All posts by Mike Walsh

A brief (ish) word on why I began this blog. I am a happily married, self-employed joiner and have worked in the industry for coming on 30 years. I have two daughters and a son. The girls are/were both away at University, one Just completing 4 years of a Speech Therapy degree - which I have to say, (to my utter surprise) wasn't about teaching lisping kids how to pronounce their "S'" so they didn't sound like they had a tongue like a party streamer, but was wayyyyyyyy more medically involved.. (Well done Em) The other daughter is galloping her way passionately through her 3rd year studying veterinary medicine and seems to be on placement at practices or farms every time everyone else is on holiday and using large animals like glove puppets. (Tremendous Hol) My son has played football from being a small boy to the professional level he is currently at and has decided to embark on a 4 year scholarship in America, again playing football (or soccer - pff - as these Yankies like to call it) while doing a computer science degree. My sister has moved over to France with her husband, where they are finally completing the renovation of a derelict old farm house they began some 6 years ago just outside Cognac. This blog was my way of keeping in touch and (hopefully) keeping them entertained during the time I don't get to see them. Originally it was intended as a personal thing, just for those who are absent from home. So when I began it, I was posting away like I was on a sugar rush. I have to admit, I'm not computer savvy and finding my way around sites is a chore. Instead I allowed my blind enthusiasm to get the better of me and began machine-gunning away at the key-board, posting stories and sending links for my daughters/son and sister to read at their leisure, laughing to myself as I re-remembered incidents that had taken place over the last 40 years or so. Imagine my surprise therefore, when I discovered I was publishing on a public forum open to whoever discovered my ramblings... It was a slightly toe-curling-nails-down-a-blackboard moment, as I realized others had read the words I had written. Dear God But then I decided - buggerit - They're all true stories. The ridiculous and the funny. People can make their own minds up. I can only hope you have as much fun reading these stories as I did writing them down.

Ripping Yarn

aaaalaurel11

 

There is something definitely satisfying about the sound of tearing fabric. Either the slow, gradual rippppppp, or the swift, rapid tear, both paint an definitive image in the mind.

The old Laurel and Hardy films were, and still are favourites of mine.  There is so much conveyed in those movie shorts, originally through expression, but even more so with the advent of sound. That satisfying explosion of sutures always left one or the other of the duo trouser-less.

Let me tell you about Tony.

I’ve just spent the last year ferociously busy with work. Non-stop ridiculously hectic and  it’s made writing or completing any blogs difficult. But I had to pass this one on.

One of my close friends has worked with me this last year, which has made for an entertaining time because, well, he’s very self deprecating,  extremely easy going, very funny and, one of the few people who make me laugh without trying.

He’s also a Man City season ticket holder and relives every tribulation, real and imagined his team goes through.

(Count your blessings he doesn’t sit behind you at games Viv )

I, on the other hand, support a proper team – Man UTD – so it makes for entertaining Monday mornings. But I can say, he’s very passionate about his team in his pursuit of watching his confused idea of perfection. To be fair, he’s quite honest in his opinions about his team. He wants them to play exciting, entertaining football. Anything else is a disappointment for him.

In fact, he’ll  criticize his team when they win, for playing badly.

The last job I worked on went on for some ten months, with quite solid completion times in order to hand it over  to the incoming client. It meant we had targets to hit all year in order to allow this business to open. So, from day one it was high impact work. organised in a way to be continuously rolling along and completing targets. I kept a team of lads I trust implicitly together in order to achieve this. They’re the only people in the trade I would ever recommend if anyone asked for top quality labour.

Tony was part of this team.

I think it’s fair to say, Tony had put a bit of weight on before the start of this job. But, with the way we were shifting each day, I think we all expected it to drop off.  What we didn’t  expect was him to gain a stone  and a half after some very hectic weeks. I was impressed. It was only as we neared the end of the job that the issue was really raised.

It was a lull in a busy period and Tony was breaking a piece off a Toblerone, something he seemed to have a supply of at odd times like this.

“Blimey Tony. Have you put some weight on this year?” I asked my friend, as I looked at his body profile with one eye closed.

He’s strained to looked down at his own body

“Nooo. Welllllll, maybe a bit. I think I just have a slow, whaddya call it? Metabolism.”

“Slow? Jesus. I think it’s stopped. In fact, you only have an ‘ism”

“Yeah, yeah. Funny.”

“Seriously, You’ve actually put weight on.”

“A bit. Maybe.”

“Mate. Elasticated trousers aren’t a fashion statement.”

It’s fair to say he takes some ribbing. But to be honest that’s what makes Tony funny. The amount of – there’s no denying it – abuse,  he actually gets is phenomenal. Over anything. He’s actually too good natured. It’d break a lesser person it really would. And if he wasn’t getting verbal abuse he would be ambushed in other ways.

One ideal situation would be to block him  on his way to the toilet when he would get his daily two minute warning. This was a moment in his day when the toilet was a immediate necessity that could not be stopped. But obstructing his route as he was spotted trotting along  and have him hopping on foot to foot in slight desperation while you talked to him,  became another form of entertainment.

I must admit I can sit here right now  and find myself actually laughing out loud when I think about some of the things he’s come in work and told us about that have happened to him over that weekend. And expected everyone to just carry on and not even comment.

The building trade is not, I repeat, NOT that kind of compassionate environment.

Jesus. Its like handing over a  gun then passing on the bullets.

As he began to gain weight we actually took to watching Tony arrive of a morning and make his way over to Greggs bakery. He would meander back with what looked suspiciously like a twelve inch pastry and a coffee.

He kept claiming he went for porridge to start his day off right. But I’ve never seen anyone walk back from Greggs with a large coffee and look like they were trying to deepthroat a bag of porridge…

We’d be sat in the van upon arriving and there’d be  a nudge and an “Aye aye. There he goes!” Then we’d sit and wait to watch him walk back to see  how he would struggle manfully to get a bag of “porridge” down his neck by taking sips of coffee so it would be soft enough to swallow..

Then morning brew time would come. Tony would wander off with  one of the other lads, Sean,  to get a bacon and egg sandwich. Sean,  who I hate to admit had a metabolism like a humming bird, just ate what-ever, when-ever with no impact.

I  think unfortunately Tony saw this as a challenge and – Whooah Nelly! – did he lose that deluded competition.

He’d match Sean’s bacon and egg, or bacon and cheese, and  he’d even raise the stakes and order a toasted tea-cake for afters.

It’s not like he’s even tall and can carry it off. His head  just seemed to get closer to his feet.

This went on all year. And in between  this, there were odd days I would walk out of the room I was working in to pass on some measurement, and find him  chewing on a piece of Toblerone that had suddenly appeared from somewhere. It happened to be a particular favourite of Tony’s.

So, as the job drew to an end, I happened to take a sidelong glance at Tony and realized with a jolt he’s really packed a bit of timber on.

I thought it was time to give him a break and try a lighter tone.

“Honest mate, this time I’m not taking the piss or anything. You really have banged a bit of weight on.”

Tony was quite adamant – blinkered even – it was nothing to worry about. Certainly not as noticeable as I was trying to express anyway. I have to hold my hands up here because we had  been quite merciless in ribbing Tony all year, on anything, so for him to doubt my sincerity was, in my  honest opinion,  a good move.

“We’re going to be having a Christmas night out soon and you don’t want to be looking like that kid,  Chunk,  from the Goonies do you?”

Tony just turned his nose up slightly.

“Actually I’m not sure if I can make it. I have other invites on the night, so I may not get out.”

What! Your’e ducking our piss-up?”

Tony instantly blustered trying to defend himself.

“It’s my cousin’s do on the same night! Family! And my last employer has invited me out! There’s too many invites! I don’t know what to do !” He wailed.

“But Tone! We’re your mates!”

But Tony carried on without hearing.

“I’ve got the match on Saturday too! City are playing at home! I can’t handle a heavy session on a Friday when I’m expected to go on the piss before and after the game the next day!!”

“Ah well when you put it like that it’s completely understa – I can’t believe your abandoning your mates you fat bastard!”

“Thats it! I’m defo not going out on the Friday with anyone! I’m going to the match on the Saturday and having a pint then! No! Thats it! My minds made up!”

He held his hand in front of my face in a dramatic gesture to stop me interrupting.

(for the record I wasn’t even trying to speak)

“You can’t talk me out of it! I’m going to the game!!”

“Well if your mind’s set fatty,  I obviously can’t talk you round . Tell you what. See how you feel on the night. I’ll pick you up if you change your mind.”

“Alright. I’ll think about it.”

The next day I walked over with Tony to get myself a sandwich.

“I’ll walk over to your shop today Tone. What are the sandwiches like?”

“Yeah they’re  ok.”

He sounded somewhat subdued.

” Whats up with you?  What you eating today?”

“A salad sandwich”

I actually stumbled.

“A what now?”

“A SALAD sandwich. Are you deaf?”

“No. But, well. Whats with the salad?”

“Wellll. I hopped on the scales last night -”

He snatched a look at me.

I ‘d made a noise.

“Sorry. I have “snigger reflex”. It must be  genetic  or something. Sorry. You were saying. You broke the scales…?”

“Yeah. Ha. Very funny. No, well, I jumped on last night and – ”

It came out in a rush,  his revelation disgusted himself even.

“Well it was a bit of a shock I knew I’d put a bit on – butnotTHATfuckingmuch!!”

“Alright chunks. Calm down. Lets just clear up exactly how much you’ve put on shall we?”

“A stone-”

“- Fuc -”

“- And a hal-”

“-  k ME Tony!! A stone and a half! Jesus!!”

Alrightalright! Iv’e got to start somewhere. So. I’m cutting stuff out.”

“Stuff? Stuff?? You want to cut out anything you can get in your mouth mate.”

“Seriously. I’m off the bacon and egg. That’s it! I’m being good!”

We talked it through as we walked over,discussing the merits of eating better types of food,  while Tony led the way to his regular nose bag shop. It was a back street cafe, the type I hadn’t seen in a long time. These days It’s a modern, multi -selection of coffee/tea and  special-bread sandwiches and wraps, with strange flavours of crisps. What happened to all those full English with a cup-of-tea cafe’s?

Anyway, walking into this place was slightly nostalgic.

We were greeted by a cheerful, thick set, middle aged  lady who was obviously a firm believer in the attributes of cooking with lard.

“Hiya Tony! Bacon and cheese day today love?”

I snapped a look at Tony who had the good grace not to meet my eye.

“Your’e on first name terms-”

He completely ignored me and replied to the lady.

“No not today. I think I’ll have something new today. A fresh start! How’s about a chicken salad with mayo and cheese  on – ”

He stole a glance at me,

Brown bread?”

I recovered from my shock to close my gaping mouth.

“Whoah whoah whoahhhhhhh! Tell you what love. Give him a chicken salad. NO cheese. NO mayo. And NO, butter. He CAN have brown bread.”

The lady in question looked from me to Tony.

“Is that what you really want Tony?”

Tony turned to me.

“Can I have a Toasted teacake for later?”

“No.”

He turned back to the lady with dejected eyes, shoulders slumped.

“Yeah. Just the chicken thing please.”

It was left for the lady to stand momentarily with her mouth open. Then she slowly turned away reflecting Tony’s body language completely.

Obviously profits were going to take  a massive hit.

We got back to the job, and sat in our adjacent van’s eating our sandwiches, Tony without the usual enthusiasm. I just kept honking my horn and rubbing my belly and mouthing “Yum Yum?” at him.

He was a bit dejected.

The next day we headed over to get a sandwich again, this time with another lad in tow, John. we decided to try a new-ish looking cafe for a change.

Tony was first to the counter. He took a long look at the menu then licked his lips and addressed the lady.

“Can I have a cheese and ham panini please and -”

“Hang on, hang on hang onnnnnnn! ”

I interrupted from behind. Tony shoulders slumped. I continued to the nice lady.

“Tell you what. Forget the cheese, no sauce’s, and he’ll have tomato there instead. He can have the  bit of ham. And if he ask’s, he can’t have a toasted Tea-cake for after.”

Tony shoulders drooped even more.

The lady looked from me to Tony and raised her eyebrows with a silent question.

“Yeah. That’s what I want. What he said please.”

He turned briefly to me.

“Can’t I just have one toasted Tea -”

“No.”

“Yeah. Just what he said please then.”

We sat down to eat, me with a toasted buttered bagel and John with a toasted cheese and marmite pannini, and I have to say even that looked more appetizing than Tony’s dusty and very, very dry ham and tomato panini.

Twenty minute later, back on site, I was congratulating Tony on doing well, when my phone rang. I was needed downstairs to take care of a job.

“Right. Well done you. I’ll be back in a bit.”

I turned away from a hungry looking Tony  to find out what I was needed for.

Ten minutes later I was calling Tony on his phone.

I could hear the ring tone nearby.

“Hello? Tone. Listen.Where are you? Down stairs?”

I headed toward the fire exit door leading to the car park where I had heard his phone ringing.

“Have you got your foam gun with you? Mine’s at home.”

“Yeah, it’s in the van – I’m just near it now.”

He sounded muffled.

“Yeah I heard your phone I’ll come and get it off – ”

I pushed open the fire exit door as I spoke to find Tony stood on the other side.

He threw his hands in the air and turned away in disgust heading to his van, unable to talk.

The reason being he had been stood in this out of the way place with a six inch piece of Toblerone in one hand and a fair chunk in his mouth. All he managed was a muffled –

images

.”Awwwwww! ‘Um ooonnn -”

“Tony what the fuc -”

He managed to swallow.

“Your’e having  laugh! I can’t even have this on the quiet -”

“Have you seriously snuck off to eat a load of chocolate -”

You wouldn’t let me have a toasted tea-cake!!”

I couldn’t stop laughing. I was immediately on the phone to John, the lad who had accompanied us to the cafe.

“You’ll never guess what! Iv’e just found Tony hiding outside eating a bar of Toblerone!”

Even Tony could hear John laughing as we reached the van.

“Yeah! I Know! Toblerone!! So much for ham and tomato!! Hang on a minute!”

Tony was surreptitiously trying to open the sliding  door on the side of the van to reach the foam gun.

“Hey! What have you got in there??”

I reached past him to open the door fully. A large bag fell forward.

“What the fuc -hang on John,”

I tipped the bag  out to reveal its contents.

Tony literally threw his arm over his eyes in shame. This was  going from bad to worse for him.

“Whats this?”

My voice was going up in octaves I didn’t realize I had.

Out of the bag had fallen the other half of the large Toblerone, A six pack family sized bag of crisps and a large party size tube of fruit pastels.

I turned to Tony.

“I was throwing it away today! I forgot it was there! It’s not even mine -”

“John! John! Your not going to believe this…”

As you can imagine Tony’s ribbing took on a whole new level.

The end of the week couldn’t come quick enough for Tony, which only remained to see if he was coming out with us for a beer or not. But he was adamant.

“No. Defo not. I’m not even going to my cousins do tonight. And I bought a ticket for that!”

“Ok mate, no worries. Tell you what. If you change your mind later I can still pop over and pick you up.”

“No, seriously I don’t think I can go out tonight and face tomorrows game and have a beer then too. So I’m just going for the beer on match day instead.”

So, that’s where we left it.

Next day, feeling, I have to confess, somewhat tender myself, I checked the scores to see City getting beat by Chelsea. I couldn’t resist it. I texted Tony knowing he was at the game.

The reply came back understandably subdued and then I didn’t have the heart to carry on after the week he had already had. I could add to his misery in person the following day as I had some wood to drop off for his wood burning stove.

I sent a quick text.

“Never mind mate.Worse things happen at sea! I’ll see you in the morning.”

There was a muted reply.

I turned up at Tony’s the next day ready to  pick at his disappointment.

“Ok Tone? Bit of a hammering yesterday?”

“Yeah, and some. But, I’ve got to admit. I never actually watched the game.”

“What? your’e joking?” I know you’ve left games early  before they finish but – come on! Your’e a season ticket holder! When did you leave? When the third goal went in?”

“Well, to be honest, I left before kick-off.”

“What Your’e joking mate! Why??”

“Well you know I said I wasn’t going out on Friday? Yeah. I went out. I didn’t get in till half four on Saturday morning. I went to my cousins do. I knew It’d get messy!”

“Oh mate your’e kidding!”

“No. And to top it all, I was blind drunk!  I felt terrible when i got up on match day!”

“You didn’t carry on drinking did you?”

“I tried a half but I have to say -”

He looked green as he continued,

“My stomach rolled as soon as I had a mouth full! There was no way that was going down!”

“So what happened?”

“I just thought I’d give the beer a miss. But on the way down, on the coach , honest to god, I thought I was gonna barf up on the old lady in front. I kept having to swallow it back down!”

I winced at the image as Tony shuddered and carried on,

We got to the ground and the lads were all for a pint before the game, but there was no way I could face it. So I figured I’d head into the ground and sit and watch the warm ups.”

“Oh mate – ”

“Well I sat there for a while and my stomach was just rolling all over – there was no way I was going to get through the game without chucking up so that was it.”

“What?”

“I went home.”

“What?? Without seeing a ball kicked??”

“Yeah. But that’s not the worst part.”

“There’s  something worse?”

“Yeah. quite a bite worse to be honest.”

He looked extremely sheepish.

“What? Well? Get on with it!”

“I’m walking away from the ground and I only go and get my two minute warning!”

I began to laugh. I couldn’t get a breath to ask what happened.

It was his two minute warning.

“What could I do. I mean? What??” I had to go!!” I HAD to!!”

There was a note of hysteria creeping into his voice as he tried to defend his actions.

I could feel an asthma attack coming on. I was almost breathless as I asked,

“Where Tone? Where did you go?? There isn’t anywhere there!”

“There’s that open land at the bottom -”

“The Asda! there’s an Asda at the top of the hill -”

“I was at the bottom of the hill!! At the bottom!!!! I Looked like I was trying to walk along to a Bee-Gee’s track!!!  I’DHADMYTWOMINUTEWARNING!!!!”

Like that explained everything.

I have to admit I was caught between horrified fascination and a morbid need to know what had happened.

“So…?”

“I ran down this path onto the waste ground, and , well, there was this mound..”

“Tony. It’s a lump of soil in a wide open area. It only shields you from the other side of the fucking mound! Anyone on that side of the mound can see you!!”

“I know! I know!! But I’d had my two minute warning! The sweat was pouring off me! Pouring!!!!”

What had followed wasn’t pleasant, with Tony circling the mound trying to pick a sheltered spot in a open plain. In the end, unable to contain it any longer he just had to drop his trousers and go for it, bobbing up and down like a demented Meerkat.

I was opened mouthed trying to take in what he was telling me when another thought struck me.

“But Tony, what about, I mean, Toilet paper Tony! Toilet paper? What did you use??”

“My underpants! It’s all I had!”

This painted another picture on my already scarred mind and I tried to comprehend the mechanics of what he was describing.

“Your – you mean  you – What?? You stripped off your trousers in the middle of an open field to take off your underpants to use to wipe you –

“No!! Jesus! No!! Don’t be stupid!! I RIPPED them off and ran like fuck!!”

I swear, till the day I die.

The sound of tearing fabric will never, ever be the same again..

y-fronts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben’s Itch.

 

arren-sept-2016-025

 

“Have you noticed Ben scratching more often at the moment?”

Came my daughter Holly’s query over the phone.

She had taken Ben the family dog to stay with her for a couple of days. My wife was working nights so it meant Ben wasn’t going to get a decent  walk until she finished this three night shift. Ben is a rescue dog who we have had for six years.

We picked  him at the dogs home after some serious manipulation on Holly’s part. She forced me to drink beer until I said – nay – promised she could have a dog.

Holly has always wanted animals in her life. She is a fourth year Veterinary student and  she lives and breaths it. Ben was the culmination of a lot of determined effort on her part, which I had withstood for a number of years. But, six to twelve bottles of Peroni – I have to admit I have little recollection  on the correct number –  just tipped the balance. And she made me promise. Bugger. I was out-maneuvered  by a fifteen year old.

And I wouldn’t mind but I was paying for the beer.

Anyway, off to the dogs home we went, and I was determined to pick a dog I wanted.

I had a number of stipulations I managed to insert during the foggy negotiations prior to promising.

The dog had to be a reasonable size. It had to be a quiet dog. it couldn’t be a hairy dog that malted all its body fur in one go. We would take our time choosing it, until we (I) found the one that fit us (me).

And he was going to be called Steve.

As I figured it, I might hate the dog but every time I shouted at it the comedic value of its name would entertain me..

I think I gradually warmed to the idea of having a Lassie-come-old yellow-come-Timmy relationship with our (my) new companion

Anyway. Over the next few weeks we made repeated trips to the dogs home. Most of my stipulations seemed unobtainable. Each time we walked in we were met by a wall of sound. The quiet dog scenario seemed unobtainable.  Each compound had a number of neurotic dogs in it either barking  dementedly or bouncing or tearing around with the same unerring vigor  they put into barking.

And as each week arrived I went to view these animals with trepidation knowing I had made a promise I had to keep, but couldn’t seem to find an acceptable middle ground.

There were a lot of large dogs. I mean BIG bastards. No way was I having one of those sitting in the passenger seat next to me. These things could have car jacked me at will. The majority of the other dogs were Staffies. You know? Little barrel chested, bow-legged, squared headed little things, like a poor mans pit bull. You usually see them being strutted around by some chavvy scroat and the poor animal has a piece of chain link for a collar. Quite unfairly portrayed actually. They tend to sleep most of the time.

But they didn’t fit with my ideal vision of a new furry companion either. I think Holly was beginning to despair. She would have taken the biggest, loudest donkey she could have got her hands on and been happy calling it Spot. But there were just no smallish dogs to be had.

Then, we found out that all the small dogs were snatched up early on. We had to get there at opening time.

Sure enough, the following week we were there twenty minutes early and first in the queue. As soon as the door opened  and the queue surged, I was off and running,  elbows going to create space,  galloping along past each compound quickly scanning what was inside and as quickly dismissing them as – Too big – Too loud – Too hairy – too small – Too – wtf is that?

I was almost at the end of the corridor looking behind me to where my family were at the first  compound, oohing at what i had already ruled out, when I turned and my eye fell on a small, miserable looking terrier, sat hunched at the back of the compound alone, with a cone round his neck after having his balls chopped off and an under-bite that made his bottom jaw stick out beyond his top.

I had a “That’s the one” moment. Then I was frantically trying to get somebody’s attention so I could claim that dog before some other calculating bastard robbed him. They finally took him out  for us to meet and greet, and I have to say he was a bony little thing, undernourished and very, very sad looking.

We (I) chose Ben. We took him through to sign the paperwork and pay his fee, and as we were stood there with him on the lead, a lady came in and did a double take and turned to her companion with obvious excitement and said,

“Here he is! This is him! This is the dog we saw yesterday!” Then turned to me and continued, “Who do I speak to about him?”

I was caught between two reactions. First of all I actually took a sly look at what I was wearing  thinking cheeky bastard thinks I work here, and then my mind quite uncharitably thought Ha. Too late. It’s mine. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahaha

So the poor woman missed out. ( Hahahahahahahahahaha)

But I have to admit, Ben was the right choice. Well, I say right choice. He was the only choice  really.

It was Ben or something that could have killed me. Everything else had looked likely to rip my throat out.

“I’m not sure whether he has some irritating mites.”

Came Holly’s voice again.

“What? Really? Really?? What sort of mites? That little bastards been on the bed!”

“Well you might want to think about washing the bedding. They can be transferable to humans.” said Holly. “But I’ll take some samples and have them checked and let you know tomorrow.”

Aw crap. I thought.I had noticed him scratching and trying to reach his underside and had even given him a good scratch at this unreachable point myself, thinking I was doing him a favour, the little riddled bastard! My finger nails could be rife with unseen bugs!

I almost gnawed a knuckle then remembered who I had been scratching. I had arrived home from work the other day and Ben had been on his own for a number of hours with free access round the house. He normally stretches out on the end of the bed but when he’s on his own and sure enough, when I had walked into my room  I discovered he had actually dragged my pillow  onto the duvet and used that to create a kind of nest.

Oh bollocks! I could be walking round with a plague of parasites!

I had  this conversation with Holly in the evening and  hadn’t even had time to tell Jane as she  had already gone to work.

The first thing I did that night was sleep on Jane’s side of the bed then swap her pillow with mine the following morning. If I was going to be infested I might as well make sure we shared it…

When we finally took Ben home from the dog sanctuary,  it was with mixed feelings on my part,  mainly because no one would call him Steve, but this turned into serious reservations when he immediately developed kennel cough and was firing out dog sputum every third step. It was a hygienic nightmare for me. He was like a pneumatic gobbing machine.

But I have to admit he was miserable  and I was torn between pity and disgust. And really, he must have felt absolutely lousy. There followed a couple of weeks of antibiotics which turned him round and he gradually gained weight.

Then there was a long period when we would walk him in  the park and he would see another dog in the distance and tear off to play with it. While I would be gradually frothing at the mouth shouting  “Ben! Ben! Ben! BEN! BENNNNNN! BENBENBENBENBEN!!!!” then finally have to run after him like something demented. (If only we had called him Steve, I’d have laughed about him running away.)

So that took a bit of sorting out. I tended to let him off the lead with a bit of trepidation and try and put him back on if I saw another dog before he did, otherwise the little bastard was off and you had to walk 400 yards back the way you had just come. Ben was definitely not one of those dog’s that was going to come to you at a sharp command and stand awaiting his next order quivering like an arrow.

But, he finally found his feet in our home and has become very firmly established.

I have to say he is an unusual dog. He is very quiet. He very rarely whines or barks. If he wants to go in the garden he just stands and eyeballs the door with a megawatt stare until someone notices and lets him out. And you have to be careful you don’t forget about him (Jane) because he’ll be on the other side of the door staring at it until someone remembers he’s not around inside. He’s doesn’t like fuss, he rarely stands still for someone to stroke him unless you’ve just arrived home and it’s very rewarding to have that exuberant welcome to be honest. If he wants attention he’ll sit at your feet and rest one paw on your foot until you stroke him. Then when he’s had enough he buggers off and stretches out.

He has a blanket on the sofa next to my wife which he occupies most evenings while I’m on the PC and Jane is watching TV. The sofa has an L-shaped recliner that Jane normally claims of an evening and lets just say she’s not one for sharing. I tend to sit down with her later on and stretch across the angle and attempt to purchase a foothold.

It’s usually at this point that Ben – until then comatose – lifts his head from the new position at the end of the sofa that I’d just slid him to, while I strained to gain a toenail-hold on the recliner point of the settee, and he looks at me with, I have no doubt whatsoever, complete disgust.

Within moments he slides off his blanket to the floor and disappears behind the sofa. As we hear him slump to the floor this noise is actually followed by him grumbling..

I’d just pulled up in Tesco’s car park when the phone went again the following day.

“Hi dad. I’ve taken Ben into the Vets to have him checked for mites today.”

I was immediately all ears. I hadn’t yet told Jane she had my pillow.

“And? Whats he riddled with?”

“The good news is he’s not. He’s all clear!”

“Well thank Christ for that. I was on the verge of burning the bed! So what was he scratching at”

“Well, he has an absolutely huge anal gland!”

Momentarily, and it was a confused moment I admit, I swelled with pride.

Our dog has a HUGE anal gland.

“Is that….good? ” I was thinking Guiness Book of Records you see. ” What is an anal gland by the way?” I queried slowly.

“Well, all dogs have them but your’e probably better off not knowing to be honest.”

Good girl. She obviously remembered my reaction to Ben coughing spit all over the shop.

“But seriously dad, it was huge. Huge. No wonder he was scratching away. He probably couldn’t get any relief. It would have been causing him a lot of discomfort. ” continued Holly. “And, I have to say,”

I heard the frown in her voice,

” – and it was very out of character – but he really snarled at me when I cleaned him out.”

Well I’m not one to judge,  but i think I’d snarl a bit if I’d had to have  someone two knuckles deep in me.

 

 

Razzle Dazzle

Mike Walsh - What The Mop Lady Saw...

cane

Growing up in the 70’s has quite distinctive memories for me. There was a certain visual flavor to that period for a small boy. Attitudes, clothes, and from a kids perspective, toys even more so stick in my mind.

Everything seemed garishly bright. Or patterned like a carpet, so you looked like you were wearing a weave people could wipe their feet on.

My (purple) Raleigh Chopper bike that I loved, was one of those items that must have been designed by someone taking LSD when it was on the drawing board. It was a step up from the Chipper I had had prior. My bright yellow chipper. Both bikes had been developed with that 70’s affliction of terrible colours.

Dreadful,  but still, I have to say, incredibly cool in their own way.

A boy on a Raleigh Chopper, 1970s

Then there was the bionic man. The boys doll. Steve Austin. The six million dollar man, almost killed in…

View original post 3,322 more words

Great Balls Of Fire

Mike Walsh - What The Mop Lady Saw...

banjo

“Kevin! Get that rubbish together in the compound and burn it. Save some space in the skip.”

This instruction shouted to the site laborour. Kevin, was a 27 year old simple lad. Quite easy going, happy to help, and like I say, a bit simple.

Now I’m not saying he was stupid. No.  But there was an absence of focus. A distracted air about his personality that made you think he was never quite on the same page whenever you had a conversation with him. His mental approach to anything made you aware that very clear instructions were needed to prevent any misunderstanding.

His level of attention wasn’t brilliant either and if left alone too long you would find the concentrated brush strokes in the dust leading off, in one long, meandering sweeping line, to where you find him, nose pressed against a window steaming the glass up with…

View original post 2,598 more words

The Fiddler Plays A Tune

TEDDY3

“Honest Mike. I think that man on the top balcony hasn’t got any clothes on! He’s got his legs wide open!!”

Jane was plainly scandalized. It wasn’t stopping her furiously trying to see over her book though.

I was still lost in the haze of heat, part stupified and half asleep. Facing the opposite direction, I only managed to open one eye and roll my head over my shoulder for a obligatory glance. There was an over weight man on the top floor balcony, but my view was blocked by the towel over the handrail. I let my head roll back.

“Good for him.” I mumbled. ” At least he won’t have sweaty balls. Mine feel like treacle on a radia -.”

“Mike! Seriously! He can’t just sit there like, like –  that!!”

The end of our holiday was drawing to a close and to be honest, I didn’t have the energy to worry about this chap with his tallywacker hanging out.

It really had been an odd break, not as peacefully relaxing as I had expected and it had  begun  with our initial stressful journey to  catch our flight here.

I finished my last post The Fiddler On The Balcony having arrived at the airport en-route to my holiday destination after a some what traumatic experience getting there. As we waved my daughter off, we did so with one eye on the entrance doors, desperate to just get inside the airport and check in so we knew we were actually going to make the flight.

This wasn’t an ideal beginning to our holiday. I like a nice early start, arriving at the airport completely relaxed and ready for the flight. As it was there was a definite air of anxiety about the quick steps that finally took us through the doors into Terminal 2 to face The Queue.

My immediate impression as I hurried through the entrance doors  was;

Blimey, every check in desk is busy.

That was the initial impression until the reality of the situation struck me and I stuttered to a stop, the automatic doors closing behind me did a double take and swished back open.

This wasn’t a number of ragged queues to various check in desks.

This was one. One huge queue snaking left to right from one end of the desks to the other, then zig-zagging back the opposite way. The volume of people simply filled the floor space. And it didn’t stop there as we found out when we headed for the back of the line.

We eventually discovered that it disappeared  down a corridor on the way to Terminal 1

“Seriously. What is the point of on-line check in? Seriously??”

Was what I heard from the couple in front.

And they were quite right. What is the point of on-line check in when it doesn’t save any time what’s so-ever? We never seem to avoid a huge queue in order to get through to the departure lounge, where, insult to injury, during the time it takes to get there, there are enterprising staff constantly wandering through the crush offering to “fast track you”.

For a fee.

We weren’t late, we were just later than we would normally get to the airport for. We still had two hours to get through check in, security and into the departure lounge. I just accepted it with a mental “Wellll, at least we’re on our way“.

It took us 45 minutes to reach the front of the shuffling line to check our bags in. You know what its like. Shuffle along a couple of steps with your case rocking on its wheels because its not actually moving anywhere when you take one step, while someone behind you – in this case the most impressive Mono-brow Man I’ve ever seen –  is getting too close for comfort because of course, they think that will make the line move faster.

Little Jonny in front with his own miniature case. Really bright and shiny, embossed with characters from  The Avengers.  Oh, and a teddy shaped back-pack strapped to his shoulders, loaded with so much shit that’s he’s having trouble walking and dealing with the laws of gravity. It’s touch and go whether or not he’s going to topple over backwards.

So, there’s a five year old given the responsibility of pulling his own case to the check in desk, trying to keep his balance and remember to pull his luggage each time the line moves. Then, when he forgets, leaves it behind and blocks the line behind (me) from moving forwards. He’s then  gently berated for not doing so, while dad takes hold of the handle,  rolling his eyes at me as if to say “Kids eh? Ahahah“. Then when dad lays a hand on little Jonny’s luggage, the child begins a professional strop and begins to vocally insist, (punctuating each point with a stamp of the foot) hewantstopullhisownfuckingcase.

Of course, then mum steps in and tells dad to let Jonny pull his own luggage in order to keep him quiet. We catch up with the back of the line  and then begin the process again next time it moves forward.

And during this I find I’m doing exactly what the person behind me is doing that’s irritating me. Edging closer to the slow moving family in front. Like I can make the line go faster with my close proximity. Every one is doing it. It’s like one massive bottle neck behind  Jonny.

The little bastard.

Honest to God, if it wasn’t for airport security, the next time I felt my neighbor’s case behind me bump my legs, I’d have turned round and ripped his eyebrow off then I’d have drop kicked that little fuckers case in front to the other side of the check in hall, then trampled him  just to gain ten uninterrupted feet.

Eventually, we reached the front. I immediately felt my worries lighten as I fired my case through to where-ever it goes to reach my aircraft. I almost skipped along to head  through the doors that led to security.

I only got as far as opening the door to reach the back of the next queue. Jesus this was unbelievable.

What followed next was an hour or so of the same intrusive shuffling to reach the security check point. I lost contact with Mono-Brow Man but found myself still directly behind Little Jonny. Fortunately one of the senior staff must have realized that two out of six X-ray machines (d’oh) just weren’t shifting the congestion and decided to open another two.

We were guided to one of the newly opened machines, peeling us away from Little Jonny. I have to admit I have trepidation over this point in our journey as it didn’t go well last year. (See Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker)

I went through the motions of placing my hat, watch, belt,  camera and hand luggage into the proffered box, then slid it into  the inspection area. Then I moved through the X-ray machine to wait for my tray of belongings.

After watching so many airport reality shows, I must admit I’m always a bit paranoid at airport security. All those people who get stopped who are adamant they have nothing illegal in their case’s, even though there are readings of various drugs/illegal food/TNT from swab inspections, that they have no idea how they came to contaminate their luggage

So, it was inevitable that I was left clawing at fresh air as  my bag went off at a tangent just before I could get a grip on it and a guard waved me over to him.

The only small consolation I had was seeing five year old little Jonny’s teddy back-pack do the same thing in the adjacent inspection counter. Ha.

Lay on my sun lounger  by the pool, I reflected on the journey. I looked over to Jane who had slipped into the water out of the heat. She was resting at the far end of the pool, her chin on her arms talking to the older lady who was sunning her self at the opposite end. They were both surreptitiously  eyeing the balcony where our over weight nude was tanning himself in his private sun-trap.

The conversation at the end of the pool was almost conspiratorial. Obviously Jane had become disappointed at my lack of interest in the 17-stone or so of chiseled naked lard  three floors above us and had gone out of her way to tell someone else.

I saw them both stiffen and muffled shocked laughter. They must have had a better view from over there. Obviously Brad Fatt had done something new.  The lady Jane was speaking to turned to her husband to frantically get his attention.  Jane  peeled away from her new friend and began swimming like Jonny Weismuller across all 10 feet of pool.

Obviously this was important. I wasn’t in any rush to find out mind. I turned my  face back to the sun’s heat and thought again of aggravation involved in getting to this point in my holiday.

I was back in front of the security guard.

“Anything you need to tell us about in here sir?” Asked the deadpan faced guard, gesturing into the box with my belongings with a ready swab on a stick.

I’m not good in these situations I must admit. I just have an immediate attack of guilt. Like I have something to hide, because my imagination is already running various scenarios through my mind. And they all end up with me  spread-eagled, naked against a wall gnawing my bottom lip and whinneying. While behind my unseeing eyes I can hear the Snap of latex gloves  and a Gloop of applied jell.

My attention turned to my wife. Jane,  waiting for me, met my eyes. She just mouthed Shut up. She had been there the year before and seen me crumble under the pressure of remembering I had a pen knife in my hand luggage as we had approached security. To say I blabbered my way through that experience is an understatement.

Just comply. Don’t antagonize the nice man. Be helpful.

“Sir?” He was staring at me with eyebrows raised.

“What? Oh!  Ahahaha. No. Nononono. Of course not!”

The guard just let his eyes linger on me as he began swabbing through my inspection box. I just smiled back weakly hoping to Christ I hadn’t come into contact with a drug runner in the congested entrance hall while queuing.

While next to me little Jonny was demanding his case off the bad man. My case! Want it! NOW!!NOWWWWW!!

That kid had balls.

The guard dealing with him was becoming uncomfortable with the noise being generated by the child. I could see straight away how this would unfold.

Yeah. You’ll be sorry kid when they show you the gloves.

My attention slid back to my own predicament. The guard was hovering over my camera case.

“Is this yours sir? Did you pack it yourself? Has anybody else looked after it while you’ve been in the airport?”

My eyes darted  from the guard to the camera case and back to the guard. I looked at Jane. Her expressionless face conveyed more to me than if she had spoken any words.

Shutupyoufool.

All of us turned to look at little Jonny next door, who was getting physical and trying to pull his Teddy bear back-pack from the grip of guard No 2.

I could hear the lid being unscrewed off the tube of jell.

“Sir?”

My attention snapped back to my own guard. Shit. Is this a bluff? Please don’t let there be horse steroids in there. I don’t remember packing any. Oh fuck. What’s he found? How do I answer? I must confess I was on the  verge of throwing Jane to the wolves and saying her name in answer to all his questions. And I would have done but eventually they would have let her out and she’d neverletmeforgetit.

ShitshitshitSHITSHITTTT.

Then reality kicked back in and I confirmed it was mine.

He opened it  and checked out the contents. Then the stoney expression changed to a friendly one, and in an almost cheerful tone of voice he said,

“Ok Sir. All good here. If you’d like to repack your belongings you can go through. Have a nice holiday!”

I was almost disappointed. It was a complete anticlimax to what my imagination had been picturing for me. Next door, little Jonny was escalating his own situation and was now a whirling dervish in the arms of his father.

I had to  take my hat off to the kid. He wasn’t taking any messing about with his teddy back-pack. I stopped for a moment to watch his long suffering father and our eyes met again. And over the flailing arms and legs his father managed another, eye-roll and a – Kid’s eh? Ahahaha – look.

Yeah. I readdressed my first thought.

Please God. Let them find ten pounds of cocaine in his back pack.

I wasn’t allowed to linger to find out. Jane was already pulling me towards the doors leading to the embarking area.

“The time. Look at the time!”

That got my attention back. I glanced at my watch and realized we had 25 minutes  before the plane actually left. We hurried through the doors into the departure lounge and were met by the announcement that the gate to our flight was now open to board.

Seriously. This had not been a relaxing experience.

Ten days later,  lay on my sunbed, listening to my wife swim like an Olympian across the small pool, I could afford  to smile about the experience.

The sudden drops of cold water across my chest brought me back to the present.

“Jesus Jane! What’s -”

He’s touching himself!! He’s only sat there, spread eagled having a fiddle!!”

Jane was sat next to me on her own sunbed, bent almost double with her arms folded across her lap, leaning forward vibrating with an urgency to whisper hoarsely at me. She was happily scandalized at the prospect of this fat bloke thirty foot above us knocking one off.

“Maybe they never allowed him to play a recorder at schoo-”

Michael!”

Really. I didn’t want to know. My mental imagery sensors balked at the idea. My attention remained stoically fixed on the  hills in the hazy distance.

“Look! Look!! ” She was now giving frantic head gestures, trying to make me look in the direction she kept indicating.

“Jane, really, I don’t think I want -”

“You can just see between the towels. He’s not half  giving it a yank!”

Her lips suddenly  ceased to move and she began whispering like a ventriloquist, with her eyes now fixed on me, refusing to let her gaze be drawn upwards.

“Oh ma Gog. I “ink ee’s ‘een me ‘ooking! Gon’t ook. Gon’t ‘ook!!”

Yeah, like I was just about to..

I didn’t even have to consider whether or not I was turning my gaze where she had  been encouraging me to look. I most certainly was not disturbing my current repose with the actual visual of the picture Jane was painting

At the other end of the pool, I realized the lady Jane had been speaking to had been having a similar conversation with her husband. It was obvious from her sudden attention to tidying around her sunbed that she had been caught looking too.

Jane suddenly began speaking in her normal urgent whisper again.

“It’s ok. He’s going inside -”

“Well he probably needs a hanky -”

Stoppit! Omg! can You believe what he was doing?? Right out in the open!!”

“Not really Jane, no.” I answered. ” Not on a day like today. It’s roasting.  He deserves a medal really.  Which is why you should have a bit of consideration for the poor bugg – ”

“Bit of consider – what? What? What are you talking about? Don’t you realize  he’s having a bloody wan -”

“Well, you know when I go on a long bike ride?”

What? Yes? And??”

” You know I go loaded up? Spare inner tubes, mini tools, drinks, snacks-”

“What the hell are you talking about??”

“Well, my point being, you know when I forget to take the jelly – baby’s out of the back pocket? Of my jersey?”

“Yes?”

“And they’re all sticky and soft and gluey? Sweaty almost. Yeah. that’s a good description. Sweaty.  Stuck to your fingers. Because of the heat? And it’s not nice handling them? ”

“Well?”

“Well, Have a heart Jane. Think of how much determined effort that poor fella is  putting in. Straining to reach the finish line. In this heat! What he’s having to work with! Having to  fiddle  with  his very own jelly bab-”

“Oh my God! Michael!!”

I must admit, the disgusted reaction was worth it.

This one’s for Viv. Hope all’s good with you.

Fiddler On The Balcony

dirty-hands-1

‘Who’s that on the top balcony? I haven’t see them at the pool yet. Are they new?”

Jane’s question reached me through my comatose state me. I cracked open one eye to peer at her and weigh up whether or not to move. She was facing the balcony she was staring at while I was lay in the opposite direction. I was sprawled in an almost stupor in the afternoon heat, only moving to shift my sun-bed around occasionally to maintain some contact with the small amount of shade off the umbrella. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to turn to look where she indicated. I was very comfortable.

This state was light years away from the start of our holiday.

I have to say, my recent encounters of trying to pass through airport security en-route to my holiday destination sure-as-hell wasn’t the relaxing start I want the beginning of my break to be. I’d had enough the year before on my way to the same holiday destination. (See
Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker – Part 1)
The trip to the airport didn’t help I must admit.

My eldest daughter had very kindly offered to drop us off in the early hours. My immediate reaction was Brilliant. Then I began weighing up the pros and cons as my wife began to change things.

Initially it was a weight off my mind. look at it this way. Now, I don’t have to worry about whether or not to take the car or get a taxi. Do I get a cab and worry that the very chatty driver is fishing to find out how long we are going to be away so he can pop back and break in at his leisure. In a vindictive move, try all my remaining shoes on knowing he has chronic athletes foot, walk round with my spare underpants on his head, and, a particular dread of my wife’s, turn a light on and leave it on(!!)

Or do I drive and leave the car in an airport long-stay car park, then, spend the 2 weeks dealing with an increasingly fevered imagination until I can collect it.

Has some young chap who worked there
A. Damaged it parking it.
B. Damaged it each time he moved it closer to the collection point as my holiday came to an end.
Or,
C. Four hours before I was due to arrive back, become disillusioned, decided it was a crap job, taken some entertaining drug, nabbed the first keys he spotted (mine) and fucked off on a high speed race round south Manchester with various body parts dangling off, creating an fabulous trail of sparks that the police helicopter didn’t need thermal imaging to follow.

So, when Em offered to drop us off I was all for it. Until, my wife told her not to collect us at the time we would have left for the airport because she didn’t want her getting up so early. So, where we normally arrive at the airport three hours before we fly, get through security, and just relax for a couple of hours or so until we board, now, we would be a good hour later. I mean, that early arrival is all part of my holiday routine. I like being there so early. I finally feel like I can forget about work. I’m actually on holiday.

When Jane told Emily to pick us up an hour later, then turning and asking me what I thought, well, then I know I’m not really being asked an optional question.

Its like being asked a hypothetical question by your wife. I always weigh up my answer. Ask, if its a trick? Does she want my honest – more importantly I hasten to repeat – hypothetical answer. Of course, she says Yes.

I always get the answer wrong.

I should know better, when her eyes narrowed just before she said Yes. But in this instance, for the sake of my own peace of mind, I felt I had to disagree and try negotiate a better departure time.

“What about just doing what we normally do? Three hours early? Peace of mind. Breakfast! Hooray.”

“Oh no. Think of Emily. She’s doing us a favour. It wouldn’t be fair to make her get out of bed any earlier. She needs her sleep.”

Now I know Em, it wouldn’t be a problem. This was just her mum worrying about her. I shared a glance with Emily and she recognized my discomfort. She immediately offered to come at the time I wanted to leave, bless her, but Jane was determined not to put her out.

To cut it short, it was agreed Emily would collect us later than I wanted to leave but not as late a Jane wanted to depart at.

I like my routine when I go on holiday. Finish work a day or so before. Immediately wind down knowing that’s it for two-and-a half weeks. Pack haphazardly the evening before departure (it drives my wife mad) then do nothing until it’s time to leave and get to the airport three hours before the flight, completely relaxed.

I like to let Jane stress for both of us.

Now, My comfort zone was destroyed.

I was immediately filled with foreboding and faced a battle with  my own form of OCD knowing in my mind  that my pre-set routine for  getting up, dressing in my carefully-selected-for-maximum-travel-comfort holiday outfit, load cases to car, listen to wife check, check,checkcheckcheckcheckcheck passports, boarding tickets, doors, cooker, windows, taps, plug sockets, curtain position – open/closed/partly open – Jesus, it goes on and on. 

I knew I was going to be sat twitching with nervous energy trying to looked relaxed on what was supposed to be the beginning of a relaxing holiday.

As you can imagine, I was up extra early waiting for my daughter to arrive, cases positioned, handles set just-so, poised with sweaty palms, so I could rush forward, grabbing said handles, dash out the open door to the waiting car. Dash back inside, perform a fireman’s lift on my tap-tigtening wife and force her in the car. A quick sprint inside the house again for hand luggage, pulling the door closed as I headed back to the waiting vehicle. In through the open door and pulling away from the kerb before I tugged it shut.

I was at heightened DEFCOM 2 ready to tip into DEFCOM 1.

So. We were due to be collected by 4.20am. And my calm exterior began to unravel at 4.05.

Because, I received a text  at 4.05.

Emily:

Just left! You excited?! :):)

Me:

Don’t text just drive. Yeah really excited. Are you driving now? Don’t stop driving to reply. Just drive. :):):O:D:P

The phone rang 10 minutes later making me jump as I stared out of the window where I was stationed, willing Emily to arrive.

“Dad!”

(The exclamation mark sank my hopes further)

“I’ve got a puncture!! The wheels a funny shape!!”

(The wheels a funny shape??)

I must quickly explain my thought process at this point.

I looked at my watch. Calculated what would be quicker. Phoning a taxi right now and seeing how long it would take to arrive, collect and drop us at the airport, and how late we would be. Or, dash to where my eldest daughter was stranded, in the dark, with a flat tyre and struggling to get the nuts off the wheel. Mmmm. What to do. Did I know a good taxi service? I could always order Emily a taxi too. After ours.

Then normality clicked back and I told her I’d be right there. I grabbed the car keys and galloped out shouting up to Jane briefly what was happening and to be ready to leave!

Be calm, I thought, when you get to Emily. This, as I leaned over the steering wheel tipping sixty.

Don’t let her see you stressing. It’ll stress her out more. Lets be nice and calm. Like Clint Eastwood. Icy calm.

While the real me was running round in circles in the privacy of my own mind pulling my hair out wailing:

The flight! The flight! We’re going to miss the flight!! I knew I should have driven! No one fucking listens to me!!!

I spotted Emily hovering in front of her car as I drove towards her on the deserted road. She was hopping anxiously around her disabled vehicle waiting for me. I went past then did a quick U-turn pulling up behind her car. As I jumped out of the car striving to look the personification of Calm, Emily came towards me greeting me with,

“It’s ok Dad – I got the jack set up – the wheels ready to come off!”

She looked at me with those haven’t-I-done-well eyes and made me feel bad all over again. I looked down at the drivers side front wheel and realized it wasn’t just flat, the hub had impacted on something and actually bent. It really was a funny shape. Then I spotted that the wheel was off the ground.

“Well done Em, but we need to loosen the nuts before we jack the car up. Just step off the road chick.”

I bent over to wind the car back down only to discover she had forced the jack under the door and had cranked the seating of the jack into the door itself.

(Be calm)

“Ohohoho. Look Em. You jacked the car door instead of the car. Ahahaha.”

Em walked back round to look.

“Is that the wrong Place?”

(Be calm. Be. Calm.)

“Ah – Yes. Look here?”

I showed her where the jack was forced into the door.

“Just wander over to the pavement Em.”

(BeCalmBeCalm)

“Not to worry.” I threw her a smile. “We’ll just lower it back down.”

I attempted to wind the arm of the jack which completely failed to move.

“Is it not going down?” Emily was by my side in the road again.

“No babe. Its a bit stuck.”

I took a ragged breath.

“I’ll just have to use a bit of force. Juststepbackofftheroadqueen.”

My anxiety levels had gone up an all new notch. (Jesus I think I’m getting pains up my arm)

(BeCalmBeCalmBeCalm)

I exerted some considerable force all the time aware of the minutes sliding past.

“Are you sure I really managed to put it in under the door?”

Em queried, back leaning over me.

I gave a final eye-popping wrench at the jack, rapped my knuckles on the floor and deposited skin as I lost my grip, completely failing to move the lever.

I stuck my knuckle in my mouth, tasting my oil covered fingers. Any pretence of calm I was maintaining finally disappeared.

Yes! Yes! You jammedthefuckingjackinthedoor!!!!GETOFFTHEFUCKINGROAD!!!

I did one of those jump-up-turn-round-throw-your-arms-in-the-air maneuvers, that you do when shit really hits the fan. This was followed by a quick goose stepping routine round the middle of the road gesticulating at no-one in particular.

You know the moment?

One of those “We’re-all-fucked-women-and-children-first-my-arse” reactions that occur after you finally realize, your not Cool Hand Luke after all. That moment, when the veneer of calm you’ve been papering over the nerve jangling anxiety that, actually, with every Tick of the clock, is pretty obvious to everyone else who you thought you were kidding but who, were just watching for that wafer thin amount of control to blow away with the gentlest puff of wind.

I’d gone from Clint Eastwood to Frank Spencer.

Then striving for calm, chest heaving with my exertions and seeing Emily looking at me like it was the end of the world, I struggled to think clearly.

The jack. The jack! My jack!! I ran to my car to grab my jack. Sorted! I’ll just jack Em’s car with mine high enough to take the pressure off her jack and remove it. There you go! Some people need to take a chill pill!! Think it through. Problem solved!! That’s what a clear, calm thought process does for you.

I lifted my boot and leaned into the back of the car, pulling up the cover over my spare tyre, with, at this point, considerable urgency. Not seeing it immediately I lifted the spare tyre and fumbled underneath for my jack. This became more frantic as what I blindly felt for was out of reach. The whole thing degenerated again with me ripping out the spare wheel cover, then the spare wheel and feeling round the empty space for what I could plainly see wasn’t there.

No jack.

I think I actually screamed but it came out as a wheezy whistle. Jesus. I needed a paper bag. Better yet an oxygen tank.

I ran back to Emily’s car and turned into Basil Faulty and began kicking the jack, then took to hitting it with the wrench. What I was saying eludes me now. No doubt it was encouraging and colourful.

It suddenly popped free from under the door and I think I whooped a bit. It was a matter of moments to correctly position it, tighten into position, release nuts, jack up remove nuts, change wheel blahdeblah and so on. I didn’t even stop. I grabbed the damaged wheel – and it was knackered, the whole metal rim of the hub was bent in – I dashed to the rear of Em’s car throwing it in. Turning back to Emily ushered to the drivers side striving to come across completely cheerful.

“Okaydokey Em! No problem! In you get! Off we go!”

I sprinted to my car and jumped in, fumbled the key into the ignition and started the engine. I looked over my oil covered hands on the steering wheel to give Emily an encouraging wave, only to see her already accelerating away with a slight sqeal of tyres.

It didn’t take long to get home, rush in and grab the luggage, using the cases like pig boards to guide Jane complaining and still trying to check things as I steered her to Emilys car. Back In, switch the light off and dash back to the waiting vehicle, slamming the door behind me. I never expected to feel G-force in a Corsa but was thrown back in the seat as Emily launched us up the road before the car door was closed behind me.

“I’m so sorry! I can’t believe this has happened!”

Was all Em could utter for the first five minutes as she gripped the steering wheel, trying to focus on her driving but continuously turning to me in the front seat and looking at Jane in the mirror. In the end I had to tell her to stop when other reassurances didn’t help, concerned after all this she would kill me before I even got to the airport. I have to hold my hands up though, my heightened stress levels hadn’t helped Emily and may have contributed to Emily feeling so bad. I felt incredibly guilty.

But not enough to worry about it too much at the moment. We still had a plain to catch.

“No problem Em! Don’t worry about it! we’ll be fine!”

I gave a slightly manic laugh.

“I’m sure we’ll get there no problem. We should have almost an hour and three quarters to get through security. No worries! Please. Just look at the road and not me?”

We arrived at Terminal 2 relieved just to actually be there. We gave hurried hugs, trying to reassure Emily in a distracted way to be careful driving home. Then, waved her off as we crossed to the terminal entrance.

We abruptly stopped as we walked through the automatic doors. The queue to check in desk snaked, zig-zagging across the floor and off down a corridor heading off to Terminal 1.

queue

This was just the icing on the cake.

I felt my shoulders completely drop.

I looked at Jane. Nothing else for it. Deep breath.

We rushed off to find the end of the queue. Just in case someone got there before us and made it longer.. We now had Ninety minutes to get through security.

Surely. Nothing else could go wrong..

The Dating Game..

 

dating game 2

This will probably be one of my shortest blogs. I must add that most of what I write about is true and matters to me or has had some significant impact upon me.

I try, I mean really try, to paint a picture of other peoples lives in the most understanding, reflective way that I can. I often surprise myself with  the dawning insights I discover as I write about particular stories, how easy it is when you really take time to consider their circumstances.

I wouldn’t say I’m the most understanding person – I’m not. At times I’m impatient, bad tempered. Irritable. Grumpy.

But what I believe I am, is a good dad – I try sincerely to do the best I can for my family or friends. And not to waste my time regretting any decision I’ve made that may not have worked out as well as I had hoped, because I honestly believe I did the best I possibly could under what-ever the circumstances were at the time. I hope my children grow up with the same mentality. No regrets. You can only do the best you can at that moment in time.. I only hope I reach the end of my life and think, I did do the very best I could to my keep my family safe and on a happy path.

Blimey. Very dramatic.

What I am is interested. I like to know, understand, the circumstances of a persons situation that I write about..

There But For The Grace Of god..

I’m right on the brink of my silver wedding anniversary as I write this tale which, in a round about way made this blog significant.

I’m lucky to have gone through this life to have been blessed with a loving family and three fantastic kids. I don’t take lightly for a moment all the effort that has gone into  creating this unit. I know first hand the ups and downs of what is actually a twenty seven year relationship how much has gone into making it as solid as it currently is.

We have three grown up children currently making their own way through the world. Callum is away in America on a four year football scholarship at collage, majoring in Computer Science. Holly is in her third year at University studying Veterinary Medicine while Emily is newly qualified and working as a Speech Therapist working with children who have severe issues. She’s teaching me sign language.

I can now fluently sign “Sit Down“, “Bullshit” and “Bell End“. Not necessarily in that order.  Any time I disagree with someone now I don’t even have to speak… well, least said best mended I always believe.

My wife is my very best friend. She seen my up’s and my downs and supports them. She is without reservation, my strength. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Saying all that, When our eyes met in the Pie And Ale House all those years ago, all I think about now is her smile. It just hit me. but also lets be honest. She fell lucky. I was a catch after all. She did badger me as I phoned for a taxi to take her number. In my blind naivety I was chancing upon bumping into her the next time. She took matters into her own hands.

Really though, She was just lucky I had no pride and phoned her the very next day. The rest is three kids and history.

But that was way back then. You caught someone’s eye and gambled. It worked out or it didn’t.

The reason I mention all of this is due to conversations I have with my children and their out look on dating and relationships. That generation see it completely differently. In some ways it seems cosmopolitan how they view getting together with someone. The actual journey they take to forming relationships. The internet is the answer to everything it seems.

Tinder, fish.com, Match, Zoosk to name but a few. All looking for that silver lining in life.

The reason I raise this issue is due to a friend of my daughters dating experience.

She went down the Tinder path in the hope of a happy ending – I mean, the home page greets you with images of proposals, ideal mates – hell –  The ultimate happy endings.

All, at the swipe of a mouse cursor. left, right – your choice.

And this is the route that Lucy went down.

With a swipe one particular way it led to a Friday night date.

In an effort to have a safe blind date, Lucy decided to keep in contact with my daughter Emily via text. The first message arrived from Lucy and read like this:

Lucy:

Being picked up at 8pm. I’ll send reg  of car – he’s driving.

Emily:

Ok, stay  safe! Have a good night! Fingers crossed!!

Then there was the nail biting wait, hoping her friend was actually picked up and didn’t fall at the first hurdle.

Lucy:

He’s outside! His reg is @#4 ***. Hope its a good night! Bit nervous!! Going to *%^$ bar. Nothing ventured and all that!!

Emily:

Good luck chick!! You’ll stun him!!

As you can imagine, it was a bit of a nerve wracking  night for both of them. Lucy, having never been on a blind date – and trust me, she’s a stunning young woman, she shouldn’t need to – messaging Emily every step of the way. While Emily,  spent an evening gnawing finger nails hoping her friend has the luck she deserves.

Lucy:

At the bar – he’s not drinking. Seems like a nice bloke! 🙂

Emily:

Fingers crossed babe! Deserve a nice BF!!

So you can see how it was going. Both trying to reassure each other.  Both on pins. One over her friends happiness and hoping the leap she had taken was rewarded with a nice relationship, and the other in the actual situation, out there, dealing with the front line realities of Blind Dating.

Lucy:

Off to another bar. having a good time(!) Seems like a keeper(!!)

Emily:

Aww babe!! You so deserve a nice bloke!! Stay safe and play it cool!!

I don’t think I would have the confidence to go blind dating. In fact after being married for so long I wouldn’t know where to start these days. I mean, to take that chance – blind dating! – seriously. I’d be outside my comfort zone.

For example. I have a friend who is the same age as myself who regularly went on blind dates through various web sites. She admits herself it can be a mine field. She has been on dates where the actual profile of who ever she was meeting had no true reflection on the reality. One chap she met was in fact several inches shorter and minus a head of hair. Others were posting pictures of themselves  from 20 years previously, or actually photo-shopping their images to trim off a couple of stone or disguising the hunchback  and clubfoot in the extreme situations.

That’s what I would do. I’d defo take off the eye patch for the picture too.

I don’t think I could have gone through all the malarkey needed for a successful date. Its not that I think I’m  an ugly bloke but the stresses  and effort of dating these days, well, I would hate to have to start over.

I mean. How honest would you be with your profile? Seriously. Have a go. I’d be a right lying lothario. In fact I’d be verging on Brad Pitt in my description. Maybe a touch trimmer…

(If my wife is reading this : Don’t think I wouldn’t manage – Damn right I would! I wouldn’t have a problem being the good looking chap I am!! I’m just saying. It’s a lot of effort. Like changing the smoke alarm battery or dropping the toilet seat. Unnecessary effort.)

It’s just that everything seems so much more serious when you’re younger.

Anyway. Date night was actually going swimmingly:

Lucy:

Home safe! Good night. He’s a keeper! Defo like to see him again. Dropped me off with a peck on the cheek! He went for a full on smooch but left him wanting more!

Emily:

Oh babe! Well done! Don’t put out! So happy for you! When you seeing him next?

Lucy:

Defo not!! Make him keen! Seeing him during the week. Wednesday! He’s very eager!!

Emily:

Witwooooo!!! Hope you’re happy chick!

Lucy:

:):):) xxxx

Ten minutes later came a more defining answer.

Lucy:

OMFG. Just looked out the window – he’s sat  in the car outside the house having a wank!!!!!

Obviously this chap was really geared up for a more action packed ending to the evening. The unfulfilled promise of the night was too much for this fella. He just couldn’t drive another foot without letting off some steam. So he was sat where he had dropped Lucy and looked like he was frothing at the mouth while having a thrashing fit behind the steering wheel.

Like I say, I couldn’t go through the effort of this modern day blind dating. The nerve wracking gamble to be yourself or not be yourself as the case may be, and worry all evening if you’re impressing the person opposite. I’d spend the date watching the lady for positive indications the night was going well. I’d be crap. I just wouldn’t be up to speed with modern dating and read the signs well at all.

It’s been explained to me that people use these sites as a quick way to meet, using the interlude prior to date night as the flirting period. Sleeping with someone on a first date is therefore a distinct possibility.

But apparently, having a frantic, epileptic-like wank in the car is a bit of a no-no.

Go figure.

I find the modern day perceptions of dating a trifle contradictory. I mean, if Lucy’s relayed experience is anything to go by… I’d be in dire straights.

I wouldn’t be surprised to discover after a short period I’d more than likely have forearms like Popeye on steroids if I tried the dating game.

There’s something to be said for a secure,  long term marriage after all..