Thursday, 31 May 2007

Avant-garde Experimentalism

In the car today as its pub day and my turn to drive. My pub companion is back from his holidays today, on a pub day, talk about perfect timing. The drive in was very good. It took 20 minutes. School holidays do have benefits.

I'm paying for all this sporting lark though; I can barely lift my arms this morning. These dangerous sports are not good for me, might need to cut back on the swimming. L says I'll soon have arm muscles to match my thigh muscles. She doesn't say whether she sees that as a good thing or not. It doesn’t sound like a pretty sight to me.

The Leeds fan who's retired from being a football supporter proposes that we go watch Leeds play at Forest next season. Unfortunately he can’t as he's given up football, he’ll have to rely on me telling him what it was like. Unless he's coming out of retirement already.

The pub was good. Our usual cottage pie and some practically AF Ale 3.7% from the Durham Brewery. The only problem was it took us twenty minutes to get through the legendary Derby road works and ten minutes to get back. We need a longer lunch hour.

In the evening me make our apologies to Doggo, who is dumped, as we go out with L's parents for a film and a meal. Both Son and Daughter were due to come but as expected Son dropped out at the last minute, good job he's predictable. Then Daughter drops out after being invited round to a friend's house, which funnily enough always seems to happen when she is due to go anywhere exciting without her friend in tow.

We have an excellent meal. I have a lamb curry that was one of the best I've had for some time, with two stonking pickles :- lime and chilli (undeniably out of a Patak's jar, I know them well but no complaints). Washed down with one and a half Everards Tiger,

The film we see is 'Scott Walker: 30 Century Man', as L's folks are big Scott Walker fans. The film tells the story of his transformation from teen idol Scott Engel, through his time with The Walker Brothers and then into his solo career. His records gradually got weirder and weirder and sales declined. Save for a brief Walkers reunion he disappeared until a record label finally let him do things his way. Even then his output was less than prolific, averaging about one record every ten years. His way turned out to be very avant-garde. It is described as exploring the boundaries between chord and dis-chord. I have to say that, although the programme probably overdid his later stuff, I found myself rather taken with the pretentious experimentalism of his material. Particularly with a song about the hanging of Mussolini, which for the recording required a percussionist to punch a slab of meat with his fists.

There are many gushing contributions from celebrity fans who you feel are courtesy of David Bowie's address book, he is credited as being as executive producer - Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr (yes him again), Julian Cope (no idea my favourite poet was a fan and even compiled an album of Scott's stuff), Marc Almond, Radiohead, Simon Raymonde, Jarvis Cocker and many more. Quite a cult following.

His songs are dark, depressing, daunting, discomforting and even disturbing, all the d's. My kind of stuff. I'm intrigued. I can feel a CD purchase or two coming on.

Get home and I'm tempted to ask L if she fancies some avant-garde experimentalism in the bedroom but in the end I settle for a large port (L measured it) and a quickie instead.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Something Else That's Scarier Than The Asda Roundabout

Back on the bike today. L's out power walking again, although I understand Doggo held her back. Apparently he was a bit disappointed with his breakfast, namely that it wasn't pizza.

There's debate about whether Billy Davies will stay at Derby but I'm sure he will. I'm sure he's already dreaming up more and more defensive formations in readiness for the Premier League. How many 0-0's do you need to stay up?

Around 4pm L emails to say it's blowing a gale in Nottingham and raining. I have faith that the sun will come out in readiness for my ride home. In fact my heads on the block if it doesn't, as I persuaded my fellow cyclist here to bike in today because I assured him it would stay fine.

In the end I get a bit of drizzle as I ride home but not much more. I cycle back over the hills to Ilkeston. I've also found something else that's scarier than the Asda roundabout, Crown Island. I've been wimping out of doing it and taking the pavement instead but it takes ages with all the crossings. So now I've started using the road, which is interesting to say the least.

I meet L at the pool and also surprisingly Daughter too. I go in the fast lane where there's a male psycho and a very very slow woman Oriental woman. She won't pull over to let either of us past. Several times I'm right behind her at the end of a length but does she let me past, no. She sets straight off again before I get chance to get ahead. Soon two more chaps join us in our lane but the attendants who were so keen to stop me swimming the 'wrong' way yesterday still turn a blind eye to her excruciatingly slow breaststroke and the death defying overtaking moves that are going on to pass her. No chance to practice any flips today.

The farce with the showers continues, I can't get in one again. I notice when one chap finally vacates the shower he is fully dressed. This is what you get when you stupidly put doors on them, people use them as changing rooms.

Dog class and somebody does put the weaves out this time. So I set about trying to sort out a dog who's failed the weaves for six courses in a row. I think progress has been made. We'll see...

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Retro Chick

Get up and I feel quite lively considering it was one hell of a weekend. Even so I still take the car into work, although I do take my swimming kit with me because I'm contemplating going to the pool after work.

L sends me an email entitled "cold, wet, and hung-over" but I don’t get it, our email filter is obviously filtering out the depressing ones. She sends it again and it seems she regrets being back on the Leffes again last night. Although she did bike in today through the rain, so she can't be too bad, even if she is sat on top of her heater at work. Hangovers are life's way of telling you what a good time you've had. Talking of which, research has found that drinkers who consume more than four cups of coffee a day have an 80% lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis. So I'll have to start counting my caffeine units now as well.

It's Son's 16th birthday today and apparently he expected a day off from his paper round. Yeah right, as if anyone gets a day off on their birthday. Welcome to the real world. He's hoping to amass £180 in birthday money for a Wii but I think he'll fall a bit short which means he'll have to save a bit more. Now that's going to be a challenge for him. Hope he gets one though, having seen the adverts, I reckon it'll do wonders for his fitness.

As I leave work, I have problems getting off Pride Park as the Rams are organising an open topped bus tour of the city and the whole of the county appears to be arriving for it.

L is at Pilates and I go for my swim. At first I get a lane to myself. Then a fat woman gets in but she's uncharacteristically quick. Well as quick as me. I don’t mind being overtaken by a young, fit, female psycho in a tight fitting swimsuit but not by this woman. So I have to keep swimming, without stopping. I get a good workout although I have to close my eyes when she swims towards me; it's not a pretty sight. She's not young, fit or a psycho but she does have the tight fitting swimsuit. Certainly not worth an ogle.

At one point, we both get stopped by the attendant who tells us off for swimming the wrong way round. We're doing clockwise and it should be anticlockwise. He tells us that if we want to do clockwise we should be in the next lane. Oh for f's sake. Is this what we pay these peoples wages for?

After a while I burn her off and she resorted to stopping every other length. Then eventually she admits defeat and gets out. Ha.

I get home and take Doggo for a ball session while L and amazingly Daughter 'power' walk. They come back with takeaway pizza for the birthday boy, which was his request. We usually do a posh meal out for birthdays that usually blows around £100 but this is a bit too social for a teenager, so we've gone down market this year. It's cheap though. He is however too busy on the internet to eat with us, so we celebrate without him, even Doggo gets some, while Son's goes in the oven.

We watch the Seven Ages Of Rock programme, which covers the 70's psychedelic era. Which is quite apt as L has gone a bit retro chick on me and splashed out on the Stones' Black & Blue album. Says she's reminiscing. She'll be wearing free flowing skirts and offering free love next. I hope.

Early to bed for a spot of 'make love not war'.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Just A Normal Sort Of Day

I head down to London today for the play-off final. Traffic isn't bad at all, just the usual mess around Luton with the permanent road works there. We parked at Northwood tube station where the parking is free on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Bonus. A few other fans turn up mainly Baggies but the car park is still quite empty, either we're early or we've hatched a route that not many others have.

Everything on the tube is built around the Oyster card now. Wonder how they thought of that name. They obviously have different thought patterns to me.

We tube it down to Wembley Park which is a mistake. The tube is quiet at first but fills up with Derby fans at Harrow. We had intended to get off early to find a pub but my Dad gets talking with fellow fans and so we end up at Wembley.

Wembley itself is still the dump it's always been and there are still no pubs to drink or eat in, so we get back on the tube and go one stop back up the line. Still there's nowhere to eat or drink but we do find a cafĂ© to have lunch in. AF though. They microwave something that was once a lasagne but at £4.50 it's far cheaper than a Wembley burger. The apple pie however is much better.

The famous Wembley arch looks good from a distance but when you get close you realise it's basically just scaffolding tubes and it's not a patch on the twin towers. For all the money they've spent you'd have though they'd have come up with something better. Can't see it becoming an international symbol like the towers were.

Once inside the stadium it's definitely an improvement because for a start we are much closer to the pitch, so we can actually see the players without the use of binoculars. However if you're in the cheap seats which are approximately half a mile above my head, I can't see you seeing much from up there. I've got a very good view but it's raining and I'm still getting wet. Mind you want do you expect for £60 and there's still a mile long queue for the loos just like the old place.

It is an impressive stadium but only really because it's so big, it is after all only another identikit stadium and despite it being sold out there are 15,000 empty seats. These are the notorious Club Wembley seats purchased on a 10-year debenture (£3,000 down, £1,300 a year or something like that. Ten games a season at £160 a game) but are not valid for this game. The ticket holders have the option to buy but most appear not to have done so and the seats have not been resold. What a farce.

Only one team change from the Semi-Final, Pesch is in for presumably his last game for the Rams. A nice way to go out. As expected West Bromwich play most of the football but Derby outsmart them for the first hour of the contest and the score is deadlocked at 0-0. Exit Peschisolido, job done, enter Giles Barnes fresh from his holiday in Lourdes (a Billy Davies joke concerning the speed of his recovery from injury, at least I assume le was joking). Howard sends Barnes down the wing, he crosses and Pearson slides it in. 1-0 and game over as Derby sink deeper and deeper to defend the lead. Half an hour of vintage Billy Davies style hanging on and it's over.

Derby are back in the 'big' time. Half of Wembley rejoin the rest make for the exits.

So that's the end of quite a season. Derby back in the Premier League and now there is the daylight of a whole division between them and the 'mighty' Leeds United. Possibly though the highlight of the whole season was Nottingham Forest's capitulation to Yeovil in the play-offs. So next year it's the two former champions of England, Leeds v Forest in the Third Division. Book those tickets now.

Head home and we escape from London in good time. I head straight to Rock City where L is waiting for me. Tonight we're there to see Modest Mouse.

They are a new band to me, although they've been around for quite a few years. They have a sound that I reckon is a cross between Talking Heads and the Pixies but with a host of other influences thrown in as well. Apparently their name is derived from a passage in a Virginia Woolf story "...and very frequent even in the minds of modest mouse-coloured people..." modest mouse-coloured people? What does that mean?

The bands main claim to fame of late has been the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and some people are obviously there just to see Marr because many appear to drift away when the music turns out to be light years away from what they were expecting. It's their loss because tonight Marr is good, his head nodding along to the beat, which belted out by the band’s two drummers.

The band also uses several bass guitars, including a double bass, as well throwing trumpets and accordions into the mix as well. At one stage with everyone else occupied on an instrument a roadie picks up the bass for one song. On another the bass player disappears all together.

There's an awful lot going on onstage but nothing though can upstage lead vocalist Isaac Brock. You can tell he really wants to be Black Francis by his mannerisms and the way he barks half his lines. In truth he is more Black Francis than the real McCoy is these days. There's an awful lot of banter from Brock between songs that I can't hear much of it despite the fact that L has reserved us a really good spot.

The polished finish of much of the stuff on the new album is stripped off tonight and songs such as the single Dashboard sound better for it. The biggest cheer is for the bands 'hit' of a few years ago Float On, which proves that the audience are not there just because of Marr's presence. Towards the end a fan (male) storms the stage to kiss Marr on the cheek; nobody dare attempt to kiss Brock.

It's a good gig, although I can't help feeling that if they laid off on the drum and bass a bit the songs might have shone though a bit more.

Afterwards we head up to the Ropewalk to slake my thirst that has been rising all day. I have two Bombardier, which are very good. L is back on the beer or more precisely the Leffe. We get home around midnight and feast on L's prepared Keema and I watch the highlights of the Rams victory.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

The mystery of my un-weaving dog

Doggo and me head over to Newark for the Nottingham Dog Show. As soon as we get there it starts raining and it doesn't let up all day. Doggo starts well with a good run in the Helter Skelter in which there are no weaves, so we don't fail there. However it's a very simple and fast course, so in order to even get a rosette we're going to have to fly round. I try and speed Doggo up. He takes the hint and takes the shortest route unfortunately this involves going inside a hurdle. Five faults.

Next course, jumping and it all goes well apart from the weaves. His entry was ok but he skips the second pole. Why Doggo why? On a retry he skips the first pole, just the same as last week.

We sulk in the car over lunch and hide from the rain. Lots of people pack up and go home, beaten by the conditions. We stick it out for one last try at those weaves. The rain is so bad that only minutes after opening up our third and final course; they are appealing for anybody who wants to run to come run.

There are only six weaves on the course. How hard can it be? I promise Doggo that he can skip training on Wednesday if he pulls it off. We start in heavy rain. Entry perfect, one pole, two, three, four and out! No! He's done it again. Back to work on Wednesday then. Shouldn't be too critical of him, it was raining that heavy perhaps he couldn't see where he's going. There's always next week. The advantage of 'bombing' out is we get to go home early and we're home by 4pm.

In the evening we watch the Da Vinci Code. Hmmm. L liked it but then she'd read the book. I think the film makers assumed that everyone had. I wasn't one of the 'trillions' that did read Dan Brown's book. I did try to read it but lost interest less than half way through. I just didn't see the point of it all and still don't having seen the film.

Why didn't he just leave a note explaining things for the French girl and then mention that he was shot by an albino monk in a cassock? Would have saved a lot of time, there can't be that many of them running around in Paris.

Yet again I wasn't impressed with poor old Tom Hanks but then again I rarely am. There was no chemistry between him and Audrey Tautou. Never does his character question what people are telling him, he just believes them and does what he's told. He doesn't even show any emotion when he's told the person he was supposed to meet has been murdered. Then they weave something about his claustrophobia into the part but don't bring this into play. I found it a very odd and at no point did I feel involved in the story.

Never mind solving the Da Vinci Code, someone help me solve the mystery of my un-weaving dog.

When it's over, L offers port and sex. My kind of offer, not to be refused.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Mustn't Mumble

First day of the bank holiday weekend starts with a lie in, with sex obviously, which is a good way to start. It's not a huge lie in though because we are heading up to Monsal Dale for something called a Mumble. Which is a walk (or a run) over 10 miles (or 15) between three pubs (or five). We walk and it's very good, fantastic scenery and even the weather holds, most of the time.

I go vowing not to partake of alcohol but in the end I'm drawn to support Copper Dragon at the Red Lion at Litton and Abbeydale at Three Stags Head at Wardlow Mires. The Three Stags Head belongs to a bygone age with it's spartan interior, the owners dogs, lurchers I believe, draped everywhere, a roaring fire in May (in both pubs actually) and total lack of conversation from the surly landlord.

We've been before but I think we were beaten back by a welcome that did not extend to food or children. Worth a visit just don't dare ask for lager, there's a sign warning you not to.

A chap comes in for a 'half of beer' and points at an 8% ale. That'll do he says. The landlord does at least warn him that it's 8% but undaunted he has it anyway, I'm sure not realising that it could prove fatal in the wrong hands.

The rest of the walk goes well. Doggo has a good time too and a good roll too, he smells and looks foul. We head home, dump Doggo and head off into town. We head down the Salutation for a couple of pints for a change and then up to the Mogul for a curry. L had turned down a posh lunch, saying she wanted a slag of a meal instead.

I have my trademark Jalfrezi which is good but not spectacular. My Puri starter is a little too fried. The meal is good but not quite up to the standards of the last one we had there. We have a bottle of Pinotage with it. Which goes down well.

As is tradition we finish at Scruffys for a Leffe, although L is on the cokes by now. She's still having a bad beer week after Ilkeston last weekend.

A girl is sat opposite us, sipping a bottle of lager and on her mobile. Eventually a lad appears, presumably summoned on said mobile. They exchange greetings and he gets himself a bottle too. He needn't have bothered. Before he had chance to really sample his drink, they depart, leaving two practically untouched bottles. It seems a chat, and a drink isn't the reason his presence was required. Can't fault the guy, if a girl's that keen to get her hands on you, then you're not going to hang around. I would have done the same, but please take your drinks with you.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Cycle paths - don't you just love 'em.

The bed pulls a bit this morning. Two bike and swim days together with squash last night have taken their toll. Although I think L is struggling more than me, it's all that power walking. I consider taking advantage of her delay in getting up but it would hold-up both of us even more.

It was in the paper this week that apparently people who have sex twice a week or more want to give up work. Presumably that is so they can have even more sex. Although that must be almost everybody because twice a week isn't very much is it, it's practically monastery territory. Whereas people who don't get any, work longer hours to compensate. Rather than the other way around, in that they don't get sex because they work long hours. The report didn't mention the fat layabouts who don't do either.

Despite feeling totally knackered I still ride in and it goes ok, despite the fact that it started raining on me, not much but it looks like it might get worse.

Squash opponent emails to say he had the best nights sleep since moving house and he's fighting hard not to reach the conclusion that it had something to do with doing some exercise. I think indirectly he's thanking me for giving him the run around last night. Glad to be of service.

Says he fully intends to get fit and help me with my triathlon fitness. With his help and a bit more effort, he says, I might even be able to beat a girl. Oooooooooooh bitchy.

Funnily enough that had something to do with why I came to work on my bike again today. Don’t intend to lose out in a sprint finish again. Particularly not to a girl.

While surfing some doggie websites a photo of a cute collie pup with a blue eye falls off the internet and on to my desktop. Ooops how did that happen. I email it to L, who is busy showing round photos of a rescue dog called Poppy who she's keen to re-home. She's immediately suspicious that I'm looking at puppy photos while I'm at work and assumes that it's a photo of our 'new' dog. She's not convinced when I deny it.

L's going to need some help de-stressing when she gets home because she's gone on her bike to the physio, so she'll be sampling the delights of the Nottingham one-way system. Can't imagine how much alcohol and sex it's going to take her to recover from that but I'm looking forward to finding out.

On my way home, I extend my bike route. Having seen a cycle path marked towards Kegworth I decide to follow it. It goes well until I come across a gate blocking the route, then one of these concrete blocks that the road works use, then a pile of soil presumably to deter gypsies, then I get lost because of a total lack of signposts. I think I manage to stay on track but then end up cycling alongside the A50, albeit on a cycle track. Which then dumps me at junction 24 of the M1 but it's the correct way because I have cycle path signs that say so. All I've got to do now is cross the on and off slip roads of the M1 and all three lanes of the A453 without the use of traffic lights. Errr who says they're not trying to encourage cyclists in this country. Cycle paths - don't you just love 'em.

Spurred on by thoughts of L at home in need of my de-stressing skills I bravely achieve the impossible and cross the roads, waving at the nice friendly red-faced drivers with steam coming out their ears.

After that it's a pleasant bike the rest of the way home and I get up a good speed particularly through Clifton, where the risk of being mugged seemed quite high. I manage to get home without my bike being stolen from under me. 23 miles in 1 hour 27.

Once home it's time to take my personal responsibilities seriously. Still no X though. Never mind, there's always next week. I shall keep looking; I won’t give up.

After giving L a thoroughly good de-stressing, we head down the Plough. Legend. Gone off Banks And Taylor. 2 x Sooty Stout.

Home to Jools who features Bloc Party.

Thursday, 24 May 2007


On the bus today. The bloody annoying girl with phone was there again but it was her friend who supplied the gossip today. It was only the second time I'd heard her speak, I assume because normally MFG (mobile phone girl) doesn't stop talking on her phone long enough for her to get a word in. From what I can gather this girl has just spilt up with her boyfriend and he's trying to get her to give him back the car that he bought for her. She says to MFG "she'd spent an entire weekend thanking him for the car in ways that he could only have imagined about". Forgive me but isn't that called prostitution?

The pillock of a driver ‘shortcutted’ through Chaddesden and made everyone late for work. I've been doing the Nottingham to Derby route for twenty odd years in one form or another and I know that there are no shortcuts when you get that close to Derby. No matter how bad the A52, the only way is to stick with it.

L's done her long power walk with Doggo this morning. It was so long she had to ring her apologies for lateness through to daughter who was about to leave for school. Then she managed to fit in a gym session as well. She keeps saying that whenever she goes it’s only women there. Which I don’t understand. L reckons they're all students and housewives. You would think that a room full of sweaty women would pull the men in. Particularly if they're young students and as for housewives, well we all know what housewives are like. I for one am considering nipping over in my lunch hour.

L's also come to what she says is a momentous decision, that she's not contemplating any more triathlons until Derby in September. By which time she hopes to be 100% injury free. This leaves me to carry the triathlon baton in our household, at least for the time being.

A friend of mine turns down the chance to see Modest Mouse on Monday. Saying at £15, for a new band, they are taking the Mickey. Then he re-invites me to see the Manics tonight. £25, for an old band, they are taking the Mickey! TouchĂ©.

I put in a good performance at squash which coupled with a bad one from my opponent sees me taking the first two games and almost taking the third but losing it 15-13. Then I bounce back to take the fourth. Thereby sealing the match 3-1. I am always told by my opponent that it is the first five games that constitute our match e.g. first to three wins, therefore any wins in the subsequent games don't really count. There maybe a slight coincidence that as I am fitter than he is, I usually win these latter 'irrelevant' games. Well today he wins the last two games but we won't count them. They're both close anyway; I'm sure I could have lifted my game and took them, had they counted.

As he's now moved house again, we have to find a new pub and we head into Ruddington. We attempt to go the back way. We have to scale hundreds of mountainous speed bumps, more mountainous than usual because they've scrapped the top of the road surface, to get there. Only to find that Clifton Bridge is shut and we are diverted over even more speed bumps back onto our usual route.

We try the White Horse which impressively has five real ales unfortunately they've gone for quantity not quality. Bombardier, Deuchars, Batesmans XB, Black Sheep Bitter and a guest of Jennings Cumberland hardly set the pulse racing.

Home to L, spicy chilli and a glass of red.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Flippin' Flip Turns

Survived yet another bike ride. Very pleasant it was but it wasn't at all nice. Nice is banned.

Daughter took herself off for a bike ride last night. This morning she was particularly ferocious when I left for work, so from that I assume that it did her some good.

There's an interesting cycling event coming up in York. World Naked Bike Ride. Think of the aches afterwards. Think of the saddle sore. L would have to give me some very gentle TLC. Hmmm. Might go for it.

L's putting in extra training today, at work. They have no receptionist today so she's running up and down two flights of stairs. That's good training, apart from the fact that she's not supposed to be running. Would be a disaster if she had a relapse; I'd have another few months of hunt the X. Exhausted by all the running up and downstairs, L heads off for a spot of retail therapy in Selectadisc.

Cycle home and detour through Breaston to do a short stretch of the Tri course and then I head off to the pool to meet L for a swim. Get in the pool and get a lane to myself. That is until L gets in it. As we swim up and down she looks particularly mean and fierce. I realise what does it. It's the goggles. Thing is I have an almost identical pair. Does that mean I look fierce too? Cool.

I start to try some flip turns which at first are so bad I assume they look hilarious but 'luckily' no one is looking. Which isn't reassuring if I need to be pulled out by an attendant. I start to get the flip right but keep missing the pool wall, which is kind of essential to get a push off. I improve, a touch, but they are far from impressive but it's a start.

The two showers are occupied both when I arrive hot and sweaty from my bike and in dire need of a shower and also when I get out smelling of chlorine. Top hygiene levels at these council pools.

Two chaps get out of the pool in those ridiculous three quarter lengths shorts. They strip off their wet shorts, and both put on near identical pairs of the same to go home in. Oh dear.

L goes off for a power walk on the park but without Doggo because he’s down for extra weave practice at dog class. Unfortunately when we get to dog class, some bright spark has decided to set up a course for training which, yep you guessed it, doesn't contain weaves. So it's going to be a case of everything crossed at the weekend.
Huge embarrassment for UEFA, and for football as a whole, as the Italian match fixing experts AC Milan beat Liverpool to win the European Cup. Last summer Milan were docked 15 points in Serie A and barred from playing in Europe after being found guilty. Of course the Italian authorities caved in and reduced the penalty to 8 points and let them back into Europe.

We both go to bed. Even I'm feeling knackered after two days cycling and swimming. L doesn't immediately curl up and turn the light off; this slight delay is fatal and allows me to round the day off in the way that all days should be rounded off.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Scarier Than The Asda Roundabout

Ride in today and the nice weather seems to have brought more people out onto their bikes. I try desperately to get someone to say 'Good Morning' to me but only one person out of about twenty does so. I acknowledge almost everyone I see on a bike regardless of whether they're a serious cyclist or not, whether they are young or old, male or female. Miserable bunch.

At work another chap makes he's debut on the bike. It's starting to get a bit crowded in the executive bike park, e.g. there's not much room left on the fence we chain them to.

It's an exciting morning for Doggo; he's out on a new paper round. Son has had his round changed. Doggo will soon get the hang of it.

Son's got his second GCSE exam today, English Literature and he's allowed to take his textbook in to the exam with him to pick out relevant quotes. Anything to allow the schools to keep those grades increasing.

Bad news on the play off front. Graham Poll is refereeing our final. So Forest v Yeovil was not his last game. Somehow he's going to need to top the Prutton incident if he's going to go out with a bang. Doesn't bode well.

On my way home, I almost get wiped out by this teenager on his bike. I was on the cycle path around Pride Park, minding my own business, and he came towards me weaving horrendously from side to side, headphones on, rucksack slung over one shoulder and scraping against his rear wheel, his hood was so far over his eyes he wouldn’t have been able to see where he was going even if he'd been looking in the right direction, which he wasn't. There seemed to be something very interesting in the sky. I was forced off the path, onto the grass verge and behind a lamppost for safety, as he wobbled past.

Then I heard a crash and turned round expecting to see him lying in a heap but no, he'd just dropped his rucksack. He had at least noticed this fact and had stopped. Now he was fishing behind him with his arm for his missing bag without much luck as he was still examining the sky. You can see why A-level results are on the rise.

In the evening, I head off for a swim at Noel Street. It's packed. Despite being told by reception that it was an adult laned session, there were no lanes in place. Instead the pool had divided itself by a form of natural selection, psychos on one side, and paddlers on the other. Worryingly I had to side with the psychos because I couldn't face weaving round the paddlers.

It was totally mad on the psycho side. There were four chaps and two women doing front crawl, fast. The women were menacing super fit types with tattoos and they were doing flip turns, as I found out to my surprise when I was swimming behind one and she suddenly disappeared and then reappeared coming towards me, having done a flip turn, with nowhere else to go she swam under me.

After that I dare not let my gaze deviate from the front. Normally I like to check out other people's techniques and perhaps the odd female swimsuit but it wasn't safe to look anywhere other than forwards. Swimmers would appear out of the murky water like something from Jaws and you'd have just a split second or two to roll sideways to let them pass. Somehow I always seemed to choose the right way to roll because if we'd both gone the same way there could have been a nasty head on collision. It was the scariest moment of my life since I'd cycled round the Asda roundabout two hours earlier.

Occasionally a paddler would stray across to our side of the pool but they soon scuttled back once they'd been buzzed by a few psychos.

I would like to think that, as they sat watching this chaos, the pool attendants were thinking 'oh shit we forgot to put the lanes in' but somehow I doubt they noticed that a nasty accident was only ever a split second away.

Get home and L does Salmon and mash for tea.

Then I take L to bed for an exhausting game of soldiers.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Anyone For A Game Of Soldiers?

In the car. The traffic was horrible for no apparent reason; the queues into Derby were horrendous. It's not people queuing for Wembley tickets because they have all gone. Apparently there were a few skirmishes as people queued overnight on Saturday for the last few tickets. Lots of people apparently came straight from the bars and were a tad drunk.

I'm in Sainsbury's at lunchtime where I see a woman feeding her child a banana straight from the display. Someone pointed out that she shouldn’t be doing this and she was very obnoxious to him but she said she’d pay for it at the till. Hmmm, even if she does, she won't be popular, can't see how they can weigh the banana now.

While I'm there I get my energetic girl a present from the out-of-date fruit counter. Need to keep her strength up; I just don't know what she'll be demanding next but I'm keen to find out. It's a melon but not as we know it. It was too small. I would not have been 100% sure it was a melon had it not been labelled.

L asks what kind it is and says she won't accept "round" and "green" as acceptable answers. What does she take me for? In fact it is round and green but it isn't a large apple. It's a Galia, which doesn't mean anything to me but L's an expert in these things. Turns out it's her favourite type. So brownie points there. Total accident but she can feel free to thank me at midnight...

If you're wondering why England failed to win the First Test against the West Indies today, here's the reason. Batsman Alastair Cook clearly had his mind elsewhere, having just done a charity photo shoot for the Ben Hollioake Trust.

That's not clothes they're wearing, its body paint. It was a cold day apparently.

Dog class and I still have a dog that can't weave.

Under interrogation, L divulges that last nights unexpected feast of passion was triggered by a dream concerning the off duty exploits of the plastic toy soldiers in Toy Story. A least I assume they were off duty. Very bizarre but then L specialises in bizarre dreams. Anyhow I'm not complaining. I lay awake most of the night humming the theme tune to Toy Story but nothing happens. I'll just have to sit her down in front of the DVD tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Disgraceful Behaviour

We have a nice long lie-in but L is hung over. We have to have sex twice before she can properly join in. Happy to be of service. It's odd that L's now started getting hangovers because it used to be me who suffered with them but this morning I feel absolutely fine.

Once up, e.g. early afternoon, I take Doggo on the park for a ball session. L joins us and we check out the RSPCA dog show that is on there. It's not very exciting, although some training club from Ilkeston are doing trial sessions of agility but they don't look a very professional outfit. We stand watching as they try and stuff a very large dog through a tyre jump that looks like it's designed for a Yorkshire Terrier.

In the evening I cook up a wonderful Lamb curry and watch a video of Holly and Herbie that my Mum leant me. It's about two dogs, one of which, a Bearded collie, is taught to round sheep. I look at the comatose Doggo, perhaps not.

L bemoans that it's a bad alcohol week for her. I've had a good one, 25 units.

We go to bed early. L gets some kip while I catch up on some reading. I read for a couple of hours until about midnight. I'd only just put down my copy of cycling weekly and turned off the light, when out of the blue L starts getting amorous. Naturally I'm appalled at her behaviour and at such a disgracefully late hour as well. I'm afraid I was rather weak willed and indulged her impiety for a frenetic, sweaty and passionate half an hour, at least. Afterwards I considered telling her off for taking advantage of me but thought better of it, in case it puts her off doing it again.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

My Mutinous Dog

A lie in of sorts. I set the alarm for 7am, which is late considering I have a dog show today. L delays me further but what can you do.

I get to Worcester, which is where the show is, a bit late but still in plenty of time for my first run. There are some fantastic courses, nice and testing. For one particular course the best approach is to leave your dog at the start and go stand miles away beyond the first two jumps and the dog walk to protect the tunnel entrance which isn't the next obstacle. Amazingly for grade 5 dogs, most handlers can't do this and dog after dog rockets into the tunnel and are eliminated. Watching this, I know that if we get this right then a good placing is on the cards.

When it's our turn, we pull the move off perfectly. The rest of the course is going to be a doddle compared with that. That is if your dog remembers what to do with a set of weave poles. Doggo's normally so good with his weaves but today he misses out the first pole. So all our good work is wasted.

Never mind, we pull off some more great manoeuvres in the next course and again Doggo misses his first weave. I look him in the eye but he looks away. Is he doing this deliberately? Is this payback time for something?

Third course, yep you guessed it. Same thing happens again. So not a good day. A rare rosette-less day. We're not on speaking terms. Guess who's in for extra weave training this week.

Get home and head off to the Ilkeston beer festival, leaving the mutinous dog at home. Ha.

Unfortunately at the festival, all the festival glasses are sold out. Determined to get one, as it's the first Ilkeston beer festival, we keep an eye out for someone who's too drunk to remember where they've left theirs. Eventually we hit the jackpot and get one. I have eight halves; L has seven. It's a good night.

L does beans and cheese when we get home.

The FA Cup Final that apparently everyone wanted to see, Man U v Chelsea, although I don't know anyone who thinks this, is predictably dire. Everyone knows all the best finals must have an underdog and this didn't have one. The great finals are those rare occasions when the underdog wins. This might not happen so much in the boring Premier league but it still happens. That's why Forest v Yeovil was such a classic. The underdog won.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Tragedy. How apt .

It was a glorious morning and I had a nice cycle into work. L pulled me up on that because I don't usually describe it as 'nice'. She says that 'Nice' won't get me round a triathlon quicker than the Dirty Blonde. She has a point. Thanks for that coach. I will endeavour to make it not so nice on the way home. Now if someone like the Dirty Blonde rode along my route to work, that would nicely pace my ride and it would do wonders for my fitness.

L's at the physio again tonight, which on the last two occasions has been a prelude to me getting a shag, so I'm looking forward to tonight. Although there was some doubt as to whether she would get treated because the physio is getting treatment herself from L's boss but apparently the physio is going to hobble back to her clinic just to treat L. That's something you don’t see much of these days, devotion to the job. They can compare hobbles.

Unfortunately I can’t pick L up this week unless she fancies a backie on the bike. L says I ought to have a basket on the front like Butch Cassidy. Butch Cassidy had a basket on the front of his bike? I don't remember that. Sounds good though. If I sit L in a basket on my bike then I could have endless fun on the way home.

It has to be said that it was a terrific bike ride home. I took another detour. I got a really fast pace up using the cycle paths and then the A6 to Shardlow but things ground to a halt in the traffic at Long Eaton. I'll need to find a way round that because the 'blast' to Shardlow is worth doing again.

I get home, feeling quite pleased with myself. It was such an impressive session that I feel I deserve to have all my sore bits lovingly licked and fondled, even if they are very sweaty from jiggling about in my cycle shorts. L duly obliges but it did take a bit of prompting.

After my post-cycling pick-me-up and after checking for L's X, which still isn't there, I take doggo for a quick ball session, as promised.

Then we go down to our local for a few beers. We deliberately go late because we knew that the Forest v Yeovil play-off match would be on the TV and wanted to avoid the celebrating Forest fans. We mistimed it a touch and arrived ten minutes before the end of the game. The score was 1-1 and as predicted Forest were on the verge of a trip to Wembley. So Doggo and I sat well away from the TV and the imminent celebrations while L went to the bar. Whilst she was getting the drinks in, former Derby failure Lee Morris, who I had no idea was now playing for Yeovil, hammers a shot against the post, the ball flies across the goal and cannons off the head of Forest defender Alan Wright (another player who had a brief spell at Derby) before ending up in the back of the Forest net. Oh dear. I snigger quietly to myself as the tension in the pub rose a touch.

L arrives back with two pints of slightly off but still quiet nice ruby beer. Can't remember the name of it. Things got even funnier a few minutes later as Marcus Stewart, who must be 93 by now, headed home to pull Yeovil level. I also had no idea he was at Yeovil either, seems some astute signings have been made there. Deathly silence now in the pub. Seems we may have gate crashed a funeral.

It was now gripping stuff and there was absolutely no time to relax, as extra-time beckoned, the entertainment just kept coming. David Prutton, sporting a ridiculous beard, lunged in with a foolish tackle to pick up his second booking and earn a red card, leaving Forest with ten men. I take a long drink of beer to suppress a snigger.

What a nice way for the retiring Graham Poll to end his refereeing career.

Could things get any worse for the punters, you bet. Two minutes into extra time and the locals were crying into their beer as a shocking back pass sent Lee Morris (yep him again) clear and the ex-Ram put Yeovil ahead on aggregate for the first time. Forest did equalise almost immediately and I started to look forward to the penalty shoot-out but no. Yeovil had other ideas and they sealed the tie with ten minutes to go. This time Forest didn't look capable of coming back and they didn't.

As the game finished the CD player in the pub was blasting out that awful cover version of the Bee Gees' Tragedy. How apt. Talk about "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". What a wonderful night out.

I celebrated with a pint of Legend and a Sooty Stout. Then we had a small birthday port when we got home and watched Jools. On Jools, we were very impressed with the Cold War Kids.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

That's Asda Price

Took the bus today and because I didn't pay any attention to what she looked like, that's how annoying she was, I made the mistake of sitting too close to mobile phone girl again. I'm actually three rows away but its close enough. No call to any errant boyfriends today but she still makes two calls. The second of which starts in Bramcote and it still going strong as she gets off the bus in Derby.

"Just getting off the bus, see you at work in two minutes"

Oh for Gods sake and she's still talking. Perhaps they still communicate by phone when they're sat next to each other at work.

The journey took ages; all the roads around Derby were gridlocked with everybody driving to Pride Park to get their Wembley tickets.

Get to work and I speak to my Dad on the phone, who says there's a two-hour wait for tickets. I had been planning to nip down in my lunch hour, I can see it's going to be a rather slow nip. So I bite the bullet and pay the £3 per ticket booking fee to buy them off Seetickets, then of course there's the £4.85 postage charge as well.

None of the tickets look particularly good seats; this is probably because the FA has sold 17,000 season tickets for Wembley. These are probably all the best seats and they'll probably be empty for the playoffs because most of them have been bought purely to see England’s games.

Historic occasion today. The 5.35 Red Arrow was early and for once it actually waited until its allotted time before setting off. It was quite funny seeing people spot the Red Arrow at its stop and immediately start legging it towards the bus, naturally expecting it to pull off at any second. Then when they are inches from getting on, the look of surprise when the door doesn't shut in their faces. One by one they clambered on red faced and breathless.

Get off the bus and walk the rest of the way home. I decide that I've got enough time to give Doggo a session on the park before squash. I've been neglecting our football games on the park with all this training I've been doing. However I get immediately distracted when I get in as L lays herself out on the bed, sporting her sexy new Asda top. Looking good enough to... well... be thoroughly taken advantage of. That's Asda Price da da da, as they used to say.

This morning L implied that I might be on a promise but I wasn't expecting it this early, or on a plate. I have to make my apologies to Doggo. Tomorrow mate; we go on the park with the football. Promise. Definitely. Unless something else comes up.

My squash opponent hasn't managed to think of any winners in the battle of excuses, so we have to fight for points on court instead. Claims he has picked up a slight injury though. His partner knelt on his toes this morning. I'm struggling to think of many ways you can get such an injury because I didn't think he was still up to behaviour like that. Claims he's got a stiff neck as well.

In the match he played badly but I was appalling. Won one game, the fourth, lost the rest.

Drove to the pub and somehow missed L and Doggo who were walking across to meet us. She didn't seem too miffed when they finally arrived.

Full Mash Spiritualist 4.3% in the pub (one and a half of) and half a Mordue Newcastle Coffee Stout 4.7%.

Got home and curry Daughter's chicken in pesto but over did it with the chilli. I'll regret that in the morning.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Another Rant About Women And Mobile Phones

L was up and away early and I lay in bed pondering the big question. Bike or swim? Trying to combine the two, with all the kit it involves, is proving difficult. It would be particularly problematic today because L is working late and can't meet me at the pool. I can't hear the rain lashing against the window, well not at this precise moment, decision made, it's time to hit the road.

It's the correct choice; it would have been a shame to have wasted, what was at that moment, a nice morning. I’m sure it will soak me on the way home though. Even get chance to say hi to L and Doggo as I pass them. Almost as soon as I get to work it starts raining.

Another rant about women and mobile phones. There's a girl who works at the company next door to ours. She young, about eighteen I guess, and very very small. Every lunchtime, she stands outside my window, a fag in one hand, and her mobile phone in the other. You can't hear what she says but she talks for at least half an hour every day without fail. Thing is she hops from foot to foot as she talks, it's almost a bounce and although you can't hear her words she makes strange noises. She screeches and squeals. It's quite a surreal experience and it really puts you off your lunch. I'm sure she's having phone sex.

At night she walks to the bus with a chap from her office. He's the type who looks like he can't wait to get home to his playstation but for reasons he doesn't know and probably wouldn't understand anyway, he's drawn to her. He's seems to desperately want to talk to her, if he could think of something to say, but he can't because she's on her mobile phone the whole time. You can see the frustration on his face; he doesn't know what to do. He'd very much like to take her home with him, so that they can play Grand Theft Auto together, his mum wouldn't mind but he just looks at the girl in awe, as they walk, three foot apart, her on her mobile phone, bouncing, screeching and squealing. He doesn't exist.

On my ride home, I play around with my route. I take the Pride Park cycle path to Raynesway. Then down Raynesway to the back entrance of Elvaston Castle. Ok so far. The grit path through the Castle grounds is not perfect but it's bearable. Once off the track and onto the tarmac it's actually worse because of some huge speed bumps which cannot be avoided and there's dozens of them. Eventually reach the safety of the main road to Borrowash. A glutton for punishment I take the cycle path across the back of Borrowash. First there's an impossible gate, then more grit path but this time with potholes and overhanging trees, not at all pleasant. This brings me up the back of new estate and on to the road to Draycott. Now I'm onto the Erewash Triathlon route.

I soon get up a good speed but it's going to be a crap race route. I had to veer round numerous parked cars, keep my eye on loads of side roads, play leapfrog with a couple of buses, stop at two pedestrian crossings. Not ideal race conditions.

I follow the route round to Risley and rejoin my usual route home but do another variation. I go straight through to Bramcote rather than my usual Coventry Lane way. Coming past the swimming baths, I hear some heavy breathing behind me and realise that someone is tailing my rear. As its male, I speed up and try to drop him. Next time I look behind he's turned off down Thoresby Road, bet that wasn't his intended route. He just couldn't hack the pace.

Get home having done 30k. A good workout. Daughter is just off to Guides. She texts me when she's arrived. I text her back to wish her an enjoyable night. She texts again "Yar y no, thats excatly wat mum sed" whatever that means.

Dog class. I'm not in the best of form tonight, in fact I'm rubbish, not that Doggo notices, he's far too busy. There's this one particular patch of wall that needs weeing up every five minutes. He's far too occupied to concentrate on me.

The chap who does training is a really nice chap but he's quite old (well older than me), balding (well more bald than me), short and a bit overweight. Yet he always has this young, tall, thin, and attractive girlfriend in tow. Must be his dogging that pulls the women.

It's West Bromwich to play us at Wembley as they beat Wolves 1-0.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

All That Stress And I'm AF

L caught me a bit unawares this morning, and interrupted my train of thought. Of course, it was a very satisfying and very welcome but it was a surprise none the less because for the last week or so she's been getting up before I've had chance to surprise her.

As for interrupting my train of thought, it wasn't really much of an interruption. I had woken up half an hour or so earlier with my mind full of video cameras, PDA's (e.g. palmtop personal digital assistants), and office misdemeanours. Perhaps she'd been having the same dream, as it was L who that brought up the subject last night, when she tried to out gossip my blog.

She was telling me about someone who had rumbled a male work colleague who was working his way around the women in their office. The person even has video evidence of his conquests, which she lifted off his PDA. One of the women he's been stuffing (that's L's terminology not mine) is to be bridesmaid to the woman who discovered the video next month. If she turns the evidence into her boss, as she intends to, it could really spice up the wedding, as both the involved parties are married.

L's a treasure and for more than just surprise sex sessions and some cracking gossip. She saw some denture cleaning tablets in the shops today and thought of me. That is she thought of my water bottles that need cleaning and sterilising. My teeth are still my own, at the moment. Unfortunately I had the same thought, at more or less the same time. So we now have a plentiful supply, I hope they work or guess what our elderly neighbours will be getting for Christmas. It's also worrying that, when I was buying them, I didn’t get any strange looks at all.

I'm at the match tonight, so L's stuck with the job of entertaining Doggo. Not that he'll necessarily want to go out because it's raining. Even so the dog versus gym dilemma is doing her head in. She's been saying that she wants someone to write her a training plan; so I give her a very simple one for tonight and tell her to go to the gym. That is if Nottingham's new underwater gym is open and not to worry Doggo. He’ll be fine.

'Yes boss' is all she says in reply.

Yes boss? Makes you want to get the video camera out and save it your PDA. Doesn't it.

So to the match. I'm hoping for a dull game, a 0-0 bore draw would do nicely. For once Billy names an unchanged team. 4-4-2 again.

After only two minutes Darren Moore is our hero as he heads us into the lead. Wa-hey we're on our way to Wembley. A minute later Moore turns villain and heads across goal to our goalkeeper, who is out of his area and can only head the ball to Jhon Viafara (yes it really is spelt Jhon) who smacks it back past him and into the net. Sit down it's not over yet.

There's a chap who sits near us who's already been banned for three years from football for aggressive behaviour, although his solicitor had it overturned on appeal. Today we find out why. He turns on a Southampton supporter who's managed to get a seat behind us. He has a point, away supporters should be in the away end or they should keep quiet but he could have made his point a little more tactfully.
After the initial excitement it stays at 1-1 all the way to half time. Then poor defending just after the break enables Viafara to put the Saints into the lead on the night.

Giles 'out for the season' Barnes makes a surprise appearance from the bench and seems to connect with a Derby corner and suddenly the ball is in the back of the Southampton net. Seems Barnes hasn’t touched it but Leon Best has and he's put it in to his own net but hey they all count. Rams now ahead 4-3 on aggregate.

I’ve been having nightmares all week that ex-Derby striker Grzegorz Rasiak is going to come back to haunt us and he duly does just that. He scores the goal a minute from time that takes the game into extra time. You get the feeling that if Rasiak had played the whole game, or even the first leg, they would have won.

Bugger, extra time is going to reduce my time in the pub and just when I need a stiff drink too. Can't we just flip a coin and save all this stress. Back home the dog has he paws crossed, I tell L to get him to cross his ears too.

In extra time, Derby look like the only team capable of winning it but the ball just won't go in. So we arrive at the dreaded penalty shoot out.

Leon Best caps a miserable night for him as he puts Southampton's first penalty well wide. Derby despatch four cracking penalties, almost German in their execution. Jones, Howard, Barnes, and amazingly McEverley. Three of those lads under 21. England take note, Billy’s had them practicing penalties all week.

Southampton convert their next three including the inevitable one from Rasiak. Up steps Idiakez, former Derby favourite, former Derby penalty taker, to take their last penalty. As he strides up he looks so casual but he always looks casual, and hits it over the bar, way too casual. Cue bedlam. Wembley here we come. I’ll be out on the street corners tomorrow trying to raise the small fortune that they want for a ticket.

Leave the match and its 10.45, so we don't even get time to hit the pub. All that stress and I'm AF.

Home to a very depressed L. Seems that Daughter ruined her gym session by turning up for a swim, which in itself is no bad thing. Daughter hasn't swum for ages and she needs the exercise. But then Daughter misheard L's instruction to wait in the coffee room for her while she did a quick gym session, and thought L had deserted her, as improbable as that might seemed. Panic ensued from Daughter. So L's still not a happy gym bunny; in fact she's not getting to be a gym anything at the moment.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Post Race Analysis

I actually had some traffic to deal with today, as I took the car into work. Probably due to the rain but it still wasn't too bad.

Son has asked if we could arrange a paintball game for his birthday. Blimey. Hope he realises that this is as close to real death as it gets. It's not the same as death on the internet or even death in laser quest. Those paintballs really hurt. The bruises I incurred from the last time I played have just about faded now but the mental scars are yet to heal. Hopefully we can find a kids session for them otherwise they might end up getting pulverised by a group of adults, which might not go down well with some of the parents or perhaps it well. Perhaps there's an opportunity there to sell tickets to spectators.

L's a frustrated Gym Bunny today. Nottingham's new gym at John Carroll, the one that only opened in December, is closed due to water damage. They never had this problem when it was it in the portacabin.

My friend, who was supposed to be giving up football doesn't appear to be doing anything of the sort as I get a string of football related emails today. He claims his retirement from being a football supporter means that he can now observe the game with a jaunty, mildly disinterested air. Business as usual then; that was all he ever did. I knew this retirement lark was sham.

Post race analysis from Sunday.

Swim time 11.58 (44th). Bike time 61.32 (48th). Run time 25.44 (23rd).

Compared with my target times, I was quicker in my swim by 2 minutes. I was slower on the bike by 1 minute 30 seconds and I was slower on the run by 14 seconds. Not at all what I expected.

The really good news it that of the others in my mini race, I mean my start group, I out swam and out ran all them. The bad news concerns the bike. Beachwear chap beat me by six minutes on the bike and the dirty blonde beat me by three. Hmmm. Food for thought and also more ammo for my hit list. Beachwear chap joins the others on it.

My running continues to amaze me. I caught the dirty blonde for nearly three minutes. I also took a minute and a half out of beachwear chap but I'd left myself too much to do there because I was still three mins behind at the line. I just really need to do something about my biking.

Get home to an empty house, just Doggo there with his paws crossed. Daughter is out; I presume Son is 'in' in an 'out' sort of way but no amount of yelling seems to get confirmation of this. Possibly he's revising hard but more likely he's 'out' in cyberspace somewhere.

I take Doggo to dog class. Not bad, he performs well but as usual he could have been quicker.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sprinting Scandinavians

5.30 alarm. Radio informs that Serbia have won the Eurovision. Their song was so memorable that neither of us can remember it. The God-awful Ukrainian song was second and the equally dire Russian girls third. Our tips didn't do much - Georgia (12th), Sweden (18th), France (22nd equal with the UK), Finland (17th), although Bulgaria did better (5th). All the western countries came in the bottom eight, political or what?

We're in Etwall before 7am. I rack my bike and register. I'm given number 24. Rain is forecast and I wonder about covering all my kit in plastic to keep it dry but it looks as if the rain might hold off until I've finished. Fingers crossed.

My Dad turns up to watch, support, and photograph. L watches from the viewing gallery above the pool, Doggo watches from the car. I strip and give my clothes to L. A quick kiss from my lady luck but I have to keep it brief, these tri short don't hide much.

A marshal calls us to him. I am given lane four. As he gives us a briefing I notice that there are only two swimmers in lane four, all the other lanes have three or four in there. Looks like my luck is in again.

I check out the others in my start group. On one side of me is a forty-something girl in tri-suit who really looks the part, probably an expert, perhaps even a female psycho. On the other side, there's more hot competition, a girl of a similar age with a Scandinavian sounding name, also in tri-suit, she's a dirty blonde, that's her hair colour, I can’t vouch for her demeanour.

Then there's a fit looking chap who looks like he could also be a threat but he's got on a pair of beachwear shorts. It would be embarrassing to lose to him. I also put him down as forty-something. Can you spot the theme here with us early starters? However I find out later that the dirty blonde is only 38. Oops, never guess a woman's age.

On the end is a youngster, a girl with an impressive chest which is nicely wrapped in a black and white swimsuit. The marshal quips a joke but he isn't funny. The girl with the chest looks as if she's thinking of making a run for it.

Then I have to stand aside as the two swimmers already in my lane both get out at the same time. My lane is now empty. The water in my lane now calm and still. Luckier and luckier.

Expert girl next to me dips her hand and goggles in the water. Gosh its cold she says. I dip mine in. Blimey it’s warm. Girls are such strange creatures. You could practically boil an egg in that water.

I make a point of getting my goggles sorted out and put them on early, so hopefully they won’t come off this time.

We start and as usual I go off too quick. I feel I am running neck and neck with expert girl next door, which spurs me on to go faster but that's the last thing thing I want to do. L is so lucky not to have a competitive streak. I can't see the dirty blonde on my other side; hopefully I’ve left her behind. Apart from swimming in what I feel is a very ragged style; the swim goes well. No goggles disaster this time. I don't get the lane to myself all of the time, first one other swimmer, and then a second one get in my line. I almost collide with one of them but by then I've almost done. I think I count my lengths correctly and with two to go, the line counter sticks two fingers up at me. I assume that means I’m right.

I get out and run down 75 metres of tarmac to transition on wobbly legs and I forget to wave at Doggo as I pass the car. Hope he forgives me. L says the swim took me less than nine and a half minutes, which is much better than my guesstimate of eleven. At transition I struggle to get my socks on, such is the amount of grit that has accumulated on my feet. A quick look around and I'm sure I'm the first out of the pool of my start, although I can see that expert girl is not far behind me.

The bike is hard to start with and I lose two places immediately. Unfortunately it looks like beachwear chap and possibly the dirty blonde. I fear that a lot will come past me but I tell myself to remain calm, it's a marathon not a sprint as they say. Well, actually no, this is a SPRINT tri. Then I start catching the lower numbers and cheer up a bit.

About half way round, another girl powers past me who looks a bit like expert girl but I’m not sure and I don’t catch her number. I remember my carefully thought out tactics, that have served me so well before - find a nice arse and tail it. So I put the hammer down and give chase. Unfortunately this lass is too quick for me. I find out later that it wasn't even her. A few others go past me but I gain more than I lose.

Knowledge of the course allows me to save time by removing my gloves early as we enter the last 2k. I even try a gel as an energy boost. L has always described gels as like tubes of sperm, so I've always been a bit reluctant to try them. I get myself in a right mess with it and it goes everywhere. So on that score she's right but it's so sticky. So sticky in fact that my hands stick to the handlebars.

I cycle into transition and some chap impedes me on the way in. He takes an age to dismount and then spends time chatting to the marshals. Excuse me; some of us are racing here. He's not even asking anything useful, like how far behind the chap in beach shorts we are. I daren't go round him in case I collide with someone coming the other way. If there is anyone left to go out on the bike, it would be a late starting psycho, so a collision would be at speed and therefore not pretty. Then the referee sends the dawdling chap back for unfastening his helmet early. Ha serves him right.

I managed to un-stick myself from my bike and rack it. I'm even feeling jovial enough to give L and Doggo a quick wave. Doggo gives me vocal support or is it abuse for not taking him round with me. I stagger off on to the run. Just 6K to do and then I'm done. I take a cup of water but it's more to unglue my fingers than to drink.

The run goes ok but its hard work. I have managed to stick to another of my tactics and stay in low gear for the whole bike ride. This works in that my legs do feel in better shape for the run. A lot of the first half is worryingly downhill, which as it's an out and back, means it's going to be uphill on the way back. It seems an absolute age to the turnaround point and it's made worse because there's no one coming back the other way. Then a few do start coming the other way. I try acknowledging a few of them but mainly get blank looks back. Miserable bunch.

I pass quite a few people on the run but don't dawdle behind anyone no matter how good the view. In fact number 10 was well worth a dawdle but this is the new me and I barely noticed her. It's serious business today.

Once I reach the turnaround and starting coming back, I realise how many are behind me. One girl is really travelling fast in the opposite direction, which spurs me on; I don't want a repeat of Skipton, where some young female upstart came flying past me. I also realise that there's only about a dozen or so ahead of me on the road. Which from a start of 24 isn't bad.

I've already seen beachwear guy coming back the other way, a couple of minutes ahead of me. That's depressing enough and I start wondering where the rest of my start group are. Then I spot one of them. At first I didn’t recognise her with her clothes on but something about her, gives her away. Yes, it's the girl with the impressive chest, so some good news at last. All is well with the world as she is only just starting her run.

Approaching the last kilometre and all is NOT well with the world because I spot, up ahead of me, a girl in a blue tri-suit. It’s the dirty blonde, how did I miss seeing her on the run down. Must be number 10's fault and I'd tried so hard not to get distracted.

I absolutely must chase down the blonde because passing her would elevate me a place. Also she'd had the audacity to pass me on the bike, which is unforgivable. She's about 40 metres ahead and it’s a hard slog to catch her, as we're now on the uphill bit that I was dreading. I dig in. I know it’ll get easier because it flattens out at the top and the last bit is downhill.

I get to the top of the hill and turn right on to the flat. My Dad is there photographing me. Sorry I haven't got time to wave, I'm on the tail of a Scandinavian blonde. Now that it's flatter I quickly close the gap but it’s going to be very close. I attempt a wobbly sprint. I'm still closing on her and still she hasn't reacted. Surely she must have heard my, by now, heavy feet and ragged breathing. I’m getting more confident by the second that I can have her before the line. Victory will be mine. Then just as I get shoulder to shoulder with her, she realises what’s happening and decides she doesn't want to be had after all. Women eh, so indecisive. Then she bloody sprints. We end up in a very competitive sprint, which isn’t like me. We cross the line more or less together. She looks creased, serves her right. Don't know whether to shake her hand or stamp on her foot. I opt to be magnanimous in the face of what I fear is a dead heat.

L is pleased with my performance, Doggo is just pleased I'm back alive and promptly sits on me. Presumably to stop me deserting him and going off for a second lap. Not a chance mate. Soon it starts to rain, so a lucky escape there.

We chill out with coffee and cake supplied by L. Bless her. A big guy from Mansfield Tri who parked next to us, tucks into a huge beefburger. Talk about refuelling.

We hang around for the results and sure enough the battle that everyone is talking about is a dead heat but they give the girl the spoils of 37th place and me lowly 38th. Err excuse me? How was that decided? Alphabetically or because she's a girlie? I think that should be 37th equal please, as they gave us both the same time 1.39.14. I consider raising an objection to the stewards but in the end I just add her name to the every growing roll of names on my black list.

Just to rub it in, they even give her an age group prize, 5th no less but she doesn't dare turn up to collect it. Perhaps she's still receiving oxygen after her lung-bursting sprint but more likely she's keeping a low profile because she knows I pipped her on the line and 37th should have been mine and mine alone.

There's also good news that I get £2 of the Derby Duathlon in October, the bad news is I've got to do it to get the £2.

Go home and download L's photos. They clearly show that I beat the blonde by at least the width of a toenail. I feel robbed.

After some reviving hot soup, L get's to shag a tri-athlete, albeit a wronged one. Which cheers me up a touch.

West Bromwich win 3-2 at Wolves in the other play off semi.

Then I have a shower before we head out for beer. Although I needn't have bothered with the shower as it's now chucking it down outside. We take the bus into town in near monsoon conditions. Golden Newt and a so so Sunday lunch at Ropewalk. We have wanted to try their lunches for a while. Disappointing. We stay for a Chimay White which is nice but would have been nicer if the girl behind the bar had not poured the yeast into it. It's not supposed to be cloudy.

We cross the road for a Jennings Golden Host then finish up as usual in Scruffys for a dark Leffe. L tells me to not let her have a second and then talks me into it.

Home on the bus, then to bed for a well earned sleep and bad dreams of sprinting Scandinavians.

39 units for the week. It's been a hard week.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Anything they can do I can do better

I stopped over in Bingham but I was up early. I was keen to get home to spend some quality time with L. Time was scarce because I had a bit of a tight schedule, with the play off game kicking off at noon. Luckily she was still in bed when I got home, pushed Doggo aside and joined her.

An hour or so later, I drop L and Daughter off at gym on my way over to Derby. Then I pickup my Dad and we go his local to watch the game. I'm a touch hung over and also trying to be AF pre-Triathlon, so I'm on the J2O.

Billy Davies said Derby team couldn't cope with pressure towards the end of the season, which doesn't bode well for play-offs. It’s his own fault really for buying loads of youngsters in January; he in effect lost the plot. If he’d kept to the team that took us to the top and his boring tactics we’d be up by now. Today he reverts to type, it's a defensive setup by Derby, even Seth is in and it works a treat.

Southampton start the better and Derby concede an early goal but then we play some decent stuff and are level by half time as Steve Howard scores an equaliser.

I would have settled for a draw or even a one goal defeat but Southampton are poor in the second half and just as Stephen Pearson breaks free and looks set to put us in front, he is hauled back by the shirt. By a chap called Pele no less. Penalty. Steve Howard converts it. 2-1 Which is how it finishes. Look forward to Tuesday.

The other semi is tomorrow, between West Bromwich and Wolves. Which guarantees a West Midlands team a place at Wembley, which is a horrible thought. With Villa and now Birmingham already up, there could be three 'Brummie' clubs in the Premiership. Oh God, imagine the interviews. We'd need sub titles.

On the way home, I collect L and Daughter from Tesco.

Back at home, L demos the new clothes she's bought. It must have been a good fashion show because we end up in bed. So it's not only Derby who scored twice today. Anything they can do I can do better.

I spend the rest of the afternoon sieving my birthday port through coffee filters. Then I cook energy giving pasta. I add a splash of wine for good measure and lots of cheese. L does the fruit for afters.

For the first time in years we watch the Eurovision, this is what happens when we are AF because of the event tomorrow. We survive all 24 songs but don’t survive the voting. I need an early night.

L’s fave is Georgia, mine is Sweden. Although I have a liking for the French entry and think Finland will again do well. L also likes Bulgaria. The worst is Ukraine, well apart from the UK entry. Naturally Ukraine are hot favourites.

L quashes any prospect of a glorious hat-trick and tells me to save my energy for the triathlon. Good job I got my warm-up in this afternoon. She is right though I do need a good nights sleep.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Fishnets and Vasectomies

In car. Good journey, no traffic.

After I watched a white van cut across the front of a fellow cyclist yesterday at the Asda roundabout, it reminded me that I never received an answer to a question I had posed to the 'Streetcare Resources Directorate' (???) department of Derby City Council in November as to why there is no white lining at this roundabout. So I drop them an email to see if they've managed to find out why yet.

Got a reply straight back, ticking me off for being impatient. The matter has been passed to the relevant person, who is looking into it and will reply as soon as possible. Six months is seemingly not a long time to the council.

An email is sent round at work saying that the company has been offered complementary tickets for all staff to see Coldplace, a Coldplay tribute band, play a gig on Monday. Can you imagine anything worse? Other than seeing the real thing.

I pick L up on my way home, she was walking back from the physio. The physio has again marked her bottom with a cross and when we get home, she seems more than happy to show it to me again. Last time I could find no visible mark. This time, again, there is no perceptible evidence of a mark. I'm still sure she's having me on. Inspection over but she’s still bent over the bed, not showing any sign of getting up. She must after something. Would be rude not to oblige.

Responsibilities taken care of and after something unhealthy to eat, I'm off to Bingham for the six monthly polytechnic reunion. Well there are only three of us but it's a good excuse for a few beers. Actually tonight there are four of us, because a guy we used to lodge with in Mapperley joins us. It's good to see the chap. As a lodger he was untidy, irresponsible, unhygienic, noisy, disruptive, unhelpful, etc etc, bit of a pain really, which was why we moved out to live somewhere else. Naturally now he's married with a kid but it doesn't seem much else has changed. Nice lad though. He even brings his camera to photograph the occasion or is he just providing evidence to his wife that he's not out on the pull.

He does drag us out of our safe habitat in our usual pub and demand to see the town, not that that will take very long. I was just enjoying my second low alcohol Fullers Chiswick 3.6% and looking forward to working my way up to St Austell HSD 5.0%. When I was dragged away. As we experienced the sights I was subjected to Bombardier (very dull), Spitfire (average), and Landlord (not bad).

There's an oldish woman in the pub in fishnets who gets me singing the Arctic Monkey's 'Florescent Adolescent' in my head. Although I think she's out to prove the lyrics wrong, be a rascal, and get it in her fishnets rather than her nightdress. I was just pondering on whether she liked her 'gentlemen not to be gentle' when I realise that our discussion has turned around to vasectomies. How did we get here?

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Not Looking At All Promising

L's slipping a bit with her early starts as is the dog, who looks almost incapable of going out this morning. Still though L is up quite early and is even strong enough to resist an impressive attempt by my body to tempt her back to bed.

Take the bus today and soon get fed up with the girl behind me, who keeps disrupting my attempt to read the paper by being constantly on her mobile phone. First she rings a friend of hers, and then she rings her Mum. These people must be very understanding to be happy to take phone calls at 8am when I'm sure they've got better things to do. Her third call seems to get a frostier reception. Unfortunately I only get to hear her side of the conversation.

"Hello Babe, how are you?"
"Oh sorry I didn't mean to disturb you"
"Well I didn't know you'd got a day off today, why didn't you say?"
"Who's that there with you?"
"No, I definitely heard a voice, a girl's voice"
"Your Mum? I thought you said you were still in bed"
"Then what's your Mum doing in your bedroom?"

Oh dear.

L says someone had accidentally bolted the park gates from the inside and the staff couldn't get in this morning. That’s quite funny, even the staff are getting locked out the park now. Now they know how the rest of us feel.

Pub lunch. No chips, braised steak, mash and veggies + low alcohol beer Caythorpe 3.7%

While I've been languishing in the pub L's been for a swim in her lunch hour, which is impressive. The pool was packed and with swimmers, not walkers and talkers.

She warns me that she will eat the entire contents of the fridge tonight. I tell her that she better not and I threaten to tie her to her deckchair for her own safety.

The weather forecast is not looking at all promising for the weekend.

Squash gets cancelled; opponent is at home ill today. Bugger, that means I’ll have to run with my waster of a dog. That's 1-1 on cancellations. Looking forward to the decider next week. Best excuse wins. I must be ahead on points; a dodgy shoulder is a much better excuse than just plain boring 'ill'.

Get home and do a run in my new trainers. L takes Doggo for a walk so that I don't have the baggage with me. The new shoes don't feel quite right and I more or less decide to do the event in my old pair. Then half way through they seem to feel better, so now I'm not sure.

I have arranged to meet L and Doggo by the park gates so that we can have a couple of beers in the Rodney. Complete my run and they're not there so I do another small loop. Complete that and just as I'm about to go around again they appear. Relief, I can stop now.

Pint of Dr Someone's IPA 4.5%, a bit dodgy. Pint and a half of Landlord.

L tells me that her work colleague is upset that her daughter has split up from her boyfriend, whom she has been seeing for quite a few years. Her Daughter is 28 and she worries that her daughter will now be left on the shelf. Excuse me? She thinks that no one will want her and she won't be able to get herself man. At 28? What tosh. Unless she's really really ugly then they'll be queuing up for her. As I said to L I'd have her. I got a slap round the ears for that. Doggo gave me a sympathetic look. He gets lots of slaps round the ears.

Cook up a spicy Spam Madras for L and me.

Bedtime and L seems keen to make up for ignoring my body's request for attention this morning. Who am I to resist.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Wet Race Preparation

Living life on the edge I set off on my bike without a warm-up. Almost immediately I disrupt the dogs walk again.

All goes well, traffic apart. Wind not too bad. Nice weather, almost deckchair conditions. Nice view. All very pleasant. I do the whole ride in low gear as an experiment for Sunday. Did you know that, apparently regular cycling gives you the body of someone ten years younger, which could explain why teenagers aren't very keen on it.

I do have one problem which is with a woman in a VW Polo at the Asda roundabout. I take up my usual stance in the middle of the road, blocking the cars from passing me. I'm being assertive to make myself visible, like they tell you to do. This woman, and it's always the women, blows her horn at me to get out of her way. I turn round and give her my best icy glare. This further delay to her schedule seems to wind her up even more and I contemplate dawdling a while longer but think better of it. There's nothing worse than a women scorned, she might drive over the top of me. I pull out onto the roundabout and she roars past me on the inside. Another person in need of a life.

I having finally gotten around to analysing my Skipton results. The news I suppose is good. My analysis is a bit vague but including transition my swim improved by 2 minutes 18 seconds compared with Derby Tri last year. That's the benefit of front crawl over breaststroke. My run has also improved; I was 3 minutes 24 seconds faster at Skipton. In fact my run was only 15 seconds slower than my opening run at Clumber when I had fresh legs, although I was holding back a touch there. My bike was slower at Skipton but then it was hilly. Don't tell L but my target time for Sunday is approximately 01:39:30.

Seth Johnson issues an apology of sorts to the referee.

"He just got in the way didn't he?" said Johnson of his clash with the referee, "I played the ball, then went to make a run and he got in the way. I was on the verge of having a go at him but then realised he couldn't breathe. I didn't think there was anything to it but then I saw him and he was struggling to breathe. He's broken a couple of ribs. Hopefully, he'll be all right. A couple of broken ribs won't do him any harm."

He's all heart.

I have arranged to meet L for a swim after work and at 4.30 she emails to tell me it's throwing it down in Nottingham. I look out of my window. Bugger. It's raining here too. I hadn’t realised. It seems worse than it looks and I don’t really notice it once I’m powering along on the bike. It’s not in my face and it’s actually quite good fun. It's also useful practice in case it's a wet race on Sunday. In fact I start to think that I might even relish a wet event.

The only snag would be the cold, particularly as I've been allocated a 8.16 start time on Sunday. I discover that every time I freewheel my calves' cramp, I assume this is because of the cold and the damp. Best to keep pedalling.

I arrive at the pool five minutes early but L is not looking happy, apparently I should have been here at 5.45, I’m sure I said 6.15. I know I said I'd be a bit quicker if the wind was behind me but it would have had to have been a strong wind to make up half-an-hour.

I had actually been looking forward to my swim but once I'm in the pool I struggle a bit. Swimming is quite painful as I still have cramp in my calves from the bike. Whatever I do, I can’t seem to get them going. I struggle to 20-30 lengths before I call it a night. I tell L I’ll see her back at home.

All my cycling clothes are very wet, so I'm tempted to keep my swimming trunks on and put everything back on over the top but I have brought some dry stuff wrapped in a plastic bag, so I do kit out in dry stuff. Although it's unlikely to stay dry for long, once I get out in the rain. One thing I forgot though is underwear, so I'm naked under my Ron Hills. Good job I'm not going far, there's not much padding in a pair of Ron Hills.

I get home and as it's still raining heavily, so I decide it’s my turn to be the Good Samaritan and after changing into yet another dry pair of Ron Hills (still no underwear) I head back to rescue L from the elements.

Julia Bradbury, presenter of Wainwright's Walks and notorious for her legendary 20 hour Scafell Pike hike and for apparently not getting helicoptered off, also presents Watchdog with Nicky Campbell. A few weeks ago she was wearing a blouse with a letter N embroidered on one chest and a letter O on the other. I wondered whether this was a subliminal denial to the helicopter suggestion that we emailed to her. Well being a women, where No can mean Yes or any other response she wants it to, she's changed her mind. Tonight she has a Y on one chest and an S on the other, and an E woven down the front buttons. What's going on Julia? What are you trying to tell us?

Dog training goes well, Doggo shows a bit of motivation tonight. It’s his new squeaky ball that does it. Although it doesn't go down well with the rest of the class, he’s constantly being told to stop squeaking and/or stop barking.

There's also a slightly bizarre moment at dog class. At the stables where we train somebody has put a huge mirror on the wall of one of the horse stalls and the horse is stood in front of it all night, admiring itself.

Home to L, who seems to have perked up a little.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Taxi For The Old Folks

Back to work today and L is back into her 6am routine or she would have been had the alarm been moved back from its bank holiday mode.

Today is L birthday and I hand over the deckchair. She reckons today makes her middle aged. Which if she's correct is good news for me because I thought I became middle aged five years ago and I'm younger than she is.

I'm on the bus today because I'm on the beer and curry tonight. Yes I know it's L's birthday but I've been given special dispensation. At least I hope I have. Hope she meant it when she said ok. I did offer to reschedule and I should be back just after 9pm.

We meet the birthday girl and Doggo on our way to the bus stop. I get a good greeting from Doggo but I'm soon forgotten, as he continues with the job in hand, namely lots of weeing and sniffing.

Daughter's school is taking its SATS tests this week for its league table position; unfortunately they expect the children to help out by sitting the exam papers for them.

Daughter buys the DVD of a film called "The Holiday" for L. L describes it as lovely and cheesy. She says I'll hate it. Perhaps it’s a good job I'm out tonight.

Son will be delivering his present later on; he has this quirk where he likes to build the suspense and give out his presents at the end of the day. So L will have to wait to see what he's got for her.

Talking of Son. He has his last ever lesson at school this Friday before he starts his 'study leave' for his GCSE's. L warns me to expect an evening of 'My baby, I can remember him first starting school'. Perhaps it’s a good job I'm out tonight.

L's work colleagues have all signed and given her a Christmas card. She's chuffed; she doesn't like people going to a lot of trouble.

I meet some old school friends straight from work and it's a good night out. Two pints of Brunswick Triple Hop 4.0% and a Cobra in the Indian 5.0%. I have a healthy training-friendly Chicken Acharee curry, which is a dish with pickle in it, which I often cook at home.

It's good; it's almost as good as mine. Keema naan too. Well ok so perhaps it wasn't a healthy training-friendly meal after all but at least I got plenty of carbs.

I run for the 8.50 bus, not only because I'm worried it will leave early again but also because it's now chucking it down with rain.

I'm soaked by the time I get there and the bus is late. So at least I manage to catch it. One chap is complaining to the driver that the 8.20 didn't turned up. Ah another victim for Trent's indecipherable timetables. There is no 8.20, it's that confusing timetable, it catches everyone out, the 8.20 only runs on Fridays and Saturdays.

The chap should try working out what time the 07.35 bus out of Nottingham arrives at the QMC. Trent's bus times leaflet simply says that the bus stops at the QMC 7-10 mins after leaving Nottingham. A bit vague. The timetable on the bus stop is more decisive, saying it stops at 07.45, so you better hope it's not doing a 7 minuter or you'll miss it, it won't wait. However if you look at the councils new electronic timetable it has the bus down as 7.47, believe that and you're waiting for the next bus.

Text L. She offers to rescue me from the rain and pick me up from our wee spot. Treasure. She is there waiting for me when I alight the bus, although I feel a bit of a fraud because it's no longer raining.

In the end it's a good job that L's taxi service is in operation tonight as I'm not the old senior citizen who's in need of international rescue. A chap is struggling up Adams Hill, waving his umbrella as a distress signal. We take him to Farndon Green Post Office because he seems to think he lives somewhere around there but he's not sure, he can't remember the name of his road. Then he directs us down the wrong street, luckily a neighbour recognises him and guides him home. I have a lot of sympathy for him, that'll be me in a few years.

Get home. The deck chair has been constructed. Son has delivered his present, a Modest Mouse CD. L ventures into the loft to see if she can find any photos of Son's first day at school. Seems I've not missed the reminiscing after all. Unfortunately though we can't find any.

We have a glass of wine to toast L's birthday but she's a bit down. Seems Daughter has been the model Daughter and treated L to a DVD session and has cooked birthday cakes for her. Ah this is why we have a smokey kitchen, charred microwave and rock hard chocolate brownies. It'll be the job of Son and me to dispose of them, as L probably won't want any and Daughter shouldn't have any. To top it all it's a black week on the old hormonal calendar. So the birthday girl doesn't even get sex on her special day.