3. And strictly only when Reidski is not in the car on goes 'Somewhere Only we Know' by Keane which he says is a complete and utter load of shite. But I love it - and sing it with feeling (although sadly not with any hint of a tune).

4. At home my ultimate feel good record 'Yes' by Butler and McAlmont. Sheer joy.

5. It may be pissing it down with rain for days on end, but I am still listening to the Divine Comedy 'Pop Singer's Fear of the Pollen Count" and pretending the sun is shining when I hear it.

Even when I get hay-fever I find
I may sneeze but I don't really mind
As long as I'm in love with the summertime

6. At the gym I listen to my MP3 player, but it no longer allows me to pick tracks since I dropped it and it is now stuck playing a playlist I put together some time ago in random order. There are something like 40 different tracks on it but it always seems to come up with is 'Clampdown' by the Clash. I'm not complaining though.

7. But I am complaining about the very few times it comes up with 'Enough is Enough' by Chumbawamba. I wish my MP3 player came up with this track more frequently because I always use it as a sign that enough is indeed enough and I can go and sweat in a sauna instead of on a bloody treadmill.

But following my horrible encounter with the Arse Hole who hates tags - and in particular any tag that comes from me - I daren't pick out 7. But will hope that the very sexy, interesting and attractive Kevin might erh - oblige me?

I am being told off

for lack of Reidski of all people! Pot. Kettle. Black.

Anyway, I have been too depressed to blog this past week having spent much of it realising I am morphing into an out of touch old git.

Yesterday I took my daughter down to London - she to go to her first ever pop concert with two friends, and me to get pissed with the other parents whilst the younger generation were watching the band. This was the first thing that was making me feel old. My daughter has been counting off the days before this concert. "Only four weeks and three days before I see...." etc. My problem was that I just could not get my head round who it was she was going to see. "What are they called again?" I asked over and over, to the total disgust of my daughter. "Who is it you are taking her to see?" people asked me. "Erhh, I am having real trouble remembering this - funny name for a band - something about girls I'm sure of that bit." And I never did manage to tell anyone who asked who the bloody hell it was. I knew they had had at least one big hit - that I liked - but that didn't seem to help. Middle aged block had got me in its grip.

Then there was my Litter Rage Incident.

I had just dropped Reidski off at the railway station and just about to reverse out when in my mirror I saw a young woman in a car behind me chuck a load of rubbish out of her car window. Red Mist Moment. I jumped out my car, picked the rubbish up - McDonalds debris - and threw it back in her window on her knees with the words "You seem to have dropped something darling. It's called litter!" She was too stunned to respond - or I was back in my car too fast to hear what ever abuse she threw in my direction. Naturally she shot off at speed, but not before throwing her crap back out the window. I was incensed. What kind of a moron thinks that such an anti social action is perfectly OK? Anyway, that also proved to me that I am getting old. The younger me would have avoided confrontation at all costs.

Back to last night. No trouble remembering the name of the restaurant where we adults had a very lovely meal indeed. although I am probably spelling Edera incorrectly. And now I finally know the name of the band the girls went to see - even if i have to sneak a look at H's new tee shirt for a prompt. Scouting for Girls. I knew it had 'Girls' somewhere in the name.

And I do like 'She's So Lovely' - so am trying to convince myself that must mean I am not quite so utterly out of touch after all.

Yeah right Jane.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There is a tiny village, not far from Skegness, that on Monday was simply swamped with people from across the country who came to say goodbye to Peter. I have never seen anything like it. There were literally hundreds of us in the churchyard listening to the service transmitted through speakers.

There were four people who spoke about him. One of them mentioned a sketch Pete and I did in a school concert. We were in the sixth form then. He was Wellington, I was Josephine, and a very short third year was Napoleon. I thought I would have been the only person who still remembered that, though it did manage to be extremely funny - mainly due to Pete.

I am not religious. The service was not especially religious although I am sure it did comfort the faithful, but a prayer said by his mother in law reduced me to tears. She just spoke simply about how we would remember Pete when the blossom comes, and in the heat of a summer day, and when the leaves turn colours in autumn, and on cold and frosty mornings. The thought that he will never again see these simple pleasures was too much for me and many others. As that was immediately followed by his 7 year old daughter reading out a poem about how much she loved her daddy - well you may imagine the effect that had on us.

Pete now lies buried in the beautiful churchyard, dressed apparently in his scuba diving tee shirt and favourite pair of jeans.

I saw many old friends - some of whom I had not seen for 25 years or longer although several of us had also been together for Nigel. As with Nigel's funeral, the comfort gained from these people was significant, and I only hope I gave some of that comfort in my turn. One friend in particular was absolutely beside himself with grief. It was heart breaking to see him like that.

There is still no answer as to why he died. The post mortem was inconclusive. All we are left with is the cold reality that Pete is gone from our lives. But he will always be in our hearts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On Monday

I go to a friend's funeral.

Pete had ridden a motor bike since he was legally old enough to do so. I seem to remember a broken leg as a result of a previous accident, but he was experienced enough to know how to handle a bike properly.

A week last Friday I spent an evening with two girl friends who I have known since school. We chatted about who had seen Pete recently, and there was general agreement about what a great bloke he was. We said goodbye to each other about quarter to the exact same time as Pete was coming off his bike.

A lorry driver saw his bike in a dyke (ditch for those unfamiliar with Lincolnshire terms), and called the police. Pete was already dead. There were no clues as to what could have happened to cause this.

On the Wednesday he had been taken ill where he worked at a sea front stall where he and his dad before him sold buckets and spades, and other essentials for a day on the beach. An ambulance was called - he thought he was having a heart attack. The hospital thought not and he went home. Maybe he was taken ill again whilst riding his bike, but at this moment that is just speculation.

Before I try and say how I felt about Pete here are a few tributes others have made already:

It was only a few weeks ago that we had the family come and stay with us and it was a delight to have a proper catch up after a long time of only 'snatching quick hello's' at Skegness sea front. Pete was on perfect form that evening; sharing his passion for life, his family, travelling experiences and his biking with me. I remember thinking at the time that this was a man who had got it right; a good man with good values and good intentions. A great role model. I can only hope that by knowing Pete some of his 'magic' has rubbed off on me and I can get close to being the father, husband and man that he was. P.L

Peter was always a warm-hearted, open and extremely generous friend, and his positive nature and love of life were infectious and an inspiration. He was also very talented and active in many fields - as an artist, teacher, sportsman or in business, he always gave himself wholeheartedly, and was successful because of it. Perhaps my fondest memories of him are seeing him at home with his family. Few fathers could have been so loving, and his family were always his priority. Peter was a wonderful man. C.T.

Pete was one of those genuinely nice guys you rarely find. Always the big personality in the room and one of the first to offer help if it were needed.J.M.

It was always a joy to bump into him in Skegness because he was the kind of person who was always very pleased to see you.
He always had a smile on his face and he really was one of the warmest and giving people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
I actually saw him in town only a few weeks ago and his enthusiasm for life and for people shone through and five minutes with Pete would always guarantee a smile. S.S.

Bill Hight, living in Augusta, Georgia, USA, wrote: "I am writing from America, stunned and saddened to learn about Peter's death.
I came to know Peter through his former classmate, Nigel Smith of Skegness, who also died too young.
Peter visited twice in the US when Nigel and I were both students in North Carolina.
The first time, Peter and Richard, a travelling pal, bought a rusting, old Volvo -- barely intact -- and drove off laughing to explore America from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
And then, a few years later he visited with Lindsay. I recall the spirit and joy he and Lindsay brought--an energy as bright as their blonde hair.Watching the two of them befriend and charm people everywhere we went is still a vivid memory for me.
His kindness and full engagement with life were still tangible when I visited with him and Lindsay in Skegness later on."

Bill who I have quoted above was for many years the partner of my other friend Nigel who died two years ago. The person who helped Nigel's mum arrange his funeral was Pete.

Pete had the knack of making any person he spoke to feel like they were the most important person in his world. Whether it was old ladies, small children, bored teenagers, whoever he spoke to he made them feel special. Right now I am trying not to think about how I will never see his smile light up an entire room again, and instead try to concentrate on the thought that I was lucky to have been able to call such a wonderful man my friend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm easily pleased

Finding out today via this letter that there is in existence a publication called Inflated News makes me happy.

I realise that this, read in conjunction with the post below, may give the impression I have done nothing today but read letter pages in newspapers. This is not entirely true. At least part of my day was spent being driven around Northamptonshire by a coach driver who as soon became apparent, was totally and utterly lost. I ended up having to give him directions or I would by now have been in Arbroath. And I did not want to go there.

I now stand corrected on any opinions I may have aired here. There are people who actually need sat nav.

But in case the coach driver concerned is reading this....

Wellingborough railway station to Northampton. Leave station. Take first left. Join dual carriageway. IT IS NOT SODDING DIFFICULT!!!!!

From the letter pages of the Skegness local newspaper

EDITOR - Last week I had fish stolen from my garden and felt moved to write this verse.
It may strike a chord with your readers who have shared a similar happening.

Coy carp the national fish of the Japanese,
They swim in their pool with dignified ease,
They filled our hearts with joy and peace,
Til late one night all that would cease.
Before my husband died, he'd sit,
To watch his coys and proud of it.
He'd built the pool and fed his fish,
To keep them well, his only wish.
Now he's gone his fish I've nurtured,
Until some nasty person murdered.
Plundering my peaceful pool by night,
They've taken my memories out of sight.
Destroying 20 years of devotion,
And leaving me deeply sad with emotion.
H. W. (Name removed by me to save author further distress.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Essential Management Training

One of the advantages of not being in management is that I do not have to suffer courses like the one my poor sister had to endure last week. Although that link is not the exact same course she went on it does pretty much describe the one she ended up on called 'Embodied Leadership'. As you will see in the unlikely event that you can be arsed to read such a load of crap: You will learn to notice the beginnings of your patterns of reactivity, and to quickly find center in the midst of the turmoil of leadership.

They had a morning learning how to do 'centred' standing, and an afternoon of gripping onto the hands of complete strangers. The woman who held on to my sister later announced to the entire company that when she had held my sister's arm she felt 'So much power my juices ran.' That self same nutter is now raving about it on line but I dare not link to her website in case it gets back to my sister's company. But she does say of the course my sister described as a complete and utter waste of time thus: I'm so full of it…
it was such a rich experience for me… that I'm pretty wordless and
continuing to process what I learned and the exponential difference
it made to my sense of self, my confidence, my passion and power.

Yeah that big!

Try google for more utter tripe in that vein.

But as I said to my sister upon investigation of the company who provided (at truly VAST expense) the 'life changing' course she got landed with, it could have been worse. She could have had to do this one! This revolutionary program utilizes the universal principles of horsemanship to deepen understanding of team management and leadership presence.

Bad things happen

to good people.

And tonight I am remembering a hysterically funny evening at the Sands Showbar Skegness, spent with a good mate of many, many years laughing at just exactly how awful Brotherhood of Man really were live. (Yes, I have seen them already. And Cannon & Ball since I am now in confessional mode.)

Let's have a blogger's night out!

We could go to Blackpool (or Lowestoft) and see this.

Unless anyone can think of a worse way to spend an evening?

Best of British Variety? Are you sure? (ed)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I demand a replay

Me and my sister knew perfectly well it could not be true. Our angst at this travesty of a result led to tears before bedtime in our household. My sister (aged 6 at the time, though faced with a similar miscarriage of justice would be likely to do the same today) had to be restrained from kicking the television in.

Yes, even then we KNEW that Cliff only coming second in Eurovision had to be a fix.

Congratulations Sir Cliff on a belated moral victory.

Has anyone else read

Kate Atkinson's 'One Good Turn'?

Ian Rankin said it was 'The most fun I've had with a novel this year.'

Same here.

Although it has caused me embarrassment whilst reading it on the train due to my complete inability to stop myself crying with laughter at this wonderfully funny book.

Green Fingers

I have quite a lot of ground round the house. Once upon a time - as old folk walking past my garden have mentioned rather too frequently to be a subtle hint - the ground around my house was apparently one of the best kept gardens in the village. (Much use of the past tense there.) Well, hey - I work full time, I have kids, I have a social life - and the garden tends to suffer somewhat. These days, so long as I can keep it vaguely respectable I am happy.

Last weekend I realised that 'something' had to be done garden wise. I decided the fastest results would be achievable with the strimmer. In I waded, 18 inches deep in long grass, waving the strimmer left and right,back and forth - if not exactly with enthusiasm, with at least a degree of determination.


"What the fuck???"

The case in which the strimmer cord was contained had split in two. My strimming was over less than 15 minutes after it had commenced. I decided that gardening that day was 'not to be' and went to the pub instead.

The following day I went to Homebase, clutching my broken strimmer cord case. "Do you " I asked a man whose badge assured me he was 'There to help me', "sell replacement parts for strimmers?" Helpful Man shook his head and told me I may be able to order one but it was likely to be so pricey I would be better off getting a new one. "Sod it" thinks I, whilst thanking him politely for his help. But no way could I get a new strimmer that day as I had in fact to get my first ever hedge trimmer. For the past many years I have always borrowed my next door neighbour's hedge trimmer but the selfish sod has moved. (Maybe he moved as he was so sick of the next door neighbour continually scrounging the use of his hedge trimmer? I hadn't thought of that possibility until just now.)

I get home with my brand new hedge trimmer and set about the hedge with that kind of thrill that you get from trying something new out - which never lasts that many minutes. Only in my case the thrill never had the chance to diminish. The hedge trimmer mysteriously stopped less than half an hour after I plugged it in. "Hummm." Plug still pushed into extension lead? Check. Extension lead plug still pushed into the socket? Check. Then what on earth could have gone wrong? Obvious answer was that I had gone right through the electric cable. Sod it. Clearly gardening that day was 'not to be ' either, so I opened a bottle of wine instead.

The following day I popped into a specialist lawn mower shop just on the off chance I might be able to get a replacement part for the strimmer. The guy who wore no badge at all to assure me he was 'there to help me', said he could order it for me. "How much is that going to cost me?" I asked with a sense of foreboding. "£2.35" he replied. It has duly been ordered.

But although it may sound a little tiny bit as though I am rather a rubbish gardener, I do take pride in knowing that I am nurturing plant growth, and in some cases, with quite spectacular success. I bring you for your delight, my prize winning pot dandelion.....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I've been trying to decide

which is the very worst vehicle on British roads at the moment.

I think it could be this one.

I expect Boris rather likes them though. (Just wasted a ridiculous amount of time on that site I just linked to.)Boris may be a gift to would be comedy writers but I fear he will be a fucking disaster for London.

Monday, May 05, 2008

End of season

Well it is for me anyway, although I know those fans of teams who have made the play offs, or of Premiership sides, or of Scottish teams aren't there yet.

I am very happy as whilst we noted with dismay that Northampton were many pundits tip for relegation this season, we actually finished a very respectable ninth in League One. We have one of the best managers in our league and he is building what looks to be a side very capable of challenging for promotion next season. (Bugger - why have I gone and said that? The astute reader will indeed be down the bookies tomorrow betting on us to get relegated now seeing as how I just tempted fate so brazenly.)

My personal highlight of the season was our stunning win over the league champions to be - Swansea, and in particular the goal scored that day by my player of the season, Danny Jackman....all five foot four of him. Fondly known as Barney Rubble.

I am pleased Forest went up - we seemed jinxed against them, and never managed a win against them in the past two seasons whilst they slummed it in our league, and anyway, I still like Colin Calderwood (who managed us before he went to Forest). And whilst I HATE Peterborough, and LOATH 'Milton Keynes Dons' (aka Franchise United), I am looking forward to stuffing them both in local derby games next season.

I have confessed before to my secret weakness for Man Utd and shall be cheering them on next weekend against Wigan. I really hope they do win the Premiership because their football had been such a pleasure to watch this season - in marked contrast to the vast majority of Premiership games I have seen this year. They are mainly too shit scared of the price of relegation to play free flowing attacking football. I am sure I generalise there a touch.

Talking of Manchester - I can not believe that City really do appear to be on the brink of sacking Eriksson....madness.

But most exciting league this time round by a country mile was of course the Championship. My dad's family come from Stoke and I grew up with them as my second team. (What is it with my chosen football teams and lack of success?)Until yesterday this was Stoke City's finest moment. I am chuffed they have made it - and hope they at least manage to do better than Derby County have done this season. The fact that their final game also meant we have another derby match to look forward to next season against Leicester was a bonus.

Soft spot for Hull City so will be supporting them to join Stoke and West Brom in the Premiership come August. And out of League One I'd like to see Carlisle go up. Failing that Doncaster or Southend, which is another way of saying Anyone But Leeds. Rochdale in League Two because they have never ever got out of the lowest professional league before. And finally but most importantly - Celtic to win the Scottish Premiership......please, please, PLEASE.

A miracle and related rubbish.

The best part about this story of a miracle for our times is the comment left by Cat from Surrey. She certainly sounds like she knows what the son of god looks like.

But good news for those of you blokes who could never hope to get a bottle of cider whose foil wrapping appears to depict the face of Jesus...the Sun is in talks with a lager company to produce Page 3 lager cans. Scantily clad women on the side of your tinnie...what could be better?

Progress eh?