Tuesday, 24 July 2018

40 years and Counting (down)

Some milestone eh?  Yep, I started working here 40 years ago today.  WTF!  No, actually WHAT THE FUCK!!!!

My (just) 17 year old self in 1978 could not have imagined what the world would look like in 2018.  I wish I'd written myself a letter and sealed  it up to be opened 24 July 2018!

No I don't.  What the hell would have said anyway?

When I was 17 I was into music (punk of course), cricket and the Boro.

I still love music (not punk of course), cricket (not so much) and the Boro (much more so) so in some ways not a lot has changed.  I was forming my political ideas and already really into fighting racism which has been a life long fight documented in my blog many times.

I was learning about Apartheid and was convinced justice would soon prevail and the all white South African government would be overthrown.  Apartheid went on until the early 1990's, another 12+ years.  It seemed a long wait, yet 12 years back from (approximately) today  seems like yesterday.  I read a book that had quite a bit about perception of time over the years.... Fascinating and at times a bit scary.   I'll save that for another post.

Ha ha, not everything has changed though.  At least my rambling writing style is the same.

You can probably tell I've done lots of reflecting today.  Not much at all about the job itself, just about my journey into work that day and my mam and dad and my uncles and aunties who were all alive.  What I had for lunch.  Having to work during the 6 week summer holiday.

They're going to present me with a certificate tomorrow and I'm guessing they will expect a few words.  As above might be ok.

Over and out.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Day 10 - Blogger Post 243 - Pre-Work Blues and plans.

Well I almost managed it.  I've broken promises runs of posts so many times so I didn't mention the plan.  I planned to post every day of my holiday at home and only failed to post yesterday.   Close but no cigar!

My good friend Richard G and real blogger spotted there was life here and mentioned it on FB.  Daily views are now up to the dizzy heights of 6 - Cheers Rich.

I've quite enjoyed doing being at the keyboard again and it's been less onerous than I remember. Then again I've been off work.  It's hardly been thrilling stuff but it is what it is circa 2017.  You can't expect the knock about stuff that was going on 10 years ago.

A quick check has just confirmed that I started "writing stuff up" as I always call it 2 January 2006.  Lots has changed since then both in my life and the outside world.  I've just had a flick through both LiveJournal and Blogger, it's all there if you too are inclined.  I used to go on about my family, music, exercising, politics, cricket, the Boro and the pub. Not much knock about stuff to be honest and pretty much the same sort of stuff I've been up to the last week. Maybe not that much has changed?

Needless to say I've got plans.  Ha ha, again .....

Friday, 18 August 2017

Day 8 - Is there no end to this fun?

Wolf Alice were actually quite good.  As I mentioned, I had seen them before but couldn't really remember much apart from having a female vocalist.  Long standing followers know I always remember the girls.  A good rock/pop band playing some good songs with some decent hooklines. None particularly memorable but I'm not complaining.

It was really nice to be back upstairs at The Westgarth.  The sound was excellent, I could even hear the vocals, they are so often (maybe intentionally) lost in the live mix.  As I mentioned last night Wolf Alice had tagged a few smaller venue shows dates at the front end of their tour and it was very nice of them to include Boro in the "warm up" dates.

I'm sure there was method behind the madness.  From my (fairly vast) experience bands at the very least get a fair crack of the whip in the Boro and especially at The Westgarth.  The bands always appreciate the respectful and usually enthusiastic audience and the care taken by their local promoters and Steve, the laid back venue host. It was always going to be a love in.  I wasn't their the first time WA played there but I'll bet it was a love in and so it was again last night.

Good luck to Wolf Alice when they move onto play the bigger venues.  We are the Boro!

The Kids Are Solid Gold nights continue to be special from the personal greeting from Andy, Phil, Siobhan and Steve when you walk in to meeting up with old friends to talk about what's coming up, what you're listening to at the moment to reminiscing about the great shows of the past.  And last night was no different.

Even better, nowadays it's not just TKASG promoting shows on at The Westgarth. Other promoters such as Steve Harland, Martin Mathers and Dave Griffiths put shows on of varying genres ensuring the old Working mens club continues to thrive. Long may it continue.

And big NB to the fair people of Middlesbrough.  We need to keep turning up.

Note to self............

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Day 7 - Not much going on in my world today

Just as well as I'm not feeling great. Things were going too good, I've been well for ages but my IBS has flared up which causes me other issues health wise. It's the sort of thing that would have sent me running to see my GP 5 years ago but I just get on with it nowadays. As long as there is a decent toilet I can run too I just get on with thing.   I know, what a martyr.

I'm off to see Wolf Alice at The Westgarth tonight with Ste. They played there 4 years ago but have moved upwards and onwards since then. I didn't go but I'm pretty sure I saw the at EOTR 2013.

So WA are playing a few warm up dates at smaller venues before they move on to their main tour.  Quite a coup for The Kids Are Solid Gold and the Westgarth itself.

Will report back tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Day 6 - Bramble Picking and back over to Carlton via The Transporter

We've had another busy day.  I don't know about Shamila but I'm starting to flag a bit.

We planned to pick some brambles from my secret stash over the border (found Monday).  Travelling from north of the river it seemed a good idea to drive to Port Clarence and take an as the crow flies short cut over the Transporter.  

What's not to love about The Transporter  (Wikipedia hyperlink for non locals)?  Still a working bridge and all that blah, blah blah.  I hadn't been travelled on the gondola for over 20 years and Shamila hadn't been over since she was a kid.  I didn't tell her my plan until the last minute and it earned loads of brownie points for such a simple trip.  Yes!!!!!

We picked our brambles (more of that on Facebook) from our secret supply before heading over to Lord Stones  to right the wrong of yesterday.  Here's a photo of me giving Shamila a pre-walk pep talk.

and it seemed to do the trick.  We worked back over and cracked it.  We're going to have another go at doing the complete walk next week.

Going to have a rest tomorrow.  Well, I might go to the gym.  Hope you don't lose any sleep with the excitement.

Here's another sixties number.  

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Day 5 - Walking, Eating and The Boro

I had a bit of a play about with the design of my Blog.  I really wish I could get it to line up the photos a bit better, collage like or something. It looks crap. I took all the stuff from the sidebars (tech term which means down the sides).  It was all old stuff and I can't be bother to maintain it.  I know it's far from great.  I might have another go later.

So what have I been up to today?  Once again, I am able to report, plenty.

Me and Sham decided to do a walk I'd pulled out of the Gazette a few moths ago by long standing correspondent Bob Woodhouse.  It was described as "Raisdale Circular, a 6 1/2 miles from Lordstones out and around Cringle and West Bilsdale moors".  I can only describe it as an enjoyable slog.  The instructions were vague to say the least but we were still on track  4/5 of the way round until we finally had to admit to defeat after failing to find a supposed gap in a wall either at the top or bottom of Wath Hill and just trudged back along Raisdale Road just over a mile back to Lordstones.  Can't speak for Shamila but I was knackered and a bit dispirited to be honest.

Here are a couple of photos.

I guess you win some you lose some and under normal circumstances that would have been it.  It's a bit of a trek to get over to Carlton from Billingham but what the hell, over a beauty lunch at the Blacksmith's Arms at Carlton we decided to go over again tomorrow to try and work it out.

And the Boro tonight?  An uninspiring 2-0 against sure to end up bottom of the table,  Burton Albion.  Not great but 3 points and up to 4th in the table.  It's very early in the season but better to be 4th in the table than 24th.

More adventures in Carlton tomorrow.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Day 4 - Fantastic Day

Today went just as I'd played out in my mind and unusually I managed to do everything planned.  I  had a good session at the gym, did my tour of Middlesbrough and met up with Shamila mid-afternoon. We headed off to Whitby for a game of crazy (to the unenlightened) or mini (to those in the know) golf and fish and chips for our tea.

I'm pretty knackered so I'm just going to let the photos tell my story of today if that's ok?  Might do an early post tomorrow.  I've got the Boro match tomorrow night.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Day 3 - In The Boro part 1 and chores

Inspired by a flick at a book Shamila got her Dad for his 86th birthday (3 cheers) about the history of central Middlesbrough I thought I'd have a mooch around my home town, "The Boro".  I'm a bit ashamed I've never done it before.

There's not an awful left of "the olden days" in Middlesbrough to be honest.  Here's an article from the Gazette a couple of years ago about some of the buildings we've lost.  Read it and weep.  For example in fairly recent years we've lost the old St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sussex Street that was demolished after an arson attack in 2000

and the Cleveland Scientific Institution which was demolished in 2006 to make way for a car park.

 You couldn't make it up. I won't say it was a criminal act because I might get into trouble. In any case Mandale Properties and Middlesbrough Council had no case to answer because all the correct procedures were followed in relation to its demolition. Well that's the main thing.

And after that rather splendid intro (if I say so myself)  I'm sad to report due to circumstances out of my control we (me and Sham) had to abandon today's tour after about 40 minutes.

We got as far as Exchange Square, buildings including Exchange House, now known as the House of Blah Blah, behind it including the Impasse Centre (vague memories of local concerts here in the late seventies/early eighties).

and the Railway Station.  It was looking good but hey ho I'm off tomorrow so I'll give it another go and report back again.

I'll say manyana then.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Day 2 - No Mo!

Gutted Mo couldn't double up.  What a superstar.  The best British sportsman bar none in my lifetime.  As I'm watching he's posing for lots of selfies with VIP's in the front row around the stadium,  agh.....?  Wasn't not so keen on that bit to be honest.

Bit of sport going on today.  It was also Boro's first home game of the season and and we won. Though it was far from thrilling.  Almost tempted to say "are you Karanka in disguise" to Gary Monk.  We played really well for about 20 minutes in the first half when we scored but we a bit lucky in the end. Bamford and Christie were great but Assombalonga didn't look as good as Kike did on his home debut 2 seasons ago for me.  It's early days and I'll be back there on Tuesday.  It's still unconditional love for the team but I don't feel any obligation to give Boro any early season benefit of doubt after Gibson bizarre intervention in the general election campaign.  

Me and Sham went for an exhilarating "sprint" this morning up and down the Tees from Stockton to Dinosaur Park and back.

Shamila swears she can't jog but lots of people run slower than we march.  We didn't have any formal stops but there's an endless supply of brambles this year it would have been rude not to indulge.

Lots not quite ready but enough are ripe and gorgeous and the great thing about being an old man is you know exactly when they're ready.

We're going back again tomorrow to pick some to stock up for some bramble crumbles.

In celebration of my return I'm going to share a few old tunes so ....

More tomorrow.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Day 1

So the first day of my home holiday is over.  Well just my normal day off from work but it's ok to count it as the first day as it makes it up to a nice round 10 days isn't it?  Actually one of the benefits of being part-time is that I get more holidays (at least in my mind) .  I haven't worked Friday's now for over 7 years and it still sometimes feels like I'm nicking off on a Friday.  The pay I lose for cutting a day is negligible, a benefit of being so poorly paid I like to think.  Shh.., don't tell anybody, they'll all want to do it.

You might have noticed I haven't been posting much for .... well a long time now.  Enough to be able to tell people "I write a blog" mind, not that I ever do. I haven't even got an excuse.  I've still got plenty to say but I've been doing other stuff.  Y'know, the gym, walking, reading the news, reading a few books, listening to music, watching TV box sets, currently Ozark (it's pretty good but I've just found out how the series ends from some unknown person on Facebook - bummer) blah blah blah.  All pretty mundane stuff but it keeps me occupied.  I'm not moaning (well I am a bit) but I'm still searching (nod to Kevin Rowland).  Do you know what I mean?  And I wouldn't have it any other way unless I actually find "it".

Anyway, regular readers (ha ha, sure everybody's given up by now) will recognise the pattern. Me babbling on hoping some inspiration will appear out of thin air. It might but if it doesn't I'm content rambling on autobiographical stylee for me to read back to myself when I'm too old to do anything else.  It will remind me what a fun loving guy I used to be.

Anyway, so what have I done today?  Well actually plenty.  As well as watch an episode of Ozark,  I read all the newspapers on and off all day, I went to the gym, cut my lawns, fixed my hedge trimmers (I cut through the cable last time I used them), cut my privet and listened to over 3 hours of random play music on my ipod (who said I couldn't multi-task?) all before picking Shamila up from work at 4.30 pm.  Phew!

So, time to say goodnight.

Just for a bit of filler

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Words on a Whim.

Could be a song title?

Actually just testing the water.  

Always looking for options and this blog remains an option.  

Eeez a little number...


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Qu'est-ce que c'est? (The full story)

Happy New Year everybody.  So the fun continues.  2016 was pretty sparse blogwise.  It's unlikely to improve to be honest but I might signpost my entries a bit more so there'll be no need for you to check for updates every day.  Ha ha!  

This nonsense has now been going on for 10 years by the way.  I must have wasted 100's of hours  (was going to say 1000's but I've been told a million times ............) talking to myself.  Not always but I suspect plenty.  Anyway, if you want to take a trip down how the world of Goffa looked 10 years ago, pre-Tory government, pre-Brexit, pre-Boro Europa Cup Final, relegation and promotion etc. etc.  here's your chance.

I'd forgotten my last post was a pre-Brexit prediction.  Ouch!  I'm more bothered with the result than I thought I would be.  And since then what about Donald Trump winning?  It made our Brexit result seem eminently sensible.  Who knows it might turn out ok or maybe not (Brexit not Trump).

Anyway all that talk of Brexit leads nicely to the reason for this post (really).  I recorded a song for my old friend Richard Sanderson and his all welcome annual Christmas compilation album on his esteemed Netlabel (and more), Linnear Obsessional Recordings.  The album, Utterances  is available to stream and/or download for free, all 112 songs of exactly 2 minutes of it.  So if you've got a spare 224 minutes fill your boots.  Seriously though lots of it is brill pop music and you should give at least some of it a go.  Sadly my song is languishing down with the dead men at number 95 so not much chance of  anybody stumbling upon onto it. Even less chance of them wondering what it's about and downloading the PDF booklet with the album to view my old friend Dave Pye's wonderful illustrations and my narrative

It's a shame really because in my humble self-centered opinion the story deserves to be heard.  So by popular demand I give you  .......

and here are Dave's cartoons and the true story of Que ce que c'est, so help me God.

This is a true story which I want to tell before it becomes too distant in my memory to trust or to recall. 

It is set in Springfield Comprehensive School in Middlesbrough in the spring of 1973 when I was 11 years old.  I think it was a fairly tough but generally well disciplined school.  At least our class, 1A1 usually was.  
We were being taught French by Mr Cahier, a native French speaker. Mr Notebook now sounds unlikely but that’s how I remember it.  The desks were set out in rows either side of the room and Cahier was teaching from the channel down the middle. I was sat on the front row on the right hand side as you walked into the class and the unfolding drama took place directly in front of me. You can therefore trust this is an accurate description of the events that  took place. 

To fit the setting I am now going to switch to present tense and adopt the classic school play format. 

The main characters are of course Cahier plus 2 kids in the class Paul Pearson (Peo) and John Scanlon (Scan).  The rest of the class are watching on.
So Cahier is using the écouter/ répété method of teaching us how to say Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Cahier - Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Class - Qu'est-ce que c'est? 

Cahier - Bon, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Class -Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Cahier - Tres bon, Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Class - Qu'est-ce que c'est? (with a lone voice pronouncing it Qu'a-ce que c'est?)

Cahier - Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Class - Qu'est-ce que c'est? (again with a lone voice pronouncing it Qu'a-ce que c'est?) 

Cahier calmly hones in on Peo.  Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Peo (only) - Qu'a-ce que c'est?

Cahier - Non, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Peo - Qu'a-ce que c'est?

Cahier -  (starting to get a bit agitated but still calm) - Non, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Peo - Qu'a-ce que c'est?

Rest of Class - muffled laughter

Cahier (more agitated but still calm) - Non.  Qu'est ce

Peo - Qu'est ce

Cahier - Que

Peo - Que

Cahier - C'est?

Peo - C’est?

Cahier - (feel much better.  He thinks he's nailed it) - Tres bon.  Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Peo - Qu'a-ce que c'est?

Class - Roar with laughter

Cahier (now raging) - Throws a punch at Peo who sways out of the way and the punch lands on the side on John Scanlon’s nose.

Class - Stunned silence.  A few of the class console the now bloody-nosed Scan as they exit the classroom.    

The End


As I said a true story.  It was so strange because from memory Cahier hadn't previously shown any psychopathic tendencies.  You might wonder what happened to him?  He was never seen at Springfield again but alas apart from that we never found out.  

Me and Dave Pye (who provided the wonderful illustrations below ) are Kendo.  Thank you for indulging us.

More later?  Maybe.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Game of Two Halves. Should We Stay or Should We Go?

It's been a shit campaign hasn't it? It was never going to be thrills and spills but I never thought it would be as turgid as it turned out to be.  Then again I didn't think it was going to be almost exclusively a Tory tag team match between Cameron/Osborne and Farage/Johnson/Gove with most of the Tory press acting as cheerleaders.  It felt a bit like a party I hadn't been invited to, thank goodness and also thank goodness it will be over tomorrow night.  

I'm going down to get my vote in early tomorrow morning before work.  I seriously thought about abstaining but I'm in folks. 

Why?  At the start of the campaign I just had a hunch that it was in the best interests of the British people and I've heard nothing to change my mind.  If anything my view has hardened. Not because I've been inspired by the remain campaign camp but more because of the leave campaign.  From their pronouncements that leaving the EU will mean more money being available to spend on public services to how terrible it is the influx of EU economic migrants have kept wages down.   Like the Tories really care about public services and higher wages being paid by British businesses.  

Sickening of all was their "reclaim our  borders" mantra and the way they deliberately played on people's ignorance and prejudices by blurring the lines between EU Economic and non EU humanitarian and (admittedly) illegal migration.  I will never forgive them for that.  

Not that I was impressed by most of what the Remain camp's campaign, for example the veiled threat And pretty much all the business leaders say we should remain including double billionaires Richard Branson and Alan Sugar.  What, so we can have more austerity measures?

Labour were shit of course although Jeremy Corbyn eventually told it how it is (for most of us anyway).  That said, as helpfully pointed out by The Express and The Telegraph he really should have supported Brexit.  Really, who cares? 

Do I trust the EU more than this Tory government?  I'm not sure but it sometimes feels like the EU is the only thing able to stop the Tories from riding rough shod over anybody other than the rich and powerful.  Actually, maybe I'm being a bit niece (I've been accused of worse) but yes I do.  

I accept that if the country votes to remain we will continue to have problems with bureaucracy, waste, accountability and economic migration but on the other hand if the country votes to leave we will have problems with with bureaucracy, waste, accountability and economic migration.   The outers say the EU is bad because the British don't have enough say how it's run.  Really?  Don't we have MEP's?  

Of course the idea is that if we leave because of our democracy we can all have more say about who decides things on our behalf.  It really is about time to dispel this myth that we all have a say over who governs the UK.  Our electoral system is broken.  In our first past the post system only those voting in marginal constituencies have any say in our General Elections.  I wasn't swayed by the outers anti-democratic EU card.

Yeah, totally uninspiring.  I know my reasons for remaining in the EU are not very good and maybe it would be better to leave the EU but to some it up it all just felt like I was being conned and I just decided the outers were trying to con me more than the inners.

Yep, stay in, reform blah blah blah.

Anyway, as many people know I'm a betting man and I love to make a prediction.  I made the mistake of going against my gut instinct at the last General Election but I'm not falling for that again.  The last time I looked the polls were very close but I think they've got it wrong.  I'm going for a relatively easy win for Remain, 55% to 45%.

You heard it here first and Friday's Euro lottery numbers will be ............

Do I really care? Actually, not really.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

We are Premier League, we are Premier League!

People use that expression "it's a funny old world".  Of course it is a cliche but being a cliche doesn't make it wrong.  My football team, the only team in my world, Middlesbrough FC have today won promotion back to the disgustingly filthy world of Premier League.

The Premier League pretty much stands for everything in life I abhor and find repulsive.  It is over-hyped and awash with money paid for by Rupert Murdoch's Sky.  Many of the players are egotistical and  at a time when many football supporters are struggling financially the overwhelming majority of players are vastly overpaid.  Cheating is an accepted part of the game but the managers of the teams castigate the referee for not spotting when opposing players cheat week after week.   I could go on.

When I first started blogging (10 years ago) Boro were an established Premier League team.  No worries about relegation.  We were winning cups (1 anyway) and we competed in the Europa League and even got to the final.  For non football supporters who have no perspective of what that means, it's really good.  For example Liverpool are thrilled they've got to the final this year.

Boro were relegated from the Premier League in 2009 after 11 years in the Premier League and I tried to convince myself pretty much for the reasons listed above I didn't care.  But you can't lie to yourself.  Although I stopped going to the matches I never stopped following the results.  I started getting more interested again and eventually  started going again (this has been the pattern for 45 years by the way). And once you start going again ......

This has been the longest period Boro  have been outside the top division in England since 1975 and if Wikipedia is to be believed 2016-17 will be our 61st in the top Division out of our 107 year history.

Old men (my age) were crying at the match today.  Promotion means so much to them, it means so much to me, it means a lot to the town.  Times are hard in our area for so many.  I don't suppose the people of Middlesbrough will see much of the hundreds of millions that Middlesbrough FC are reportedly going to make in the next few years but it's still great news for the our town.

As we know it wasn't always this way.  Middlesbrough used to be be an important town in this country.  I read an article in the Guardian leading up to today's match which mentioned the famous Stanford’s General Map of the World of 1920.  Apparently Middlesbrough was one of only a handful of  towns/cities in Britain worthy of note.  We certainly were the Boro in those days.

Today was a great day for Boro.  The players and manager are lapping it up and well done but it's their job.  They are well paid (admittedly not yet by Premier league standards) and in time many of them will simply move on to other clubs, I hope they enjoy their celebrations.   But today belongs to the supporters and to the town.   We are still the Boro and we still will be even if we get relegated again next year.  

I know that by the time the next football season starts in August I will be fretting wondering we are going to get to 40 points  (see previous blog entries circa August 2006, 2007 and 2008)  but for now I'm just going to enjoy the thrill of today.

WATB and here's Culture.