Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Another Dead Hamster, Almost

As I cycle in this morning I am surprised to see a runner coming towards me down the road between Risley and Borrowash. He's in the cycle lane and strangely he seems to expect me to get out of his way. Now if I saw some mad cyclist powering up the hill towards me, I'd be the one getting out of the way.

I have my new thermal flask with a coffee in it; it's not bad but not terribly hot. It also requires a different method to drink successfully from it; I poured my first few mouthfuls down my front.

For some unknown reason, I've signed up to the Shepshed Seven race on Sunday, that's seven as in miles not kilometres, regrettably. Today I had a browse down the entry list and cross-reference it with my list of 'friends'. One name sends a shiver down my spine, ‘that women’, the who wiped the floor with me at Ticknall, the one in purple, is in it. I had considered using a relaxed approach to prepare for the race and even have a few shandys on Saturday night but obviously now I’ve got to take it seriously.

L seems thrilled when I tell her; she says she'll look forward to the head-to-head racing, the tooth and nail stuff. I feel weak at the thought. I’ll need some serious TLC on Sunday afternoon.

L promises that she won't let ‘that women’ pet Doggo. She shouldn't let anybody pet him until she's asked them what their PB for 10K is, if it’s better than mine is, then they can go pet some other dog.

You have to be very careful whose dog you pet. Only this morning L said that Doggo had, what she describes as, an unprecedented growling session at a Yorkshire terrier, just because she petted it. She reckons he was jealous because he wishes he was a lap dog. Well firstly, Doggo practically lives the life of a lap dog anyway, so I can't see that's what he was complaining about. Secondly, had she considered that perhaps the owner had beaten me in something and Doggo had remember, or maybe the terrier did agility and had more rosettes than Doggo.

Virgin Wines deliver our new case of wine to work, not exactly fast, not exactly Wiggle. I also have no idea how I'm going to get them home on my bike. It'll have to stay here until I next come in the car, which will be Monday. Hope L doesn't drink us dry in the meantime. L suggests that I could put some in my drinks bottle. Now that would be interesting.

On my ride home, and no there is no wine in my drinks bottle, I'm bombing along Derby road, with this other chap, in the bus lane. We're not racing but you know... well we catch up with this teenager riding one of those diddy mountain bikes that are only big enough for eight year olds. His legs are whirring away like a hamster on its wheel. He's in the bus lane too, without lights, and he's zigzagging all over the place, desperately trying to become one very dead hamster. To be fair he's probably all over the place because his bike is so small that his knees are smacking him in the face as he rides. As the other chap goes past him, with a sudden lurch to the right, hamster boy almost takes both of them into the traffic in the next lane. I back off; it's not worth the hassle, I'll leave them to die alone.

I'm on Derby Road because I've abandoned the Ilkeston route now that it's dark in the evenings, there's too much fast scary traffic appearing out of the gloom that way. Also I think heading to John Carroll might be easier via the QMC roundabout rather than the evil Crown Island. I'm right, QMC is a doddle, but then I make the mistake of cutting back through to Ilkeston Road. A mistake because the road is closed. There's an awful lot of blood over the road and a car with a person shaped dint in its windscreen. There was that many police there, that it would have been a good time to commit a crime elsewhere. I managed to squeeze through.

It's very quiet at the pool and I get a lane to myself. In fact we almost all do, eight of us chaps to share the six lanes, oddly no women in the pool at all. I had to watch five minutes of boxercise to compensate.

It's Halloween tonight, I'd almost forgotten. Daughter has gone to guides on her own and L is a bit worried about her. Hmmm, would be embarrassing for her if she got mugged by a load of eight years olds in Harry Potter hats. Halloween is just not the same these days. When I was a kid it was actually quite scary to be out and about. In those days people were out door knocking, chucking things at windows, playing pranks, and the like. Generally trying to spook you. In a way Halloween was for big kids but nowadays its big business, has gone all Americanised and the little kids have taken over. You get loads of them dressing up in lurid costumes out trick or treating, all with their mums in tow. Not exactly scary. I blame Steven Spielberg. I'm sure it was ET in 1982, where Elliot and co dressed up on Halloween, which first alerted us to this American tradition. Although that's probably not strictly true, we’d seen trick or treating before that in John Carpenter's film Halloween, where Michael Myers escapes from a Mental Institution and terrorises everyone. That film however had the opposite effect, making you want to stay in on Halloween night.

I'm starving when I get home and pig out on loads of bread and soup. Then I take Doggo to class, which goes well until he gets creased and bored, at which point he decides to down tools. Which means he ends up back in the car, although perhaps that's what he wanted.

Back home L is creased too, too much running, swimming and yoga. So I snuggle up with Rae Earl instead. Why would anyone want to call themselves Rae? It seems a common choice these days; does it mean they all wished they'd been born a man? What's wrong with being called Rachel, or Rach?

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Getting Rather Broody

I spend probably too long limbering up for my bike ride this morning, but L seems very insistent that I do so and I don't like to argue. So I'm a bit late leaving and have a bit of time to make up. L takes Doggo out on the paper round.

A lycra clad blonde babe gives me a smile and a cheery wave as she passes, eyeballs out, in the opposite direction. I couldn't help but slow down to get a better look. Phoarr, that is seriously sexy, no not the girl, well not just the girl, the bike, I'm sure that was a carbon frame Trek she'd got between her thighs. Gorgeous. Bet she'd got a compact chainset too, probably full Dura Ace. I'm afraid I'm getting rather broody. I think I'm taking this cycling too seriously.

Son's started doing archery at college. This is their enforced 'enrichment'. L is hoping it's going to enrich all our lives and this will the 'thing' he was born to do. She's really looking forward to a day out in London in 2012, watching him take on the world. I hope she's not getting her hopes up too high.

He had his first session last night, so it must be indoors, unless they've been shooting arrows in the dark, which doesn't bare thinking about. L's surprised it's happening after college and not during one of his multitude of 'free' periods. She doesn't realise how intense college life is, he doesn’t have ‘free' periods he has 'study' periods. It's not a life of Riley being a student you know.

Wiggle deliver again, this time my thermal bottle and overshoes, which are like galoshes. Will L still fancy me in rubber boots? Hmmm, they're not exactly sexy.

L confesses that she's been eyeing up the blokes again, apparently to check out their rucksacks. I hope I've got that right. She says she saw one and liked the way it sat around his waist. I assume she's looking to buy one for running. I'll show her mine later.

I cycle home without any mishaps and then go out for a run with my reluctant dog. I fancy the long route around the university but I let him choose the run tonight. Naturally he heads straight for the park, which is locked of course, and I have to steer him towards the pond instead. It's probably for the best that we’re not doing the long haul round the university; I have the possibly of another two bikes, a swim and a squash match coming up this week before my race on Sunday.

L's out, having an evening of gossip followed by a Broadway Bite, without me. She doesn't seem to be looking forward to it that much; says she often can't get a word in edgeways. She reckons she'd rather be running, even with Doggo. Now that is pushing it. Well if all else fails she could always sit there with her Ipod on.

When L gets home she looks quite high, yet she's not been on the alcohol, she's been on the herb teas. Obviously dangerous stuff. I wonder if she's inebriated enough to be taken advantage of. Yep, thought so.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Artistic Integrity

As usual on Monday I take the car in.

Derby County announce that they have a new Executive Chairman. Adam Pearson joins the board and replaces Peter Gadsby. His job will to try and attract people to invest in the club. Good luck, he’ll need it.

L is still working her way through War and Peace and summarising it for me. In her latest précis it’s finally starting to liven up a bit. Mainly due to the men having women trouble of course. Although L reckons it’s down to the men being silly and childish, fighting over the women. Well yes, isn’t that the way it’s always been. She’s under pressure to keep reading, as we have the play booked for February. It’s a bit like having the pressure of a blog to update.

I'm still confident that I’ll be able to précis her précis down to around one hundred words and have it on the back of my "I’ve Read War And Peace" t-shirt.

L’s decided to skip her psycho gym circuits session tonight because Daughter has homework to get in. Instead she’s going to do a dog free run while Doggo is out at training. She’s going to go round one of our old training routes to see if she can manage a 10K. I’m sure she’ll miss Doggo’s help.

Post run she aches but seems pretty smug about it. All she needs now is a good warm down.

Dog class goes well, although it’s all rather dull, we're training specific things tonight and we don’t get a blast round a course. Get home and L has done posh fish and chips. Sea Bass and chunky chips. We live in style.

Someone has put something called an ‘anti-dullness foaming gel’ in the bathroom; which sounds like something out of Harry Potter, a personality changing potion or something.

As I’m minding my own business, trying to update this blog, Daughter interrupts and hands me a contract. Luckily it’s almost illegible, so I can honestly say I haven’t read it but I assume it concerns what I can and cannot put on this blog. That would of course compromise my artistic integrity; I’m having none of that. I consider signing it ‘Mickey Mouse’ but she whisks it away before I get chance and then oddly tries to eat it. The lesson is of course, don't let your Daughter read your blog.

Started a new book tonight, Daughter's mad person’s diary thing. 'My Fat Mad Teenage Diary' by Rae Earl. Very enlightening. The year is 1989 and the period detail brings back memories. The author is seventeen in 1989, I’d be twenty one and apparently all the girls were gagging for it. Well that wasn’t the impression they gave as far as I can recall, if only they’d been more upfront about it. As for the goings on in the car parks, well Stamford was obviously the place to be. One things for sure I can sleep well at nights now knowing that whatever I blog about, it can’t possibly be a bad influence on Daughter when she reading stuff like this. I look forward to picking it up again tomorrow.



Rae Earl has done rather well for herself, a former presenter on Ram FM, where edited extracts of her diaries were first broadcast, she now presents the Breakfast Show on Leicester Sound with her co-presenter and husband Kevin Johnson.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Don't Talk To Strangers

It's early, despite the extra hour with the clocks having gone forward and I’m knackered. L obviously isn’t but I’m not one for fighting her off.

I get up and do some training for next Sunday’s Shepshed race. Surprisingly Doggo seems keen to join me. We do our usual route; we are creatures of habit. I think he's relieved to get a rest when we see someone we know and stand chatting for five minutes or so. He lays down, a heaving mass in the long grass. The run goes well, for both of us. We don’t see many other dogs and he runs by my side for quite a stretch.

I head off to Derby for the match and drop L and Daughter in Derby at the same time. They check out the new shopping centre but don't stick it for long, retreating to the tranquillity of Sadler Gate.

Today's match preview says that Everton deserve a break after being victims of some strange refereeing decisions last week. They should count themselves lucky, we were victims of some strange management decisions last week, and there's more today. If the aim was to score goals we'd have started the game with more than one striker on the pitch. Not until there's half-an-hour to go do we finally get to see the invisible man unwrap his bandages and finally make an appearance. At last the Miller/Earnshaw combination that everyone wants to see. Well, for all of three minutes before Howard comes on as well and Miller is moved onto the wing, so we're still none the wiser.

Overall it's a poor, error-strewn performance and Everton win at a canter 2-0. Some natives are calling for a new manager; a popular choice is Graeme Souness. Which shows what little people know, what's he ever achieved as a manager? People can't complain, everyone put up with our great leader's tactics last season because we were thrashing teams 1-0 despite often being played off the park. Unfortunately you can't bore teams into submission in this division. In my opinion, Billy Davies got us into this mess by getting us promoted, so he can sort it out.

We spend the evening in the company of my favourite author Ian McEwan. I haven't read any of his books but I'm working my way through all the films. We watch the Comfort of Strangers on DVD. L thinks we've seen it before and she may be right but I don't have a memory for these things. Harold Pinter also had a hand in it, so you know it's going to be extra weird.

A thirty something not-so-happy couple called Colin and Mary (Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett) return to Venice, the scene of a previous holiday, seemingly to decide whether or not to continue their relationship. The obvious answer seems to be a very definite no. They must annoy each other because they both annoy me. Neither can seem to summon up much interest in the other, yet Mary seems to want Colin to propose to her or at least move in with her.

Then they meet the local psychopath, a bar owner named Robert, played by Christopher Walken. Walken is, as ever, excellent. They are strangely drawn to him and to his equally strange wife, Caroline, played by Helen Mirren, who seem to have an unnaturally intense interest in them and whose marriage seems to be a perverted mixture of violence and lust.

Colin and Mary are appalled by all this but at the same time are still drawn to it. In fact it seems to stimulate them. Suddenly, as Colin and Mary continue their holiday, they find that their interest in each other has been rekindled. In fact they seem to be constantly making love. Energized by this, Colin finally feels ready to commit himself to Mary but she feels energized too and brushes his offer aside. It no longer seems to be enough for her.

Then there’s the ending, almost straight out of Eastern Promises, where Colin becomes the victim in Robert and Caroline's perverse game.

One message to take from the film is to do what your mother always told you and ‘Don't talk to strangers’.

L’s watched the whole thing in her French knickers. She knows what I’ll think she’s after in that sort of outfit. I take her to bed to talk psychopaths.

I've been taking this relaxing the units idea a bit too seriously. 39 of them this week.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Babes On Motorcycles

A nice lie-in today with all the trimmings and enough time for pudding. When we finally get up, I take Doggo on park with his ball.

L is broke, so I offer to take Daughter to the cinema this afternoon and then take L tonight. Daughter and I go see Ratatouille, while L meets a friend for a run. We’re at the Savoy which certainly isn’t Broadway; this is fidget central and the venue for the 'who can make the most noise with a carton of popcorn competition'. The two girls next to me, both well into their teens, easily out do the five year olds with their eating habits. Far messier than Doggo and Daughter put together. When one of the girls stands up at the end of the film the two rows in front of her are almost swept away in an avalanche of popcorn crumbs.

The film itself is your everyday tale of boy meets rat, becomes world-renowned chef, as you do. The boy, Linguini, inherits the restaurant of the famous Gusteau, whose motto was ‘anyone can cook’ but the boy can't. Luckily for him the rat can.



The boy/rat combination impresses everyone, especially the kitchen's sole female chef, the scary knife wielding Colette, who whisks him away on her motorcycle. Fair enough, you're not going to resist a leather clad leggy French babe astride a motorcycle now are you but this doesn't impress the rat and it nearly all goes pear shaped. Particularly when Peter O'Toole shows up as the restaurant critic from the Grim Eater but the rat and his friends save the day and impress him with the rat’s signature dish of, yep you guessed it, Ratatouille. Although I wouldn't have been terribly impressed if they'd made we wait as long for the food as they did the critic.



The film is entertaining but spoilt by the usual American moralising, don’t steal, don’t do that, don’t do this etc. That apart the film is occasionally funny, occasionally clever, and anything that sees a character voiced by Jamie Oliver getting bound, gagged, and chucked in a storeroom, must have something going for it.

In the evening we decide not to find out why Lisa is on sex strike at the Lakeside Arts Centre and head off to Broadway instead, where we can get a whole meal for the price of a glass of wine at Lakeside. We use our new City Card's, which work well and get us a free trip into town. The food is Thai Beef Red Curry, the beer Nottingham’s Jo & Twiggy’s and Elsie Mo.

Tonight we see David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises which was shot exclusively in London. A pregnant 14-year old Russian girl arrives in A&E, haemorrhaging badly and with needle marks on her arms. The girl dies but the baby survives, Nurse Anna (Naomi Watts) is left holding the baby along with the girl's diary, which contains some very sensitive information, and a business card for a Russian restaurant. Anna attempts to have the diary translated in order to identify the girl's family. Watts, my second babe on a motorcycle in the space of just a few hours, and in a nice pair of boots, also goes to the restaurant but in doing so, she becomes embroiled in the dark world of the Russian Mafia, who want the diary back.



Viggo Mortensen, who plays Nikolai, the 'driver' to the mob, is outstanding. Nikolai is seemingly the cool, calculating part of the 'family' compared with the blundering son Kirill.



Cronenberg's mixes in his usual dollop of violence and treats us to two cut throats and an eye gouging, that oddly left most of the cinema in raptures of laughter. Mortensen performs the fight screen that leads to the eye gouging in a steam bath completely nude.

An excellent film with a good twist at the end.

Afterwards we walk up to the Ropewalk. Where I have another couple of beers but L can't manage her wine. She says she's feeling rough. She promises to faint on me but doesn’t deliver.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Is She Trying To Kill Me?

A pleasant ride in, although the weather is definitely dropping colder. I could have done with the thermal drinks bottle that I ordered the other night from Wiggle, with a strong coffee in it.

A decade or so ago you would have said that the fact it’s cold in October is a sign of a severe winter on the way but these days you just know that this will be about as cold as it gets. Shame, I like the cold.

Daughter is up bright and early. I know this because she’s started emailing me already. One of her emails refers to me as 'blog boy' so I call her 'gym bunny'. This could get petty.

L sends me an email about the Pennine World Extreme Trail Duathlon Championships. The first thing I notice is that the word ‘world’ is a bit misleading, as it’s in Glossop. Not terribly glamorous. Secondly it’s a bit on the long side. It’s a 100 mile bike which isn’t too daunting until you realise that it’s sandwiched between two full marathons and it’s all off road. In the two years since its inception only one person has ever finished it. Most of them seem to give up after taking over six hours for the first marathon. So perhaps not this year. L says she saw it and thought of me. I think she’s trying to kill me, I shouldn’t have told her about the life insurance.

She does however tell me to cycle home safely but I have to anyway as I’m carrying her new goggles that Wiggle have delivered.

When I get home (safely) L has cooked stilton topped muffins to refuel me, so she does love me after all, and there are quite a lot of them. After scoffing far too many I can barely get out of my lyrca, let alone contemplate a run to the pub. Yet this is what we have planned. It’s hard carrying around the excess weight, so it’s probably a good job we have to stop part way to do some fire fighting. Someone has being trying to set fire to one of the litter bins on the University campus. L resourcefully fills one of Doggo’s ‘poo’ bags with water and we extinguish it. Having done our bit for society we carry on our way.

At the pub I have St Austell Tribute & Three stouts and then home.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Dark Side Of The Family

L goes to work early and leaves me with Doggo. He's very lively, socks everywhere. Not my socks thankfully this time. I don't mind him having my socks but he doesn't keep them together. I keep ending up with odd socks.

I'm driving, so I leave just before 8.00 and arrive at work just after 20 past, no traffic again.

L is convinced that Daughter is crossing over to the dark side of the family where my genes reside, with jokes like this old chestnut (see here). She keeps pulling them off the internet, just like you would a piece of school homework.

L says her head is spinning but I'm not sure if this is because of work, she's had problems with belligerent old men and part time staff, or Daughter's jokes. I’m tempted to tell Daughter to keep sending them because if L needs de-stressing again, I’m her man. Always up for a challenge and I'm quite taken with her de-stressing technique.

Daughter jokes now start arriving in my inbox, some of them are actually quite funny, apart from the 'geeky' computer ones she seems to think are appropriate for me.

Son has left the house again, to meet a friend in town. I thought perhaps he'd got a hot date and asked L whether she could smell any after-shave on him. Sadly not, must be gaming related then.

Pub. Giant Yorkshire and Irish stew. Beer from a new brewery in Burton, that I can't recall. My memory really is going, must be my age.

L has booked a step class, except it's not a step class because the teacher is injured, so she's told it's going to be ordinary aerobics instead. In the end she decides not to bother and says she's going to run with the hairball instead. That'll be stressful too, particularly as she's not speaking to him. I'm not sure there's going to be enough red wine in the house. Luckily I did put an order in for some more last night but it won't arrive for a day or two. Unfortunately Wiggle don't do wine.

My squash opponent says he feels worse than normal, his partner has kindly given him her cold. He reckons he might fall asleep on the court, which might give me a chance. As it happens it appears to be me that's asleep, in fact I'm not sure what planet I'm on for the first two games. My legs are stiff but I don't try and move them. I keep missing the ball and when I do connect with it, it goes in the wrong direction. I get slaughtered and go 2-0 down. At which point he seems to drop his guard, my game suddenly comes together and I come roaring back to 2-2. Having peaked I then lose a tight decider. We play two more games, it finishes up 4-3 to him.

Oldershaws beer in the pub. See I remembered that one. Rather nice too. Then Belgian Porter and something that resembles a sherry at home. We go to bed and in the words of Daughters joke,

'Lost at squash. Gutted. Got a shag though.'

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

An Innocent Bath

Alarm goes. Legs feel ok, so bike it is. I grab a warm-up and get my kit on.

The ride in goes well, as its half term all the tanks are currently off the road, which makes it infinitely more pleasant. Then again anything would have felt good after the hell of Ticknall. It was a tad nippy, thicker gloves are becoming number one priority I think. I refuel at work. I have some porridge, one of those exorbitantly expensive Dorset cereal bars and a glass of mango.

L says she can't bring herself to type good morning which isn't a good start. I tentatively enquire as to how it went with Doggo this morning and which lamppost she's strapped him to, just in case I need to go and rescue him. Turns out she did bring him home and now she's left him with Daughter and the TV. Not sure if that's meant as a punishment for Doggo or for Daughter?

She says she's cheering herself up with one of her Death Proof CDs of which she has two, thanks to the Royal Mail. They seem to have lost multiple things during the postal strike and now replacements have been ordered, things are turning up in pairs. All the retailers will put claims in with the post office, so it's going to cost the Post Office a fortune and presumably next years pay rise. I can feel another strike coming on. She describes the CD as very jolly. Which could mean almost anything. She describes Ian Curtis is jolly.

L's not working late tonight and should be home when I roll in, in my lycra. So I could head straight home and let her help me with a warm-down. Which is just the inspiration I need to set a new PB. Problem is I’d have to skip my swim as she’s going out again at 7.30 to yoga. Life is just one big decision.

L says I must swim; I must think 'Vitruvian'. Hmmm. I’d rather not think ‘1.9km swim’ thank you very much. My adventurous streak is still up in those foggy Ticknall hills, still pedalling away.

So I cycle to the pool and then realise I’ve left my lock at work. Bugger. I cycle to home and borrow Son’s, then I cycle back to the pool. I have a good swim, it’s not too busy, three people in my lane. They are psychos but nothing compared with those hardened types at Ticknall, I would hate to end up in the pool with them.

L goes to yoga and I drop Daughter there on my way to dog training. When L’s finished they’re going to do a gym session. Quite a pair of fitness freaks.

There are only four of us at the 'train your own' session. Excellent, lots of time on the equipment. Doggo downs tools after half an hour or so, totally creased.

L proposes bath and wine, rather than food. I don’t have a problem with that. Almost as soon as we've settled in the bath, Daughter bangs on the door and tells me not to blog this. Blog what? We're only having a bath. We may have misbehaved in the bath in the past but we were young and impetuous then. Anyhow it's much more fun in the shower.

We retire to the bedroom. L is very unbloggable. Two glasses of Rose.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Forgetting To Play Hard To Get

I'm on the bus again today as I'm out in Derby tonight. My legs are recovering, I could at a push have managed to cycle today, probably would have needed a thorough warm-up though. In fact L offers in no uncertain terms but I'm afraid I just don't have time.

Overheard a tennis joke on the bus. Why does the Women's Champion at Wimbledon kiss the turf after the match... hmmm, no, we won't go there.

At work, I fear the worst when the first email of the day is entitled 'Your Dog'. What trouble has he got me into now? Apparently he abandoned L this morning and legged it after a Belgian Shepherd. He isn’t terribly keen on Belgian Shepherd’s. She had to leg it after him. Well at least I suppose she got a good workout. Although now she's threatening him with the pet crematorium.

How refreshing. Lewis Hamilton who lost the F1 World Championship by one point on Sunday has announced that he is unhappy that his team, McLaren, are to challenge the result, after fuel irregularities by other teams went unpunished. He says, "I want to win it on the track. I want to do it in style; I want to win the race or be battling it out for the lead. Being promoted after other people have been thrown out is not the way I want to do it."

L keeps sending me snippets from the newspapers. She must be having a quiet workday. It's all gossip not news but then I suppose that's all they print these days. Unfortunately she starting to sound like Daughter, our regular Gossip Central.

After work I meet my friend from school in the Brunswick, where we have a couple of Railway Porters. Then we head into town for something to eat. On the way we pass Zanzibar, Derby’s premier nightclub, ahem. There are two huge queues stretching along the pavement in both directions. One queue is exclusively male, a collage of tracksuits, baseball caps, drongo trousers and an awful lot of slouching. In the other direction it's exclusively female, mainly bare flesh with a few bits of thin fabric draped randomly over their bodies, everything hanging out. Nothing over 15 in either direction, it must be a under 18's night. These two conflicting worlds will collide somewhere inside, like a car crash.

It almost brings back memories of where we’re going. Round the corner on Babington Lane, it’s the former Tiffany’s nightclub; no I’m not THAT old. Formerly Confetti’s, in my era, then Ritzy, then Eclipse, then McClusky’s now it’s a Chinese Buffet Bar. Yep believe it because it’s true.

I used to go to Confetti's on Club 16-20 nights, now they seem to be doing the same at Zanzibar but for even younger folks, not that we used to take any notice of the having to be 16 rule.

We enter the place and it's barely changed, the old bar on the right is still there. The balcony up top left where I chatted a girl up on my first ever night there is still there. My quest was spectacularly unsuccessful by the way. One of my mates did get off with someone and we all had to come back every week just so that he could see her.

The bar on the left is still there but now it's adorned with plates of egg foo yung and bowls of prawn crackers. The dance floor is in the same place. Just over there is the spot where one of my mates started a bit of trouble, a punch was thrown, he ducked, and another of my mates was sent spinning across the dance floor, wondering what had happened. Happy days, kind of. Now it’s as much as you can eat for £9 and it’s not even very good. It was always an awful nightclub but it's sad that it’s come to this.

I get the 8.50 Red Arrow home, which leaves, as is tradition, at 8.47. No doubt more lost revenue and pissed off customers for Trent Buses.

Get home. L and Doggo have been out running with Daughter. Blimey the whole family's going fitness mad, well not the WHOLE family of course, apologies to Son.

L orders me to bed. After I've been taken advantage of she tells me that she was stressed and didn't want to talk or be nice to me. She just wanted the sex. If only she'd have said I'd have played hard to get.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Alcohol Units, You're History

Get up; well I try to. My legs are indescribable but I put a brave face on it. I’m in the car, which is a good job really; it might have taken me ages to walk to the bus. The journey is ok, it is half-term after all. That is until I reached Pride Park where the builders have conveniently blocked all the roads with their diggers and lorries; preventing everyone getting into work.

The big big news at home is that Son has finally blown the dust off the wrapper and opened his new toothbrush. He even remembered what to do with it, I think. As you can probably tell, he's at the dentist today. In fact the dentist seemed very impressed and even told him off for brushing his teeth too aggressively. How surreal. I suppose he may have brushed them aggressively this morning in a fit of panic at the impending check up but I doubt it. To my knowledge, he's never done anything aggressively in his life. The fact that he's been given the all clear means that’s the end of him brushing his teeth again for another year. Perhaps I’ll stop bothering too; it seems to be the way to go.

Daughter claims to have had bad dreams last night and blames us for forcing her to listen to Joy Division. I don't think she realises that you’re SUPPOSED to have bad dreams after listening to Joy Division. That's the whole point. L thinks it was more likely our dancing that did it. Hmmm, I thought our dancing was excellent. Doggo was a bit out of step but we were good.

Today's current affairs topic concerns the fact that it's been revealed that the current guidelines on safe alcohol consumption were 'plucked out of the air' and not based on any scientific evidence whatsoever. This concerns the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units for men and 14 for women, which were introduced in 1987. In fact subsequent studies have found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week have the lowest mortality rate of anyone. What's more, a man would have to drink a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller. Of course the Government never bothered to tell us any of this. So perhaps I should stop recording how many units I drink in this blog. I shall decide over a celebratory beer tonight.

After work its dog class, which again goes well. I can't help thinking the continued absence of the Weimaraner helps. Then we collect L from yoga.

L's left a beef casserole bubbling away in the oven. It's flavoured with beer, honey and mustard. It's excellent.

It's a bit of a surprise when L announces at 10.30 that she will have half an hour with Leo and then I'm all hers. I'm surprised because after her two gym classes, she did circuits before yoga, she's not usually up for it on a Monday. As it turns out, I'm right but it's not just me who misses out, Leo doesn't even get ten minutes.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Settling Old Scores; Discovering New Ones

It's just after 6am and the temperature is a chilly 1.5 degrees. This fact makes me realise that my intended kit is going to be totally inappropriate for the Duathlon today. I need long trousers so it's going to have to be my Ron Hills but also I'll need long sleeves and my dry-flo is in the wash and still wet. L saves the day and lends me one of her long sleeve tops. So I'm wearing her clothes now, freaky, it's a slippery slope from here, just ask your local tennis coach.

As we drive to Ticknall the car tells me that the outside temperature is now doing the impossible and slowly slipping lower. It's October for Christ's sake and this is globally warmed Britain, what's going on. It's -0.5 by the time we arrive and it's very very foggy. This is going to be fun, not.

They line us up at the start in picturesque Calke Abbey; well it would be picturesque if you could see anything through the fog. I'm surrounded by the biggest bunch of psychos that I've mixed it with, well since the Spring Tri in May. (Review here). The words 'out' and 'depth' spring to mind. Doing the Spring Tri got me £2 off this race, a cruel cruel trick that got me here. It does give me a chance to settle a few scores because I have recognised a few names on the start list. Most notable of which is the Dirty Blonde. She's the one who had the audacity to pass me on the bike, which is unforgivable and I haven't. Although the 'unforgiven' is now becoming quite a long list. She's top of the list though because she had the nerve to refuse to be chased down on the run and even opened up a sprint at the last moment. We dead heated but they gave the higher position to her. Not that I remember these things or hold a grudge.

I also notice from the start list, that only two people are here who did Sutton Bonington last week. So I don't know how the rest of them can call themselves athletes. Part timers or what?

They set us off on the 6km run through the grounds of the abbey. The fog has lifted a little and it's all very pretty. Low-lying fog covers the grass, the sun is slowly breaking through the gloom and there's the gentle sound of a collie having a barking fit in the background. That couldn't possibly be my mutinous former training partner could it?

What ruins it, apart from the maniacal barking, is the fact that's there's a race on and bloody hell it's fast. If I mention that I'm following my usual tactics of settling in behind a lycra clad blonde with a ponytail, L will give me grief and call me perverse. So I won't mention it. In any case it's not easy to settle in behind her because firstly she's not hanging about and secondly there appears to be a waiting list, as many others appear to have the same idea.

The run goes well; I'm still alive. Thankfully the pace did ease off a touch, eventually. I even get into transition ahead of my ponytailed pacemaker, just to prove to L that I can vary my tactics. I wave at my support team, my father who is trying his best to cause pileups, L who's spitting at the wrong blonde and Doggo who I think is having a seizure.

Quickly, ish, I'm away on the 30km bike and I see the Dirty Blonde just finishing her run. Ha, she's history, I hope. I rocket away on my bike or rather I rocket about ten metres before the road starts going up hill. Bloody hell it's hilly. I soon find out that there's not a single metre of flat on the course it's all either uphill or downhill. It's also so foggy that I expect the police to be pulling us all over for not having lights because seriously you would not normally have gone out on your bike, in such dense fog without lights. Well to be honest you wouldn't have gone out on your bike at all, you'd have stayed in with your tennis coach.

I quickly catch and pass a chap but then he has the nerve to come back past me. We have a little battle for a while and it becomes my personal quest to stay ahead of him. Then there's a flash of purple as my ponytailed pacemaker comes past me too. I wondered what happened to her. She disappears into the gloom; the fog is so bad that if you wanted to tail a nice piece of lycra you'd just about have to have your nose on their rear wheel. Thankfully I manage to battle back up to her and re-pass her too but now I've got to battle to stay ahead of two of them. At least there's no sign of the Dirty Blonde.

I pass a very posh looking pair of sunglasses on the floor, Oakley's perhaps. I consider going back to pick them up it would have cost me a few places but they did look a lot better than mine. I resist.

Three quarters of the way around it all goes terribly wrong. I hit the wall, have the bonk, the whole caboodle. My pacemaker and about two hundred and fifty others go past me. Surely I'm last now. Well apart from that chap who still hasn’t come past me, he must have come off, and the Dirty Blonde, she must have retired. Relax. Chill out. L would say 'look at the view', well the fog. I free wheel a little, until I start rolling backwards, then I have a long drink. I try and summon up divine intervention but Tim Don isn't listening. Then I start pedalling again and things soon seem to come back together but my ponytailed pacemaker is long gone.

Soon I'm up the final climb back to transition. Why is the last bit always uphill? Then I'm off on the final 4.4km run which is not as off-road as they gave the impression it would be. It's a run up the road and then back across the fields. I take my gloves off because they're a revolting mixture of sweat and ahem, sorry, snot, not pleasant. Then I put them back on again because it's still bloody cold.

I give up all hope of catching anyone and instead concentrate on holding my position, as it appears I am not last after all. A chap starts to close on me from behind which means I have to find an extra gear to stay ahead of him. Thankfully I hold him off and stagger across the line, where I am reunited with my loving partner, my mental dog and my father, who hopefully hasn't got in the way too much. Job done in 1:52:41.

The organisers provide sausage sandwiches, albeit it on thin white bread and also hot tea and coffee. Note to posh coffee houses - HOT TEA AND COFFEE. There are also some fabulously expensive prizes donated my Skinfit. Not that I get one, although my pacemaker does. I don’t even get my £2 back.

I see the Dirty Blonde skulk off home early, again, presumably distraught that I put in her place by nearly two minutes. So not quite a thrashing then. Her place on my hit list usurped by a younger fitter rival.

I end up 29th out of 51, which isn't too bad at all. 25:57 for the first run (good), 1:06:29 for the bike (not bad) and 0:20:15 (appalling but I was a touch tired by then).

Post race we go round to collect my Mum, where Doggo has a ball session that he'll regret later. Then we go for Sunday lunch at the New Inn in Shardlow. Somewhere I haven't been for about fifteen years. The Hoppy Days ale from the Derby Brewery is excellent.

Back home, L looks more tired than I do but Doggo looks worse than both of us put together. So it seems only fair to offer them both a lie down in the bedroom. Turns out that L isn’t as tired as she looks.

In the evening, we go off to 'celebrate'. Doggo manages to drag his paws off the bed and down to the Plough. We hoped that they might have some of the specials that they'd brewed for the beer festival on sale but it's no surprise that they don't. So it's three Supremes 5.2% instead and some Rose back at home.

I try and depress L with some Joy Division but she thinks it's rather uplifting. So I try some Fields Of The Nephilim which she doesn't think is down beat either. I'll book her in for her Ticknall next year, that'll depress her.

28 Units

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Another Night On The Mango

A lie in of sorts this morning. The pillow talk from L concerns tennis coaching. Very perverse of her. I reprimand her for her audacity and make sure she stays behind for extra tuition.

Once up, I head into town to the opticians (again) and to do some ‘smalls’ shopping. I return home to collect L to go to farm shop and then we drive Daughter over to Derby.

Back home I take Doggo on the park, plugged into my radio listening to Derby slaughter Fulham 0-0. Fulham have a man sent off, so against 10 men, the second half is really a pivotal moment of our season but Derby again fail to score, again Earnshaw fails to get on the pitch. It’s a point that takes us off the bottom of the table and bizarrely leaves us only one win away from the dizzy heights of 13th and that cherished mid-table obscurity. Thankfully the standard of the other teams in the supposed 'best league in the world' is very low.

We're back at Broadway again tonight and it's another AF night on the mango juice. This time though, I'm on the pints and the coffee, barely warm of course. The food tonight is a chicken dish with a confusing name that I can't recall. The film we see is called Fälscher, Die or The Counterfeiters, a German film. It's a true story based on a book by Adolf Burger, who is one of the members of the counterfeiting team and is featured in the film.

Salomon is a master criminal, a counterfeiter, and a Jew, living the life of Riley in 1930's Berlin, until he finally gets busted by the German police. He is imprisoned and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Having been to Mauthausen, I can vouch that the film was actually filmed there. The place is exactly how I remember it. He manages to secure a few privileges for himself by showing off his skills as an artist. When he is transferred to Sachsenhausen, (also been there, sorry to name drop) he is reunited with the detective who arrested him, who is now in the SS. He is put to work supervising a team of artists, forgers and printers, who have been assembled to produce counterfeit pounds and dollars to undermine the enemy's economies. If they fail, they will almost certainly be put to death but if they succeed the result could well be the same, as once the currencies have been reproduced, they will be surplus to requirements.



Only one man, Berger, seems to see the wider picture. He struggles with his conscience, concerned that while they are keeping themselves alive they are condemning others to death as they aid the German war effort.



The entire film was gripping from the start. It cleverly portrays concentration camp life without resorting to the usual horrific scenes, which have been done so many times before. Instead, it is all shown from the angle of the privileged lifestyle enjoyed by the counterfeiters. Excellent camera-work, excellent acting. Totally engaging. Thoroughly recommend it.

Friday, 19 October 2007

A Touch Of The Percy Thrower's

Start the day with L's harvesting on my mind. That as well as planting, sowing and other things Percy Thrower-ish. Sort of.

Once at work, L reports in that she's had a cracking morning run around the pond and park, for her. She says she can even sit down after it. Which implies that she's not been able to on previous occasions but has omitted to tell me this fact. She says Doggo enjoyed it too. I'm not sure he would have done so had I taken him running. He does seem to take after L's side of the family, preferring the more sedate workout that she gives him compared with what he gets from me.

L has the Vitruvian in mind and says this is spurring her on. That’s more or less what I was thinking of during my work out this morning. Not that I would consider the thought of an open water swim as something to inspire me, drowning is certainly no turn on.

Today's news is that tennis coach, Claire Lyte, has been found guilty of conducting a sexual relationship with one of her female students. Which is horrifying enough but what I also find appalling is that the mother, who discovered them together, waited ten months before reporting the incident. She even took her daughter back to the tennis academy where she let Lyte continue to coach her and at the same time presumably turned a blind eye to them continuing their relationship. All because, I imagine, that if her Daughter made it in the tennis world and became a professional, it would have all been worth it. Only after a particularly disappointing tournament, at which point she must have realised that her Daughter was not going to be good enough to make a career out of tennis, did she report the situation to the police. Tellingly the mother, was not in court to hear the verdict.

After work I head to the Nottingham Beer Festival. L and I had planned to go there straight from work but it's a bit of a mess up because she has worked so much overtime that she's got the afternoon off. She also doesn't appear keen, touch of deja vu, it's almost like last Friday.

At the beer festival I have four halves of something dark and a half of Kimberley Classic that five local breweries are trying to recreate. So it seems it wasn't only us who rated Classic as probably Hardy's and Hanson's best beer. The festival isn't one of the better ones, they have small amounts of too many beers, which means the beers are always changing and it's so hard to get what you want. It's like going to the cinema and finding they've changed all the films without telling you. It's also incredibly packed even at 6.30 and there's a band blasting your ears out in one of the rooms. It never used to be like this. It's no coincidence that the quiet room where food is being sold becomes a bolt hole for many people which means there's nowhere for the people buying food to go. We stay a few hours and then head for home. Quite a low alcohol night really.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The 'Obesogenic' Society

Nothing for my gossip column from the bus this morning I’m afraid. The motor mouth girl with the mobile was chatting about her usual inane stuff but it was nothing really worth blogging about.

It’s not gossip but its been all over the news again this week. The 'O' word. This time though, they say its all society's fault and not the individual’s, just a consequence of modern life. Everyone is spending too long sat in front of computers and TV screens, driving everywhere and eating totally the wrong kinds of food but it's ok because society has forced them to do this. At the end of the day, society rewards us with a sit down in front of the TV with a snack in one hand and a drink in the other. Well, yes but presumably not until we've all been out on our training runs first!

As my cycling magazine commented, whether they like it or not, our 'obesogenic' society (now there's a good word) will just have to take up bike riding to burn off those calories. Either that or die of diabetes, cancer, stroke etc. Oh, it's about as depressing as a cycling biography by Graeme Obree. Well at least it will solve the housing crisis.

For the Government, the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, said a national debate was needed, e.g. let's talk about it, so we don’t have to do anything. To be fair though, the Government has set one of its famous targets, to reduce the proportion of overweight children to the level they were at in the year 2000 by 2020. So what we increased in 7 years they are going to try and decrease in 13, how unambitious is that? Rant over, for now.

At work Microsoft Outlook has suddenly stopped opening PDF files which means I can’t read any of the sales orders that are sent to me. Hey presto, no work, what I can't read, I can't do.

L's organising some harvesting at work, she won't tell me what she means, she says she'll tell me later, but I have a good idea.

As I'm walking home from the bus, there is a chap who must have been listening to the Government and is exercising his family. His two kids are on bikes, his dog is off lead, and his wife is walking alongside him but all this is occurring on Sutton Passeys Crescent. The dog is miles ahead, in and out of people's gardens, crossing side roads without looking both ways. The kids are the same, although they stay out of the gardens. Hmmm, might keep them fit but they'll all get flattened instead.

I get home and the house is in darkness, which is odd, there are usually at least fourteen lights on if the kids are home alone. Daughter is unwell and huddled on the sofa wrapped in L’s long coat. There’s little sign of life under the coat. I enquire whether she is alive, no answer. Then a finger emerges, prods the remote control and the TV changes channel. Ah, all is well after all.

We're back to our usual slot at Clifton tonight for squash. Perhaps my opponent is another one who's been listening to the Government because he's on the 'eat nothing' diet and says he's lost 5 lbs in 2 days but consequently he's starving all the time and ended up with a hangover after half a bottle of white wine the other night. Hopefully then he'll be too weak to play well tonight. Not that that will give me enough of an advantage, unless he's injured as well and preferably carrying a few cold or flu symptoms.

Unfortunately, he plays the best he's done for months. I play really well too but his serve is on top form and I only win one game. Pint of JHB Extra in the pub, followed by a tinny and a glass of red at home.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Treating The Gym Bunnies

Cycled again today but my cycling trousers are still wet through. I think this fast drying lycra is going to take all week to dry. So I have to dig out my cycle shorts, that I had put away for the winter, and my Ronhills. L takes Doggo out for a run but he doesn't look at all keen. I'm sure that dog is trying to retire from life.

Our server lets through a rather cheeky email from L, asking how my new brake pads are and whether I've used them yet. Not sure what's she implying by that, I’ve practically worn them out already.

Deborah Curtis' book is L's next treat if she survives the battle of wills with the biscuits in the coffee room at work. It must be costing her a fortune, all this not eating biscuits and cakes. L's theory is she'd rather be broke than fat. She isn't impressed by my suggestion that her treat could be an extra fitness session. She says even gym bunnies have to have special treats. She does, I suppose, spend a lot of time at the gym already. Just trying to be helpful. I’m all for treating gym bunnies; just send them to me.

There's a chap who works at the garage next door to where I work who meets a women with a young baby every day. She parks her car outside the garage gates and he spends 20 minutes or some bouncing the baby around while she stands around looking utterly bored. Why would he want her to bring his child to the garage every day? And why would she do it? Unless it's just to cop all the lustful glances she gets from the rest of the mechanics, although she pretends not to notice. Or is this his visitation rights, if so he's not getting a very good deal.

I cycle straight to the pool. It's a lot quieter than last week, all the new students seemed put off by how busy it was. I still have to battle a male psycho with fins on his hands. I'm not sure why they do that. I see him off and get to do a few lengths in peace and quiet before an aggressive female gets in and sees me off.

As I'm getting changed I have to share the changing rooms with the rather unpleasant sideshow of a chap cutting his toe nails. Gross.

I pass L on my way home; it would be rude to not stop for a quick snog in the street. I don't wish to be rude, so I stop.

Then Doggo and me go off to class, where he's a bit tardy tonight. Far too much sniffing, me thinks. We get home and L has done curry. After that I try and treat the gym bunny but I think she's all gymed out. Oh well, at least I treated myself.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Where's Your Girl When You Need Her?

A pleasant cycle in despite the heavy traffic and still no punctures.

My business trip to Ireland was worthwhile because we get the order. So I might have to go over there again. Hopefully next time I can wangle flying into Dublin instead. Apparently it's more Irish there and also the beer and the women are better. They say a Dubliner would climb across 20 naked women to get to a pint of real Irish Guinness. I'm not so sure about that, you'd be pretty thirsty by the time you got to your drink.

My email seems to be blocking L's bragging emails, apparently she's been for an excellent swim, but our server is refusing to pass on the message. I get that many bragging emails from her, the server has probably assumed someone is spamming me.

So she's been for a swim and she's on about gyming tonight despite the fact she says she's absolutely creased after her circuits class and what she describes as the evil yoga last night. She IS trying to out do me.

By the time it comes to time to cycle home, it's started throwing it down. I must look on the bright side; it could be good practice for my next event on Sunday. I've got to have a wet race at some point. I'm looking forward to it.

To complicate cycling matters even further, it seems a lorry has killed a pedestrian who was walking along the A52 towards Nottingham and consequently the road has been closed in both directions. Quite what a pedestrian doing on the A52, God knows, but it’s going to be chaos out there. I'm glad I’m not driving.

Strangely as I cross the bridge over the A52 the road is quiet, which isn't really a sign of it being closed, perhaps it's already reopened. Unfortunately no one seems to be risking it and all the minor roads, e.g. my route home, are jammed solid. I weave in and out of the silly people in their cars, feeling a very smug, if a little damp, cyclist.

It's typical isn't it, you get home in wet lyrca and where's your girl when you need her? She's not in, unfortunately she's had to work late. So there's no welcoming party to help me out my wet clothes and towel me down. Well that’s not strictly true. Man’s best friend is soon by my side, enthusiastically greeting me and then running to stand by the back door, eager to go out. Ha. I'll soon put a stop to his enthusiasm. All I have to do is open the door. Yep, that's done it, once open, he takes one brief look at the rain pounding down outside and scuttles back inside, straight to bed. He doesn’t like the rain.

Oddly Son is on TV watch rather than Daughter, which makes me think the internet is down but no, apparently it isn’t.

I was intending to try and get the Doggo out on our usual Tuesday run but after last weeks fiasco, I doubted he’d be up for it. Now that it's raining I've got absolutely no chance. Mind you, getting wet and cold again perhaps isn’t such a good idea for me either. I decide to skip it.

L gets home looking wonderfully bedraggled and sporting some new earrings, which compliment her wet look very well. This is her treat for being a good girl and keeping off the cakes. The treat that I haven't got around to getting her yet. I shall buy the dress to go with them instead.

L and Daughter go off for a gym session and when they get back, I have a nice slab of red meat waiting for L to get her teeth into. Rib eye steak with all the trimmings. Very nice. The red meat works. Real sex.

Well it took some doing. It was one of the biggest challenges I've ever undertaken. It has required dedication, sacrifice, and a lot of late nights. Yep, I've finally done it, I've finished Graeme Obree's book. A great cyclist but God, he was so depressing.

L is now on about buying Deborah Curtis' book, which could be just as depressing. I wonder if in the meantime I can persuade Daughter to part with the mad person's diary.

Not Dead Yet

Put very briefly. Car. Work. Dog Class. Spam sandwiches.

L says that if I blog what happened next I’m dead. I could instead blog about my abusive behaviour this morning but in the interests of not being dead I won’t mention that either.

Brief because of this...

Monday, 15 October 2007

Blogging for the Environment

Things might not be appearing in quite the correct order at the moment because I've rushed in today's entry because today, October 15th, is Blog Action Day. So today everyone is supposed to blog on a common theme and this year's selected theme is the environment.

So what to say? Well, I support the principal of most environment issues. So I'm with Al Gore on that, even if he doesn't always get his facts right. Whatever effect we are having on the climate and some say we are having no effect, most environmental measures make sense to me. Why bury rubbish, or even worse, burn it, when you can recycle and reuse it. Common sense surely. Why tarmac over the countryside for more roads? Wouldn't we rather have the countryside instead? After all, more cars on the road just means more fumes in the air for us all to breathe in.

So I try and do my bit, recycle, turn off lights etc and then there's my environmentally friendly madness, known as cycling. Despite the fact that this country does practically nothing to encourage cycling, let alone make it safe, I try and cycle the 15 miles to work 2-3 times a week. Motivation to do this isn't difficult, not for environmental reasons but purely because I hate queuing, anywhere, ever and driving to work involves at lot of queuing in traffic jams. So when I don't cycle, I try and use the bus too. It is a bonus that this brings environmental benefits too.

As I mentioned last Wednesday, since I started cycling 18 months ago, I have cycled 3000 miles. That's 3000 miles I haven't put on my car. Unfortunately rather than pumping exhaust fumes into the atmosphere I get to breathe in everyone else's but I guess you can't have everything.

At 7 miles per litre of fuel (32mpg) that's over 428 litres of fuel, which at 95p a litre is £406. So quite a money-spinner. Alternatively it's the equivalent of 100 return bus journeys on the Red Arrow, at £5 return that’s £500. Which is even better.

Better still is that this has had a staggering effect on my fitness. I've tried all sorts of ways of getting fit and previously running was the only one that seemed to have any great positive return, that was until I discovered cycling. Which takes everything to a whole new level.

Problem is you end up doing mad things like the Duathlon I did yesterday. 5km run, 20km bike, 5km. Crazy but all very environmentally friendly and strangely fun too.

If none of that inspires you to get on your bike then there's one more thing. As a cyclist you also get the dubious pleasure of legitimately wearing lycra. This has a strange and beneficial effect (for me) on my partner. Now if that's not a reason to get on your bike, I don't know what is, plus you get to help save the environment at the same time!

A Triathlon Of Sorts: Run, Bike, Folk Concert

It’s a leisurely start for a Duathlon; we don’t have to be there until around 9am. Which gives me time for some serious warming up; that is if L would let me, but she’d probably say it would slow me down.

The briefing is held at 9.35 and everyone is ready for the start at 10am. Problem is there are five waves (starts) and all the adults, e.g. most of the field, are in the fifth and final wave. The organisers intend to finish each wave before they start the next, which takes ages, even though they in the end combine a couple of waves. It also isn’t a popular strategy. They'll need to give out more specific start times and have multiple briefings if they're going to run in the same format again next year.

When we finally start at around midday, there are some pretty annoyed people, which means if they put all that pent up aggression into the race, it’s not going to be a pretty sight. It's also going to be fast.

The first run of 5k goes very well, I go at my 10k pace as I’m confident of maintaining this all the way around. I know I need to be quick because I expect to get annihilated on the bike yet again. My time, 19:51 is pretty good. I could probably take a bit off that but I opted to hold something in reserve for the bike. My transition isn't the best, as usual. I really must practice leaving my bike shoes attached to my pedals. Whether I can incorporate this into my bike to work I'm not sure. Is the car park at work or the road outside our house the best places to do this?

I feel the bike goes well too. The first of the three laps is hard but then my legs loosen up and I feel I go quicker and quicker, although L's split timing doesn't support this theory. As predicted loads of people overtake me, which also doesn't support the theory. What also doesn't support the theory and also makes me feel slightly suicidal is that a chap who looks as old as I feel, e.g. ancient, overtakes me. I desperately try and stay with him. Luckily he's crap on the downhills, even L goes quicker downhill than he does and I overtake him there, although going round the outside of him, on at bend, at 30mph is a bit hairy. I'm also as quick, if not quicker, than him on the uphill bits but he's so fast on the flat. How does he do it. Hmmm. Card marked.

Then close to the end of the last lap, a young girl with knee length tight black lycra trousers goes past me. I was just about to compliment her on her attire when I realised she was in front of me, which isn't how it's supposed to be. Hmmm. Another card marked. Just wait until the run, I'll sort them both out then.

The three of us career into transition together, almost colliding as we squeeze through the tight entrance. My time, 40:30, is pretty good, even though it's obviously not good enough.

Lycra girl doesn't have cycling shoes on, so she hops off her bike and is off like a young whippet. It's not looking good. The old chap, does have cycling shoes but he changes them in a flash and is off like, well like an old whippet on steroids. I stagger off on the run to give chase. It really isn't looking good.

Thankfully, current foes apart, most people look worse than me and I gradually reel in quite a few of the other competitors, which is nice but isn't the point, I have scores to settle. I can see lycra girl in the distance and I'm gaining on her but very slowly. Keep calm I tell myself, keep a steady pace and perhaps try and up it a bit at half way. There's no sign of the chap at all, he must have had a lift waiting for him, there's no way he could have pulled out such a gap on me. Hmmm. Card re-marked and underlined.

At half way the girl still seems a long way away, I try and power round the rest of the course, which is unfortunately uphill. Eventually with probably less than a kilometre to go I finally have her. Relief. She certainly played hard to get. There's no one else really in range, so I concentrate on keeping a decent gap between the girl and me, don't want her putting in an embarrassing sprint finished and beating me. There is another lass in front of me but she is probably just too far ahead to chase down. So I leave her be.

My time for the final run is 20:28, not bad and 1:20:49 overall. Which gives me 17th place in the men's event out of 34 starters, so mid-table. Not bad. It turns out that only one woman beat me. Which is, yes you've guessed it, the one only just ahead of me. She won the female event. Bugger, if I'd known, I would have tried to find a sprint finish from somewhere. To make things worse she has the nerve to come up to us and fuss Doggo, just to rub it in. Card marked in capital letters and double-underlined.

With the late start it's regrettably too late to nip for a pint, instead we head home and I'm that hungry, I have two lunches. I crash out for a bit, as does Doggo, while L and Daughter go off to the Gym. Doggo looks far, far worse than me. Who, exactly, did the event? His supporting wasn't even that good, he kept barking at the wrong cyclists.

In the evening, I'm checking the calendar because L has got stockings and boots on again. Nope it's not my birthday but I'm not complaining.

I manage to summon the energy to drive over to Lincoln because tonight I find myself, along with my girl in boots, at Lincoln University to see the folk maestro, Seth Lakeman, in action.

Firstly the university confuses us because we head for The Shed and the gig is in The Engine Shed, to which we have to ask directions. It's very confusing them having places with such similar names. Secondly, and this a first, the gig seems to be running ahead of itself. We arrive in time to see the start of the second support band but end up catching only the end of them. Seth himself comes on twenty minutes early.

The place is also packed, obviously folk is in vogue at the moment. The audience is a mix of oldies and youngsters who have got old before their time, and us of course. This makes me feel very young. There's no proper beer available, which would have sold well given the clientèle, and I have to make do with Kronenbourg 1664, that famous French lager brewed in very Gallic Reading.

Now, as I've said before, I'm not really a great fan but I have done my research by listening to both 'Freedom Fields', and 'Kitty Jay'. It starts well because Seth opens with a string of tracks that I know and I am very impressed because for the first few tracks he plays the fiddle. Very good he is with it too. He is accompanied by quite a vivid stage show, plenty of flashing lights etc but this leaves the back of the stage a little too dark to see what the two percussionists are doing which is a shame. The band also consist of a double bass and I'm told his brother on guitar.



Seth himself doesn't stay on the fiddle for long and plays an assortment of bass guitars and the material isn't stuff I recall, consequently he loses me a bit after that. Personally, I think he is at his best on the fiddle.

My legs are knackered and I consider moving a little further back and leaning against the wall until someone steals my intended spot. Seth grabs my attention again towards the end when he plays the title track of 'Kitty Jay', which is clearly popular and possibly the stand track of the evening.

He returns for an encore of two tracks, one of which is an instrument, then he's gone and that's it. It's still very early, these folk people don't like to be out too late.



Afterwards we show our age and have a flask of coffee in the car. Perhaps everyone else is doing the same thing. It helps us home, as we are both tired after a long day and they shut the A46 just to make things even more difficult for us.

We get home and have some liqueur that we can't remember what it is. We think it's sherry but it isn't very nice. Possibly off. We throw it away and have a whiskey instead.

26 units this week.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Shadowplay

I get up fairly early to go fetch Daughter from her all-nighter. L stays in bed. I can’t blame my hangover on the scotch egg because oddly I don’t have one.

I drive to the school to collect Daughter and immediately feel that I have walked onto the set of ‘Shaun of the Dead’, such is the volume of school age zombies coming out of the disco. Daughter strangely looks more awake than most.

I get back and chill out in bed with L for a while. Some of it spent sleeping because we didn’t get in until gone 3am ourselves. Then I have to get up for an opticians appointment. When L gets up she seems to have developed a limp from all that walking last night in her boots.

In the afternoon, I give the grass; hopefully, its last trim of the year, while Doggo helps/hinders. Then I watch England defeat Estonia while Doggo sleeps.

In the evening, partly in the interests of staying AF pre-event, we do another film and meal at Broadway, which entails plenty of mango juice. My chilli burritos are very good.

We see 'Control', which is a biopic of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division. It is made by Anton Corbijn, the man who photographed and worked with the band. So presumably the project was very personal to him. It was also presumably very personal to his widow Deborah, as the film is based on her biography of her husband, 'Touching From a Distance'. The fact that it is all through his wife's eyes is quite thought provoking in itself. Deborah Curtis, who is played by Samantha Morton, is also involved in the production of the film, which Corbijn shot entirely in black and white, which seems very appropriate. Ian Curtis never really sang in colour, the band were all about dark brooding guitars and deep, doom-laden lyrics.

I was only 13 when he died and I didn't discover Joy Division until a few years later via the early New Order stiff. It is also true that the band were never that popular until his death made them so.

The film starts with Curtis still at school and takes us through to his death in 1980 at the age of only 23. Surprisingly he comes across as quite a likeable chap, more so than I ever though he was. He worked in the social security office and did a great job finding work for people with disabilities.

The film shows his struggle with epilepsy for which doctors give him a cocktail of pills to take, from which he suffers from the side effects. The doctors don't come out of it very well but then again he never went back to get his dosage reviewed. They also tell him to have early nights and stay off the booze, which is a tad difficult when you're trying to be a rock star.

The film also details his disastrous personal life. He married his childhood sweetheart way too soon, and then compounded his error by adding a child into the mix, again way too soon. You can't do the whole touring thing where the girls are throwing themselves at you, with a wife and kids back home. Consequently he gets off with a Belgian reporter and he's not strong enough to choose between the two women.



Curtis quickly reaches a point where juggling his home life, love life and life on the road is too much for him. Add into this his illness and the fact that he couldn't cope with the pressures brought on by the band starting to become popular; it all becomes an accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately we all know how's its going to end and it's partly a case of waiting for that to happen. The people around him don't seem to realise how bad his growing sense of despair is. When the band record the song 'Isolation', no one seems to notice that the lyrics are effectively his suicide note.



A matter of days before the bank were due to leave on their first ever tour of the USA, Curtis hanged himself from a rope in his kitchen.

The film is excellent, another great British film that deserves all the praise it will hopefully get. Sam Riley deserves enormous credit for mimicking Curtis. He has his singing style down to a tee, hunched over the mic one moment, dancing badly the next, epileptic fit the next. Also credit to all the other actors who played the band members. Although the portrayal of Peter Hook doesn't do him any favours. They also played all the songs, there's no miming to the originals here. Riley's performances of tracks like 'She's lost control', 'Transmission' and of course 'Isolation' are all excellent.

The choice of music can perhaps be a bit cliché at times. For instance the use of 'Love will tear us apart' when his marriage is falling apart and I suppose it was always going to end with 'Atmosphere' accompanying his death.

There are plenty of other great performances in the film, motor-mouth manager Rob Gretton has some of the best lines and the late Tony Wilson is also played well.

An excellent film and an excellent night, oh and we win the rugby too but a warning, if someone you love starts singing lines such as,

'In the shadowplay, acting out your own death, knowing no more'.

Be worried.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Them Boots Aren't Made For Walking

Bus again. Apparently they call this tapering. I have my Duathlon on Sunday.

Today’s interesting conversation that I overheard on the bus concerns two male teenagers. One of them asked the other what his parents said to him when he got in at 4am the other day. 'Oh I just threw a few grunt words at them and got out of earshot as soon as possible. Works every time'. Hmmm. So that’s why they do it.

I check out the upper level of the new Eagle Centre, more of the same I’m afraid. I did find a walking shop but it's a cheapo Millets type affair and not one with any decent kit.

I have a week old scotch egg out of the fridge as part of my lunch. It's only two days past it's eat by date. I forgot it was there. L says that if I have a hangover tomorrow I can blame the egg.

On Sunday evening we are off to see Seth Lakeman in concert. He’s not really my type of singer and I’m desperately trying to brush up on his material but I can’t get any of his records to work on my computer on work. I wonder if this is a bad omen.

I get home and because I haven’t cycled, I don’t get chance to ‘wow’ L with my lyrca. Which is a shame because Daughter has been dispatched to the school’s all night disco and with Son super glued to the internet, we practically have the house to ourselves.

L is looking worried. At first I think this has something to do with the odious beast, as she calls it, money. Calling money the odious beast is something to do with Jesus I believe, thankfully we’re not religious. I think perhaps she over spent during her gadding about in the North East last weekend. Now if she’d spent the time stuck in field at a dog show like the rest of us, she’d have had a cheaper but duller time.

In the end though it turns out to be a new found fear of night clubs e.g. a feeling too old, nothing to wear, sort of fear. Personally I think you’re never too old to go clubbing because one rule of night clubs is that there’s always someone older than you there. What to wear? As little as possible, I would have thought. L came to bed the other night in a very nice all black combo but I guess her wearing that tonight is out of the question.

Anyhow I offer to treat her to her ticket and also lubricate her with copious amounts of Leffe first, so off we go. She looks great in a dress, stockings and boots but thanks to Nottingham’s intermittent bus service we end up walking into town which makes the boots immediately seem perhaps not such a good idea, which is a shame, as I do like a pair of boots.

After four beers at the Ropewalk, we hit the Cookie Club. Its retro night, I’m not sure whether that's just the music or the people too. A bit of both as it turns out and my rule of night clubs holds true. We are far from the oldest there.

Another beer, a lot of dancing and some animal behaviour from L. Bonus. I think the night goes particularly well but then there’s the long walk home in those boots.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Ghost Walk

Squash tonight, so I rest my legs by taking the bus but the bus was just like the pool last night, packed to the rafters.

We aren't the only people who've been away in a cottage recently. A lad on the bus was telling his mate about his weekend. He'd been away with his girlfriend and her parents in a cottage somewhere. Her parents had left them alone one day and because his girlfriend was cold, aren't they always, he had done the manly thing and lit a fire in the fireplace. He got brownie points for this and filled with gratitude, she proceed to get amorous with him on the settee. Result, he thinks. It wasn't until they were 'busy' on the floor that they realised that something wasn't quite right and that the room was full of smoke. The fireplace was purely ornamental and the chimney had been blocked up. Apparently they didn't get left alone after that.

I get off the bus and decide to check out Derby's revamped Eagle Centre or 'Westfield', as they would like it to be known. It ended up as more of a ghost walk because on the way from the Market Square I had to walk through rows of empty shops where their occupants had abandoned ship to move into the new centre. I then walked through the ground floor of the new place and it was pretty much as expected. The usual big names with a few pseudo posh shops, places like The Pier that we already have in Nottingham. Which is one of those shops that people wander round on a Saturday morning but never actually buy anything. I didn't see anything that would entice me back, e.g. book shops, record shops, sports shops, walking gear shops, cycling shops etc. I shall check out the upper level another day.

First pub lunch for three weeks today. Cottage pie and something called Maximum Darkness from the Elland Brewery. I take a punt on it, hoping it is dark. It is; it's a rather nice oatmeal stout.

Squash and my opponent texts to ask whether he can borrow a banana. He says I can have it after afterwards. Hmmm. Tonight we play at Portland, someone has pinched our spot at Clifton, but it makes a refreshing change. Among other things the courts are green rather than yellow! We play four close games but I lose all of them, it's not one of my better days. I win the fifth game but he's pulled a calf muscle by then. We call it a night after that. Another advantage of Portland is that the pub is just across the road. Wentworth Bitter 4.0%.

Home to fish finger sandwiches, haddock no less, two glasses of wine and an early bed. Although L's not quite up for it, she looks well knackered. So too, surprisingly as he's done practically nothing, does Doggo.

I get a bit of reading in too. I'm actually on target to finish Graeme Obree before the end of the decade. So I'll soon be ready for my next assignment.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

A Significant Milestone

As I get ready for my ride in to work, L is getting ready to take Doggo out on a run. He doesn't seem too fazed by going out with her; I must have done something to upset him. She does loosen his jacket for him; she says he was looking rather like a Christmas turkey. I'm sure he's putting on weight, although I have no idea how, he barely eats.

L's parting shot is an offer to jump me as soon as I get back from dog class tonight. I was undecided about whether to go dogging tonight or not, I was going to ask the grey one (Doggo) what he wished to do. I'm sure he'd prefer a session with his ball in the garden. Hope L's offer still stands even if don't go.

I pass them on route. Doggo looked very focused on his running, he’s such a fraud or perhaps it's just me he doesn't like running with. L looked focused too. They were both bombing along.

I have a puncture free ride. Very pleasant and crucially it doesn’t seem to have had any adverse effects on my cough. It's also a bit of a significant milestone because I have completed my three thousandth mile on my bike since I bought it in May last year.

L's boss if off sick, so she's had to cancel his patients. The only one she couldn't get hold of, and hence the only one to still turn up, was a dog trainer. L says it doesn't matter because she'll be used to traipsing up and down the motorway for nothing. Hmmm, a cutting remark from my beloved about us dogging devotees but so very true after our rosette free trip up north.

Wiggle order arrived. Very impressive. Who needs the post?

L got all her workouts in early today, so now she says she's shattered and feels like the collie looks. Heaven knows how she's going to make good her offer from this morning. I’ll have to leave half a dozen energy bars out for her.

It looks even less promising when she leaves work early to 'pump iron' at the gym. I'm hoping to swim straight after work, punctures permitting, so hopefully I see her there. She says she'll wave to me.

I don't see L, she's finished before I get there. It's a shame because I like it when girls wave at me. It doesn't happen often enough these days. My swim isn't brilliant; the pool is rammed to the rafters.

I get surveyed on the way out about my leisure centre usage but the chap didn't ask any meaningful questions. It looks just like another of those surveys to make the Government feel good.

We skip dog class; L walks him to Guides instead. I cook a curry for all of us; well I open a jar, which is a bit lazy. Son even eats his hot and then follows this with a hot bath. So it must be a quiet night in cyberspace or perhaps he's cutting back. He's not paid me his internet bill yet.

I take some wine to bed and wait for my offer to arrive.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Hair Bear And The Spring Chicken

I'm not fit to cycle today, as I have a cough and it's pissing it down but I still manage to get a quickie out of L. So regrettably I'm in the car again but possibly, for once, my judgement is sound. I need to be fit for Sunday but I shall try and run tonight. I instantly regret driving, the traffic is dreadful. It would have been more enjoyable to have cycled and caught pneumonia.

L emails, and something is up, because I get a 'Good Morning' without the '- Not'. She's feeling all sorry for the 'poor sausage', that's Doggo (the tired one) not me (the ill one). She says he still looks appalling but I think Doggo (the fraudulent one) is putting it on now. He hasn't eaten but there's nothing unusual in that. She said he could barely get off the bed, hmmm, nothing unusual in that either. He presumably didn't have any problem getting on the bed in the first place. Poor sausage, my foot.

I do yet another Wiggle order in my lunch hour. I get an email at 4pm telling me it's been despatched. Beat that Amazon.

I get home and offer Doggo a run; it’s his call. When I get his running vest out, he hides in the lounge, sitting with Daughter for protection. I'll take that as a 'no' then. Yet when I go to the front door he positions himself between the door and me. Make your mind up. I'm sure he's trying it on, he's just after a ball session on the park, but that's not an option. It will be dark in a couple of hours, so the council will already be in the process of locking all the park gates.

In the end he accompanies me. We do one lap of the University Lake before heading off to meet L from pilates. However, we are too early so I start to do a second lap. Only Doggo (the awkward one) isn't keen and does a sit down protest, refusing to go round again. In the end I drag him and it is almost a drag, around half a lap. We compromise and cross the bridge mid way round. This means we're still ten minutes early meeting L. Who doesn't have any cakes for us today.

In March I saw the Brakes live at the Rescue Rooms (link here) and L regretted not going with me. So I said the next time they played locally, I would take her. In fact they played Derby last Friday but we were up on the coast in our cottage. The next best option was tonight at Warwick University, which is confusingly near Coventry. So that is where we go off to tonight. Doggo has miraculously recovered his enthusiasm for life and wants to come too. Tough. He'll have to make do with a nice quiet night in on the settee with his paws up.

We drive the sixty odd miles to Coventry but we are too late to see anything of the support band, mainly due to problems finding the car park. A few signs would have been nice. As you can tell this is a venue I haven't been to before. It's a pretty good one too. A tight venue with a high stage and lots of vantage points. It reminds me of a smaller version of Leicester Poly, De Montfort Uni as it now is. The show is part of their Fresher's week. So I'm expecting lots of drongos and possibly a few babes but we don’t really get much of either.

Daughter is with us, complete with a headache, which isn't good news for going to a gig. Probably something to do with going to school this morning in the pouring rain in just a jumper. So she'll be next with the flu symptoms.

The band open with, as I assume they always do, 'Hi How Are You'. Daughter looks at me as the first of many F words are flung from the stage. Every so often she says something to me, which I can't hear properly because of the noise and I'm tempted to quote the band's line 'Won't you shut the f*** up, I'm just trying to watch the band' but I don't.

Apparently Daughter's been listening up on The Rakes by mistake. Easy mistake, Brakes/Rakes. I think L has made the same mis-association in the past. It's all probably a bit of a shock for Daughter, I mean, I can't really imagine the deadly serious Rakes imploring the audience to 'Do The Spring Chicken'.

Some of the audience take this offer literally. One particular audience member, who seems to have come as a member of the Hair Bear Bunch, does the Spring Chicken throughout.



The Brakes are one of my favourite bands. They are a refreshing alternative to most of what is around at the moment. Their songs are pleasantly random, an intriguing mixture of moods and styles. A bit like women but with lower maintenance. Between tracks it's often difficult to remember you’re listening to the same band.

They also have something to say and are not afraid to say it with their quirky lyrics. 'Here's a song about the death of God' cue 'Cease and Desist'.

You get the feeling that the band revel in being unconventional, their songs never seem to follow any set structure. They often stop without warning and often err on the well... brief side, stopping before they've even really started. 'Cheney' is a nine-second rant about the Vice President of the USA. The almost as short 'Pick Up The Phone' is about foreign policy.

The obligatory pineapple is brought out for the 60 odd seconds of the punky 'Porcupine or Pineapple', their anti-war song. Hair Bear is by now desperately trying to upstage the band but even one of the speakers almost falling on the drummer a few songs in can't upstage them. Admirably the drummer barely seems to notice, as he carries on playing. He could so easily have not been so lucky.



The support band the XCerts, who we missed, slow the crescendo of songs by bringing a cake on stage for the bass player's birthday.

Again the epic, lovelorn 'No Return' tugs at the heartstrings and steals the show, a song seemingly personal to vocalist Eamon Hamilton about love lost but painfully remembered. It complements the short, frenetic bursts of their other songs extremely well.



The set is over in around fifty minutes, having played most of their two albums. A chap near us has continually called for their seven second song about punctuation 'Comma Comma Comma Full Stop'. I keep expecting them to either finish or encore with it but it remains unplayed. Eamon returns alone to play a single solo encore, a song about European integration he calls it. Maybe be that should be disintegration, as he whinges about metrification among other things.

All bands are influenced by somebody who has gone before them but the great bands earn our respect by taking those influences, turning them on their head and then coming up with something distinctive and then crucially, ending up sounding like no one but themselves. That's the Brakes.

As the lights go up, it looks as if L's pulled, she's talking to Hair Bear. Thankfully I don't think frizzy afros do it for her.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Girls And Apple Carts

L goes out running with Doggo probably against her better judgement but because the park isn't being unlocked early for her to get a walk in, she doesn't have many options. Running is the only way to get to the main entrance and back in sufficient time. Poor old Doggo looks shattered after his weekend.

I'm in the car and it's busy on the roads this morning but not too bad. Although the worst problems seem to be on Ilkeston Road, where according to L, a smash has brought lampposts down and put oil on the road. At least there's no knifings or burnt out cars this morning.

L's latest book project is War and Peace and she's started typing up a synopsis of it for me as she goes along, so that I will know the story before we see the play in February. It's a very professionally done synopsis, although the story so far seems to be mainly introducing characters and I’m not sure what the main plot is or whether there is one or not yet. To be fair she says she's reading about ten chapters ahead of her summary and she blames me for putting her off her summarising last night. As I recall, from the attire she was wearing, she got what she was looking for.

The best bit of War and Peace so far seems to be a bit about someone tying a bear cub back-to-back to a policeman and pushing them both into a river. The bear swam then ashore with the policeman on its back. I look forward to them re-enacting that bit on stage. There also seems to be quite a lot about the complex tactical manoeuvres of the Russian army. The army had a difficult mission to debate, concerning whether or not to break into a convent and show the nuns a good time. Having just marched 700 miles they may not have had the energy but I would have thought they'd have made the effort but they didn't. They did try to buy a young girl who was riding on an apple cart with her Father but he turned them down. Obviously holding out for a more money. It wouldn't have been much to go round a whole army, personally I would have thought the nuns would have been a better bet. I wonder if they were Granny Smiths? Which fortunately reminds me to get Daughter some Granny Smiths, while I'm in Sainsbury’s getting my lunch.

The traffic is awful on the way home, oh to be on my bike. L and Daughter are again at their gym circuits' session. Apparently this week it was taken by a man and is therefore far more vigorous than usual. As you would expect.

Doggo and I go off to Dog class. I'm sure he's sick of all this training but he does really well. Paw-perfect.

We pick L up from yoga on the way home. She's doing all these classes because she says she's promised herself a waistline by Christmas, she reckons she's lost hers somewhere along the line. Hmmm I'm not sure about that but I reckon all these classes are increasing the size of her chest, which isn't a bad compromise.

Once home L does an excellent freebie king prawn stir-fry. I got two packs of free king pawns from good old incompetent Sainsbury's. They were originally £5.99 each but on offer as buy two save £6. They had then been reduced in price to £2.99 each. I know how to play the system at Sainsbury’s and the checkout computer deducted £5.98 off my bill. So hey presto free pawns. Although, actually that's wrong, they should actually owe me 2p.