Friday, 30 November 2007

Use It Or Lose It

Regrettably time is short, so I have to turn down L. 'Use it or lose it' L tells me, which makes me sound like the local telephone box. Later.

Bike. I try my new route again. It's a 1.5km longer but only takes about three minutes more because there's no Asda roundabout, no Raynesway roundabout and no bridge over the A52 but already I'm nostalgic for my old route. the new one’s not exactly pretty, it goes past a lot of factories, the road surface is really grimy, there’s lots of lorries and I had to stop at the railway crossing this morning.

I also used the heart rate monitor again with much more success, now that I know that, like a lot of good things, it works better when wet. 155 maximum, 137 average. Is that good? I've no idea.

No one overtook me today and no women to flash my lycra at but as usual plenty of drongos. I did have fun tailing a chap along the cycle path, he looked a serious cyclist but he’d got a huge saddle bag on one side of his bike, which seemed to make it lean quite alarmingly. Don’t how he managed to keep it all upright in the wind.

It's less fun on the way home because there are not one but two attempts on my life. Firstly coming through Spondon I suddenly spot a drongo on a MTB coming towards me at 90 degrees across the line of traffic. He lurches in front of me, I brake, skid but hold it together and avoid hitting him. He cycles off down the road, as if nothing had happened. Bobble hat, no helmet obviously and no lights either. I assume he also had headphones on but didn’t get chance to check. After I had regained my composure I catch him and overtake him. I think about berating him but decide not to, riding like that; he’ll be flattened before the years out in any case.

Then to cap it all when I’m descending into Risley, head down, battling the wind. I see a flash of yellow and look up just in time to see a runner in a yellow bib coming towards me in the cycle lane, again no lights, we even light our collie when we run. Again I swerve at the last minute and just miss him. Pillock, didn’t he think of getting out of my way, he must have seen my lights. His bib is only good when it’s got car lights to illuminate it.

Get home and have a freaky experience with L. She bites on some seed or something and a horrible blister appears inside her mouth. This takes the edge off my warm down but 'use it or lose it'...

Later, we walk to Beeston and I have four pints at Scottish night, as its St. Andrews Day today.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Odd Morning

It's been an odd morning.

Odd happening number one. L offers to help Son with his paper round but it means he has to get up before (gulp) 7am. He accepts.

Odd happening number two. I shout Daughter to get up and she replies 'Thanks' and not 'Go to hell I'm having another half an hour' or words to that effect.

Odd happening number three. The bus driver gives me change and not in 5p coins, in notes.

They say that mobile phones may cause brain damage. Too late. Looking at the various specimens on the bus this morning with them jammed against their ears, it's already happened. Mobile phone girl is in full flow, recommending to her friend that she get herself a Wonderbra. Then after a pause, and this is major moment in everyone's lives on the bus today because she never pauses, she sheepishly say 'Oh. Didn't realise you always wear one. You look great in it, it really suits you.' Creep.

This week in the post I've had a renewal notice from Camra for our life membership that 'runs out' on 01/01/2008! So I ring them up in a rage, expecting to be told that life no longer means life and just like criminals you are ‘free’ after so many years but apparently no, it's their fault, a computer error.

Squash. So bad were my opponents blisters after his 'wrong shoes' moment last week that he reckons he's been wearing slippers all week, even in the supermarket.

I lose the first nine points without returning a decent ball. I finally get going or perhaps his arm just gets tired after so much serving and we split the rest of the points in that game, which obviously isn't enough to save it for me. Things are much better in the next which I win easily. I lose a close third but then win an epic fourth 16-14. He's not happy about that. The decider is close but I lose out. That does him in and he concedes the next game when I'm 12-5 up, he's never done that before. I assume he's saving himself for the last game which he duly wins. So I lose the match 3-2 and the night 4-3 but I'm pleased with that.

Another ale from the Cottage Brewery in the pub, very nice this week. One and a half pints. Home to L and a glass of red and some 'real' slag. L says I need the red wine to cut through the cholesterol in the Spanish Omelette and chips, healthy chips though.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


I try an experiment today and borrow L's heart rate monitor to see how much effort I'm really putting into my cycling. It’s bloody annoying because I have to keep stopping because it keeps turning itself off. In the end I just give up on. Then a few miles into my ride I glance at it and see that's its working again. This time it stays working. I realise that it needs moisture to make the contacts to my chest and therefore once I got a sweat up it was fine.

One other thing I discover today is the point of 'child on board' stickers. Subject to what I thought, it's nothing to do with people saying 'look at me I've got my leg over and got someone pregnant'. Yeah, big deal. They are actually a warning to cyclists. This is because anyone with a child on board is liable, at any moment and without warning, to take their hands off the wheel to club an errant child, and therefore the vehicle is likely to veer into the curb and crush a cyclist. This I discover as I hop up onto the pavement to avoid a 4x4 full of the little people.

I also try a new route today, a detour via Spondon station, which kind of works but needs a few refinements.

I make it to work, alive, according to the heart rate monitor at least. The only data it gives is a total time, which is irrelevant, and an average, which was 138. It doesn’t store the maximum, which is what I really need, so I might have to mount it on my handlebars so that I can keep my eye on it.

L and Doggo run. Today's altercation on the park is with a cement mixer, they really are out to get him at the moment.

Paul Jewell is unveiled at Pride Park. Which sounds good to me, or it might if we can understand him, as it's a Scotsman out and a Scouser in, so we’ll still need an interpreter. He’s good at promotions, which is the main thing. How good he is at miracles remains to be seen but if he pulls one off he'll be a hero. Just like Billy... err wonder what happened to him. His first team selection will be interesting, Earnshaw anybody...

L says she's rather fond of Paul Jewell. He's on her legendary 'would go on a dinner date with but wouldn't shag' list. Which is quite a long list from what I can gather. This doesn't tally with the proven theory that men and women can't be just friends, so if L's not telling porkies then it'll only happen if PJ's hot for her. Doubt we'll ever find out the answer to that one.

I bike to the pool. Where the girlie in lane one is being far too nice to me, saying 'hello', 'after you' and other pleasantries. I know her game, she's trying to psyche me out. L reckons she probably fancies me. Hmmm. L needn't worry, the girlie's on my 'would swim with but wouldn't shag because she's better at front crawl than me' list.

I skip dog class and take Doggo on a brief run to guides, brief because we're running late. Not that we expect the guides to kick out on time. They don't, fifteen minutes late. Which means fifteen minutes of listening to the mindless gossip of the people waiting to collect their offspring.

Home for curry and a couple of glasses of red wine.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Dare To Be Different

It's very pleasant on the bike this morning, that's despite the fog, the dark, and the fact that I have to battle one of my old foes. He comes hurtling past me, on the wrong side of the road in Stapleford. I let him go because, as I've already discovered with him, he's crap going up hill and true to form I catch him on the hill in Sandiacre. It’s a real struggle to stay behind him, he is crawling so slowly, but I don't intend going past him only for him to whiz back in front again on the flat. In fact after the hill, I sit up and have a drink and let him get well ahead, knowing I can reel him in again on the next hill after Risley. This really worries him and I can see him looking back over his shoulder, looking well confused. Serves him right, he shouldn't be so competitive, he should be chilled out, like me. So I catch him on the next hill but still I don't go past him, I just use him for a bit of pace making until he turns off in Borrowash.

Derby County have had a huge clearout, nine other members of staff have followed Billy Davies out of the door. One of the many gripes about Davies is that he created 'jobs for the boys'; he emptied Preston of staff when he came here. I think Derby have pushed them all out before they got chance to jump ship. Not sure if there's anyone left to take charge on Saturday.

All the talk now is of who will be next. They'll be a queue, because there's good money on offer, whether they'll be anyone good in it is another matter. The self-proclaimed 'Special One' Jose Mourinho has already turned it down, saying 'I ain't that f***ing special'. I imagine he didn't really say that but it amused me. I hear the Pope and God have given similar reasons.

Paul Ince is hot favourite but interestingly Paul Jewell is refusing to rule himself out. I still think we'll be in the queue behind Birmingham for his services, though.

My computer is doing bizarre things this morning, it kept telling me that it couldn’t deliver my emails so I kept resending them but obviously it was lying because L ends up with four identical 'good mornings' from me.

Late afternoon and Alex McLeish quits the Scotland job. The talk is he's going to Birmingham. Hmmm interesting.

I get home and run with Doggo. I fall off the curb and twist my ankle. Unfortunately I can't blame him; he was nowhere near me at the time.

Back home I have a reviving plate of pasta and then we're off gigging. That is if you can class going to the soulless Concert Hall as gigging. We are off to the 30th anniversary of the Human League and the 25th ish anniversary of their classic album Dare.

Support is by a band called OneTwo who I had never heard of, which is surprising as its basically Paul Humphreys of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Claudia Bruecken of Propaganda. Their competent if a little dull set consists of mostly tracks from their album 'Instead', but they also play Orchestral Manoeuvres classic 'Messages', although not as well as the band themselves did it earlier this year and they finish with Propaganda's 'Duel'. They are very well received by the crowd, despite Claudia's appalling dancing.

Another track they played was a cover of 'Club Country' by the Associates. This was done as a tribute to Billy MacKenzie who would have been 50 this year had he not committed suicide in 1997. MacKenzie who was already suffering with depression, overdosed on prescription drugs in his father's garden shed, after the death of his mother.

So to the main event and a huge backdrop of half the original Dare cover, of the three surviving members, covers the stage. Phil Oakey comes on stage, looking more and more like Christopher Walken in manner and dress, each time I see him. They launch straight into Dare, in its entity and in order. The problem is, it's immediately an anticlimax because the first three tracks of the album are well known live favourites anyway so the occasion doesn't really happen until 'Darkness' is played. Now had they thrown in a few pre-Dare rarities first then that would have whipped up the expectation straight away. How about opening with something like 'Girls And Boys' which was the first League Mark 2 single anyway.

'Do or Die' is my favourite track off Dare and I haven't heard them play this since the Hysteria tour in err.. 1985 was it? but tonight it falls a little flat. It doesn't help that they seem to prolong the instrumental bit in the middle and Phil and the girls disappear off stage for no apparent reason.

It’s side two of the vinyl that makes the night. The three tracks that merge together on record, the brief 'Get Carter' (that Phil milks for all its worth), the fantastically haunting 'I Am The Law' and a sensational 'Seconds', with great graphics. For the first time they crank the bass up and you can feel the walls of the auditorium throb. You want them to stop right there, rewind and do all three of them again. Brilliant.

Throughout the crowd are very static (standing but barely dancing) and very quiet, none of which is helped by the staid venue. The bands last three visits to Nottingham have all been to Rock City, so it seems an odd decision to downgrade to the Concert Hall this time. I only saw the last of the Rock City gigs in December 2005 but the atmosphere was fantasic. People's attitudes are different at places like Rock City, tonight you get the impression that people have nipped out to grab a concert in the gap between Coronation Street and their evening cocoa and they'll be really pissed off if they're not back in time for the Ten O'clock News.

'Love Action' and 'Don't You Want Me' round off Dare and then we get a totally instrumental Hard Times, purely so the gang can do a clothing change. Then we have a run through of some of the hits starting with the Lebanon and finishing with 'Fascination' and 'Mirror Man'. Regrettably there are no surprises.

The encore starts with a storming 'Being Boiled' and concludes with the immensely annoying 'Together in Electric Dreams'. Which is not even a Human League track but they always play it.

Oakey's voice was excellent throughout and the band weren't bad but still an awful lot was on tape but the three best tracks of the night were by miles 'I Am The Law', 'Seconds' and 'Being Boiled', unfortuantely non of them feature the girls. Who were their usual dancing, singing slightly off-key, selves with numerous costume changes. Perhaps too late for a career move but time to go solo Phil?

The problem with playing your classic album first, as I discovered with Orchestral Manoeuvres this year, is that whatever you play next is going to be an anti-climax. Also, although I thought it would, playing the album in order doesn't work either because there's no surprise, everyone knows what's coming next. What both bands should have done for a retro-tour like this is play it as if it really was the Dare tour (or the Architecture & Morality Tour) e.g. play what you would have played in 1982 on that original tour. Which in the Leagues case would have meant drawing on stuff from 'Travelogue' and 'Reproduction'. They could possibly get away with a few tracks that were close to that period e.g. 'Fascination', 'Mirror Man' and why do they never play the wonderful 'Love You Too Much'? It just doesn't seem right when you mix in stuff from twenty years later. Just my opinion.

In 2005 they did a greatest hits set, is there any point in doing the same thing every year? Go on surprise us. Just because 'Dare' sold millions doesn't make it a classic album, it's a classic album simply because it is! If you see what I mean. 'Travelogue' is a classic too, now there's a thought...

Go on Phil do it, 'Dare' To Be different, I can see it now...

'A crow and a baby had an affair...'

Monday, 26 November 2007

It Was Fun But Not Very

It took 55 minutes to get to work in the car today, no quicker than by bike and whole lot less fun.

The big news is of course that Billy Davies has parted company with Derby. His departure seems to have less to do with the football side, although obviously that hasn't been very good, and more to do with the fact that the new chairman, Adam Pearson, had had enough of his whinging. He's lucky he's only been here four weeks the rest of us have been listening to it for eighteen months.

I didn't hear it, but the final straw seems to have been the post-match interview that Billy gave on Saturday, when he badmouthed the chairman about the lack of investment after Saturdays game. After which a showdown was inevitable. When they met this morning, I imagine Billy said something like 'Give me £40M to spend on players or I'm off'. Then after Adam Pearson had finished laughing he would have said 'Close the door on your way out'.

So see you then Billy, it was fun but not very. As they say, the only way is up or in this case down and then up again.

Daughter supplies some excellent gossip via L, who she's sworn to strict secrecy in case I 'bloody well blog it' but she tells me anyway. Mothers eh? You just can't trust them.

Well I daren't blog it anyway because if I did Daughter will exact revenge on me, I think she's still mulling over the horse's head idea in her mind. Instead I'm thinking of starting a 'secret' blog on the side for such gems. L's already given me a name for it 'A blog on the dark side'. I like that.

Dog class and it's a fairly easy Grade 4 type course tonight that Doggo has no problems with. So it's a good evening in that respect. We collect L from yoga and head home, where L does a rather spicy chilli.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Bricking It

A slight headache but surprisingly not too bad. I feel a bit rough but it's more of a curry thing I think. I start to get romantic with L but have to abort. Very unlike me.

For the first time for ages we go Orienteering, at Watermead Park in Leicester, home of the Woolly Mammoth. Unfortunately Doggo remembers what it's all about. L does red, I do blue. The Brown looks very tempting, one less control than the blue and 10k in length but I resist. Doggo looks grateful.

It's a very easy course and therefore some fast times are posted. We finish 35th out of 44. Not terribly impressive. We are a massive 23 minutes behind the winner but I imagine that he didn't have to stop to pick up his dog's dump, or have to take a detour because his collie couldn't get over a high gate or have to go hunting for said collie when it refused to push through some overgrown undergrowth. Although to Doggo's credit he was sat there waiting for my return but being the heartless owner I am I pulled him through the undergrowth anyway. Afterwards, we have hot soup and coffee before returning home.

L does roast gammon for Sunday lunch, very nice. Then it's Broadway. This week's film is Brick Lane which is based on a novel by Monica Ali.

After the suicide of her month, Nazneen, a young seventeen-year-old Bangladeshi girl, is sent to England for an arranged marriage to Chanu, a supposedly ‘educated man’. The film then picks up sixteen years later. It is now 2001 and we find Nazneen living in a council flat on Brick Lane. Her existence appears to be miserable, her 'educated' husband is nothing of the sort and means nothing to her, her only joy her children, her only escape is writing to her sister back home.

Her first step on the road to escape from this life is when she starts a job sewing clothes from her flat. This brings her into contact with the westernised Karim, at which point married women's syndrome kicks in and she's on her back almost before she's finished sewing the seams on her first batch of jeans.

Then 9/11 happens and everything changes, Karim changes and surprisingly her husband seems to change too. Originally he appeared to be an immensely dislikeable character but he turns out to be slightly misunderstood and in the end rather likeable. He wants to take the family back to Bangladesh but Nazeen realises that it's time to deal with her life and make her own decisions. He returns alone.

The film has been criticised for ducking the issues on what is a sensitive subject. However despite trying hard not to offend anyone it has still been seen as a controversial film by the Bangladeshi community and has even been met with protests. It's difficult to comment as I have not read the book, so I don't know if the book takes a softer or a harder stance than the film but if you're making the film of the book then you can't really come to conclusions that the book doesn't.

It is though a very enjoyable film, an insight into a life with very little freedom but it's perhaps telling that it didn't provoke much debate from L and I, unlike some of the films we've seen recently.

Once at home, I get to complete what I aborted this morning.

32 units, not bad considering I think I had 15 on Saturday night.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The View From The Patio

A pleasant lie in but we still get up fairly early for us, to go out and stock up on meat from the farm shop and spices from the Indian shop. All life’s necessities.

Daughter drops a late rescheduling of her evening on us. The sleepover tonight is off and has become a party instead, finishing at around 10pm. Bugger. Means our plans for L to meet me after the match in Derby will have to be scrapped so that we can collect her. Daughter informs us she’ll be absolutely fine walking home on her own. Ahemm. As the well-known author and sometime poet Rae Earl would say ‘HELLO?’ Fourteen-year-old girl walks home alone in the crime capital of the World. I don't think so. Mind you Rae would also have said to her Mother, ‘Didn't girls do that sort of thing when you were young?’. Well yes, of course they did but some of them took liberties and turned it into a holiday, in somewhere nice like Margate, for sixteen years, enjoying the patio from the wrong side.

I take Doggo for a ball session on the park and then I get the bus over to the match. Daughter has arranged a lift home from her party, so L will be coming over to join me after all.

According to Sky, Derby have had the lowest number of shots in the Premier League at 99. Now 99 sounds bloody good to me, I certainly can't remember more than a dozen or so. Where do they get these stats from? They must be confusing us hacking the ball out of play for a shot.

In the match, Derby play very defensively but it works well and they look a much better side. Chelsea are a total bore, plenty of passing it around but they don’t really press us. They seem to be waiting for us to make a mistake. Which we duly do after only eighteen minutes and give them the lead. All their England ‘stars’ get booed every time they touch the ball, as apparently is the case all over the country today but they don’t look bothered. If they felt any guilt over Wednesday night they would at least look miserable, they don’t. A lot of the crowd have probably turned up to see Frank Lampard, they needn’t have bothered, he didn’t, just like he didn’t for England.

Second half and Billy must have induced some oomph into the lads because we certainly have more shots than Chelsea. Then Kenny Miller takes a Dean Leacock pass on his chest and coolly lobs the Chelsea keeper only for a linesman's flag to wrongly flag him offside. Then soon after Shevchenko clatters into Giles Barnes from behind, a certain yellow card but the referee waves play on and Lampard, suddenly realising there’s a game on, strides away with the ball and hits the post with a shot, only for Wright-Phillips to tuck home the rebound. Daylight robbery. As Barnes limps off, the referee, seemingly racked with guilt, gives Derby a succession of decisions in their favour but the wrong cannot be righted. Not even when in injury time, Essien who had only been on the pitch for fifteen minutes is dismissed for elbowing Miller in the face. Nice.

I meet L off the bus and we go to the Flowerpot. Not such a good beer selection tonight, L tries a Cider that although 6% isn't that pleasant. We rescue the evening by discovering that if we mix the 4.3% Stout with the 10% Thomas Sykes ale we get a cracking beer, and a dark one at that.

We get the Red Arrow home again; it was early of course and pop for a curry at Savera, which is rather good.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Damn Made The Wrong Choice Again

We're out for a meal tonight, so I decide not to bike in order to get home in enough time to exercise Doggo a little. So I get a bit of a lay in this morning. L starts something and I finish it.

Its sods law that because I'm not on my bike the A52 will be more hell than usual. Luckily I catch the travel on the TV before I leave which tells me that a BMW has reshaped the central reservation somewhere between Stapleford and Nottingham. So I avoid the A52 and go through Ilkeston instead, although the radio now said it has all been cleared, shame they hadn’t told the TV people.

Having gone in the car to try and get back in time to exercise the dog, when I get home he seems content to just play in the garden rather than do a run with me. However his enthusiasm soon turns to total apathy, of course this happens only once it's too late to take him out for a run.

L gets home and tells me to put my cold hands down her front to cool her premenstrual chest. You can see why I'm with her. That's the kind of girl I like.

L gets kitted out in skirt and boots, phoarr and we head over to Derby on the bus. There’s a guy on the bus on his mobile and we are transfixed by his conversation. He seems to be arranging a girl for tonight and seemingly another one to come around to his place in the morning. On top of that he’s also on the phone to his Mum arranging his Sunday lunch. Talk about getting your life sorted.

We do Mexican tonight with some friends. The menu is a little dull but then all Mexican’s are, never really any surprises. I have nachos to start which are done quite differently, certainly not out of a packet. Very good. I opt for chilli for main, predictable but I’m starving and this dish is usually huge. The chilli is very good but comes in a pot which takes up most of the plate and hence it’s a small portion. At the other table they are getting huge sizzling fajitas. Damn made the wrong choice again. The chilli though is very good. I'm still hungry, so need a dessert. Unfortunately the cheesecake is minuscule; they must have had a special knife to cut it that thin. In the end, a good meal, nothing out of the ordinary and not enough of it but that’s just me being a greedy pig! All washed down with two bottles of Rioja Tinto, which was very good. That’s two bottles just between L and me. One is just never enough but two is sometimes a bit excessive. Our friends, who are not big drinkers, have a bottle of white between them, which is an event in itself. They even come on the bus, so that they can go wild.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Man In The Oversized Shoes

I'm on the pub run, so regrettably I have to take the car in today. The upside is a bit more time in bed, time to indulge.

It's cold, so it would have been a refreshing bike ride. It's so cold in fact that I have to scrape the ice off the car windscreen. The traffic is awful; it's a total pain being in the car. It doesn't actually take that long; I just think I'm becoming more intolerant of it.

Last night's result costs Steve McClaren his job as England manager. No one seems to be giving him any credit for his superb tactics that restricted Croatia to three goals. Billy Davies would understand.

As none of the home nations have qualified there are calls to bring back the Home International Championship, now that would be worth seeing, much better than the European Championships but doubt it'll happen because it makes too much sense.

Cottage pie for lunch, the pub seems to have a bit of a Foxfield thing going on, loads of their beers. The 4% bitter that I have is quite good.

When I get home it's raining, not much but enough for Doggo to refuse to play ball in the garden. I would take him for a walk if he looked keen but he doesn't.

My opponent turns up for squash with two new racquets, a new sports bag, and new shoes. Five years spending in one go; bet he felt faint after that. Turns out his shoes are a bad idea, too big. He makes a right din as he clatters around the court in his oversized shoes. Unfortunately it doesn't hamper his performance as he opens up a 4-0 lead. I pull it back to 4-2 and it would have finished 4-3 had I not upset him by calling one of his shots 'down' before he hit it. This annoys him so much, he pulls back the deficit and wins the final game. Big tactical mistake!

He's on the beer tonight as well, so we have two. Howling Ale from Cottage's Whippet range 4.5%, almost dark.

Get home and L is creased, barely awake. She goes to bed while I have the pasta she has left for me.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The Wrong Trousers

L is almost too tempting this morning and she also appears to be quite lively but I am strong. She's looking lively and that's all before I’ve even put my lycra on. Well not actually my lycra because my fast drying lycra is still, well fast drying, slowly and looking like it will be for the rest of the week. So I put her lycra on instead. Perhaps that's why she's so alert this morning.

It's bleaker than yesterday but I opt for a cold drink instead of a hot one and regret it, in the end I could have done with a drink of hot plastic. It's a bit foggy in Nottingham, so no one notices that I’ve got the ‘wrong trousers’ on but it's pretty much cleared by the time I get to Derby. Still no one notices, so perhaps they suit me.

No one seems to notice my incorrect attire on the way home either, that is until I'm powering up Derby Road, overtaking most of the losers queuing in their cars. Then one of them winds down the car window down and at first I think the female passenger is going to point out that I'm wearing girl's lycra. Although perhaps I have her wrong and she's a fellow cyclist, having a day off, who's going to compliment me on my hill climbing technique. However I'm wrong on both counts. All I get is a blast of music, which would have been nice had the occupants of the car not had such bad taste in music. I think it was that girl who sounds like she's named herself after a venereal disease. Rihanna is it?

I head for the pool, which is quite busy and for once I stay out of the fast lane, away from any psychos out to humiliate me.

There’s a fairly 'big' game tonight, well only big because all the FA Cup replays were last night. Thankfully McClaren leaves out Beckham and surprisingly Robinson too, but everyone agrees it's the correct decision. As for the timing, well his replacement Scott Carson would perhaps have benefited from more friendlies and less watching Robinson from the sidelines because with only eight minutes gone, a Croatian shot bounced just in front of him and Carson does a Robinson and parries the ball into the roof of the net. Perhaps no surprise as he was understudy to him at Leeds as well as at England. He's obviously taught him everything. I kind of suspected it wasn't going to be a good night when I noticed McClaren had pinched Billy Davies's 4-5-1 tactics, right down to the dodgy defence.

Six minutes later it got a whole lot worse as the Croats serenely dribbled the ball around Carson and rolled it into an empty net as the defence embarrassingly appealed for offside. Hilarious, I was very disappointed that I had to leave it and go out but dog training is more important.

Dog training goes incredibly well. Doggo is good if a little blasé. Between runs I check the latest score on my phone. Blimey, I'm surprised to see that England have hauled it back to 2-2. Particularly as Lampard scored the first of them, a penalty, which must have been his first touch of the ball. I am stunned he wasn't replaced at half time.

It turns out though that the devious Croats are just toying with us, they march down the other end of the pitch and score the winner. It was to be expected I suppose. England always scrape through by the skin of their teeth in the last game, so their luck was bound to run out eventually.

What surprised me though was that, after the draw was made, people said it was an easy group and they're still saying it now. Ok it could have be worse but Croatia, Russia, Israel, and England appeared to me to all be very closely matched average quality teams, unless of course you have an inflated view of England's ability. So it was always going to be an exciting four way battle and so it proved. We were wrong on one thing though, Croatia are not as closely matched as we thought, they are miles ahead of the rest of the group.

You would hope this defeat would trigger major changes to the structure of the game in this country but no one is holding their breath.

Get home for Salmon curry and a bit of Bleak.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Whoops, Where Did I Put That Computer Disk

On my bike today and I'm trying out a new ‘sports drink’, well I've put caramel syrup in my hot coffee, I’m sure it’ll be disgusting but I thought it was worth a go. Unfortunately the weather isn't really cold enough to warrant it but I suppose you can't have everything. It was better than just coffee but it still tasted of plastic thanks to my drinks bottle. Caramel flavoured plastic with a hit of coffee, yum yum, Costa Coffee will be beating my door down for the recipe. L reckons a splash of rum would be far better. I’m sure it would be but I'm not sure she'd be sending me on my way with her usual words of 'have a safe cycle' if I did.

Cracking stuff from our Government. It's absolutely hilarious or it would be if it wasn't so serious. HM Revenue and Customs have lost two DVD computer discs containing the entire child benefit records. This includes the names, addresses, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers, and bank account details of 25 million people. Whoops. They were sent out in the internal mail from Newcastle but never arrived in London. They've not said if the Royal Mail were involved but if they were, then everyone can breathe a sign of relief because the disks will never be found.

Rain is forecast from around 11am but it doesn't arrive until around 3pm. By the time I cycle home it's getting quite heavy. Well at least I get chance to try out my new rubber booties. One thing I find out is that they don't work well with my thermal socks. I get seriously hot feet and get home to find that my shoes are wetter on the inside than on the outside. Ugh.

I don't take Doggo out for our planned run, partly because I don't want to dry off only to get cold and wet again but also because he's hiding in the bedroom anyway, as he clearly has no wish to go out in the rain. He's probably still traumatised by his walk at the weekend.

L gets home soon after me, just a little too late to help with the wet lycra removal. She's looking pretty damp herself and very fetching with it. I drag her into the bedroom and pay homage. Resistance is minimal.

I cook 'posh' spam curry and while it's cooking I take out Doggo for a walk, as it's now stopped raining and he has emerged from his hiding place. He really takes the Mickey by supplying three dumps for me to pick up. The second is as huge as the first and he stands by it grinning at me. I wasn’t even convinced the second one was his but it was still warm, I can't see any other dogs, so I suppose it must be his.

After the curry, we indulge in a bit more bleak, Bleak house that is.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Shock Horror, We Watch Some TV

I wake up and realise that L has been wearing pyjamas all night. A tad provocative and with predicable results.

It's Monday, so it's the car today. The traffic is awful but not too bad, I expected worse.

L's fed up; the post weekend away blues this time rather than the odious beast. She's obviously missing our wet tent and the wet dog that comes with it. That 'wet' dog has had a traumatic morning, mixing it with a JCB, a lorry and a skip lorry, all on the park. All his favourite things together, not. If only a bus had been there too.

Son managed to miss doing his paper round at the weekend, on both days that we were away. Claims he was on time on Saturday but admits he was very late on Sunday. L says he wasn't exactly on time this morning, so we expected to see him unemployed by tonight but apparently no, he's managed to cling on to the job.

One of our favourite haunts, Broadway Cinema, is getting far too much publicity. Apparently Total Film magazine has included it on its list of the best cinemas in the world. Consequently if we now want a pre-film meal there we’re going to have to turn up several hours early to beat the rush.

The place does warrant all the plaudits it gets. Derby take note, this is what Quad has to be like if they want to make a success of it but I'm not holding my breath. The cafe bar is central to Broadway's success and the one at Quad looks very much like a not very well thought out afterthought to me.

The Broadway building dates all the way back to 1839, when it was a Wesleyan Methodist Church. In the 1950's Nottingham Co-operative Society bought the building and the upper floor became home to a new film society. By 1966, they began screening films three days a week. It was the first regional film theatre to open in the UK.

Several revamps have followed:- it became Broadway in 1990, screen two opened in 1992, the café bar a year later, then in 2006 screens three and four were added, one of them designed by Broadway regular, Sir Paul Smith.

In the evening its dog class, which moves at a snails pace tonight, or should that be a grey collie's pace, so we overrun. End up coming out fifteen minutes late, our trainer is getting as bad at time-keeping as Daughter's Guides leader. So I'm late collecting L again.

L cooks up some Chinese chicken and then, shock horror, we watch some TV. A programme on cholesterol pills. Doesn't really tell us anything new, the basic message is don't take pills unless it's the last resort. Which should be the case with all medication, I can't imagine why anyone would want to do anything different.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Sitting Out The Storm

Perfect camping weather, it is howling a gale outside. The wind is buffeting the tent, I realise that I've pitched tent at the wrong angle, and the rain is lashing down. L would call it romantic.

We have also camped in a bit of a wet spot but I think we're going to be all right, I could do without the wet dog in the tent though. Oh and I wake up in the middle of the night, fearing I'm suffocating. Either a Russian frogman is trying to slit my throat or my sinuses are all bunged up.

In the interests of the romantic setting, I don't fight L off, despite the fact she had garlic mushrooms last night, and in any case we have to sit out the storm. Doggo is keeping a very low profile, he doesn’t intend going out in that rain again, if he can possibly help it.

We eventually emerge around 11am, once the rain has stopped. After a reviving shower, I discover that my hangover isn't as bad as I thought.

We drive to Hawkshead, to a pub where we have stayed before, where we intend to have lunch. Two years ago, we stopped there with Doggo in the room and ate with him in the bar. The new owners, probably a pub group, now ban dogs from rooms and from the bar area before 9.30pm. The landlady is out on the steps having a cigarette and in the interests of needing some customers; she relaxes the rules for us. The roast lamb is good as is the Cocker Hoop ale. Shame about the anti-dog stance, this is the Lakes for God's sake, dog ownership is practically compulsory.

Around 3.30, revived, we head for home. Obviously there is a hold up on the motorway because there always is and then it starts snowing on us. It gets quite heavy at one point. This is really annoying, why couldn't it have snowed when we wanted it to, last night while we were in Lakeland. I text Daughter to tell her we’ll be late picking her up. She’s not happy because she’ll now be late for her 8pm date with Richard Hammond.

Back home we lounge in the bath for a while then share a huge Cumberland sausage that we’ve brought back with us and a couple of glasses of red wine.

We watch another episode of Bleak House. In this episode, the character Krook, played by Johnny Vegas, dies in rather unusual circumstances. Dickens, when he wrote this part of the story, was severely criticized for using spontaneous human combustion to kill off Krook. It was at that time thought a plausible way to die, but even so Dickens was accused of perpetuating a vulgar and unscientific superstition. Dickens himself claimed to know of many documented cases.

37 units. It was the Old Peculier’s fault.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Underhand Tactics

I needn't have worried about having to wake L. I set the alarm for 5.30am and all three of us are awoken by it but L physically prevents me getting up, employing some seriously underhand tactics that are as unexpected as they are effective. In the end its 6.40 when we get up, we are on the road an hour later and still make the Lakes in good time. We find a spot to pitch the tent, which isn't easy as the site is very busy. Then we have some hot soup for lunch and go out walking in the valley.

We get slightly lost as ever but that just adds to the experience. The weather though takes a turn for the worst and it starts to rain. It's a good job we haven't gone onto to the fells as the hills have now 'disappeared'.

The trouble with walking in Winter is that it gets dark very early which not only curtails the walking but usually lands us in a pub far too early for our own good. In this case, around 4.30. Doggo is mightily relieved to get out of the rain and promptly shakes himself over a couple who were probably having a romantic moment until a wet dog spoilt it for them.

We have a 'hot' chocolate each to postpone the take up of beer but as with the trend for coffee, they are not remotely hot and have to be drunk more or less straight down. So beer is still taken far too early. I take a wild punt on Thwaites Flying Shuttle 4.6% and bingo, good choice, its dark. It’s also very nice, smooth and nutty like a Stout.

After just one we move down the road, which means another mile or more to walk. Doggo is not at all keen to be dragged out in the rain again. At the next pub it starts to get serious, Old Peculier at 5.6%, this is why we are here. Very nice, I recklessly have three and a Tag Lag 4.4%, to dilute it.

We also eat here. Potato wedges as a starter, which are actually chips and an excellent chilli for main course. Oh and a sticky toffee pudding, just to soak the beer up.

We have the usual problems getting hold of the kids to check they are still alive, not helped by the absence of mobile reception and L's dodgy phone. Daughter isn't too hard to track down but it takes about ten rings on the pay phone at the pub to finally get a response from Son.

It's the penultimate round of qualifiers for the 2008 European Championships today and amazingly Israel beat Russia 2-1 and Macedonia beat Croatia 2-0 to do England a major favour. Meaning failure is once more back in their own hands, when they play Croatia on Wednesday.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Nippy Enough To Make A Collie Frisky

It's cold again this morning but not freezing, probably just about nippy enough to make a collie frisky but not much more than that. As usual my legs are cold for about the first mile or so but after that they're fine. My sports drink is probably a bit too cold for the conditions though and makes me wince about when I have a swig from it.

I cycle past several schools on the way and they are all on a dress down day, so I assume today must be Children In Need day. Although Daughter's school had their dress down day last week but I think that's just their way of getting out of giving all the money to the charity.

It's quite a coincidence that in the same week that L has been enjoying swimming with his ghost, Lionel 'Buster' Crabb is back in the news. A Russian former frogman has claimed that he was the man who cut Buster's throat all those years ago. He still doesn't make it any clearer as to whether the body they found was Crabb or not.

I cycle home. L is at the gym, confusing her female imagery. Daughter has apparently bottled out of joining her, citing wet feet as the reason. I don't know, the kids of today, they just don't take advantage of modern technology. A towel, clean dry socks, and a change of shoes and off you go.

I get home and do some packing. The dog show is off, thanks to the Post Office but we've decided to go to the Lakes anyway. Daughter has 'shopping plans' on Saturday, so we don't go as we would have preferred on the Friday but instead we will aim to leave early Saturday morning.

This leaves us with the dilemma of what to do tonight. I don’t want to get too slaughtered if we’re getting up early but I suppose a pint or three wouldn’t hurt. The big worry is what time I need to get L to bed in order to get her up early tomorrow. Whatever time, it'll be a tough job.

The trip to the pub was well worth it. Three Farmers Stout. 4.5%

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Conflicting Images Of Femininity

What wonderful weather this morning, three degrees below zero and sunny. It would have been a cracking cycle in. Would you believe that some people are bemoaning the cold and longing for the return of summer. Did I miss something here, they're longing for the return of that wet, miserable period a few months back? Give me winter any day, preferably with six-foot high snowdrifts but now I'm just dreaming.

I take the bus, no squash tonight but I'm still resting my legs. Don't want to be subject to any more embarrassing overtaking moves by the over 60's.

As I walk to catch the bus I spot in the distance a grey dog lurching from house to house with a person attached to it. Ah, that must be L and Doggo on the papers. One downside of the cold is that it makes Doggo incredibly frisky and it looks like he's giving L a good workout this morning.

Lots of 'crap' in the papers today. The exercise issue is in the news again. They say that 80% of women are not doing enough exercise to be healthy. Despite the fact that women feel under incredible pressure to be thin, they say they hate the way they look when they exercise and say it 'conflicts with their image of femininity', so they don't do it. Which doesn't tally with the fact that most men think women look dead sexy when they exercise. Their loss. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, as they say.

Mind you, someone who did get on his bike and do some exercise has been sentenced to three years on probation. A chap was caught in the 'act' with his bicycle by cleaners in his bedroom at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr. They knocked on his door but there was no reply, so they let themselves in with the master key. They discovered the chap in a compromising position with his bike. Now he's been charged with sexually aggravated breach of the peace and been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. Perverse yes but surely what you get up to in your own room is your own business. Would he have ended up in court had he been doing it with a real person? It must have been a carbon frame.

Another royal cock-up by my good friends at the Royal Mail means my entry for Saturday's dog show hasn’t been delivered. So that's stuffed our weekend. We were planning to go to the show at Preston and then carry on up to the Lakes for the rest of the weekend. L's even been out and bought three bottles of mulled wine to ward off the cold, one red, one white and one AF. We're tempted to go anyway and just do the Lakes. Think we'll leave the AF one at home though.

When I get home, Daughter and L have gone off to the gym. I ought to run, so I take Doggo for a spin round the pond. It ends up more interesting than I intended. I put gloves on and when I attempt to scratch my eye, I miss. In the process I dislodge a contact lens which promptly disappears up my eye somewhere. Running round the pond in the dark by torch light with only one eye working is very disorientating. Eventually I manage to jiggle the lens back into the centre of my eye and thankfully full vision is restored.

At home L cooks up some very nice trout with mushroom ragout, which has sherry in it and she pours me a stonking glass of the sherry that is left over and a glass of red wine as well. So another fairly boozy night. Then we enjoy a double dose of Bleak House and post-watershed afters.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Porsche Trouble

I ride in again but it doesn’t go quite as stormin' as yesterday, I think L did me in last night, although she prefers to blame the dog. Well at least I'm in the clear. I must have been tired because I got overtaken again, someone from the Sherwood Cycling Club, which wouldn't normally be of concern but he appeared to be from the Sherwood Cycling Club Over 60's Branch. You see they're all fitter than me.

I have more problems on the way home when some wide boy in a silver Porsche skims past me with millimetres to spare. I know his game he's trying to put a stripe down my pedals with his paintwork. He'd better not, my pedals were expensive, at least £30 and a Christmas present from L. He'd got one of those dyslexic number plates on his car. I think it used to be 'C42 ISP' or something like that but he's rearrange it, moved the screws around and now I think he's trying to tell me his name is 'CHRIS P' but no matter how hard I squint at it, it still looks like it says 'TWAT 1' to me.

I cycle to the pool and do my swim. I have to battle with a chap who's doing lengths totally non-stop and very fast. I have to keep stopping to let him past. I consider moving into the next lane but I recognise the female psycho in that lane doing a similar thing, I've learnt not to mess with her. Then the annoying chap from last week gets in, the one who waits for me to start swimming then comes past me. I'm not in the mood for that sort of game so I get out immediately. I notice non-stop guy gets out soon after me.

L is in the gym and I give her a wave as I leave. She looks very 'fit' on the cross-country skiing machine, or whatever it's called, is that the 'cross trainer'?

L's already suggested that I meet her after yoga and that we go for a pint in the Plough but we probably ought to stay AF, as we didn’t abstain on Sunday. Also I had planned to run Doggo and meet Daughter from Guides at the same time, I also don’t want to doze off during Bleak House. Mind you cycle, swim, run... it’s going to be tough staying awake after all that anyway...

In the end Daughter doesn't go to Guides, so I turn Doggo's run into a walk and to our surprise we end up meeting L from yoga and yes we end up in the Plough. Two Supremes and a Legend, not good for a Wednesday.

Back home, our first film from our new cheaper, pay as you go, DVD club has arrived. It's called Easycinema and is ran by the EasyJet people or rather it's not because everything is stamped Lovefilm. Bugger and I thought we'd dumped them.

We don't risk Bleak House and after some slag (food that is, fish fingers, eggs and beans) we retire to bed, where it's my turn to be lively, so I'm told.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Enjoying the View

On bike. It's not as cold this morning, there's a bit of rain in the air but it's not too bad. I had a hot coffee from my flask in Sandiacre, warming though this is; I'm still not convinced it's an ideal drink for cycling. There's a bit left in my flask but by Borrowash it's getting a bit cold. Unfortunately as I slow down to glug the last few drops someone has the nerve to overtake me. Naturally I give chase and catch them up but before I can get my own back they turn off. Typical.

Controversy at Derby County and I don't mean the appalling quality of the football. The club mascot, Rammie, a chap called Dean Mottram, has been 'relieved of his duties' after 17 years in the job. According to the club, it follows a row over how aspects of his role were funded. Dean, who's now 40, which is an excellent age to be, started the job in 1990 before becoming the football league's first full-time mascot in 1996. There will be a replacement but it won't be the same.

L's been swimming with Buster again, although apparently I've been blogging about the wrong Buster Crabbe. I should have been writing about Lionel Crabb (no 'e'), who gained the nickname 'Buster', in honour of the other Buster Crabbe, the one I did blog about. Confusing eh?

This Crabb is actually more intriguing. In 1956 he dived into Portsmouth Harbour, supposedly on a MI6 undercover mission and was never seen again. Well until 14 months later, when a body in a frogman suit was found floating off Pilsey Island. The body though was missing its head and both hands. Neither, Crabb's ex-wife nor his girlfriend were able to confirm whether it was or wasn't actually him. So they obviously didn't know him that well! I would hope L would be able to identify my body in such circumstances e.g. if I ever do an open-water swim and it all goes pear-shaped.

I cycle home and then L joins Doggo and me for a run around the pond, doing our new route. It shocks L that I've actually changed my route, Doggo and I are both creatures of habit when it comes to running. Well Doggo is a creature of habit with everything.

L tells me that the other day on my blog I made life sound like a pint. Well it is, isn’t it? You either see life as a glass half empty or a glass half full but whatever your preference it's better off drunk. She says I used to say life was a game of football, in my young and impetuous days. Hmmm. Football’s not even a game of football these days and is she implying that I'm not impetuous anymore? Wait till I get her home.

Unfortunately my life is more of a triathlon these days, e.g. bloody frustrating. A triathlon though, according to L, is a jog with the occasional nice view. Hmmm, that's simplistic view but she's right about the occasional nice view. Unfortunately it usually finishes ahead of me, except tonight when she's behind me, all that's ahead of me is the collie.

I cook up a Keema, which is rather good, if I do say so myself. Then we plough on with Bleak House, without wine, which is a bit of a challenge. Bleak House is actually rather good, although I am tired and we only manage one episode. Despite being tired I do feel that I've sussed the plot and its only episode four.

The tiredness induces an early night, thankfully L's more lively than me, must be all that swimming kicking in, which leaves me free to enjoy the nice view.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Exercise Is Good For You

I get a rare 'good' morning from L on the email; this is apparently because the scales are down this morning. There seems to be a 'competition' going on at her work and she is now four pounds ahead. The red wine and curry diet is obviously working well. Her opponent is apparently gutted, L appears elated. L keeps telling me that she hasn't go a competitive bone in her body. Hmmmm. Who needs squash eh?

The gardeners around here at work have carpeted over all the flowerbeds and then pulled the plants through holes in the carpet. Why do they do this? There must be a reason. It is to protect them from frost or are they going to put mulch over the top. I don't know but it looks crap at the moment.

From today's papers, exercise is good for you, particularly if you're a man and it's your partner who's doing it. Women who exercise at least five times a week have the best sex lives. The gym is good but cycling is better, women who cycle, are twice as 'active' as those who don't but that’s obvious, it's because they're ogling us male cyclists with our muscles clad in clinging lycra. Swimming though is the best thing, a swimmer in their forties is as rampant as a twenty year old. That reminds me, I must finishing writing that training schedule for L.

Dog class goes well. The trainer sets ups a typical 2007 style Grade 5 course, the sort of tricky course we've seen a lot of this season. So it's good practice. We do well but don't go clear, so it's a typical 2007 Grade 5 performance from us.

We collect L from yoga, hope her training went well...

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Death Bind

Another briefer than usual lie-in and then we run with Doggo to retrieve the car from where we left it last night at L's work. We cross the park, the university and then down the canal. Similar to the route I did with Doggo on Thursday.

Then I pop to Evans Cycles because I need a new pair of gloves to stop my fingers dropping off now that the mornings are colder. Surprisingly they have a good range, including all the ones that were on my short list. I even buy a pair.

I spend the afternoon with the Sunday papers which are full of the usual rubbish, such as Trinny and Susannah recommending that woman dunk their chest in a bowl of water to calculate their bra size. The mind boggles.

Talking of odd activities, L shows me what she gets up to in yoga. It's called the 'death bind' or is it a 'body bind'. It's quite disturbing, in a pleasant, racy sort of way.

I cook up a rather good prawn patia. We have no DVDs in the house after finally dumping LoveFilm, so we decided to restart L's aborted attempt to show me the delights of Bleak House. We watch episodes 2 and 3, it's been a long time since I watched episode one but I think I got the gist of it. It probably helps that we hit the red wine, which we shouldn't really on a Sunday but it's been a fairly low alcohol week. Then we retire to bed to finish off the lie-in.

28 units this week.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

The Meaning Of Happiness

I must be knackered because it's a fairly brief lie-in this morning, then I get up to take Doggo on the park. Daughter goes off to a sleepover.

Then it's off to the football. Today we have the only premiership game at 3pm on the 'traditional' Saturday. What a bizarre time to play a football match in this 'modern' age.

Oh dear, 5-0, I fear our bubble has burst. Ok so it might have been a very small bubble. Worst thing was West Ham weren't even any good, at least for the first half and were there for the beating. Again we played with only one striker and he wasn't even fit. Our run of six easy games of which we needed to win probably three of them and preferably remain unbeaten has yielded a grand total of two points.

Therefore the lynch mob is out for Billy Davies. I've never been a great Billy Davies fan but it would be unfair to sack him, he did incredibly well to get a mid-table championship team promoted and now they've been found out for what they are - a mid-table championship team.

After the match, and before, the traffic is horrendous; almost like a workday on Pride Park. I assume it's the combination of bigger crowds this season, a new 'shopping' centre and XXXXXmas on its way. Don't suppose anyone will do anything about it.

So it's a bit of a rush to get to Broadway, we have to take the car and dump it at L's work. At Broadway they tell us we can't have a 'bite' this week, the kitchen is just too busy. I comfort myself with two pints of Newby Wyke.

We see 'Into the Wild', which is a road movie of sorts. It is written and directed by Sean Penn, based on a real-life novel. The main character, Christopher McCandless, has just graduated from college. Despite getting good grades, he is unhappy with his life. He resents his parents and their marriage, though perhaps for good reason and he dislikes our hollow, materialist world (who doesn't?) and decides to do 'something' about it. So without a word, he donates his $24,000 savings to Oxfam and goes off in his old Datsun.

Calling himself 'Alexander Supertramp', he hits the road, possibly to find a meaning for his life or perhaps simply to hide from it. His goal is to get to Alaska, but on his way there, he hits many other states and at one point ends up in Mexico, which is totally the wrong direction. We know he gets to Alaska because the film cuts between his days there living in the abandoned 'Magic' bus, where he keeps a diary of sorts, and his two-year road trip that preceded it. On the way he makes several foolish decisions but gets away with most of them, such as illegally running the Colorado rapids in a kayak, other times he is not so lucky, like when he is caught riding the railways and is beaten for his troubles.

For someone who appears to want to leave the bad old world behind and live a life of solitude, he meets and befriends an awful lot of people, people who are slightly oddball like himself. They are almost all very good to him but he avoids getting too close to anyone. He believes that this is not necessary for happiness. It is this rejection of human contact that strikes you the most, without these people he could not have survived. He bonds with the kind old Mr. Franz, a lonely widower and also a very genuine ageing hippie couple. He touches these people but then just walks away. He develops a 'friendship' with a 16-year-old female singer, who fancies him so much that in the end she offers herself to him on a plate and again he simply walks away.

He is also very inconsiderate of his family; he appears to love his sister, who voice-overs the film, but even keeps her in the dark about his whereabouts and safety, as if a single phone call would spoil his rebellion. He is certainly cocky and self-assured but often he just comes across as a pretentious and arrogant young man.

The ending is dramatic although you can see it coming because the build up to it is slow. Alone in Alaska, he realises that he is out of his depth, cut off by the river so he can no longer leave, he struggles to kill the animals he needs for food and falls victim to poisonous plants. You still kind of hope for the cavalry to arrive and rescue him but somehow you know this isn't going to happen.

The movie itself is gorgeously shot; there are fantastic scenes of Alaska and other parts of America. Great tracking shots of mountains, plains, rivers, and the wild animals. The film, though, is too long at around two and a half hours.

In the end, the power of the film is in its final scenes, when he realises that he has made a dreadful mistake. Not just in his misguided adventure into Alaska alone but in his misconception of what constitutes happiness. You could say that in the end he reaps the consequences of his naivety and stupidity. What he learns in the end, and scribbles in his diary, is that 'Happiness is only real if shared'. If only he had realised it sooner.

We are both starving and we go to the Mogul for a curry, where for some reason all the staff are in a huge hurry. We are asked five times within as many minutes for our order and then when we finally give into their nagging and order, it all arrives within minutes. Not at all a relaxing place to have a meal. I have a bottle of Tiger with it but only one because we didn't have time to order any more. So quite a low alcohol night really.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Pints Of Stilton

A fairly lonely bike in today; no runner, no blonde, I don't even see the old timer with the Santa beard on his bike. Even lonelier at work because L is not in work today and our wonderful email system is blocking all her emails from home, thanks Microsoft.

The latest crap research reveals why moody teenagers specialise in nonchalant sideways glances and shoe gazing. It has been revealed that looking a potential mate straight in the eye makes you up to eight times more attractive to them, that is if she doesn't dismiss you as a creep. So while they think it makes them look cool, it is in fact, just nature’s way of keeping the under-age pregnancy statistics under control.

Also in the news, in the national press no less, is Arnold Hill School in Nottingham. This is the school where on Tuesday a woman turned up at the school dressed as a WPC to wish one of the pupils a very happy birthday. It is believed the boy's mother had intended to book a gorillagram for her son and had even gained a teacher's permission but a stripper turned up instead. The WPC apparently asked the birthday boy to stand up before dancing to Britney Spears in front of his classmates. At which point the teacher stopped the show, presumably because of the woman's poor taste in music.

The account reported by the over-excited national media was far more exciting. In their reports the woman stripped to her underwear, had the teenager put a collar on her, spanked the boy sixteen times (once of each year of his age) and asked him to rub cream onto her body. Then she ordered him to get on all fours and led him around the classroom. Unfortunately and presumably to the disappointment of the rest of the class, it appears that none of this actually happened.

For some reason it's a fast ride home, a new fastest time for my new route through Bramcote. L is on hand for some celebratory lycra stripping.

We walk Doggo down to Beeston for a few beers. We nearly don't get there as the fireworks are still carrying on and one particular bang is a little too close to home for him. I manage to talk him into continuing, although he insists on a very brisk pace. It's worth the trip, Stilton porter (two pints) and Otter Ale (two pints) both excellent. Even L's on the pints of Stilton. Home for chilli and Jools.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

To Return... Or Not

I'm not playing squash tonight but I still take the bus. I feel my legs need a rest and I'm also planning a long run with the dog tonight, although I've not told Doggo yet.

L reads up on Volver on Wikipedia. She just can’t resist ‘reading the book’ but I can't have her knowing the plot, if I don't, so I have to have a read too.

We do the pub at lunch and I try some of the Flowerpot's new own brew, King Street Ale, it's not bad but a bit too sharp for me. Have Steak and Kidney pie too.

L gets an email trying to recruit me into a cross-country team. I'm not sure I'm available, I'm still considering an offer from a rival team that I got after the Notts 5 although I think that might have been retracted after I trounced the chap who offered at both the Jagermeister and Shepshed. He's since stopped speaking to me.

Another reason I'm not playing squash is because L wants to go shopping and that would mean dumping Doggo. It also gives my opponent more time to get a new (stronger) racquet, after what he did to his last week. So instead of squash I take Doggo for a loop around Wollaton, the University and then down the canal to meet L at Sainsbury's. I think he would have preferred that I had played squash. He seemed to have a look of resignation on his face for most of the run.

We hit a problem on the canal tow path, where we catch a bike up. This girl is riding with no lights. Ok so she won't get hit by a car on the tow path but she could end up in the water because she clearly can't see where she's going. It can't help having a dog breathing down you back wheel either. In the end we overtake which means we now have to concentrate on staying ahead. Finally we make it to Sainbury's and Doggo flops in the car while I go and find L.

After we get back with the shopping we feast romantically on pate and cheese washed down with red wine, a glass of, not a bath full. Then afterwards we finished off Volver or does it finish us off.

Penelope Cruz plays Raimunda, who, finds herself husbandless, thanks to her own daughter. He came on to her and she stabbed him. Little is made of the attempted rape or the subsequent murder, by mother or Daughter; they just shrug their shoulders 'oh well' and get on with life. This sets the tone for the film as other things happen, everyone's dirty washing falls out of the cupboard and the plot gets weirder and more convoluted. Raimunda's sister, Sole thinks she's seeing the ghost of their dead mother, and... well there's just too much to go into.

I suppose it's a kind of film noir but it’s also like a soap opera, I can't really see why it got all the plaudits. It’s well shot, well made, Penelope Cruz is passable but hardly sensational. I suppose compared with her previous efforts she's a revelation but she still has to mime when she's asked to perform a flamenco number.

It all left me cold. It's a story about women sticking together with an almost all female cast. It's a film for girls but then I don't think L was that fussed by it either. Volver means 'to return'. Hmmm, not in this case.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Drowning In A Bath Of Red Wine

I have tired legs this morning and it's bloody windy, all in all it took me nearly ten minutes longer to get to work than usual. It didn’t help my momentum that a woman in a Ka pulled out in front of me at Station Road in Borrowash, it's nearly always the women, and I'm sure she saw me. Having forced me to brake hard once, she then immediately indicates to turn right down Victoria Avenue, making me brake hard again. I can see now why some cyclists bang on the roof's of cars in such circumstances. I didn't see my runner today but the lycra-ed blonde gave me wave.

It's been pointed out to me that the other day I called the Shepshed 7 the Shepherd 7. So I apologise but I'm not going to correct it because I think that’s a better name for it.

L is still feeling morose and says she's tempted to put her head in the gas oven. I'm not sure she's got time with all she's got planned today. She'll end up doing it last thing at night and I can see her dozing off with her head in the oven before she's had chance to turn the gas on. This is perhaps why she seems to be leaning towards drowning herself in a bath of red wine instead. This sounds altogether much more fun and possibly quite kinky too, hopefully they'll be for both of us. Bit of a dilemma though because we won't have enough of any particular wine to fill the bath and I'm not sure it's the done thing to mix different grapes in the same bath.

I leave work and cycle to the pool, I'm hoping the wind that opposed me all the way here will now blow me home, but it's suddenly conspicuous by its absence.

The pool is quiet again, which is disappointing because L has been telling me how lively it's been at lunchtimes. Today she had some smart arse swimming entire lengths underwater, on his back and yesterday she shared a lane with Buster Crabbe and his flippers. I think at first that she means that chap from Bad Manners which makes me wonder how there was room for her in the same lane but then I realise she means the Olympic swimmer guy who also played Tarzan.

I try and imagine that the pool is full of Rioja but I still find it dull and I've got bad calf cramps today. That's cycling into the wind for you. Then Duncan Bloody Goodhew gets in. He refuses to acknowledge my presence and just spends the whole time staring straight ahead down the lane but doesn't swim, until I do. Then as soon as I start a length, he comes hurtling past me like Flipper The Bloody Dolphin. Once at the other end he stops and waits for me and we start the whole charade over again. I give up and get out. I'm too old for all this.

Take Doggo to class, where he has a good bark and does a bit of agility. Then home to get uber-cranky with my as yet un-gassed girl. Cranky as in Artichokes. They're ok but not really my thing.

We watch a bit more of Volver and then retire to bed. Tonight's pillow talk concerns why do chickens have more chromosomes then humans but it's not of sufficient concern to keep me awake.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Where's Me Shoes

It's a mere 4 degrees this morning. At least I have better luck with my flask; I pre-warm it and get a hot drink this time rather than a lukewarm one and no spillages. I'm not convinced that coffee is the best thing to have in it, though not sure what is. Hot sports drink?

Just a note to my loving partner, who thinks I don't take things steady; it's such a nice morning; I free-wheel through the countryside outside Borrowash, coasting down the hill looking at the morning sun glinting on the fields. Despite the cold it's a beautiful morning for cycling. I'm so not concentrating that I nearly collide with the runner again; despite our joint near death experience we're now on nodding terms.

Our lucky neighbours have L delivering their papers and gossip mags (aren't they the same thing) this morning, ably assisted by plonker the collie.

The new toaster we have ordered has been delivered to work, however I won’t be carrying it home on my bike this evening.

I'm at a gig tonight and I've been stood up by my mate (again) who's decided to drive over to Birmingham to see the Foo Fighters for 2414th time rather than join me at the Pigeon Detectives. Since we got tickets they've suddenly become popular, which is a shame and the gig is now sold out, whereas a few months ago they couldn't give the tickets away. Daughter is keen to go and because my mate isn't now going I've manage to buy his ticket off him for her. So it's Daughter and me tonight, no L. She says she's not keen on them Pigeon Fanciers; she liked what she heard of them in the Ropewalk one night but not when she'd sobered up afterwards.

I ride home and then run to meet L from pilates. I persuade Doggo into doing a loop around Wollaton before heaving up to the Tennis Centre. Unfortunately we lose one of his flashing lights off his running jacket; well he loses it, too much pushing through bushes. We retrace our steps to look for it. This upsets Doggo who doesn't like it when we repeat a route, lazy creature.

L whips up some excellent sausage, mash, and onions and then we're off to the gig at Rock City. Daughter seems to have her pulling gear on or perhaps she just wants to look good in the mosh pit; although she's not shown any inclination to crowd surf before but she probably just didn’t want to in front of her mother. Hope she behaves herself or else I could be in trouble with L.

We miss the first support band, the much hyped One Night Only, who I'd like to have seen but we catch most of the set by The Wallbirds. The place is packed and we're in the Maximo Park position, stage right, so the view isn't brilliant. The Wallbirds are kind of country-rock that reminds me of Fratellis but with potential. One of their songs seemed to consist of just a guitar, a hi-hat cymbal and a pair of sticks, assisted by a lot of clapping from the crowd. They're certainly energetic and it rubs off on the crowd. Possibly one to watch out for.

In between bands we move to a better position on the steps, where Daughter has to battle the drunks and some over enthusiastic fans but we have a good view. The beer throwing isn't too bad tonight which is a good job as Daughter has opted to keep her white sweat-top on rather than wow a pigeon fancier with her décolletage.

"Hello Nottinum"

Winning no prizes for pronunciation here come tonight headliners. All dressed in leather jackets the Pigeons energetically take flight into their breakthrough single 'I Found Out' which grazed the lower reaches of the charts earlier this year and is now set for a re-release.

The band, lead by their lunatic of a front man, Matt Bowman, then proceed to work their way through their debut album 'Wait For Me' and assorted b-sides. Hammering out their high octane, pop songs as the crowd jump, surge and crowd surf in front of them. I had expected it to be an almost exclusively under 18's crowd but it isn't, it's mainly students and twenty something's with a few oldies like me thrown in. Because the band have only recently become popular the youngsters must have been out manoeuvred on the tickets.

Music aside all the entertainment comes from Mental Matt. He swings his microphone above his head on its cable; I hope they've got plenty of spares. For some reason his performance reminds me of Alvin Stardust. Two songs in he takes off his leather jacket, to reveal a black t-shirt and launches himself into the crowd. He emerges with the t-shirt in shreds, pre-arranged me thinks, pre-ripped. Some ego. Already I've discarded the Alvin comparisons and now I'm wondering whether he's taken lessons on stage presence from Justin of the Darkness but then suddenly he goes a bit bashful on us. He resists the temptation to go bare-chested, as Justin would have done, and puts his jacket back on. Thank God for that. Then for the next song he swaps it for another t-shirt. We're four songs in and there have already been more costumes changes than at a Madonna gig.

Matt The Mouth continues to leap around the stage and the crowd sing-along-a-Matt. His and the band's energy is reflected and magnified by the crowd, which in turn spurs him on even more. He has the crowd eating out of his hand and he loves it; oh how much does he love it. Then he surfs into the crowd and is tossed around by a sea of hands. When he returns to the stage he has lost his microphone. Some feat when it's on a bloody long cable.

For his next trick, he catches a beer can that is thrown from the back of hall, he looks stunned he's caught it but he remains cool and casually drinks from it, then spits it out over the crowd before hurling the can back from where it came. The man's a one-man cabaret act. He spends the rest of the gig trying to catch another one, plenty are thrown, but he cannot repeat the feat. He regularly encores the spitting though, he's frequently drinking beer, or water and regurgitating it straight back out, either up in the air or over the audience. Not very endearing. If this is how he drinks I'd hate to see him eat.

A shoe makes it one stage and as Bowman makes a joke about it, it becomes the cue for lots of other shoes and article of clothing are thrown on stage. This isn't a f****** jumble sale he protests but he likes the belt and says he'll keep it.

The band who hail from Rothwell, near Leeds, and have a certain edgy Northern charm about them, nearly cause a riot at one stage when they threatened to play 'Marching On Together', Leeds United's anthem, while the guitarist's effects pedal is fixed. Luckily for them not enough people are clued up or else they'd probably have got bottled off.

They close with 'I'm Always Right' followed by 'I'm Not Sorry', their first release, which only emerged in March this year. Which goes to show how far they've come in a mere eight months.

There's no encore, I think after an hour they simply ran out of material and energy. Their problem is that their simple formula can wear a little thin. You can get the feeling that you've heard some of the tracks before even when you haven't. Three chord riffs, a bass player who only plays one string and caveman lyrics about drink, girls, and rowdiness, there isn't anything particularly original about them but they do do it rather well. I heard someone describe them as McFly with balls, quite.

Three songs from the end they played a track called 'Emergency'. I thought this was a cover but it turns out to be a new track of theirs. It's one of the best tracks of the night and could be a sign of the diversity they'll need to develop in their repertoire if they are to kick on from here. We don't get anything profound or enduring from them tonight but you do get fun, plenty of fun. Pure trash. Excellent. The best place to be tonight was probably down the front with the pogoing students and had I not been restraining Daughter I might just have joined them. Now where's me shoes.

Show over, the appreciative crowd, and Daughter, go home happy and singing. How many lads will be smooth talking their girlfriends tonight with Matt's sweet nothings, 'You know I love you, take off your clothes, its alright'. Daughter is humming along too but she has mangled together a Killers/Pigeons remix in her head, for some reason.

I text L to say we're off to the Ropewalk for a few Leffe's. Oops sorry wrong girl, best get her home.

Home to L who has an orgasmic time bursting a huge spot on my back, it's the lycra you know but we won't go there. Getting romantic is probably an anticlimax after that.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Fast Spanish Women

L might be having second thoughts on having Doggo as her lap dog as he abandons her on the park again, this time for someone throwing sticks for their own collie. Well it's a tough choice for a dog, loyalty to its own or a stick... They walked with Daughter, who's started walking to school, which must be preferable to hanging around for a bus and probably quicker too.

L's also discovered why those 'one a day' drinking yoghurts are so called. She tried one and said it was vile, sweeter than sweet. Obviously they're called 'one a day' because that is all your stomach can take.

In the evening I still have dog class, with the yet to be replaced Doggo, despite the fact it’s bonfire night. The trainer does a manic Helter Skelter which keeps us all running, the dogs barking, and their minds off the fireworks.

As usual I collect L from yoga. She still a bit morose, so I hope she's been a good bunny and hasn't spat at anyone in the class. She says I can leave her on the street if I want but I couldn’t do that, morose is actually quite sexy and I don’t want anyone else to be attracted to her feisty magnetism.

L does a spam curry and we watch the first 30 minutes of Volver, which is our last DVD from Lovefilm before we cancel our contract with them. We’re too busy going out to see films to stay in and watch any. The first thing we notice with Volver is that the Spanish dialogue comes at you so fast that it’s difficult to keep up with the subtitles and watch the film. Often two sets of subtitles are on the screen at the same time and it’s often difficult to realise who said what.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


A few weeks ago L sowed the seed in my mind about the Shepherd Seven race. As she gleeful told me, it's over half a half marathon and the furthest distance I've race over. She says 'the only way is up'. Hmmm, or down. So I'm saving my energy again this morning.

We arrive in plenty of time and I see a few people I know but it doesn't appear to be full of the usual suspects from my brief 10K career, as I expected it might be. I have translated my Jagermeister 10k time into 7 mile speak which gives me a target time to beat of 46 mins 38 seconds. I line up about six rows back from the start line but hardly anyone lines up in front of me, so when the starter asks us all to move forward to the line, I’m practically on the front row.

My Dad is there supporting again, as is L, and Doggo would have been had he not been banished to the car for getting over excited. He nearly joined in the fun run which started earlier.

The start is downhill and very quick. The course is marked by four-foot high poles which are just at the right height to catch yourself somewhere nasty. I try not to go with the pace but as we hit the first mile marker and I take a lap time on L’s watch, which she has kindly lent me, it says 5.30. Oh dear. Suicidal pace. Although in my defence it got very narrow after the start so it was necessary to get a good start to avoid getting caught in a bottleneck. I force myself to slow down and although I can’t successfully do the maths in my head, the splits do look steadier. No one else seemed to have eased off though and I struggle to find someone to tail, no one seems to be running at my sort of pace. There’s not even a sight of 'that women'. Mind you I'm not sure I would have recognised her in shorts and a running top; I've not really seen her face, just her lyrca rear view and ponytail.

I complete the first lap bang on pace although I had hoped to have a minute or so in hand. L gives me a surreptitious wave but I think Doggo, who's been released from the car, has seen me anyway. I know I need to up the pace again or else it'll be a slower second lap and I'll miss my target. Also as I’ve just learnt the last mile is rather viciously up hill and on gravel, not good for my ankles. I think I'm going quicker but I also feel I’ve eaten too much, although it was only toast and a stodgy energy bar, I've eaten for a triathlon not for a run.

In the end I come in 13 seconds outside my target. Which on reflection isn't bad I suppose but I was gutted at the time. Oddly according to my watch at 10k I was well up on my Jagermeister time and I did exact a revenge of sorts on 'that woman' by beating her. L's advice is to not wear a watch. She's probably right but I do find the info useful.

At Ticknall L was a bit miffed that we went for a Sunday lunch when she wanted to head straight home to catch up on the lie-in we had missed. So not wanting to do myself out of a good time, this time we head straight home but this time she isn't in the mood, although she indulges me anyway. Women are so difficult to predict. I think she's miffed because I ran and she's still not quite fit enough to do so but apparently, no, it’s the odious beast that's reared its head again. Says she couldn't have afforded the event even if she was fit enough to do it.

So rather than hit the pub, we stay in to save money. Which in a way is a shame because it's now reckoned that a glass of beer is far better than water at rehydrating the body after exercise. Something to do with the sugars, salts, and bubbles in a pint helping fluids be absorbed more quickly. Beer is also full of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. So now moderate consumption of beer is recommended as part of an athlete's diet. Dubious science me thinks but who cares.

They don't mention wine, which we hit in a big way but we know it's good for cholesterol, so what the hell. We couldn't really have taken Doggo out to the pub with us anyway, as its like world war three outside. Instead we have a great night in and debate his replacement; I hope he isn't listening. Replacement as in a new agility dog that is, so that Doggo can retire and get to become L's longed for lap dog.

27 units

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Race Prep Isn't Much Fun

Saturdays mornings when we've got nothing on, you just can't beat them. A girl at your side, a dog at your feet. Well it would actually be nice if the dog got off his hairy rear-end, fetched the paper, and made the coffee but you can't have everything.

Eventually having exhausted L, I get up and fetch the paper myself and then take the not very useful canine on the park with his ball. The ball session has become a bit of a race against time because the ball has a slow puncture in it and is deflating all the time.

Get back and L is at Gym. Daughter and Son both out. So I listen to the latest slaughter dished out to Derby this time by Aston Villa. Derby play a defensive game and ride their luck, its 0-0 at half time. An injury forces a change of formation and we go on to lose 2-0.

We were supposed to be doing our usual cinema and meal tonight and L’s parents were supposed to be joining us but it’s cancelled at the last minute. Which is a shame, as even Son was up for joining us. He had rescheduled his Saturday night game with his friends so he could come. We were all feeling very honoured, although L admits she did pressurise him a bit.

Instead we go to the playhouse to see 'Beast on the Moon', because we had been emailed an offer of tickets for £5. It was just too good to turn down. As the play wasn’t costing us much we decide to go for a pre-theatre meal. It’s a cheap deal but the portions are very small. Most of the other diners have obviously done it before and know the form because they all order extra side portions, which we end up doing too. I’m on the orange juice, water, and coffee, as I again keep off the alcohol. This race prep isn't much fun.

The story is set in Milwaukee and concerns two survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Aram Tomasian has just picked up his wife Seta from the bus station. Aram is a photographer, the same as his father, a victim of the genocide, was. He has imported his wife from his homeland and has chosen her from a series of photos (early internet dating) but even then they’ve sent him the wrong one (shouldn't have gone to Amazon). Sita is not the girl in his photograph (but he didn't get too bad a deal. No matter he takes a new picture. This picture, together with his own photograph, takes its place on a sinister portrait which is resting on an easel at the back of the stage. The portrait is of Aram's butchered family. That picture and a stamp album is all that survives of his family, the sale of the stamps financed his emigration. He has removed the heads of his family from the portrait and instead has placed his and Sita’s heads there. The remaining headless family members are to be replaced by his own children, in a pledge to rebuild the family. Sita has been chosen to bear his children but she isn’t keen, cowering under the table when it's time to consummate the marriage. Eventually they get to it and we get the vocals of a lively sex scene, which L points out is wrong because Aram would have been a lousy lover. He was that type and in any case, for him it was not an act of passion, just a necessity to replace his family. Seta was also too timid to get passionate and is also haunted by the image of her sister being raped. It's all to no avail anyway, as Seta turns out to be barren.

After introducing the characters and setting up the situation, Act I is a little dull. The entire play is narrated by a character who, at first, adds little beyond explaining a bit of history to the audience. My eyes close occasionally but I get away with it until just before the break when L spots me almost toppling off the back of my seat. Things improve after half time when the narrator turns out to be the grown up version of a young orphan boy who Sita befriends. The narrator ruffles up his own hair, pulls his shirt out and plays him himself. He steals most of best scenes, as he scruffs up brilliantly as a teenager of today, although probably not the 1920's. Sita also has an excellent scene where she nails her doll to the easel, signifying her mother's crucifixion at the hands of the Turks. It's not just Aram who has a family to grieve. This, together with the effect the orphan boy has on them is the catalyst for the couple to move on, instead of clinging to the past. In the end, after a slow start, it was an excellent play. Unfortunately, the historic events that inspired it are still happening in the world today.

The title ‘Beast Of the Moon’ refers to the 1893 eclipse of the moon, when the Turks shot their guns at the "wild beast" in the sky that was covering the moon. Then, two years later, the Sultan, worried about a few upstart Armenians, declared a Jihad, and the Turks again shot their guns but this time not at the beast in the moon but at their neighbours, the Armenians.

Half a tinny at home, an energy bar and chocolate but no sex. L says I'll thank her for it tomorrow. Hmmm, not convinced. This race prep isn't much fun.

Friday, 2 November 2007


As I cycle in today and have to swerve around several silly 4x4's poking their noses in at junctions, I ponder on the merits or otherwise of being clipped by one. I've always worked on the assumption that the bonnet of a normal car isn't too bad a place to land but being impaled on the bars on the front of one of those monstrosities. No thanks.

A colleague of mine at work is enthusiastically training for next years the Erewash Tri, which isn't until July, so he's got plenty of time to lose that enthusiasm. Also, so far, he’s refusing to train for the swim part. Which I can thoroughly relate to but he's going to have to face it at some stage, just like I had to.

Talking of Tri's, there's a chap from Derby who's been on local radio because he's qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida. Despite that feat though his wife is still refusing to let him buy a £3,000 time trial bike and says if he's got that sort of money then he can take her on holiday instead. Well firstly a holiday would be over in a week and his bike will see him good for at least a year and also isn't she getting a nice holiday anyway, to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida? Some people are never satisfied.

L isn't in work today, so I'm not getting emails from her, well apparently she is sending them from home, but our hopeless email system is swallowing them somewhere.

On the way home a cyclist tucks in behind me and tails me, I hate it when they do that, I do it all the time, all I can see is his front light. Thankfully he soon turns off and leaves me in peace.

I get home safely, dodging the fireworks that have started already. It's not been too bad for the last few weeks but I imagine this weekend is going to be horrible for Doggo.

L and I settle in the bedroom, protecting Doggo from the fireworks. So far he's taking it fairly well, chilled on his back having his tummy stroked. I'm the same.

Daughter is keeping watch upstairs waiting for the display at the junior school to start, although elsewhere the blue touch paper has already been lit. In fact there's plenty going on that I can enjoy without even getting up off the bed. There's quite a show being put on, fireworks a plenty, rockets going up. Eventually the school kicks off too; L is torn over which display to devote her attention to. Eventually she runs upstairs to join Daughter and nearly misses one particularly large explosion that rocks the house but she catches it before she goes. Doggo is hiding in the corner but its impressive stuff.

After the fireworks are over we catch the bus over to Derby, leaving Smash Hits radio, or was it Kerrang, on for Doggo to drown out any more bangs.

We hit the Flowerpot. Oakham 5.7%. Sarah Hughes 6%. Black Hole 5.5% Deventio 4.5% Not bad. Nearly all dark. I misread the bus timetable and we are hanging on for the 11.50 bus until we realise there isn’t one and catch the 11.20 instead.