Friday, April 30, 2010

Positive Signs

Thankfully MD seems a bit brighter this morning, even at 6am, which is when I get up. He seems to want to come with me and Doggo. We’re off to a show today. MD was supposed to be competing himself but obviously he's not now. I take him, rather than leave him on his own, L has to go into work.

The trip out does him good. He has a bit of cheese for breakfast and the first of his pills but he refuses chicken and dog food. He’s does though have a run around with a few dogs and is back to pulling on his lead which is a positive sign. Aside from the pills he also has to have some medicine three times a day which I have to squirt down his throat with a syringe. He such a trusting dog that he lets me open his mouth wide and do the deed. The squirt down his throat though caught him by surprise and I’m not so sure it’ll be so easy next time.

Meanwhile, I’m annoyed at myself as Doggo missed his ‘A frame contact’ on his first run. My fault, I was pushing him too hard. There was no need. It was a tough course and there weren’t many clears, so I should have concentrated on getting him round clear. Then again, the time limit was only 40 seconds and we took 43 even with me pushing him. The winner only did it in 38 which is a bit close to the limit. Basically it was a crazy time limit.

He’s clear on his second run but the was course too easy for us to be up with the pace.

By mid-afternoon, MD’s still not got his appetite back. In fact he’s not even eating cheese now but I do find something he will eat, my dog treats, all of them. I end up giving him the whole box, much to Doggo’s very obvious disgust. Then I have to go off round the stalls at the show to buy some more of the same.

We complete Doggo’s third and final run before lunch and at the lunch break he is lying 4th. So rather than go home, we hang on until it completes. We finally finish in 6th place and get to take a rosette home.

Back home, we decide that MD is well enough to be left, so we celebrate without either of the boys, with a night out in town.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Can’t Trust The Weather

I bike in this morning in glorious weather, I even contemplate getting my new bike out but you can’t trust the weather and the forecast isn’t good. Sure enough, it’s a wet ride home.

We’re all very worried about MD, he was sick yesterday, in his bed. Not nice. He’s clearly not well. This morning he just sauntered along on his walk and didn’t snap or bark at anything. He didn't even try to remove his head collar and he refused food, which certainly isn’t like him. Instead he just went and lay down in the garden. L tried to tempt him with some fresh chicken but he refused that as well. So she books him into the vet.

Seems he's got some stomach/intestine/bowel infection. The vet has given him an injection, along with a course of pills and some medicine we have to get him to take.

In the evening, we’re not keen to leave him but I wonder if the short walk up to the local pub would do him good but he’s not even up to that. He’s walking that slowly that I return home and take him in the car. I think he likes it at the pub though; he gets loads of sympathy but no pork scratchings tonight. We have a quick drink before returning home with the invalid and a 'take out' tub, for a quiet night in.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Aggression Levels

In the car today due to another busy evening, parents' evening followed by squash. At least it means I can chauffeur my colleague and I to the pub for lunch.

Naturally any time you want to make a quick escape from work the traffic is going to hell and tonight on Pride Park it’s worse than ever. At least it’s decided my transport mode for tomorrow. Bike.

I make it to parents' evenings with a few minutes to spare, although perhaps soon wish I hadn’t... Daughter problems... and more of them than we were expecting.

This probably helps get my aggression levels up for squash. Although after our first game I feel I’m going to be ill on court but that’s more to do with the huge sausage baguette I had for lunch in the pub. I recover from that and we have five really close games. I even win one of them. Which he blames on the fact that I’ve had to lend him some kit because he turned up without any. It’s a good job I had extra as I was bringing some kit home from work for washing. He’s lucky, I could have given him the smelly sweaty worn kit but I didn’t I gave him my freshly washed squash shirt instead.

A few weeks ago I praised Fulham for reaching the semi-finals of the Europa ‘Whatever It’s Called This Week’ Cup. Well more praise now as they come from a goal behind to defeat Hamburg and make the final. I always like to see the underdog do well. Liverpool though, predictably, don’t make it an all English final and Fulham will play Atletico Madrid instead.

L skips the gym, obviously still feeling ill, and goes home to cook chicken balti instead. Nice and hot I hope, to burn away her germs, with a couple of glasses of red wine at the ready, just in case any try to escape.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Terrible Twos

Yep, it’s been confirmed. L is definitely ill. She’s had a day off work for the first time since... well, the 1980’s, I think. Meanwhile I run into work. Less than thirty minutes from Borrowash to work, not bad for someone who’s now another year older. I even actually enjoyed it, which for a morning run is a real surprise.

My birthday yesterday and MD’s today as he enters the ‘terrible twos’. With L being at home, the birthday boy has probably had sausages for breakfast. If he’s out of bed yet that is, he’s so like a teenager sometimes, which in dog years he now is.

I was half right. In the afternoon L emails me to say she’s doing sausage and chips for his tea. Honestly you’d think he was human. I hope she’s joking. He’s supposed to be on a carefully controlled athlete’s diet, even on his birthday. As is L for that matter.

However I’m on very rocky moral high ground tonight as I’m out with some friends in Derby and apart from the usual beers... what’s this I’m having for tea... ah, steak pie and chips. Good athletes food no doubt.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Affiliated

Today is my birthday and my beloved bestows up on me the perfect gifts, I think. An entry for the Robin Hood Half Marathon...



and the 75 mile Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride.


My girl understands me.

Less good is that Robin Hood Half Marathon is my first entry as an affiliated runner. She has also now enrolled me as a member of her running club. Serious stuff. I have resisted for so long but the race discounts are good and my dream of being persuaded by offers from all the top running clubs in the UK just hasn’t materialised.

On our birthdays, we always get a card at work, signed by everybody but I’ve noticed recently that the person who takes the card round doesn’t try too hard to make sure everyone signs it. My card was obviously sent round on a Friday, hardly anybody works Friday’s at our place, or perhaps it’s just because I’m unpopular. Either way, I’ve had to go around again with my own card!

Another ritual used to be buying cream cakes for all but thankfully hardly anybody, bothers with that any more. Not that I’m tight, I just don’t do cream cakes. I’ve had celebratory porridge and mango juice instead.

Not much time to celebrate at night as naturally I have a dog class. Where everybody seems to know it’s my birthday. Thanks to Facebook I guess but at least I get birthday cake. Twice. Once at dog class and then again at home, thanks to Daughter.

Back home I have a commemorative glass of wine or two, even though it is a ‘school’ night, with the still ill L. In fact she must be very ill because she’s even admitted it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Literary Overload

Exercise options are limited this week so it has to be the bike today and the legs are surprisingly ok with it. L has got some lurgy but she still runs into work.

I’ve got another book to listen to now. L spotted a John Grisham audiobook in the library so she picked it up for me. Now there’s a dilemma. It might have to leap to the top of my every growing reading list. Talk about literary overload. Although it’s in ‘old school’ format and it’s going to be a pain going back to dealing with discs after downloading my last few books off the internet.

Talking of old school storage media. Do you remember the 3.5 inch floppy disk?



Now funnily enough I was looking for a very old, obscure bit of software the other day and I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet. It probably pre-dates the internet... then I remembered I had it on floppy disk somewhere. I tracked down the disk and loaded it up. Sorted. Am I the only person still using them? Probably! I’ve kept the disk just in case and it’s too much hassle to burn it to CD.

Training with MD goes well. Both the extra session I give him in the garden before proper training and the training itself. Now he’s creased. Doggo got a walk down the old railway track, so he’s happy too.

L’s lurgy means she’s now confined herself to bed with a hot toddy. Any old excuse... but I’d hate to see her drink alone.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dizzy Heights

I have a dog show today in Lincoln. Where everyone tells me how lovely and sunny it was yesterday, as the boys and I shelter in the car from the rain. However I’m glad the days weren’t reversed, I’d rather have a wet dog show than a wet duathlon and it does fine up later.

We’re off to a bad start and Doggo gets an ‘E’ first thing. It was more my fault really and it was a tough course. In fact all his four courses are tough, no scrub that, tough doesn’t do it justice, two of the courses from the same judge are positively evil. Somebody must have seriously upset him. Can’t complain, it gives us a chance as it slows down the faster dogs.

On one of them there must be all of three foot between a jump and a tunnel that you have to persuade your dog not to go down. It’s going to be a laugh at least.

Doggo isn’t fazed, does well, avoids the tunnel trap and in fact goes clear on all three of his remaining runs. It’s telling that most handlers make light work of that course. The standard at this level is so high.

On one of them we run at number 8, go clear and go into the lead. Oooh the dizzy heights. We lead... for all of about two minutes. We end up just missing out on a rosette on each of the courses.

MD also did well. Just one error on two of his courses. I won’t mention his third run though, that was horrible. Oh but he snapped a jump wing when he careered straight into it, just as I thought he was going to get his first clear. He’s fine by the way, he’s made of tough stuff.

I head home where L is tapping her foot waiting, seems I may be running a bit late. Tonight is the second of our double bill of fictional characters that L may or may not fancy but needs to see the film to find out for sure. Friday’s Mikael Blomkvist was apparently a bit of a disappointment, so it’s all set up for Inspector Konrad Sejer to take the honours this evening.

The film is called ‘Eva's Eye’, it’s in Norwegian, and is a real rarity. It’s based on a book by Karin Fossum, which is the only book she’s written that hasn’t been translated into English but it was made into a film back in 1999, not in English though naturally and it’s rarely screened.

Eva Magnus and her daughter are walking along the river’s edge when they discover a body floating in the water. Eva is urged by her Daughter to call the police and they rush to nearest phone box. Where Eva rings her father for a chat instead...

When the body is eventually discovered, Inspector Konrad Sejer takes up the case. He quickly links it to another unsolved murder, that of a woman killed in her bed, a woman who was doing a bit of freelancing prostitution and who was also a friend of Eva Magnus...

Things spiral on from there as Eva lies to cover up her story and we get lots of my favourite flashbacks. Sejer himself doesn’t exactly seem to do much, occasionally nonchalantly pointing out an inconsistency in her story but generally most of the clues seem to fall into his lap without him seemingly having to even lift an eyebrow. Nice work if you can get it.

L seems still quite enamoured with our Konrad, so I think he won the duel hands down, but the real star is obviously Kollberg, his dog, off whom he bounces ideas. It’s probably Kollberg who solved it, he was just too modest to mention it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Far Too Light Heartedly

It’s an early start this morning as I reprise my favourite event of last year and treat myself to an early birthday present... the Ashbourne Duathlon. A 12k jog around Carsington Water, then a pleasant tootle around a 40km route on the bike, followed by a final 4k ‘blow the cobwebs off’ jaunt on foot across the dam wall.

The first run is harder than I remember, the path around Carsington Water is far from flat and does make the old legs sting a bit. All the same I reckon I was quicker than last year, although comparisons are difficult as they are taking split timings in different places. After that I think my bike section is actually a bit slower, despite the fact I’m on my new bike which I didn’t have last year. Several traffic hold ups don’t help but basically I think I’m paying for the run being quicker.

I must be taking it all far too light heartedly as I even stop off to hug the two dogs as I pass them on the final run.

My time is about 40 seconds slower than last year but when you’ve been out there for two and three quarter hours, I guess that’s not much. Pretty much the same performance really. I seem to have plateau-ed.

In the afternoon, I think L is a little gobsmacked that I want to disappear off to a football match and it’s not one of Derby’s games either. Tamworth is my destination for Tamworth v Ebbsfleet. Let me explain.

In April 2007, a website called MyFC was launched to raise money to buy a football club and then to run it over the internet. It sounded like the ‘Football Manager’ game, so I thought I’d give it a go. By November 2008 there were 20,000 members and after looking at several clubs, a decision was made to acquire Conference National side Ebbsfleet United.

Members vote on every aspect of the club. They elect the board, select the club kit supplier and the kit itself, specify the weekly playing budget and even what goes on sale in the snack bar. At one point even team selection was mooted but it wasn’t a terribly good idea.

In May 2008 came MyFC’s greatest moment as Ebbsfleet lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley, Unfortunately things haven’t gone quite so well since, membership has dwindled, attendances have fallen along with performances and the club is struggling for cash. More members are required to help the club survive, so anyone new wishing to join would be very welcome.

It all comes to a head today with the final match of the Conference National season with Ebbsfleet in the relegation zone and needing to win, along with other results going their way to stay up. A plea for support has gone out to the members. It’s also a chance for me to see this southern based club in the flesh for the first time. It’s also cheap, Tamworth are having a ‘pay what you like day’ which is a considerable reduction on the usual £12. There’s an impressive 1,600 attendance and an awful lot supporting Ebbsfleet.

Thankfully, because the legs are not too steady after the morning’s exertions, I manage to find a wall to sit on. It’s not a bad match. Typical lower league stuff but actually more fun than watching rather predictable Derby. I really must revisit Ilkeston Town, where I used to go regularly. Facilities are bit rough though, the toilets desperate. Food and beer were decent and cheap though, they even had real ale, never get that at Derby.



It’s a 4-3 ‘classic’ with some horror show defending and Ebbsfleet come from behind to win. Unfortunately wins for Eastbourne and Gateshead still send them down to Conference South and an uncertain financial future.



After which I head home and then meet L at Cast, where we have a few beers to warm up for the gig tonight or so we thought. It looks awfully quiet outside Rock City as we walk down. When we get there we find out why. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have cancelled tonight’s show due to illness. They’ve rescheduled for 3rd December, which is practically next year.

So we have a bit of a problem. We’re already half drunk and it’s only 7.30. It’s also a shame that we didn’t find out about the cancellation earlier as we would have liked to have taken in another film from the Screenlit festival but now it’s too late.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Eagerly Awaited Competition

I’m resting the legs pre-duathlon today, so I’m on the bus. Which also gives me chance to get some more of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ audiobook in before we see the film tonight. Not much chance of finishing it though. I’m over ten hours in now but there’s still another eight to go. Not sure I’ve ever read (sorry listened) to anything that long.

Fascinating though it is, after ten hours the two main character still haven’t met and there have been no developments in the case of missing girl, which is what the whole book revolves around.

Then out of the blue, on the way home, the book suddenly bursts into life. A lead in the case is finally discovered and I have to walk very slowly before standing outside the house for a few minutes to see what develops.

Then in the evening it’s the film itself, which is part of Broadway’s Nordic Noir season which in turn is part of the ScreenLit festival. It’s also the first instalment in the eagerly awaited competition this weekend between the two ‘other’ men in L’s life. Tonight Mikael Blomkvist, then on Sunday Konrad Sejer. She seems to have a thing for fictional characters.

There’s something immediately odd about the film version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and that’s the translation of the title, which in Swedish is ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ or ‘Men Who Hate Women’. This actually gives a bit of the story away, whereas the Anglicised version doesn’t.

The story itself is the first part of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’, so I can see us being with him for the long haul. Larsson was unlucky enough to die of a heart attack before the publication of any of the books in his trilogy, so he never got to see how popular they would become nor see the films they would spawn.

The film is two and a half hours long, so it should be more concise and to the point than the eighteen hour epic that is the audiobook. It opens with the delivery of a package from Hong Kong, a pressed flower in a frame. The recipient, Henrik Vanger, receives one every year and one thing I’ve never quite understood in the book or now in the film is why he assumes it is from his missing niece’s killer, and not from the niece herself, which would of course suggest she wasn’t dead after all. Anyhow, swiftly steeping over that plot hole.

Vanger has been trying to solve the mystery of the niece, Harriet, for forty years. That is how long she has been missing. Now he decides to employ an investigative reporter called Mikael Blomkvist to have one final crack at solving the mystery before the ageing Vanger’s life comes to a close. It has become an obsession with him and over the years he has gathered a lot of information relating to the case but this hasn’t taken him any closer to finding out what actually happened to her. The disappearance happened during a family reunion on their isolated island and at the same time the only bridge linking the island with the mainland was closed due to a road accident, so Vanger is convinced that a member of his own family is responsible.



Blomkvist is sort of at a loose end after recently losing a libel case over an article he wrote for ‘Millennium’ magazine, a magazine in which he is involved with. He has had to resign his post there, as well as being required to serve a three month jail term, so he takes up Vanger’s case. He quickly discovers that the Vanger family are a weird bunch and also one with Nazi connections.



Eventually Blomkvist forms an unlikely alliance with the much younger Lisbeth Salander. Salander is an intriguing individual, a multi-tattooed, multi-pierced, leather clad biker chick type with a troubled past, who hacked her way into Blomkvist’s computer. She’s a former psychiatric patient who now has her financial affairs managed by a guardian. Her guardian is a nasty piece of work and we get to know Salander through some horrendous scenes with him.



Once together, the investigation starts to make progress and they follow a complex set of clues that reveal a string of sadistic murders of women going back decades. They realise they are tracking at least one serial killer, if not, due to the time span of the crimes, two. Things then get more serious when someone takes a pot shot at Blomkvist whilst he is out running and then when he makes a visit to one of Mr. Vanger's brothers who he thinks is involved, he ends up with the old man pointing a rifle at him. However Martin, Harriet's brother, saves him but when Blomkvist spills the beans about what he’s discovered in his investigation, he ends up drugged and about to find out who really is behind it all.

Salander has to rush to his aid, saves him, chases the murderer and then for an encore supplies the vital information that solves the mystery of Harriet.



It’s a grisly tale of murder, set amongst the cold Swedish winter, lightened somewhat by an upbeat ending. I thought it was quite a good effort at getting the marathon text of the book down to just a few hours. I don’t think L was quite so sure and there are several things that have been changed or airbrushed completely out of the story.

Still I look forward to the other two books in the trilogy and the films too, which have already been released in Scandanavia and the first of which should be out here later this year. Needless to say, just like 'Let The Right One In', a Hollywood version is already in the pipeline. I wonder who’ll play Salander?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Inconsolable

I cycle into work today, so L’s back on dog walking duty. After which there’s an admittance from her that the ‘puppy’ might just be starting to calm down. Apparently the only thing he attacked this morning was a white van, and obviously being a white van it probably deserved it. I often feel like attacking white vans myself, particularly when I’m on my bike.

It’s time for L to renew her subscription to her running club and as ever, they ask me if I wish to join. I’m not sure who keeps putting out these rumours that I want to join a running club. Though, as L says, I would get some good race discounts... I might have to consider it. It would be nice if they’d let me use an assumed name, but I presume that’s not encouraged.

Squash. I play well but not well enough, my opponent is on good form tonight. Until the last game that is, when I’m 12-7 up, we play to 15, and the knock comes on the door from the next two players. Gutted. I am inconsolable. Two pints in the pub and I’m still not over it. I have to have a third at home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Turning Tricks

I’m in the car again today, so L takes advantage of me... and asks if I’ll walk Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Not sure which is which but I gladly oblige, as she skips off for a swim. It’s funny how L manages to spring out of bed so much quicker when she hasn't got the dogs to walk.

I never thought I’d get to take L to see one of her favourite and weirdest bands live, that band being Sigur Rós and it’s not something I’ve lost much sleep about, learning all those Icelandic lyrics would be hell. Well she still might not get to see the band themselves but Jónsi Birgisson, their lead singer, seems to have perhaps called my bluff on this one by announcing some solo dates. L is naturally over the moon.



I can’t say I’ve ever really listened to the chap and perhaps I best wait until after we’ve got the tickets before doing so... but L well have none of that and says she'll make sure he's on when you I home from training tonight.

Another good session with MD, although I think the trainer is trying to undo my good work as regards trying to get him looking sleeker and fitter. My dog treats are rubbish apparently, unmotivating, and she replaces them with cheese. Well obviously cheese is going to be more motivating! It’s just our fridge has an odd relationship with cheese... you put some in there and pretty much before you can get the knife out the drawer to slice it, it’s disappeared.

L reckons she'll be joining us if there's cheese on offer at class. She’d have to turn tricks for it though but that doesn’t seem to put her off. In which case I’ll be chopping up chunks before bedtime tonight. If there’s any left.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Usual

I do the weekly shop at lunchtime as usual. Daughter sends me a list but I have to get L to decode it for me... Son sends L a list, which she asks me to translate for her. It just says ‘the usual’. What could be clearer than that?

I’m in the car because of early dog training tonight with MD, which goes really well. I park the car out of sight this time, so Doggo can’t see what’s going on. He spent the entire session last week barking out unwanted advice to MD. Well at least I think that’s what he was doing.

Afterwards it’s a mad eight dogs off the lead session at the same time in the top field. MD is getting the hang of this now and is very well behaved until we head back to our cars and he makes a beeline for the training ring, where the next class is in progress. I assume he intends to disrupt that but at the last moment he turns in an elegant arc to his right. We stand there watching and admiring his turning skills, well sort of, before he dives into a field of horses instead. Oh s***. Thankfully he quickly decides that’s a bad idea and comes back out, instead choosing to bark at them from a safe distance and from behind a fence, before a few moments later, trotting back to me as if nothing had happened. Of course then I have to praise him for coming back... albeit belatedly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Likely Story

The legs could do with a rest but exercise options are limited this week so I drag the old body on to the bike. Which I enjoyed, despite the cold (just when are the mornings going to warm up?) and a brief rain storm!

One of our staff members is stuck in the Dominican Republic, something to do with some dust or something. A likely story. He’s probably having us on.

L points me at some new research. That concludes that men and women go through the pain and pleasure of running for different reasons. No kidding... the thrill of competition is said to attract men while women run because they want to lose weight or improve their mood. I could have told them that for nothing!

On the way home I almost single-handedly simplify the ballot paper for the Nottingham South constituency. Our conservative parliamentary candidate and her entourage are standing in the middle of the road. Are these people bright enough to govern? Or is this what they mean by a visible presence campaigning? They soon leap out of the way when a cyclist comes towards them.

Suppose at least I knew who she was, she’s been on our case for the last couple of years. We’re a target seat you know. I have absolutely no idea who the other candidates are, they have been totally anonymous and our sitting labour MP is retiring. That’s not to say that being anonymous might be a vote winner.

Relatively speaking, it’s quiet night for us tonight. Another gig but more local.

Tonight’s support, ‘Lucky Soul’, have a happy slightly appropriately soulful sound and in Ali Howard they have a sing that looks and sounds like Dusty Springfield. She also impossibly perky throughout their generous ten songs set. Far too happy for a Monday night and for their own good.

There are six of them on the small stage at the Bodega. Not enough room to swing a tambourine with tassels on it but she manages. It’s all very pleasant but actually a bit dull and repetitive to be honest. Most of the audience manage to master tapping a foot to the rhythm whilst simultaneously looking bored.

I amuse myself by watching her feet, she’s gone on stage shoeless and I spend half an hour wondering how she’s managed not to snare her tights on the metal edges of the stage floor.



The Primitives too can do happy. Late last year, after nearly 18 years in slumber, they reformed for a couple of live shows, one in their home town of Coventry, the other in London. This must have been a success because they have now embarked on a wider tour of the UK. This begs the question, what do you do when you don't play a gig for 18 years. Do you stash all the equipment in your loft, waiting for such a day or do you hire a new lot?

The band were hugely successful with their first album ‘Lovely’ and of course it’s hit single ‘Crash’, a number 5 hit in 1988, but their career faded after that. They split in 1992 following the failure of their third album, ‘Galore’.

To be honest I’m not expecting great things but, after a slow start, they prove me wrong. Opening with a slightly subdued ‘I’ll Stick With You’, followed by ‘Dreamwalk Baby’ which also doesn’t quite sound its bright self. The rarity ‘Everything's Shining Bright’ doesn’t seem familiar to many and doesn’t help. There’s a hint of perhaps going through the motions a little but then again the Bodega sound is not brilliant. The lighting too, plays havoc with photography again.



Although ‘Thru the Flowers’ picks things up it isn’t until ‘Way Behind Me’ that the crowd start to get into it. Tracy Cattell seems relieved and starts to talk a little to the crowd but even then she remarks how quiet the crowd are. Quiet from both sides. Quiet crowd. Quiet band.

Tracy looks exactly the same as she did. She still short of course, you forget how short. Once they get going you realise that the band’s songs haven’t aged too badly either. Perhaps not sounding quite as twee as they were but can you still do twee when you're over 40?



As expected a lot of the set comes from the ‘Lovely’ album and earlier releases but it’s good to see them lifting a few tracks off the later two albums but the blank looks that meet ‘Empathise’ off ‘Galore’ confirms that that record didn’t sell well.



‘Summer Rain’ is as pretty as ever and then we get to hear what the band are up to now. They are recording an album of covers of songs by lesser known female vocalists. Tonight they play 'Need All The Help I Can Get' which was originally recorded by Suzi Jane Hokum back in 1966.



It isn’t until they hit us with an excellent quartet of songs, starting with ‘Stop Killing Me’ that things really take off and the pace improves, ‘Sick of It’ follows, still bursting with raw energy and then their most famous moment ‘Crash’ lifts things a notch higher. By the time they’ve finished ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’ they have the crowd well and truly won over. It’s just a shame we’re nearly done and that the finale is more low key. The 1991 single ‘You Are The Way’ probably isn’t known by that many, neither would be the b-side ‘(We’ve) Found A Way (To The Sun)’ that they close with, which is dedicated to their bass player, Steve Dullaghan, who died last year. It is reported that it was at his funeral that they thought about this reunion, partly as a tribute to him.

Then for the second night in a row I witness a top encore. A sparkling ‘Nothing Left’ before 1986's ‘Really Stupid’ closes the night in style. I think it's only the spreading waistlines of some of their fans that prevent a mosh getting going.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Seriously Busy Day

I suppose you could call today a busy day. The alarm goes off at a ridiculously early 5.30am and we head over to Repton for the Double Duathlon which starts at 8.00am. The Double Duathlon is a unique event, I think, at least I’ve never heard of another one. Rather than the two run legs and one bike leg of a normal duathlon this one has three run legs and two bike legs. The amount of changeovers this requires means I’ve taken my normal pedals off my race bike, that I have to wear bike shoes for, and reinstated old fashioned toe clips. Very retro. This means I can do the whole thing in trainers.

Some people have gone even further and as the race starts, I notice that the chap in the lead has decided to do the whole thing in his bike helmet. Not a tactic I actively considered.

Things start off at a very fast pace. Blimey, I know it's only a 2km run but, as your sixteen year old daughter would say, FFS. Well actually the first lap is longer and must be actually over 2.5km. It takes half the 12km bike lap to get my breath back. My changeover is quick, thanks to my strategy and the gains I make, offset the number places I lose on the bike...

The second run is less stressful, as the field is now more spread out, I even gain a few places. I then manage to hold position on the second bike, pulling into the final changeover just behind two chaps who I reckon I can 'have' on the final run. Wrong. They both go off like whippets. Oh well, still a reasonable placing, half way down the field of 90 entrants or so. My strategy does save time but probably not enough to make a significant difference to my placing.

I have no use for the pedals now, that I bought especially, well until next year, but I think L may make use of them on her bike.

After my race we travel the five or so miles down to Melbourne, where L is cramming in her third run in three days. Told you it was a busy day. Hang around, it gets busier.

It's called the 'Rabbit Race' and is 11.4km, which involves two laps of the ‘Funny Bunny Fun Run’ course. Hmmm. Are you wondering why I didn’t enter? It all looks very pleasant and they say you can run it, walk it or jog it and you can even bring the dog, or dogs... as I have done. It all starts and finishes at the Senior Citizens' Centre and they urge you to decorate the pushchair... or the zimmer frame... but honestly I'm glad of a rest... and 5.6k for a fun run... that's pretty serious.

Check out all these ears.



Then again, after being rested, I just can’t turn down the option of some extra training with MD... and I do have a few hours free.

A few hours free before we head up to Sheffield for a gig.

A word or three about Essex boys Morning Parade, who I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more about. They reminded me a hell of a lot of White Lies, albeit perhaps more cheerful and they may go on to be more successful. Every track of theirs was pretty impressive and they seem to go down very well with the audience. It appears that they came up from Essex just for this one gig and I think judging by the impression they made it was well worth the cost of the petrol. They have a very crafted powerful sound although I can’t help thinking perhaps they’re trying to cram too much in, using two guitars but then overpowering it with perhaps too much keyboard but there’s no doubting the quality of the tunes they have there. They’re at the Dot-to-dot in Nottingham, tempting. A very pleasant half hour and a good warm-up before the main event this evening. Not that anyone needed warming up. Blimey, it’s hot tonight in the Leadmill.



Just under a year ago, Feeder split with their drummer of seven years Mark Richardson, who returned to the reformed Skunk Anansie. Their most recent album, 2008’s badly received ‘Silent Cry’, had seen them reach the end of their record deal, leaving the band in limbo a little. Grant Nicholas though clearly saw this as an opportunity and perhaps a chance to do something different for a while, whilst the creative cuffs were off. Now I must confess I had the guy all wrong, I thought he was happy simply topping up his pension plan by touring the same Feeder classics set list forever. I even assumed that those were his favourite songs. Seems I was mistaken. Instead he and Taka Hirose, hired a new drummer, the impressive Karl Brazil, put the other musicians they use on gardening leave, left the keyboard at home and went back to how they had started out, on the road as a three-piece.

The 'Renegades' project was born and the band booked a low-key six date tour and released a tour only EP on their own label. Mirroring perhaps Feeder's first release, the 'Two Colours' EP back in 1995 which was also only available at the band's gigs. Their intention to play only new material may have ruffled a few feathers with some of the newer fans, who may have been unaware of the band's past (OMG! No Feeling A Moment?) but it certainly delighted oldies like me who've been more of less the whole distance with them... or it would have done if I could have got to any of those shows. To make things even better they weren't actually playing just new stuff but also a few golden oldies but really old oldies. Bands always have to remember where they came from and suddenly 'Renegades' were right on the money.

Now they're back for some more dates and this time I had no intention of missing out.

But... honestly Grant, shall I get the whinge out the way first, cause I’m always going to have one. I know I missed out on the last tour but I've seen it on YouTube, so it's very nice of you but you didn't have to play all the same Renegades songs and in the same order... well, ok so you moved 'Home' but other than that they were in the same order. This makes it far too easy for an ageing blogger to keep track, whereas amnesia may have otherwise set in.

So still Mr Frustrating in one way... Why no new songs? Do we assume you're keeping the rest of the dozens of songs you claim to have written for Feeder? Ok so I'll never be happy and what's life without a bit of predictability. Life's just a piece of fruit, and all that... but more of that later.

Let's start at the beginning because, I have to say, the Renegades material was pretty damn amazing. The chap next to me was wondering if they’d open with ‘We Are The People’ again, err no. Instead I think a breakneck ‘Barking Dogs’, the heaviest of the tracks on EP1, pinned his ears back a touch. Poorly received as Silent Cry was at least it broke the back of the suspicion that the band were in danger of turning into a soft rock band but the ante has now been seriously upped. Tonight is something else. Renegades are loud, powerful and unashamedly last century retro-Feeder.



'Home', I love 'Home'. Like most of the new stuff it’s a return to basics, with a ferocious tempo, a thumping bass line and at an energy level that they manage to keep up for the rest of the night. It’s terrific but it seems not everyone agrees with me. Two tracks in and we have a heckler. Grant ignores him but it clearly rattles him. He explains to everyone almost apologetically what the Renegades project is all about and then attempts to blow Mr Heckler away with a dose of ‘Sentimental’, right between the eyes. ‘Sentimental’ is tremendous tonight, far better than on CD.

I think the heckler is getting to Grant and he introduces ‘Left Foot Right’ out of sequence before correcting himself and playing the gentler intro to ‘This Town’ instead. Not that it stays gentle for long, as it gives way to another monster tune.

Then ‘Left Foot Right’, yeah you can play it now. It’s probably not the best of the new stuff but it’s certainly one of the heaviest and grungiest.

Mr Heckler clearly doesn’t approve of heavy or grunge, loudly proclaiming that 'I came here for a f***ing Feeder gig' before shouting for ‘Buck Rogers’ and Grant has to deal with him. ‘I think you've got the wrong gig mate’ he tells him. To be fair to the chap, the Leadmill have been advertising tonight as a Feeder gig, as have the ticket agencies, my ticket also says Feeder on it and not everyone reads Facebook where the band have been crystal clear what these gigs are all about. Grant himself put the blame squarely with the promoters in an interview in last week’s Sheffield Star. Personally he would have preferred to have stuck to the smaller venues of the first tour but promoters clearly have mortgages to pay as well.

Mr Heckler storms off, so I’m not sure if he heard ‘Down To The River’ or not. He might have even approved, it’s probably the most ‘modern’ Feeder-ish song they play tonight and it's a good one too. If Grant's looking for another chart friendly epic, he may just have written it here. That said I'll be soon be sick of it if it becomes another 'lighters n phones in the air' anthem.



Then it’s back to rocking out with the awesome bass driven, 'White Lines' which judders along, rattling the walls and recreating the glorious sound of the Polythene/Swim era all over again.

Then Grant asks for requests for next time. It’s reassuring they’ll be a next time. Somebody shouts out for ‘Cement’, oops that was me, but instead we get a choice. ‘Tangerine’ or ‘Godzilla’? Surely though ‘Godzilla’ breaks the 'oldie' rules, I mean it's off ‘Comfort in Sound’ for God’s sake, ok it doesn’t sound like it’s off ‘Comfort in Sound’ but it is. Anyhow, it matters not; ‘Tangerine’ gets the biggest cheer. A track that had become a running joke between the band and the older fans who have called for it at practically every Feeder gig. Never one of my favourites but it was good to hear it again, particularly as Grant announced they would be retiring it for good after this tour.

Then back to the new. The band again rolling back the years with ‘End of the Road’ which is practically punk rock. With Mr Heckler gone the band are now clearly enjoying themselves, as are the audience, even those who may have been suckered by the promoters.

Then I recognise the words but not the intro, because they’ve changed the start to their signature tune 'Renegades'. A cracking track in the first place, that seemingly couldn’t be improved on but has been, by the addition of a teasing, hairs on the back of the neck raising intro before galloping off at its usual fast tempo. Wonderful. Cue real activity across the crowd for the first time tonight. If they could get all this material released then the gigs will be real lively once everyone knows the songs.



The set is concluded in around 50 minutes and closes with another corker ‘Call Out’, almost as impossibly catchy as ‘Renegades’, all it needs is familiarity.

Only 50 minutes but we’re all exhausted and sweating buckets, although this has a lot to do with the phenomenally hot temperature inside the Leadmill, even before the bands started. Someone clearly forgot to adjust the thermostat to a springtime setting.

Then it's the eagerly awaited encore...

When Grant said he was going to play something off 1996's 'Swim' I don't think anyone foresaw W.I.T. (otherwise known as 'Women In Towels'). It’s not one of the more obvious choices but I have to admit, it had some clout live. This is followed by ‘Sweet 16’, slightly slower than it once was perhaps? But still I sung myself hoarse to that. Marvellous stuff.

I have to confess to being a bit gutted we didn’t get ‘Shade’, like lucky lucky Newcastle on Friday but having said that the alternative was thumping rendition of the almighty ‘Descend’. Returned to its rightful place as the set closer, you can take your ‘Just A Day’ and your ‘Lost And Found’ and stuff em’ mid-set thank you very much. This is the way to close. ‘Descend’ was simply brutal tonight.

As Renegades, the band have rediscovered what made them such a potent live band in the first place and long may it continue, at least to the end of the year by the sound of things. I'm sure there must be a spare night at Nottingham Rescue Rooms this summer with their name on it... a chance to dust down some more oldies... Crash, Stereo World, Can’t Dance To Disco (ok perhaps over hopeful there)... CEMENT... hint, hint, hint, HINT.

They say you can never go back... you should never go back, but... and this has got to be unique. A band takes you back over a decade in sound and does it without having to resort to the ‘playing a classic album in its entirety’ route; mind you I’d buy a ticket if they did. Instead they did it with predominately new material.

One old fan left the gig tonight having met up again with an old flame, that being one of his favourite bands of all time, who re-ignited the fire he thought they’d lost years ago... and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Pleasant Way To Spend The Morning

L blows the lie-in this morning. We’re at Cotgrave Country Park for the Paws 10k, which is in aid of Dogstar Foundation. She’s running it, I’m not.

It seems quite a nice course. Carefully disguised multiple loops by using different but parallel footpaths, sneaky. This means it easy to watch; from one location you can see the race at three points.



It’s quite a pleasant way to spend the morning, for me and the boys, watching not running, sat on an old lock gate over looking Herons Lake, in the sunshine. If you do the fun run you even get to chase the race mascot ‘Harry The Hare’. Cool.



L does well, showing that she can easily cope with two races in two days but can she do three in three?

In the afternoon, at the match, Derby limp to another point as their season draws to an unexciting close, a bit like the rest of it really.

Then in the evening, we’re at the cinema.

‘Hurt Locker’ opens with a failed bomb disposal attempt in Baghdad, during which the team’s leader and disposal expert gets killed. The story concerns his replacement, Sergeant Will James who at best can be described as a maverick. When James arrives, Bravo Company have thirty-nine days left to serve. It will be a long thirty-nine days for James’s team of Sanborn and Eldridge, who are simply happy just to keep their heads down and stay alive. Consequently they are shocked by James’s unnecessary risk tasking and rightly so.

I didn’t understand the opening scene. The bomb that kills his predecessor is triggered by a mobile phone but rather than shooting the guy with the phone, the other soldiers rather tamely shout him to ‘put down the phone’. This kind of sets the tone for the rest of the film. It’s all good exciting gritty stuff with a good dollop of suspense thrown in but it's also probably totally unrealistic.

Hurt Locker is not my usual sort of film but I felt I had to see it when it won lots of awards. It’s a decent film, well acted and well made but, as you watch it, it certainly doesn’t strike you as anything that would be likely to win any awards. It’s entertaining but at the time it didn’t really occur to me just how unbelievable it all was until I started writing a review of it.



For a start the bomb disposal team hardly seemed professional even before James arrives to disrupt them. They seem to wander around Iraq a bit like we used to around Nottingham as students in between lessons at Uni.

Then James arrives and things get even more reckless. He clearly gets an adrenaline rush from disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices), regardless of the risk to his safety or that of others. Preferably he’d like to be peppered with sniper fire whist he’s doing it. Which may be fair enough, maybe, but would the army really let him get away with being so reckless? His attitude puts others at risk. Anyone behaving in that way would either be severely disciplined or severely dead.



He refuses to use the bomb disposal ‘robot’ and annoys his colleagues by removing his radio headset. At one stage when he encounters a car bomb he removes his protective suit as he looks for the trigger wire. Brave or just plain stupid?

Then when he encounters the dead body of what he thinks is a young Iraqi boy he had befriended, that has been turned into a body bomb, he goes off on one and attempts to find out who is responsible. In Baghdad, on his own, at night. Then he simply wanders back through the streets to the compound. A bit far fetched I would have thought. Then he enlists his team to help him pursue his personal quest and gets one of them shot in the leg.



We never quite get to the bottom of why he behaves like this. We just assume he’s a nutter. We do see him back at home with his family, visibly bored. Without the stimulation of war he is nothing. So at the finish we find him back in Iraq, ready for another year in the war zone.

So it's another gung-ho American war film then, realism suspended, but gets the best picture Oscar. Sorted.

On the way home we visit the late night chemist. Daughter got bit by a dog on her paper round. Not one of ours by the way. She’s fine, it didn’t stop her going out tonight. This is why we haven’t rushed to get her antibiotics, not much point until she’s finished boozing for the weekend.

Talking of boozing. Son hit us at a weak moment last weekend, in the pub, when we were a bit oiled, and we consented to a small teenage gathering. A small gathering that seemed to grow in size as he talked about it... but everything seemed to go off ok. He even keeps them upstairs. This was good for the rest of the house and presumably very cosy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

She May Have Miscounted

I get bus in and end up at work for 8.10. Not sure how that happened. You get the later bus and you end up late for work, you get the earlier bus, which is only fifteen minutes earlier, and you end up far too early.

After work I get the ‘slow’ bus straight to Bramcote Hills Park where L and I are both participating in this evening's Broxtowe 5k run. I’m using this as a 'gentle' warm-up for Sunday’s Double Duathlon, where as L is using it as part of a mad sequence of three runs in three days.

The race is organised by Broxtowe Council and they seem a bit taken aback by the number of late entries. So there’s a bit of a wait but it's actually pretty well organised. Surprisingly for what is quite a low key race they are using chip timing and all for an entry fee of only £4. So I imagine the council are subsidising a loss on this.

It doesn’t look to have attracted a particularly high class field and to be honest, not trying to sound too big headed here, I can’t see many people who are likely to beat me tonight.

The course is basically a lap and a half on the park, mainly on grass, not that exciting and not really my sort of course but as I said it’s only really a warm-up for Sunday.

When the race starts, I suddenly find myself in third place and chasing after two whippets of about half my age. Calm down. Remember 'gentle'. Not easy though, 5k is basically a flat out sprint, well unless you’re my age.



After a reality check, I’m not going to win, I settle down and realise I can still see the lead bike ahead. I count back from him and find I’m in eight place, not bad. A position I manage to hold until the finish. As I said, not bad out of 194! But as I also said, it’s a low class field. I find out the winner of the over-40 category came in 7th, so if I’d had a bit more in the legs, which I didn't have, I could have win that. In my dreams. L also does well, finishing half way up the field.



Then we retire to one of the local pubs, which is the best thing about Friday night races. The pub isn’t terribly impressive though, so we bus it into town and crash out in Scruffys for the rest of the night.

L probably shouldn’t be taking on so many fluids, as she’s running again tomorrow. Her strategy was supposed to consist of ‘three halves’, I think she may have miscounted.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It’s Only April

Bike again and yes it’s still windy.

As cycling seemed to work last week as regards a prelude to playing squash I thought I’d do the same again this week. Then when I go 2-0 down I start to seriously doubt my strategy but it gets better and I win the next two games to level at 2-2. He looks seriously worried. I’m trailing in the decider but not by much when our time is up and we get thrown off the court. We’ll call that one a draw then shall we. I have now won as many games so far this year as I did in the whole of last year and it’s only April.

He claims the heat got to him. Oddly it is hot on court, even before we started. Why do they overheat leisure centres, when most of the activities are surely going to require people to want to be cooled down?

Afterwards, there are quite a few people in the pub so obviously not everyone has stayed in to watch the great Election debate on TV. Is anybody bothered? One of the market research companies I do a few surveys for obviously are. They email me and ask if I’ve watched the debate and if I have, can I give them some feedback asap so that it can be in the papers tomorrow. So I cheat and watch the very edited highlights on the internet, then fill in their survey.

The company claim to have got the data to The Times within an hour of the debate closing and a report appeared on TimesOnLine ten minutes later.

My approach wasn’t very scientific and just proves that you shouldn’t read too much into these polls or anything in the media for that matter.

Earlier in the week, L saw this on the BBC website, claiming that dogs are now banned completely from more than 70 parks and open spaces in Nottinghamshire.

Appalled, I emailed Newark and Sherwood District Council to find out what was going on, only to get a reply saying that they have not banned dogs from any parks, only from a number of children's play areas, which isn't unreasonable. So the media got things completely wrong yet again and so far I haven’t seen a correction on the BBC’s website.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Hardest And Most Exhausting Thing

Bike. Windy. Enough said.

L’s describes her new Jonsi album as gorgeous, just like hot buttered toast. So it’s not just dogs then. This is Jonsi of Sigur Rós by the way, although apparently singing in English this time, well mainly. Though probably still not my cup of tea.



Incidentally, just where did she get the analogy ‘hot buttered toast’ to describe the smell of dogs from. I’ve googled it to death and not found anything. I think she dreamt that one up in her sleep. Not that MD smells particularly hot buttered at the moment, I’m sure he’s rolled in something.

After work, I indulge in the hardest and most exhausting thing I’ve done in a very long time. Yep, I’ve return to the dreaded swimming pool for the first time in months. Well it has been shut for retiling. It does look clearer I suppose and they’ve hung curtains in the showers, so unfortunately now people can use them as changing cubicles again. Sadly there are still only two of them, so there's a queue as well.

I seem to have forgotten how to breathe since I last swam, not that my efforts to remember were helped by the chap in my lane who was a lot faster than me and you do have to try and compete, don’t you.

Tonight I give the dogs and myself a night off training. We do the park instead, not that they look remotely up to it but at least there’s no driving backwards and forwards between Derby and Nottingham all night, followed by standing around in horse arenas.

Oddly later, when it comes to about 10pm, I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m not normally even home by now and tonight I’ve biked home, swam, done the park, eaten, checked emails, surfed the web and it’s still only 10pm. Surreal. There’s always L to snuggle up to...

Except she reckons she’s got a cold, not that she’s got time for a cold. She's got three races this weekend, now who’s the mad one? Huh? She even used the ‘r’ word herself, so she must be ill. But as for having a cold? No, if it’s not in the diary she can’t have one, it’s as simple as that.

Now where was I? Oh yes, there’s always L to snuggle up to... ‘Good night Dear’. Click (sound of light going off). Damn.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Venturing An Opinion

L reports that the little angel, that’s another ironic nickname for MD, was totally fired up with his engine revving for his walk this morning. Whether this has anything to do with L’s day long craving for chocolate biscuits, I’m not sure.

I am sent to Sainbury’s for trottole... apparently it’s curlier than fusili... so I think we’re talking pasta.



Guess what's for tea tonight then? Except for L who’s going straight for the chocolate. She can keep her hands off ‘my’ egg. I’ve been saving the last chunk, as only a man can, since Easter weekend. Ok, so perhaps it wasn’t originally my egg, L just hands over anything made of chocolate to me for safe keeping, except perhaps tonight.

There’s a heavy rain storm as I drive home, yep it’s outdoor training tonight. Thankfully it fines up and stays dry. MD is good; in fact he’s actually getting better all the time. Doggo just comes along to watch and I make the mistake of parking the car somewhere where he can actually watch. Of course he doesn’t just watch but also has to venture his well informed opinion on the proceedings e.g. he barks repeatedly. I shall park the car somewhere else next week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grumpy and Grumpier

I take the bus to work as I need to rescue my bike, that is, after I’ve changed the inner tube.

I make it home, without any further flats, where L is awaiting my arrival so that I can comfort the distraught MD whilst she takes Doggo out for a run. The things she’ll do to escape ‘Glee’. Doggo isn’t training tonight but MD is, although Doggo will insist on coming, just in case.

Whilst they’re out I embark on some serious last minute homework cramming and blow the dust off MD’s training cage before getting him reunited with it. Then we do some tyre work and other stuff, all before Doggo gets back to disrupt it. After which MD looks well knackered and that’s before he even gets to class.

He’s really good at class and really well behaved. I don’t think he has the energy not to be or maybe he’s remembered the rules here. That if he isn’t well behaved he’ll end up caged. I wondered if he’d forgotten about that, it’s been so long since we last used the damn thing.

In fact both dogs seem to be beyond knackered and as usual when L and I wish to curl up together for the night, we find that two creatures have beaten us to it. They're already there on the bed, cosily curled up together. Grumpy and Grumpier, which is what they transform into when I kick them off.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Two Wrecked Dogs

You can possibly do too much dog training. All the same when I get a call at lunchtime asking if I fancy some extra training and can I be there in an hour, I’m tempted. Thing is I’m on the park, wearing the hell out of the boys and as I look down upon two wrecked panting dogs, I know it wouldn’t be a good idea and I decline.

The advantage of two wrecked panting dogs is that L and I can slip off and do something naughty... like the gym. We try the new one at the newly opened Djanogly Leisure Centre. The equipment is all new and they seem to have the most modern equipment of any of the council’s gyms. This means excellent treadmills but also means, that although the bikes are the best ones of any council gym, they are still nothing like bikes. Perhaps I’m being too picky and such things don’t exist.

I’m not sure how L has the nerve to criticize my enthusiasm for the Notts 10 when this weekend she enters herself and her sister in this year’s Survival Of The Fittest. I mean, she’s seen the photos and the videos, she knows I nearly drowned and/or died of hypothermia. I feel I ought to join them but I’ve not got over the nightmares yet. I might just record the event for posterity, although L’s sister has banned me from taking photos, videos it is then.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Life In The Old Dog Yet

I'm up early for the longish drive up to Preston this morning. During which, it takes less than twenty minutes to dispose of the remains of ‘Brave New World’. Glad that’s over with. L’s started it now, hope she has more luck with it than me.

Then I start the epic (as in long) ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ as recommended by L. I have to, purely to find out what’s going on in L’s fantasies right now! She has taken quite a fancy for the fictional lead character, Mikhail Blomqvist, despite the fact that according to her, and she says it with disapproval in her voice, he shags everyone he meets. Her affair with the equally fictional Inspector Sejer is over now apparently.

Thankfully the new book is more gripping than ‘Brave New World’, but it could hardly have been anything else.

Once in Preston, our campaign to help the club retain the Interclub Trophy for the third time running is over before 9am. Doggo has not one but two poles down. I cannot recall him having two poles down on the same course, ever. It doesn’t usually happen in the same month. Someone jokes that MD will have to go clear instead. Not funny and no hope. In fact it's a very bad run from him. Tough course though, the later courses should be easier for him. Both dogs get to run the same courses today.

Doggo, typically, goes clear throughout the rest of the day, now it barely matters. Then he lands us a rosette for 4th in one of his events, so I can no longer be mad at him. There’s life in the old dog yet.

MD, of course, doesn’t go clear throughout the rest of the day, not that I expected him to but he did only get 10 faults on the Helter Skelter and that was almost only 5 until he demolished the last jump with style and that was partly my fault. His weaves were very good today.

As regards the Interclub Trophy, the whole team are having a collective bad day and we end up eighth.

Back home, after despatching Daughter to a party, we head off into town. We frequent the Roundhouse as we feel we ought to support it in its infancy. It’s packed. So we can take that one off the life support list.

So it’s the Kean’s Head next, which is ok, the Screech Owl is good. Then off to finish off in the Ropewalk. Son is in town frequenting such places as the Rescue Rooms and Rock City, the boy has taste obviously. In fact all the places he seems to go are decent places. Just don’t tell him we approve. Good to see he’s not supporting the binge bars.

L often invites him to join us for a drink but he never accepts. Tonight, to my amazement, he does and brings a few friends along as well. They all think it’s odd to be drinking out with someone’s parents, as their parents wouldn’t do the same. So perhaps we are odd.

Still, it all made for an enlightening evening but I shall blame them for my hangover tomorrow and that extra pint I wasn’t going to have.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mind Numbing

On the bike again today, three days out of four, good or what?

On Easter Monday, at the 10k they claimed to have not received my entry by post, so I had to enter again on the day. My bank statement, that I’ve just received, says otherwise. To be fair, I texted the chap and he sorted it out quickly. The next day we had a cheque through the door. A little disappointed with that actually, would have settled for free entry to either of the Notts 5 or even the Notts 10 races.

L is appalled I’d even consider doing the Notts 10. She asks whether I know that it’s 10 miles not 10 Km and consists of what she describes as a mind numbing number of loops of Holme Pierrepont Water Sports Centre. Apparently she still has nightmares about it... and the evil plague of midges that attacked her but even they were outdone by the geese that nipped her ankles and all she has to show for all this hardship is the race mug. I do agree that the organisers, Notts AC, do seem to have an odd affection for handing out mugs. Perhaps there’s an ‘in’ joke there somewhere.

That apart, it sounds just my sort of race. Sold. I like mind numbing, it saves me having to think whilst I’m running. What’s more if I do it, she’s unlikely to let me do it without her.

Talking of Notts AC, the guy who put the cheque through our door, also included a brochure for the club and an application form. Is he trying to get me to join? Or do they do that for everybody. Oddly flattered if he is but I’m not tempted.

There’s nothing good about my bike ride home because there is no bike ride home. When I get to my trusty steed after work, the rear tyre is flat. Odd. It was fine when I arrived this morning. I try to pump it back up in case it's a slow puncture but no, there's nothing slow about this one. So I prepare to change the tyre but then realise that I've left my tyre levers on my other bike. Damn. I consider using spoons from the cutlery drawer at work, apparently this works... but we have the bendiest spoons in the world, so perhaps not a good idea. I'd just end up writing off most of them. So I get changed back into my work clothes and head off to get the bus.

L has gone off to the gym and I had arranged to meet her afterwards in the Plough at 7:00. This was supposed to give me plenty of time to cycle home and then do a quick 10 minutes or so of tyre and other training stuff with the Paranoid Pup before heading off to meet her. Now I'm going to be a bit pushed for time.

I still manage to do a bit with MD. I think we may be getting the hang of this tyre thing. Maybe. I’m 15 minutes late meeting L, which isn’t bad actually. The pub is disappointing though. All low alcohol stuff. Nothing over 4.2%.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baring A Grudge

After our dodgy curry the other week I left some none too favourable feedback on the FillMyBelly website. Today the curry house rang me up to discuss it... thought they were going to send the boys round but no, he was quite apologetic. It was good customer service actually. I wasn’t going to go back there again, ever, because when I bare a grudge it stays bared but now they’ll probably get another chance.

Daughter wants a Polaroid camera. I wonder what she’s up to. Polaroid cameras only exist for two reasons. Firstly because they looked kind of cool once, about 1970 I believe, but that was only until you realised how hideously expensive the film was and secondly... well, that other reason, although digital photography has just about done away with the point of that.



I’m eating out tonight. Well that is if you class pizza as eating out. Actually tonight Pizza Hut excels itself. Food wise, it’s pretty good. Service wise, as bad as ever and they always seem to expect a tip no matter what. It’s so much hassle getting the bill that we have to leave them the change for fear of not making the pub before closing if they took too long getting our change together.

Credit to unfancied Fulham tonight who make the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Sorry I mean Europa Cup or is it Europa League, who knows. I don’t usually follow the European stuff but their run has interested me, particularly now all our teams are out of the Champions League. Having beaten defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk and the mighty Juventus in the previous rounds last night they dispensed with German champions Wolfsburg. Next up Hamburg and then perhaps Liverpool in the final?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trauma

I get the honour of walking the dogs this morning. Although L will tell you different, she practically cartwheels out of the door on the way to the gym having left her morning trauma in my hands.

We meet three other dogs on our walk and, true, 'the trauma' got a bit excited with each one. So naturally we had words and he probably has a sore neck now with me jerking his gob shut with his lead but he wasn’t too bad.

In the evening its dog training and although it’s only supposed to be MD who’s getting trained, Doggo won’t actually let me take MD and not him. In fact he stands in the doorway blocking our path. So he has to come and I have to give him a few runs just so that he still feels part of it all. I need him on side; it’s the inter-club championships on Saturday.

After which I collect a new toy for the garden, a tyre! So that MD can get the hang of it. For some reason this seems to evoke cries of ‘oh my God’ and the like from the rest of the family and probably the neighbours, just because our garden looks like... well an agility course.



Tonight’s entertainment is... an online student loan application. Apparently Son and L have been working on it from about 6pm, I join them about 10.30pm and Son and I are still struggling through it at gone midnight. Talk about unnecessarily complex. Which may not have mattered had they managed to have a fully functioning website with the capacity to deal with the necessary workload but of course they didn’t.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Must Be Cycling In The Wrong Places

I have to cling tightly to the handlebars this morning, to avoid getting blown off. Yep, it was a touch windy. Thing was the wind was against me on the way home as well and that never happens, the wind always seems to blow towards Nottingham. Today even the heavens were against me.

Nottingham is apparently Britain's second best city for cycling, that is according to a poll by Cycling Plus magazine. Who are, it has to be said, a respectable publication. Only Bristol is better apparently.

Now I really don’t see this. Nottingham to me is a total death trap, impossible to get from A to B on a bike; it always involves a lot of get off and walk. Nottingham may have many miles of cycle paths but I just don’t think they’re any good, generally badly designed and they largely go nowhere. In fact don’t most of the cycle paths go under the more recognisable term of ‘pavement’? Then there are the uncoloured (and therefore ignored) forward advance zones.

The criteria for the vote also included the number of biking commuters, cycling club members and the number of independent bike shops. On these I can see Nottingham would score highly. Also pollution, road quality and theft, again probably not too bad on these. For actually cycling though... nah. Clearly other people seem to disagree; perhaps I’m just cycling in the wrong places.

L’s latest fitness regime seems to be going well, powered along by her new book, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’, on audio book naturally, it’s the only way to go.



She says it’s unputdownable. This is nothing like the one she palmed me off, which was Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ which is proving unturnonable.



Apparently her book is all sex and sadism, my certainly isn’t! Although L is at pains to stress that isn’t why it’s unputdownable. Do I believe her though? What’s that Dear? Off for another extended workout listening to it? Hmmmm.
Still it must be getting her incredibly fit.

Talking of incredibly fit... I’m not feeling it come squash this evening. A 10k race yesterday followed by biking to work today isn’t the ideal preparation but Duathlon training is more important than winning a game at squash.

So it’s incredibly surprising that I’m on the end of a very narrow, and I mean very narrow, 3-2 defeat. Yes, I win not one but TWO games. Perhaps I mistook knackered for well warmed up and well prepared... The legs had had enough by the time we got to the fifth and deciding game though.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Historical Moment

There is a historical moment in our house. My antique duvet, the first double one I ever bought, may be no more. Perhaps people don’t keep their duvets for sentimental reasons but this was my first. Circa 1988. Ok, so it's old but I have socks that are older. It’s done good service but now it’s ripped. Sadly not ripped through any pleasurable roughness but most likely by a dogs' paws digging on it.

This morning I run the Wollaton Park Easter 10k, all part of my training for a second assault on the Ashbourne Duathlon in a few weeks time.

The course is still rather annoyingly marked in miles, as it was last year. This stuffs my pacing up right from the start. As a consequence I feel I go off far too fast but my pace actually feels ok. Perhaps my half marathon training has stood me in good stead. I fly around the first lap and then run out of steam and plod around the second lap.

All the same I have a good finishing position, I’m pleased. So it’s all a bit disappointing to find out that I’m actually 17 seconds slower than last year. Suppose it was very windy.

The match in the afternoon is a bit of a novelty. Exciting. Sendings Off. Controversy. It even kept me awake. Just a shame we lost 3-1 but it was far more exciting than most the games we’ve won. Derby are hardly impressive but we have played far worse and won. Hopefully we already have enough points to stay up, the players certainly seemed to think so from the way they played.

It’s entertaining mainly because the referee loses the plot during the second half and sends manager Nigel Clough to the stands. Apparently the ref asked Clough to repeat something he has just said. Then when he did, he sent him off. Bit harsh if he was being honest by repeating it, he could have lied. He should have lied.

Clough admits he swore as did Stephen Pearson who was shown a red card soon after for equally foul and abusive language, perhaps what Clough said was so good it needed repeating again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Strongbow Or Special Brew?

I’m back in Scunthorpe for another day at the agility show. As I set MD up on the line for his first course I notice that his trainer from Monday nights has turned up and is watching from the side. Great. Just when we don’t need any extra pressure. All the same, he did really well. I’m pleased with him. In fact he does much better with everything today and has only one pole down over his first two courses. We still have a few weave problems but no one asks us to leave any rings today. In one course he only picks up five faults which is real progress. His best yet.

On Friday, I thought perhaps Doggo’s elimination could have been because it was late in the day and he was tired. Today he trashes that theory by picking up faults in his very first course, early in the morning. Again it was the course I particularly fancied him to do well in. I’ll be having words with him again. He’s clear the rest of the day though.

MD’s last course has the tyre as its first obstacle, so we might as well go home now. Not the most glorious of ways to finish.

On the way home, I try to get beer to oil my shattered nerves but all the off licences that haven’t been put out of business are shut due to it being Easter Sunday, as are all the supermarkets. There are a few bargain booze shops open... but I didn’t really want Strongbow or Special Brew.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Isn’t This How Students Live?

After a rather heavy night and an indulgent lie in, I couldn't even drag myself out of bed to make the 11:30 cut-off for the Fantasy Football changes. Not that I could decide what to anyway. I shall carry this week’s change over.

In the end, I get up around 12:00 and give the dogs a session on the park. When I get back there’s only time for fifteen minutes at home before we head out again, although we’ve only just got up. Isn’t this how students live? I think I can remember... We’re head out, intending to do an hour at the gym before meeting the kids (yes the whole family) in town for a film at 5:30 and a meal. Together! Happy families or what?

So what great film is it that has drawn us all together like this?

Well it’s another of those superhero spoof movie and I’ve been talked into seeing it... However, this one is funny, very knowing, it has a plot, a sharp script and ermm, even character development.

Unpromisingly it starts out like teen romcom with Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) living an existence that is mundane but typically normal. He is unnoticed by most people and particularly by girls, especially the girl of his dreams, the lovely Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca). His only chance of getting her to even talk to him is to turn gay, perhaps... or perhaps not.



Our Dave wonders why no one ever tries to be a superhero and then decides to fill that particular void himself, despite the obvious flaw in his plan, that he has no super powers. All the same it would be nice to not have to keep handing his cash and mobile phone over to the local thugs. Plus it might just get him his girl.

So he dons a dreadful green wetsuit, calls himself ‘Kick-Ass’, heads out to thwart crime and promptly gets his ass kicked. He winds up in hospital but he is undeterred. Once patched up, with metal plates holding his bones together and with severed nerve endings, he is now less susceptible to pain. Belief slightly suspended.



His modest ambition for Kick-Ass, simply to rescue a cat, ends up with him accidentally intervening in a mugging and when he gets filmed fighting off three men he becomes an overnight internet sensation. He also finally gets Katie's attentions, although for the wrong reason. Yep, she assumes he's gay, told you it works.



When he attempts to do a good deed for Katie, in dealing with some unwanted attention she is getting, he gets himself in over his head. He has stumbled into the world of gangster Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). Luckily for him he discovers he is not the only super hero in town as 'Big Daddy' (Nicolas Cage) and his homicidal killing machine of a daughter, the twelve year old 'Hit Girl' (Chloe Moretz) come to his rescue.



On the plus side, he unmasks Kiss-Ass in front of Katie, confesses he’s not actually gay and once she gets over the initial disappointment, he gets his shag. Result.

This is perhaps ample compensation because from this point onwards it is no longer his movie. The insanely violent Hit Girl simply takes over, dominates every scene she's in and gets all the best lines to boot. She is the character even Quentin Tarantino hasn’t thought of. She whirlwinds through the movie, slaughtering anybody who gets in her way, hurling unrepeatable dialogue as she does so and boy does she look smug about it. Her enjoyment of mass murder is simply infectious and the violence... well it's never ending as she racks up the body count. It’s all very entertaining but I have no idea how the film gets away with so much under its 15 certificate.



Then there’s the great soundtrack. Good stuff from Primal Scream, The Little Ones, Sparks, The New York Dolls are all used at exactly the right moments but then any film that has the The Dickies’ ‘Banana Splits’ in it has got be on the money. Daughter will kill me if I don't mention The Prodigy. Oh and there’s also music from that woman, Ellie Goulding, too. Every silver lining has a cloud of course.

As you can perhaps tell I quite liked this one. It’s a blast. The bad guys are good, or rather bad, and believable. In fact there are very few, if any, unbelievable bits or ridiculous plot twists and when someone dies, they stay dead.

The acting is good too. Mark Strong, as ever, makes a good villain, his character getting more and more violent as things go against him. Cage is excellent as Hit Girl’s doting father and Moretz herself is simply brilliant. Oh and I nearly forgot our Dave, Aaron Johnson, yeah he's pretty good too.

If there is a criticism it is that it probably gets too carried away with itself and moves from being a clever pastiche into simply being a superhero movie itself. I also have a problem with Red Mist, who's dressed up like a drag queen and Hit Girl is uncharacteristically under-prepared for the final battle but it's kind of hard to slate.