Monday, 10 January 2022
Sunday, 9 January 2022
Evening all. Sunday evening's round again and I'm at Shamila's. Posting a bit earlier than normal, getting my personal contractual obligation out of the way? Mmm maybe. Like most days I feel I haven't got much to say so I'm just tapping away at the keyboard hoping to stumble upon some inspiration. Shhh, I shouldn't give away my blogging secrets.
Think back in the day I would probably have picked up today's paper and discussed a news topic to ramble on about. It's all about opinions isn't it? Everybody is spouting something off (the irony of that comment is not lost on me by the way) and of course sometimes opinions get confused for facts. For example on Friday I was queuing up outside the chemist masked up, as we all do post Covid and the woman in front engaged in what I thought was going to be a bit of small talk with me.
"Eee, who'd have thought we'd still be doing this 2 years later?" I politely agreed.
"Mind it's definitely been man made in a lab" she continued.
Mmmm. I should have let it lie I guess but I was now in a difficult position. We'd started a conversation so I had to reply with something. "Maybe, I guess it's a possibility but I'm not sure it's definite".
"No it's 100% definite. I've seen too much evidence".
Thankfully, before I could come back to her somebody a customer out of the chemist and it was her turn to go in. Good timing although then somebody else came out and it was my turn to go into the shop as well. Ding ding, round 2? Thankfully there was bit of a kerfuffle about somebody accidentally jumping the queue which created enough distraction until she was served and on her way. Probably for the best.
My point is that it was her opinion probably based on other people's opinion pieces. She'd probably argue that she had the facts to back it up. Maybe she has. I don't think there's enough credible evidence (yet) to challenge the accepted and published facts. Then again, who's to say my news sources are more credible than hers? As they say "one man's intuition is another man's conspiracy theory" or something like that.
It's a well known fact that I'm an unlucky guy and while we're talking about chemists it looks like I'm going to have more evidence to prove it's true.
I've got a bad heart for which I've been taking regular medication since 2014 and unlike residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland prescriptions are free, all people living in England under the age of 60 have to pay. It's wrong that anybody has to pay imo but I was 60 last year so no longer had to suck it up. Although it looks like that all might change and if you read the Daily Express it's a done deal and the date for free prescriptions is going to change to the normal retirement age as soon as April 2022. That said as far as I can the result of the public consultation hasn't been announced but watch this space.
As if turning 60 wasn't traumatic enough one of the few benefits is going to be turned over. I guess I could always sign the Age UK petition. Jeez, that fellar on the Age UK link must be me. Do I look like that?
Two songs today, you can either have a go or not. No sweat either way but they're both cutting edge alternative folk releases, not just some crap from the archive.
Saturday, 8 January 2022
I haven't told anybody I'm posting again, I prefer a slow burn but it appears 4 people are now reading my blog. I'm quite happy with that. Mind, I'm pretty sure I could get it up to about 10 or so if I told my 80 odd (rough guess) Facebook friends. It's been pretty mundane stuff so far. I don't have much inspiration in truth and even the mechanics of writing out seems such a slog.
We'll see how it goes. It goes without saying I'll keep posting until I get sick, that's stating the obvious but I've decided that I'm going to call it a day if I don't post 50 times this year. A tall order I'm sure you will agree.
It's been a good day I guess. Boro beat Mansfield 3-2, I watched the second half. It was mostly excruciating to watch us struggle against a team 2 divisions below but despite what I said last night I was thrilled with our injury time winning goal and all happy Newcastle got beat by Cambridge at home. I'm not even sure what division Cambridge are in but I know it's low.
Real life friends will know my general indifference to any team other than Boro. I normally cannot muster up the energy to either like or dislike them but there's something extremely unpalatable if not sickening about the Saudi Arabian Newcastle United takeover. Apparently they're now the world's richest club and as far as I can their supporters give two fucks about the Saudi Arabia's human rights violations.
I actually feel sorry for their supporters. Imagine supporting a team ran and financed by such a disgusting barbaric regime?
I could go on but think I'll leave it there with that one for now.
Been hanging around 93 C most of the day. Went on a 6 1/2 mile walk with my pal Ian as planned. It drizzled on and off most of the way round but it wasn't intolerable. We managed to talk daft non-stop for about 3 hours including coffee and cake round my house afterwards. After lunch and a pluck or two on my guitar I went to pick up some on line shopping for Shamila and went to the gym for an 800m swim.
Back for tea, home-made chicken curry. Don't worry I haven't taken a photo. Not that there's anything wrong in photographing your tea. And now listening to my ongoing Spotify playlist.
Bop bop bop.
Friday, 7 January 2022
Unsurprisingly I woke up with a hangover. Had far too much to drink last night, I usually do when I go out with our Russ. Bloody rounds have a lot to answer for.
Arranged to go round his house at 11AM this morning. He's renovating the house and he needed me to help him take down the canopy at the front of his house. Anybody that knows me knows my DIY limitations but I was another pair of hands and probably more to the point I was available. It was big and heavy and could have been dangerous but we got it down without much bother. And although our Russ took most of the strain and made most of the decisions I like to think I made a few key interventions. It's always a pleasure to help our Russ anyway.
Setting the scene for (possible) future posts both me and Russ moved house in the last 18 months and now live about a 15 minutes walk away from each other. It was more good luck than by design but I'm not complaining. He's semi-retired as well and even if we don't see each other during the week we have an unwritten standing order to meet up and go to one or more of the local pubs every other Thursday night.
So the weekend arrives at last. It feels like it's been a long week. Then again it's only 50 weeks to Christmas Eve tomorrow.
Do Saturday and Sunday fell any different to me than Wednesday to Friday since I partially retired in November? Well Shamila's off so we'll do one or maybe even two longer walks and Boro usually play but apart from that not really.
Although this weekend's a bit different mind. I'm walking with my mate, Ian tomorrow without Sham and it's the 3rd round of the FA Cup so I won't be so pre-occupied with the football. I'm sure I must have mentioned this before but the League is pretty much everything to me. I'm simply not interested in the early rounds of the FA Cup. There's always lots of talk about the romance of the competition but it's always been a bit of a distraction. We're away to a lower league team, Mansfield tomorrow. It will be a shock if we get beat. We've been on a good run (see current table below) and although there's something about momentum imo it won't be the end of the world if we get knocked out.
As you can see Boro are currently 7th (in the Championship), the Second Division in old money but we've signed a couple of players already in the January transfer window and things are looking more promising than for a number of years. Not getting excited just yet but starting to hope.
Thursday, 6 January 2022
Strange times..... I seem say/think that a lot nowadays.
I'm on a different computer to normal and had to jump through the usual hoops to even write this post. Went through Google, password/open another computer/put in a code blah blah blah. Well I'm here so I obviously managed nicely.
Anyway, Thursday here we are. Almost done actually but yeah, been a good day.
Our Chris came round. Far too cold to go and play golf so we played Snooker (4-3 to me - get in the net!) and we watched the latest Bill and Ted film. If you liked Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey (which I did) you would get all the jokes and it was pretty good. I did him a bacon sandwich for lunch (ok I had one myself - don't tell Shamila) - bloody gorgeous.
Had a play on my guitar etc. etc. and then went to the pub with our Russ.
6 pints later (my current limit circa 2022 is 4 - same as it was 2021) I'm feeling well worse for wear. Not sure last time I had 6 pints. Don't think I want to do it again to be honest. Actually can categorically say that's the last time I'm going to drink 6 pints of beer is a single sesh.
Bid farewell to Russ and headed to mine. Jeez, it's fucking cold.
Got home and did the "Alexa, play Spotify" thing and it didn't work. Fuckin' hell, really not happy. Had to set it up manually from my phone. Has it come to this? Apart from.... manually played "Red" by Black Uhuru. I'm temporarily transported back to 1981. Temporarily very happy, it won't last
If this post seems incoherent it's (only partly) because I'm drunk.
PS. Puma was gorgeous though, eh?
Getty images? I know really just property/theft etc.
Wednesday, 5 January 2022
Well Wednesday didn't pan out how I planned. Shamila gave me a couple of domestic errands to run thing set me back a bit and I was playing catch up for the rest of the day. I also spent a lot longer at Shamila's parents with the chair lift guy than anticipated, 2 1/2 bloody painful hours to be precise. It wasn't all wasted time though. My in laws being their normal unbending selves are unwilling to make the necessary changes to their staircase to accommodate the lift so it's all off. Hey ho, it's their house and it means we're cancelling the second quote on Friday so it's not all bad news.
I did my guitar lesson and had a play around with a few melodies. Will do some more tomorrow.
Oh and no gym either. After discussions with Sham, considering how much time we're hanging with her parents we need to be extra careful Covid wise until further notice.
Tuesday, 4 January 2022
Well that wasn't too bad for my first working week of 2022. Started at 8.35 this morning and finished at 5.15 this afternoon. The sort of working week I used to dream of (yesterday's post refers). So what's the word for the rest of the week and the week-end?
Wednesday - Gym, then home for a couple of hours. Probably play might guitar for a bit and might even try to write a short song or a tune. Got an appointment at Sham's parents with a stair-lift company. Then back to Sham's for the evening.
Thursday - I might go to the gym again. I normally play golf with our Chris on Thursdays at Stokesley but the forecast is rubbish. Very cold at best which is too cold for me. Chris might still come over to see me and we maybe we'll have a game of snooker on my new snooker table. A Christmas present off Mike and Chris I kid you not. Think will still be left with a few hours to hang so will try and do something productive before going out with our Russ for a few pints on the night.
Friday - Mmmm, not sure yet but we have an appointment with another state-lift company in the afternoon.
Saturday and Sunday - With Shamila - walking and maybe later in the day some more drinking.
Monday - Back to work.
Strange days indeed .......
Monday, 3 January 2022
Alas, I'm back to work tomorrow. Always a bummer but especially so after Christmas/New Year. In fairness it's probably been my longest Christmas break since my last year at school/college. I broke up on 21 December and due to the way the calendar fell I didn't have to take any time off. Mind, it also helped that since 1 November 2021 I only work Monday and Tuesday so a further bonus is that after tomorrow I'm off again until next Monday (10 January). So 1 working day in 21 days. Just.... so great, I'm sat here smiling at the thought.
Cutting down to 2 days work a week doesn't feel a huge leap to be honest. Working 5 days a week was a drag from the age of 5 but I stopped working Fridays nearly 12 years ago. It wasn't that I particularly disliked school/work but when push came to shove even the best things about being at work weren't as good all but the very worst things when I was off.
In fairness I expected to retire completely on my 60th birthday when my modest works pension kicked in but I was unexpectedly given the chance to cut my working week to 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) and still receive for the same pay plus pension as pay I was previously receiving. Sweet as a nut I guess...
The extra money is welcome but I never foresaw things panning out this way. I'm pretty sure I can manage financially and I can leave at pretty short notice when I've had enough. In any case the furthest I can realistically stay on till is March 2023 when they're closing my office.
Just done quick calc. After holidays I think I've got about 105 days left. Not much really.
Here's to good health.
Sunday, 2 January 2022
So here we are again. Happy New Year all. There's definitely a pattern developing here.
So what's new?
It's been another bum year hasn't it? Although I guess it could have been worse and probably has been for many. Current thinking is that the vaccination is the key to swerving the worst effects of Covid. Those that have chosen not get jabbed just look like they've got a death wish?
Who knows what is getting pumped into our arms but the unpleasant side effects of the vaccine feels a price worth paying. I've been triple jabbed and was ill after "the booster" but I've heard of 2 people catching Covid after being fully vaccinated so....
Watch this space I guess but me, Shamila, her parents and my sons are all well (Mike has the virus but is ok).
Here's to 2022 I guess. I'm cautiously optimistic. Mad times, mad times ......
2021 wasn't all bad though eh? I feel like I've been washing my hands all year and I can't remember what it was like going into a supermarket without a face covering.
We still managed to get away a few times though. They're called staycations now, apparently. Shamila tells me they've always been called that but I'd never heard it before Covid and as you know I've always had my finger on the pulse, so ......
We went to Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds (posh, vacancies everywhere due to Brexit - you fucking suckers), Beadnel in Northumberland (expensive hotel) and Robin Hoods Bay (just the best) in no particular order and a few random photos are shown below.
Our Robin Hoods Bay trip coincided with my 60th birthday.....Jeez, 60.... How do I feel about it?
Well I guess I'm officially old, now into my 7th decade. How did that happen? Of course it's time, it just goes on on and on. If you're expecting to live until you're 90, 60 is only two thirds of the way there and if you're from the Cotswolds maybe that's a reasonable expectation. But I'm from the Boro and come from Geordie jeans stock rather than Levis but as the saying goes "old age is better than the alternative".
The obituaries are starting to get too close for comfort. The review of the 2021 celebrity deaths on the news last night seemed to go on too long and was far too close for comfort and I was out with my oldest mate Gordon Kay a couple of months ago and he informed me that a couple of our old school friends, Dennis Taylor had died and another Paul Pearson (Peo) of Kendo - "Que c'est que c'est" fame was on his last legs. I was sadly able to confirm "Denny" had died - RIP and Peo was seemingly was very ill with Covid. Rooting for Peo. I had pretty close connections with both of them if for fleeting moments in time. Almost certainly not important to them but I have some very happy memories of them.
It's my blog's birthday and the reason for posting. I might write a bit more about 2021 but that's enough for tonight.
About to tuck into my birthday feast of Lobster salad and chips at Robin Hoods Bay
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
Third worst, different from the first. No it wasn't, only joking to keep the Ramones theme going. It was just the same as Monday and Tuesday and not a lot different to every day for the last 9 months. Then again, three quarters of the working week down is never a bad thing.
Have got to finish early tomorrow night to take Shamila's dad for his Covid jab. Probably shouldn't really be doing it but what the hell are we supposed to do, the fellar's 90 years old. Hopefully the police aren't reading my pronouncement otherwise there might be a bit of brouhaha.
Eh, you never know? I remember about 10 years ago I was getting about 50 views a day and sudden it went up to 5000. mostly in L.A. It spooked me a bit actually especially when the views went back down again. It was a bit suspicious you've got to admit?
We'll just have to see what tomorrow brings.
Tuesday, 5 January 2021
Monday, 4 January 2021
Reflecting quite a lot at the moment and expect to continue for some time.
First day of 2021 at work went as well as could be expected. Got up as normal at Shamila's in Billingham. Sham prepared my breakfast cereal and toast. Took my morning tablets, sat down and flicked through the news on my phone before driving to my house in Acklam where I work for HMRC. I sit there on my own all day. I send and receive a few emails/messages from colleagues and my manager and attend the occasional team meeting. Obviously, what I do is of national importance and top secret so I can't divulge in such a public arena but ring HMRC with a tricky tax problem tomorrow and you never know.
Today was a bit more exciting than normal because I had a wardrobe delivered. Juggling my work around the odd delivery is just one of the perks of working from home during a pandemic. Actually call it singular perk that I've enjoyed loads of times. I've had a lot of workmen in since the beginning of September, so I've saved a stash of leave (that's what us posh Labour lot call holidays don't you know). Anyway there's a big unsightly scratch on the front of one of the doors so I guess they'll be back to sort it.
I digress. So today was my 42nd new year return to work since I started my first (and only) job in 1978.
And what are my recollections of that time?
I was 17, a bit shy, very awkward socially, very immature. I used to blush all the time, still do actually. I was so self-conscious. I felt pressure to get a girlfriend but hadn't the faintest idea how to get one. And of course I thought it was just me. I almost certainly wasn't. I'd left all my school/college friends behind and was like a fish out of water in the 9 to 5 environment of 'real work' with adults.
It doesn't sound long now but I'd been working 3 1/2 months up to Christmas, it seemed like an eternity. I was losing my confidence, not that I had that much to start with. I remember being conscious that I had to make friends and it felt like I was running out of time. God knows what I thought was going to happen.
The Christmas holiday with my brothers and mam and dad must have been great, they always were. Obviously presents and that and the New Year’s party round our house and the Freeman's 2 doors away. Our mam and dad loved New Year’s Eve and they let me play a couple of my records. I remember playing First Time by The Boys (terrible song) and our mam and her best friend, Edie Freeman trying to dance to it. A great memory, probably my last memory of being a kid at Christmas.
I have strong memories of resenting going back to work after Christmas, jeez, I'd only had a week off. That's all wrong, I don't think I ever properly got over to having long school holidays off. Then again I was loaded, picking up about £30 a week. After giving our mam £10 I still had £20 to spend on records. It was more cash than I needed. Lots of regrets about the holidays not unpaid college mind.
Our parents were what now seems to me relatively youthful. Our mam was 41 and Dad 46 and although our grandads and nana/grandma were no longer around most of our blood uncles and aunties were. Uncles Joe, Jack and Alec and aunties Madge and Pauline.
Sadly that was as good and serene as it was going to get because our mam's younger sister Pauline died of a heart attack in January aged 40. Little did we know at the time but the heart thing had already become a family thing and still is. I remember us being notified by phone and Kenny next door driving me and our mam 'round to our uncle Alec's in Thorntree to let him know. I thought my head was going to explode. Jeez.
And I just went to work the next day. I was shell-shocked but I didn't know how or what to tell my work colleagues, so I didn't tell anybody.
Not sure where all that came from or where it's going so I think I'll leave it there for now.
Sunday, 3 January 2021
I'm back at work tomorrow so it's officially the last day of my Christmas holiday and I have butterflies in my stomach which is just normal. I've always felt like this after Christmas, even when school was work. I thought it was just me being soft and sentimental but it turns out SAD Syndrome is a real thing and lots of other people are prone to it as well. I do feel vindicated mind but it's more consolation than actually making me feel better.
My usual approach nowadays isn't rocket science either. I hammer the gym, I socialise as much as I can. I go to the pub with friends, go to gigs even if I’m not that interested in the artist or band. I make a few New Year resolutions knowing full well I’m not going stick to them for very long. Anything to focus my mind really until I wake up one day and the blues have gone.
Without question most of my usual tools are not there for me this year. I’m far from convinced some of the simple socialising we took for granted will ever be available again. I’ve thought about doing the couch to 5k but I’m wary about the weather not to mention my terrible balance and general clumsiness. Even the simplest things like reading and listening to music have become problematic for me, I find it increasingly hard to concentrate – a quick Google of course shows it’s not just me. At least some consolation.
1 Gym - No
2 Couch to 5k? – Will start tomorrow, weather permitting
3 Pub – No
4 I drink too much at home. I don’t even like it (that much) so less drinking at home
5 Gigs – Obviously not
6 Listen to more music. For some bizarre reason I lost interest in music last year.
7 Less aimless browsing on social media and on-line news
8 Less aimless watching tv
9 More listening to music, more reading/learning
10 Continue with my blog for now
So I guess my resolutions are 2, 4, 6, 9 and 10.
Okay pop music, let’s go!
Saturday, 2 January 2021
On 2 January 2006 Boro played Newcastle away in the Premier League in front of 52302 spectators. Hasselbaink came off the bench to score in the 87th minute to put Boro in the lead 2-1. Alas Lee Clark went on to equalise in the final minute and the match ended 2-2.
Imagine that? In 2006 Boro were so good that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink couldn't get into our starting line-up. Since that day our then manager Steve McLaren, the most successful manger in our history left Boro to manage England to disastrous effect. Our captain that day also went on to manage Boro before getting the sack after we got relegated to the Championship. Since the he's been manager of England since September 2016. They say football is a funny old game. More funny peculiar than funny ha ha I guess.
Today, 2 January 2021, Chuka Akpon scored the final goal in the 81st minute to make it 3-1 to Boro away to Wycombe Wanderers in front of 0 spectators. We now play in the second tier of English Football and today's win moves us just outside the play-off positions and that's pretty good.
Could we get promoted this season? I personally doubt it and if we do we'll almost certainly come straight back down. We're just too poor to compete. Our chairman, Steve Gibson whilst obviously still a very rich man is no longer the financial big hitter he was way back when. Those heady days of big money signings under Bryan Robson and Steve McLaren (1994 to 2006) are history. 15 to 27 years ago doesn't seem that long ago to me but maybe it all happened in the 'olden days' we used to talk about when we were kids.
Anyway lets not be downbeat. So in other news on 2 January 2006 I started my blog on Livejournal so this cakes for me.
It's ok, I'll save you a piece.
I know my posts have been sparse over recent and not so recent years but I still tell people I've been doing a blog for 15 years and in the words of Gary McCabe aged 10 at Ladgate Juniors if you don't believe me you can go and fart. Alternatively you could have a flick through the archives on Blogger and Livejournal
On that bombshell in a new regular feature on Goffafromtheblock on Saturday night here's my song for Saturday night - Friday I'm in Love - Kate Rusby
Friday, 1 January 2021
It all feels rubbish to be honest. No point trying to kid myself.
As I said last night a lots happened in the last 9 months. From a practical point of view selling the family home was a no brainer really. It was a window of opportunity to move. I'm not getting any younger and it was probably a case of it now or never. The area is currently very quiet and nice but it's full of rental properties and it would only take one bad household to totally destroy the tranquility/ambience of the neighbourhood. That looks awful reading it back but please don't judge me too harshly for saying that. Think I've done my time.
So me and Ian decided to sell up at the beginning of April. Me and Shamila (mainly me) did some minor repairs and decoration work and we put it up for sale in the middle of June. We agreed a sale 5 weeks later and completed the sale in the middle of September. All done in 3 months. Bop, bop, bop.
So after nearly 60 years the Spences no longer have a base in East Middlesbrough. There were lots of tears from me and my close neighbours (think they were probably more worried about who they might get as their new neighbour) at the end and I still miss them all terribly 3 months on. I guess I could go back and see them from time to time and in truth I had to just before Christmas but I simply don't like seeing somebody else living in our house. Hail the Spences, 25 Kirkstone Road, Berwick Hills.