Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Intestines And Sex Ed!

Preparations for The Raven are well under way, and props are a key part of the show. Hence, on Saturday morning I boiled a packet of spaghetti and mixed in a load of red food colouring. The resulting mess was horrible, then I put it through my meat grinder and into hog cases. The finished intestines are quite realistic, and absolutely disgusting to the touch. Don't sit on the front row - that's all I'm saying!

After intestines it was on to the promotional video for the Buxton Advertiser. Ideally it would have been in costume with makeup - but we had to improvise.

It was Whaley Bridge carnival on Saturday. Even with the weather it was a relatively quiet night in the village, and there are many thinking that carnivals have had their day. Hayfield have had 88 consecutive carnivals, but even that tradition may not last much longer according to some locals. Maybe they just need a revamp. Maybe a joint Hayfield / Whaley Bridge carnival, with transport laid on between the villages. Another problem is that the Water Weekend ends up at the canal for its showpiece, and the carnival now ends up at Whaley Club. The pubs' involvement has been minimalised, and perhaps this has contributed to  less of them dressing up. Who can forget the days of the Viking ship? Certainly not Whaley Bridge Cricket Club! So perhaps we should introduce an event that is absolutely focused on the pubs. I have spoken to at least one ex landlady about the idea of a Whaley Bridge Madri Gras, and she thought it was a good idea. I even know a very good New Orleans style piano player!

Anyway, I mused upon that as I headed for Marple on my bike yesterday, and this time I continued all the way to High Lane. It was around 12.45 pm when I reached the Bull's Head, and guess what? It was shut. It looks an idyllic spot to have a drink overlooking the Macclesfield canal, but no such luck. Venturing into the village I also discovered that one of the coffee shops had long since closed, and the other just wasn't open at lunchtime, which seemed a bit odd. I shall persevere, but I am always open to suggestions.

I upgraded to Sky Fibre last Friday, or so I thought. I checked my line speed and it varied between 2.5 and 3.5. I was promised 38! Yesterday I got an email saying I had already exceeded my allowance (which must have been difficult at those speeds) and would be automatically upgraded to Sky Fibre unlimited if it happened again. I thought I would be proactive and upgrade it anyway, but the online link didn't work. So, I rang Sky and they arranged it. I then asked them to look at my line speed, and they said they couldn't as I had now upgraded to Unlimited, and it would take 24 hours to kick in. FFS! Its not a different broadband, just a bigger allowance. Anyway, my line speed was up to 36 this morning. Now it is back down to 3.5 again.

I went to Manchester this morning for a follow up with my consultant. He said I should have a scan, and he referred me to the Alexandra at Cheadle. They faxed the referral, then told me I should call BUPA to get an authorisation code, and then call the Alex, which I did. The Alex said I needed to email the form, so I said that the consultant's office had done that this morning. They said they had not received it, so I rang the consultant's office. They confirmed it had been sent, but they sent it again just in case. I rang the Alex again. Still not arrived. FFS. The Alex said they would ring the consultant's office. I haven't heard back. FFS. In this day and age why don't things like that just work! Maybe they are just trying to make private healthcare more like the shambolic NHS.

And speaking of the NHS, don't Ask Zac this week. I asked him how school was yesterday, and he said it was the most uncomfortable day he had ever had. They had the sex ed talk, and they even had to watch the girls' video. So what did he learn? Well, the most disturbing thing was about balls. Apparently, if you play too much sport your testicles can get tangled, and you have to go to hospital to get them untangled. I'm not sure he was really paying attention!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Brown Eyed Handsome Man

Two three the count with nobody on
He hit a high flyer into the stand
Round to third he was headed for home
He was a Brown Eyed Handsome Man that won the game
It was a Brown Eyed Handsome Man

That is probably how Chuck Berry would describe Zac's rounders final at Chapel, however, Zac told it a bit differently. 'We needed half a rounder to tie and one to win. There was one ball to go and I was batting. And I smashed it. We wouldn't have won if it wasn't for me.' Not much point in telling Zac there's no 'I' in 'Team'!

And whilst on the subject of Zac he watched the first contenders get knocked out of First Class Chefs, a sort of Disney version of Masterchef. An interview with the eliminated chef revealed "I'm just glad to have got this far," which Zac found rather amusing. "Its the first show of the first round. How can they be glad to get this far - they've not got past the first round?" I though about explaining that there were probably a lot of qualifiers before the actual tv shows, but it would have been a waste of time. Zac has no time for losers.

Ole finally surfaced for more than ten minutes earlier this week, and we managed to record his player profile for the Whaley Warriors T20 U19 squad. His nickname seems to have caused some amusement - but we've not seen the other profiles yet!

Ole was up much earlier than normal today as he started his new job at Tomson's. He gets picked up at 4.40am two days a week and works seven hours packing orders, eyeing potatoes and peeling onions. He was a bit grouchy this afternoon - we will see how quickly he adapts to this new lifestyle when he returns next Wednesday.

Cycling took me to Buxworth yesterday, and I stopped off at the Navigation for a coffee. It was quite good. £1.90 for a Rijo Americano, served in a decent sized mug. It was sunny outside, but the seating area feels a bit closed in down from the car park. Today I returned to Marple and the Ring O' Bells. I was considerably later so I knew that it would be open, but the coffee was in a disappointingly small cup, and for £2.00 it tasted a bit better than Nescafe, but not much. There are many pleasant places to sit and pass the time in Marple, and the Ring O' Bells is not really one of them. It has the feel of sitting in a pub yard, though if you crane your neck towards the railings you can just about spot the canal! I will be looking for somewhere different next week. Any suggestions?

Keep it quiet - we get Sky Fibre Broadband tomorrow. Yes, Whaley Bridge has reached the 21st century, and I'm expecting my line speed to increase from between 5 and 10 up to 38-40.

Had a complaint about the blog this morning - so I removed a name and I've not heard anything more. The blog post in question certainly drew a lot of readers, and you know what they say - there's no such thing as bad publicity! I suspect the Prom Bitch may put in more appearances too!

Those who know me know that I am a Domestic God, and yesterday I completed a pile of ironing that I then distributed to the boys to each put their own away. This morning Zac emerged wearing one of Ole's Chapel High School shirts, claiming he couldn't find any of his own Taxal ones. It was too late to argue, so that's how he went off to school. A short time later I found the reason that he could not find any of his Taxal shirts, they were still in the huge pile of his ironing that he had left in the middle of his bedroom floor. On the positive side, Zac proudly wore the Chapel shirt on the way home, happily deceiving the other pupils into thinking that he is already a high school kid.

I am in the process of updating the blog to make it easier to follow, ensuring that you never miss a post! Check for additional buttons on the right hand side.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Welcome To The Prom Bitch!

Isn't language funny? Especially grammar. A comma placed in the headline would indicate that the subject was an attendee at the Prom "Welcome to the Prom, bitch!", but in this case the "Prom Bitch" was definitely not a guest, more the domineering host.

I refer, of course, to the after Prom party that could well have led to all kinds of trouble, but actually went off rather well. The guests were all very polite, not even complaining when Sally hosed them down as they threw up. Many of them even left donations, and brought flowers round the following day. Little, if any, sex or drugs, and the rock and roll was at a reasonable level. Ian Dury would have been most disappointed. The only complaint came about the George Benson number at around 10.30, but I think that was the track itself rather than the volume. However, there was one incident worthy of mention, when a young man a year older than the Prom revelers, showed up uninvited. Sally decided to ask him to leave, and he refused. He was on very dangerous ground. She asked him again, but still no movement. He was teetering on the edge. Third time's a charm? Not in this case, and the refined and elegant Lady M suddenly turned into the aforementioned Prom Bitch. "I've asked you nicely three times, now I am your Prom Bitch so piss off," she demanded, and that seemed to do the trick, but not before the somewhat stupid person told her that she was being "unorthodox". I think it goes with the territory. Anyway, apart from a rip in the bouncy castle it all seems to have passed off very well, though Ole is a little slow in clearing up the bottles and cans that was a part of the contractual obligations in being allowed to have the after Prom at our house. Problem is, the after Prom is now a fading memory - the bottles and cans are not!

Of course, there are always victims on occasions like this, and Zac was feeling neglected. He couldn't sleep with all of the noise going on, and after exhausting the fun he could have on the rope swing he beckoned for some lemonade and prawn cocktail crisps as he tried to rest his weary head. Amanda duly obliged, and he lifted is head to offer her words of thanks. "At least you care," announced the poor little soldier.

Sunday was Father's Day. I'm not a big fan of this event. Mother's Day seems  to be an excuse to pamper mum and take the kids out so she can have some time to herself. Father's Day seems to be an excuse to get dad to take the kids out so he can have some quality time with them. Not a lot of difference really. Anyway, we decided to go to South 7, the burger joint in Marple Bridge. Very nice it is too, and when a table full of starters was produced Zac tried a coconut prawn. I told him they were similar to Yorkshire Pudding (I couldn't think of anything else at the time), and he had a taste. He then proceeded to take all of the batter from the outside, before eating the prawn. He actually ate a prawn. Then he said that he likes them, and we shouldn't be surprised as he loves prawn cocktail crisps. Hmmm, I've tasted both and the similarity is questionable at best, but for now it is another food item in Zac's exclusive diet. Today we are planning another fishy barbecue, and prawns are on the menu. I will let you know...

By the way, I can thoroughly recommend South 7. Good food (very juicy burgers), good selection of beer, and friendly service. We were there around 1.30pm, and got a table straight away. Zac wondered what we were eating, as in lunch, dinner, tea, what? He doesn't like to skip a meal. I decided it was tunch. A combination of tea and lunch, and he seemed happy with that.

Gabi rang on the way to South 7, and we talked about the November birth. Her daughter is due to be born on the day after we get back from Florida, which was a concern to Zac. "I need to be there. The uncle is the most important person for the new baby." You have been warned, Gabs.

Whaley Warriors now have their kit, well, five or six of them do. News on fixtures and entertainment will follow!

We didn't manage a run through of The Raven at the weekend, but I did revise the script to allow Edgar Allan Poe to understand the nuances of it more easily. It is quite a complex structure, and rather different to most other school texts. There was a big improvement, and we should be having a full run through this weekend.

Sapphire fell in the bath yesterday - looked like a drowned rat until Zac dried him off. Served him right really, He has become a bit of an opportunistic food thief, stealing, amongst other things, peanuts, butter and chilli chicken. He is off for the snip in the next week or so. Can't wait to see his face!

Had another appointment at the physio yesterday and she recommended stronger anti inflamatories. Went to the GP and he was happy to prescribe them, but he contradicted all other advice and said I should rest. That's unlikely to happen - and I'm back at the consultant's next week so I will wait to see what he says!

Ask Zac is a rather sensible one this week. "Who's your favourite actor?" "Adam Sandler. He's hilarious".

I got a bit of a shock when I got up yesterday morning. Went to the bathroom and peed a stream of red pee. I feared the worst. Would I see another Father's Day? Would I even get to see my granddaughter? Panic followed more panic and I thought I had better ring the doctor. Would I need to quite literally take the piss? (to the docs!) Then I remembered that whilst watching the golf the previous night (that went on until 3am), I had a snack of cheese and cooked beetroot. Panic over, and sure enough it was clear by lunchtime!

You Shouldn't Miss Marple!

That's another of those headlines that could easily be changed by the use of a comma! "You shouldn't, Miss Marple" sounds like the elderly investigator is up to something rather naughty in a Carry On kind of way, but in this case it refers to me finally getting to Marple along the towpath. It wasn't easy! I got past bridge 25 and the warning signs were still there, but the way was clear. On to 24, then at 23 a truck blocked the way. "You can get off and walk but be careful. They are doing some welding." I edged past tanks and oxy acetylene torches and continued. The path was muddy but passable, and eventually I reached bridge 19 that is pretty much a dead end. So, I crossed the bridge, continued down the other side and reached the canalside Ring O' Bells. Not quite Scott Of The Antarctic, but I had reached the goal set out many months ago, and I looked forward to a relaxing coffee overlooking the canal. I dismounted, went around the side of the pub and was thwarted. It was shut!

Friday, 19 June 2015

A Man's Gotta Do What A Man's Gotta Do!

Yesterday, naturally, the portaloo was in the wrong place. Not Sally's fault, of course. No, the delivery men couldn't follow a simple direction. They placed it to the left of the house, and it should have been to the right of the house. Actually, its not that heavy, so Sally shoved it all the way around the back, discovering that her ornamental archway was significantly lower than the portaloo. She then started shoving it back the other way. Detecting stress levels of a nun in a knocking shop, I assisted, and we maneuvered it into position. Prom day is imminent, the Clio is still on the drive despite promises from Renault Manchester that it would be collected, and my cycling odyssey to Marple once again fell short of Bridge 24 as the repairs are still not complete. Yesterday was a FFS kind of a day.

There were some bright spots. Those that deliver cricket kit (both of them) delivered, and my hog casings arrived. No, I'm not making sausages, they are for intestines. Speaking of which, we did another run through of The Raven yesterday. It went better than previously, but there is still a lot to do. A few script revisions were made, but the movement around the stage looks good. We also went to the Taxal School duck race. This was nothing to do with Whaley Bridge CC first XI. It was, however, somewhat chaotic, as first the children's rafts were released, and then the ducks. Now far be it from me to cast aspersions on to the veracity of the result, but the ducks were fished out of the water en masse, and any one of the little yellow creatures that was caught in the first net could have been designated the winner! The teachers missed a major opportunity by failing to fall in the swollen river, but the children cheered wildly anyway, and Sally procured a substantial amount of striped tape that can be use to section off areas of the garden for the prom.

Today is prom day. Stress levels are very likely to eclipse those of the aforementioned nun. A reveler arrived at 8am to drop off his stuff for later. Thats an awfully long time for a young man to stay awake, bearing in mind that Ole has adopted the sleeping habits of a dormouse since his exams finished. Sally disappeared for her Friday horse ride, as Ole leapt out of bed to arrange all sorts of things such as the pool room, and, err, well, just the pool room. Will you help me move this table out of the garage? he asked. Me and Fid did it, with Ole conveniently wearing headphones so that he could not hear us. Then the ladies arrived. Sally decide to make herself scarce once again, this time managing to turn a 5 minute trip to the chippy into an hour disappearance. The Candy Cart and disco dome arrived. The women asked questions. Have you got a staple gun? Hammer and nails? With my background in DIY this is like asking Darren Crompton for a tasteful jacket, or Andrew Gibson for a copy of his dietary plan. Whilst the women struggled with a tarpaulin, making it look like they were trying to nail jelly to a ceiling, I decided that a man's got to do what a man's got to do. So I made flapjacks. Rather nice flapjacks too, even if I do say so myself. Helen Smith will be round later - she will appreciate them.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Nightmare On Walters Wood

Its not as easy as it looks this blogging malarkey! So says Clive Ashton. His first post ended up on Google + so I rescued the errant narrative and placed it on his blog. Next he said it had just disappeared, but he had simply saved it as a draft rather than publishing it. Now, finally, it looks like he's got the hang of it. Its a very entertaining read - I recommend it!

Clive's Blog

Sunday was a very busy day. The previous Friday the cast had all finished their exams, so it seemed like the ideal time for a run through of The Raven. Hollie came over and worked on the makeup with Neve, whilst Alex was busy contributing ideas for The Zombie. They had all done lots of research and preparation. Unfortunately, Ole and Callum, the main characters, had done no such prep, and struggled with many of the words that Poe uses to set the scene and describe the loneliness of lost love. Hoping for another much better run through on Thursday when we will have access to the Pauper's Pit. We discussed props too. The big stuff is being created by Andrew Crankshaw, and there is incidental stuff such as candelabra etc which we have in abundance. Then there is the tricky stuff, like blood, intestines etc. I got some cobweb spray and ageing spray for effect, but the blood and guts seemed rather expensive. Then I read on Youtube about home made varieties. I will post the results on here!

And speaking of home made varieties, we had a wonderful fishy barbecue last night, with swordfish, smoked cod loin, tuna, prawns and scallops. Of course, Zac would not eat any of that, and not to be outdone he decided to do some home cooking. I went in the kitchen and noticed the scales on the side, as well as a box of cup cake mixture that Sally bought some time ago. "Where is the mould for cakes?" he asked, and I told him. At this point we were unsure just what he was up to, and closer inspection revealed a cup with a broken egg in it, lots of chocolate powder, and some rather runny batter. "I lost some of the mixture so I put chocolate powder in it instead," he explained. I turned the oven on and transferred the cup cakes to a bigger mould, as the liquid was about to spill over the sides. As they baked he made the icing. At first the butter and icing sugar were just in lumps, but I showed him how to beat them together briskly, and he soon got the hang of it. Next it was the cocktail stick test, and he tried it three times before deciding that they were 'done'. He allowed them to cool and then spread the slightly thin icing over the top, Finally, he covered them in chocolate curls and they were done. Not a bad effort, and virually all his own work. What would you rather eat - Zac's cup cakes or Sally's rhubarb?

We have just had a portaloo delivered, a stark reminder of the horror that is about to unfold as we host Friday's after prom party. Still, I am sure it will be a wholesome and safe affair, won't it? A disco dome? Didn't we have a lot of injuries in that for Zac's 8th birthday? Surely 15/16 year olds will be even more boisterous? A snow machine? They will be slipping and sliding everywhere. A disco dome and a snow cannon? Have we got a mobile hospital? Still, we have insisted that they can only bring beer if their parents have agreed to it. What do you mean Helen's making vodka jellies? I don't remember that being explained to the parents.

I wanted to lay out some ground rules, such as, "You break any of my stuff and I break you" or "You affect my satellite coverage and I will make a new dish out of your skin", but apparently this is frowned upon. It has been suggested that police tape is used to stop access to certain areas, but can't we just get them in the disco dome and police tape it up?

At least everyone will be around on Saturday morning to clear up, right? Well actually, no. Sally is off on a helicopter ride, probably timed so that she can see the full extent of the destruction from the air.

I thought we had the start of a white car saga yesterday, but it seems that the white stickers on the rear doors are for protection and standard issue on Sportages. Not convinced, but I'll go with it for now. Incidentally, the Courtesy Clio should be picked up this evening, bringing an end to the whole sorry Dacia saga.

Cricket was a real thriller on Saturday, with the seconds chasing 154 to win. At 98-8 it didn't seem likely as I joined Ethan Williams at the crease. We started slowly, picked up the pace, and eventually smashed our way to a fantastic and long overdue victory. Very encouraging stuff from Ethan, one of our more promising youngsters, and from Ben Stones who hit 34. All of this faith in youth is finally beginning to pay off. So why was I in at 10? Well, despite assurances from my doctor, I was definitely not ok to play a full game of cricket, and after about 15 overs I was hobbling around on one leg. Anyway, I took my torn cartilage to the physio on Monday, a very nice lady called Carolyn Edwards based above the pet shop in Whaley, and she said that she thought I didn't have a torn cartilage. It was more likely to be an arthritic flare, so she gave me some ultrasound, advised anti-inflammatories and paracetamol, an updated set of insoles, and come back next week!

Its a good job I don't gossip, because if I did the appearance of Darren Crompton at Sunday's selection meeting could have generated pages and pages! For now, though, his escapades should calm down, at least for a few days.

And finally, Ask Zac. On Friday it was the annual football presentation at Whaley Bowling Club. Sarah Heyes was looking for Sally, and as she couldn't find her she decided to Ask Zac.

"Is your mum here?"
"Do you know where she is?"
"What's she wearing?"
"A lot of makeup"

Friday, 12 June 2015


Some days the kind of day that I am having can be gauged by the number of times I have to say FFS! Actually, I don't need to say it, just the thought counts. For instance, when I have juniors playing senior cricket and they misfield the ball or get out to a bad shot then a muttered FFS is, to my mind, acceptable, as long as the junior in question doesn't get to know about it! And seniors, they can get the full force of FFS!

Anyway, today has been quite a FFS kind of a day. Renault Manchester completed their financial transaction, and then completed it again. They paid me, and then they paid Dacia finance. So now I am expected to sort out reimbursing Renault Manchester FFS! Sorry - can't do it today, can't quite make that out. You want £12.5k back? Can't quite hear. Its a bad line. Email? No - didn't get your email. Wifi is a bit dodgy in Whaley Bridge. I'll call you back soon. I'm off to Peru. Hopefully this whole sorry saga will be over soon, and this morning Renault Manchester were supposed to pick up the CD less courtesy Clio first thing. I'm not sure what their idea of 'first thing' actually is, but at 10am I emailed to say they needed to get here soon as I would be going out. Sorry - we've been busy. Can we do it this afternoon? No - FFS!

Sad news that Christopher Lee died. One of the scariest people from my childhood, and not in a Jimmy Saville kind of way. Anyway, Mr Lee recorded The Raven - appropriate timing.

Christopher Lee - The Raven

Personally, I prefer the Simpson's version!

The Simpsons - The Raven

There's a bit of an epidemic at the moment, with Ron Moody also passing away, and Leslie Philliips being rushed to hospital.I suppose it makes a change from Blues artists.

The promotional literature for The Raven arrived today. As you may know I got it from cheapestprintonline, but not before I tried a few other sites to get the best price. One of these was Saxoprint who are apparently based in Germany. This morning I got a phone call from a German lady asking if I needed any help with my order. What order? I only used the site to compare prices and I certainly don't want spamming afterwards, FFS!

Cricket seems to be a rich source of FFS! This morning I got a message from a junior parent requesting a meeting with myself and a junior manager. Not Under 11s - so not my job, FFS! Then there were the minutes of the Exec. Apparently Mr Madden will be asked to contact tea ladies and junior parents to find a volunteer to run the six a side barbeque. The same junior parents that I compiled a list of email addresses for and handed over to the secretary, FFS! And tea ladies? Didn't WBCC want to put the onus for teas onto the players, thereby making tea ladies virtually redundant? FFS. And who are these tea ladies? And why do I have a monopoly on them? One willing team is actually the secretary's parents, FFS!

Anyway, onto more pleasant matters and the white car has been picked up. Keys handed over, car inspected, off you go. By the way, there's not much fuel in it. FFS!

Fortunately I was off to Tesco. The big one near Portwood. Sally had already put everything in the trolley then dashed home, all I had to do was pay for it. This Tesco is huge. There were loads of people buying loads of stuff, the only thing there wasn't loads of was checkout staff. I went to the electrical counter as I was buying a printer as well as some other stuff, and just as the guy was about to process my trolley he noticed there was some shampoo in there. "This till is only for electrical items" he announced. FFS!

So, I queued at thew least busy till. Big mistake. It was probably least busy because it had the slowest checkout person. She insisted on talking bollocks rather than tilling stuff through, and the dozy cow at the front was happy to join in. A bit harsh calling her a dozy cow? No - when it came to pay she had forgotten her card, FFS! At least she didn't have money off coupons.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a much calmer day as the brief summer is replaced by a forecast full of torrential rain, FFS!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

My Given Name Is Dickie And I Come From Billericay

Very strange week, involving Ian Dury, a medical situation, another potential Blogger, and frustration at Tesco.

Let's start with Tesco. Anyone who shops at Tesco should have a clubcard, and I also have a Tesco credit card. Over the years this has proven to be very lucrative, including upper class flights from Antigua. Anyway, periodically they send coupons and vouchers, all related to your clubcard, and it might be 60p off super size tampons, 40p off tomatoes, or 25p off Tesco Finest bread.

Another thing they do is a price match, so if your shopping would have been cheaper at another local supermarket, they will give you a money off voucher to redeem on your next shop.

So, why all the paperwork? Its a pain in the arse when you are in the queue waiting for someone to redeem 12 months worth of vouchers, and then listening to a tiresome conversation when the checkout person has to tell them that half of them have expired, and the Tesco loaf that they bought is not a 'Finest' loaf so the voucher doesn't apply, but do you want me to get it replaced - you will still save 5p and have a better loaf? FFS. Tesco know that they are offering you a discount on x number of products, so why should you have to rely on paper? I inevitably lose mine or leave them in the car, but they have got my clubcard details. They know how much fuel discount I am due, so why don't they know what shopping discount I am due? The price match voucher is the same. If you use your clubcard they could record it on that - and the next time you shop, hey presto, they have already reduced it by 14p. Its not rocket science. Having said that - its still better than standing in a queue at Aldi!

Clive Ashton wants to start a blog. I had a very entertaining hour or so with him on Monday night discussing all day breakfasts in Spain, Punch Taverns, the state of the pub trade, the dangers of steroid injections, and anything else that sprung to mind. So, I offered to help him relay this information to a wider audience via a blog. He already has a Gmail account so Blogger seemed to be the way forward. I showed him the technicalities, albeit on my mobile phone, and away he went. Or rather, he didn't. He ended up giving me his email address AND password (he obviously trusts me implicitly), so I set the blog up, did the first post, and left it with him. "I still don't know how to post on there" was his reply. I sent him even more detailed instructions, but its looking more increasingly likely that he he might have to revert to Royal Mail.

Pay him a visit Clive's Blog

It might take a while, but I am sure he will get there in the end.

Ive got BUPA cover, so I rang them about my knee. Eventually they gave me the number of a clinic in Wilmslow, where the specialist is Dr Creaney. So, I rang them and the earliest they could fit me in was 2nd July, so I rang BUPA back and asked for an alternative. They then told me I could see the very same Dr Creaney the very next day, in Manchester. So, off I went, parking in the same car park where I got a PCN that I didn't pay, and trotted off to Dr Creaney's BUPA office in Piccadilly. I expected a referral for a scan, or some physio, the usual stuff. He said, you have a degenerative meniscus tear, and you can have a steroid injection. I had been warned off steroids when I had my Ostenil injections, but Dr Creaney kindly explained that long term steroids can cause a problem, but this would be a one off. And then the punchline. And I can do it now! Now I'm not the best with needles, it once took three nurses several jabs before they gave up and admitted defeat in trying to get a blood sample. The thought of being jabbed with no mental preparation was not a happy one, but I manned up and got it done. I felt a little prick, the he pushed it in. He emptied his syringe, gave me a wipe and a plaster to clear up the mess, and that was that. He told me that I should get physio and get out exercising on it. Net practice by Thursday would be ok, but I didn't really fancy standing on my own in the nets. Anyway, I set off cycling again, and in just over a week nothing has really changed. The towpath by the canal is still shut before bridge 24, and Marple is still a pipedream.

I use cheapestprintonline for flyers, posters, etc, but for The Raven we wanted A4, A3 and A6 literature. cheapestprintonline wanted to charge £9 postage, per item. But, they have a price promise. Told them about another company that could do the whole lot for £74 including delivery, and they said they would beat that by 10%. This amounted to £20 off their original price. Funny what happens when you threaten to go elsewhere. Many thanks to Steph Skupien for finishing the artwork. And whilst on the subject, the first run through of The Raven will take place on Sunday. Exciting times!

Sapphire has now taken to throwing his litter tray everywhere, so it goes outside for most of the day. He is becoming quite unruly - and the snip can't be far away. I've not told him yet - but think he might suspect!

Don't tell him I'm here

And finally, inevitably, we come to Zac. He has spent many years listening to quality music in my car, as have all of my children. Obviously the Clio has put a temporary end to that - but that should change on Friday when I pick up my new white car. With regard to the rusty car, I will never see that again! I have now got a full refund into my account. Trouble is - I now have to sort out payment to Dacia finance. I think that can wait. Back to Zac, and one evening he said, "Hey dad. My name is Dickie, I come from Billericay, and I'm doing very well. That's such a weird song!" Hopefully he will learn the true meaning of the lyrics when he is old enough to understand. I will try to get him to stick with Johnny Cash for now.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

If God Had A Baby...

Well, Zac is back and seems a bit tired, but thats about it. He went up to cricket practice, came back and jumped in a hot bath. Of course, mum is in Benidorm, so while the cat's away, this particular mouse will steal her gown!

Reports back suggest that he was a bit embarrassed by the appearance of his mum on Thursday night even though his friends were pleased to see her. His favourite activity was abseiling. He abseiled from a bridge that was every bit as high as the big red one in Stockport. Hmm, just checking that his pants aren't on fire.

So, its back to normal today. I emptied his bag, including his wash bag, and held out an item.

"Have you not used this at all?" I asked, as he studied the item in my hand.

"What is it?"

"A bar of soap."

"I didn't know it was in there."

"It was next to your toothbrush and toothpaste!"

He lost one of his retainers in bed, and despite moving everything around we could not find it. What I did find, under his bed, was a whole heap of odd socks. They can't all be his, so if your child has visited at some point, and is a sock missing, I know where it will be! It will probably need washing as there were a number of sticky sweets under there too, as well as several crepe wrappers.

One of the hopes from Whitehall was that he would start to eat new and varied food. No such luck, and he was delighted to tuck into sausage and chips when he got home. Now, I made chocolate cup cakes yesterday, the ones with chickpeas in, and they didn't quite turn out as expected. The recipe is really simple, but I can't find the original. Think I might have used one too many eggs, and too much bicarb. Either that or I need to make 18 rather than 12. Anyway, here is the finished plate.

Cakes far exceeding the capacity of the cupcake cases! Zac was even more pleased at these than the sausages. "Mountainous. Delicious. Its like God had a baby."

He has not yet got to grips with the Alton Towers crash, other than 'looks like I won't ever be going on The Smiler', and he figured out that countries have been bribing people to host the World Cup but he worryingly asked, 'why is that illegal?' He is also concerned that the women's World Cup is being held in Canada. 'Isn't Canada freezing cold?'

Back to the belles of Benidorm, and there was a conversation on Thursday night where Sally asked Helen to confirm that 'I just need my phone, passport and money.' Within an hour of leaving home I got a text from Helen informing me that Sally has forgotten her phone. Perhaps its an age thing, as last night she phoned home using a Skype call. I answered the regular house phone to be greeted by 'Can you see me? I can't see you.' It was then pointed out to her that our phone does not have a camera or screen, and a call via Skype is just like a regular telephone call.

Yesterday I received a couple of CDs from Paul Lamb. very kind of him, and I looked forward to listening to his harmonica belt out some mountain hillbilly blues in the car. Then I discovered that the Courtesy Clio does not actually have a CD player. Ridiculous. The Sportage had better have one - or the deal's off. And speaking of deals, Renault Manchester have told me that I can expect a full refund any day now. I have given them my sort code and account number. They then called back and I gave them the name of my bank. I am still expecting...

Incidentally, the white car may well be with me as early as Friday. I am intending to go down and sign the papers on Monday, when I may well take a slight diversion to Shaw Heath to share a glass of wine with my good friend Clive Ashton, and find about about the intrigue that his life has become.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Eggs Maniac

Its been a very quiet week! Possibly something to do with Zac going off to Whitehall with his class. This was a traumatic experience, with many of the parents welling up as their little boys and girls prepared to leave them for three whole nights. Some of us actually rejoiced! And the kids themselves didn't seem bothered at all. But I will let you into a little secret. They are all due to come back tomorrow, but by that time Sally will be in Benidorm. So, she has been given special permission to pay Zac a little visit tonight. Now, if I was Zac I would be mortified, and the only way he can save face with his pals is if Sally turns up with chips, cakes chocolates, etc that Zac would have to smuggle into the dorm. Of course, Zac being Zac he would have to add a mark up to the goodies! Anyway, I am sure he can expect the biggest baddest Lego set that Benidorm has to offer when Sally returns on Sunday. Do Lego do mobility scooters? Or character figures dressed as drag queens?

What a dreadful accident at Alton Towers this week, but I am not surprised. When The Smiler opened it was the latest big attraction, but it had constant problems. It even left 16 journalists stranded in mid air! The first time we visited after it opened the monorail ride was filled with adverts for The Smiler, but when we got to the gate the ride was closed. This happened on our next visit too! I complained to Alton Towers, and they gave me a pass for up to 4 tickets for £10 each. Next time I went we got to ride The Smiler, but not before it broke down just as we were about to board. And when I finally got to go on it - well it wasn't all that! Its not even the best ride at Alton Towers (Air or Nemesis in my opinion). There must be ten better rides in Busch Gardens alone, and it doesn't come close to The Hulk in Universal's Islands Of Adventure, which may well be where we are spending Halloween this year. Scary! Anyway, back to Alton Towers, and I really hope they scrap The Smiler and replace it with a more reliable coaster that is proven elsewhere. Don't really see the point of Alton Towers trying to be the biggest and the first for anything, as compared to US parks it is miles behind. And whilst they are at it they can get rid of Hex too! And Nemesis Sub-Terra.

Took my bike in for repair - no rush as I am still laid up with a suspected torn cartilage - and opted for two puncture proof tyres. These are almost £30 each, but if they prevent me spending a tenner every fortnight they will soon pay for themselves. Watch this space.

Its the Leek Blues & Americana Festival in October, and I've volunteered to get involved. First up was an interview with Paul Lamb, of Paul Lamb & The Kingsnakes fame. Fascinating and really nice guy, originally from Blyth but now living in London. He has played with Mark Knopfler, The Who and many other great names from inside and outside the blues, and he had a top 30 hit in the 90s with Harmonica Man, thanks to Pete Waterman. Thinking of organising a trip to the festival, probably on Sunday 4th October, as the Drugstore Cowboys are playing. If anyone is interested they can message me.

And what of Sapphire? Well, he has been to the vet for his second injection, and was very well behaved, unlike his behaviour at home.

What me? You must be mistaken.
He has now discovered that he can tip eggs out of the egg basket, and when they land on the floor they break open. The insides are rather tasty, and the shell makes an interesting toy.

So that's my quiet week - Zac is back tomorrow and I suspect the next edition will be full of his tales.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Packing It All In

Hmmm, regular readers will have seen my simulated rant of Arabella and her turbulent life from 19th May. Regular readers will also realise that it was completely fabricated, an illustration of the unconnected ramblings that can be triggered in the female mind. As if to illustrate just how close to the truth this actually is, Sally asked, “Who told you about that woman in Hayfield?”

The silver car saga took more twists over the weekend. Firstly, Autoexpress turned up to take a multitude of pictures of me with car keys and log book, and obviously no car. I had to insist that the dealer be kept out of this as he was doing his utmost to get me a full refund, but even that hit a problem this morning. The first payment has already gone out to Dacia Finance, and therefore his idea of a zero invoice would not work. However, Dacia Finance told me last Tuesday that it was too late to cancel that first payment even though it was not due until the 31st. This was evidently not true, so Renault Manchester are looking into it. Dacia Finance confirmed that if Renault Manchester officially accept that the car has been rejected (which they have), then I would get a full refund. Sally is now fretting about just exactly what that full refund includes.

My blue car is officially valued at around £1250, but in part ex I got £1100. So there’s £150. Then there was the £100 deposit I paid. The first finance payment was £317.93, and the fee to change my insurance may well be another £50. I also filled it up with diesel, so let’s add on another £50, and for the sheer piss take of it all I reckon they should round it up to £5000. No? Well let’s see what other information I can provide Autoexpress with!

Next up it was Lookers in Stockport to buy a Kia Sportage. This was more like what I expected of car sales people, trying to sell unwanted extras despite the repeated use of the word 'No'. Anyway, that should be with me within the next few days, so I will let you know if it comes with any freebies such as orange warning lights or, of course, rust!

Zac has been very much to the fore this weekend, starting with a conversation yesterday morning. Sally asked, “What are you doing wearing my pink socks?” to which Zac instantly replied, “I make these work.” He has been having something of a hard time of it since the latest television incident, so much so that Sally suggested he might have to see a doctor because of his anger issues. “You’re the one who needs to see a doctor,” he told her. What for? “Rudeness, and picking on children.” The day continued, and we realised that Zac does not actually know everything. “Why do people touch tongues when they kiss? Its weird. Why don’t they just have a long snog?” I think I preferred it when we asked the questions.

Another bloody puncture! That’s what I woke up to yesterday, with the back tyre on my bike once again completely flat. Someone should do something about the state of the roads! Anyway, seemingly that won’t matter for a while as I am now resting up with a suspected torn cartilage in my left knee. My left knee has had a lot of ailments in the past, and I usually know the cause. Either a twist, a fall, a tackle, or something else sport related. This time, I was simply brewing up. A sharp stab into the side of my knee told me something was wrong, and it kept happening. Later that day it had swelled to the size of a balloon, so I went to the doctor and she said I need ice on it. Then I discovered that the ice machine in the fridge doesn’t work. Sally will have known this for ages, but it was up to me to take it apart and flush out the solid clump of ice that was preventing the mechanism from working with warm water. Sally’s kitchen design means that to detach this piece of equipment you have to move the entire fridge, and, of course, move it back again afterwards. And I’ve got a bad knee! If I catch her with ice in a G & T this week I may well tip it on her.

Had a meal at Bem Brasil yesterday to celebrate Matthew's 30th birthday. I'm normally a fan of Brazilian food, and there was plenty to eat, but next time the sirloin comes around I think I'll just ask the waiter to leave it all on the table. Gabi also got a treat as I managed to save her some vegetarian chilli and Rocky Road. She quite liked it.

I think we just had a power cut, but I’m not really sure. Anyway, Zac used the darkness as another excuse to interrupt his packing. He is off to Whitehall with the school tomorrow, so you will have to save your questions for the weekend. He will be available to take them via satellite from Benidorm! And what an exercise packing for Whitehall is.

Have you packed your underpants?
Where are they
They are drying on the radiator
So you've not packed them?
I will do it in the morning
Have you packed your socks?
Where are they?
In the bag
Have you put your name on them?
I'm doing that next
So you will have to take them out of your bag?
Have you got an inhaler?
I'll pick one up from school tomorrow
No - get one from here and make sure its full
Ok - I've finished now
What about your brown inhaler
I just have to get my brown inhaler and I'm done
What about your underpants on the radiator
Yes I know, just the underpants and the brown inhaler and I'm ready for Whiehall
And Piriton tablets?
Have we got any?
Yes - here they are
Right, I'm now ready for Whitehall. Goodnight.
Zac, have you packed pyjamas?
In the morning
Etc, etc.